New Acquisition: “The “Knights of Liberty” mob and the I.W.W. Prisoners at Tulsa, Okla.

knights

In 1917, the United Stated entered the Great War, and the Bolshevik revolution in Russia had a number of ripple effects throughout American society, ultimately culminating in the Red Scare of 1919-1921.  In Oklahoma, this highly patriotic anti-radicalism took several unusual turns.  Among these was the Green Corn Rebellion in August 1917.  Prior to the rebellion, the state of Oklahoma was the most Progressive, most Socialist state in the Union, with the Socialist Party strongly represented in the  states elected offices.  After the rebellion, this all changed dramatically.

Three months after the rebellion, 17 men who were in police custody in Tulsa, mostly members of the Industrial Workers of the World being charged and convicted in the media for blowing up the home of a local oilman, Mr. Pew.  These men were taken from police custody by a masked mob, stripped, whipped, tarred and feathered.  Their clothing and belongings were burned.  They were ordered to leave town, and were shot at while fleeing.  This was done in the name of the “women and children of Belgium,” in some way linking socialism with the German “Rape of Belgium.”

In 1918, the National Civil Liberties Bureau published this pamphlet. Interestingly, the coverage in the pamphlet matches fairly closely with the contemporary newspaper accounts. Special Collections recently acquired a copy. It can be found in the catalog at .

About Marc Carlson

The Librarian of Special Collections and University Archives, McFarlin Library, University of Tulsa since November 2005. Worked in McFarlin Library since 1986.
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