Difficulty Appalachian Miners Encountered in Combating the Repression Imposed by the American Corporation.

Essay by bryanvepyUniversity, Bachelor's September 2006

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Near the turn of the nineteenth century near the Cumberland Gap between Kentucky and Tennessee a company that would one day be known as the American Corporation gained governmental authorization to purchase mass amounts of land and begin mining towns in the valley of the Appalachian Mountains. The towns in this area, such as Clairfield, had over 40,000 residents and over 1,300 mining jobs. As mining technology became more advanced, the need for rough man-power became more and more obsolete and by 1957 there were only 230 mining jobs in the county (Gaventa, 125-6). The influx of people wanting to "get rich quick" to this area was very great and after the quasi industrial revolution, over 90% of mining positions were eliminated. By 1969 a rough 95% of the population lived below the poverty line, and none of the residents did anything to fight the American Corporation or do anything about their current unfortunate situation.

Why did these people not form a coalition? Join a union? Fight the Corporation any way they knew how? They did. The battle was lost.

In order to understand what caused the quiescence of the Appalachian miners in the first place, one must first understand what John Gaventa, author of Power and Powerlessness: Quiescence and Rebellion in an Appalachian Valley, calls "The Mechanisms of Power". This is a tri-dimensional approach to political resources and the utilization of such based on things such as political experience and organizational strength (Gaventa, 14). The first dimension basically deals with the identification of conflict in a sort of debate and conclusion of key issues (who makes the decisions). The second dimension of power deals with "mobilization of bias" which is defined by Gaventa as "A set of predominant values, (and) beliefs...that operate systematically...to the benefit of certain...