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Stories-A History of Appalachia

Aug 6, 2021

One hundred years ago this month the largest labor uprising in American history occurred in southern West Virginia when striking coal miners gathered with weapons and headed toward the Appalachian coal fields, intent on unionizing the mines there.

What started with a deadly shootout in Matewan between men hired by the coal company to kick striking miners out of company-owned housing and Police Chief Sid Hatfield and his men in the spring of 1920 and Hatfield's subsequent killing on the McDowell County Courthouse steps by those same enforcers a year later exploded into a mass movement that took the police, hired mercenaries, bombs dropped from airplanes, machine guns, poison gas and, finally, the intervention of the U. S. military to stop.

Today we tell that story.