The National Guard Intervenes in Cripple Creek
Although he had been enormously pleased with support for intervention in Colorado City by wealthy employers, bankers and businessmen around the state, Governor Peabody hesitated. WFM President Charles Moyer had portrayed the Colorado City intervention as unnecessary, and certainly many had seen it that way. But the hesitation appeared to be only for appearances; Peabody appointed three individuals to an investigative team, two of whom had already recommended intervention. The union was not consulted during their investigation, and only Sheriff Robertson and Mayor Shockey were able to speak out against intervention. The commission concluded that a "reign of terror" existed in the district, and intervention was justified. The Cripple Creek Mine Owners' Association agreed to secretly finance the troops. By the end of September 1903 nearly a thousand soldiers were guarding the Cripple Creek District mines and patrolling the roads.
As in Colorado City, the civil authorities and a large number of citizens in the Cripple Creek District deplored the intervention. The county commissioners unanimously condemned it. The Victor city council claimed that Mayor French had deliberately misrepresented conditions and the wishes of his constituents when he supported intervention. Sheriff Robertson declared publicly that the governor had exceeded his authority. Mass meetings and demonstrations opposed the decision. More than two thousand signatures were collected on petitions protesting the action.
Yet the CCMOA, the Cripple Creek Citizens' Alliance, and other employers' associations supported the action. The goal of the employers' organizations was not just ending the strike, but terminating the influence of the union. The CCMOA announced plans to sweep the WFM from the district. Peabody facilitated that goal in his orders to Sherman Bell, which directed the National Guard to assume the responsibilities of the local sheriff and civil officials.
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