University of Arizona

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Bisbee Deportation Legal Papers and Exhibits

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The city of Bisbee, AZ was considered a boom town with its economy heavily controlled by the local mining companies in 1917. Union activity grew and the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.) actively recruited miners in the area and in June of 1917 they sent a list of demands to the Bisbee mining companies asking for safer working conditions, fixed wages, and an end to discrimination against foreign and minority workers. Their demands were rejected and workers went on strike. In response, Sheriff Harry C. Wheeler led a vigilante group that rounded up 1,186 strikers and abandoned them in New Mexico. This brought about several civil suits by the deportees against the mining companies, which were settled out of court. All but one suit brought against individual vigilantes were dismissed. The one suit that went to trial ended in a not guilty verdict. The Bisbee Deportation had a lasting influence on the labor movement in the United States.

The collection contains photostats of legal papers and exhibits pertaining to the suit of the State of Arizona vs. Harry Waters, and the suit of Michael Simmons vs. the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad Company et al. in the Superior Court of Cochise County. Also includes publications of the Industrial Workers of the World, including preamble, constitution, proceedings of convention, songs, history, and numerous propaganda pamphlets.