|Big Bill Haywood|
Haywood at a convention in Chicago in 1917
|Born||February 4, 1869
Salt Lake City, Utah Territory
|Died||May 18, 1928 (aged 59)
William Dudley Haywood (February 4, 1869 – May 18, 1928), better known as Big Bill Haywood, was a founding member and leader of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), and a member of the Executive Committee of the Socialist Party of America. During the first two decades of the 20th century, he was involved in several important labor battles, including the Colorado Labor Wars, the Lawrence textile strike, and other textile strikes in Massachusetts and New Jersey.
Haywood was an advocate of industrial unionism, a labor philosophy that favors organizing all workers in an industry under one union, regardless of the specific trade or skill level; this was in contrast to the craft unions that were prevalent at the time, such as the AFL. His belief that workers of all ethnicities should be united also clashed with many unions. His strong preference for direct action over political tactics alienated him from the Socialist Party, and contributed to his dismissal in 1912.
Never one to shy from violent conflicts, Haywood was frequently the target of prosecutors. His trial for the murder of Frank Steunenberg in 1907 (of which he was acquitted) drew national attention; in 1918, he was one of 101 IWW members convicted of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 during the First Red Scare. While out of prison during an appeal of his conviction, Haywood fled to the Russian Soviet Republic, where he spent the remaining years of his life.
William D. "Big Bill" Haywood was born in 1869 in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory. His father, a Pony Express rider, died of pneumonia when Haywood was three years old. At age nine, he injured his right eye while whittling a slingshot with a knife, permanently blinding him. Haywood never had his damaged eye replaced with a glass eye; when photographed, he would turn his head to show his left profile. Also at age nine, he began working in the mines; he never received much formal education. After brief stints as a cowboy and a homesteader, he returned to mining in 1896. High-profile events such as the destruction of the Molly Maguires, the Haymarket Riot in 1886 and the Pullman Strike in 1894 fostered Haywood's interest in the labor movement.
In 1896, Ed Boyce, president of the Western Federation of Miners, spoke at the Idaho silver mine where Haywood was working. Inspired by his speech, Haywood signed up as a WFM member, thus formally beginning his involvement in America's labor movement.
Haywood immediately became active in the WFM, and by 1900 he had become a member of the national union's General Executive Board. In 1902, he became secretary-treasurer of the WFM, the number two position after President Charles Moyer. That year, the WFM became involved in the Colorado Labor Wars, a struggle centered in the Cripple Creek mining district that lasted for several years and took the lives of 33 union and non-union workers. The WFM initiated a series of strikes designed to extend the benefits of the union to other workers, who suffered from brutal working conditions and starvation wages. The defeat of these strikes led to Haywood's belief in "One Big Union" organized along industrial lines to bring broader working class support for labour struggles.
Late in 1904, several prominent labor radicals met in Chicago, Illinois to lay down plans for a new revolutionary union. A manifesto was written and sent around the country. Unionists who agreed with the manifesto were invited to attend a convention to found the new union which was to become the Industrial Workers of the World.
At 10 A.M. on June 27, 1905, Haywood addressed the crowd assembled at Brand's Hall in Chicago. In the audience were two hundred delegates from organizations all over the country representing socialists, anarchists, miners, industrial unionists and rebel workers. Haywood opened the First Convention of the Industrial Workers of the World with the following speech:
Fellow Workers, this is the Continental Congress of the working-class. We are here to confederate the workers of this country into a working-class movement that shall have for its purpose the emancipation of the working-class from the slave bondage of capitalism. The aims and objects of this organization shall be to put the working-class in possession of the economic power, the means of life, in control of the machinery of production and distribution, without regard to capitalist masters.
Other speakers at the convention included Eugene Debs, leader of the Socialist Party of America, and Mother Mary Jones, an organizer for the United Mine Workers of America. After its foundation, the IWW would become aggressively involved in the labor movement.
On December 30, 1905, Frank Steunenberg was killed by an explosion in front of his Caldwell, Idaho home. A former governor of Idaho, Steunenberg had clashed with the WFM in previous strikes. Harry Orchard, a former WFM member who had once acted as WFM President Charles Moyer's bodyguard was arrested for the crime, and evidence was found in his hotel room. Famed Pinkerton detective James McParland, who had infiltrated and helped to destroy the Molly Maguires, was placed in charge of the investigation.
Before any trial had occurred, McParland ordered that Orchard be placed on death row in the Boise penitentiary, with restricted food rations and under constant surveillance. After McParland had prepared his investigation, he met with Orchard over a "sumptuous lunch" followed by cigars. The Pinkerton detective told Orchard that he could escape immediate hanging only if he implicated the leaders of the WFM. In addition to using the threat of hanging, McParland promised food, cigars, better treatment, possible freedom, and even a possible financial reward if Orchard cooperated. The detective obtained a 64-page confession from Orchard in which the suspect took responsibility for a string of crimes and at least seventeen murders.
McParland then used perjured extradition papers, which falsely stated that WFM leaders had been at the scene of the Steunenberg murder, to cross the state line into Denver, Colorado and arrest Haywood, Moyer, and George Pettibone. On February 17, 1906, in what writer Peter Carlson described as a "kidnapping scheme," McParland forced the three men onto a special train and extradited them to Idaho before the courts in Denver could intervene. The abductions were so egregious that even American Federation of Labor president Samuel Gompers, who had little good to say about the WFM, directed his union to raise funds for the defense. Yet a habeas corpus appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court failed, with only Justice Joseph McKenna dissenting.
Haywood's trial began on May 9, 1907, with famed Chicago defense attorney Clarence Darrow defending him. The government had only the testimony of Orchard, the confessed bomber, to implicate Haywood and the other defendants, and Orchard's checkered past and admitted violent history were skillfully exploited by Darrow. During the trial Orchard admitted that he had acted as a paid informant of the Mine Owners' Association, in effect working for both sides. He admitted to accepting money from Pinkerton detectives, and had caused explosions during mining disputes before he had met Moyer or Haywood. After Darrow's final summation (which moved many in the courtroom to tears), the jury acquitted Haywood. Darrow was ill, however, and withdrew from the subsequent trial of George Pettibone, leaving Judge Hilton of Denver in charge of the defense. After a second jury acquitted Pettibone, the charges against Moyer were dropped.
Bill Haywood had left the WFM and was organizing for the IWW by the time the Lawrence textile strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts garnered national attention. On January 11, 1912, textile mill workers in Lawrence left their jobs in protest of lowered wages. Within a week, twenty thousand workers were on strike. The IWW already had a presence in Lawrence and assumed leadership of the strike.
Authorities responded by calling out police, and the strike quickly escalated into violence. Local IWW leaders Joseph Ettor and Arturo Giovannitti were jailed on charges of murdering Anna LoPizzo, a striker that nineteen witnesses said was killed by police gunfire, and martial law was declared. In response, Haywood and other organizers arrived to take charge of the strike. A national outrage was sparked when authorities forcibly detained a group of women and children who were being evacuated from the town. A congressional hearing and the attention of President William Howard Taft pressured the mill owners into cooperating with the strikers; on March 12, the owners agreed to all the demands of the strikers, officially ending the strike.
However, Haywood and the IWW were not yet finished in Lawrence; despite the end of the strike, Ettor and Giovannitti remained in prison. Haywood threatened the authorities with another strike, saying "Open the jail gates or we will close the mill gates." Legal efforts and a one-day strike on September 30 did not prompt the authorities to drop the charges. However, on November 26, Ettor and Giovannitti were acquitted.
For many years, Haywood was an active member of the Socialist Party of America. Haywood had always been largely Marxist in his political views, and campaigned for Eugene Debs during the 1908 presidential election, traveling by train with Debs around the country. Haywood also represented the Socialist Party as a delegate to the 1910 congress of the Second International, an organization working towards international socialism. In 1912, he was elected to the Socialist Party National Executive Committee.
However, the aggressive tactics of Haywood and the IWW, along with their call for abolition of the wage system and the overthrow of capitalism created tension with more moderate members of the Socialist Party. Haywood and the IWW focused on direct action and strikes, which often led to violence, and were less concerned with political tactics. In a party opposed to violence and dedicated to respectability, Haywood openly advised socialists and workers to practice sabotage and risk imprisonment to foster revolution. This conflict eventually led to Haywood's recall from the National Executive Committee in January 1913; thousands of IWW members left the Socialist Party with him.
In 1913, Haywood was involved in the Paterson silk strike. Haywood and approximately 1,850 strikers were arrested during the course of the strike. Despite the long holdout and fundraising efforts, the strike ended in failure on July 28, 1913.
Haywood and the IWW frequently clashed with the government during their labor actions. The onset of World War I gave the federal government the opportunity to take action against Haywood and the IWW. Using the newly passed Espionage Act of 1917 as justification, the Department of Justice raided forty-eight IWW meeting halls on September 5, 1917. The Department of Justice, with the approval of President Woodrow Wilson, then proceeded to arrest 165 IWW members for "conspiring to hinder the draft, encourage desertion, and intimidate others in connection with labor disputes."
In April 1918, Haywood and 100 of the arrested IWW members began their trial, presided over by Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis. The trial lasted five months, the longest criminal trial up to that time; Haywood himself testified for three days. All 101 defendants were found guilty, and Haywood (along with fourteen others) was sentenced to twenty years in prison.
Despite the efforts of his supporters, Haywood was unable to overturn the conviction. In 1921, Haywood skipped bail while out on appeal and fled to Russia.
In Russia, Haywood became a labor advisor to Lenin's Bolshevik government, but Lenin's illness and death and Stalin's rise to power ended his role as an advisor to the Soviet labor movement in 1923. Various visitors to Haywood's small Moscow apartment in later years recalled that he was lonely and depressed, and expressed a desire to return to the United States. In 1926 he took a Russian wife, though the two had to communicate in sign language, as neither spoke the other's language. At the invitation of CPUSA member Gus Hall, Idaho newspaper reporter John Chapple traveled to Moscow in late 1927 in an attempt to interview Haywood, only to find him barely coherent and suffering from advanced diabetes.
On May 18, 1928, Haywood died in a Moscow hospital from a stroke brought on by alcoholism and diabetes. Half of his ashes were buried in the Kremlin wall; an urn containing the other half of his ashes was sent to Chicago and buried near the Haymarket Martyrs' Monument.
Even before Haywood first became an official with the Western Federation of Miners, he was convinced that the system under which working people toiled was unjust. He described the execution of the Haymarket leaders in 1887 as a turning point in his life, predisposing him toward membership in the largest organization of the day, the Knights of Labor. Haywood had watched men die in unsafe mine tunnels, and had marched with Kelly's Army. He had suffered a serious hand injury in the mines, and found that his only support came from other miners. When Haywood listened to Ed Boyce of the WFM addressing a group of miners in 1896, he discovered radical unionism and welcomed it.
Haywood also shared Boyce's skepticism of the role played by the American Federation of Labor (AFL). Haywood criticized labor officials who were, in his view, insufficiently supportive of Labor militants. For example, he recalled with disdain the opening remarks of Samuel Gompers when the AFL leader appeared before Illinois Governor Richard Oglesby on behalf of the Haymarket prisoners:
I have differed all my life with the principles and methods of the condemned.
Gompers was an advocate of craft unionism, the idea that workers should be separated into unions according to their skills. The AFL disdained to organize workers who were not skilled. Furthermore, in 1900 Gompers became the first vice-president of the National Civic Federation, which was "dedicated to the fostering of harmony and collaboration between capital and organized labor." But Haywood had become convinced by the experiences of striking railroad workers that a different union philosophy, some form of industrial unionism, was necessary for workers to obtain justice. This had become apparent in 1888 when the craft-organized locomotive firemen kept their engines running, helping their employers to break a strike called by the railroad engineers.
Eugene V. Debs had been head of the locomotive firemen's union, but he resigned to create the American Railway Union (ARU), organized industrially to include all railroad workers. In June 1894, the ARU voted to join in solidarity with the ongoing Pullman strike. Railroad traffic throughout the nation was "largely paralyzed. The effectiveness of the industrial form of unionism was evident from the start." The strike was eventually crushed by massive government intervention that included 2600 Deputy U.S. Marshals, and 14,000 state and federal troops in Chicago alone. Debs attempted to seek help from the American Federation of Labor. He asked that AFL railroad brotherhood affiliates present the following proposition to the Railway Managers' Association:
...that the strikers return to work at once as a body, upon the condition that they be restored to their former positions, or, in the event of failure, to call a general strike.
Observing that the ARU was defenseless, AFL officials viewed the plight of the rival organization as an opportunity to bolster their own railway affiliates, and instructed all AFL affiliates to withhold help. In spite of what Haywood perceived as "treachery" and "double-cross" by the AFL leadership – the ARU members had put their own organization at risk for others, but the AFL refused to even help them try to end the strike in a draw – the power of workers crossing their trade lines and jurisdictional boundaries to join together in a fight against capital greatly impressed him. He described the revelation of such power as "a great rift of light."
For Haywood, industrial union principles were later confirmed by the defeat of the Western Federation of Miners in the 1903-05 Cripple Creek strike due – he believed – to insufficient labor solidarity. The WFM miners had sought to extend the benefits of union to the mill workers who processed their ore. Since the government had crushed the ARU, the railroad workers were again organized along craft lines under the AFL. Those same railroad unions continued to haul the ore from mines that were run by strike breakers, to mills that were run by strike breakers. "The railroaders form the connecting link in the proposition that is scabby at both ends," Haywood complained. "This fight, which is entering its third year, could have been won in three weeks if it were not for the fact that the trade unions are lending assistance to the mine operators." The obvious solution, it seemed to Haywood, was for all of the workers to join the same union, and to take collective action in concert against the employers. The militants of the WFM referred to the AFL as the "American Separation of Labor," a criticism that was later echoed by the Industrial Workers of the World.
Haywood's industrial unionism was much broader than formulating a more effective method of conducting strikes. Haywood grew up a part of the working class, and his respect for working people was genuine. He was quickly angered by the arrogance of employers "who had never ... spoken to a workingman except to give orders."
Having met Debs during his WFM days, Haywood had also become interested in the former railway leader's new passion, socialism. Haywood subscribed to the belief, and with Boyce, formulated as a new motto for the WFM, that:
Labor produces all wealth; all wealth belongs to the producer thereof.
Haywood observed how the government frequently took the side of business to defeat the tactics and the aspirations of the miners. During an 1899 organizing drive in Coeur d'Alene, with pay cuts as a motivating issue, the company hired spies and then fired organizers and pro-union miners. Some frustrated miners responded with violence and when two men were killed, martial law was declared. As they had done in a strike in Coeur d'Alene seven years earlier, soldiers acted as strike breakers. They rounded up hundreds of union members without formal charges and put them in a filthy, vermin-infested warehouse without sanitation services for a year. They were so crowded that the soldiers locked the overflow of prisoners in boxcars. One local union leader was imprisoned for 17 years.
Haywood considered the brutal conditions in Coeur d'Alene a manifestation of class warfare. In 1901 the miners agreed at the WFM convention that a "complete revolution of social and economic conditions" was "the only salvation of the working classes."
In the WFM's 1903-05 struggle in Colorado, with martial law once again in force, two declarations uttered by the National Guard and recorded for posterity further clarified the relationship of the mine operator's enforcement army – provided courtesy of the Colorado governor – to the workers. When union attorneys asked the courts to free illegally imprisoned strikers, Adjutant General Sherman Bell declared, "Habeas corpus be damned, we'll give 'em post mortems." Reminded of the Constitution, one of Bell's junior officers declared coolly, "To hell with the Constitution. We're not going by the Constitution."
General Bell had been the manager of one of the coal mines in Cripple Creek where the strike was taking place. It wasn't any surprise to Haywood that soldiers seemed to be working in the interests of the employers; he had seen that situation before. But when the Colorado legislature acknowledged the complaints of organized labor and passed an eight hour law, the Colorado supreme court declared it unconstitutional. So the WFM took the issue to the voters, and 72 percent of the state's voters approved the referendum. But the Cololorado government ignored the results of the referendum.
To members of the WFM, it became clear that government favored the companies, and only direct action by organized workers could secure the eight hour day for themselves. When miners in Idaho Springs and Telluride decided to strike for the eight hour day, they were rounded up at gunpoint by vigilante groups and expelled from their communities. Warrants were issued for the arrest of the law-breaking vigilantes, but they were not acted upon.
Haywood complained that John D. Rockefeller was "wielding more power with his golf sticks than could the people of Colorado with their ballots." It appeared to Haywood that the deck was stacked, and no enduring gains could be won for the workers short of changing the rules of the game. Increasingly, his industrial unionism took on a revolutionary flavor. In 1905 Haywood joined the more left-leaning socialists, labor anarchists in the Haymarket tradition, and other militant unionists to formulate the concept of revolutionary industrial unionism that animated the Industrial Workers of the World. Haywood called this philosophy "socialism with its working clothes on."
Haywood favored direct action. The socialist philosophy – which WFM supporter the Rev. Fr. Thomas J. Hagerty called "slowcialism" – did not seem hard-nosed enough for Haywood's labor instincts. After the Boise murder trial, he had come to believe,
While Haywood continued to champion direct action, he advocated the political action favored by the socialists as just one more mechanism for change, and only when it seemed relevant. At an October 1913 meeting of the Socialist Party, Haywood stated:
I advocate the industrial ballot alone when I address the workers in the textile industries of the East where a great majority are foreigners without political representation. But when I speak to American workingmen in the West I advocate both the industrial and the political ballot.
The "industrial ballot" referred to the methods (strikes, slowdowns, etc.) of the IWW.
Haywood seemed most comfortable with a philosophy arrived at through the hard-scrabble experiences of the workers. He had the ability to translate complex economic theories into simple ideas that resonated with working people. He would frequently preface his speeches with the statement, "Tonight I am going to speak on the class struggle and I am going to make it so plain that even a lawyer can understand it." He distilled the voluminous work of Karl Marx into a simple observation, "If one man has a dollar he didn't work for, some other man worked for a dollar he didn't get." While Haywood respected the work of Marx, he referred to it with irreverent humor. Acknowledging his scars from dangerous mining work, and from numerous fistfights with police and militia, he liked to say, "I've never read Marx's Capital, but I have the marks of capital all over me."
Haywood demonstrated his Marxist roots when, confronted by the Commission on Industrial Relations with an argument about the sanctity of private property, he responded that a capitalist's property merely represented "unpaid labor, surplus value." But the forum also gave Haywood an opportunity to compare the philosophy of the IWW with that of Marx and the socialist parties. Reminded by the Commission that socialists advocated ownership of the industries by the state, Haywood remembered in his autobiography that he had drawn a clear distinction. All of industry should be owned "by the workers," he observed.
Much of Haywood's philosophy relating to socialism, to the idea that industrial unionism was preferable to craft unionism, what he saw as the evils of the wage system, his attitude about corporations, militia, and politicians, seem to have been held in common with his mentor at the WFM, Ed Boyce. Boyce also called for legislation to forbid employment of aliens. Unlike Boyce and many other labor leaders and organizations of the time, Haywood believed that workers of all ethnicities should organize into the same union. According to Haywood, the IWW was "big enough to take in the black man, the white man; big enough to take in all nationalities - an organization that will be strong enough to obliterate state boundaries; to obliterate national boundaries."
In 1912, Haywood spoke at a convention for the Brotherhood of Timber Workers in Louisiana; at the time, interracial meetings in the state were illegal. Haywood insisted that the white workers invite the African American workers to their convention, declaring:
You work in the same mills together. Sometimes a black man and a white man chop down the same tree together. You are meeting in a convention now to discuss the conditions under which you labor. Why not be sensible about this and call the Negroes into the Convention? If it is against the law, this is one time when the law should be broken.
Ignoring the law against interracial meetings, the convention invited the African American workers. The convention would eventually vote to affiliate with the IWW.
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