Writings and Speeches of Eugene V. Debs

By Eugene V. Debs | Go to book overview

MARTIN IRONS, MARTYR1

It was in 1886 that Martin Irons, as chairman of the executive board of the Knights of Labor of the Gould southwest railway system, defied capitalist tyranny, and from that hour he was doomed. All the powers of capitalism combined to crush him, and when at last he succumbed to overwhelming odds, he was hounded from place to place until he was ragged and foot-sore and the pangs of hunger gnawed at his vitals.

For fourteen long years he fought single-handed the battle against persecution. He tramped far, and among strangers, under an assumed name, sought to earn enough to get bread. But he was tracked like a beast and driven from shelter. For this "poor wanderer of a stormy day" there was no pity. He had stood between his class and their oppressors--he was brave, and would not flinch: he was honest, and he would not sell; this was his crime, and he must die.

Martin Irons came to this country from Scotland a child. He was friendless, penniless, alone. At an early age he became a machinist. For years he worked at his trade. He had a clear head and a warm heart. He saw and felt the injustice suffered by his class. Three reductions in wages in rapid succession fired his blood. He resolved to resist. He appealed to his fellow-workers. When the great strike came. Martin Irons was its central figure. The men felt they could trust him. They were not mistaken.

When at the darkest hour Jay Gould sent word to Martin Irons that he wished to see him, the answer came, "I am in Kansas City." Gould did not have gold enough to buy Irons. This was the greatest crime of labor's honest leader. The press united in fiercest denunciation. Every lie that malignity could conceive was circulated. In the popular mind Martins Irons was the blackest-hearted villain that ever went unhung. Pinkerton blood-hounds tracked him night and day.

But through it all this loyal, fearless, high-minded workingman stood steadfast. The courts and soldiers responded to the command of their masters, the railroads; the strike was crushed and the workingmen were beaten. Martin Irons had served, suffered for and honored his class. But he had lost. His class now turned against him and joined in the execration of the enemy. This pained him more than all else. But he bore even this without a murmur, and if ever a despairing sigh was wrung from him it was when he was

____________________
1
Appeal to Reason, December 9, 1900.

-41-

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Writings and Speeches of Eugene V. Debs
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction v
  • Contents xv
  • Proclamation to American Railway Union 1
  • Labor Omnia Vincit 4
  • Liberty 6
  • The Martyred Apostles Of Labor 20
  • Prison Labor - Its Effect on Industry and Trade 24
  • Outlook for Socialism in the United States 34
  • Martin Irons, Martyr 41
  • How I Became a Soclialist 43
  • Stopped the Blacklist 47
  • What's the Matter with Chicago? 50
  • The Western Labor Movement 54
  • The Negro and His Nemesis 66
  • The rape-fiend? Horrible! 73
  • The American Movement 76
  • Unionism And Socialism 95
  • The Socialist Party and The Working Class 125
  • The Federal Government and the Chicago Strike Reply to the Article on "The Government in the Chicago Strike of 1894" in Mcclure's Magazine, July, 1904, by Grover Cleveland, Ex-President of the U. S. 140
  • An Edeal Labor Press 161
  • Labor Day Greeting 163
  • Childhood 165
  • The Crimson Standard 166
  • Growth of the Injunction 167
  • Craft Unionism 171
  • Class Unionism 189
  • Revolutionary Unionism1 209
  • You Railroad Men 242
  • Arouse, Ye Slaves! 256
  • The Growth of Socialism 259
  • Open Letter to President Roosevelt 268
  • Prince and Proletaire 271
  • Roosevelts Labor Letters 274
  • December 2. 1859 279
  • John Brown: History's Greatest Hero 280
  • Looking Backward 281
  • Mother Jones 285
  • Thomas Mcgrady 286
  • Revolution 291
  • The Issue 293
  • Railroad Employees and Socialism 311
  • The Socialist Party's Appeal 317
  • Industrial Unionism 323
  • A Letter from Debs 326
  • A Letter from Debs on Immigration 326
  • Industrial Unionism 328
  • Working Class Politics 331
  • Danger Ahead 333
  • The Crisis in Mexico 337
  • Labor's Struggle for Supremacy 340
  • The McNamara Case And The Labor Movement 343
  • Sound Socialist Tactics 350
  • This is Our Year 358
  • Speech of Acceptance 361
  • Revolt of the Railroad Workers 373
  • Homestead And Ludlow 378
  • The Gunmen And The Miners 383
  • The Knights of Columbus 387
  • The Prospect for Peace 391
  • Fantine in Our Day 392
  • Letter Of Acceptance 395
  • Politicians and Preachers 398
  • Ruling Class Robbers 399
  • The Class War And Its Outlook 400
  • Tom Mooney Sentenced To Death 403
  • The I. W. W. Bogey 405
  • John Swinton: Radical Editor and Leader 409
  • The Canton, Ohio Speech 417
  • Address To The Jury 433
  • Statement To The Court 437
  • The Day of the People 440
  • Serving the Labor Movement 443
  • Sacco and Vanzetti 450
  • Woman--Comrade And Equal 453
  • The Relation of Society to the Convict 456
  • My 1920 Campaign for President 463
  • Leaving The Prison 468
  • Capitalism and Crime 473
  • Poverty and the Prison 477
  • Socialism and the Prison 481
  • Bibliography 485
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