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Mother Jones Court-Martial: 1913 - Like Roosevelt, Wilson, And Bryan

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Closing, defense attorney M. F. Matheny compared the Mother Jones' speeches to the "inflammatory" speeches of Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and William Jennings Bryan. Calling the case industrial warfare, he said, "West Virginia cannot afford to take one side of these contending armies and cast them in prison, deny them their rights, and disarm them and leave the other people in control."

Prosecutor Wallace's concluding remarks summed up the testimony of nine witnesses who had heard Mother Jones speak—including her warning that if any miner were imprisoned "we would tear up the state." The defense neglected to point out that all the crimes alleged had occurred before she made this threat.

The military commission presented sealed findings to Governor Hatfield. Details of the verdicts were not disclosed, but within a week 25 defendants were released as not guilty and 19 more were given freedom conditional on good behavior. The others were moved to civilian jails for further disposition that remains unrecorded.

Mother Jones was imprisoned until May 7, when Governor Hatfield released her. Shortly, she watched from the Senate gallery as a resolution established an investigation of conditions in West Virginia coalfields by the Senate Committee on Education and Labor.

Some 20 years later, while serving as a U.S. senator, Hatfield disclosed that the verdict would have sent miners and Mother Jones to prison for many years. "I did not confirm the findings of the military court," he said, "in the case of Mother Jones nor any of the other cases."

Mother Jones worked for striking coal miners for another 10 years. During a yearlong Colorado strike, she was arrested and imprisoned twice more. Following the killing of 20 strikers and their families at Ludlow, Colorado, in April 1914, she prevailed on the House Mines and Mining Committee and President Woodrow Wilson to establish a grievance committee. Later she participated in strikes of streetcar workers and garment workers in New York City and of steel workers in Pittsburgh.

Mother Jones died seven months after her 100th birthday. At her request, she was buried in the United Miners Cemetery in the coalfields of southern Illinois.

Bernard Ryan, Jr.

Suggestions for Further Reading

Atkinson, Linda S. Mother Jones: The Most Dangerous Woman in America. New York: Crown, 1978.

Fetherling, Dale. Mother Jones: The Miner's Angel, A Portrait. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1974.

Foner, Philip S., ed. Mother Jones Speaks: Collected Writings and Speeches. New York: Monad Press, 1983.

Guttridge, Leonard F. Great Coalfield War. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1972.

Jones, Mary Harris. Autobiography of Mother Jones. Edited by Mary Field Parton. 1925. Reprint, Chicago: Charles H. Kerr & Co. for the Illinois Labor History Society, 1972.

Long, Priscilla. Mother Jones, Woman Organizer, and Her Relations with Miners' Wives, Working Women, and the Suffrage Movement. Cambridge, Mass.: Red Sun Press, 1976.

Steel, Edward M., ed. The Correspondence of Mother Jones. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1985.

——. The Court-Martial of Mother Jones. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1995.

——. The Speeches and Writings of Mother Jones. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1988.

Mother Jones Court-Martial: 1913 - Suggestions For Further Reading [next] [back] Mother Jones Court-Martial: 1913 - Posed As A Miner For Five Months

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