Mother Jones, the Miners' Angel: A Portrait

Synopsis

This biography details the legacy of the most extraordinary woman labor agitator in American history.

The life of Mother Jones "is an epic, and it is the shame of American writers that it has never been told," George West wrote in the Nation in July 1922."She is a great woman," he added, "unsung because of our tradition of cheap gentility." The truth of West's lament has endured until now.

Mother Jones lived a century. Born in 1830, widowed in 1867 in Memphis, and suffering the loss of her husband and four children from yellow fever she moved to Chicago, where her business as a seamstress was destroyed by the great fire of 1871. Thus tempered by adversity, she came to have a lively sympathy for the downtrodden laboring classes, and she devoted the rest of her life to seeking the betterment of the workingman- especially the coal miner.

In the course of her career as a labor agitator, Mother Jones took part in some of the most momentous battles in American labor history: The Great Railroad Strike of 1877, the Haymarket Riot of 1886, and the "Debs Rebellion" of 1894. Her last big effort took place during the 1919steel strike, as she neared her ninetieth year.

For half a century Mother Jones was an impious Joan of Arc, an industrial Carrie Nation, who took up the workingman's cause without question and fought his battles without compromise. Dale Fetherling's big and important biography for the first time gives her full story, with eloquence and sympathetic understanding.

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