Mother Jones

Key Terms and Events

Terms

American Federation of Labor  -  · Created in 1886 by labor leaders, including Samuel Gompers, the AFL was originally a more conservative confederation of craft unions. Eventually, in 1955, it merged with the Congress of Industrial Organizations.
Industrial Unionism -  · Workers in an industrial union are organized by industry, rather than by craft or by skills. This type of labor organizing was embodied by the Industrial Workers of the World in the early twentieth century. Anyone could become a member of the IWW, regardless of their sex, race, occupation, or beliefs. Within the American Federation of Labor, which organized workers by craft, industrial unions became so numerous that they were expelled from the AFL in 1936. Currently, industrial unions, such as the Service Employees International Union, have organized not only manufacturing employees or miners, but also office workers.
Industrial Workers of the World  -  · Mother Jones attended the founding meeting of this radical industrial union in 1905, along with Eugene Debs and Bill Haywood. Through various methods of direct action, including strikes and boycotts, the purpose of the IWW was to rally together all workers and overthrow capitalism.
Socialism  -  · A term with many different interpretations, the most general meaning of socialism is a political and economic system that supports collectivism and government ownership of the means of production. The Socialist Party in the United States had strong support in the early twentieth-century.
United Mine Workers of America  -  · An industrial union formed in 1890, the UMW organized coal miners throughout the United States to confront company control and the abuse of workers. Indeed, miners lived in terrible conditions in secluded company towns, where they were forced to work in hazardous mines for long hours and little pay. The UMW instigated many successful strikes, of which Mother Jones was a part.
Western Federation of Miners  -  · Inclined to militancy and radical actions, the WFM was created in the western United States as a union of miners predominantly from the Rocky Mountain states. In 1905, its leaders, Charles Moyer, Bill Haywood, and George Pettibone were accused of murdering Frank Steunenberg, the former governor of Idaho. With the defense of legendary attorney Clarence Darrow, the three were acquitted. After the early 1910s, the WFM began to lose support.

Events

Irish Potato Famine  - Starting in 1845, a fungus spread throughout the Irish potato crop, destroying the harvest and causing mass starvation and disease. Poverty-stricken peasants flocked to the cities, where conditions were not much better and disease spread easily. An estimated one million people died as a result of the potato blight, and an equal number emigrated out of Ireland.
Chicago Fire - Fire destroyed a large proportion of the city of Chicago in 1871. Mary Harris's home and business were destroyed.
Haymarket Tragedy - On May 1, 1886, an anarchist demonstration turned violent when one of the participants threw a bomb at policemen, who responded by opening fire. Many innocent people died, and the authorities saw this as an opportunity to arrest and convict prominent activists. With little evidence, the activists were sentenced to be executed and imprisoned. Despite international protest, four of the activists were hanged. Later, the remaining imprisoned activists were pardoned.