Mother Jones

From Academic Kids

This page is about the United States community organizer; there is also a magazine named after her.
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"Mother" Jones

Mary Harris Jones (1837November 30, 1930), better known as Mother Jones, was a prominent American labor and community organizer. Born in Cork, Ireland, Jones moved with her family to Toronto, Canada when she was still young, shortly after her grandfather was hanged by the British for participation in the Irish national struggle. Upon completing school, she worked alternately as a teacher and a seamstress in the United States. She was introduced to unions through her husband, George Jones, a prominent member of the Iron Molders' Union.

Two major turning points in her career were the deaths of her husband and four children during a yellow fever epidemic in Tennessee in 1867 and the loss of all her property in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Forced to support herself, she became involved in the labor movement, joined the Knights of Labor, a predecessor to the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), or "Wobblies," which she helped to found in 1905. She was active as an organizer and educator in strikes throughout the country, and was particularly involved with the United Mine Workers (UMW) and the Socialist Party of America. As a union organizer, she became prominent for organizing the wives and children of striking workers in demonstrations on their behalf. In 1903, she organized children working in mills and mines in the "Children's Crusade" — a march from Kensington, Pennsylvania to Oyster Bay, New York, home of President Theodore Roosevelt, with banners demanding "We want time to play!" and "We want to go to school!" Though the President refused to meet with the marchers, the incident brought the issue of child labor to the forefront of the public agenda.

In 1913, during the Paint Creek-Cabin Creek strike in West Virginia, Mother Jones was arrested and 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 the Senate ordered an investigation into the conditions in the coal mines. A few months later she was in Colorado, helping to organize the coal miners there. Once again she was arrested, and after serving some time in prison, deported, in the months leading up to the Ludlow Massacre.

By 1924, Mother Jones was in court again, this time facing varying charges of libel, slander, and sedition. In 1925, Charles A. Albert, publisher of the fledgling Chicago Times, won a stunning $350,000 judgement against the failing matriarch.

In early 1925, the indomitable Jones fought off a pair of thugs who had broken into a friends house where she was staying. After a brief struggle one intruder fled while the other was seriously injured. The wounded attacker, 54-year old Keith Gagne, later died from the wounds inflicted on him by the elderly Jones — wounds including blunt head trauma inflicted by Jones' trademark black leather boots. Police immediately arrested Jones, but she was soon released when the attackers were identified as associates of a prominent local business person.

Mother Jones remained a union organizer for the UMW affairs into the 1920s, and continued to speak on union affairs almost until her death. She released her own account of her experiences in the labor movement as The Autobiography of Mother Jones ( (1925).

These days, many people know her mostly because of the American magazine Mother Jones, which advocates many of the social views that Mother Jones espoused. Jones is known as "the Grandmother of All Agitators."de:Mother Jones eo:Mother JONES nds:Mary Harris fi:iti Jones zh:瓊斯夫人


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