“The presence of Chinese and their competition with free white labor is one of the greatest evils with which any country can be afflicted” -Adopted at the 1881 Federation of Labor convention
The collaboration between socialists, trade unions and the Democratic Party started slowly during the late 1800s as several banking crises caused businesses to close across the nation. Because of the recent emancipation of the slaves and continuous immigration from Europe and China, there was severe competition for jobs. This resulted in lower wages for white workers as other races were willing to do the same job for lower pay. This caused white laborers to join with socialists and anarchists to form labor unions. The goals of the unions were varied but the most common was higher wages and better working conditions. To do this, they would embrace violence to terrorize foreign workers and intimidate US companies. Over the next several decades, union violence would claim the lives of thousands and destroy millions of dollars of private property.
Between 1852 and 1880, some 300,000 Chinese people fled the ongoing wars in China and immigrated to the American west coast, principally San Francisco. Many would remain in America where they became the principal workers on the Central Pacific railroad’s leg of the first transcontinental railroad. The Chinese were popular with the railroad because they were willing to work for lower wages and perform more dangerous tasks than the white American workers. These traits soon put them at odds with the radical socialists and anarchists of the trade union movement.
Hatred of the Chinese immigrant was the basis of the first collaboration between the Democratic Party and the trade union movement in San Francisco. Baptist Reverend Isaack Kalloch (a Democrat) joined with radical union organizer Denis Kearney to get Kalloch elected as mayor, and enlarge the Workingman’s Party. Their goal was to launch a movement to forcibly evict the Chinese from San Francisco. Denis Kearney was a young Irish immigrant who first gained notoriety by denouncing the Chinese immigrants, then participating in the socialist “Workingman’s Party” riot which killed 4 Chinese and did over $100,000 damage to Chinese owned buildings. Below is a speech made by Kalloch:
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“If the men of capital and resources in this city continue to show such criminal indifference, as many of them have, to the suffering of the people; if corporations and large firms continue to take the bread from their children’s mouths and give It to the Chinese dogs, if, in fact, it becomes apparent that there is no hope for American labor, then there will be trouble; then there will be conflagrations; then there will be bloodshed. I say, and I will say it a hundred times more if necessary, that there will be trouble and bloodshed over the Chinese question,”
Joining Kalloch and Kearney in their campaign to expel the Chinese from America was American Federation of Labor president (AFL), Samuel Gompers. Gompers would famously say of the Chinese “the superior whites had to exclude the inferior Asiatics, by law, or if necessary, by force of arms.” Their collaboration was instrumental in the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 which outlawed Chinese immigration to the US and limited the rights of the Chinese already living here.
Further anti-Chinese labor riots were common all over the US but two of the most violent were led by the Democratic Party in Denver CO. during 1880, while the Seattle, WA riot of 1886 was led by the Knights of Labor union.
During the Presidential election of 1880, a staunchly democratic newspaper began running a series of articles calling the Chinese the “Pest of the Pacific” and warned that “if more Chinese invaded Colorado, white men would starve and white women would be forced into prostitution.” These anti-Chinese articles would be used to justify the mob attack on Denver’s Chinatown, killing one Chinese laundryman and causing some $53,000 in property damage.
The Seattle anti-Chinese riot was also caused by intense labor competition and the anti-Chinese attitude of the growing union movement in the United States. There were several union ringleaders that instigated it but the name most attached to the actual violence of the riot was Daniel Cronin. He was from California and had strong ties to Denis Kearney’s “International Workingman’s Union.” He, like Denis, was an outspoken critic of the Chinese, and the companies that hired them, often stating “there will be riot and bloodshed this winter” if the Chinese did not leave Seattle. True to his word, in February 1885, he was able to start a riot which left dozens of people injured as the mob literally threw hundreds of Chinese onto boats and trains to evict them from town before burning Chinatown to the ground.
“A Black Skin was a Death Sentence” –Carlos F. Hurd
Union violence converged with democratic racism in East St. Louis during 1917. St. Louis, at the turn of the century was a bustling industrial town with a decidedly white democratic population. With many American companies gearing up for entering into WWI, the demand for workers increased at the same time European immigration stopped. The AFL and other unions seized upon this opportunity to increase the unionizing of American manufacturing by calling numerous strikes all over the nation and particularly in East St. Louis.
To combat these practices, companies began to recruit African-American strikebreakers from the south, bringing them in as replacement workers and helping them settle in. This threatened white worker jobs, and the Democratic Party’s hold over the area.
The St. Louis based Aluminum Ore Co employed thousands of workers and was determined to remain a non-union shop. When the AFL called a strike, the company brought in the African-American strikebreakers that would ultimately crush the union’s power. As the strike lines thinned and more of the white workers crossed the picket lines, the union began to spread rumors of incoming trainloads of African-Americans to colonize East St. Louis which would oust white workers from their jobs and dominate local politics. As confrontation seemed inevitable, both sides began to arm themselves.
Alexander Flannigan, a local lawyer and politician stated at a labor meeting in late June, that “East St Louis must remain a white town” and that “there is no law against mob violence.”
The violence erupted on July 1, 1917, when a group of plain-clothed policemen were fired upon as they went through the African-American part of town. The shots killed two officers. In retaliation, a group of whites began to actively beat and/or kill African-Americans and burn down their homes and businesses. By the time the Governor of Illinois had called in the National Guard to stop the violence, the mob had killed between 100 to 200 people and torched over 300 buildings leaving over 6,000 people homeless. A few perpetrators faced justice before the incident was overshadowed by America’s entry into WWI.
“I couldn’t have thrown the bomb. I was at home making bombs.” –Louis Lingg
Beatings, shootings, mob violence and lynchings soon took a back seat as anarchists/socialists introduced a new gruesome weapon in what the New York Times labeled as the “dispensation of dynamite.” There had been bombings prior to the Chicago union strike of 1886, but the Haymarket Square bombing shocked the nation when seven police officers were killed by an unknown assailant throwing dynamite at them. In the aftermath that followed eight anarchists were brought to trial for murder. When in the course of the trials it was determined that none of the defendants had actually thrown the bomb, the police changed the charge to “conspiracy to murder” because in the words of prosecuting attorney Francis Walker: “the eight defendants were part of a vast labor conspiracy to launch a revolution–a conspiracy that cost the lives of dedicated public servants such as patrolman Mathias Degan.” Before the bombing had taken place, one of the defendants, August Spies, had joked with a reporter by saying; “take it to your boss and tell him we have 9,000 more like it,” as he tossed him a casing for a bomb. The Democratic Mayor, Harrison Carter, had befriended and defended the socialists and anarchists before and during the trial.
The results of the trial were that seven of the eight were condemned to be hung while the eighth was given a fifteen-year prison sentence. When four of the defendants were hung, there was a nationwide outcry, resulting in the remaining three being pardoned after serving six years in prison. Haymarket would turn the defendants into martyrs and become a rallying point for the Weather Underground in 1969 to start another terrorist war on America.
Haymarket marked the beginning of a reign of terror that lasted for decades that included the 1892 bombings of the Bunker Hill mine in Coeur d’Alene, and the Los Angeles Times in 1910, which killed twenty-one people and injured dozens more. The LA Times trial would be labeled as the trial of the century when Clearance Darrow, the famous defense lawyer defended the two McNamara brothers charged with placing the bomb. When the evidence against the brothers became irrefutable, Darrow arranged a plea bargain which sentenced John McNamara to fifteen years and his brother James to life in prison. As he left the courtroom, James yelled out to a reporter; “You see? I was right and you were wrong. The whole damn world believes in dynamite.”
“We will dynamite you,” became the rallying cry of anarchist publications as the wave of bombings peaked in the years 1919 and 1920. In April of 1919, a group of anarchists nicknamed the Galleanists, tried to spark a revolution in the U.S. by sending 36 bombs through the US mail to politicians, bankers, judges and other “enemies” on “May Day.” The majority of the bombs were caught at various Post Offices around the country but one succeeded in blowing the hands off of a maid of US Senator Thomas Hardwick.
The final anarchist strike of the early 20th century was the 1920 bombing of the headquarters of J.P. Morgan and Co., which killed 38 and injured over 200 people, making it one of the most deadly acts of terrorism in U.S. history. The bomber was never caught but was believed to have been Italian anarchist Mario Buda, a Galleanists and a close associate of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, the Italian anarchists convicted of murdering two bank employees. The Sacco and Vanzetti case is still enshrined by Democrats and other left-leaning groups as a major case of legal injustice. In 1977 Democratic Governor of Massachusetts, Michael Dukakis exonerated Sacco and Vanzetti as heroes and martyrs. Considering the strong ties Sacco and Vanzetti had with the Galleanists, one would suspect the 38 killed and hundreds wounded by the bombing of the JP Morgan Building might not have agreed with Dukakis.
A note found in 2005 which had been authored by Upton Sinclair (socialist writer of the novel “The Jungle”) would state that he (Sinclair) met with Sacco’s and Vanzetti’s lawyer, Fred Moore, to discuss the case. Moore would confide to him that Sacco and Vanzetti were both guilty of the crime. Later Sinclair would talk to other anarchists who also confirmed that Sacco and Vanzetti were guilty. In the end, Sinclair asked the note to be hidden.
Following the bombing of the JP Morgan building, the Galleanists, faded into obscurity as many of them were deported back to Europe while the remaining members went into hiding or were jailed.
“ In the city of Boston I cannot stop a jackrabbit, but here in Chicago I can put you out of business and I will if you don’t do what I tell you to” –Cornelius P. Shea
During the 1920’s the unions allied with mobsters, labor unions, Democrats and communists:
- Mob influence in the New York City Democratic Party started in 1931 when mobster Lucky Luciano used armed gunmen to place one of his stooges in a New York City political office. The mob’s control over various construction unions would help finance such powerful political organizations as the Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club of Canarsie, in Brooklyn which was instrumental in the careers of both current NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio and Harold Ickes, Deputy Chief of Staff under Bill Clinton.
- Perhaps no other labor union represents violence, the Democratic Party, corruption, the mob and communism better than the Teamsters:
“Sure, we loaned money to build hotels and casinos in Las Vegas. So what? Las Vegas borrowers were good customers.” -Jimmy Hoffa
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