United Steelworkers Local 9460

Working Class Hero: Mother Jones

 Mother Jones worked tirelessly for economic justice. Her opponents called her the “most dangerous woman in America,” for her success in organizing miners and their families against wealthy mine owners.

Born in 1830, her family fled the devastation of the Irish Potato Famine and emigrated to America. Jones worked as a teacher and dressmaker, but after her husband and four children all died of yellow fever in 1867 and her dress shop was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, she began working as a union organizer.

An example of campaigns she organized was the Children’s March of 1903. To protest child labor in the Pennsylvania mines and silk mills, she organized a children's march from Philadelphia to the home of Pres. Theodore Roosevelt in New York. Campaigns like this made her the hated enemy of the greedy robber barons of her time.

Jones combined dynamic speaking skills and radical organizing methods to mobilize thousands of working-class families. She said of herself, “I’m not a humanitarian, I’m a hell-raiser.” Her most famous saying, still said at workers’ funerals the world over, was “don’t mourn, organize!” We owe much to working class heroes like Mother Jones!

 

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