Hellraisers Journal: Whereabouts & Doings of Mother Jones for September 1917, Part II: Found in Illinois & Washington D. C.

You ought to be out raising hell.
This is the fighting age.
Put on your fighting clothes.
-Mother Jones


Hellraisers Journal, Friday October 19, 1917
Mother Jones News for September, Part II: Attends Root-Gompers Meeting

After her speech supporting the street car strikers in Springfield, Illinois, Mother Jones was blamed for a “riot” in that city. On September 15th, Mother attended a pro-war mass meeting in Chicago where the featured speakers were Elihu Root and Samuel Gompers.

From The Decatur Herald of September 5, 1917:

People Warned, Troops Ready,
“Mother” Jones, Boose and Burnette Blamed.

Mother Jones, IL State Rgstr p2, Springfield, Sept 1, 1917

SPRINGFIELD, Sept. 5-As a result of rioting here Monday night [September 3rd], which resulted in the wrecking of 6 street cars, the riddling with bricks of the front of the car companies office building and the arresting of 20 rioters, Mayor C. T. Baumann last night following a conference of city, county and military officials with assistance of Ajt. Gen. Richings J. Shand at the state house, issued a proclamation ordering all citizens of Springfield to keep off the streets as much as possible and forbidding all gatherings in the streets or public places under penalty of arrest and imprisonment. Mayor Baumann’s action was a direct result of Monday night’s trouble and reports that there would be further organized out breaks, with possible attacks in force on street car company property.

Soldiers On Guard.

Although there have been only isolated instances of trouble, last night, such as the stoning of cars in remote sections of the city, soldiers with fixed bayonets patrolled the main business streets with sentries on every corner keeping the people moving and breaking up gatherings. Additional forces were held at the court house and state arsenal, with automobiles in readiness to rush them to any danger point.

Men arrested by the soldiers Monday night are being held at the county jail, which is guarded by soldiers. It is said that they will be turned over to the civil authorities Wednesday.

Mackie Assigns Cause.

“Mother Jones, Burnette and Bloomington booze” were the three causes of the Springfield riots of Monday night as assigned by general Manager Mackie of the Springfield Utilities company Tuesday.

Burnette is the organizer of the street car men. In a statement which he issued after the riots had been quelled, he denied that street car men were implicated in the disturbances, though admitting that strike sympathizers were in the mob that wrecked the cars and the front of the Utilities Co. office.

Mr. Mackie indicated Tuesday that the City of Springfield would be asked to settle in full for the company’s damaged property.


[Photograph added.]

The “riot” was described in The Decatur Herald of September 4th:


Liquor Blamed For Riot Started By Union
Men Returning From Bloomington

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Sept. 4-Charging at the double with fixed bayonets, F and G Cos., 9th Ill. Inf., last night shortly before 11 o’clock, dispersed a mob of more than 1,000 street car strike sympathizers, who had half an hour before wrecked four street cars and were then attacking the headquarters of the railway company intent on wrecking and ransacking the building…

From the Cheyenne Wyoming Tribune of September 13, 1917:

Shortage of Coal is Bound to Be Felt
Despite Legislation and Many
Industries May Be Tied Up.

(By Gilson Gardner)

WASHINGTON, Sept. 13.-There will be a coal famine next winter, probably in spite of everything, and its shortage may tie up industries before the first frost.

The coal situation is bad, so bad that it is doubtful if serious trouble can be averted.

President Wilson has the power to appoint a commission or a coal administrator, similar to the food administrator, or to turn the subject over to the federal trade commission; and he probably will do one of these before very long.

But even then there will be suffering in many homes in the northwest, and many a factory will shut down.

Equally to be deplored there will be little coal to export to the allies. France and Italy need it badly. What can be done is a problem. Nobody has a definite answer…..

Mother Jones, famous strike leader, in Washington this week, saw Frank Peabody of the national defense coal committee.

“If you don’t watch out,” said Peabody, “the government is going to take over the coal mines.”

“Perhaps,” said Mother Jones, “and perhaps worse things might happen.”

Perhaps that’s the answer.


From the Carbondale Daily Free Press of September 15, 1917:

Elihu Root Makes Statement in Chicago Address.

Asserts Arguments Against War Are
Enemy Arguments-
Gompers Assails Naturalized Citizens
Who Are False to Oath.

Chicago, Sept. 15.-Before 15,000 persons gathered at the war mass meeting in the Coliseum Elihu Root defined the word “traitor” as it applies in this crisis.

“Arguments against the war, since we have entered the war, are enemy arguments,” he declared, while the great crowd shouted its approval.

“Their spirit is the spirit of rebellion and the effect is to hinder and lessen popular support. They encourage the enemy.”

When the throng had given vent to its hearty approbation he paused dramatically and declared:

“Such persons are rendering more effective service to Germany than they ever could render on the battle field with arms.

“Their purpose is so plain that it is impossible to resist the conclusion that the greater number of them are attempting to bring triumph to Germany.”

Summing up this terrific broadside against propagandists and others who are hindering the government in the vigorous prosecution of the war, the gray-haired statesman declared:

“Anyone who by argument is hindering the government, and knows what he is doing, is a traitor.”

Gompers Other Speaker.

Mr. Root, who appeared on the platform with Samuel Gompers as co-speaker of the evening mentioned no names in his powerful address.

He severely took to task naturalized citizens who have shown and inclination to be false to their new country.

“Naturalized citizens who are false to their oath are requiting by evil the good that has been done here in generous and sustained hospitality in this land of the free,” he declared.

The big meeting was held under National Security league. Long before the time for the speaking to begin the great hall was crowded.

Lowden Stays on Duty.

Gov. Frank O. Lowden, who had been scheduled to appear as a speaker, was unable to attend on account of the extraordinary labor situation at the state capital. He sent this message:

“Springfield is the storm center of Illinois just now, and I must remain at my post.

“The great majority of workingmen here are loyal. But sinister influences are at work to involve labor in a hostile attitude toward government. We must separate these two forces.

“To do so we must give larger recognition to loyal labor organizations such as those represented by Mr. Gompers. Above all, labor and capital are equally interested in maintaining internal order while this war is on.

“It will do no good to win battles abroad if we cannot maintain peace at home.”

“Mother” Jones With Insull.

The stage scene was one long to be remembered. Elbow-to-elbow, “Mother” Jones of labor, who often has seen the inside of jails, sat with Samuel Insull, chairman of the state council of defense; Chief Justice Orrin G. Carter of the state supreme court, and leaders of industry and the professions. Samuel Gompers was not alone. Victor Olander, Simon O’Donnell and other labor leaders were on the platform.


From the Rockford Morning Star of September 16, 1917:

John P. Hopkins Is Kissed by
Old “Mother Jones”

John Patrick Hopkins (1858-1918), Chicago Mayor 1893-1895

CHICAGO, Sept. 15.-Girls, don’t fail to read this. It is about an eligible bachelor-handsome and all that-who has a reputation of being afraid of woman. Hush! He was kissed last night in the presence of 16,000 patriotic persons who filled the Coliseum. He stood the test and liked it. He insisted on having the girl sit beside him on the platform and after the big rally saw that she was driven to her hotel in his car.

The secret is out. John P. Hopkins, former mayor and secretary of the state council of defense, is the hero of this sketch and “Mother” Jones is the heroine. They met again last night for the first time in twenty years on the platform at the Root-Gompers rally. Mother Jones, who is 87 years old, threw her arms about “Johnny” and she gave him such a smack. There were some envious eyes in that assemblage, say reports.

Mr. Hopkins had “Mother” Jones come with him to one of the best seats on the platform, and he refused to allow her to walk to her hotel. The big touring car was at her disposal.

It has been said of the former mayor that he never forgets a friend. Neither is he slow to let up on an enemy. When he was running for mayor “Mother” Jones insisted upon making a speech at a Hopkins rally. Women were not on the rostrums in those days and the chairman refused her request. “Mother” Jones did as she always does-took the case into her own hands. She interrupted the speaker, stating that she wanted to be heard after he was done. She talked for Hopkins and made a hit and followed it up with nightly speeches.


[Photograph added.]

From The Chicago Sunday Tribune of September 16, 1917:

“Sassers” of President Anger “Mother” Jones

Suffragists who heckle President Wilson during war time have no place in the affections of “Mother” Jones, octogenarian strike leader and perhaps the most picturesque figure in the organized labor movement.

[She exploded yesterday:]

The idiots! They ought to be in jail or the insane asylum. I can’t decide which.

I passed a lot of them standing by the White House gate when I was in Washington several weeks ago, acting like a bunch of naughty little girls in trying to sass the president. They are an insult not only to the president, but to the entire country.




The Decatur Herald
(Decatur, Illinois)
-Sept 5, 1917
-Sept 4, 1917

The Wyoming Tribune
(Cheyenne, Wyoming)
-Sept 13, 1917, page 5

The Daily Free Press
(Carbondale, Illinois)
-Sept 15, 1917

Rockford Morning Star
(Rockford, Illinois)
-Sept 16, 1917, page 1

The Chicago Sunday Tribune
(Chicago, Illinois)
-Sept 16, 1917


Mother Jones, Springfield Illinois State Register,
-Sept 1, 1917, p2

John Patrick Hopkins (1858-1918), Chicago Mayor 1893-1895

See also:

The American Federationist, Volume 24, Part II
(Washington, District of Columbia)
Aug-Dec 1917
Official Magazine of the American Federation of Labor
For editorials by Gompers during this period:
-September 1917
-October 1917

Elihu Root

Elihu Root, World War I