Monday, March 26, 2007
Introducing Mother Jones
Dubbed the “most dangerous woman in America” by opponents, Mary Harris (Mother) Jones was a radical labor organizer from the 1870s to the 1920s. Jones was born in Ireland in 1837 and moved to the Unites States as a young girl. After losing her family in 1867 and, later, her property in the great Chicago fire of 1871, she devoted herself to the labor movement. Jones cultivated a mother image and soon became known as “Mother Jones.” In the 1890s, Jones began to organize mine workers in West Virginia. As a result of a particularly violent mine strike in 1912-1913, a West Virginia military court convicted her of conspiracy to commit murder. The governor later commuted her sentence in response to public outrage. In addition to her tireless labor activism, Jones also helped to organize the early Social Democratic Party and the Industrial Workers of the World. She was a fighter. She famously rejected any suggestion that she act “like a lady.” In response to the charge of being “unladylike,” she said: “a lady is the last thing on earth I want to be. Capitalists sidetrack the women into clubs and make ladies of them.” For books on Mother Jones, see here.