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9. St. Patrick's Day
 

 


St. Patrick's Day

 

"When good St Paddy banished snakes he shook them from his garment
He never thought we'd go abroad to look upon such vermint
Nor quit this land where whiskey grew to wear the Yankee button
Take vinegar for mountain dew and toads for mountain mutton."
Traditional

In the spring of 1918, Henry J. and his friends bore witness to another pivotal moment in Butte history. A Butte Irish organization, the Pearse-Connolly Club, had organized a parade to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day scheduled for Sunday, March 17, 1918. The club named after Pádraig Pearse and James Connolly, was thought by many to be connected with the Socialist Party and the I.W.W. Consequently, the Mayor of Butte refused a permit for the parade and issued an order “forbidding the parade, and further, to make this order permanent during the period of the present war, with the exception of strictly patriotic parades and demonstrations.” Mayor Maloney also ordered the chief of police to use whatever force necessary to make his order effective.  At  4 o’clock , the parade began and attracted thousands of spectators. Immediately, police officers, sheriff’s deputies, and federal troops began to arrest the marchers. Riots erupted throughout the neighborhood. The crowd was moved-on by soldiers carrying loaded rifles fixed with bayonets. At one point a mob burst out of a saloon and attacked a soldier. When the crowd surged around him he fired a shot into the air and began scattering them with his bayonet. Martial law prevailed until the saloons were closed and the streets cleared. 54 men were arrested for “plotting against the U.S. Government.” I.W.W cards were found on five of the men arrested. 
According to news reports the AOH cancelled their participation in the parade but had a "social and solemn observance of the day."

In 1918 the Federal Government amended the Espionage Act prohibiting political strikes that interfered with the war effort. Congress approved laws against enemy aliens authorizing the arrest and deportation of any alien who was a member of the I.W.W. In order to root out subversion, the FBI and U.S. military engaged in systematic spying directed at the labor unions and political activities of Butte miners. The Company, of course, was happy to assist in their endeavors. 

As the world welcomed 1919, the War was over but peace did not come to Butte. Declining demand for copper brought a wage cut of $1 a day for Henry J. and his colleagues. Butte responded in the only way it knew how – another strike! To break the strike the Governor called in the 44th U.S. Infantry. February 10, 1919 was another bloody day in Butte as the soldiers bayonet nine strikers. Enough was enough!  Henry and his compatriots had to leave Butte. In convoy, they managed to escape Montana and sailed home on a troop ship from the port of San Francisco.

 

Up Contents 1. The Arrival 2. The Immigrant 3. Life in Butte 4. Bucket of Blood 5. Life in the Mines 6. 1916 7. Speculator Mine 8. WOBBLIES 9. St. Patrick's Day 10. The Wedding Sources Reader's Comments

   

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