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Transcribed by Cindy Logan



The trial for Haywood, Moyer, Pettibone - officers of the Western Federation of Miners - were accused of conspiracy in the murder of Ex-Governor Stuenenburg of Idaho.

That incident also ties into the murder and conspiracy of the death of Secret Agent Arthur H. Collins at the Smuggler Mine in Telluride, Colorado.

Both murders stemmed from Labor problems in the miners vs mine owner disputes of non-union citizens.  Those, in turn, lead to riots, violence and murder of Colorado miners in the early 1900's.

I have transcribed only a few of over 263 articles covering the Haywood Trial from the Colorado Historic Newspaper Collection.


NOTE: At the end of the articles you will find a overview of the events.

Wednesday, February 21, 1906


It will be just as well to keep perfectly cool over the arrest of Moyer, President, and Haywood secretary of the Western Federation of Miners, until we know just the character of evidence the Idaho authorities have against the men. They are accused of complicity in the murder of ex-Governor Stenenberg, and it is believed that Orchard, who is charged with actual deed, has made a confession implicating them. There is, nevertheless an ugly look about the way in which Moyer and Haywood were railroaded out of this state, and in this connection it is important to remember that Moyer was kept in jail for a year at Telluride for an alleged offense and then not tried - this under the administration of Peabody.

If the de fuscous governor of this state McDonald, had a clear title to his office, if no crimes in the name of the law had been committed by high officials of the state, even if the arrest of Moyer and Haywood had not been attended with all the details of a letter de cachet, the proceedings would have a better appearance. It is too soon to pass on the question of the guilt or innocence of the men arrested. The Idaho courts will do that later.

Still, many people will find it hard to believe that the Federation officials, men chosen to load a great, numerically, at least, body of workers, would have an active hand in such a dastardly crime as was the assassination of Steunenberg. If they are guilty they should be punished to the last limit of the law. Nevertheless they are entitled to and should receive an absolutely fair trial.

CALDWELL, Idaho, Tuesday, March 6, 1906


The grand jury presented its report today to Judge Smith in the district court returning indictments for murder against Moyer, Haywood, Pettibone, Orchard and Adams. A separate indictment against Jack Simpkins, who is not yet in custody. The proceedings in the court were brief and simple.
CALDWELL, Idaho, Tuesday, March 6, 1906
The impression has gained ground among the citizens that there may be violence towards some of the men accused of murder of ex-Governor Steunenburg when they are brought here after indictments of the trial.

A large vigilance committee has been organized and George W. Froman asked to assume the command. He said this morning that he approved the idea and thought such a committee is necessary, but was uncertain whether he was to head it. Froman is a noted character of the Northwest and was for years an Indian scout.

"There is going to be some attacks directed at both Orchard and Adams," said a prominent business man, "and we must protect them. A committee should net in the interest of the prisoners, as well as for the ends of justice.


Boise, Idaho, Saturday, May 4, 1907


The way to the further use of peremptory challenges and the jury being formed to try Haywood was declared again this morning when talesman Henry Curtis qualified for the place of Juror Cole and the defense passed Juror John Whitlock.

Henry Curtis is an exceedingly intelligent farmer who finds time to read and study and his examination made on the bright spots in the long monotonous quest for jurors.

He and Clarence Darrow, for the defense had an informal talk on socialism that greatly interested the court and spectators.

Juror Whitlock was only briefly question and the inquiries did not develop the reason that led the defense to reserve its examination of him.

There was the usual objection to the state getting more than five peremptory challenges and when the records had been completed down to the defenses exception, the state for it's service challenge excused juror Issac DeBell, a farmer who for several days has occupied seat No. 2. Four talesmen called to fill the place, were speedily dismissed for cause and the fifth was under examination as the noon recess approached. There was a slim attendance again today. The court room being scarcely half full.

CHICAGO, Monday, May 20, 1907  


Four thousand men and women and children marched in the downtown streets today express their demand for a fair trial for Haywood, Moyer and Pettibone. A score of little girls, some dressed in red and others wearing red sashes, led the parade. Amongst the women in the parade were Mrs. Lucy Parson and Mrs. Raymond Robbins. The parade was made up of Socialist societies and ward clubs, Russian and Polish revolutionary societies, a few trade's unions whose members are Socialists and several Hebrew societies.

While the Stars and Stripes were carried at the head of the parade many of the marchers carried miniature red flags and predominated among the colors worn by the women and children. Among the mottos printed upon the banners carried were the following:

"I am an undesirable citizen but Teddy Roosevelt wants my vote."

"If Patrick Henry were alive he would be in this parade."
"To hell with the constitution. We are not going according to the constitution." Sherman Bell.
BOISE, Idaho, Wednesday, May 29, 1907


Judge, provisional jurors, detectives and newspaper correspondents and the regular spectators at the Haywood trial are taking an enforced vacation waiting for Friday to come when Sheriff Hodgkin's new venire will report.

Haywood and Moyer are spending the days sunning themselves in the jail yards and their wives and families sit with them chatting over their affairs.

Witnesses who responded to summons and appeared here a week ago are chaffing under the delay imposed upon them. They are anxious to get through with their part of the business that brought them here and go home.

Haywood and his co-defendants are not thought about and little comment on the pending trial is heard. The only topic of conversation relating to this situation is the position former Adjutant General Sherman Bell of Colorado has taken in respect to Haywood.

Denver papers containing Bell's statement that he believes Haywood is innocent of conspiring in the assassination of former Governor Steuenberg and that he is being jobbed by the Idaho and Colorado officials, causes concern to the prosecutors of Haywood.

Bell's disclosure of the Telluride agreement, which proved at least the Colorado militia was rented out to the mine owners for the purpose of destroying the Western Federation of Miners, is eagerly seized by Haywood's counsel, who will use Bell's disclosures in refutation of Senator Borah's plan to prove that the miner's union was an organized had of anarchists.

Buckley Wells, who succeeded Sherman Bell as adjutant general of Colorado, is here devoting all his time to helping Detective McFarland to prepare a case against Haywood, Well's of course, denies his predecessor's charges.

Two deputy sheriffs are summoning the third special venire of sixty one Judge Wood informally notified the attorneys for the state and defense that he expects the jury to be completed by Saturday night or that the venire will be exhausted.
Denver, Colorado, Friday, June 18, 1904


Where is William Haywood secretary-treasurer of the Western Federation of Miners? That is the question the other members of the Federation now in profess themselves unable to answer, although they are quite certain Mr. Haywood will return any minute. That is the question a dark mysterious man from Cripple Creek has not answered to his own satisfaction, but he says he will before he returns to the gold camp. All of which leads to the conclusion that Mr. Haywood has concluded to absent himself for a few days for various good reasons. In other words, Mr. Moyer, being still in bad standing with the state military authorities, it has been concluded that one bird in the bush is worth two in the hand, that is W. D. Haywood at liberty is better for the miners than if jailed with Moyer. But the deputy sheriff from Cripple Creek is still looking over the Mining Exchange building and the vicinity of 1250 Evans Street which is the Haywood residence.
BOISE, Idaho, Monday, June 3, 1907


Haywood's jury is complete and sworn in at 12:40 p. m. It is made up as follows:

No. 1 - Thomas B. Gess, aged 65, real estate man, resident of Boise, native of Missouri, twenty six years a Democrat member of the Christian Science Church and a Mason.

No. 2 - Finlay McDean, aged 52, a farmer, Republican, was a day laborer.
No. 3 - Samuel Gimlan, aged 50, a Republican, Odd Fellow, member of Christian Science Church.
No. 4 - Samuel Clark, aged 50, a farmer, lived in Idaho thirty one years, Democrat, Odd Fellow.
No. 5 - George Powell, aged 58, living near Boise eleven years, farmer, Democrat.
No. 6 - O. v. Severn, AGED 52, a farmer, lived near Boise two years.
No. 7 - H. F. Messenger, aged 52, a farmer, lived near Boise fourteen years, Republican.
No. 8 - Mr. Schriver, aged 60, Republican, once sheriff in Kansas.
No. 9 - J. A. Robertson, aged 71, a contractor and builder, Republican.
No. 10 - Levi Smith, aged 55, a native of Canada, formerly a farmer, Republican.
No. 11 - A. P. Bures, aged 52, resident of Ada County nineteen years, carpenter and builder, member of Carpenter's Union, Republican.
No. 12 - Samuel Russel, aged 58, a farmer, Prohibitionist.

The serious illness of Haywood leaves a visible effects. His face is wan and somewhat drawn and dark rings encircle his eyes. He walks with slow step. He will not recover for several days from the attack the other evening and from the result of the heavy doses of opiates the physician was compelled to administer to overcome the pain, but is clearly on the mend and quite able to be in court today to assist his counsel in the final steps in the selection of the jury. He talked freely of his illness, He said:

"It mortifies me that correspondents and newspapers should give such currency to the stories that it was mental worry that brought on the attack. I am no more disturbed today nor have I been since the empanelling of the jury commenced than I have been at any time since my arrest. I have absolute confidence in my attorneys and nothing has transpired to shake that confidence. I am certain that this prosecution must break down and that I have the evidence to overcome what the detectives may say to convince the world that I am a wronged man."

Canon City, Colorado, Monday, June 17, 1907
The sudden death here of Charles W. King yesterday the defense in the Haywood murder trial at Boise City, has lost and important witness. King died from neuralgia of the heart. He was a breeder of bloodhounds and at the time of the Independence Depot explosion in the Cripple Creek strike, owned two valuable dogs of this breed.
King was requested to take the hounds to Cripple Creek and put them on the trial of the men who dynamited the depot and killed thirteen non-union men. The bloodhounds were given the scent from the chair rung attached to the wires that had set off the dynamite and followed it to a cabin a short distance away, which is said to have been occupied by detectives for the Mine Owners Association. Agent of the miner owners who were with King at the time, told him that nothing could be gained by allowing the dogs to keep on their percent scent. The dogs were given another scent and again went to the cabin. This angered the agent of the mine owners and they told the Canon City man his dogs were no good.

This angered King and he veborted insuating that somebody seemed to be interested in protecting for occupants of the cabin who ever they were or had been. Despite the fact that he was told the service rendered by the dogs was unsatisfactory, King was given a substantial check for making the trip after he returned to Canon City. King was to have gone to Boise City this week.

Boise, Idaho, Saturday, June 22, 1907


The case of the state against Haywood's Attorneys request for acquittal was denied by Judge Wood. Clarence Darrow will make the opening statement for the defense on Monday next. On Tuesday the witness for Haywood will begin their testimony.

Measure by the argument of Senate Bohar for the state, and by attorney Richardson for the defense will be reviewed all the evidence adduced to approve facie case against _________the verdict of the jury when delivered will rest practically upon the unsupported confession of Harry Orchard, the assassin and accompany Borah argues that the state has proof of a general conspiracy with the Western Federation of Miners has been established by testimony entire independent of Orchard, and on this story the state's case the jury will be asked to hang Haywood on the grounds that he was a member of that conspiracy.

Then the argument was completed to Judge Wood immediately overrated by the defendant's motion to dismiss. "The court is thoroughly convinced that this case should go to the jury," said Judge Wood. "Ordinarily the court would give it's reason for denying the motion, but in this case there are two other defendants in jail waiting trial and it would therefore manifestly improper for the court to divulge the testimony in a case."

Darrow made the closing argument for the defense and appealed to the court to take cognizance of the flat failure the state made in the prosecution. Richardson analyzed all the testimony taking up each witness in chronological sequence, and contending that without Orchard's testimony not a single one tended to connect Haywood with the murder of Steunenberg or any other crime. The motion to dismiss was made upon the statutes of Idaho.

Senator Borah replied briefly for the prosecution and he did not deem it necessary to quote statutes or decisions. "This case could go anywhere in the country, there would be more prejudice against the defendant than here in Boise," said the senator. "A fair and impartial trial is assured in this court and this prosecution will do nother to deprive Mr. Haywood of any rights. We insist that we have shown a conspiracy on testimony entirely independent of Orchard. This conspiracy did not originate in a night. It gives out conditions in the Coeur d'Alene in 1800, and we contend that the nucleus of that conspiracy was in the Western Federation of Miners, and that the kernal of the conspiracy was through the leading officers of that organization."

Clarence Darrow addressed the court on the motion to dismiss, and without going over all the evidence, pointed out generally that the state failed to connect Haywood with the crime charged in the indictment.

BOISE, Idaho, Sunday, July 7, 1907

Before the hour from adjournment of court Monday Moyer will be sworn as a witness in behalf of Haywood and will either have concluded his testimony in chief ready to be subjected to cross examination, or will be well underway with his testimony, refuting Orchard at every material point.

With the exception of two or three witnesses whose testimony will be very short and the reading of the deposition that were taken in San Francisco to show that the explosion at the Bradley house was caused by gas and not by a boob for which Orchard claimed the destruction the defense is all in except the testimony of Moyer and Haywood.

The persistent rumor of Moyer's defection from the Haywood side is one of the disturbing elements for the friends of Haywood who are not as close to the inside as are the leader's attorneys. To the mere rumor of a couple of days ago that Moyer was liable to desert the Haywood cause, a degree of particularity has been added that is either more rumor, or originated in the most fecund brain that the trial has developed. These reports are that Mrs. Calvin Cobb, of Boise, a society leader and the wife of a prominent friend of President Roosevelt, has been paying political court to Mrs. Moyer, wife of the accused federation president, and has impressed her with the belief that unless her husband joins with Orchard instead of Haywood, she will be made a widow through the verdict of the jury which in due course of just must be impaneled to try her husband as one of the conspirators who planned the murder of Idaho's governor.

The report further states that Mrs. Cobb gave strong assurances to Mrs. Moyer that should her husband take the back track he would never be tried and would ultimately be set at liberty and that Mrs. Moyer, deeply impressed with this statement of Mrs. Cobb, went to her husband and upon a number of occasions entreated him to do what was necessary to save his life.

A further report is that Moyer with great firmness, but as tenderly as he could, declined to listen to such a proposition and assured his wife that were he willing to placate her he could not truthfully say a word that would interfere with Haywood in the fight he was making for his life. Mrs. Moyer is not satisfied with the attitude of her husband and persists to her appeal to him to serve the state and save himself.

The correspondent of the New York World claims to have gotten conclusive information showing the truth of these reports and he so wired his paper. These reports could not be traced to any reliable source neither can anyone convince either Darrow or Richardson that there is an atom of truth in the story. They scout it as being too absured to claim moment's attention.

Boise, Idaho, Friday, July 26, 1907


Watch the five men Simpkins, Orchard, Haywood, Moyer and Pettibone. Steunendberg is to die in thirty days. Watch them, we have got them together. They are moving to the scene.

This was the dramatic climax reached this morning in the Haywood trial when for an hour and a half Senator Borah, making the last argument had woven practically the meshes in his net, his scheme was conspiracy the essence of the case of the state of Idaho in its efforts to show how Harry Orchard was only the tool of Haywood when he killed the former governor.

"Now watch this quintet", he cried triumphantly, when having laid his foundation, piece by piece, using only the testimony of witnesses for the defense itself, picking it out from the mass of mixed material, he showed the intimacy between Orchard and the highest officers of the Western Federation of Miners.

The argument of the morning centered in Caldwell but the scenes changed rapidly each flash showing an officer, a friend or a member of Western Federation of Miners, the confidant and intimate friend of Harry Orchard.

As early as 7 o'clock the court house doors were besieged by hundreds to seek admittance to the court room, Senator Borah being popular as an orator in this, his home city. So great was the throng that court officials and others having business in the trial had to find their way into the building by devious ways, most of them by climbing a steep improvised stairway in the rear. Jurors also came up these steps.

Inside the court, as the next to the last day of the trial began Haywood sat surrounded by his family. His invalid wife, whose helpless condition and palled face have attracted so much attention and sympathy, sat immediately to his right and next to her was the gray-haired mother, who did not yesterday restrain her tears which welled to her eyes as Clarence Darrow, of Chicago, made the last plea for the life of her son.

Mrs. Frank Steunenber, the wife of the murdered governor and her son Jullian, were early in the court room. Attorneys from many cities in the west have come to Boise for the last arguments and constituted a large portion of today's bid audience.

"Taking up no question of the presumed motives the defense had urged against Orchard, Senator Borah showed to the jury the deed by which Orchard had parted absolutely and forever with his interest in the Hercules mine fourteen months before General Morriam and his negro troops marched into the Coeur d'Alours."

"The deed, the letters and telegrams and all the other evidence, not subject in being tampered with in the case, corroborate Harry Orchard and it is precisely with the story he told you. Governor Steunenberg did not cause Orchard to lose his interest in his mine, so how could he have entertained a murderous grudge?"

Senator Borah took up one by one the witnesses for the defense who, he said, corroborated Orchard, and proved a criminal conspiracy because they had covered a protected Orchard up to the time he confessed and implicated Haywood. Among these were:

"Bill Easterly, a member of the federation who heard Orchard telephone from Caldwell before the murder."

"David Coates, the ex-lieutenant governor of Colorado, and friend of the federation, with whom Orchard discussed the stealing of the Paulson children."

"Lottie Day, who was introduced to Haywood by Orchard and who saw Orchard and Haywood in private consultation."

"General Eugene Eagley, former attorney general of Colorado, who of all men, an officer of the law, should not have kept those direct threats a secret locked within his own breast, when the state of Idaho was looking for evidence against Orchard, the suspect."

"But, General Eagley does not believe in law. He is not even a Socialist. He is an anarchist. You heard the speech he made here in the witness chair. Nobody could stop it. With such men as Eagley in office, I am not surprised that Colorado had hell with her borders for the past 10 years."

Continuing Senator Borah said:

"Follow Simpkins, Orchard, Moyer, Haywood and Pettibone from Denver to the death of Steunenberg at Caldwell. Review the testimony, watch their actions and I say to you that an absolute concerned conspiracy has been proven. They killed Steunenberg to show to the world that they never forget an enemy. Where is Pettibone? Afraid to speak. Where is Jack Simpkins, who was at Caldwell and could tell so much. He is in a corner and afraid to come to say a word for his life long friend."

Senator Borah expects to close his argument tonight, otherwise an afternoon session would have been held. As it now stands the case will go to the jury Saturday morning.

BOISE, Idaho, Friday, August 3, 1907
Attorney Richard's Severe Criticism
of His Former Partner, Darrow
William D. Haywood, accompanied his family, John H. Murphy, general counsel of the Federation, who is dying of consumption, and several socialist writers who have been in Boise throughout the trial, left here on an early train today for Denver. The party traveled by way of Salt Lake where they arrived this afternoon. Haywood stopped for twelve hours in Salt Lake to see that his mother, Mrs. Etta Carruthers, is comfortably returned to her home and will proceed to Denver arriving there late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.

Charles H. Moyer, president of Federation, who has been released on $25,000 bond, was also expected to leave today but has postponed his departure until tomorrow. He too, will go by way of Salt Lake and then to Colorado Springs and Manitou before arriving in Denver.

The fact that Moyer and Haywood did not leave together has renewed rumors widely circulated some time ago, of serious differences existing between the two chief officers of the Federation. Both men denied the stories today and declared they were circulated for the purpose of creating discussion and trying to divide the ranks of the miners organization. It's known however, that Moyer has not wholly approved of the plan for a celebration in Denver on Saturday and will have no part of it. He believes it will be far better to wait until Pettibone, who is still here in jail has had his trial.

The shake up in counsel for Western Federation of Miners announced by dispatches from Boise was not unexpected by those who have watched the progress of the recent Haywood trial. It was known to many that relations between Attorneys Darrow and Richardson were not the most harmonious. In fact they were strained many times to the breaking point. It was only the gravity of the case and the consciousness of duty to Haywood which each felt that hold them together.

But know Attorney Richardson announces that he will never again have associated Darrow in any case. Darrow's altitude all through the case has been contrary to Richard's ideas of running a law suit as Darrow places hardly any dependence upon his knowledge of the law in a case of this kind.

Mr. Richardson gave out the following statement today:

"I do not agree with Mr. Darrow's views either on legal or social questions, nor do I agree with him upon way of presenting those views either to a court or a jury. I have not approved of Mr. Darrow's attack in his final argument upon religion nor his advocacy of Socialism, nor his justification of crime nor upon his attack upon Mr. Hawley of the prosecution. In my judgment all these things were detrimental to our case, but I have not the slightest doubt that many things I did were equally grievous in the sight of Mr. Darrow. It is proper to say in this connection there is not and has at no time been any friction whatever between the officers or members of the Federation and myself with respect to the defense of any of their cases as far as I am aware. The differences which exist is one which occurs wholly between me and Mr. Darrow and myself."

Denver, Colorado, Monday, August 5, 1907


Shortly after 9:00 o'clock this forenoon William D. Haywood, secretary and treasure of the Western Federation of Mines walked into his office at headquarters in Pioneer Building and sat down to a desk piled high with telegrams and letters. Calling a stenographer he started to dictate a letter when he was forced to abandon the attempt and give his attention and time to the scores of friends who flocked to headquarters to exchange greetings with him.

Notwithstanding his long confinement and nerve-racking experience of the trial to which he was subjected Haywood declares he never felt better in his life, and his appearance bears out his words. Before starting for his office he was seen at the Albany Hotel, where he is staying temporarily with his wife and two daughters.

"I am more firmly convinced than ever that a change has just begun in the theory of the labor movements," said Haywood. "The Western Federation of Mines has for a long time held to the principle that united actions must be enforced whenever grievances accumulate beyond the ability of the men to stand them. The grievances of one is the concern of all and that principle must ultimately be adopted by labor unions. The purpose of the Western Federation of Miners is to secure amelioration of conditions of workmen in all lines, not only to its own members but to all who work and toll."

Haywood's progress from the hotel to the federation headquarters was interrupted every few feet by friends, acquaintances and even strangers who gathered about him to shake his hand. It was a continual ovation all along the route.

Denver, Colorado, Tuesday, August 6, 1907


Among the many offers which William D. Haywood has received is one from Vic Adams and J. D. Grauman, owners of the National Theater in San Francisco of $15,000 for a series of forty lectures. The promoters have offered to place the money with any responsible bank or persons designated by Haywood.

Mr. Haywood has telegraphed back an answer as secretary-treasurer the Western Federation he can do nothing without consulting the expense board of the organizations. He has had a large number of similar offers.

Denver, Colorado, Tuesday, August 7, 1907


The acquittal of William D. Haywood should put a check upon that in famous and stupendous conspiracy of criminal rich against disinherited poor in which Haywood's prosecution originated. Hatched at 26 Broadway, New York, this conspiracy has played havoc with law and order in Colorado. it introduced anarchy in worst sense of that word into mining towns, where it ruthlessly destroyed the little properties of the thrifty poor, and arbitrarily imprisoned and deported citizens who had lawfully offended it and officials who had courageously defied its power. It gave orders to the executive authorities, to the military authorities, to the legislature and to the supreme court of Colorado, and its orders were obeyed.

At last, trying to add assassination under the forms of law to its other crimes, it led the executive officers of Colorado and Idaho into collusion to kidnap Haywood and his associates under the bare forms but in contempt of the usual safeguards of extradition proceedings. It kidnapped these men in order that they might be convicted, in the obscurity of a distant Rocky Mountain town, of a murder they had not committed, before a court the conspirators expected to control, and by a jury to be packed for conviction, but a change of venue transferred the trial to a more conspicuous town, to the court of an uncontrollable judge, and to an unpacked jury; and the trial has resulted as any fair trial must have done, in the acquittal of the principal defendant. This verdict has brought the conspirators to grief. - THE PUBLIC

Denver, Colorado, Saturday, August 24, 1907


William D. Haywood, secretary-treasurer of the Western Federation of Miners returned to Denver this morning after a two weeks vacation trip through the east and the south. He lectured to a Socialist and Union labor crowd in Chicago and also addressed a large meeting in Milwaukee. He went from there to Kentucky where he spent a few days with relatives. He has gained weight since his release from the Boise jail and is in good health. He expects to enter upon the duties of his office at Federation headquarters next Monday.
Denver, Colorado, Tuesday, January 1, 1908
Rumor of a Serious Split Between Haywood and the Executive Board
William D. Haywood is no longer secretary-treasurer of the Western Federation of Miners, Earnest Mills having been elected to the position by the executive board and now filling the office.

It is said that Haywood is out for good and he will not in the future be associated with the organization in which he has been regarded as the leading spirit, but this is denied by confederations.

The change took place some time ago but any announcement of it was deferred until it leaked out that Haywood was no longer at headquarters and a rumor got into circulation that there had been a serious split between Haywood and the executive board, and that Haywood was expected to resign. It was stated at headquarters that he had simply been granted six months leave of absence and that he was to make a tour and give series of lectures.

It has been ascertained, however, that no date has been made for this tour and that nothing definite can be found out about it. Haywood is in Boise attending the trial of George A. Pettibone.

Conclusion of Haywood's Trial with a
Brief Overview of Details Leading
to His Indictments
On New York's Eve 1905, former Idaho governor Frank Steunenberg was killed by a bomb, rigged to go off when he opened his gate. The explosion could be heard 16 miles away. Suspicion focused on a drifter named Harry Orchard, who had killed 13 men in 1904 when he dynamited a railroad depot during labor conflict in Colorado.

Orchard confessed to the ex-governor's murder, but said he had undertaken it at the behest of officials of the Western Federation of Miners, the most militant labor organization in the country. The federation, he said, saw Steunenberg as a traitor who had betrayed the union movement by declaring martial law and calling in federal troops to quell violence in the Coeur d'Alenes region of Idaho, an area rich in gold, lead, and silver deposits, in 1899. The soldiers--African Americans who had distinguished themselves during the Spanish American War--corralled more than a thousand people, not only miners but also teachers and doctors, in barns and boxcars. Racist resentment against the soldiers exacerbated the miners' anger at Governor Steunenberg.

Three Federation leaders, who Orchard said had commissioned the assassination, were kidnapped from Colorado by the Pinkerton Detective Agency and spirited to Idaho on a special train paid for by the mining companies. Given the weakness of law enforcement in many parts of the West, private detective agencies like Pinkerton openly assisted government prosecutors.

"Big Bill" Haywood, the Federation's secretary-treasurer, was put on trial in May 1907. Haywood, who along with Socialist Party leader Eugene V. Debs, had founded the International Workers of the World, a revolutionary labor organization known as the "Wobblies," was reviled by many leading politicians including President Theodore Roosevelt.

Haywood was defended by Clarence Darrow, "the attorney for the damned," who had already become a legendary figure for defending Debs in the 1894 Pullman strike. In his closing statement, which dragged on for more than 11 hours, Darrow said:

Out on our broad prairies where men toil with their hands, out on the wide oceans where men are tossed and buffeted on the waves, through our mills and factories, and down deep under the earth...the poor, the weak and the suffering of the world are stretching out their helpless hands to this jury in mute appeal for Will Haywood's life.

Prosecuting attorney William S. Borah, who had just been elected to the U.S. Senate, closed his case by recalling the day when the former governor had been murdered and he saw:

...the stain of his life's blood upon the whitened earth. I saw Idaho dishonored and disgraced. I saw murder--no, not murder, a thousand times worse than murder--I saw anarchy wave its first bloody triumph in Idaho.

At the end of the trial, Haywood was acquitted. A second union leader was acquitted in 1908 and charges against a third union official were dropped. Theodore Roosevelt privately called the verdict "a gross miscarriage of justice, concluding, "I suppose the jury was terrorized."

The 1907 trial received national newspaper coverage. The arrival of millions of foreign immigrants, the rise of Socialist parties, the growth of unions, including radical unions like the Western Federation of Miners, had made the public jittery. Eugene Debs had threatened to send armed workers to Idaho if Haywood was executed.

Labor and management in Idaho seemed to be engaged in open warfare, fighting with dynamite, arson, and rifles. The mine owners, ranchers, and mainstream press regarded the Western Federation of Miners as a source of anarchy and disorder. The labor and Socialist press was convinced that Idaho's government had trumped up charges against Haywood in order to destroy organized labor in the state. A rally for Haywood in Boston attracted an estimated crowd of 100,000.

The miners' federation, which had been organized during the bitter labor violence of the 1890s, was convinced that it was engaged in class warfare. Its first president had said: "There can be no harmony between organized capitalists and organized labor. Our present wage system is slavery in its worst form."

In 1892, the mine owners in Idaho's Coeur d'Alene region had cut the wages of unskilled workers from $3.50 for a 10-hour day to $3. When the miners had struck, the owners locked them out and reopened the mines with scab labor. In 1896, the miners had helped elect the Democratic and Populist candidate for governor, Frank Steunenberg. Most mining companies responded by raising the daily wage back to $3.50, but one company refused, and in 1899 heavily armed federation members dynamited that company's mines. Altogether, the union may have killed dozens of non-union laborers. It was this bombing that led Gov. Steunenberg to ask for federal troops.

The miners were convinced that the mine operators would stoop to virtually anything -- including the use of spies and kidnapping -- to suppress unions. Indeed, the Pinkerton agent who investigated the Steunenberg murder, James McFarland, had early infiltrated the Molly Maguire mine and testified in the trials in which 20 men were executed for terrorism in the Pennsylvania coalfields. "It is war," one reporter said, "and the methods of war have been adopted."



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