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Their Courage gave us Backbone

Whatever Lola

I understand forces against the funding of PBS TV.

March 21, 1998, upon seeing a series on the contribution of the Irish to America on the PBS TV network I was motivated to create this page. A page for the inclusion of materials I could find on the World Wide web and elsewhere on the contributions that my people made to the labor movement. A movement that we all benefitted from, in one way or another. I wondered how far along we'd be without actions taken by some of the courageous people. Some contributors are noted within, while information regarding others are found by linking to pages that you may reference below.

One will learn of the steps people took to bring to light the labor abuses and safety issues that cried out for attention. In some cases, extreme actions (like those of a Michael Collins, of a later era) had to be taken to right abuses heaped on honorable working men and women. Distortions are and were then out and about souls who's sacrifice made life easy for all of us. An understanding of games played on worker bees is beneficial, whether it be yesterday or today, would you not say?

During the mid 1950s while in the employ of Cunard White Star lines as a seamen on R.M.S. ships our mates went on an unofficial strike seeking a few extra pennies of an increase on our measly pay. I happened to avoid being on the picket lines by having sailed on a two weeks cruise before gaining wind of the planned walkout. The Queen and other instruments of the state came out and branded the action as communist inspired. We were obliged to return after a short while and settle for a token weekly pay increase but the per hourly overtime pay rate was reduced, the effect being, we achieved nothing. The Seaman's union we paid dues to was a sham, merely a company union. The leadership was naturally ticked off by the action of our comrades.

Loves Ya

Mother Jones

Mary Harris(1830?-1930), "Mother Jones," born in County Cork, Ireland. Her family emigrated to Toronto, Canada, when she was a child. She trained to be a teacher at Toronto Normal School from 1858-1859, and worked briefly as a teacher and as a dressmaker. In 1861, Mary Harris married George Jones, an iron molder and union organizer, in Memphis, Tennessee. They had four children. Her husband and all of their children died in the yellow fever epidemic of 1867. Mary Jones returned to Chicago, where she worked as a dressmaker until her shop was destroyed in the Chicago fire of 1871.

During the next few years, "Mother" Jones became increasingly active in the union movement. Her life is in some ways a history of the labour movement in the United States. A brief sampling of her activities reports her involved in the rail strike of 1877, in Pittsburgh and elsewhere; organizing the coal fields of Pennsylvania in 1899; at the founding convention of the IWW in 1905; visiting rebel Mexico in 1911; being arrested at Homestead in 1919; and working with dressmakers in Chicago in 1924.

Mother Jones has a notable place in American history. Her work as a union organizer and orator and her influence on the making of history have had more lasting significance than her writing. However, The Autobiography of Mother Jones which she partly wrote and partly dictated, clearly illustrates the power of both her voice and her convictions. Written in a natural, colloquial style, it paints a forceful picture of the working conditions and people of the mining camps, railroad towns, and textile industry that she worked with. A sense of her voice can also be obtained from a short article which she wrote in 1901. A tributeby Eugene V. Debs gives a view of her life as seen by one of her contemporaries.

Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living! - Mother Jones labor leader and social reformer.
Her Quotes ... Who was She?

A book entitled "Liberty's Women" features a biographical sketch on this great American lady.

Mother Lake

Leanora Marie Kearney Barry (1849-1930), "Mother Lake," labor leader and social reformer. Born on August 13, 1849, in Kearney, County Cork, Ireland. Leonora Kearney emigrated with her family to the United States in 1852, settling in St. Lawrence County, New York. After several years of teaching school she married W.E. Barry in November 1871. He died ten years later, and Mrs. Barry, left with two children to support, took a meanial job in a clothing factory in Amsterdam, New York. Typically for the time, working conditions in the factory were poor and the pay was exceedingly low (Mrs Barry's wages for the first week was 65 cents) and in 1884 she joined the women's branch of the Knights of Labor. She rose rapidly to the post of master workman of the local branch, and in 1886, at the national convention of the Knights in Richmond, Virginia, she was elected to take charge of the newly created department of women's work. During four years in that post she worked tirelessly to improve wages and working conditions for women throughout the country, traveling widely to organize, inspire, and investigate. Her annual reports were detailed and vigorous indictments of the effects of the factory system on women and children, and they contributed greatly to the passage of a factory inspection law in Pennsylvania in 1889. She resigned from her position in April 1890 upon her marriage to O.R. Lake, but, from her new home in St. Louis, she continued to travel and speak on behalf of women suffrage, temperence, and other movements. During this period and later, after moving to Minnoka, Illinois, in 1916, she was active in the Woman's Christian Temperence Union and the Catholic Total Abstinence Union of America, and, as a popular lecturer on the Chautauqua and Redpath circuits until 1928, she roused much public support for Prohibition. Mrs. Barry, sometimes known in later life as Mrs. Barry-Lake or Mother Lake, died in Minooka, Illinois, on July 15, 1930.

A book entitled "Liberty's Women" carries this great American.

The Menfolk

Now with regards to the gentlemen you can sort the pros and cons on their efforts by yourself. Here's a bunch of sites from which to draw your assessment as to their contributions to our creature comforts.

Links to Good Stuff

Angelfire - Easiest Free Home Pages
WhoWhere? - The Best Communications Guide on the Web

Early Woman's Libber

Lola Montez ... Ludwig ... Women in History ... and Lotta

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