Marie Ganz after Assassination Attempt of John D. Rockefeller Jr,1914
Image 1: Marie Ganz after Assassination Attempt of John D. Rockefeller Jr,1914

Today Rockefeller is a big name in the world of Conspiracy and Business. Rockefeller family is the subject of many true or false stories ranging from the murder of JFK, and 911 to Worldwide dominance. But during their initial days, the Rockefeller family was supposedly not so secretive in their deeds. This was the time when they were investing in railroads and participating in what later be known as “The Coal Wars”, for which they were criticized in US Congress too.

One of the stories concerning Rockefeller’s Dominance is about an Iron Lady, a staunch anarchist activist who gathered a crowd and headed to The Standard Oil Building in Manhatten to shoot John D. Rockefeller Jr for his participation in the Ludlow Massacre. This is the story of Marie Ganz.

The Early Life of Marie Ganz

Marie was born in Austria in 1891, her father left for America when she was just an infant in search of job opportunities. He worked in America for 2 years to be able to afford a decent place of residence for his family. Marie and her mother joined his father when Marie was 5 years old.

Describing her living conditions Marie wrote that “there were times when they, with several other families with them, had to live in sewers of New York City just to have a roof on their head”.

His father although a decent man, was effectively poor. He could not afford the education for all of his children and thus Marie had to first work part-time at the age of age and later had to completely abandon the school at the age of 13. Her first permanent job was as a Deliveryman in a Sweatshop. It was this experience that made her familiar with the poor folks of that time.

Life of Marie Ganz as a Staunch Anarchist

During her times of struggle, Marie just like many other poor people came across the Anarchist political workers who were influenced by the writings of Lysander Spooner, Alexander Berkman, Johann Most, etc. Influenced by the zeel and passion of these people and new ideas of their ideals, Marie decided to choose the path of struggle.

During her journey, she met popular female labor leaders like Emma Goldman and Margaret Sanger. With whom she started her new journey aimed at the betterment of poor labor in the US. During this time she participated in many movements including women’s suffrage, Labour Rights, Union rights, etc.

Encounter with John D. Rockefeller Jr.

It was the time when the Rockefeller family was expanding their business in the United States. It was also the time when labor(especially mine workers, coal workers, etc) demanded the right to form unions, that could work to improve the workers living and working conditions. This demand was hugely unpopular among the Capitalist class. This led to a series of conflicts, sometimes violent and sometimes non-violent, between the workers and the Mine Owners. These were popularly named “The Coal Wars”.

During one of these conflicts, the private militia of Colorado Fuel and Iron Company which was owned by Rockfeller Jr, attacked the tents of protesting miners. This incident resulted in 19 deaths and was named “The Ludlow Massacre”. The news of this incident sparked anger in all labor organizations across the USA and the World.

The news of Ludlow brings both sorrow and anger to Marie. Her first response was “Let the workers who are being attacked in Colorado know that we, their brethren in the East, are with them in action as well as in spirit. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., is a Sunday School teacher and preaches kindness and humility, yet he is the instigator of these murders of men who have created wealth for him”

Encouraged by her Anarchist companions, she decided to kill Rockefeller Jr. for that she went to the Standard Oil Building in Manhattan. A large crowd was already gathered around the building because of the news of the massacre, Marie went inside the building and waited to meet Rockefeller Jr., but he was out of town. With that, she told the secretary present there “If you’re Mr. Rockefeller’s secretary, I want you to tell him that if he doesn’t stop the killing of the workers in Colorado I’ll shoot him down like a dog”.

Her attitude made her famous among the labor leaders of that time.

Later Life and Death

In 1917, Marie was arrested for involvement in the New York City Food Riot of 1917. In 1919 she met her future husband Nat J. Ferber with whom she had a daughter. At the same time, the labor movement in the USA was weakening due to internal divisions and the corruption of Labor leaders. At the end of her career, she became disillusioned with the Anarchist philosophy citing the corruptions of their leaders.

She writes in her autobiography, “During all this time, Emma Goldman, the anarchist leader, was away on a lecture tour and out of harm’s way. She paid no attention to appeals to come back and take part in the meetings. She was making money and she was living comfortably at first-class hotels, and I became convinced that sordid motives had always actuated her”.

Marie died at Saint Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan, New York City in 1968.


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