Labor Organizer Mary "Mother Jones" Harris Part 3

About the labor organizer Mary Harris aka Mother Jones her biography and place in United States history as a social reformer.

MARY "Mother Jones" HARRIS (1830-1930).

Labor organizer.

Mother Jones moved on to Kensington, Pa., where textile workers, including 10,000 children, were on strike. Maimed children filed into Union Headquarters, some with hands or thumbs missing, or finger off at a knuckle. With their parents' consent, Mother Jones gathered an army of about 75 boys and girls to importune President Theodore Roosevelt in person about passing a law to prohibit their exploitation. Each child took a knife and fork, a tin cup and a plate, in a knapsack. They carried banners, and for a band, had a drum and fife. In a holiday mood, this children's crusade set out from Philadelphia, passed through New Jersey and moved on to New York. Farmers gave them food. People gave them clothes and money. Trainmen gave them free rides. Mass meetings on the horrors of child labor were held in cities along the way. Mother Jones spoke at a rally opposite the campus of Princeton University. She persuaded the mayor of New York to let them enter the city. At Coney Island, the owner of a wild animal show invited her to speak. She put the children in empty cages and they clung to the iron bars while she talked to the crowd about their servitude.

They marched on to Oyster Bay, the home of President Roosevelt. He refused to see them. Meanwhile, the strike of the textile workers in Kensington had been lost, and the children went back to work. But not for long. Aroused public opinion led the Pennsylvania legislature to pass a new child labor law, and this one was enforced. Children by the thousands returned home from the mills, and additional thousands were kept out of factories until they were 14.

As The New York Times editorialized when Mother Jones died November 30, 1930, at the age of 100, "Her special faculty was the arrangement of pageants of poverty, processions of the ill-used." Mother Jones was a centenarian Joan of Arc, a saint with whom she has often been compared.

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