At the time, most cane cutters were being paid $13 per month in script which could only be spent at the company store. Goods at the company store, of course, were marked up on average as much as 100% or more over retail value which typically meant that most of the workers wound up and often stayed in the red. And local lawmakers did their part by making it illegal for workers to leave the sugar plantation owners' land until their debt was paid. Uh-huh.
On the first day of the crucial harvest period in November of 1887, ten thousand workers--one thousand of them White--let it be known that they were NOT going to harvest the crop and they were NOT going to vacate their plantation-owned cabins. In fear that their valuable crop was going to get caught by a freeze, plantation owners turned to Governor McEnery (a plantation owner himself), who quickly sent in troops to "resolve" the issue.
Over the next couple of weeks, tension continued to build until on this day in 1887, somewhere between thirty and three hundred workers were rounded up and shot to death after being told to run for their lives. To read the whole story, go here.