You ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes.
Monday July 27, 1903
Coney Island, New York - Mother Jones: "Hear the wail of the children."
The Bostock Building was filled to capacity yesterday afternoon as the wild animal show roared to a close and Mother Jones with her Industrial Army made an appearance. The stage was set for Mother with the scenery of a Roman Colosseum. Two Roman emperors stood at the front, thumbs down. In front of the emperors were the empty animal cages with their iron bars. Into these cages Mother placed her little textile laborers. The children clung to the bars while Mother spoke. The aristocracy of the employers reminded her of this scene, she told the audience, for they stand above "with their thumbs down to the little ones of the mills and factories." She also criticized the public for "sitting dumbly by."
The speech continued:
After a long and weary march, with more miles to travel, we are on our way to see President Roosevelt at Oyster Bay. We will ask him to recommend the passage of a bill by congress to protect children against the greed of the manufacturer. We want him to hear the wail of the children, who never have a chance to go to school, but work from ten to eleven hours a day in the textile mills of Philadelphia, weaving the carpets that he and you walk on, and the curtains and clothes of the people.
Fifty years ago there was a cry against slavery and the men of the North gave up their lives to stop the selling of black children on the block. To-day the white child is sold for $2 a week, and even by his parents to the manufacturers.
Fifty years ago the black babies were sold C. O. D. To-day the white baby is sold to the manufacturer on the installment plan. He might die at his tasks and the manufacturer with the automobile and the yacht and the daughter who talks French to a poodle dog, as you can see any day at Twenty-third Street and Broadway when they roll by, could not afford to pay $2 a week for the child that might die, except on the present installment plan. What the President can do is to recommend a measure and send a message to Congress which will break the chains of the white children slaves.
He endorsed a bill for the expenditure of $45,000 to fill the stomach of a Prince who went gallivanting about the country. We will ask in the name of the aching hearts of these little ones that they be emancipated. I will tell the President that I saw men in Madison Square last night sleeping on the benches, and that the country can have no greatness while one unfortunate lies out at night without a bed to sleep on. I will tell him that the prosperity he boasts of is the prosperity of the rich wrung from the poor.
Mother then inturrupted her speech to rebuke a well-dressed young man who was smiling as she spoke. Mother later describe that scene:
I saw a stylishly dressed young man down in the front of the audience. Several times he grinned. I stopped speaking and pointing to him I said, "Stop your smiling, young man! Leave this place! Go home and beg the mother who bore you in pain, as the mothers of these little children bore them, go home and beg her to give you brains and a heart."
He rose and slunk out, followed by the eyes of the children in the cage.The people sat stone still and out in the rear a lion roared
Indeed, lions were heard roaring as Mother continued her speech:
In Georgia where children work day and night in the cotton mills, they have just passed a bill to protect song birds. What about the little children from whom all song is gone?
The trouble is that the fellers in Washington don't care. I saw them last winter pass three railroad bills in one hour, but when labor cries for aid for the little ones they turn their backs and will not listen to her. I asked a man in prison once how he happened to get there. He had stolen a pair of shoes. I told him that if he had stolen a railroad he could be a United States Senator. One hour of justice is worth an age of praying.
You are told that every American born male citizen has a chance of being President. I tell you that the hungry man without a bed in the park would sell his chance for a good square meal, and these little toilers, deformed, dwarfed in body, soul, and morality, with nothing but toil before them and no chance for schooling, don't even have the dream that they might someday have a chance at the Presidential chair.
You see those monkeys in the cages. They are trying to teach them to talk. The monkeys are too wise, for they fear that then the manufacturers might buy them for slaves in their factories. In 1800 the workingmen had the advantage in percentage of the country's wealth. To-day statistics at Washington show that with billions of wealth, the wage earners' share is but 10 per cent. We are going to tell the President of these things. Tomorrow we meet in Madison Square and Thursday we start for Oyster Bay.
The Crusaders spent the night again in the loft of the Bostock Building. The little boys expressed delight with their sleeping quarters. They said that they wish they never had to go back to work in the mills, but could stay and live on Coney Island with Bostock and his wild animal show.
This morning Mother Jones and her Army of textile workers left Coney Island and headed for New York City with one of Bostock's elephants for a traveling companion. They have, reportedly, arranged a meeting with United States Senator Thomas C. Platt.
The New York Times
-of July 27, 1903
The Autobiography of Mother Jones
-ed by Mary Field Parton
Charles H Kerr Pub, 1990
The Miners' Angel
-by Dale Fetherling
So IL U Pres, 1974
Mother Jones Speaks
-ed by Philip S Foner
The Children's Crusade Summary
Day 20: Sunday July 26, 1903
On Coney Island, New York
Mother Jones Speaks following Bostock's Wild Animal Show
(Use with "get directions" on google maps to follow general route of march.)
Note: this speech is the best we have, so far, as an example of a speech by Mother Jones on the subject of child labor. Sources often state that she spoke "for an hour" on child labor at stops along way of The Children's Crusades. The above blockquotes, put all together, take only about 5 minutes, at the most, to read aloud. Hopefully, one day we will discover more sources that will help us piece together an entire one-hour speech on child labor. Although she was known as "The Miners' Angel," child labor was the subject closest to the heart of Mother Jones.
Full-size view of the photo of Bostock's
Sunday July 27, 1913
Keweenaw Peninsula, Michigan - National Guard encamped on company property.
At the request of Sheriff James A. Cruse, and on the orders of Governor Woodbridge N. Ferris, the entire National Guard of the state of Michigan has arrived in the strike zone where the copper miners of the Western Federation of Miners have been on strike now for four days. This includes infantry, cavalry, engineers, two ambulance companies, and three brass bands. They are camping on company property.They are heavily armed with riot sticks and sabers, pistols, Springfield rifles as well two deadly automatic machine guns.
History of the Labor Movement in the United States Vol 5
The AFL in the Progressive Era 1910-1915
-by Philip S Foner
International Pub, 1980
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