A pamphlet published by the Washington Branch General Defense Committee in 1927. From the Centralia Tragedy and the Industrial Workers of the World Collection, 1912-1932 at University of Washington. View the original scans here. All spelling and grammar irregularities or mistakes have been kept from the original.
March 1917: At a convention of lumberworkers held in Spokane, a resolution was adopted calling for a strike in the lumber industry. The demands included the eight hour day and better living conditions. This move kindled the fires of violence, smouldering in the mind of the Lumber Trust.
June 20, 1917: A strike call was issued and the lumbering industry in the Northwest was p[aralyzed as the workers lay down their tool of production. Other strikes followed at brief intervals until late in 1919. These strikes brought about the desired results for the lumberjacks; however, it added fuel to the confined flames of hatred in the lumber owners camp.
April 30, 1918: The Employers Association of Washington, composed of lumber manufacturers, sponsored a “Red Cross” parade in Centralia, which served as a shield for the mobsters who demolished the union hall, stealing and burning its contents and deporting the tenants. This was one of the first flaring attempts to destroy the union because of the strike.
June 13, 1919: In furtherance of their attempt to break up the union, “Blind” Tom Lassiter, was kidnapped and forcibly driven was Centralia. He was seized in broad daylight on the main street by well known business men, as he went about his business of selling labor papers. Prior to this affair the same interests had raided his stand, burned his property and ordered him out of town.
Jun 27, 1919: The first meeting of the Citizens Protective League (newly named employers organization) was held. Plans were made to perfect a gigantic propaganda machine to deride organized labor and to ultimately break it up. From that time on, anti-labor propaganda was spread.
October 20, 1919: At the second meeting of the League which was held in the Elks lodge room at Centralia, a committee was elected to formulate ways and means of ridding that vicinity of workers who had organized in the loggers union. Mobbing was the suggestion offered by many of the business men present.
November 4, 1919: The I. W. W. secretary had circulars printed and distributed calling the attention of the citizens to the fact that the League was conspiring to murder the unionists. This was a plea for justice and proof that the loggers wanted to blood shed.
November 6, 1919: The Centralia American Legion officials joined hands with the Chamber of Commerce in a program of violence. It was their plan to hold a parade and use it as a shield when the union hall was attacked, as it had been done in the “Red Cross” parade on Memorial Day in 1918.
November 11, 1919: An armed mob charged on the union hall from the rear rank of the Armistice parage. Four men were killed, many unionists were jailed and subjected to a “Patrician” third degree. One logger was emasculated while alive, lynched and his body riddled with bullets. Another was driven insane. As an aftermath ten loggers and a lawyer were charged with first degree murder.
November 13, 1919: Kenneth MacIntosh, Judge of the Washington Supreme Court, wrote to George Dysart, of Centralia, father of one of the posse commanders in the manhunt, and expressed his appreciation for the “bravery” displayed by those that attacked the union hall!
November 15, 1919: The lynched loggers body was taken from the jail by armed men and four loggers were forced to bury it. The mutilated body had been used as an example of what would happen to the others unless they confessed to a crime they did not commit.
December 7, 1919: Judge John M. Wilson, who was to try the case of the eleven defendants delivered a speech in the Elks lodge room where the raid idea had found its birth, in which he eulogized the ex-service men that had been killed when they attacked the hall, exposing his bias against the defendants.
January 3, 1920: When ruling on the matter of a trial city Judge Wilson stated that it would be utterly impossible for the defendants to receive a fair trial in Grays Harbor County, because of the prejudice manigest against the defendants. Four days later he reversed himself and forced the case to trial in Montesano, Grays Harbor County.
January 14, 1920: The Seattle Central Labor Council passed a resolution asking unions in the Northwest to elect a member to act as a venireman in a “silent labor jury” to hear the evidence submitted at the trial of the Centralia Defendants. Other cities concurred, so the labor jury became a reality, six men being elected to serve on it.
January 25, 1920: Montesano witnessed the beginning of the trial. Judge Wilson, biased as he was, heard the case and proved an able assistant to the corps of specially paid prosecutors: Wm. H. Able, Herman Allen, C. D. Cunningham, J. H. Jahnke, Frank Christenson and John H. Dunbar, in their foul tactics. George F. Vanderveer represented the defense.
February 18, 1920: Bert Faulkner was dismissed from the case on motion of the defense attorney, who held that the prosecution had failed to produce any evidence tending to show that he was present or knew anything about the case. The same motion was made in behalf of the other defendants and was denied by the court.
February 25, 1920: The 35th Infantry arrived at Montesano, having been called in at the request of the prosecution and were camped on the court-house lawn. This was done in an effort to frighten the jurors into believing that their lives were in danger. Rumors of some mythical mob had been circulated with the intention of fostering this fright.
March 13, 1920: After deliberating twenty-two hours and twenty minutes the jury returned a verdict of second degree murder against seven of the men, one was found insane and two were acquitted; they asked that leniency be extended to the convicted men. The labor jury returned a verdict of an acquittal for the entire group, and censored the court and prosecution for the insidious tactics used.
April 5, 1920: Judge Wilson again displayed his hatred for the defendants by sentencing the convicted men to terms in prison of from twenty-five to forty years. This despite the juries plea for leniency and despite the term prescribed by law. The conviction was then appealed to the State Supreme Court.
April 14, 1921: The Supreme Court of the State of Washington affirmed the conviction of the victims. This decision did not come as a surprise as the defense had heard from reliable sources that other judges on that bench besides MacIntosh, and expressed a prejudice against the convicted men and their co-defendants.
May 15, 1922: The first juror freed his conscience by swearing to an affidavit stating it to be his belief that the convicted men were innocent of the crime and that the reason they were convicted was because the jury was afraid to bring in an acquittal. Subsequent to the making of this affidavit, six other jurors have made similar statements.
November 5, 1924: Elsie Hornbeck, an important state witness swore to an affidavit in which she said that her testimony had been misconstrued and that she thought that no one should be convicted on testimony such as her’s. Numerous other state witnesses have made statements to the effect that the men are innocent.
September 9, 1926: A petition was presented to Governor Hartley, containing the statements of the jurors, witnesses in the trial, witnesses to the tragedy and resolutions from various labor unions, asking for an immediate pardon for the victims. To date no action has been taken, apparently, the Governor has ignored, not only that petition but the protests of countless thousands of Justice loving citizens, as well.
At Present 1927: The seven convicted men and the boy that was declared insane are serving their eighth year behind prison walls. Their faith in the working class unshaken, although they have every reason to wonder at the phenomenal apathy the workers have displayed with reference to their plight. This office is fighting for their release and will continue that struggle until Justice has been done and these innocent men have been restored to their loved ones and to the ranks of organized labor. We feel that is our duty, and it is your duty to join with us in the fight. Funds must be had to carry on the work of informing the world about this case. Send your donation or request of information to:
WASHINGTON BRANCH GENERAL DEFENSE COMMITTEE
Box 1873, Seattle, Wash.
THE CENTRALIA VICTIMS MUST BE FREED IN 1927