Samuel Gompers Papers

1. In 1887 the St. Louis Trades Assembly merged with the Central Labor Union to form the St. Louis Central Trades and Labor Union (CTLU).

2. The 1910 AFL convention met in St. Louis, Nov. 14-26.

3. After a heated discussion, the Sept. 25, 1910, meeting of the St. Louis CTLU voted to attempt to unionize at least one hotel in the city and then to direct SG to use it as his headquarters during the AFL's convention in November. SG stayed at the Planters Hotel.

4. On Oct. 1, 1910, an explosion and fire killed twenty people and destroyed the Los Angeles Times building. Calling it "the crime of the century," the newspaper's proprietor Harrison Gray Otis blamed the disaster on organized labor, a charge denied by trade unionists. In April 1911, however, James McNamara and his brother John, secretary-treasurer of the International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers, were arrested for the Times dynamiting--James in Detroit and John in Indianapolis--and charged with murder; John was also charged with involvement in the Dec. 25, 1910, dynamiting of the Llewellyn Iron Works in Los Angeles.

The McNamaras were taken to Los Angeles and imprisoned; on July 12, 1911, they pleaded not guilty to the charges against them. James McNamara's trial began on Oct. 11 and for many weeks focused on jury selection. Then, on Dec. 1, in an arranged settlement, James McNamara pleaded guilty to the murder charge and John McNamara pleaded guilty to conspiracy in the dynamiting of the Llewellyn Iron Works.

5. Harrison Gray Otis, a veteran of the Civil War and the Spanish-American War, acquired full control of the Los Angeles Times in 1886. For the next thirty years he served as president and manager of the Times-Mirror Corp.

6. David J. Kreyling was a founder of the St. Louis CTLU in 1887, serving as its president (1895-1900) and secretary-organizer (1901-33).

7. On Aug. 5, 1890, the Los Angeles Times locked out members of International Typographical Union (ITU) 174 after they refused to accept a 20 percent reduction in wages. The union and the Times reached a settlement in April 1892, but the Times repudiated the agreement, and the union called a new strike on Sept. 27, 1893. ITU 174 conducted an intermittent boycott against the Times, and the AFL carried the paper on its "We Don't Patronize" list from 1896 to 1899 and from 1902 to 1908. The campaign languished until 1903, when the ITU assessed its entire membership throughout the year to continue the contest. While a local anti-Times committee effectively discouraged out-of-town firms from advertising in the Times, the paper sustained its local advertising with the assistance of the local citizens' alliance. The anti-Times committee did convince William Randolph Hearst to start a rival union paper, the Los Angeles Examiner, in December 1903, and within a short time this paper outstripped the Times in advertising and circulation. Although the ITU kept up the fight into the 1920s, it was unable to unionize the Times.

8. On Aug. 19, 1907, the Buck's Stove and Range Co. filed a bill of complaint in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia (SCDC), asking for an injunction against the AFL's boycott of its products (Buck's Stove and Range Co. v. American Federation of Labor et al.). Associate Justice Ashley Gould granted a temporary injunction on Dec. 18 that took effect on Dec. 23; Chief Justice Harry Clabaugh issued a permanent injunction on Mar. 23, 1908.

The injunctions prohibited the AFL and its officers from interfering with the company's business or boycotting its products or distributors; "from printing, issuing, publishing, or distributing . . . any copies or copy of the American Federationist, or any other printed or written newspaper, magazine, circular, letter or other document or instrument whatsoever, which shall contain or in any manner refer to the name of the complainant, its business or its product . . . in connection with the term 'Unfair' or with the 'We Don't Patronize' list, or with any other phrase, word or words of similar import"; and "from publishing or otherwise circulating, whether in writing or orally, any statement, or notice, of any kind or character whatsoever, calling attention . . . to any boycott against the complainant, its business or its product" (Washington Law Reporter 35 [19071: 809). The AFL appealed to the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia (CADC; American Federation of Labor et al. v. Buck's Stove and Range Co.).

On July 20, 1908, before a decision had been rendered on the AFL's appeal, the company asked the SCDC to adjudge SG, John Mitchell, and Frank Morrison in contempt of court for violating the injunctions. Associate Justice Daniel Wright found the three in contempt on Dec. 23 and sentenced them respectively to a year, nine months, and six months in jail. They appealed to the CADC (Samuel Gompers, Frank Morrison. and John Mitchell v. Buck's Stove and Range Co.) and were released on bail.

On Mar. 11, 1909, the CADC modified Clabaugh's permanent injunction (33 App. D.C. 83 [19091). The new order prohibited "conspiring or combining" to boycott the Buck's Stove and Range Co. or its products, "threatening or declaring . . . abetting, aiding, or assisting" such a boycott, "threatening, coercing or intimidating" anyone buying or selling the company's wares, or including the firm "in print or otherwise" in any "'We Don't Patronize' or 'Unfair, list" (American Federationist 16 [April 19091: 325). Both the AFL, which wanted the injunction vacated, and the company, which wanted no modification, appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. On Nov. 2 the CADC affirmed Wright's ruling in the contempt case (33 App. D.C. 516 [19091), and the AFL also appealed this decision to the Supreme Court.

On Feb. 20, 1911, the Supreme Court dismissed the injunction appeals as moot--Buck's Stove president James Van Cleave having died in 1910 and his successor having resolved the company's dispute with its employees (219 U.S. 581 [19111). On May 15 the Supreme Court reversed the contempt decision on the grounds that the proceedings, which resulted in sentences for criminal contempt, should have been instituted by the court rather than the company (221 U.S. 418 [19111).

The Supreme Court's decision left open the possibility that the SCDC could itself take action against SG, Mitchell, and Morrison, and, on May 16, Wright asked the attorneys who had prosecuted the Buck's Stove case--J. J. Darlington, Daniel Davenport, and James Beck--to review the matter for the SCDC. The three formulated new contempt charges and reported them to the court on June 26.

The second contempt trial was held in early 1912, and, on June 24, the defendants were again found guilty and sentenced to prison (In re Samuel Gompers, John Mitchell, and Frank Morrison). They appealed and, on May 5, 1913, the CADC upheld the SCDC's verdict but reduced the penalties, sentencing SG to thirty days in prison and fining Mitchell and Morrison $500 each (Gompers v. United States [40 App. D.C. 293 (1913)1). They then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which on May 11, 1914, overturned their convictions because the new proceedings had not been instituted within the three-year statute of limitations (233 U.S. 604 [1914]).

9. John Mitchell served as president of the United Mine Workers of America from 1898 to 1908 and as an AFL vice-president from 1899 to 1913.

10. Frank Morrison served as secretary of the AFL from 1897 to 1935 and as its secretary-treasurer from 1936 to 1939.

11. On Sept. 3, 1910, Charles William Post, a minority stockholder of the Buck's Stove and Range Co., sought an injunction to prevent implementation of the agreement that the firm had reached on July 19 with representatives of the Foundry Employes, Metal Polishers, Molders, Stove Mounters, and the AFL. In addition, Post sued both the company and the AFL, together with its officers and affiliates, for triple damages, in the amount of $750,000, under the terms of the Sherman Antitrust Act. On Sept. 6 Judge Smith McPherson of the U.S. Circuit Court for the Eastern District of Missouri denied the injunction, and in June 1911 Judge David Dyer dismissed the suit for damages. Post appealed Dyer's ruling to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which in November 1912 upheld the lower court's decision (200 F. 918 [1912]).

12. Charles William Post (1854-1914) was chairman of the Postum Cereal Co. of Battle Creek, Mich., and a leading manufacturer of cereals and packaged foods. He was a founder (1903) and president (1905-8) of the Citizens' Industrial Association of America and a frequent contributor to its journal, The Square Deal. He was also a member of the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Anti-Boycott Association.

13. Frank Mulholland (1875-1949) was a Toledo, Ohio, attorney. He served as a counsel for the defense in the Danbury Hatters, Buck's Stove and Range, and Gompers, Morrison, and Mitchell contempt cases.

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