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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Vesta and Sam Finley, July 22, 1975. Interview H-0267. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

The National Guard comes to Marion, North Carolina

Eventually, the National Guard came to Marion to keep the peace. The Finleys saw them as an extension of the mill owners' attempts to crush the strikers.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Vesta and Sam Finley, July 22, 1975. Interview H-0267. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you run a picket line in front of the mill at all?
SAM FINLEY:
All around the mill they had picket lines; well, they'd stake it all around out back. And the management tried to go in there one time and unload some coal. They had some coal carts; the on the carts wouldn't have to pay if they couldn't let them get the carts. Well, they go off over here to what they call Morehead Steel, over there, and got a bunch of fellows and was going to go in there and unload this coal. And this manager, Bawden, he was leading the way. Well they stopped him; one of the fellows took a walking stick and tapped him up on the side of the head. They wouldn't let them go in there, so he stopped right then.
VESTA FINLEY:
Then they called out the National Guards and had them surrounded too.
SAM FINLEY:
They first brought the National Guard up here to town. The state didn't want to carry it out too long. They wouldn't let them come down here. Well, they wasn't no better off then, `cause that's what they wanted, so they could start the machinery. So Clinchfield Mills took out insurance against explosives one day. That night or the next night one of the big machines in the opening room was dyanamited. And when that happened here come the National Guard and stood right around the others and let them start the wheels, and what not. This was an inside job.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Yes, that's what I was going to ask you.
SAM FINLEY:
To get the National Guard down there.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Is that when the National Guard first came to Clinchfield? They didn't come up here to this mill?
SAM FINLEY:
They come to Clinchfield first, and then around both of them. And anybody that doesn't belong there, that wasn't a loyal worker, they'd search them every time they'd get out. this home guard.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Home Guard?
SAM FINLEY:
National Guard.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Were you around, or did you. . . .
SAM FINLEY:
Oh, they searched me time after time.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What were they like, the guys that came in with the National Guard?
SAM FINLEY:
Well, they was just a bunch of tin soldiers, that's all.