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  • Silver was discovered in Leadville, Colorado in the 1870s, initiating the Colorado Silver Boom. The Leadville miners' strike in 1896-97 occurred during, and as a result of, rapid industrialization and consolidation of the mining industry. Mine owners had become more powerful, and they resolved not only to defeat the strike, but also to crush the union. The local union lost the strike and was nearly dissolved, marking a turning point for the local union's parent organization, the Western Federation of Miners. The defeat forced miners to re-assess their tactics and their union philosophy. Although the federation was birthed as the result of a violent struggle and had engaged in a militant action in the Cripple Creek District in which miners asserted union rights and defended themselves with gunfire and dynamite, the organization's disposition and its Preamble envisioned a future of arbitration and conciliation with employers. After the Leadville strike, WFM leaders and their followers adopted radical politics and were open to more militant policies, breaking with the conservative, craft union based American Federation of Labor in the East.