Denver, Colorado was founded in November 1858 as a gold mining town. An avalanche of gold-miners from many countries flowed into the area. The discovery of silver in 1879 continued to draw speculators and miners.
Prospered as a mining town
Denver, Colorado prospered as a mining town for many years so in 1893, when a financial panic swept over the United States and the silver boom collapsed, Denver suffered economically. As banks closed and real estate values plummeted, citizens looked for someone to blame, and the newly arrived Italian immigrants became a likely source.
In comparison with most German, Irish, and Hebrew immigrants, the Italians received a chilly reception in Denver, Colorado. Only a few Italians settled in Denver before 1880, when the census taker found 86 natives of Italy. However, after the railroads and other industrial operations actively recruited cheap Italian labor, their number climbed to 608 by 1890.
Initially impoverished, illiterate, and unskilled when they arrived in Denver, Colorado, the Italian immigrants were disliked by some Denver nativists for their foreign tongue, their Catholicism, their eating and drinking habits, and their occasional criminality.
The situation evidently grew severe around Christmas of 1900 when a race war almost developed in the city of Denver according to the news article below.
RACE WAR IN COLORADO
(Transcribed from the Boston Evening Transcript published December 22, 1900)
ITALIAN COUSUL ASKS AID FOR COUNTRYMEN
Denver, Col. December 22 – Dr. Joseph Cuneo, Italian consul here, made an appeal to Governor Thomas for protection of his countrymen involved in a threatened race war at Florence. His request was that pressure be brought on the Fremont County authorities to exercise all precautions at their command to prevent an outbreak and if necessary to call out the militia. The consul also wired the Italian ambassador at Washington to appeal to President McKinley for Federal aid should the State authorities be unable to cope with the situation.
The threatened trouble is the result of the importation of a number of Italians to work in a smelter for the treatment of gold ore. The mill and smelter men’s union have objected, but no serious action has been taken though threats are said to have been made. Edward Seed, an employee of the smelter, was killed yesterday, apparently by accident, by one of the Italians. This incident has increased the bitter feeling and a race war has been predicted.