The Coal War: A Novel
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The son of a prominent coal magnate, Hal Warner is horrified by the dangerous working conditions, long hours, and starvation wages endured by the men who toil in his family’s mines. He tries to rouse other members of his privileged class to a similar state of indignation, but soon faces a much more severe test of his progressivism. When a labor group organizes a massive strike and the mining companies respond with punishing brutality, Hal’s commitment to the cause of reform becomes a matter of life and death.
The Coal War is Upton Sinclair’s searing follow-up to King Coal. Based on events surrounding the Ludlow Massacre of 1914, it dramatizes one of the most significant conflicts between labor and capital in American history and offers an unflinching look at the shocking realities of a miner’s life in the early twentieth century. Published posthumously, this powerful and tragic novel is one of Sinclair’s finest.
This ebook has been authorized by the estate of Upton Sinclair.
since you make it necessary.” “Your private prisoner?” laughed Hal. “Yes, my private prisoner.” “Well, you’ve exactly as much right as the General has to hold his prisoners. But be careful I don’t fall out of the window.” “Hal,” pleaded the other, “won’t you give me your promise and quit fighting?” The other considered, and then answered, “Suppose I asked you to promise and quit fighting?” “As a matter of fact, I don’t expect to do any more.” “Indeed! What were you doing in that
passed resolutions, they gave money, they went home to tell their friends and neighbors. And they were all men and women who had votes, and were accustomed to make use of them; they did not forget overnight what they had heard; they would organize, and keep in touch with you; so, if you had patience and determination, you would find yourself in the end with the means of punishing politicians who had betrayed the public interest, and sold the state to predatory corporations. There was an English
Nature, with the grace and the charm; but instead of filling his proper role, he went off and bound himself in a treadmill of killing toil! He cast away and trampled upon the heritage his father had won for him, he put himself before the world as a living indictment of his father’s life-work; and to keep him from such madness there was no way save to ship him off to Europe, five thousand miles away from a lonely old invalid! Hal announced that he would go; and great was the joy of Jessie, and
winter coming on, and the world was clamoring for coal. In Western City the small consumer was paying a cent a pound for it, and there were meetings of protest, demands that if the operators could not run their mines, the state should take over the job. But among the older and wiser of the strike-leaders there were no illusions about the situation. They knew the power of their enemies, and realized that these enemies would not surrender easily. Billy Keating especially was full of forebodings;
for the rich and another for the poor. If you torture Louie the Greek, while you let the son of Edward Warner do what he pleases, you are simply giving arguments to anarchists; you are causing everybody to believe that the commanding general of the militia is a coward and a sycophant, who oppresses the poor and helpless, but cringes before his masters, the well-to-do and prominent—” “Hold your tongue, young man!” roared the infuriated old walrus. “You want to go to jail, I’ll send you there—and