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You ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes.
-Mother Jones

Saturday July 25, 1914
From The Day Book: Editor Cochran on "The Past of Mother Jones"

Mother Jones, Miners Angel
In today's edition of Day Book, Editor N. D. Cochran responds to a question from the former publisher of the Inter-Ocean:


The Past of Mother Jones.-I have received an interesting note from H. H. Kohlsaat, former publisher of the Record-Herald and Inter-Ocean, concerning charges made against Mother Jones in a speech in congress by Rep. George J. Kindel of Colorado. Mr. Kohlsaat's note is as follows:

My Dear Mr. Cochran: Until I read the enclosed I had always supposed Mother Jones" was a real friend of the men, WOMEN AND CHILDREN who suffer during strikes, and respected her for her humane efforts to alleviate suffering. This is a terrible indictment to charge her with being a procuress and keeper of a house of ill-fame. Do you know whether it is true or not?
                                                                                         Yours sincerely,
                                                                                          H. H. Kohlsaat.
I am glad Mr. Kohlsaat wrote that note to me and gave the inspiration for this opinion. In the first place, it shows that Mr. Kohlsaat's heart is in the right place, because he respected Mother Jones when he thought her the real friend of men, women and children during strikes, when her humane efforts were directed toward the alleviation of human suffering.

Enclosed with the note was a copy of the Congressional Record containing the speech of Congressman Kindel. In this speech the Colorado congressman quoted extracts from a Denver publication known as "Polly Pry," in which reference was made to Mother Jones and others who were billed to address a union labor mass meeting at the Coliseum the night of Jan. 3.

The issue of "Polly Pry" of Jan. 2, 1904, referred to the mass meeting to be held the next day to be addressed by Moyer, Haywood, Mother Jones and others. No reference was made to the past of any of the men speakers, but space was given to what purported to be the record of Mother Jones; and the charge was made that in the Pinkerton detective office there is a record which shows that back in 1889 Mother Jones was a "well known character" in the redlight district of Denver, Omaha, Kansas City and Chicago.

The issue of "Polly Pry" of Jan. 9 (evidently a weekly publication) reported that Mother Jones didn't appear at the mass meeting on the preceding Sunday, and then proceeded with additional charges against the character of Mother Jones back in 1889.

I will not repeat the vile charges made in those, two issues and then spread upon the records of congress by a cowardly congressman, who was evidently representing the Colorado mine owners while supposedly representing the people of Colorado.

I have given the main charge, however, so as to have my readers understand my answer to Mr. Kohlsaat.

This is my answer:

I never heard of the charges before and do not know whether they are true or false. I would not believe such charges, however, on the authority of a publication whose very name indicates its character and whose policy toward a woman friend of labor indicates the vicious cowardice of its editor.

But even if every charge made by the cowardly tools of the mine owners of Colorado were true it would not alter my opinion of Mother Jones' great service to humanity or lessen my respect for her nobility of character.

Mother Jones is an old woman, well past 80 years of age; and a remarkably well-preserved woman for her years. I had a long visit with this heroine a few weeks ago, and she impressed me as being the most sincere an ablest labor leader I had ever met She FEELS the suffering of the men, women and children who suffer because of our industrial injustice, and I am satisfied she would gladly give up her life for oppressed humanity.

We know she has gone to jail for the mine workers of West Virginia and Colorado; that she has suffered privation, humiliation and what amounts to "torture for the men, women and children of the working class.

Mother Jones in cold cellar cell, Military Bastille, smaller
Yet a cowardly editor of the sneaking "Polly Pry"-ing weekly publication would have us believe this womanly martyr was an inmate of houses of prostitution when she was old enough to be a grandmother for 1889 was only 25 years ago, and Mother Jones is past 80 now.

But even if it were all true even if she had fallen in her youth even if she had lost caste and was a social outcast, how could that possibly detract from the service she has rendered humanity since?

Let us suppose another woman 80 years old a woman who was virtuous as maid, wife, mother and grandmother a woman against whom there was never a breath of suspicion and about whom the venomous tongue of scandal never wagged a woman who has lived a long life of well-bred ease and churchly propriety a woman who has been devoted to her family, but has never lifted her little finger for humanity's uplift or gone out of her way to alleviate the suffering of the poor and oppressed would anybody claim that such a good woman was a better woman with all her virtue than a woman of the same age who had sinned and then starved and served and suffered for humanity for many years?

Does sin kill all the GOOD in any of us? If man or woman is 99 per cent good and 1 per cent evil, don't we overlook the 99 per cent good and punish the 1 per cent evil?

If any man or woman is GOOD NOW, why dig into the past to find mistake and sin?

Who of us who now pretend to be so virtuous can stand the searchlight on the youthful days of strong passions, immature judgment and numberless temptations?

What do we know of the temptations that have made other men and women fall, when we have stood erect because we were strongly supported by protecting arms?

Are we sure that both men and women don't have to sin and suffer themselves before they can have genuine sympathy for others who sin and suffer?

All this is in my mind when I say it isn't important whether the vile charges are true or false; that Mother Jones must be judged for what she is now and for the great service she has rendered those who have far too few sincere and unselfish friends and champions.

Despite all such charges that evil men might make, I believe Mother Jones to be a good and noble woman; and if all the charges were true-and I knew them to be true, I would take off my hat to her for her great goodness of heart and unconquerable courage of mind.

[drawing added]

The Day Book
(Chicago, Illinois)
 -of July 25, 1914

Mother Jones, the Miner's Angel
Mother Jones in Cold Cellar Cell

The Death of Mother Jones-Gene Autry

O'er the hills and through the valley
In ev'ry mining town;
Mother Jones was ready to help them,
She never turned them down.
On front with the striking miners
She always could be found;
And received a hearty welcome
In ev'ry mining town.


Originally posted to Hellraisers Journal on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 11:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Sexism and Patriarchy, Shamrock American Kossacks, In Support of Labor and Unions, Anti-Capitalist Chat, and History for Kossacks.

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