The Jerome Deportation
Deportation is better documented, the Jerome Deportation was the precursor
for what was to follow on July 12, 1917, when more than 1,100 men were rounded
up in Bisbee and transported to Columbus, New Mexico.
1901 the Arizona mining industry was financed and controlled by eastern
investors. The town of Jerome is named for Eugene Jerome, a New York attorney
who invested capital to purchase the claim that started it all.
Beginning in 1901 when President William McKinley was
assassinated and Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as the 26th president of the
United States, there was a fifteen-year decline in popular support for business
and industry and a rising national sympathy for labor. Unions gathered strength
and moved west.
United States declared war on Germany on April 6th, 1917 and entered World War
I, creating a higher demand for copper and sending prices to an all time high.
The unions, aware of the economic upturn, demanded higher pay ($5.25/day),
recognition of the union and a grievance committe. As labor unrest grew, the
copper companies, though former rivals, mounted a counter-offensive against the
unions under the leadership of Walter Douglas.
patriotic fervor the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) was feared and hated
as pro-German, socialist and radical. Throughout the United States the IWW
encountered opposition. In Arizona the "Wobblies" were accused of targeting the
west, with its hungry itinerant laborers, as a prime target for its anarchistic
of 1917 all of the twenty or so mines in Jerome were affected by strikes. The
strikes that led to the deportation were complicated by the rivalry between the
IWW and the AFLs Mine Mill and Smelter Workers (MMSW). The power struggle
between them left the working-class community in the district bitterly
labor union, the Liga Protectura Latina, representing about 500 Mexican miners,
complicated the mix with their own demands.
spring turned into summer, the Wobblies made increasing demands and tension
increased. By the end of June a statewide copper mine strike was underway.
6 the Metal Mine Workers Industrial Union, said to be an upstart of the IWW,
was on strike at Jerome, along with some members of the established MMSW. But
the following day, local membership of the MMSW voted overwhelmingly not to
join the strike.
decision brought on the Jerome Deportation. On the afternoon of July 9, several
hundred men, many of them members of the Jerome Miners Union signed their names
to a roster of emergency volunteers. That evening at a secret
meeting held at the Jerome High School, union members and citizens in general
made plans to clean the town and restore order. The deportation was
to be a citizens affair. No one was deputized. The UV Copper Company
provided two cattle cars for the deportees. The vigilantes agreed to identify
themselves with white handkerchiefs tied around their arms.
am on Tuesday, July 10th, over two hundred men armed with rifles, pick handles
and billies swarmed over and into any place where the Wobblies
might bed down, and about a hundred thirty-five men were rounded up. Each man
received a trial. A few were pardoned by mine supervisors who
vouched for them, but were instructed to keep their mouths shut.
Seventy-five men were loaded into cattle cars. As the gates were
lifted and the men climbed in, there was considerable horseplay. One man had
waited until the last minute to state that he was leaving behind four children,
the youngest of whom was only four days old. He was told that he had had his
chance and that it was too late. The cattle car playfulness
subsided. As the train pulled out, several deportees shouted that that they
would be back, but probably only a handful ever saw Jerome again.
escaped along the way, and the rest were released near Kingman with orders not
to return to Jerome. The Deportations of the summer of 1917 poisoned
labor-industry relations in Arizona for many years.
The vigilantes and their
supporters justified the deportation as a legitimate act of a community
protecting itself from traitors, spies and anarchists who were determined to
undermine the war effort.