1914 — Striking coal miners are massacred in Ludlow, Colorado

Miners had been striking for a number of basic rights – an eight hour work day, the right to shop at stores not run by the mining companies, wage increases and actual enforcement of the laws governing mining – since September 1913. Obviously, this attempt by poor working class men to resist their exploitation by the boards of the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company, the Rocky Mountain Fuel Company, and the Victor-American Fuel Company could not be tolerated. An example would have to be made.

An example duly was, but it wasn’t the one that the rich men expected.

On April the 20th, Colorado National Guard members – actually mostly company hired men wearing the uniforms of such – attacked the site of striker’s camp in Ludlow. They killed a number of the strikers – including two wives and eleven children, along with captives who were summarily executed – that day. Only one conviction resulted – one of the strike breakers was convicted of assaulting a union leader who was later killed while a prisoner that day.

This is because management is the best friend that the working man ever had.

Referenced in:
The Ludlow Massacre — Woody Guthrie

1843 — The first wagon train takes the Oregon Trail

The first major group – large enough to be called a wagon train – of settlers to tackle the Oregon Trail departed Elm Grove, Missouri, on May 16, 1843. Numbering between 700 and 1000 souls (accounts vary), they would not be the last. It would take another year or so for the trail to really become popular, but for more than twenty years, the trail, and its various offshoots, would be one of the most popular routes to the Californian coast. More than 400,000 people would travel it – most of them after the discovery of gold in California in 1848.

That first group took six months to traverse the approximately 2000 miles to the Oregon Territory, but they left behind them a rough yet passable trail that others were quick to follow, and over the next fifty years, enough Americans would go west that the government would eventually declare the frontier closed, so settled had it become.

Referenced in:

Oregon Trail — C.W. Call
Oregon Trail — Woody Guthrie