The development of new conditions is always resisted by the old. “During the nine weeks of the fight in Lawrence, every barbarity known to modern civilization had been perpetrated by police, military, courts and detectives, the willing tools of the bosses.”*) To these should be added press and pulpit, and the craft unions. The defeat of all only serves to reflect the soundness of the strikers’ basic organization.
The opposition began at the City Hall meeting, presided over by Gilbert Smith and addressed by Mayor Scanlon. The latter, while pretending solicitude for the welfare of the strikers was favorable, in his attitude, toward the mill-owners. He condemned the 54 hour law, urged peace, advised no opposition to those who wanted to work, and suggested a committee, “not to conduct a strike,” as he later testified in the Salem Court, “but to see the mill-owners only.”
Ettor followed the Mayor. He spoke in a manner that made no attempt at “impartiality” such as the Mayor had assumed. He said, pointedly:
This struggle is not an accident. It is an incident in the world-wide conflict between capital and labor. The mill-owners have conspired to defeat the 54 hour law, though signed by the Governor and upheld by the Supreme Court. The winning of this strike means more bread for the workers and less dividends for the capitalists. In order for you to have any show at all you must have an organization; you must also have a committee, as advocated by the Mayor.
By all means, [counseled Ettor,] make this strike as peaceful as possible. In the last analysis, all the blood spilled will be your blood. And if any blood is spilled, it will be on the heads of the mill-owners, for they will be responsible for it.
Ettor was not surprised, as the Mayor had been, at the disturbances of the day before. He pointed out that more than a dozen different nationalities, with all kinds of temperaments, hopes, ideals and aspirations, were involved. They had been lured to Lawrence in the belief that they had only to walk the streets to find dollar bills everywhere. Post-cards were distributed in foreign countries with a mill on one side and a line of workers going to a bank on the other. Those thus duped had been brought here to fill the places of those who had become dissatisfied with real conditions. They, in turn, were suffering the same experiences. In view of all these conditions, the surprising feature is, not that so little disturbance did happen, but that things should have been allowed to go on as they did, without protest.
“For a strike to be peaceful,” continued Ettor, “for a strike to be successful, there must be Solidarity in the ranks of the strikers. Division is the surest means to violence; violence necessarily means the loss of a strike. You can hope for no success on any policy of violence. Therefore, instead of taking the Mayor’s advice and staying away from the mills, you should urge all the workers to shut down completely all the mills. Then there will be solidarity and no occasion for disturbance among you.
“Remember,” he continued, “the property of the bosses is protected first by the police, then the militia. If these are not sufficient, by the entire army. Remember also that you, too, are armed”a pause and a smile“armed with your labor power, which you can withhold and stop production. Provoking violence will serve as a pretext to start a blood bath in which the workers’ blood will be spilled. Form a strike committee to meet at 9 Mason Street. This committee should try to settle the strike; and provide ways and meansfinances and reliefas long as it shall last.”
But, solidarity as a preventive of violence, was not desired by Mayor Scanlon. It was a method which meant victory for the strikers, instead of the mill-owners, who by the very condition of affairs, hold the Lawrence city government in the palm of their hands. So, on the next day, Sunday, January 14, Mayor Scanlon practiced intimidation; he issued a veiled threat to call out the militia. Subsequently, District Attorney Atwill declared in Salem Court that Ettor’s mere reference to the troops caused the final calling out of the militia, for the first time in a labor dispute in the history of Massachusetts. Such is the power of words!to a district attorney intent on electrocution. The fact of the matter is that the strikers had out-generaled their opponents. The latter appreciated the situation, though the citizens of Lawrence did not.
Accordingly, Monday, January 15th, came, and with it more startling occurrences. The struggle between capital and labor, that is supposed to spend itself, like a tempest in a teapot, is not so easily dissipated. It is on once more, in all intensity, despite its apparent end, when least suspected.
In the early morning of this date, Canal Street, already described in Chapter One, was frequented by the strikers. They picketed the mills in a mass. Success attended their efforts; large additions were made to the ranks. After the mill gates had closed, they marched in a body to the Atlantic and Pacific Mills. As they reached the bridges, streams of water were turned on them, from a fire hose on the adjoining roofs.
January 15th was a bitter cold day. Snow and ice were on the ground. The water, saturating the strikers, added to the rigors of the weather. Many fell back; others pressed forward. All, until then, peaceful, now became infuriated. They rushed the bridges, forced the gates and got into the mill yards. Some climbed to the roof of the railroad structure that pierced the mills and dropped from there into the mill enclosure. From there they ran through the mills, urging all hands out.
Those who did not storm the bridges ran to freight cars in the adjoining railroad yard, and helped themselves to scantlings and coal. With these they demolished the windows in the weave-shed of the Pacific Mills, from whose roof the water was mainly poured. Pistol shots were fired ; though nobody was hurt. Excitement once more reigned, where peace had temporarily been established; the whole trouble being obviously provoked, as on the 12th inst, by conditions primarily created by the mill owners. More police and the local militia were rushed to the scene; 36 arrests were made and the attention of the country was once more turned to Lawrence, tariff-protected, God-fearing and patriotic Lawrence, by the beautiful Merrimac, which Thoreau loved so well.*)
This incident served Mayor Scanlon’s purpose. He called for and received the aid of the State Militia. These, under Colonel Sweetser, committed many barbarities.
Of the 36 strikers arrested, most were sent to jail for one year. They were not given an opportunity to consult counsel, present evidence, or otherwise defend themselves. Their cases were not even properly considered, but were rushed through in quick succession, immediately after arrest. Ettor, subsequently, pilloried such “justice” as proof of the capitalist nature of the courts, for which the beneficiaries of the latter condemned him, to his credit. Judge Mahoney, who thus “dispensed with the law,” as Mrs. Partington would say, is notorious for his anti-labor bias. In Lawrence, he is reported, on reliable authority, to write unsigned condemnatory double-column editorials for the local press on the I. W. W., while sitting “impartially” in judgment on cases affecting the organization and its members. Justice is said to be blind. As represented by Judge Mahoney, though, she is double-faced, like the mythological Janus.
While the disturbances of January 15 were going on in Canal Street, the strike committee was meeting in Bros’ basement in Chestnut. Here it was giving evidence of its inherent industrial nature. More delegates representing more races and crafts were seated. Then the delegates reported on and discussed the question wages, the lightness or heaviness of work, the premium system, and the general conditions in relation to pay and hours, overtime, and so on. Following this, demands were formulated, as follows: 15 per cent increase over 56 hours wages, on the 54 hours basis; time and a half for overtime, abolition of the premium system, and the reinstatement of all strikers on settlement of strike.
Ettor presided; he only consented to act on condition that all the strike meetings be public meetings; except executive meetings demanded and required by the mill-owners and public authorities for the consideration of terms that they did not desire to be made public.
This program was strictly adhered to; there were only three or four executive meetings; then only on request of other side, for purpose of negotiation.
At the suggestion of Mayor Scanlon, the strike committee next went to the City Hall to meet him and members of the city government in an attempt to settle the strike. They found entrance to the City Hall barred by bayonets of the militia( (Remember, this occurred, not in Russia, but in Lawrence, Mass., 1912.) The meeting, however, finally took place, but in the drill room at the police station. There the strike committee, not the least bit overawed or intimidated, suggested, through Ettor, that the city government request the mill-owners to shut down completely all the mills in Lawrence, as the Everett Mill had done. The Mayor said that that was no function of the government; so nothing came of the meeting, except to demonstrate the sound position of the strikers.
The next day, January 16, the Governor’s Secretary, Dudley Holman, appeared before the strike committee to urge arbitration via the state board on the strikers. Following him, there came, a day or two later, Mr. Howland, representing the board itself.
In addition, the strike committee gave ear to its representatives. These reported additional gains, and dwelt at length on the brutalities of police and militia, the latter of whom were driving peaceful persons home at the point of the bayonet. Other attempts at terrorization, like the arming of strike-breakers with pistols and clubs, were discussed. After the speeches by the State officials and the reports, the strike committee adopted the I. W. W. standpoint on arbitration. It agreed to allow the State board to attend its meetings, to appoint a member to assist it in securing data, to accept its services as an intermediary as far as possible, but to decline to leave any question to it for settlement. Ettor expressed the views of the strike committee when he said:
The labor question is not a matter of accident; it is a conflict of opposing interests. In their economic relations, that which the worker considers right, the employer considers wrong. The arbitration board, at best, claims to be a disinterested party, acting as a deciding factor. There is no such thing. In present society, men either work, or live on the work of others. It is impossible for a third party to be disinterested and decide accordingly. If he is a worker, he will decide for the workers; but I am positive that the board is not constituted that way. Whether the third party makes his living from the labor of textile workers or other workers, is not the question. He could not be fair, because of his class interests and instincts, in deciding an issue involving more bread and butter for the operatives and less automobiles for the mill-owners. In addition, it is preferable to deal directly with those most affected.*)
This position finally prevailed; the strike was settled by a face-to-face conference of mill-owners and mill-workers exclusively. But this did not take place until subsequent events forced the mill-owners into it.
In the meanwhile, the strike committee continued to strengthen its position. The ranks of the strikers were augmented and more firmly knitted. Plans for relief were put under way and the interests of the workers were protected in every manner possible. Ettor, as spokesman of the committee, addressed from five to nine meetings a day, of strikers and allied workers. On January 17 he addressed the Perchers’, Burlers’ and Menders’ Union at the City Hall. He urged them to join the strike. He said: “You are the skilled of the mills. You are paid more than the others to spur you on and to spur others on; and to create a jealousy between the skilled and the unskilled, between the high-paid workers and the low-paid workers. In a question involving a reduction of wages, you should throw in your lot with the low-paid. Do not play the aristocrat because you speak English, are habituated to the country, have a trade and are better paid. Throw in your lot with the low-paid. You must either reach down and lift them up or they will reach up and pull you down.” This appeal to common class interests was effective.
Speaking at the City Hall on January 23, to the Wool Sorters’ Union, Ettor was asked “What do you mean by a ‘scab’?” “A scab,” replied Ettor, “is a worker who by any act aids or abets the employers in times of conflict.” Thereupon another worker wanted to know: “Do not the principles that apply to the definition of a scab also apply to an industry?” “Yes,” replied Ettor, “the Industrial Workers of the World means the organization of all the workers in one big union, according to industries. When an industry goes on strike, if it needs the help of the industry immediately related to it, it will call on that industry to make common cause with it. If it requires the help of still other industries it will act on the same principle.” Ettor then explained how the whole New England district could be called out in aid of the textile industry on the principles of common interests and solidarity, as opposed to principles that permit workers to aid and abet the employers in any form.
Addressing the Jewish workers in the Synagogue on January 20th, Ettor said:
I congratulate you on joining the strike. Among the workers there is only one nationality, one race, one creed. There are but two nations in the world, the nation of workers and the nation of shirkers. There are but two races, the race of useful members of society and the race of useless ones. The man or woman, whether Jew or non-Jew, that works for a living, has interests and hopes that can only be advanced and realized by the solidarity and common understanding of all the workers. No doubt, many of you have left Russia because of persecution or the fear of persecution, and to better your conditions. But you did not leave the labor problem behind you in Russia. The moment you arrived here you found yourselves confronted with that problem, probably in a different way; but you found here, too, the struggle between those who work and those who do not work. Forget that you are Hebrews; forget that you are Poles, Germans or Russians. Remember always you are workers with interests against those of the mill-owners. The master class has but one flag, the Rag of profit. They have but one nation, the field of exploitation wherever found. They have but one God, the dollar. The workers, too, should put one flag, one nation, one God, in their class unity. The labor problem cannot be quenched by fire hose. They murdered, assassinated and massacred the Jewish workers in Russia, in the hope of destroying them. But the scaffold has never yet and never will destroy an idea or a movement!
Ettor little realized then that he would soon make the same argument in defense of his life.
On January 25, Ettor, addressing the strikers at the Franco-Belgian Hall, noticed that they were restless; they wanted victory that seemed too long delayed. Said Ettor,
The days that have just passed have demonstrated the power of the workers. The power of the workers consists of something greater than the power of the capitalists. The power of the capitalists is based on property. Property makes them all powerful, socially and politically. Because of it they control the institutions of attack and defense; they have the laws, the army, everything! They can employ agents to go around to plant dynamite and to provoke disorder among the workers, in order to defeat them.
In spite of all that, the workers have something still more powerful. The workers’ power, the one thing more powerful than all the property, all the machine guns, all the gallows and everything on the other side, is the common bond of solidarity, of purpose, of ideals. Our love of solidarity, our purpose and our affection for one another as workers, bind us more solidly and tighter than do all the bombs and dynamite that the capitalists have at their disposal. If the workers of the world want to win, all that they have to do is to recognize their own solidarity. They have to do nothing, but fold their arms, and the world will stop. The workers are more powerful with their hands in their pockets than all the property of the capitalists. As long as the workers keep their hands in their pockets the capitalists cannot put theirs there. With passive resistance, with the workers absolutely refusing to move, laying absolutely silent, they are more powerful than all the weapons and instruments that the other side have for protection and attack.
Ettor here and elsewhere declared: “The policeman’s club and the militiaman’s bayonet cannot weave cloth. It requires textile workers to do that.”
Addressing a citizens’ meeting, to advocate the recall of Mayor Scanlon held in the City Hall on January 28, under the auspices of the Socialist Party, Ettor dwelt on the threat of the capitalists to starve the workers into submission. Even then Ettor made clear that the workers would assert their labor power. First Ettor showed the many times the strikers had been willing to meet the mill-owners direct. Then he said:
It comes with very bad grace, and it is a sad commentary upon them, for the mill-owners, who have reaped all the advantages of the national law and the labor of their workers, to declare that they will starve their workers into submission. They should be grateful for the fact that, were it not for the textile workers, the wives and daughters of Mr. Wood, and all the capitalists would go naked in the streets, like so many savages. Many of these capitalists are so dependent on the workers that they can’t even wash their own faces. They must have valets to do it for them!
The capitalists cannot afford to adopt a policy of starving the workers into submission. If they do, what then? They will drive the workers back, with feelings of hate and disappointment and discouragement. They will go back in a rage! The capitalists can hope for no peace. Under these conditions, God help their looms and God help their cloth!
All of which proves that, victorious or defeated, the fate of modern society is in the hands of the modern working class. On the exercise of its labor power depends social existence.
By education, exhortation, parades, together workers were riveted and bound together! But the mill-owners and their allies were by no means idle.
On January 19, dynamite was discovered in Lawrence in three different places, namely, a cemetery lot, a tailor shop on Oak Street, and a shoe shop at 78 Lawrence Street, next to Colombo’s printing shop, where Ettor got his mail. The strikers was blamed, some were arrested. Here was evidence of lawlessness, of which the mill-owners and the yellow journals quickly availed themselves. But not for long. Facts began to assert themselves and to cast doubt on the discovery. It was recalled that on January 13, Local 20, I. W. W., had telegraphed Governor Foss, a denunciation of Boston newspaper articles stating dynamite was being brought into Lawrence to blow up the mill bridges.*) One of these papers, the Boston-American (a Hearst sheet) was off the press and on sale in Lawrence before the “discovery” was actually made. Its Lawrence correspondent, Joseph J. Donohue, knew that there was going to be a dynamite “story” the night before.*) Then, the “discovery” was well-timed, for the so-called public mind was still full of the McNamara convictions. Taking it all in all, it looked as if a “plant” had been made by the mill-owners in order to discredit the strikers!
Ettor, in all his speeches, denounced the episode as a “plant.” He pointed out how the strikers had nothing to gain by it; but lose instead; how the police had vainly tried to connect him with the dynamite; how, unable to find him in Colombo’s shop, they had gone to the Italian drug store at 82 Lawrence St., where they had broken open his satchel, on demand of Dr. Morretti, who refused to permit them to take it away, for fear that they would put some of the explosive in it. Subsequent events proved all suspicion well-founded. Breen, a Lawrence politician, school committeeman, undertaker and member of Father Reilly’s church, was arrested, adjudged guilty and fined $500 for “ planting” the dynamite. A movement to recall Breen as school committeeman was later opposed by the North Congregational Club, following an address by General Manager Wm. D. Hartshone of the Arlington Mills. As will be seen in the next chapter, Breen was only the tool of the mill-owners in a conspiracy to implicate others and thereby break the strike.
The dynamite “ plant” was followed by an attempt to divide the workers and end the strike that way. The proposition was to have the workers confer with the mill-owners according to mills, each mill and its workers to meet separately. This proposition had been proposed in conference with the independent unions; it was broached by Mr. Varney, the leading spirit of the Bay State Bank, a local institution, and Col. Sweetser, on January at. The strike committee recommended its rejection, which recommendation was concurred in on January 23 by a vote of a big mass meeting on the Common, such as is described by Nicholas Vanderpuyl, in his intimate story of Joseph J. Ettor, as quoted in the preceding chapter. Evidently dynamite “plants” and arrests had no tendency to make the strikers anxious to return to work on any terms!
On January 24, Mayor Scanlon and Col. Sweetser urged a meeting with the mill-owners, in the presence of the State Arbitration Board. Accordingly the whole strike committee, 50 or 60 strong, was at the City Hall that some evening. The conference was a ridiculous one, made so by the state board, whose members ran back and forth, carrying the mill-owners’ messages to and from an adjoining room! The strike committee insisted on meeting the mill-owners face to face; they did it in the mills, why not in the City Hall? So the meeting ended! A legislative committee from Boston next attempted a settlement; with no better success.
During the foregoing attempts at settlement, others were also afoot. Max Mitchell, a Boston settlement worker, later a banker, approached Ettor and the strike committee in an endeavor to bring them into conference with the officials of the American Woolen Co. in Boston. A committee of 10 was selected, consisting of Ettor, Edward Reilly, Archie Adamson, Gilbert Smith, William Born, Joseph Bedard, John Bienkowski, Ettor Gianinni, Mrs. Annie Welzehbach and Thomas Holliday, with instructions to see what could be done and report back. A meeting was held, on January 26, at which nothing was accomplished; Mr. Wood and his officials insisting on a return to work first and settlement afterwards. As this meant wholesale discrimination and defeat, the offer was rejected.
However, the Boston meeting served the mill-owners a dishonest purpose. They caused the report to be circulated that the strike was ended, as a result of it. The letter carriers of the city were especially active in circulating the report. As Postmaster Cox, according to his own reports to the State Secretary, received $300 from the Pacific Mills, for services rendered as “Legislative agent,” i. e., lobbyist, the action of “his” employees is not at all remarkable. They, most likely, acted according to instructions emanating from him. The French-Canadian priest was also active in behalf of the mill-owners.
At the strike committee meeting of Saturday, January 27, it was decided to counteract this false report. A parade for Monday, January 29, was arranged to show to those who might be misled, that the strike was still on. Thomas Holliday, who made the motion, explained that Monday was the day on which application was made for employment; and that most likely the mill-owners had counted on that fact, as well as the Boston conference, to create a stampede. Holliday favored an early morning parade, before the mill gates opened at 6:3o, as the most effective. Next day (Sunday) there was great activity; as a result all the language branches and crafts were informed through their delegates. The word was passed all along the line, “No work Monday; strike still on; all out in big parade.” The parade was, accordingly, held; there was no stampede back to work; the mills did not open in full; the mill-owners were beaten once more.
Ettor always favored mass demonstrations and picketing. At the some time he cautioned against the unscrupulous uses that may be made of them. Agent provocateurs may use them to provoke trouble in order to involve the strikers. Newspaper men may also use them to create material for sensational reports. He cited the case of a newspaper photographer who shouted “Fire” when the militia, with bayonets pointed, were parleying with a parade of strikers. That a massacre did not follow was a wonder. Care and precaution are to be exercised in parades. Ettor exercised both on January 29. At Union and Essex Streets, he diverted the parade away from the militia, and later saved the French-Canadian priest’s house on Haverhill Street from being assailed.
But the mill-owners were not to be balked that way. A gang of about 5,000 Italians, impersonated by the employees of a Boston detective agency, were imported from the Hub, on the night of January 28. Early on the 29th, during the parade, they smashed all the trolley car windows, drove out passengers and otherwise behaved riotously on Essex Street and Broadway. The police and militia looked on and did not make one arrest. Some of the private detectives subsequently offered to sell information regarding the plot to Boston papers and the Ettor-Giovannitti Defense Committee.*) Ettor openly charged the mill-owners with car-smashing, and once more recalled the threats previously made “to get” him, i. e., injure him personally, or involve him in some trouble that would lead to his arrest and imprisonment. The time soon came.
That same evening, January 29, a striker, Annie LoPizzo, was killed on the corner of Union and Garden Streets, during police and military interference with lawful picketing. She was shot by a bullet said to have been fired by Police Officer Oscar Benoit, though Benoit and Police Officer Marshall claim it was fired from behind Benoit by a personal enemy of the latter, following an altercation. Be that as it may, both Ettor and Arturo Giovannitti were arrested; charged with inciting and procuring the commission of the crime in put.. suit of an unlawful conspiracy. Though the murderer was unknown, they were held as “accessories before the fact.”
Giovannitti had been active in the strike since January 20. On that date he came from New York, in the interests of “Il Proletario,” the organ of the Italian Socialist Federation, which he edits. Giovannitti threw himself into the conflict with vigor and ardor. A powerful, incisive speaker, he did much to enthuse and inspire the Italians, who were, because of their large numbers, a very important factor in the strike. Further, he undertook to strengthen the work of relief, particularly among the Italians. To this end he offered to sacrifice his own belongings, and he also set to work to arouse the Italian Socialist Federation, which, though not an integral part of the I. W. W., had officially endorsed its aims and objects. Giovannitti corresponded with all the Federation’s secretaries, especially in Massachusetts, urging contributions and the arranging of meetings, to be addressed by himself, for the purpose of aiding the strikers in every way possible.
Giovannitti had especially announced his determination to find out who was behind the dynamite “plant” of January 19. Here he immediately attracted personal attack from the combined mill and newspaper interests that engineered the “plant.” Giovannitti also taught his countrymen and women a doctrine that, while peculiar to New England at one time, was, during the Lawrence strike, especially repugnant to it, to wit, self-reliance! Speaking in the Syrian Church on January 21, Giovannitti said, in Italian:
Capitalism is the same in the Fatherland as it is here. Nobody cares for you; nobody is interested in you. You are considered nothing but machines. Human machines in the old country; human machines in this country. . . . Nobody has any interest in your conditions. If any effort is made to improve your conditions and to raise you to the dignity of manhood and womanhood; that must come from yourselves alone; you can have no hope in no one but yourselves. It is only by your own power, your own determined will, your own solidarity, that you can rise to better things.*)
Giovannitti, who came from “a God-forsaken village up in the Abruzzi,” to use his own language in Salem, was, in addition to being editor, orator, foe to capitalist dynamiters and practical relief worker, a friend of Ettor’s. Both were bound together by a comradeship of ideals, coupled with united service in their behalf, that had developed into a friendship not unlike that of Damon and Pythias of old. They co-operated during the strike, like two alter-egos born especially for each other. To leave Giovannitti behind, under all the circumstances, was to allow at liberty one who would leave no stone unturned to carry on Ettor’s work and to secure his liberation. So the police “nabbed” Arturo Giovannitti along with “Joe” Ettor.*)
The arrests of Ettor and Giovannitti, evidently made to break the strike, had a decidedly contrary effect. First, they increased the number of strikers. As Commissioner Neil’s report shows, the week following the arrests witnessed the largest number out during the whole strike. Second, the purpose was so evident, as to create sympathy for the strike. William T. Taussig, Ph.D., LL.B., of Harvard, professor of political economy, voiced popular belief when, in a press interview, he said:
I believe that the arrest and detention of Ettor on the charge of accessory to killing Annie Lo Pizzo is a case where the strict letter of the law has been stretched to serve a purpose not contemplated by the law itselfthat the machinery of the law has not been applied to him in a strictly judicial spirit or method.
The indications are that Ettor was arrested not because of a determination to enforce the criminal law, but in order to put him out of action.
Such use of the courts breed lawlessness, because it causes workmen to believe that the law is against them.
The Socialist and labor press went further; it attacked the principle underlying the arrests. Said Regeneration, Los Angeles organ of the Mexican labor movement:
It is admitted that the accused men had no direct connection with the death on which the charge is based, but it is alleged that the things they said resulted in the deed. That is an infamous doctrine, for under it there is not an educator in the world who could not be held for having taught something that induced some one to commit a crime. Let me write the incontestable truth that capitalism often sacrifices life to profits, and under that doctrine I may be held for the killing of a capitalist by an outraged worker of whom I never heard.
At the time of the arrest of Ettor and Giovannitti nobody had either been arrested or indicted for the shooting of Annie LoPizzo. So it became necessary to secure a principal for the crime. For this purpose Joseph Caruso was arrested in Lawrence on April 17, and indicted. Caruso was a striker, having worked successively in the dying, drying, carding and combing rooms of the Wood Mills, receiving the munificent wages of $7.70, $6.65, $7.17 and $6.35 a week respectively, when employed. His wife, Rosa Aliotta, was also an employee of the Wood Mills, being employed as a spinner in the spinning room at a like wage. Both Caruso and his wife often experienced unemployment, especially in winter.
After the strike, Detective Callahan, of the Callahan Detective Agency of Boston, forced the discharge of Caruso from various mills in Lawrence. Police Inspector Vose, of Lawrence, also endeavored to persuade him to seek employment elsewhere. But Caruso changed his name, secured employment and stayed in the city until his arrest. Obviously, the intention was to have the alleged principal disappear, as a fugitive from justice, as was the case in the Chicago “anarchist” trial, and then the “accessory before the fact” could be more easily established. As it turned out, Caruso had never heard either Ettor or Giovannitti speak, so that he could be incited to murder, or even applause. But Caruso and his wife, like Giovannitti, were natives of Italy; Ettor is a native of this country, born of Italian parents; the Italians, led by Ettor and Giovannitti, began the strike and committed the murder; consequently, who but Ettor and Giovannitti and Caruso killed Annie LoPizzo. So argued the prosecution. Could anything be simplerand more dastardly?
Ettor made the charge that the agent provocateurs of the mill-owners started “the riot” in which Annie LoPizzo was killed. Assistant City Marshall, later City Marshall, John J. Sullivan, when appearing before the Berger Congressional Investigation Committee, was asked by Mr. Dalzell, one of the members: “As I understand, there was indiscriminate shooting.” To which the chief of police replied: “My impression is that the shooting was pure deviltry. To begin with, there was no intention of doing anybody harm, but it was simply, as I say, to raise the devil and to bring the crowd and the police and the militia together.”*)
It would be interesting to know how Chief Sullivan either knew of, or divined, the intention of the shooter who killed Annie LoPizzo. The answer to this question might justify Ettor’s contention.
With Ettor and Giovannitti “put out of action” the strike went on without their immediate presence.
The Strike Committee, under the leadership of Archie Adamson and Edward Reilly, rallied to the occasion. So did the I. W. W.! Wm. D. Haywood, who had visited Lawrence on Jan. 24, for the first time, now became chairman of the committee; alternating occasionally, with Wm. Yates, national secretary of the Textile Industrial Union, I. W. W. With Haywood came James P. Thompson, general organizer, I. W. MT.; Wm. E. Trautman, and Miss Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, national organizers, I. W. W ; Thomas Power, Francis Miller, and other I. W. W. men. The Socialist Party did valuable service at this and other times, financially and otherwise. The Massachusetts State Committee sent Robert Lawrence, a textile worker and one of its members, to the scene to investigate. His report, favorable to the strikers, resulted in considerable Socialist action in their behalf. Other Socialists who did good work, oratorically and otherwise, are James P. Reid, ex-textile worker, dentist and Socialist representative in the legislature of Rhode Island; Chas. Edward Russell, Sol Fieldman and many more, too numerous to mention.
The strike now, practically resolved itself into a question of endurance. The only important change was the introduction of the endless chain of pickets, 6,000 in number, who every morning from 5:30 to 7:30 walked Essex St. and Broadway to prevent scabbing.
The Governor issued an open letter, urging settlement, Col. Sweetser sent orderlies and an automobile around to the strike committee after Yates, Reilly, Adamson and other members of the strike committee and had a meeting with them, following the Governor’s letter, the A. F. of L., through John Golden, tried to stampede the strikers back to work, and the police and militia tried to prevent measures of relief, in order to break the strike during February,but all to no avail. Every attempt at settlementdiplomatic, strategic, summary, and otherwisefailed. The strikers stuck together with more determination to win, than ever before. Enthusiasm was rampant; all meetings were opened and closed with revolutionary songs.
One of the combined police and military attacks occurred at the North Station of the Boston and Maine Railroad, on Feb. 24. The strikers had adopted the French and Italian method of relief, that is, of sending children to friends in other cities. Without the cries of hungry children to cause surrender the strikers would win! The plan was initiated by the Italian Socialist Federation, assisted by the Socialist Party, both of which took 150 children to New York City. This was done with the consent of parents and under the care of physicians, nurses and competent persons. Other groups had been dispatched to Boston, Mass., and Barre, Vt. Some 400 children in all thus left Lawrence. Their departure naturally served to lighten the burdens of the strikers. At the same time, it incensed the mill owners and authorities of Lawrence for by this method Lawrence attained notoriety as a starvation-wage paying, though highly-protected, industrial center, that was deserved, if not appreciated by those who profited most from the fact. So steps were taken to prevent further departures. A party destined for Bridgeport, Conn., was first molested. The absurd crimes of neglect and kidnapping were alleged; though never proven, even by the proverbial scintilla of evidence. On Saturday, Feb. 24, a party of 40 children, destined for Philadelphia, under every precaution stipulated by the authorities, was torn from escorts and parents, while women and children were jostled and clubbed and thrown unceremoniously into a waiting patrol wagon. Thirty arrests were made. Among those hurt were pregnant women; miscarriages resulting. The militia, drawn up in line, outside the station, “maintained order,” while the police perpetrated the brutal outrage within.
When the Sunday newspapers appeared, next day, with reports of the affair, a wave of indignation rose from all over the country. Not only was the brutality, but the unconstitutionality, of the whole proceeding, vigorously denounced. Were parents no longer free to send children where they properly chose? Was the right of free locomotion suspended in the United States? United States Senator Poindexter, on learning of the situation, hastened from Washington to Lawrence for a personal investigation. As a result, he gave to the United Press, a denunciation of the mill-owners and authorities that contributed greatly to aid the cause of the strikers. Right here it may be said that the United Press, by its truthful reports, won the thanks of all fair-minded men during the Strike.*) It did noble work!
The Feb. 24 outrage also gave a great impetus to the Congressional investigation into the entire Lawrence situation, initiated by Congressman Victor Berger, Socialist Party representative from Milwaukee, Wis., on Feb. 8. It must be said, in Berger’s favor, that his was the first investigation proposed; in addition it was intended to be the most thorough. Though it did not end the strike, as he claims, it, nevertheless, contributed, as one of many favorable factors, to the victory. It made public a mass of telling official information at a most desirable time. This information is now embodied in House Document, No. 671, of the Second Session of the sixty-second Congress. Every student of the Lawrence strike is bound to avail himself of this invaluable document,thanks to Victor Berger.
The end of the strike is now at hand. On Sunday, March 12, the committee originally elected to visit the American Woolen Co. again went to Boston, and affected a settlement which later became operative in all the other mills. The basis of settlement was a wage increase of from 5 to 25 per cent, the unskilled receiving the largest percentage; time and a half for overtime, adjustment of the premium system, from four to two weeks pay, and no discrimination. The committee met the mill officials face to face; not even the legal advisers of the latter were permitted to be present.
William D. Haywood, in his speech at Cooper Union, N. Y., on May 21, in behalf of the Ettor-Giovannitti Defense, already quoted, describes the end of the strike as follows:
When the report came from the mill owners that the concessions were granted, the ten members of the committee brought it to the 112 members. The 112 members carried it out to the different nationalities, where it was voted upon. And when the different nationalities accepted it they met on the Common. Now remember, the town hall meetings in New England are lawful. Their action is legal. But we didn’t have a town hall big enough to hold 27,000. So they met under the vaulted blue tabernacle, on the Common.
Do you question whether this organization (the I. W. W.) believes in political action or not? There on the Common the proposition was submitted to the strikers. And I saw men, women and children vote for an increase in wages, for a reduction of hours, for better shop conditions. And that is political action. Every mass action of the working class against the capitalist class is political action.
The importance of such political action, while challenged by District Attorney Atwill, as will be seen in the chapter on the Salem trial, was duly appreciated by no less a person than United States Senator Root, Plutocracy’s ablest lawyer. Addressing the Senate, with Lawrence in mind, Root said: “We do not have to wait now, sir, for men to be naturalized and accorded the suffrage before they can exercise a most potent influence upon the vital concerns of the whole people.”*)
Mr. Ray Stannard Baker, called the Lawrence strike “a revolution” ... “involving a demand for a fundamental change in the basic organization of industry.” He might have also added: “And in the popular conception of politics and political institutions.”*) The shop is the workers’ state. The Industrial Congress of the future will supersede the political congress of the past, as the Lawrence and other revolts already forecast.
A few more words and then this already too long chapter will close.
Much has been said about the “violence and disregard for the law prevalent among the strikers at Lawrence.” The fact is that, during nine weeks, with 25,000 on strike, only 296 strike arrests were made.*) Most of them were provoked, and without justification and for minor offenses only.
Arrests for the most flagrant cases of violence and law-breaking are not included in these official statistics. These cases involved the dynamite “planting,” the car-smashing riots, the bayoneting to death of Johnnie Ramie, a Syrian boy, the slugging of James P. Thompson, I. W. W. organizer, and the murder of unborn children at the North Station by mill-owners, militia, private detectives and police. Four murders for money in a house on Valley Street are also attributed to the militia. The only lawless element in Lawrence were those who prate of “law and order” and are sworn to uphold both. Mayor Scanlon declared, in an interview, “We’ll break this strike, or we’ll break the strikers’ heads!” Poor Scanlon; he did the last all right; but history laughs at his preposterous braggadocio in other respects.
Touching on the subject of violence in the Lawrence strike, Wm. D. Haywood said, in his eloquent Cooper Union speech, already quoted:
In that strike the workers knew their power. They were organized to exert that power. And the power they possessed was their productive power. Though foreigners not having a franchise, most of them women, many of them childrenstill they had their economic power. They had the only power that you have got. The only capital that you have got is the one which is done up in your own hide. And they had just as much of that, more valuable to the mill-owners than yours would be, because they were skilled in that particular line of work. And they committed no violence, except that of removing their hands; big hands, delicate hands, baby hands; some of them gnarled and torn and crippled. But they removed those hands from the machinery. And when they took those hands away from the wheels of the machinery the machinery was dead.
And that was the "violence" of the Lawrence strike. And there is nothing more violent, in the eyes of the capitalist class, than to deprive them of the labor power out of which they get all of their capital.
The Lawrence strike had beneficial results. It gave rise to strikes and wage increases throughout the cotton and woolen industries, all over the country. From 5 to 15 million dollars are estimated to have gone into working class pockets, as a result.
It also enabled the I. W. W. to grow in New England; 7,000 strikers joined at Lawrence alone; where the strike committee was continued in the form of a central committee. This central committee is virtually a cell of the new industrial society*) that is evolving out of capitalism.
The I. W. W. was needed; it will be needed again in New England; for capitalism, with all its degradation still flourishes in New England’s main industrythe textile industry.