TDISH: Fear Leads to Hate

On the Union Pacific Railway’s coal mine in Rock Springs, Wyoming, two groups of miners labored to provide the hungry boilers of the steam engines that criss-crossed the rails.  These groups, white miners and Chinese miners, were in the midst of a dispute over who would be responsible for mining the most productive part of the mine.  Men were paid by the ton and working the most desirable areas of the mine meant more money with less labor.  The white miners were members of the labor union, the Knights of Labor, and were working to get the mine owners to stop hiring Chinese miners and, failing in that, to relegate them to the most challenging and least rewarding areas of the mine.  When they failed to achieve their goals, some members of the Knights of Labor decided to take matters into their own hands.  During the day of September 2, 1885, several union members attacked two Chinese miners working causing the remaining miners to retreat back to the safety of the Chinatown region of Rock Springs.  That evening, more members of the Knights of Labor made their way to Chinatown and, in what would become a pattern of anti-Chinese violence around the United States, took out their aggression on their “competition.”  The white miners ransacked Chinatown, killing at least 28 Chinese miners and wounding many others.  To make matters even worse, some of the bodies were mutilated or burned after death demonstrating the depth of hatred that was felt towards these men.  Sixteen members of the Knights of Labor were arrested, but the grand jury of Rock Springs refused to bring any charges.  No one was ever prosecuted for this heinous crime.

Featured Image: “Massacre at Rocky Springs.” By Thulstrup, Thure de, 1848-1930 – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3b42624. Harper’s Weekly. Volume 29.  Public Domain.
Source: ““To This We Dissented”: The Rock Springs Riot.History Matters.

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