Since September 15, 1913, Colorado coal miners had been on strike in pursuit of a seven-point program which included a pay increase and recognition of the United Mine Workers' Union. Despite pressure for mediation from the Wilson Administration, mine owners (led by John D. Rockefeller) refused to negotiate with strikers. When the Colorado state militia evicted strikers from their company homes, the latter quickly erected a tent colony in Ludlow, Colorado. On April 20, 1914, the "Ludlow Massacre" began as an exchange of gunfire between militia units and armed strikers. According to historian H. M. Gitelman, the "gun battle raged throughout the day and reached its climax when the militia overran the colony, looted the tents, and, after dousing them with kerosene, put them to the torch. Ten men and one child were killed in the shooting. The following day, two women and eleven children who had sought refuge from the gunfire in a room dug under one of the tents, were found dead of suffocation . . . ." (18)

The armed standoff continued as miners barricaded themselves in the nearby city of Trinidad. On April 30, 1914, President Wilson ordered federal troops into the area to put an end to the violence. Though Rockefeller launched a publicity campaign to minimize his involvement and to deny the Ludlow massacre, the public put primary blame on him for the needless "Coal War." He became a regular subject of caricature in the News (see example on p. 169 of this text). The strike ended in October 1914 as miners accepted a company union plan that acceded to their original demands.