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The coal companies controlled many aspects of the miners’ lives. P S Foner, op cit, p Meanwhile, Sephus has made his way back to town and informed the others of Lively’s betrayal, furiously burning down his restaurant. The soundtrack was released on LP , by Columbia, Only a fortnight earlier the union had held a rally attended by over 3, miners, black and white, in the town. Baby It’s You Although all but one were acquitted of treason charges , others were found guilty of murder and spent years in prison. D Corbin, op cit, p

Coal miners, struggling to form a union, are up against company operators and the gun thugs of the notorious Baldwin-Felts detective agency. This tragedy, along with events such as the Ludlow massacre in Colorado six years earlier, marked an important turning point in the battle for miners’ rights. On this occasion, he doesn’t quite make it. After a two month strike most gave in, but in Paint Creek and Cabin Creek where nearly pits employed 7, miners the employers continued to resist. The trials were held in the courthouse where John Brown had been convicted in Read these snatches from Matewan children of the time: As labor historian Hoyt N.

No one knows exactly who was shooting, it is not the sort of activity anyone admits to, but there were hundreds of shooters and at least twenty people killed. Why did Sayles decide to make a film about a miners’ strike in West Virginia in the early s?

The strikers are evicted from their company houses and establish a colony outside the town of Matewan. He often mateean coal companies against his own men, wiping out an anthracite strike in Pennsylvania in Now an armed confrontation was to take place on the main street between the Baldwin-Felts men and Matewan’s mayor, Cabell Testerman, and chief of police, Sid Hatfield, both former miners and staunch UMW supporters.

Although all but one were acquitted of treason chargesothers were found guilty of fiom and spent years in prison. Subscribe or Give a Gift. For Sayles, ‘the backbone’ of the film is whether Kenehan can get justice mstewan the miners ‘without a gun’.


One of the dead miners was the union organiser, Louis Tikas, who was captured by the militia, beaten and summarily executed. I could tell you some stories’.

Battle of Matewan

On 31 August the miners’ army attempted to break through into Logan County at Blair Mountain and fighting flared up along a 20 mile front. Subscribe Top Menu Current Issue. National action by the UMW and solidarity action from other unions could still have won the day.

Louis Railway “Nickel Plate Road” Lewis’s betrayal of the strike was to condemn the UMW to fight a losing war of attrition throughout the s as the unorganised fields succeeded in undermining the organised.

Matewan () – Plot Summary – IMDb

Nominated for 1 Oscar. The strike continued and it was not until the end of December that a general return to work had taken place. A happily married woman comes to realize herself of being a repressed lesbian after she has an affair with a female college professor, and then tries to come to terms with her newfound lifestyle. Throughout the strike ‘long coal trains rumbled every day from the southern Appalachians’, clearly identifying southern West Virginia as filmm ‘one major fault’ in the UMW’s national position.

Bob Gunton as C.

What transformed the situation, however, was the unsuccessful attempt by Baldwin-Felts agents to take over Matewan. Others like Hapgood and Germer and many more could expect beatings that would almost kill them You get the feeling of dirt, sweat and — despite the story’s mythic intentions — the grim grey struggle of it all.

While the detectives made their way to the train depot, they were intercepted by Matewan Chief of Police Sid Hatfieldwho claimed to have arrest warrants from the Mingo County sheriff. Tom Griggs Bob Gunton The campaign to secure his release continued throughout the s and s.

Views Read Edit View history. Danny’s act of mercy was only made possible because Hatfield and his deputies had already shot it out with the Baldwin-Felts agents and won. A few innocent citizens were caught in the middle and killed.


The events and underlying forces that led to it were more important then those at the OK Corrall. His film was not a documentary but is best regarded as a powerful fictional celebration of working class struggle and solidarity that made dramatic use of the historic Matewan episode.

On 8 November the court ordered the union to secure a return to work. Discontent was also building up among the miners with a rash of unofficial strikes in the summer of and demands for a general strike to secure the release of Tom Mooney 20a revolutionary socialist framed for a bombing in San Francisco in In one instance, miners surrounded a camp of guards during the night, cleared away the underbrush, and silently waited till dawn.

This is a volume in the University of Illinois Press’s excellent ‘The Iflm Class in American History’ series which is unfortunately not distributed in this country. By UMW membership nationally had fallen to 80, with Illinois the only area where it had any real strength. Although he is not shown as a union man, Hatfield nevertheless protects the rights of the miners against the company gun thugs.

After the detective and mayor fell wounded, Sid kept firing, but Felts escaped. Early in the UMW began organising in Mingo County, using the independent town of Matewan, with its union mayor and chief of police, as a centre of operations.

His efforts to provoke violence continue, and culminate in the chilling murder of a teenage miner, Hillard, who is caught stealing coal from the company tip.

When the mayor defended Hatfield from the arrest, he was shot, and more bullets began to fly. They massacrre in the hills and sniped at individual guards, and squads of miners attacked companies of Baldwin-Felts men.