The Frank Little Episode And The Butte Labor Troubles Of 1917

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Authors
Garrity, Donald
Advisor
Thomas Clinch
Editor
Date of Issue
1957-04-01
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Title
The Frank Little Episode And The Butte Labor Troubles Of 1917
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thesis
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Abstract
This is the story of a hanging. Such an event is not unusual in the history of a state which numbers many hangmen among its founding fathers and glorifies them under the romantic term of "Vigilantes." Lynch law is an accepted part of Montana's tradition, which may explain why we have retained the gallows as the official means of inflicting capital punishment. This particular hanging is important not because it was unusual but because it was typical. In it we see a dramatic representation of the pattern which labor-management relations had assumed in Montana’s mining industry. In tracing the pattern, it has been necessary to briefly sketch the history of labor relations in Butte prior to 1917. This paper Is not Intended to be an apologia for either Frank Little or the Industrial Workers of the World. The first sentence of the I.W.W. preamble states that "The working class and the employing class have nothing in common.” Theirs is a philosophy which I have no desire to defend. It is not Little’s life, but his death which is important here. It may be said that had the Little group been victorious in the struggles of 1917, the results would have been much more disastrous. But they did not win and so that possibility need not overly concern us. The fact that they were beaten by methods at least as vicious as those proposed by Little does concern us. For if Little can be termed, a communist, his killers cannot escape the classification of fascists. In the suppression of one evil, at least as great a one was spawned and strengthened. It is my intention to demonstrate this in the following pages.This is the story of a hanging. Such an event is not unusual in the history of a state which numbers many hangmen among its founding fathers and glorifies them under the romantic term of "Vigilantes." Lynch law is an accepted part of Montana's tradition, which may explain why we have retained the gallows as the official means of inflicting capital punishment. This particular hanging is important not because it was unusual but because it was typical. In it we see a dramatic representation of the pattern which labor-management relations had assumed in Montana’s mining industry. In tracing the pattern, it has been necessary to briefly sketch the history of labor relations in Butte prior to 1917. This paper Is not Intended to be an apologia for either Frank Little or the Industrial Workers of the World. The first sentence of the I.W.W. preamble states that "The working class and the employing class have nothing in common.” Theirs is a philosophy which I have no desire to defend. It is not Little’s life, but his death which is important here. It may be said that had the Little group been victorious in the struggles of 1917, the results would have been much more disastrous. But they did not win and so that possibility need not overly concern us. The fact that they were beaten by methods at least as vicious as those proposed by Little does concern us. For if Little can be termed, a communist, his killers cannot escape the classification of fascists. In the suppression of one evil, at least as great a one was spawned and strengthened. It is my intention to demonstrate this in the following pages.
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Degree Awarded
Bachelor's
Semester
Spring
Department
History