The Bisbee Deportation of 1917 was not only a pivotal event in Arizona's labor history, but one that had an effect on labor activities throughout the country. The International Workers of the World had been involved in miners since 1905 Here is an excerpt from the website at the University of Arizona:
"On June 24, 1917, the I.W.W. presented the Bisbee mining companies with a list of demands. These demands included improvements to safety and working conditions, such as requiring two men on each machine and an end to blasting in the mines during shifts. Demands were also made to end discrimination against members of labor organizations and the unequal treatment of foreign and minority workers. Furthermore, the unions wanted a flat wage system to replace sliding scales tied to the market price of copper. The copper companies refused all I.W.W. demands, using the war effort as justification. As a result, a strike was called and by June 27 roughly half the Bisbee work force was on strike.
Tensions heightened when rumors spread asserting that the unions had been infiltrated by pro-Germans. Another rumor suggested that weapons and dynamite were cached around Bisbee for sabotage. The Citizen's Protective League, an anti-union organization formed during a previous labor dispute, was resurrected by local businessmen and put under the control of Sheriff Harry Wheeler. A group of miners loyal to the mining companies also formed the Workman's Loyalty League. On July 11, secret meetings of these two so-called "vigilante groups" were held to discuss ways to deal with the strike and the strikers.
The next day (July 12, 1917) starting at 2:00 a. m., calls were made to Loyalty Leaguers as far away as Douglas, Arizona. By 5:00 a. m., about 2,000 deputies assembled. All wore white armbands to distinguish them from other mining workers. No federal or state officials were notified of the vigilantes' plans. The Western Union telegraph office was seized and prohibiting any communication to the town.
At 6:30 a. m., Sheriff Harry Wheeler gave orders to begin the roundup. Throughout Bisbee, men were roused from their beds, their houses, and the streets. Though armed, the vigilantes were instructed to avoid violence. However, reports of beatings, robberies, vandalism, and abuse of women later surfaced.
Two men died during the roundup. James Brew shot Loyalty Leaguer, Orson McRae, after warning McRae he would shoot anyone who attempted to take him.Brew was in turn shot and killed by men accompanying McRae.
The vigilantes rounded up over 1,000 men, many of whom were not strikers -- or even miners -- and marched them two miles to the Warren Ballpark. There they were surrounded by armed Loyalty Leaguers and urged to quit the strike. Anyone willing to put on a white armband was released. At 11:00 a. m. a train arrived, and 1,186 men were loaded aboard boxcars inches deep in manure. Also boarding were a 186-armed guards; a machine gun was mounted on the top of the train. The train traveled from Bisbee to Columbus, New Mexico, where it was turned back because there were no accommodations for so many men. On its return trip the train stopped at Hermanas, New Mexico, where the men were abandoned. A later train brought water and food rations, but the men were left without shelter until July 14th when U. S. troops arrived. The troops escorted the men to facilities in Columbus. Many were detained for several months."
Bonnard, Sheila. Historical Context of the Bisbee Deportations. The Bisbee Deportations of 1917, A University of Arizona Library Web Exhibit. http://digital.library.arizona.edu/bisbee/main/history.phpOnline. 1/01/00.
University of Arizona Library--The Bisbee Deportations
Compiled messages of Geo. W.P. Hunt and Thos. E. Campbell, Gove[r]nors
J87. A6153x 1912
The Bisbee deportation 1917: anti-radical repression during World War
I By Warren, Larrie James, 1946-
LD 179.15 1974.W37.
A community divided : a social history of the Bisbee deportation/ by
Colleen M. O'Neill
F 819.B6 O5x
Forging the copper collar : Arizona's labor management war of 1901-1921
/ James W. Byrkit
HD 6515.M72 B563 1982
Life and labor in Arizona, 1901-1921 : with particular reference to
the deportations of 1917 / by James Ward Byrkit.
HD 8083.A7 B9x
Pamphlets on Bisbee, Arizona
FE EPH DTO-BISBEE
Arthur Fay - His Personal Reminiscences,
Report on the Bisbee Deportations Made by the President's Mediation
Commission to the President of the United States, November 6, 1917, 1918
FE EPH WL-5
The I.W.W. Deportation from the Warren District, July 12, 1917, N.D.
FE EPH WI-53
Biography of Dan Stanley Kitchel.
FB BIO KIT,DAN
Address of Senator Sutter of Cochise County, 1918
FE EPH GS-6
Papers of Henry Stanley Mc Cluskey
The I.W.W. in Arizona, Notes of Thomas E. Campbell. Written Between
1934 & 1939; C.1917
Journal of Arizona History Article Summer 1977
Fred Watson on Bisbee Deportations
Journal of Arizona History (summer 1977): 171-184.
Arizona Days and
Ways November 8, 1964
Sheriff aide tells of Bisbee Deportations
Arizona Days and Ways November 15, 1964
Echoes of deportation heard for many years.
Mining Journal May 1918
Federal Indictment of Bisbeeites
Mining Journal September 1919
A "Tale of Two Cities": Harry C. Wheeler Chief Character.
Tucson Daily Citizen July 12, 1917
Armed citizens of Bisbee, acting as deputy sheriffs, round up 1,100 local strikers, load them in freight cars and ship them into the New Mexico Desert.
Tucson Daily Citizen July 17, 1917
With armed civilians guarding the roads to prevent return of deported I.W.W., Bisbee mines resume production.
Arizona Daily Star July 7, 1918
Suits for damages totaling $3,000,000 are filed against Arizona copper companies by 160 Bisbee deportees
Mining Journal December 1918
Bisbee Deportation case quashed : Indictment brought by those who had been deported against 25 prominent citizens of Bisbee and Douglas have been quashed by Judge Morrow. "This ends the famous Bisbee deportation cases as they are commonly known."