|Jurisdiction||Federal government of the United States|
The Federal Coal Commission was an agency of the Federal government of the United States of America, enacted by the U.S. Congress in September 1922 and headed by former U.S. Vice President Thomas R. Marshall.
On April 1, 1922, the United Mine Workers (UMW) began a nationwide coal strike. By mid-May 1922, the United States faced a "serious coal shortage." Only mines without unions remained open; prices rose, as did hoarding. On June 8, 1922, Warren G. Harding announced that voluntary pricing was relieving the situation. UMW president John L. Lewis complained for miners about cheating by non-union operators; operators and industry (e.g., the National Coal Association, National Retail Coal Merchants Association) complained about prices. On June 21–22, 1922, the Herrin massacre occurred in Herrin, Illinois: three union miners were shot and killed on June 21 and twenty strikebreakers and mine guards were killed next day. On July 1, 1922, Harding called for labor negotiations to start, led by U.S. Secretary of Labor James J. Davis and U.S. Secretary of Commerce (and future U.S. president) Herbert Hoover. On July 18, 1922, the U.S. Geological Survey issued a report stating that non-union mining operations could not maintain sufficient supply of coal nationally. Hoover then formulated a plan to create regional committees, supported by railroad and ICC executives to keep coal supplied to critical users: his plan became the Coal Distribution Committee, with representatives from the departments of Commerce, Interior, and Justice, plus the ICC, and headed by Henry C. Spencer. By August, with no resolution, miners and operators were ready to talk.
In August 1922, nearly a fifth of soft coal miners and operators met in Cleveland, Ohio. They agreed to extend their pre-strike contract on soft coal to April 1, 1923. They pressured the anthracite coal industry to extend their contract to August 31, 1923. They also endorsed a presidential commission. On August 22, 1923, President Harding announced his intention to form a Federal coal commission, as well as his opposition to allow miners and mine operators become commission members.
- On August 19, Harding asked Congress for a bill to create a coal commission.
- In September 1922, the U.S. Congress passed a bill that created the Federal Coal Commission, as well as a Federal Coal Distributor. A House bill did not provide for members from among miners (labor), as congressional representatives such as Meyer London noted. A Senate bill excluded all people with coal interests, which cleared both houses.
- In October 1922, President Harding appointed the commission's members, as well as F. R. Wadleigh as Distributor. At the same time, he disbanded a similar, private committee he had formed previously, funded by the Cabot Foundation.
On July 5, 1923, the Commission completed its report on anthracite coal. The "verbose and inconclusive" report did not avert an anthracite coal strike by September 8, 1923. On September 17, 1923, Gifford Pinchot, governor of Pennsylvania, brokered a settlement, which embarrassed Secretary Hoover (as they were political rivals).
Despite the intervention of the Federal Coal Commission, "in the ensuring years, the position of the coal miner continued to deteriorate, as did the industry."
- "What Lies Before the New Federal Coal Commission" (1922).
- Thomas R. Marshall (1922–1923)
- U.S. Anthracite Coal Strike Commission of 1902
- U.S. Anthracite Coal Commission of 1920, AKA U.S. Coal Commission of 1920
- Thomas R. Marshall
- John L. Lewis
- United Mine Workers
- Herrin massacre
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- "Create Federal Coal Commission". Brick and Clay Record. 1922: 468–469. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
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