Lewis, John Llewellyn

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
Save to active project

Lewis, John Llewellyn

John Llewellyn Lewis, 1880–1969, American labor leader, b. Lucas co., Iowa; son of a Welsh immigrant coal miner. He became a miner and after 1906 rose through the union ranks to become president (1920) of the United Mine Workers of America (UMW). Forceful and determined, Lewis fought vigorously to build up the union, won the loyalty of the miners, and thus consolidated his own power. He was one of the most important figures in the American Federation of Labor (AFL) until, moved by the desire to unionize the mass production industries, he split with the AFL and its leader, William Green. Taking several of the largest unions with him, Lewis founded (1935) a new organization, the Committee for Industrial Organization (CIO; see American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations). He had supported Franklin Delano Roosevelt for President in 1932 and had welcomed the New Deal, but coolness developed between Lewis and Roosevelt, and in 1940 Lewis supported Wendell Willkie for the presidency and staked his CIO presidency on Willkie's victory. Roosevelt won, and Lewis resigned. Increasing antagonism between him and Philip Murray, the new head of the CIO, led to a break, and in 1942 the UMW withdrew from the CIO. Lewis kept his own power. During World War II, Lewis was faced with the hostility of the War Labor Board and with unfavorable public sentiment because of the many strikes of the coal miners in the "no-strike" period. Although these strikes may have helped to pave the way for antistrike legislation, they did win the demands of the miners. The UMW was again joined (1946) to the AFL but split off (1947) once more in a dispute over means of combating the restrictive Taft-Hartley Act. Lewis's failure to obey a federal court order to end a protracted coal strike led (1948) to a heavy fine for criminal contempt of court. In the 1950s Lewis discontinued his more aggressive tactics and followed a policy of accommodation with the depressed coal industry. He resigned as president of the UMW in 1960.

See biographies by J. A. Wechsler (1944, repr. 1972), S. Alinsky (1949, repr. 1970), R. H. Zieger (1988), and M. Dubofsky and T. Van (1989).

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Lewis, John Llewellyn
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?