Kings, Knights, and Pawns: Black Coal Miners and Racial Conflict in Washington Territory

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit

Anthropology and Museum Studies

Publication Date

Spring 2014


Although the stalemate at Roslyn was certainly not unique, it is noteworthy because it was the first time the railroad used black laborers to break a strike in the Northwest. To understand the significance of this event, we must examine the histories of the Knights of Labor and the Kings of Capital, their motives, and their strategies in labor disputes. Both were showing signs of wear from constant warring over wages and conditions, and both were well aware of the other's tactics. What is not clear, however, is how many of the African American men on the train that began its journey in Illinois, bound for Roslyn, knew they were being employed to break a strike.


This article was originally published in The Pacific Northwest Quarterly. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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The Pacific Northwest Quarterly


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