Mary Harris Jones

Irish-born American labor and community organizer (1837–1930)

Mary Harris "Mother" Jones (August 1, 1837November 30, 1930), born in Cork, Ireland, was a prominent American socialist, labor and community organizer, and a founder of the Industrial Workers of the World.

I'm not a humanitarian, I'm a hell-raiser.


  • Get it straight, I'm not a humanitarian, I'm a hell-raiser.
    • After being introduced as a "great humanitarian", as quoted in Mother Jones : The Most Dangerous Woman in America‎ (2002) by Elliott J. Gorn, p. 3.
  • I don't care about political parties. I went down to the Greenback parties, to the Populist party, in fact I went through them all. I found some of the parties most powerful weapons, but money interest prostitutes them all. Nowhere have you elected a man in this last election that represents you interests. I do not care what political party you put in power because we are of the economical power. We have the power to do and we will do it! They are not going to fool us there. It was not the political party that gained the eight hour day for the railroad man.
    • Speech in Peoria, Illinois. (6 April 1919).
  • Look at this watch of mine. Two hands there, nice looking, but let me take the hands out and it will be no good. It would be useless to, and your two hands are like unto the hands of the watch. You are the tool that move the nation. The Salvation Army, the Y.M.C.A. we build their institutions, pay for them, feed the people and everything. We are going to change that. The page is turned. The world is a moving magnet; a new civilization is coming; the pendulum is swimming as it has never swung before. It behooves to do our duty.
    • Speech in Peoria, Illinois. (6 April 1919).
  • The old condition is passing away. The new dawn of another civilized nation is breaking into the lives of the human race.
    • Speech in Williamson, WV. (20 June 1920)
  • If you ever saw a policeman with a club in his hand, I want to ask you, did you ever see that policeman club a millionaire? But it is "Get out of here, damn you, go on to jail, damn you," if it is a working man.
    • Speech in Princeton, WV. (15 August 1920)

Autobiography of Mother JonesEdit

  • No matter what your fight, don't be ladylike! God almighty made women and the Rockefeller gang of thieves made the ladies.
    • Autobiography of Mother Jones, p. 125
  • If they want to hang me, let them. And on the scaffold I would shout, 'Freedom for the working class!'
    • Autobiography of Mother Jones, p. 146
  • Your organization is not a praying institution. It's a fighting institution. It's an educational institution along industrial lines. Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living!
  • [Regarding the military violence and terrorism against the miners of the 1903 Cripple Creek strike] And why were these things done? Because a group of men had demanded an eight hour day, a check weighman and the abolition of the scrip system that kept them in serfdom to the mighty coal barons. That was all. Just that miners had refused to labor under these conditions. Just because miners wanted a better chance for their children, more of the sunlight, more freedom. And for this they suffered one whole year and for this they died.
  • When I get to the otherside, I shall tell God Almighty about West Virginia!
  • I could have settled it in twenty-four hours… I would make the operators listen to the grievances of their workers. I would take the $650,000 spent for the militia during this strike and spend it on schools and playgrounds and libraries that West Virginia might have a more highly developed citizenry, physically and intellectually. You would then have fewer little children in the mines and factories; fewer later in jails and penitentiaries; fewer men and women submitting to conditions that are brutalizing and un-American.
  • I refer to the United States, the union of all the states. I ask then, if in union there is strength for our nation, would there not be for labor! What one state could not get alone, what one miner against a powerful corporation could not achieve, can be achieved by the union. What is a good enough principle for an American citizen ought to be good enough for the working man to follow.
  • The miners lost because they had only the constitution. The other side had bayonets. In the end, bayonets always win.
  • Organized labor should organize its women along industrial lines. Politics is only the servant of industry. The plutocrats have organized their women. They keep them busy with suffrage and prohibition and charity.
  • I knew it was useless to tell the governor about conditions as I found them. I knew he would be neither interested nor would he care. It wasn’t election time.
  • I do not believe that iron bars and brutal treatment have ever been cures for crime. And certainly I feel that in our great enlightened country, there is no reason for going back to middle ages and their form of torture for the criminal.
  • Human flesh, warm and soft and capable of being wounded, went naked up against steel; steel that is cold as old stars, and harder than death and incapable of pain. Bayonets and guns and steel rails and battleships, bombs and bullets are made of steel. And only babies are made of flesh. More babies grow up and work in steel, to hurl themselves against the bayonets, to know the tempered resistance of steel.
  • Christ himself would agitate against them. He would agitate against the plutocrats and hypocrites who tell workers to go down on their knees and get right with God. Christ, the carpenter’s son, would tell them to stand up on their feet and fight for righteousness and justice on earth.
  • In spite of oppressors, in spite of false leaders, in spite of labor’s own lack of understanding of its needs, the cause of the worker continues onward. Slowly his hours are shortened, giving him leisure to read and to think. Slowly, his standard of living rises to include some of the good and beautiful things of the world. Slowly the cause of his children becomes the cause of all. His boy is taken from the breaker, his girl from the mill. Slowly those who create wealth of the world are permitted to share it. The future is in labor’s strong, rough hands.

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