Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Cindy Hahamovitch


This dissertation examines the cultural politics of military strikebreaking. By focusing on the contest between striking southern and eastern European and Mexican immigrant coal miners and their employers during the 1913--14 coal strike in southern Colorado, the dissertation demonstrates how the intersection of politics with issues of race, class, gender, and ethnicity shaped the miners' rebellion and the state and corporate responses to it. The Colorado National Guard was an integral part of how the state and capital reacted to the strike, and makes an ideal focus for this study because it was a prolific strikebreaker during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The guard's motivations for strikebreaking, however, went beyond restoring order and protecting business interests. Two decades of fighting the Plains Indians after the Civil War and three years of service in the Philippines (1899--1902) helped Colorado National Guardsmen equate the immigrant miners whom they faced in 1913--14 with the "savage tribes" of the western plains and the Filipino "insurrectionists" who resisted American imperialism. Striking immigrant coal miners emerged as racially inferior non-citizens who did not share the white, native-born and middle-class conceptions of masculinity that prevailed in the guard. Guardsmen, therefore, believed they had to defeat these immigrant strikers because they threatened the Anglo-American "civilization" guardsmen had helped spread across the continent and across the Pacific.;The project bridges the often disparate fields of labor, cultural, and political history, broadening our knowledge of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by demonstrating what military strikebreaking tells us about the era's complex conflicts over American identity. The social and cultural dynamics that made military intervention possible were inextricably tied to ideas about race, class, gender, and ethnicity. These ideas worked in concert to create a bond between industrialists, state officials, and National Guardsmen that allowed capital to consistently wield the state's military wing against labor. The dissertation, therefore, also expands our knowledge of how social and cultural forces shape state formation and action.



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