Skip to main content

Haywood Trial: Topics in Chronicling America

In July 1907, a class warfare conflict leading to a terrorist plot culminates in Idaho's trial of the century. This guide provides access to materials related to the "Haywood Trial" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.

Introduction

Charles H. Moyer (left), President of the Western Federation of Miners and William D. Haywood (right), Secretary of the Western Federation of Miners are arrested for the alleged complicity Frank Steunenberg's assassination." February 20, 1906. The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, CA), Image 1. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

In connection with the bomb-rigged assassination of former Idaho Governor Frank Steunenberg, radical union official William "Big Bill" Haywood is arrested and extradited to Idaho in February of 1906 to face murder charges. Covered extensively by the media, Haywood's trial ended on July 29th, 1907 when he was acquitted with the help of defense attorney, Clarence Darrow. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.

Timeline

December 30, 1905Frank Steunenberg, a former governor of Idaho, is struck and killed by a bomb planted outside his home.
January 1, 1906 Albert Horsley, a former member of the Western Federation of Miners, is arrested in connection with the murder.
February 1, 1906Horsley confesses to killing Steunenberg. He implicates leaders of the Western Federation of Miners, including William Haywood, the organization’s secretary, George Pettibone, WFM’s president, and Charles Moyer, a former member of WFM’s executive board.
February 17, 1906Haywood, Moyer, and Pettibone are arrested and extradited to Idaho.
December 3, 1906The U.S. Supreme Court rules that the extradition of Haywood, Moyer and Pettibone was not unconstitutional.
May 9, 1907Haywood, represented by Clarence Darrow, goes on trial for the murder of Steunenberg.
July 29, 1907Haywood is found not guilty.
January 1908Pettibone is acquitted and charges against Moyer are dropped.
March 1908Horsley is convicted of murder and sentenced to death, but his sentence is commuted to life in prison.