Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Green Corn Rebellion

Recently, I experienced an eerie feeling around Sesakwa, Seminole Nation / Seminole County, Oklahoma. This led me to investigate afterwards, and to come across the "Green Corn Rebellion" of 1917. In a nuthsell, several hundred people had gathered in the area in opposition to the Draft (military conscription) under the banner of the Working Class Union (WCU), an ad hoc group of poor tenant farmers. The US government had formally entered the Great War (World War I) in April 1917, and the wartime Draft kicked in over the summer. Many Draft opponents were armed and actively resisted; some committed acts of sabotage in the area, and small-scale raids.

Meanwhile, the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) had spilled over the US border, and more than 110,000 National Guard troops were massed along the Texas and Southwestern US/Mexican frontier in 1916 and 1917. Anything could happen.   

Oklahoma was also undergoing an oil rush at the time. "Until overtaken by California in 1923, Oklahoma remained the leading [petroleum] producing state in the U.S."*

The Green Corn Rebellion was quickly put down by "posse justice."  Whoever organized and led these posses (it's unclear to me who they were at this point) managed to haul in four or five hundred "rebels," and a third of them were then convicted and jailed. A handful were not released from federal prison until the 1920s. Three people were reported killed during the "uprising."  Under wartime powers, "radical subversives" were vigorously suppressed throughout the area, and throughout the entire country, followed by Red Scare hysteria and the Palmer Raids of 1919-1920.

Hence, I suppose, the eerie feeling while passing through Sesakwa.

As for the National Guard units on the Mexican border, most were sent to the trenches on the Western Front by 1918. The Draft was suspended after the war, and resumed from 1940 until 1973, never since to return.

Dan T. Boyd, "Oklahoma Oil: Past, Present, and Future," Oklahoma Geology Notes, v. 62, no. 3 (Fall 2002), p 98.

Today's Rune: Defense.


the walking man said...

At least we once knew how to stand up.

Charles Gramlich said...

AS a friend of mine often has remarked, about the best we can hope for is to be on our knees and snarling.