You are here

Centralia Conspiracy

Part 13 - The Plot Leaks Out

By degrees the story of the infamous secret committee and its diabolical plan leaked out, adding positive confirmation to the many already credited rumors in circulation. Some of the newspapers quite openly hinted that the I.W.W. Hall was to be the object of the brewing storm. Chief of Police Hughes told a member of the Lewis County Trades Council, William T. Merriman by name, that the business men were organizing to raid the hall and drive its members out of town. Merriman, in turn carried the statement to many of his friends and brother unionists.

Part 12 - Shadows Cast Before

On June 26th, the following notice appeared conspicuously on the first page of the Centralia Hub:


Part 11 - Failure and Desperation

Let us see for a moment how the conspiracy of the lumber barons operated to achieve the unlawful ends for which it was designed. Let us see how they were driven by their own failure at intrigue to adopt methods so brutal that they would have disgraced the head-hunter; how they tried to gain with murder-lust what they had failed to gain lawfully and with public approval.

Part 10 - The Conspiracy Develops

The cessation of hostilities in Europe deprived the gangsters of the cloak of "patriotism" as a cover for their crimes. But this cloak was too convenient to be discarded so easily. "Let the man in uniform do it" was an axiom that had been proved both profitable and safe. Then came the organization of the local post of the American Legion and the now famous Citizen's Protective League--of which more afterwards.

Part 9 - The 1918 Raid

It had been rumored about town that the Union Hall was to be wrecked on this day but the loggers at the hall were of the opinion that the business men, having driven their Secretary out of town a short time previously, would not dare to perpetrate another atrocity so soon afterwards. In this they were sadly mistaken.

Part 8 - Pioneers of Unionism

It is hard for workers in most of the other industries--especially in the East--to understand the problems, struggles and aspirations of the husky and unconquerable lumber workers of the Northwest. The reason is that the average union man takes his union for granted. He goes to his union meetings, discusses the affairs of his craft, industry or class, and he carries his card--all as a matter of course.

Part 7 - Sinister Centralia

But Centralia was destined to be the scene of the most dramatic portion of the struggle between the entrenched interests and the union loggers. Here the long persecuted industrialists made a stand for their lives and fought to defend their own, thus giving the glib-tongued lawyers of the prosecution the opportunity of accusing them of "wantonly murdering unoffending paraders" on Armistice Day.

Part 6 - Autocracy vs. Unionism

This unprecedented struggle was really a test of strength between industrial autocracy and militant unionism. The former was determined to restore the palmy days of peonage for all time to come, the latter to fight to the last ditch in spite of hell and high water. The lumber trust sought to break the strike of the loggers and destroy their organization. In the ensuing fracas the lumber barons came out only second best-and they were bad losers.

Part 5 - The Eight Hour Day and "Treason"

Nineteen hundred and seventeen was an eventful year. It was then the greatest strike in the history of the lumber industry occurred-the strike for the eight hour day. For years the logger and mill hand had fought against the unrestrained greed of the lumber interests. Step by step, in the face of fiercest opposition, they had fought for the right to live like men; and step by step they had been gaining. Each failure or success had shown them the weakness or the strength of their union. They had been consolidating their forces as well as learning how to use them.

Part 4 - Why the Loggers Organized

The condition of the logger previous to the period of organization beggars description. Modern industrial autocracy seemed with him to develop its most inhuman characteristics. The evil plant of wage slavery appeared to bear its most noxious blossoms in the woods.

The hours of labor were unendurably long, ten hours being the general rule-with the exception of the Grays Harbor district, where the eleven or even twelve hour day prevailed. In addition to this men were compelled to walk considerable distances to and from their work and meals through the wet brush.


The Fine Print I:

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this site are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) unless otherwise indicated and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s, nor should it be assumed that any of these authors automatically support the IWW or endorse any of its positions.

Further: the inclusion of a link on our site (other than the link to the main IWW site) does not imply endorsement by or an alliance with the IWW. These sites have been chosen by our members due to their perceived relevance to the IWW EUC and are included here for informational purposes only. If you have any suggestions or comments on any of the links included (or not included) above, please contact us.

The Fine Print II:

Fair Use Notice: The material on this site is provided for educational and informational purposes. It may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of scientific, environmental, economic, social justice and human rights issues etc.

It is believed that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have an interest in using the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The information on this site does not constitute legal or technical advice.