Subsurface Radio Ep. 1: Which side are you on?

This episode is brought to us by artist Erin Mallea.

Excerpt from a phone conversation with my grandma as I learn more about Dan McDevitt and Tom Byers, my great, great grandfathers that were silver miners and union organizers in Northern Idaho. Both men had confrontations with the mine owners that led to their deaths. Burke Canyon and the surrounding region were sites of large labor disputes in 1892 (the same year as the nearby Homestead Strike) and 1899. These were some of the first, western large-scale violent confrontations between miners and mine owners. Likely bribed by the mine owners, Idaho Governor Steunenberg (who was elected with union support) and President William McKinley called in the US Army to "manage" (violently) the dispute. Many striking miners and union members that were not killed were imprisoned. In 1905, Governor Steunenberg was assassinated by labor activists. The subsequent trial gained national attention and spoke to growing tensions and labor disputes throughout the United States.

In 1927, A monument to Governor Steunenberg was dedicated in Boise, Idaho's capital. The plaque reads:

Frank Steunenberg, Governor of Idaho, 1897–1900. When in 1899 organized lawlessness challenged the power of Idaho, he upheld the dignity of the state, enforced its authority and restored LAW AND ORDER within its boundaries, for which he was assassinated in 1905. "Rugged in body, resolute in mind, massive in the strength of his convictions, he was of the granite hewn. In grateful memory of his courageous devotion to public duty, the people of Idaho have erected this monument.

Music Credits: Peet Seeger, "Which Side Are You On" (live performance)