Montana Historical Society

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Montana: Stories of the Land

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Chapter 10 - Politics and the Copper Kings, 1889-1904


Learning From Historical Documents


Letter from Andrew Hammond to Samuel Hauser regarding the Capital Fight, November 1, 1894. Samuel Thomas Hauser papers, 1864-1914. Manuscript Collection 37. [box 10 folder 6]. Montana Historical Society Research Center. Archives. Excerpted in Not In Precious Metals Alone: A Manuscript History of Montana (Helena, 1976): 142-43.


Context for A. B. Hammond's Letter:

The fight over where to situate Montana's permanent capitol was one of the ugliest and most corrupt in Montana's history. By 1894 the principal contenders had been reduced to two: Helena and Anaconda. Deep in the matrix of the contest was economic as well as political rivalry. William Andrews Clark was a financial power in Montana-a mining millionaire - and so was Marcus Daly, head of the Anaconda Copper Company. Their economic rivalry and affluence spilled beyond the confines of their corporate interests and permeated all Montana politics. Naturally, Daly's sympathies and finances favored Anaconda as capital. Likewise, Clark rose to the challenge. No businessman or politician was exempt from the ramifications of the feud; no expense or county spared in the struggle. Missoula entrepreneur and lumber magnate A. B. Hammond discussed the campaign's status in western Montana, illustrating how local issues, like county seat fights, became means to statewide political ends.


About Primary Sources:

Letters, diary entries, census records, newspapers, and photographs are all examples of "primary sources," material created at a particular moment in the past that has survived into the present. Primary sources can provide clues to the past. They are our windows into an earlier time. The Montana Historical Society contains thousands of primary sources. In the 1970s, archivists collected just a few snippets into a book, which they called Not in Precious Metals Alone: A Manuscript History of Montana. That book is now on the web in its entirety. The above sample from that book relates directly to this chapter.


May Day
May Day, 1916, photo by Edward Reinig, Montana Historical Society Photo Archives PAc 74-104