Violence in the West : The Johnson County Range War and the Ludlow Massacre - A Brief History with Documents

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2008-09-18
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's
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Popular portrayals have long depicted the American frontier of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as a "Wild West" marked by violence. This compelling volume by Marilynn Johnson explores the question of how violent the West truly was and what conditions made violence likely to occur. By examining the case studies of the Johnson County range war in Wyoming and the Ludlow Massacre during the southern Colorado coal strike, Johnson demonstrates that western violence in this period was a product of the transformation of the West from a rugged frontier to a capitalist market. The introduction provides an overview of the range and mining wars that plagued the region and the specific cases the book examines. The primary sources collected by Johnson including newspaper reports, industrialists' accounts, union documents, and personal memoirs offer a vivid portrait of tensions surrounding land use, industrial development, labor, and race and ethnicity that fueled violence and ultimately contributed to western development. An epilogue looks at how these events have been remembered and how popular culture has helped keep the mystique of the Wild West alive. Document headnotes, two chronologies, questions for consideration, a selected bibliography, and an index enrich student exploration of this often-misunderstood part of American history.

Author Biography

Marilynn S. Johnson (Ph.D., New York University) is a professor of history and chair of the history department at Boston College. Dr. Johnson’s research interests center on urban, immigration, and western history. Her most recent book, Street Justice: A History of Police Violence in New York City (Beacon Press, 2003) explored the history of police brutality from the mid-nineteenth to late 20th century. Her previous book, The Second Gold Rush: Oakland and the East Bay in World War II, (University of California Press, 1993) won the Sierra Prize from the Western Association of Women’s Historians. Currently, she is working on a history of new immigrants in Boston from 1965 to the present.

Table of Contents



PART ONE: INTRODUCTION: The American West: A Violent Land?

The Range Wars

The Johnson County War

The Mining Wars

The Colorado Coal Strike

The Taming of the West



The Johnson County War

  1. Walter Baron Von Richthofen, Cattle Raising on the Plains of North America, 1885

  2. Emerson Hough, The Rustler, 1897

  3. Frank M. Canton, Frontier Trails, 1930

  4. Oscar "Jack" Flagg, The Waterloo of the Barons, 1892

  5. Cheyenne Sun, Two Notorious Characters Hanged for Cattle Stealing, 1889

  6. John H. Fales, Neither of them ever stole a cow, 1955

  7. John Clay, My Life on the Range, 1924

  8. Asa Shinn Mercer, The Banditti of the Plains, 1894

  9. Sam Clover, Riding with the Regulators, 1892

  10. Oscar "Jack" Flagg, The Siege at the TA Ranch, 1892

  11. Editorial, Cheyenne Daily Leader, 1892

  12. Editorial, Cheyenne Daily Sun, 1892

  13. F.A. Meredith, The Wyoming Cattle War, 1892

  14. Officers of the Ninth Cavalry, The Suggs Affair, 1892

  15. Asa Shinn Mercer, The Trial of the Invaders, 1894

  16. Anonymous, The Invasion Song, 1890s

    The Colorado Coal Strike

  17. United Mine Workers of America, District 15, Strike Resolutions, 1913

  18. George West, U.S. Commission on Industrial Relations, Report on the Colorado Strike, 1915

  19. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., The Colorado Fuel and Iron Company and the Colorado Strike, 1913

  20. United Mine Workers of America, TheGovernor and the Coal Operators, 1914

  21. Colorado State Federation of Labor, Militarism in Colorado, 1914

  22. Mother Jones, In Rockefeller’s Prisons, 1925

  23. Rocky Mountain News and United Mine Workers Journal, The January 22nd Riot, 1914

  24. Colorado Adjutant General, Report on Battle of Ludlow, 1914

  25. Mary O’Neal, Those Damn Foreigners, 1971

  26. Pearl Jolly, Under Fire in the Ludlow Tent Colony, 1914

  27. William Snyder, Affidavit Given to the Commission on Industrial Relations, 1914

  28. Godfrey Irwin, The Killing of Louis Tikas, 1914


  29. John Sloan, The Aftermath of Ludlow, 1914

  30. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Labor and Capital—Partners, 1916



PART III: EPILOGUE: Remembering Johnson County and Ludlow



A Chronology of Events: The Johnson County War

A Chronology of Events: The Colorado Coal Strike

Questions for Consideration

Selected Bibliography



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