Big Bill Haywood and the Radical Union Movement

By Joseph R. Conlin | Go to book overview

5

Wobbly

The IWW's vitality in 1912 was a fresh experience for the union. Despite its founders' bouyancy in 1905, the Industrial Workers of the World did not immediately stride forth to a career of strikes and progress toward industrial democracy. Quite the contrary. The story of the IWW's activities until about 1909 is written in words of debilitating internal strife about which, an observer suggested, "it would require a Philadephia lawyer to determine which faction had the advantage." The IWW's problem was that its principal founders represented radical groups which, in the tragicomic manner of American radicalism, battled one another more zealously than they assailed their common enemy. The personae of the 1905 convention had been disputants for years; they had only rarely cooperated with one another, and their convention pledges of better future behavior meant little in view of these events. George Speed of the AFL's Seamen's Union called the convention "the greatest conglomeration of freaks that ever met."

Haywood saw this point in somewhat different terms and, in accepting the meeting's permanent chairmanship, hammered at the need for unity. "There is or should be no factions," he told the gathering, "and where you are all in hearty accord and are working for the same purpose, there should be no reason for wranglings or any personalities, and I hope there will be none indulged in." His plea could not have fallen on deafer ears. From the Ada County Jail, and on his tours, Hay

-118-

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Big Bill Haywood and the Radical Union Movement
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Big Bill Haywood and the Radical Union Movement *
  • Big Bill Haywood and the Radical Union Movement *
  • Preface vii
  • Contents *
  • 1 - Worker 1
  • 2 - Unionist 20
  • 3 - Undesirable Citizen 52
  • 4 - The Eminent Man 77
  • 5 - Wobbly 118
  • 6 - Socialist 148
  • 7 - Bête Noire 170
  • 8 - Communist 191
  • 9 - Frustration of a Radical 210
  • Bibliographical Note 215
  • Notes to Chapters 219
  • Index 241
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