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SharePrint Media File

Type: Video

Series Title West Virginia: A Film History

Filmmaker Mark Samels

Company West Virginia Humanities Council

Format DVD


On March 5, 1913, his first day on the job, newly elected governor, Henry D. Hatfield, slipped out of Charleston at dawn toward Holly Grove.

Devil Anse’s nephew, Hatfield had left the Tug Valley to earn a medical degree then returned home to work as a doctor for the N&W Railroad. He entered politics and at the age of thirty-seven was elected governor.

Carrying only his black doctor’s bag, Hatfield spent two days in Holly Grove treating the sick, then promised to resolve the Paint Creek strike, now, one of the nation’s most violent.

Denise Giardina: Governor Hatfield saw himself as a champion of the common person. He came back to Charleston, and the coal operators had heard what he was doing and were furious. Hatfield became so angered at the operators’ insistence that he had done something terrible that his temper got the better of him, and he punched out one of the coal operators, which I always thought would be a great scene to see. Apparently just flattened him right there in the governor’s office. He also squandered his chances to be a hero for the miners. Like many people in political office, he began to think maybe he could compromise and do something to please both sides and in trying to please both sides, he really ended up pleasing neither side.

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