Sunday, September 2, 2007

Unusual Labor Day Postcard

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Tomorrow is Labor Day so today's postcard will support that occasion and shows the citizens of Butte Montana filling the streets for the unveiling of the Marcus Daly monument on Labor Day. Who was Marcus Daly, why did he deserve a monument and what did he have to do with Labor Day you ask. Marcus Daly was born in Derrylea Ireland in 1841, shortly before the potato famine devastated the area. Daly was just 15 when he fled the area in 1856 and arrived in New York little money, education or skills and no prospects. He did odd jobs for 5 years until he had enough money to buy passage to San Francisco by way of Panama. He worked a a ranch hand, logger and railroad worker and then took up mining and worked in one of the silver mines of the Comstock Lode in Virginia City Nevada. While there, he met George Hearst, father of Randolph Hearst, who later became one of his financial backers.
In 1871 Daly became a foreman for Walker Brothers, a banking and mining group, in Salt Lake City. It was here he met and married his wife, started his family and became a U.S. citizen. In 1876, he was sent by Walker Brothers to Butte Montana to check out the silver producing Alice Mine which he bought for the Walkers and kept a 1/5th interest for himself. He moved to Butte to manage the mine and ended up selling his share and bought the Anaconda mining claim from the owner who could not afford the equipment to operate the mine. George Hearst and his associates provided backing to Daly to buy the silver mine and shortly thereafter a huge copper vein was discovered that was 300 feet deep and 100 feet wide. Electricity was just taking hold of America and copper was in high demand making Daly a rich man. He built his own smelter so he didn't have to ship the copper to the Wales to be processed, built the town of Anaconda to support his workers, bought coal mines to fuel his furnaces, forests to supply his timber, built power plants to supply the mines and established numerous banks and the newspaper Anaconda Standard. By 1890, the copper mines were producing seventeen million dollars worth of copper per year.
But what also set Daly apart was that he treated his employees better than most other owners, gave preferential treatment to new arrivals looking for work, allowed a "closed shop" to operate, urged new employees to join the union and allowed union officers and society members access to the mines. He was also very in helping many different worthy causes. Marcus Daly died in 1900 at the age of 58 and was still one of the major figures in American Industry and was known as the "Copper King". The monument demonstrates the high esteem he was held in by his employees and the town he founded.
This postcard is available in my Montana listings along with more than 10,000 additional postcards on my website at Moody's Postcards.

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