Presidential Leadership Averts Disaster – 1902 Coal Strike

Today in History, October, 1902:

President Theodore Roosevelt becomes the first president to intervene in a labor dispute.

Anthracite coal miners, organized by the United Mine Workers, were asking for fewer work hours and more pay. The mining companies refused and the miners went on a strike that had lasted for months at this point.

American industry and transportation relied almost exclusively on coal at this time in our nation’s development, as did very many homes for heat.

The dispute had already had a significant effect on the country, and winter was coming on. The potential for countless citizens freezing to death was quite real.

President Roosevelt felt he had to act to prevent a national catastrophe. He invited both parties to the White House to mediate an agreement on behalf of the American people.

The miners agreed to negotiate, the Coal companies were not so inclined.

Roosevelt, never shy to take the bull by the horns, promised to have the military take over the industry if a settlement was not reached.

By October 23rd the miners were back to work, with less hours and more pay. The coal companies did not, however, recognize the UMWA, and the story was far from over.

But a disaster had been avoided and Roosevelt’s re-election was assured.

The Unknown Soldier & the USS Olympia


The USS Olympia sets sail for France.

Her mission: To bring the Unknown Soldier back home for burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

The Olympia had a distinguished career. in 1898 she was Admiral Dewey’s flagship during the Battle of Manila Bay in the Philippines (Spanish-American War) in which the American fleet devastated the Spanish Fleet, propelling the US to international player status.

Dewey stood on the Olympia’s bridge when he famously said, “You may fire when ready, Gridley”.

The trip back to America from France with the Unknown Soldier was not uneventful. The ship feared they would be lost to a devastating storm.

Today, the Olympia is the oldest remaining steel hulled ship of the US Navy, a nearly 130 year old museum ship. But her story is far from over. The Olympia is suffering severe natural damage and it will take millions to keep her from dissolving into the Delaware River in Philadelphia.

And of course you can visit her famous passenger at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C.

Captain Jack & Gen. Canby

Today in History, October 3: 1873 – Modoc Indian Chief Kintpuash, aka Captain Jack, and three others are hanged by the US Army for the murder of US Army General Edward Canby and Reverend Eleazar Thomas. The Modocs had agreed to move from their ancestral lands to the Klamath Reservation, but were treated poorly by another tribe there, so they returned to their lands in Northern California. Although they attempted to be peaceful, the settlers in the area were not happy with their presence and the army moved them back to the reservation; they again left, holding up in the Lava Beds in California. Gen. Canby agreed to a meeting with the Chief and several others. Under pressure from some of his tribe members, Captain Jack murdered Canby and Thomas. Canby had been a West Point graduate, a veteran of the Mexican-American War and a hero of the Civil War, and the first and only general officer killed in the Indian Wars. In response, Canby’s replacement, Gen. Jefferson C. Davis (no relation to the Confederate President) had Chief Kintpuash and his associates rounded up and tried for murder.