The Ludlow Massacre: DBQ

The abusive relationship between employers and employees took away the rights of the people that the government is supposed to protect. However, the employers’ money and power led to the government siding with corporations many times in disputes, despite their obligation to the people.

According to Woody Gunthrie, folk singer and people’s historian, in his song “Ludlow Massacre,” government sided with corporations in labor disputes, such as when the Colorado militia was called to break the miner’s strike in Ludlow, Colorado. This militia actually killed some of the miners with fire: “Thirteen children died from your guns.” This shows that the government did not only not realize the people’s plea and fight for them, but they instead did the complete opposite and brought in violence with the militia to stop the strike preventing the businesses from profiting. Their actions were made to appease the corporations and not made to protect the peoples’ rights. When he mentions that the miners tried to get the President to do something, the line that follows says, “But the National Guard belonged to the governor / So he didn’t try very hard.” When the people tried to tell the President to do something about the militia, the militia actually was under the control of Colorado, and nothing was done. This was all done in the best interest of the corporations and business owners instead of the people. The government did this because they wanted the support of the corporations because of their money and power.

Godfrey Irwin, a young electrical engineer traveling through Colorado at the time of the massacre, gave a firsthand account of what he saw to a New York World reporter. In the article, Irwin said, “We saw the militiamen parley outside the tent city, and, a few minutes later, Tikas [the leader of the strikers] came out to meet them…Suddenly, an officer raised his rifle, gripping the barrel, and felled Tikas with the butt. Tikas fell face downward…Then they aimed their rifles and deliberately fired them into the unconscious man’s body…it was a murder and nothing less. Then the miners ran about in the tent colony and women and children scuttled for safety in the pits which afterward trapped them. We watched from our rock shelter while the militia dragged up their machine guns and poured a murderous fire into the arroyo from a height by Walter Tank Hill above the Ludlow depot. Then came the firing of the tents. I am positive that by no possible chance could they have been set ablaze accidentally. The militiamen were thick about the northwest corner of the colony where the fire started…” This is recounting the killing of the leader of the strikers and the fire that was started by the Colorado militia, killing even more of the miners. Like Gunthrie said, the government was siding with the corporations by bringing in militia to break up the strike and bring the miners back to work. As we see in this eyewitness account from someone who was completely uninvolved in the conflict, the militia opened fire on the miners and then set fire to the tents, killing many other miners. This allowed killing of miners by the government is an atrocity; they should be protecting people and not killing them for the interests of corporations.

In this situation, the government was not living up to the expectations of the Constitution: to protect the people and their rights. The horrible living conditions for the miners led them to strike against the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company owned by the Rockefellers. In order to stop the miners from striking, the Rockefellers got the government to use their military strength against the miners and even killing a few. The government, which didn’t listen to the people’s protest about their rights taken away, was, to say the least, not doing their job at all. They were more inclined to do what the corporations wanted because of their influence and money, which could pay for government officials’ campaigns. The actions of the government at this time were unconstitutional.


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