Violent Draper Strike Rocked Hopedale 55 Years Ago

                                                                   One Worker Killed; Town Armed Camp

                           
    HOPEDALE - Just 55 years ago today one of the most violent strikes in New England history unfolded
    at the Draper Corporation plant, as more than 2,000 workers sought higher wages and a nine-hour
    workday.

       At 6 a.m. on April 1, 1913, a noisy crowd of 500 gathered in the street near the plant and kept many
    workers out of the building.  The town became an armed camp as the Industrial Workers of the World
    stirred up the workers.  There were 2,200 at that time, about the same employment total as today.

      The demonstration lasted about 13 weeks and resulted in the death of one worker, Emidio
    Bacchiocci, 32, of Cedar Street [Milford] who was shot by a special policeman after he failed to stop on
    an order.  The policeman was cleared in resulting court action.

                                                                               Another Shot

      George Davis, a main office worker, was shot in the thigh while riding a streetcar to Hopkinton.  
    Charges were also lodged against two strikers for intent to murder John Harrant, a Draper worker.

      After the first demonstration at the plant, former Gov. Eben S. Draper, president of the Draper firm
    said, "We will spend $1 million to break this strike."  It was later estimated that nearly that was
    expended.

      Draper asked many police departments in this state, New Hampshire and Maine for aid.   One of the
    first groups arriving included 12 policemen from Worcester.  A number of police from Boston came
    here along with some from Lowell, Lawrence, Manchester and Nashua, N.H., and Maine.

      There were also strikebreakers who remained after the strike and made their homes here.

                                                                              Milford Police

      Hundreds of Hopedale residents were sworn in as special policemen and patrolled the streets with
    clubs made from small baseball bats, with leather handles.  Leon R. Hammon and Archie E. Beck, still
    residents of Hopedale, were among them.  The late Samuel E. Kellogg was police chief but a captain
    from Boston commanded the outside "reserves."  Milford's police chief, Jeremiah H. O'Neil, was also
    on duty, along with several of his men who included Patrolmen Falvey, Duddy, Fitzpatrick, Edward and
    Frank Davoren, William Corbett and James Birmingham.
                         
                                                                          Several Arrested

      Joseph Coldwell was the strike leader.  He was arrested for violating the town bylaws and was
    sentenced to three months in jail.  Several arrests were made one morning at the top of Williams
    Street, near the Hopedale-Milford town line.   Strikers had organized a parade with several hundred
    participants.  They were to march on the plant.  They were met by a large contingent of police and
    stopped at the line.  Chief Kellogg warned them if they crossed the line they would be arrested. Three
    did and were promptly taken into custody.

      There were innumerable cases of stone throwing and assaults on men trying to report for work.  On
    May 24, at a riot in Milford near the Macuen coal sheds, 30 to 40 persons were injured.

                                                                          Heights Patrolled

      Milford police were kept busy for several weeks since all rallies, mass meetings and other strike
    related activities were in that town.   A number of Draper workers also lived in Milford's Prospect
    Heights section in houses furnished Draper employees at low weekly rentals.  Since Draper owned the
    property, the area was posted for "no trespassing."

      Many avenues of negotiation were tried, including an offer by the Milford Selectmen and the State
    Board of Arbitration.  The strike leaders also asked the state legislature to investigate the strike.  
    Charles Morrill, then the only socialist member of the House, filed the request.  It was defeated.

                                                                             Flag Torn Down

      By June 8 Draper officials reported that 1,700 of the 2,000 employees had returned to work but the
    strike proceeded.  On July 2, a red flag was flown at the Charles River Driving Hall in Milford.  It was torn
    down by state police.

      Draper repeatedly refused to negotiate.  He said he was not dealing with his employees but a gang of
    radicals who knew nothing of local conditions.

      Many of the workers did not speak English and said they were forced to stay out because of threats.  
    The company finally used fire trucks with armed guards to convey Milford workers to the plant.

      July 5 marked the return of all workers to the plant.  It had cost the company not only a large sum of
    money but also lost production time.  The employees lost 13 weeks pay and gained nothing.  Milford
    Daily News, April 1, 1968.

                                         The Hopedale Strike of 1913: The Unmaking of an Industrial Utopia   


                           
The Draper response to the strike as written in Cotton Chats, April and June 1913   

                                                                
Teaching unit for high school on the strike   
       

    I found it interesting that this postcard, sent in June 1913,
    the middle of the strike, identifies the civilians in the photo
    as ex-governor Eben Draper and his son, Bristow.