John Mitchell, 1870–1919, American labor leader, b. Braidwood, Ill. He became a miner at the age of 12 and in 1885 joined the Knights of Labor. When the United Mine Workers of America was formed (1890), he became a member; after his successful leadership of the S Illinois soft-coal miners in the strike of 1897, he was national vice president, then president from 1898 to 1908, when he resigned. His leadership of the anthracite miners' strike in 1902 secured better wages and working conditions in the industry, substantially increased membership in the union, and brought him recognition from members and the public as an outstandingly able leader. As a vice president (1899–1914) of the American Federation of Labor, he was a strong advocate of the
"sacredness of contract,"
in which he was opposed by the more radical factions in the federation. In 1914 he was appointed commissioner of labor for New York state and was from 1915 to 1919 chairman of the state industrial commission. He wrote Organized Labor (1903) and The Wage Earner and His Problems (1913).
See biography by E. Glück (1929, repr. 1971).