Wobbly, the Rough-And-Tumble Story of An American Radical

By Ralph Chaplin | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 14. "SOLIDARITY FOREVER" AND
THE CHICAGO "HUNGER RIOT"

VINCENT ST. JOHN was no longer secretary-treasurer of the I.W.W. He had been displaced by Bill Haywood at the Chicago convention. The general headquarters of the I.W.W. was the mecca for itinerant agitators and organizers from all over the country— Joe Ettor, Frank Little, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, George Speed, C. E. Edwards, and many others. There was much bitter talk about the "capitalist war" in Europe, about the arrest of Joe Hill, and about the acute unemployment situation that was developing in many large cities throughout the U.S.A. The small suite of offices in the Federation Building, at 164 West Washington Street, seemed to belie the formidable reputation the I.W.W. had gained as a revolutionary organization. Things were in a pretty bad way financially, the prevailing hard times having made alarming inroads on the income of the general office. "Looks like doughnuts will be hanging too high for the social revolution before this hard winter is over," was Bill Haywood's none too encouraging prediction.

One day at the office Frank Little told me the story of "Father" Hagerty, one of the founders of the I.W.W. and the organization's "man of mystery." I located the veteran agitator on Sixtyninth Street not far from where I lived. Hagerty had hung out a shingle as an oculist in a little second-story office. It read "Dr. Ricardo Moreno," but that didn't fool me. There was a small reception room, a combination library and workshop with some apparatus, and a combination living-dining room. A sweet-faced old lady was keeping house. It was spotlessly clean, with potted plants on the windowsill and a canary singing near the window. The library was largely scientific, with fully a third of the volumes in foreign languages, mostly French and Spanish. "Dr.

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