Mother Jones

Mary Harris “Mother” Jones (August 1, 1837 – November 30, 1930), born in Cork, Ireland, was a prominent American labor and community organizer, who helped co-ordinate major strikes and co-founded the Industrial Workers of the World. She worked as a teacher and dressmaker but after her husband and four children all died of yellow fever and her workshop was destroyed in a fire in 1871 she began working as an organizer for the Knights of Labor and the United Mine Workers union.

She was a very effective speaker, punctuating her speeches with stories, audience participation, humour and dramatic stunts. From 1897 (when she was 60) she was known as Mother Jones and in 1902 she was called “the most dangerous woman in America” for her success in organizing mine workers and their families against the mine owners.

In 1913, during the Paint Creek-Cabin Creek strike in West Virginia, Mother Jones was charged and kept under house arrest in the nearby town of Pratt and subsequently convicted with other union organizers of conspiring to commit murder, after organizing another children’s march. Her arrest raised an uproar and she was soon released from prison, after which, upon motion of Indiana Senator John Worth Kern, the United States Senate ordered an investigation into the conditions in the local coal mines.

At a rally on August 7, 1921 Mary Harris “Mother” Jones called on the miners not to march into Logan and Mingo counties and set up the union by force. Accused by some of losing her nerve, she rightly feared a bloodbath in a battle between lightly armed union forces and the more heavily armed deputies from Logan County. Many miners said that she was losing her nerves and continued on the March. When the battle was waging she supported the miner’s cause.

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Published in: on April 24, 2011 at 5:27 pm  Comments Off on Mother Jones  
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