Cover image for The devil is here in these hills : West Virginia's coal miners and their battle for freedom
Title:
The devil is here in these hills : West Virginia's coal miners and their battle for freedom
Author:
Green, James R., 1944-2016, author.
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, [2015]

©2015
Physical Description:
viii, 440 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Summary:
From before the dawn of the 20th century until the arrival of the New Deal, one of the most protracted and deadly labor struggles in American history was waged in West Virginia. On one side were powerful corporations whose millions bought armed guards and political influence. On the other side were 50,000 mine workers, the nation's largest labor union, and the legendary "miners' angel, " Mother Jones. The fight for unionization and civil rights sparked a political crisis verging on civil war that stretched from the creeks and hollows to the courts and the US Senate. In The Devil is Here in These Hills, celebrated labor historian James Green tells the story of West Virginia and coal like never before.
General Note:
Map on lining papers.
Language:
English
Contents:
Casus Belli, 1890-1911. The great West Virginia Coal Rush -- The miners' angel -- Frank Keeney's Valley -- A spirit of bitter war -- The first mine war, 1912-1918. The Lord has been on our side -- The iron hand -- Let the scales of justice fall -- A new era of freedom -- The second mine war, 1919-1921. A new recklessness -- To serve the masses without fear -- Situation absolutely beyond control -- There can be no peace in West Virginia -- Gather across the river -- Time to lay down the Bible and pick up the rifle -- The peace, 1922-1933. Americanizing West Virginia -- A people made of steel -- More freedom than I ever had.
ISBN:
9780802123312
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

From before the dawn of the 20th century until the arrival of the New Deal, one of the most protracted and deadly labor struggles in American history was waged in West Virginia. On one side were powerful corporations whose millions bought armed guards and political influence. On the other side were 50,000 mine workers, the nation's largest labor union, and the legendary "miners' angel," Mother Jones. The fight for unionization and civil rights sparked a political crisis verging on civil war that stretched from the creeks and hollows to the courts and the US Senate. In The Devil is Here in These Hills , celebrated labor historian James Green tells the story of West Virginia and coal like never before.

The value of West Virginia's coalfields had been known for decades, and after rail arrived in the 1870s, industrialists pushed fast into the wilderness, digging mines and building company towns where they wielded nearly complete control over everyday life. The state's high-quality coal drove American expansion and industrialization, but for tens of thousands of laborers, including boys as young as ten, mining life showed the bitter irony of the state motto, "Mountaineers areAlways Free." Attempts to unionize were met with stiff resistance. Fundamental rights were bent, then broken, and the violence evolved from bloody skirmishes to open armed conflict, as an army of miners marched to an explosive showdown. Extensively researched and told in vibrant detail, The Devil is Here in These Hills is the definitive book on an essential chapter in the history of American freedom.


Author Notes

James Green is the author of five books, including Death in the Haymarket: A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement and the Bombing that Divided Gilded Age America . Green received his PhD in history from Yale University and is a Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.


Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Probably few energy consumers today realize that prior to the era of gasoline-powered transportation, the dominant worldwide energy source was coal instead of oil, with the demand for this stony black material often triggering its own set of violent clashes. One series of gun battles and power struggles took place in West Virginia over a period of nearly 50 years beginning in 1890 between the mining companies and union-sympathetic miners. University of Massachusetts history professor Green does an outstanding job here of bringing this period to life, giving readers a vivid picture of the hardscrabble Appalachian miners' day-to-day existence and their frequent bloody skirmishes with coal company hired guns. Green also tells the story of such unionizing champions as miner-turned-Socialist leader Frank Keeney and the legendary civil- liberties crusader Mary Harris Mother Jones, who put themselves in harm's way to save miners' lives. A thoroughly documented and masterfully written account of a little- remembered but critical period in U.S. history, when unions scored a major victory for workers' rights.--Hays, Carl Copyright 2015 Booklist


Choice Review

Labor historian Green (emer., Univ. of Massachusetts, Boston), the author of numerous articles and several books, including Death in the Haymarket: A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement, and the Bombing that Divided Gilded Age America (CH, Nov'06, 44-1616), has written a lively and accessible history of the West Virginia mine wars and the struggle for the United Mine Workers of America union from the 1890s through the 1920s. This is the most authoritative book written on this bloody and turbulent chapter of US history since David Allan Corbin's 1981 Life, Work, and Rebellion in the Coal Fields (CH, May'82). Students will be surprised to learn that the events Green details took place in the US, including examples of company towns run like dictatorships and coal miners arming themselves to do battle with mine guards, state militia, and even the US Army. They will also learn of the role of socialists and a surprising level of interracial and interethnic cooperation among miners. The volume, based on exhaustive research, will prove valuable to students interested in labor history, Progressive Era history, labor-industrial relations, and Appalachian history. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. --Thomas Mackaman, King's College


Table of Contents

Prologuep. 1
Part I Casus Belli, 1890-1911
Chapter 1 The Great West Virginia Coal Rushp. 13
Chapter 2 The Miners' Angelp. 32
Chapter 3 Frank Keeney's Valleyp. 55
Chapter 4 A Spirit of Bitter Warp. 78
Part II The First Mine War, 1912-1918
Chapter 5 The Lord Has Been on Our Sidep. 99
Chapter 6 The Iron Handp. 119
Chapter 7 Let the Scales of Justice Fallp. 139
Chapter 8 A New Era of Freedomp. 157
Part III The Second Mine War, 1919-1921
Chapter 9 A New Recklessnessp. 181
Chapter 10 To Serve the Masses without Fearp. 197
Chapter 11 Situation Absolutely Beyond Controlp. 215
Chapter 12 There Can Be No Peace in West Virginiap. 232
Chapter 13 Gather Across the Riverp. 252
Chapter 14 Time to Lay Down the Bible and Pick Up the Riflep. 265
Part IV The Peace, 1922-1933
Chapter 15 Americanizing West Virginiap. 289
Chapter 16 A People Made of Steelp. 314
Chapter 17 More Freedom than I Ever Hadp. 333
Epiloguep. 347
Acknowledgmentsp. 355
Illustration Creditsp. 359
Notesp. 363
Indexp. 429