Mother Jones and the United Mine Workers
Purpose: It was the purpose of this study to investigate the role of Mary Harris (Mother) Jones in building the United Mine Workers of America into the most powerful labor organization in the United Stated and in keeping the miners’ struggle for better conditions of life and labor before the press and public. Methods: The methods used to obtain material for this study were the following: (1) examination of the New York Times from 1900 to 1915, as well as other newspapers and periodicals of the period; (2) examination of the Congressional Record and other government documents; (3) examination of The Autobiography of Mother Jones; and (4) examination of various secondary sources. Findings: The evidence presented in this study suggest the following conclusions: 1.Mother Jones’ organizational activities in the anthracite strike of 1900 played a major role in winning that struggle for the United Mine Workers and thus aided in placing the miners’ union in the forefront of the American labor movement. 2.The increase in union membership in the anthracite fields that resulted from Mother Jones’ work in the 1900 strike contributed to the United Mine Workers’ triumph in the 1902 strike. 3.In the West Virginia strike of 1912-1913, Mother Jones was responsible for the extension of the strike into the previous nonunion Cabin Creek field, an event which greatly increased the union’s bargaining power in West Virginia. 4.Mother Jones’ court-martial before a military tribunal during the West Virginia strike was widely publicized throughout the nations by a shocked press and thus mustered public opinion behind the strikers. 5.The military trial of Mother Jones in West Virginia prompted the United States Senate to authorize an unprecedented investigation of conditions in the West Virginia strike zone. 6.The threatened Senate investigation of the West Virginia strike situation forced embarrassed state officials to seek an end to the strike by pressuring West Virginia coal operators to comply with union demands. The result was a major union victory in West Virginia. 7.In the Colorado strike of 1913-1914, Mother Jones’ imprisonment and subsequent deportation from the strike zone by state officials were publicized throughout the nations resulted in increase public interest in the plight of the Colorado miners. 8.Mother Jones; tour of the United States during the Colorado strike following the Ludlow massacre helped focus national attention on the Colorado problem. 9.The conversations between Mother jones and John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the chairman of the board of the largest coal company in Colorado, helped bring about an improvement in the living and working conditions of the Colorado miners. 10.Mother Jones’ involvement in the four major strikes the United Mine Workers’ waged between 1900 and 1914, resulted in greatly increased membership for the union and stimulated public interest in the miners’ cause. Mother Jones contributed substantially to the union victory in three of these strikes.