Hellraisers Journal, Thursday October 18, 1917
Mother Jones News for September, Part I: Speech in Springfield
From the Illinois State Register of September 1, 1917:
On the evening of August 31st, Mother Jones spoke in Springfield, Illinois, to striking carmen and their supporters. The speech was well-covered the next day by the Register.
MOTHER JONES ASKS AID
FOR CAR STRIKERS
Tells Unionists to Unite in Fight
Against Street Car Company and Win
4,000 HEAR SPEAKER
Crowds Throng Court House Yard
and Cheer as Advocate of Labor Talks
Four thousand striking car men, members of allied labor organizations and curious outsiders last night on the court house square heard “Mother” Jones, self-confessed labor agitator and proud of it, urged the strikers and their sympathizers to disregard judges, courts, injunctions or any other power that might be invoked and to fight the street railway company until it is forced to meet the demands of the union.
Less extreme than she is reported to have been in other cities where labor troubles were in progress, “Mother” Jones did not directly urge the strikers to resort to violence in gaining their ends, but she demanded that every allied labor organization in Springfield take up the cause, have their meters removed and go out on “sympathy” strikes to tie up the city’s industries until pressure is brought to bear to force the utility company to admit itself beaten.
The meeting, advertised to be held in Carpenters’ hall, was transferred to the court house grounds, when it became evident long before the time set for “Mother” Jones to speak, that not one-third of those who wished to hear her would be able to get into the hall. Before half-past seven the hall was packed, and hundreds were thronging the street before the building seeking admittance.
Henry Bogaske, chairman of the strike committee of the central trades body, opened the court house square meeting by introducing P. J. Patterson, president of the Bloomington trades assembly, who spoke briefly of the car strike in Bloomington and the means that were resorted to in finally winning it. Patterson gave the credit for the winning of the strike there to the calling out of the C. & A. shopmen and the aid of “Mother” Jones.
Greeted by Applause.
George P. Lischer, former president of the local Typographical union, introduced “Mother” Jones, who was greeted by prolonged cheering by the labor men.
The white-haired champion of the rights of the laboring man, confessedly 87 years old, and looking thirty years younger, and in appearance all the name given her implies, wasted no time in preliminaries.
Starting with the Egyptians who attempted to attack the Israelites as they started for the Promised Land, and whom she termed “scabs,” “Mother” Jones wasted no opportunity to attack every person and every class she regards as a foe to the laboring man.
Of the Egyptians she said:
God took every damn scab and drowned him, and the fight has been going on down these centuries. Every nation that has crushed the workers has perished, and I am here to tell you that the street car men of America must win out if every damn high flyer has to perish.
[She went on:]
This nation was founded on a strike. They were on strike for seven years and then years afterwards some of them seceded from the union that strike had built. But in that second strike that took place the seceders were licked back into the union.
Those on the throne have never yet learned the lesson until it has been too late. Never in all history do you find the despot and the dictators to learn the lesson from the past until it became too late. America today is marching onward; and I am one of America’s citizens and I have been for over over 80 years.
Turning to some artillerymen perched on the pile of chairs at the back of the platform she added,
I am in the fight against tyrants, but I may as well do it at home first and then go abroad. After I have seen the kaisers that are destroying this nation whipped I will be with you in destroying the kaiser on the other side.
Pays Tribute to Mackie.
Referring to A. D. Mackie, general manager of the street railway company, as a “high class burglar,” Mother Jones likened the situation here to another strike she had been called to aid in.
The 2×4 kaiser there, like your high class burglar here, said that he wouldn’t recognize the union “until hell froze over.” I told him that hell was going to freeze over all right and that he would walk on the ice and recognize the union. He did. And you go tell this self-made despot the same thing and make him do it.
Speaking of the starving of the children of today by the capitalistic classes, whom she charged with being responsible for the oppression of the laboring classes, “Mother” Jones demanded:
Are we going to starve our children today and give the nation starved and stunted and dwarfed men and women in the next generation in order to give dollars to a few high-class burglars?
One of the men on the platform at this point brought the speaker a glass of water, but the white haired orator waved it away:
I don’t drink it.
When the laughter of the crowd had subsided, she asked:
You have temperance here? Yes, you working men are temperance, all right! The high-class burglars aren’t.
Lauds Union Work.
Reverting to the work of unions in America, “Mother” Jones went on:
Let me tell you-and no one has better right than I-the trade union movement has done more for this nation and for its manhood and womanhood than all the churches and ministers, all the Y. M. C. A.’s and W. C. T. U.’s, all the temperance howlers and suffragettes that will come from here until Doomsday.
The millenium, according to “Mother” Jones, is a long way off if present conditions are any indication.
The world in all human history has never produced a more rotten and corrupt and diabolical age than this one, and I defy any man to contradict my statement. Your corrupt politics and every organization is established to crush the workers, and I want to tell you that you are making more thieves, gunmen and murderers than ever before in history.
You men have got to win this strike. Fight it to a finish! Wreck the company! They have no scruples about wrecking your lives, and your homes, and your wives. Let me tell you something. The general manager of the car company buys a $2.50 steak for supper. His wife asks him if he doesn’t think it is fine, and he says, “Yes, it is delicious” Your wife buys a hog liver, but she doesn’t ask you how it tastes. She knows how it tastes from experience.
Yet you men pay for the steak and can only have a hog liver for yourselves-and you call yourselves free American citizens. Your two-by-four kaiser tells you that if you are a good lap dog for a year he’ll give you 19 cents an hour. And you say you’ll be a good lap dog. And if you’re a good lap dog for five years he gives you 24 cents an hour. Yet you are free American citizens.
Suffragettes came in for the full weight of “Mother” Jones’ address and particularly those who have been heckling President Wilson by picketing the white house.
Any woman who insults this nation’s executive as those suffragettes in Washington have done insults the nation, but those were a bunch of cats with peacock feathers on the outside of their skulls and nothing on the inside.
Urges Support of Country.
“Mother” Jones was earnest in urging her hearers to support the president, and demanded that all pacifist talk be stopped at the present time, declaring that even if things were pretty rotten the country was still worth fighting for.
Speaking of her own activities in labor troubles, the speaker said that she had been in more fights than anybody else in America and that she had never found anybody yet who was able to keep her from talking when she wanted to.
The Almighty hasn’t made anything yet that can stop a woman from talking.
In all her experiences, she said, she has never been in the hands of the civil authorities.
The civil authorities never have molested me yet. It is always the bayonets.
Turning to the several members of the Third artillery perched on the chairs behind her, she continued:
No, Uncle Sam doesn’t bother me. It is always the sewer rats of the militia.
In declaring that the street car men are being crushed by the railway company, “Mother” Jones laid the blame to “No. 14 Wall street, the pirates’ headquarters in New York.”
You men have got to fight this out. The wall street pirates have had their day. It is your day now. You men of other labor unions, I want to ask you how these car men can buy food for their families on their wages at present prices? Can it be done No, it can’t, and you know it.
This strike has got to be won. You’ve got to stand or fall together. Don’t be afraid of injunctions. What if they do put you in jail? They can’t keep you there forever. And if they put you all in the bull pen. I’ll come back here and bring with me 100,000 American men and women who will win it for you.
Praises Chief Morris.
Chief of Police Morris, whom the white-haired speaker said, had called on her, had evidently made a favorable impression for she urged her hearers to elect him as the next mayor of the city and then make him governor.
Nominate him and I,ll come back and campaign for him.
Mayor Baumann came in for almost as much disfavor as did Judge E. S. Smith, who “Mother” jones rhetorically dragged about the platform for issuing the injunctions against the strikers and their sympathizers.
At the close of her remarks “Mother” Jones sarcastically spoke of the mayor, begging her hearers to
-be good boys, now . If you’re not, the mayor won’t be able to sleep tonight for worrying about it, and I’ll have to send for some high class pill-peddler to see what’s wrong with him.
From Springfield “Mother” Jones is headed for Kentucky, she said last night, and that she expected to return to Springfield if the car men with the help of the other organizations haven’t been able to win the strike within a short time. She left the city late last night, supposedly on her way to Kentucky.
The crowd which heard “Mother” Jones last night seemed to be a good-humored one, and although they applauded her most violent attacks on Mr. Mackie, the mayor and others whom she regarded as opposing the strikers, there was no sign of ugliness displayed.
All street cars were ordered to the barns at 9 o’clock in the evening by the sheriff, according to advices from company headquarters, in an effort to minimize the danger of any trouble following the meeting. Guards at the car barns and other strategic points had been strengthened and every effort made on the part of the authorities, both civil and military, to prepare for any outbreak or rioting which might follow. The sheriff reported late last night that there had been no trouble encountered during the night, and that it was his belief there would be no disturbances.
From The Evansville Courier of September 2, 1917:
From The Evansville Courier of September 4, 1917:
LOCAL UNIONS SEND 2,000 TO HENDERSON
Labor Day Celebration in Kentucky City a
Great Success-Day Quiet in Evansville
Over 2,000 people from this city participated yesterday in the Labor day celebration at Henderson, given under the auspices of the Central Labor union of Henderson. The majority made the trip on the steamer Prince and barge Princess, which left here at 8 in the morning carrying the local C. L. U. delegation. Others went on the steamer John S. Hopkins and on the traction.
The afternoon boats encountered a terrific wind and rain storm while several miles from Henderson, causing a small panic among the passengers. The Hopkins tied up along the bank for half an hour. When the boats reached the Henderson wharf the storm abated, much to the relief of the frightened throng.
The storm struck the Henderson fair grounds where the afternoon exercises were held, shortly after Mother Jones had completed her speech at 2:30 o’clock, causing a small panic among the women and children. Lightning played around the big amphitheater, which was jammed with people, and a tree a short distance from the grounds was struck. The storm continued for an hour, cutting the speaking program short and causing the elimination of most of the other features.
The crowd at the fair grounds was estimated at above 5,000. Besides those from here and Henderson there were people from Vincennes, Owensboro and other Kentucky points. Mayor J. W. Johnson of Henderson delivered the welcome address in behalf of the city and the Henderson C. L. U. and introduce “Mother” Jones, national organizer for the United Mine Workers of America.
“Mother” Jones prefaced her talk by citing the work being done by the miners’ organization throughout the country. She dwelt on the benefit of organization to all classes of labor and in closing plead that every effort be made to have all mines of Kentucky unionized.
W. E. Tieman of Evansville delivered a speech on the labor movement.
The feature of the day was an industrial parade in the morning at 10 o’clock which was headed by the police and fire department of Henderson. The Evansville delegation was headed by the West Side band. The Henderson military band headed the Henderson unions, the following being in line; musicians, barbers, cigarmakers, printers, brewery workers, bartenders, teamsters, miners, stationary engineers, farmers. Lodge drill teams, merchants’ floats and automobiles formed the last division.
The celebration continued at Henderson at night with a big dance at Atkinson park. Many of the younger people from Evansville remained over and attended the dance, but the C. L. U. delegation returned on the boats leaving Henderson shortly after 5 o’clock. The Prince and Princess took out a big crowd on a moonlight trip under the auspices of the Evansville C. L. U…..
SOURCES & IMAGES
Illinois State Register
-Sept 1, 1917, p2
(Source for image within article.)
The Evansville Courier
-Sept 2, 1917, page 4 (Source for image of notice.)
Mother Jones, Labor Day Henderson KY, Evl IN Cr p4, Sept 2, 1917
-Sept 4, 1917, Page 3