20th Century, Culture, Industry, Intercession, Labor, Mining, Minnesota

Mesabi Range Strike

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Jul 20, 1907 to Aug 15, 1907
The 1907 strike was the first organized, widespread strike on the Iron Range. The immigrant miners—mostly Finnish—had little experience with unions or large-scale strikes. Although the union (Western Federation of Miners)had been planning a strike, the immediate cause was the layoff in July of 200 union members by the Oliver Iron Mining Company. A strike was called on July 20. In early August, strikebreakers were brought in and “deputies” hired to protect them. By mid-August, sufficient numbers of strikebreakers, combined with improved economic conditions, broke the strike.*

What causes a man to be ready to say “enough is enough” Lord? Like many strikes, the motivations seem to be dangerous working conditions and too little pay. But is there more to this circumstance Lord?

I ran across the person of Charles Moyer, the leader of the Western Federation of Miners from 1902 -1926. This is a quote I found on Wikipedia regarding this strike:
“His experiences with the IWW led Moyer to the conclusion that the federation was too radical. Moyer was especially disturbed by the IWW’s refusal to ally with or endorse any political party, which had been the key to Moyer’s support for the creation of the IWW. In 1908, Moyer led the WFM out of the IWW, taking most of the IWW’s membership (which belonged to the WFM) with him. Concerned that the WFM’s reputation for radicalism was making it difficult to reach collective bargaining agreements, Moyer re-affiliated his union with the conservative American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1911.”
“This strike was not started by the I.W.W., but has been underway the past six years. We have appealed to every labor official in Minnesota to have the miners on the range organized, but we have been shuttled back and forth between the Western Federation of Miners and other organizations who passed us on again until finally the miners took things into their own hands and went out without organization.” ** M.E. Shusterich A leader of the Mesabi Range Strike
Philip Sheldon Foner, History of the labor movement in the United States, 1980, 4th edition, pages 493-494

So to briefly summarize the situation, Mesabi’s miners wanted relief from the stains of their labor. One union, the WFM, wished to settle with owners, and those influenced by the more aggressive IWW did not wish to settle. This is much more complex than I originally thought, but I ask You to help me unravel these motive conflicts. Like many of our struggles in life, our motives become less clear when loyalties to multiple relationships are involved.
Let’s start at the beginning, with the Finnish workers. Lord, You have seen how these men worked and know the exact conditions they strained under. Will You give acknowledgement to their labors, and remember the dangers they faced? Will You forgive any envy or discontent in their hearts if that led them to demanding more? Will You forgive their judgements and expectations of their employer; the Oliver Iron Mining Company?
Likewise, will You remember the strains of those in management at Oliver Mining? Will You hear their frustrations of trying to communicate with those who don’t speak the language of business? Will You forgive them their false assessments of these Finnish laborers? Assessments such as, “lazy”, “ungrateful”, and “not man enough for the job” come to mind.

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Another set of issues that added to the fog of this strike were as simple as culture and language clashes. These were readily identified and understood by the Italian Socialist Teofilo Petriella who joined with the WFM to assist with the strike.
“The WFM asked Petriella to organize these ethnically diverse miners on the Mesabi Range. In a 1907 report to the WFM, Petriella noted that the steel trust had earned a net total of $156,624,273, but had only paid out $47,765,540 in wages to the 202,457 men they employed. This was important information the miners needed to know because they had not been given a raise in two years. Unfortunately none of the WFM organizers spoke Slovenian, Italian, or Finnish so they could not effectively communicate with the vast majority of disgruntled workers. Petriella’s arrival heralded a new beginning for the organization efforts because he could address the Italians in their native tongue. He also brought in Finnish and Slovenian speakers to assist in the recruitment drive. With their help, he was able to establish or found new union chapters in Hibbing, Chisholm, Buhl, Virginia, Eveleth, and Aurora, plus many other smaller communities in the region. Within these organizations, Petriella split the membership along ethnic lines, which allowed immigrants to organize with their fellow countrymen.” ***

Will You remember these contributions towards clarity made by Petriella, Lord? Will You forgive the judgments made in this strike based on region? Will You forgive the Northern Europeans their prejudices towards the Southern Europeans, and vice versa? So many of our disputes stem from language and or culture. They did not reach clarity because of imprecise language skills to have a nuanced conversation. Presently, we still have the same problem. Forgive us our failures, past and present, to learn and speak each others’ language. Will You inspire future generations to know each other better by knowing both culture and language?

This event encapsulates the ironies of our human nature and heritage in the conflict of the WFM and the IWW. These two organizations both sought to represent their large memberships in labor disputes. Though their stated purpose was to unify miners, in this case, their conflict with each other left their memberships without representation in Mesabi.
Lord, will You forgive the judgements of the WFM towards the IWW? Will You forgive their assessment of the “radicalism” of the IWW? Conversely, will You forgive the IWW of their judgements of the “conservatism” of the WFM? Will You forgive these internal conflicts of labor leadership that left the miners on their own? Will You show us Your plan to resolve such situations? Will You unify us as Your people and forgive our denial of the other man’s talents?
When all is said and done, a huge elephant in this room is envy. It reveals itself to be a root cause of many schisms and revolutions, especially driven by the popular socialist thought that justice is necessarily economic equality. Yet, I question if the human heart would be pleased if we ever reached exact and total economic equality.
Why? There are too many examples in history and life where the difference between envy and contentment is a decision of the spirit, mind, will, and emotions. We may not be able to control our environment or living conditions, but we can choose our response.
For example, my wife worked with the Sisters of Charity in Haiti. These nuns owned two changes of clothes and a bucket. That’s it! No other possessions. Yet, they found joy in the midst of squalor, and their contentment brought hope and help to thousands of poor.

I do not diminish that it’s right to oppose evil. I do not think truth tellers should lose their jobs, be beaten, or even killed for standing up for themselves and others. What I ask of You is that You empower us to oppose evil without becoming evil.

Lord Jesus Christ, You know what it’s like to be poor, homeless, and friendless. Will You give us character that chooses contentment in spite of circumstances? Direct our eyes to You in our seasons of struggle when we are truly powerless and suffering. Will You take this envy from the Mesabi Strike of 1907 up, out, and onto Your cross? Will You be our Heavenly Mediator in our strikes today with oppression, economic injustice, and the envy of our own hearts, and bring a just settlement?

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

**http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Moyer
*** This quote is from a transcript on “Teofilo Petriella : Marxist Revolutionary” given by Paul Lubotina at Michigan Tech. http://digitalcommons.mtu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1001&context=copperstrikesymposium

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20th Century, Culture, History, Minnesota, music, Native Americans, Prayer, women

Densmore Begins Recording Indian Music

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1907
Red Wing native Frances Densmore embarks on a life-long study of Indian music and culture. From a single recording of a performance by Kitchimakwa (“Great Bear”) at White Earth, she eventually collects thousands of songs of the Ojibwe, Dakota, and 10 other tribes. By the time of her death in 1957, Densmore will have also written 22 books and over 100 articles on Indian life.*

What a fascinating woman, Lord! I love the paradox that Ms. Densmore studied piano, organ, and harmony at Oberlin, and found joy in music of the people. Perhaps she is a testimony of her school’s philosophy?
Father, I’m grateful that by chance she read a book, that led her to her first experience with Indian music, that led into a passion.** I’m grateful that she took delight in listening, which is an inherent quality of great recording engineers, musicians, and producers. One adds a personal statement while listening to other players.
Will You bless Frances and her generations with her love of music and culture? Will You bless all the tribes she recorded with appreciation for her remarkable gift? Will You bless the all non-Native Minnesotans with ears to hear the importance of their voice in our common history?
As Plato said, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” May we listen to the music of each culture of this state, and so be enlivened! Amen!

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

**Explore more about Densmore at MPR feature “Song Catcher”. http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/199702/01_smiths_densmore/docs/index.shtml

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20th Century, Culture, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, sports

Streetcar Double Headers

April 1907
A heated sibling rivalry develops between the Twin Cities’ two pro baseball teams, the Saints and Millers. Streetcar doubleheaders are scheduled on Decoration Day, July 4, and Labor Day, with a game in each city.*

A bit of background is in order to help those who may not know much about the Twin Cities. There is definitely much in common between these two places, but it’s the distinctions that give each it’s flavor. They may not be thought of as ‘strong’ flavors by those who consider Minnesota ‘flyover country’, but that is a matter of taste.

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St. Paul is the older brother of Minneapolis. According to local legend, first two structures in St. Paul were a log trading post that doubled as a pub, and a log Catholic church. There are very strong communities derived from nations with a Roman Catholic heritage: Irish, French, Polish, Italian, and Mexican. This city leans blue-collar, tends to move slower, and with more respect for tradition.

1907 Spalding Guide - Hart - MPLS team

Minneapolis is the kid brother that just kept growing. It historically has been more Protestant, with residents mostly from Western and Northern European descent. It leans more white collar and entrepreneurial, with more nightlife to spend new money.

Holy Umpire, thanks for the heritage of baseball in Minnesota! What an awesome combination of sport with times for team play, and individual achievement! Baseball truly is a mirror of the best attributes of our culture.
Unfortunately, Saints and Millers reflect the darker sides of our nature too. Sometimes we, as fans attempted to “help” our home team. Check out this example of ‘sportsmanship from 100 years ago;

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“The newspapers joined the struggle, firing their artillery at enemy camps across the Mississippi River. In the 1890s, when both cities were represented in the Western League, the Minneapolis Tribune leveled a charge of “dirty ball” against its neighbors to the east, the Saints, who were owned and managed at that time by Charles Comiskey. “Manager Comiskey,” reported the Tribune, “will be served with a formal notice that the Minneapolis club will not play today’s game unless guaranteed that there will be no spiking of Minneapolis players, no interference on the part of the crowd, no throwing of rocks, no throwing of dust and dirt in the eyes of the Minneapolis players, and a few other tricks which the game yesterday was featurized by.” “ Thornley, Stew. On to Nicollet: The Glory and Fame of the Minneapolis Millers.**,***

God, thanks that You gave a home team to enjoy and be proud of. Will You forgive us for when we have gone overboard and over identify ourselves with a baseball team? Will You forgive harsh words that were sowed then between Minneapolis and St. Paul that still smart today?

Today I want to acknowledge specific sports offenses to You. We have loved winning more than losing, but doesn’t losing build character? We have loved showboat personalities more than the team at times, but innately we know that a single player can’t win the game. We can behave like spoiled brats at games, then lecture our kids about the importance of sportsmanship. God help our ERA and our era! Have mercy on our inconsistent batting average with beloved rivals of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Thanks that these hostilities birthed a solution; the Minnesota Twins! Will You help us find creative ways to find common ground with our rivals today?

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

**Peruse this wonderful link to the complete article by Stew Thornley. http://www.stewthornley.net/millers_paydays.html

***Dig into a book on the Saint Paul Saints, again, by Stew Thornley. http://www.mnhs.org/mnhspress/books/st-paul-saints

 

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20th Century, Catholic, Christian, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, Science

Institute of Science and Letters

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Saint Paul Auditorium ca. 1907 Interior, Original Home of the Institute of Science and Letters. Photo by Scotty Moore

1907
The St. Paul Institute of Science and Letters is incorporated. The institute sponsors research, and a museum. After reinventing itself several times, it is now known as the Science Museum of Minnesota–home to dinosaur bones, computer and an IMAX theater.*

It is a blessing to learn that my city had a love of science fervent enough to create this institute! Furthermore, its benevolent nature was expressed in making scientific knowledge open to all! The Institute of Science and Letters was,“Originally a provider of public lectures, it was located in the St. Paul Auditorium”. http://www.smm.org/media/historicalfacts

As with any audience, surely in 1907 there were proponents, opponents, and those who remained open. Then, as in the present, most would not argue the data collected from experiments, but may differ drastically on its meaning to their life. Why is this?

One idea may be that we cannot extirpate the framing effects of our memory, our temperament, and our worldview. By “framing effect”, I mean the resistance we have to knowledge outside of our point of reference. A classic example is the story of the blind men describing an elephant.

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“A Jain version of the story says that six blind men were asked to determine what an elephant looked like by feeling different parts of the elephant’s body. The blind man who feels a leg says the elephant is like a pillar; the one who feels the tail says the elephant is like a rope; the one who feels the trunk says the elephant is like a tree branch; the one who feels the ear says the elephant is like a hand fan; the one who feels the belly says the elephant is like a wall; and the one who feels the tusk says the elephant is like a solid pipe.
A king explains to them:
All of you are right. The reason every one of you is telling it differently is because each one of you touched the different part of the elephant. So, actually the elephant has all the features you mentioned.” “Elephant and the blind men”. Jain Stories. JainWorld.com. Retrieved 2006-08-29.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_men_and_an_elephant

Lord, will You have mercy on our judgments made regarding science and its meaning to our lives? Will You forgive those in 1907 who used their new found scientific knowledge as a tool of separation from their predominantly Catholic neighbors? Will You forgive any counter judgments of scientists made in Your name or the name of the Roman Catholic church? Will You give us mercy on our neighbor whether they “know” through the channel of logic, association, observation, or relationship?

Your Word is not primarily a book of science, but where it does intersect with the sciences, it is accurate and eloquent in its claims. For example, You begin Your Word with the phrase, ”In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 CEV A scientist, upon first reading, may take it as religious and mythical poetry. However, would this same scientist observe that this simple phrase covered the building blocks of the universe: time, space, and matter?

Jesus, will You forgive the prejudices of the religious towards the secular-minded scientist in St. Paul: past, present, and future? Will You forgive the prejudices of the science community toward people of faith? We measure each other falsely at times Lord! We use the wrong measuring stick because we so often lack empathy much less love towards our sparring partners in debate. Will You heal the words we use to describe the intersection of faith and science? Have mercy on our small frames! Let us ‘see’ the whole elephant together, in Your revealing presence.

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

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James Frederick Ferrier photo International Association of Scottish Philosophy

**”Every question in philosophy is the mask of another question; and all these masking and masked questions require to be removed and laid aside, until the ultimate but truly first question has been reached. Then, but not till them, it is possible to decipher and resolve the outside mask, and all those below it, which come before us in the first instance.” James Frederick Ferrier
http://www.greatthoughtstreasury.com/author/james-ferrier-fully-james-frederick-ferrier

*** A brief summary of the Scottish philosopher’s life. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Frederick_Ferrier

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