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.
The campaign of lies and slander inaugurated by their private newspapers failed to convince the workers of the undesirability of labor organization. In spite of the armies of editors and news-whelps assembled to its aid, it served only to lash to a murderous frenzy the low instincts of the anti-labor elements in the community. The campaign of legal repression, admittedly instituted by the Employers' Association, failed also in spite of the fact that all the machinery of the state from dog-catcher down to Governor was at its beck and call on all occasions and for all purposes.
Having made a mess of things with these methods the lumber barons threw all scruples to the winds--if they ever had any--threw aside all pretension of living within the law. They started out, mad-dog like, to rent, wreck and destroy the last vestige of labor organization from the woods of the Northwest, and furthermore, to hunt down union men and martyrize them with the club, the gun, the rope and the courthouse.
It was to cover up their own crimes that the heartless beasts of Big Business beat the tom-toms of the press in order to lash the "patriotism" of their dupes and hirelings into hysteria. It was to hide their own infamy that the loathsome war dance was started that developed perceptibly from uncomprehending belligerency into the lawless tumult of mobs, raids and lynching! And it will be an everlasting blot upon the fair name of America that they were permitted to do so.
The Centralia tragedy was the culmination of a long series of unpunished atrocities against labor. What is expected of men who have been treated as these men were treated and who were denied redress or protection under the law? Every worker in the Northwest knows about the wrongs lumberworkers have endured--they are matters of common knowledge. It was common knowledge in Centralia and adjoining towns that the I.W.W. hall was to be raided on Armistice Day. Yet eight loggers have been sentenced from twenty-five to forty years in prison for the crime of defending themselves from the mob that set out to murder them! But let us see how the conspiracy was operating in Centralia to make the Armistice Day tragedy inevitable.
THE MAELSTROM--AND FOUR MEN
Centralia was fast becoming the vortex of the conspiracy that was rushing to its inevitable conclusion. Event followed event in rapid succession, straws indicating the main current of the flood tide of labor-hatred. The Commercial Club was seething with intrigue like the court of old France under Catherine de Medici; only this time it was Industrial Unionism instead of Huguenots who were being Marked for a new night of St. Bartholomew. The heresy to be uprooted was belief in industrial instead of religious freedom; but the stake and the gibbet were awaiting the New Idea just as they had the old.
The actions of the lumber interests were now but thinly veiled and their evil purpose all too manifest. The connection between the Employers' Association of the state and its local representatives in Centralia had become unmistakably evident. And behind these loomed the gigantic silhouette of the Employers' Association of the nation--the colossal "invisible government"--more powerful at times than the Government itself. More and more stood out the naked brutal fact that the purpose of all this plotting was to drive the union loggers from the city and to destroy their hall. The names of the men actively interested in this movement came to light in spite of strenuous efforts to keep them obscured. Four of these stand out prominently in the light of the tragedy that followed: George F. Russell, F.B. Hubbard, William Scales and last, but not least, Warren O. Grimm.
The first named, George F. Russell, is a hired Manager for the Washington Employers' Association, whose membership employs between 75,000 and 80,000 workers in the state. Russell is known to be a reactionary of the most pronounced type. He is an avowed union smasher and a staunch upholder of the open shop principle, which is widely advertised as the "American plan" in Washington. Incidentally he is an advocate of the scheme to import Chinese and Japanese cooley labor as a solution of the "high wage and arrogant unionism" problem.
F. B. Hubbard, is a small-bore Russell, differing from his chief only in that his labor hatred is more fanatical and less discreet. Hubbard was hard hit by the strike in 1917 which fact has evidently won him the significant title of "a vicious little anti-labor reptile." He is the man who helped to raid the 1918 Union Hall in Centralia and who appropriated for himself the stolen desk of the Union Secretary. His nephew Dale Hubbard was shot while trying to lynch Wesley Everest.
William Scales is a Centralia business man and a virulent sycophant. He is a parochial replica of the two persons mentioned above. Scales was in the Quartermaster's Department down on the border during the trouble with Mexico. Because he was making too much money out of Uncle Sam's groceries, he was relieved of his duties quite suddenly and discharged from the service. He was fortunate in making France instead of Fort Leavenworth, however, and upon his return, became an ardent proselyte of Russell and Hubbard and their worthy cause. Also he continued in the grocery business.
Warren O. Grimm came from a good family and was a small town aristocrat. His brother is city attorney at Centralia. Grimm was a lawyer, a college athlete and a social lion. He had been with the American forces in Siberia and his chief bid for distinction was a noisy dislike for the Worker's & Peasants' Republic of Russia, and the I.W.W. which he termed the "American Bolsheviki". During the 1918 raid on the Centralia hall Grimm is said to have been dancing around "like a whirling dervish" and waving the American flag while the work of destruction was going on. Afterwards he became prominent in the American Legion and was the chief "cat's paw" for the lumber interests who were capitalizing the uniform to gain their own unholy ends. Personally he was a clean-cut modern young man.
Next page: Part 12 - Shadows Cast Before