The blight of the federation : James McParland, the Pinkerton National Detective Agency and the Western Federation of Miners, 1892-1907
Bartos, Jeffrey Michael
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This thesis examines the interaction between the Pinkerton National Detective Agency and the Western Federation of Miners in the American West, through the analysis of two major mining strikes and a prominent trial. Chapter one covers the 1892 strike in the Coeur d'Alene mining district in northern Idaho. Chapter two examines the Cripple Creek labor war of 1903-1904 in Colorado. Chapter three views the 1905 dynamite assassination of Idaho's ex-Governor Frank Steunenberg and the Pinkerton's role in the subsequent investigation and trial. This thesis is based on extensive primary source research including operative reports, and historiographical reading in the fields of labor history, environmental history, history of the American West, social and cultural history, and local history. The period of 1892-1907 was pivotal in American history, and the conflict between the Pinkerton National Detective Agency and the Western Federation of Miners is representative of the larger fault lines within American society. The evidence suggests that the Western Federation of Miners and the Pinkerton National Detective Agency evolved as organizations based on their interactions and antagonism, and the actions of each organization pushed the other to more extreme measures. Furthermore, the Pinkerton National Detective Agency established durable ties with the mining industry, state governments, and the state National Guard and law enforcement apparatus for the express purpose of breaking the Western Federation of Miners and ensuring the hegemony of the mine owners over their districts. Furthermore, the organizations and people involved have a legacy that persists today. The Pinkerton National Detective Agency is now doing business as Pinkerton's Government Services, while the pro-union political Left venerates William Haywood and the Industrial Workers of the World. The events and trends analyzed in this thesis had a lasting effect on American society.