UA Library

A committee appointed by the Citizens' Protective League and Loyalty League of Bisbee presented an affidavit to the Wilson administration in Washington, D.C. at a meeting on September 1917. This group met with government officials to express their opinion about copper prices and the deportation in Bisbee. The League opposed the I.W.W., asking the government not to allow the deportees to return to Bisbee. Note President Wilson's and American Federation of Labor leader Samuel Gompers' comments about the deportation. The original punctuation and wording is preserved here.

Arizona Historical Society Library MS 0154, folder F2


TO THE MEMBERS OF CITIZENS PROTECTIVE LEAGUE AND LOYALTY LEAGUE

Bisbee, Arizona.

Gentlemen:

We, the committee appointed by the Citizens Protective League and the Loyalty League to wait upon the Administration at Washington D.C., in regard to setting of price of copper, beg leave to submit the following report.

We arrived in Washington, Sunday, September 2nd, 1917. On Monday, September 3rd, we met Senator Ashurst and explained our mission. Senator Ashurst made appointment for us with Mr. Barney Baruch for Tuesday, September 4th, We discussed with him the copper situation, particularly our attitude relative to price be fixed at twenty-five cents as a minimum, explaining that we were very desirous that this price be maintained in order that under our present sliding scale of wages, that this price would insure $5.00, or better, for minors per day. In our judgement, Mr. Baruch was in favor of fixing the price of copper at twenty-five cents, but he was rather empathic in stating that the final price would be fixed by the President.

On September 5th, we met Secretary of War, Baker, and after relating our story to him, upon which subject he seemed to be fully as well posted as we were-in the conversation with Mr. Baker, he stated that, had he been a resident of Bisbee under the same conditions, he would probably, as an individual, have cooperated with the citizens of Bisbee in the deportation. After asking that he use his influence toward not having the deportees at Columbus returned under federal protection, he stated that under his present frame of mind his judgement was that such a thing would not be done. After informing him that all of the present attendance at the detention camp at Columbus were not men who were deported from Bisbee, he stated that this was news to him, and that her would immediately cause an investigation to be made—we noted that within two days after our interview with Mr. Baker rations were cut at Columbus, and raid was made on I.W.W. headquarters at Chicago.

On the same day we held an interview with Secretary of Labor, Wilson. Mr. Wilson seemed very pleased to see and talk with us. After taking up the subject of the price of copper and its relation to our scale of wages in force, the trends of conversion drifted to the subject of the Bisbee deportation. Mr. Wilson seemed to deplore the fact that such drastic action was necessary, but he hoped that conditions in Bisbee would rapidly become normal. In speaking of the deportation, Mr. Wilson gave as his belief that under ordinary conditions, the only thing to do was, in his opinion, to have returned the deportees to Bisbee under protection of troops. It being in a time of war, he added that an extraordinary condition existed and that a community which had deported 1200 of its numbers was not to be tampered with, not even by the federal government. We filed with Mr. Wilson a copy of Sheriff Wheeler's report to Attorney General Wiley Jones, and also a copy of an affidavit as to the action of certain members of the I.W.W. in a certain hotel in Bisbee.

On Thursday, September 6th, we were tendered the honor of an interview with President Wilson. After paying our respects, we stated our mission, which consisted in price of copper and its relation to welfare of our community. The President stated that he appreciated existing conditions and felt that especially at this time all should be willing to make some sacrifice. In this statement he referred to both capital and labor. It was the suggestion of this committee that the price of copper not be set under twenty-five cents in view of sliding scale of wages in force on this camp. After discussion of copper prices and industrial conditions, President stated relative to deportation: "You boys got me into a peck of trouble out there." He further stated that we were engaged in the greatest conflict the world had ever known, and it was the duty of every one to help to "do it up brown." We feel that the result gained by our interview with the President was the fact that we had the opportunity of presenting Bisbee's side of the deportation.

We were delayed a week awaiting an interview with Mr. Gompers who was out of the city at thins time. We felt that an interview with Mr. Gompers was very important. It was also the suggestion of our representatives that we await the return of Mr. Gompers. In our interview with Mr. Gompers those present were, Mr. Samuel Gompers, Mr. Chas. Moyer, Mr.Frank Morrison, Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Murray, Mr. Crow, and several others. We stated our mission to Mr. Gompers, in which it was clearly expressed that we were not opposed in any manner to legitimate organized labor. In reply, Mr. Gompers gave us a generalized talk on the relation between capital and labor. We then adjourned to council chamber of American Federation of Labor, where Mr. Morrison presided, as Mr. Gompers had other business to attend to in Chicago. The Members present at this meeting began by attacking the Loyalty League and the Citizens Protective League, stating that these leagues were organized under the direction of the mining companies, and that these same companies had furnished money to the I.W.W. to come into the copper camps and disrupt duly organized labor. Mr. Hamilton further stated that in his opinion this committee were merely corporation tools sent to smooth conditions over. Mr. Morrison and Mr. Hamilton presented letters pretending to be facts from I.W.W. sympathizers in Bisbee in which they outlined existing conditions in an untrue light. After close investigation of these letters, it was found these letters were based on suppositions and not facts. In conclusion, Mr. Morrison stated he hoped some good would come of conference, and a more amicable relation would exist between capital and labor.

We wish to express appreciation and thanks for many courtesies and untiring efforts of senators and representatives and their secretaries in arranging interviews and cooperating with us in every way to make our mission successful.

Chairman.