Archive for September, 2009

Sept. 30, 1909: County Jail Offers “Better Care”

Posted in Uncategorized on September 30, 2009 by egflynn2009


Men Claiming to be Representatives of Labor Give Police Trouble.

Five men, Cliff Hughes, Pete Brown, Louis Miller, Jack Clifford and D. E. Peterson were arrested last evening by the police for disturbing the peace at the Florence hotel corner. They claim to be representatives of the Industrial Workers of the World, and were just about to continue the harangues such as have been going on at that corner for several days, much to the inconvenience of the people who are compelled to listen. They were taken to the city jail, but as they became too noisy, were transferred to the county jail, where better care can be taken of them.

 Sent to Jail.

 J. A. Jones, T. H. Little, H. L Tucker and George Applebee, who were arrested Wednesday night for disturbing the peace at the same corner, were arraigned yesterday before Justice of the Peace Small and pleaded not guilty. They were given a trial and found guilty, and will spend the next 15 days in the county jail. They claimed to be representatives of the Industrial Workers of the World and claimed they had constitutional rights to make a speech. The police claimed that had the men continued their harangue, a riot would have been precipitated, as they abused everybody but themselves. They refused to promise the court that they would discontinue their speech-making, and were taken to the county jail to serve their sentences.

  –The Daily Missoulian, Oct. 1, 1909


Sept. 30, 1909: I.W.W. Occupies “Prominent Positions”

Posted in Uncategorized on September 30, 2009 by egflynn2009


 Quartette Held Meeting on the Streets of the Garden City.

(Special dispatch to the Miner)

Missoula, Sept. 30-In the police court this afternoon J. A. Jones, T. H. Little, H. L. Tucker, and George Applebee were found guilty of disturbing the peace and were sentenced to serve 15 days in the county jail. The quartette is composed of members of the Industrial Workers of the World arrested Tuesday and Wednesday nights charged with holding meetings on the public streets in violation of the city ordinances. It is alleged that the men, assisted by one woman, occupied prominent positions on platforms constructed of boxes and barrels from which they addressed the general public and they are said to have hurled uncomplimentary remarks at passersby who failed to respond to their entreaties to stop and listen to their pleas for public recognition. The members of the local Salvation Army and of Uncle Sam’s standing array were assailed in most bitter terms and but for the timely interference of the police and sheriff’s  forces last night a company of soldiers from Fort Missoula would have wiped up the I.W.W. men.

 In pronouncing sentence Judge Small gave the men the option of a suspension of punishment if the men would promise to refrain from making public speeches on the streets. Without exception they spurned the generosity of the court and were remanded to jail.

  –Butte Miner, Sept. 30, 1909

Sept. 30, 1909: Have you been robbed, skinned, grafted on?

Posted in Uncategorized on September 30, 2009 by egflynn2009


Elizabeth Gurley Flynn is a 19-year-old girl. She has been speaking in Missoula, Mont., as organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World, Industrial Union No. 40, I.W.W., of Missoula has been telling the lumber workers that they must unite in one union to fight the bosses. Her husband and fellow worker Little are now in jail for speaking on the street. It may be necessary to fill the Missoula jail and it is up to you, I.W.W. men to go to Missoula and, if necessary, be arrested for the crime of speaking on the street. The unions of the I.W.W. invite every free born “American” and every man who hates the tyrannical oppression of the police to go to Missoula and help the workers there to win out.

 Are you game?

Are you afraid?

Do you love the police?

Have you been robbed, skinned, grafted on?

If so, then go to Missoula and defy the police, the courts and the people who live off the wages of prostitution.

 Notice—We would suggest to the Missoula police, that no I.W.W. men be shot nor clubbed. That no I.W.W. women be raped nor insulted.

 This struggling union, No. 40, I.W.W., calls on all revolutionists to help!

  –Announcement, Industrial Worker, Sept. 30, 1909

Monday, Sept. 6, 1909: Missoula’s “Fake” Labor Day

Posted in Uncategorized on September 29, 2009 by egflynn2009


[An account of Missoula leading up to the Free Speech Fight. Elizabeth Gurley Flynn was in Missoula at least a month before this historic event.]

MISSSOULA, MONT.-Labor Day celebration in Missoula, Mont., was the biggest fake ever pulled off. Of course all the A.F. of L. unions were in line to advertise the wares of their masters. The Carpenters union (A.F. of L.) had a resolution passed in their meeting that any member who was in town and would not march in the parade was to be fined $5.00 (great union). I am glad to say that there were a few men amongst the carpenters who left town before they would march and advertise themselves as willing slaves. The International Brotherhood of scabs did not have a man in line. I guess the B. B. M. Co. of Bonner and Hamilton could not get enough Pinkertons to protect them from the wrath of the lumberjacks who may happen to be in town (the men that they forced at the muzzle of a gun to join their scab outfit). Otherwise surely the would have been in line. The parade was led by the bluecoats (police) of the town (who will knock a striker with their clubs at the first opportunity). The speaking was opened by a sky pilot of Presbyterian church, who thanked the Lord for everything that the workers did not have and did not get. He was followed by the mayor of Missoula, who was Grand Master of Ceremonies. He dwelt upon the good qualities of organized labor (meaning the A.F. of L.) and its good conservative leaders, men of the stamp of Alex Fairgraves and Mr. Froman, the former being the most famous scab leader and scab herder of Montana. During the lumberworkers’ strike in 1908, Alex was in the eastern part of the state shipping scabs to Bonner. Mr. Froman was asked the following question by Dave Lindberg, a striking lumberjack: “Why did you fellows (meaning the Trades and Labor Council of Missoula) declare the Bonner dam fair, when the men working there walked out on strike with us?” The answer he got was as follows: “The superintendent of the Bonner dam asked us to.” And we should not forget T. P. Wilburn, who has been elected as executive board member of the Montana Federation of Labor, who did his best to rob the I.W.W. members in Kalispell and Somers, and succeeded to a certain extent and consequently was kicked out. Those are good conservative leaders, or to be called by their right names, traitors! that were lauded to the skies by Parsons, a lawyer and speaker of the day, the mayor of Missoula and the sky pilot of the Presbyterian church. The A.F. of L. unions of Missoula did not have courage enough to have a working man for the speaker of the day, but had to get a lawyer, who as a rule is or: the side where the biggest bunch of money is—the capitalist class: but I don’t suppose it would do for a member of the A.F. of L. to deliver a Labor Day address for fear he would be known as an agitator! The redeeming feature of the day was the speech of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn that evening, who tore lawyer Parsons’ speech to pieces, before she got through. She called upon the workingmen to organize industrially and take what rightfully belonged to them, but which has been stolen by the capitalists and their flunkeys. She also advised them to celebrate labor’s Labor Day, the 1st of May, that was proclaimed throughout the world as Labor Day for the Grand Old International Socialist movement of Europe, and not a day set aside for labor by the masters of this country, the capitalists. There was quite a contrast between the speech of Parsons, the lawyer, and that of Fellow Worker Flynn, where every one present was intent on hearing every word she said, while there was scant attention paid to the lawyer. Quite a few of the old guard were present and are more determined than ever to carry the fight on to victory. The meeting was a success: a collection of $10.40 was taken up for the strikers in Sweden and McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania. The I.W.W. is growing in this part of the country in spite of B. B. M. Co. and the A.F. of L.   

  –Pete Brown, Industrial Worker, Sept. 23, 1909

I. W. W. Hustlers

Posted in Uncategorized on September 28, 2009 by egflynn2009


[An account of Missoula leading up to the Free Speech Fight. Elizabeth Gurley Flynn was in Missoula at least a month before this historic event.]

MISSOULA, MONT.-After the Salvation Army, the I.W.W. comes on the scene , and if they save souls over their allotted time, we come on the scene anyhow. We have an attractive banner with a big I.W.W. label and some classic I.W.W. sayings painted upon it, also a stand, guaranteed to hold either Heslewood or Thompson when they come to Missoula. These of themselves would be magnet enough to gather the crowd! There are quite a number of men and women who used to belong to the I.W.W. here yet, who welcomed us gladly and are willing to put their shoulders to the wheel in every undertaking. They are right kind, too, as witness one woman who told her husband a few years ago, that they would sell every stick of furniture they owned and get out of town, before she would see him forced to leave the I.W.W. and join the “scab international.”

 We held five meetings last week and sold 273 papers and 44 song-books. On Saturday night we took out 100 papers and brought back just 27. The selling of the song-books is really quite a feat, when you realize that we have no singer, do the singing ourselves, and “amateurist” doesn’t adequately describe our kind of “singing.” The crowds seem to be in full accord with our speeches, for woe betide the fellow that dares object! One A.F. of L. drunk was hooted out of the crowd and came near being violently aided when he didn’t move fast enough, not at the hands of the I.W.W. but strangers in the audience. Some must have imbibed the witty sarcasm of the “Industrial Worker” for a switchman asked satirically, “What would Gompers do if the I.W.W. got control? He only gets $5,000 a year and I’d hate to see him starve.” And “How could O’Hanrahan get married again if he couldn’t have Him Hill’s private car?” Heartless working class! To whom $5,000 a year is so little, yet you would deprive poor Samuel of it! Would you begrudge O’Hanrahan his private car, you who always travel in your private (box-)cars? One lumberjack told me that he and 16 others were fired in a nearby camp because they refused to work in the rain-storm one day last week. The working class are not allowed “sense enough to come in out of the rain”! A fireman told how he had been refused a ride by another fireman because he was one month behind in his dues in the B. of L.F. An iron-molder complained to us very bitterly that the carpenters were taking the jobs away from the iron-molders, drawing $5.00 per day where the iron-molders drew but $4.50 and “not doing as much work as we can do, either.” An unknown I.W.W. man picked that craft union bubble very pointedly, as follows: “Well, if the carpenters can get more pay for doing less work than the iron-molders, I say, Good for the carpenters!” We are continually drawing forth direct testimony of this kind from the workers, all tending to clinch our arraignment of craft unionism and further exemplify the need of industrial unionism.

 The educational facilities of the place are very meager, as far as working men are concerned. A Carnegie library with numerous capitalist periodicals, but not a sign of a labor paper, is all I have found thus far. It is our intention to open a headquarters here with a complete reading-room, which will contain all the Socialist and labor press possible for us to secure, as well as pamphlets and books of value to the labor movement. We are handicapped by the difficulties in the way of securing a suitable hall or store for a reasonable rent and may yet have to build a “barn” of our own but we will have an I.W.W. headquarters, a “home” for the lumberjacks and other wage-slaves, if we remain in Missoula for five years to accomplish it.

 Will send in a few notes on the disturbance we raised Labor Day.

 And by the way, Darby Local dug up $20 for the “Industrial Worker.” Go thou and do like-wise!

 Good luck to the rebels everywhere. May their power never grow less!

 –Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Industrial Worker, Sept. 16, 1909

The Upcoming Commemoration

Posted in Uncategorized on September 27, 2009 by egflynn2009

On Friday October 2nd the Two Rivers General Membership Branch of the IWW will celebrate the one hundred year anniversary of Missoula’s most important historical event, our nation’s first struggle over the exercise of free speech rights.

In 1909 the city began enforcing an ordinance preventing labor organizers and others from speaking on street corners. As the famous Wobbly organizer Elizabeth Gurley Flynn describes in her autobiography “Rebel Girl”, “We sent out a call to all foot-loose rebels to come at once- to defend the Bill of Rights.”

As each of the “rebels” took to the soapbox on the corner of Front and Higgins they were immediately arrested, soon filling the jails of Missoula, where they “disrupted the citizenry with their ruckus”. On Oct. 2nd the city capitulated and declared that IWW orators could speak wherever and whenever they chose. Following this victory Flynn and her fellow agitators took the fight to Spokane and Aberdeen Wash., Kansas City and Fresno Calif., where they taught a young nation that rights are only as strong as the hearts of those willing to stand up for them.

The Two Rivers chapter will start the festivities with an open soap box at 5:00 pm on the corner of Front and Higgins Street Missoula and followed with a re-enactment beginning at 6:00. From there we will go to the upstairs theatre at the Union Hall on East Main Street to view the film “Jailed for Their Words” beginning at 7:00 pm. Following the screening there will be a short discussion on the current work of the IWW. The public is invited to attend and participate.

For more information contact Dave Jones at 363 5292 email at

-As posted September 8, 2009, at the blog of the Two Rivers General Membership Branch of the I.W.W., Missoula, Montana.

Missoula’s Slave Market District

Posted in Uncategorized on September 27, 2009 by egflynn2009


[An account of Missoula leading up to the Free Speech Fight. Elizabeth Gurley Flynn was in Missoula at least a month before this historic event.]

MISSOULA, MONT.-Missoula, Montana, has little to commend itself as distinctive from hundreds of other small towns, unless it be the natural beauty of its environment. The surrounding hills are very picturesque, and the town is verdant with a splendid variety of trees and flowers, which is responsible for its title, “The Garden City.” But the houses are old-fashioned, the streets are the natural dust and mud of Montana, and the sidewalks, treacherous wood. Property-holders have been notified by the town council to build cement sidewalks at once, or the city will do the work and rend a bill to be paid within five years. This is a Missoulian attempt to forestall the unemployed problem that will face the town this fall and incidentally will furnish an excuse to jail as “vags” all who refuse to work at the patriotic job and pay $2.60 to join the union, No. 13.

 The town has in its midst a slave market district. There is a bunch of Spokane’s pride, The Red Cross Employment Agency, as well as the Square Deal, the O. K. and other appropriately named workers’ aids to a geographical study of the United States. I am informed that the O. K. employment shark made an unsavory reputation for himself recently, as well as receiving a little of the “direct action” that his class deserve. He made a proposition to the foreman on the Flathead Project of “Land Initiation,” at Arlee, Montana, to the effect that he would give the foreman a two-bit rake-off, also the head engineer a little rake-off on every man hired (at $2.00 per man to the shark), if the exclusive right to hire be given to the O. K., and the foreman would fire regularly. The foreman, would that there were more of his type, drove the shark through a plate-glass window! He was jailed over night and fined 410 and costs next morning, but sentence was suspended.

 It is on a corner in this district, that the Salvation Army marches forth to exhort the lumberjacks on the condition of their souls. “Are you living in sin?” they ask. “I don’t know if that’s what you call it,” I heard one worker say, “but it’s a lousy bunk-house out in the woods!”

 “Have you Salvation? Is your soul saved?” They might better ask, “Have you a job and how long will it last?” That’s what lumberjacks are interested in! If some of the religious ladies instead of worrying about the average lumberjack, who doesn’t know whether he has a soul and cares not at all, would investigate some of the cheap 10c and 20c shows in Missoula, they would find that the vulgar, coarse and often obscene jokes and songs, are educating the young people in a manner that needs a “muckraking.”   

 –Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Industrial Worker, Sept. 16, 1909