Shall Freedom Die?

Shall Freedom Die?: 166 Union Men In Jail For Labor  (c. 1917) 
by Harrison George
SHALL FREEDOM DIE? Remember! WE are in HERE for YOU. You are out THERE for US; 166 Men in Jail For Labor

Shall Freedom Die?

166 Union Men In Jail
For Labor



Industrial Workers of the World Universal Label




"With reasonable men I will reason; with humane men I will plead; but to tyrants I will give no quarter."

—William Lloyd Garrison.

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To Workers:

The following pages are dedicated to you with the knowledge that when you have read them you will know that a black and ominous conspiracy, unequaled in history, is working to throttle YOUR hopes, shackle YOU to actual slavery and bind YOUR children down as serfs to those who have conspired—the great industrial kings.


WHEN the true history of this decade shall be written in other and less troubled times; when facts now hidden come to light in details now rendered vague and obscure; truth will show that on some recent date, in a secluded office on Wall Street or luxurious parlor of some wealthy club on lower Manhattan, some score of America's kings of industry, captains of commerce and Kaisers of finance met in secret conclave and plotted the enslavement of millions of workers. Today details are obscured. The paper on which these lines are penciled is criss-crossed by the shadow of prison bars; my ears are be-set by the clang of steel doors, the jangle of fetters and the curses of jail guards. Truth, before it can speak, is strangled by power.

YET the big fact looms up, like a mountain above the morning mists; organized wealth has conspired to enslave Labor, and—in enforcing its will—it stops at nothing, not even midnight murders and wholesale slaughter. It has laughed at law, subverted popular government local, state and national, and spread a network of protected villiany from coast to coast.


ON September 28th, 1917, a climax of that conspiracy was reached when a federal grand jury, convoked for that especial purpose and assisted by the shrewdest legal talent of the United States government, returned indictments against 166 officers, members and sympathizers of the Industrial Workers of the World. North, south, east and west; they are now being arrested and brought in irons to Chicago for a trial on the general charge of conspiracy. Organized labor is pitted against organized capital in the greatest contest of history and, to imperialistic capital it shall be a Waterloo of wealth, or, for the spartan I. W. W., it shall mean a Thermopylae of Labor.


THE I. W. W. is a Labor Union admitting any wage worker. It is based upon "The Class Struggle" and acts through "Industrial Unionism." It declares that, "The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of working people, while the few who make up the employing class have all the good things of life. Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class take possession of the earth and the machinery of production and abolish the wage system."

IT says, "Labor is entitled to all it produces," and to get it or any partial increase, Industrial Unionism is needed. "All workers in an industry, or in all industries, if necessary, cease work whenever a strike or lockout is on in any department thereof; thus making an injury to one an injury to all." Every worker in any section of an industry is organized in a Branch of an Industrial Union of all the workers in that industry. These industrial unions are grouped into Industrial Departments of connecting or kindred industries, while all are brought together in One Big union of all the workers of the world—the I.W.W. Workers, not officials, call strikes on or off. All power thereby remains in the hands of the man on the job.

THE I. W. W. knows what it wants and how to get it. A real democracy in action. It is the best loved and most hated—the most vital organization in existence.


AS a background of the present, widely separated struggles with groups of workers have driven the individual capitalist, or corporation, into the present great combination to crush all organized labor. Without assistance by other wealthy interests in influencing authority and muzzling the press, the isolated employer stood chances of losing out in a strike. The muzzled press condemned his brutalities and authority was compelled to make some show of justice. When Carnegie's Pinkertons invaded Homestead, when the "Bull Pens" of Couer D'Alene and the deportations of Cripple Creek aroused Labor and shocked the world, the doers of those deeds were forced to defend themselves. Despite the controlled local press, police powers and courts, outside opinion, un-suppressed, took side with Labor.


VIOLENCE, in labor disputes, is a sign of weakness. The weakest side uses it when defeat threatens. It may here be noted that I. W. W. strikes withdraw, not only one or two crafts, but all crafts, all workers in the shop or industry. That is Industrial Unionism and it places the employer on the weakest side industrially. That is why violence in I. W. W. strikes begins with the employer. It was a policeman at Lawrence, in the great textile strike of 1912, that shot Anna LaPiza; it was a militiaman that bayoneted a Syrian boy striker from behind and left his corpse upon the sidewalk; it was thugs of the American Woolen Company that shot to death a Polish mill worker under cover of darkness. Over 900 arrests, without warrant or right of bail, showed the conspiracy between Woolen Trust and legal authority. Despite these crimes of intimidation the strike was won. Likewise, the silk workers strike at Paterson, New Jersey, in 1913; 1860 arrests of strikers with only two convictions on minor charges; two strikers murdered, one of them being killed as he held his baby in his arms at his door-step—the guilty gunman jailed, but freed without trial.

NOR has the I. W. W. been the only one to feel the Iron Heel. Witness, the Ludlow Massacre of April 23, 1914. That horror was managed from Wall Street by the Rockefellers, who watched the development of the "pogrom" with "unusual interest and satisfaction." The local agents of Rockefeller ruled the Colorado state officials from the governor down. A letter written to John D. Rockefeller Jr. on November 18, 1913, by his agent Mr. Bowers, says, "We have been able to secure all the bankers. Besides the Chamber of Commerce, the real estate exchange, together with many of the best business men have been urging the governor to drive these vicious agitators out of the state." That strike was lost by the U. M. W. of A.

WHEN the great Iron Miners' Strike broke on the Mesaba Range of Minnesota in June, 1916; the Steel Trust met the I. W. W., the only foe capable of winning. For the first time in labor history a strike against the Steel Trust ended with the miners going back to work with their union cards and increased wages in their pockets. Yet the grave of a striker, John Allar, who was murdered by gunmen, witnessed; and the imprisonment at the state penitentiary of three brave and innocent strikers, testifies to, the conspiracy of capital with the state authorities of Minnesota.

ON a hillside near Seattle five members of the I. W. W. lie buried, victims of Sheriff McRae and his band of Lumber Trust hirelings, who shot them down from a wharf at Everett, Washington, on November 5th, 1916. They died, but lumber workers by the tens of thousands rallied to the One Big Union and the Lumber Trust today stands defeated.


CONTROL of states—collusion with local authority—was not enough. The One Big Union of bosses must be organized against the One Big Union of workers. The newspapers, and other means of misinforming the public, must standardize their lies and vituperation. A national opinion must be engendered and centralized upon influencing federal action. Extensive organization was needed.

IN November, 1916, representative of Eight Billion Dollars of corporate wealth met at New York City and organized a program to crush all organized labor. The details and methods to be pursued were not revealed, but from what followed it is evident that Capital means to win, as the I. W. W. is accused of doing, "without regard for right or wrong."

IMMEDIATELY, "anti-syndicalist" laws, aimed to outlaw the I. W. W., appeared simultaneously in many state legislatures; all were written exactly alike and evidently came from a central bureau. Commercial Clubs began new campaigns to exterminate the I. W. W. Then came the war, and the I. W. W., interested primarily in the Class War, was pilloried as "treasonable" and its "leaders" condemned to death—by the newspapers.

STRIKES started before the war, strikes for the eight hour day "sanctioned by society" in 1916, became "treason" when the calendar was turned to April 6th, 1917. Such a torrent of printed calumny and lies as never before was poured upon any organization filled the serpent press against the I. W. W. Violence, even lynching, was openly advocated and had its effect. At Kansas City the I. W. W. hall was raided many times and members were first beaten by militiamen and then arrested by the police. The city attorney openly stating that the militia had "permission to raid the I. W. W. hall whenever they please."


THE old and infamous 'Citizens Alliance' was resurrected and clothed with a new name. "Loyalty Leagues" sprang up wherever there was a strike. Backed by all the powers of wealth, sanctioned by the press as 'patriotic,' these began a series of inhuman atrocities out-running the barbarities of Europe's warring factions. Nearly 1200 striking miners of Bisbee, Arizona, were deported, on July 12th, 1917, into the deserts of New Mexico and set adrift. They would have died of thirst among the desert sands had not an outraged society demanded their rescue. President Wilson wired the governor of Arizona that it was a bad thing to do—yet no action was taken to punish the criminals or return the deported men to their homes and families.

FRANK H. Little, organizer and member of the General Executive Board of the I. W. W., himself a pain-racked cripple, while helping the striking miners at Butte, Montana, was, on August 1, 1917, taken from his bed, at 3 o'clock in the morning, by masked thugs and dragged at rope's end behind an automobile and finally hanged to a railroad trestle at the edge of town. These murderers were commended by the press for their 'patriotic' services. The fiends left behind the signature of their secret organization, the cabalistic sign "3-7-77." Within 48 hours other officers of the I. W. W. received threats of being marked for slaughter and the warnings were signed by other would be murderers with the sign—"3-7-77."

LUMBER Workers, on strike throughout the northwest states for the Eight-Hour-Day, felt the concerted effort of all means of repression. Without show of legality, martial or civil, halls were raided, hundreds arrested, denied right of attorney, thrown into horrible "bull-pens," starved, beaten and shot. Trainmen who expressed sympathy with the strikers were pulled off their engines by militiamen at Pasco, Washington, and sent to "bull-pens" incommunicado.

AT different points in the Yakima Valley; namely Ellensburg, Pasco, and Yakima, Washington, troops from Oregon, abrogating all the powers of civil procedure, without any declaration of martial law, and directed by Commercial Clubs, arrested hundreds of men without warrant, held them without charges, denied them access to attorney, bailment and trial by jury for no other reason than that they carried I. W. W. membership cards. And these men's forefathers bled and died in a thousand battles that human rights—now ignored—could be written in the supreme law of this nation.

A reign of terror by "Commercial Clubs," "Safety Committees" and "Loyalty Leagues" of a dozen states was directed against the I. W. W. and volumes could be written of their beastial crimes. At Klamath Falls, Oregon, a lawyer attempting to defend members of the I. W. W. was driven out of town and threatened with lynching. Likewise, Fred Moore, attorney for the I.W.W., who went to Bisbee, Arizona, under express and written authorization from Governor Campbell of that state, was deported by the sheriff and the "Loyalty League." Evidently, the Copper Trust had faith that an authority, greater than that of the state, protected its crimes.

ABERDEEN, South Dakota, was another city where Commercial Club members beat up scores of workers and where no man wearing overalls was safe from sluggers.

On the night of July 23rd, 1917, as G. J. Bourg, the Branch Secretary of the Agricultural Workers Industrial Union, passed the Commercial Club Building on his way home. He was seized and taken to jail. At 2 o'clock in the morning he was taken from the cell and thrown into an automobile containing the Chief of Police and two sluggers. More brave champions of "Law and Order" awaited them outside of town, where Bourg was held face to the ground while Aberdeen's "best citizens" beat him with heavy clubs. Brutal? Yes! Unlawful? Certainly! A chance of legal remedy? Not the slightest!

AT Franklin, New Jersey, on August 29, 1917, John Avila, an I.W.W., was taken in broad daylight by the Chief of Police and an auto load of "business men," to woods near the town and there hung to a tree. On second thought they cut him down before death came and, unconscious and bleeding, they returned him to town where a "judge," who was paymaster for the mining company, sentenced Avila to three months at hard labor.


NOR are all these incidents to be regarded as arising spontaneously from local situations. There is evidence to be disclosed, there are circumstances to be revealed, that point suspiciously to complicity by federal secret agents, backed by wealth, in acts that would shame Russia in her darkest days of oppression.

And those officials who stand supine and indifferent while the organic law, which gave this government its life, is superciliously set aside by potential oligarchy; who with commendatory complacency view the most fundamental of human rights—that were torn from tyrants by centuries of bloody struggles—wrenched violently from the citizenry; these cannot come before the people with clean hands and cover a death thrust at basic democracy with a glamour of cool and impartial justice.

What followed proved that government officials are, as Marx stated, "But an executive committee to carry out the wishes of the ruling class." Public opinion corrupted and intimidated by the press was prepared for the program, and then—


ON September 5th, 1917, at 2 P. M. (Central time) an army of federal officers swooped down upon every I. W. W. hall and office from Maine to California. They seized every scrap of paper, written or printed, all records and files. Everything was sent to the grand jury at Chicago and the search for "German Gold" began. Yet expert auditors after conceding that the books were kept excellently, reported that the "German Gold" was a myth. It was a great blow—to the newspapers. "But something must be done—the I. W. W. must be crushed," and so—


IT was discovered that the I. W. W. not only detested the Kaiser of Germany, but also hated the Kaisers of American industry. They had "unlawfully and feloniously" failed to distinguish between a civilized deportation of miners by the Copper Kings of Arizona, and the barbarous deportation of Belgians by the Kaiser. Indictments against "William D. Haywood, et al.," were returned. Reduced to bald facts and few words the indictments charge that, "The I. W. W. is guilty of treason to the profits of the employing class of America." It took forty pages of legal phrases and dignified rhetoric to conceal that statement. Briefly, the counts are that the entire official family of the I. W. W. conspired to:

1. Abolish the wage system of Capitalism. Hinder the war program by publishing the Preamble to the I. W. W. Constitution, newspapers and literature. The routine work of correspondence, etc., for the union is crime.

2. Translated into plain English, this charges the I. W. W. with going out on strike. (Some excellent 'camoflage' used to slip this over on Labor—Mr. Unionman).

3 and 4. The counts are but screens to cover up and conceal the "Joker." To put across such a bare-faced attack on labor as the other counts include, the plea of "military necessity" and the charge of military offences must be made. "Opposition to Registration" and "Sedition" are used as "red herring" to throw off the scent from the main issue. These charges are certain to collapse as the I. W. W. took no official cognizance of the war—one way or the other. Its war was the Class-War and its atitude neither Pro-War nor Pro-German, but distinctly Pro-Labor; and that fact was unforgiveable in the eyes of the employing class.

5. Circulating literature advising workers to treat the boss the same way the boss treats the workers. Counseling the laborer to consider his own interest more than his employer's profits.


FOR its uncompromising faithfulness to Labor, the I. W. W. goes to trial. The majority, the most important, of these charges can be laid upon any labor union worthy of the name. As James H. Maurer, President of the Pennsylvania Federation of Labor, said in a recent speech, "Today it is the I. W. W.; but tomorrow it will be the A. F. of L." The right of Labor to organize unions, the right of those unions to go on strike, is on trial with the I. W. W.


AT the same time the I. W. W. announce to the world its counter charge of Conspiracy by Capitalism. Back into the face of the Employing Class we hurl this indictment:

The Employing Class of America has conspired to:

  1. Maintain the wage slavery of the working class of America.
  2. Continuing an industrial system where "hunger and want are found among millions of working people, while the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life."
  3. By force and violence, hindering and delaying human progress and realization of industrial freedom. Murdering workers and breaking every law of God and man.
  4. Inaugurating an industrial oligarchy that has wiped out those rights that are the heritage of the ages.
  5. Endeavoring to exterminate labor movements by such schemes and artifices as the Chicago indictments against the 166 Industrial Workers of the World.

IN proof of the charges enumerated above, the I. W. W. offers the foregoing pages and the facts of industrial history; and a verdict of "Guilty" is asked, not from twelve men of doubtful wisdom, but from the jury of bleeding and exploited Labor the wide world over.

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  • Olin B. Anderson
  • Aurellio Vincente Azuara
  • Charles Ashleigh
  • John Avila
  • Carl Ahlteen
  • George Andreytchine
  • Jos Barick
  • Charles Bennett
  • Arthur Boose
  • John Baldazzi
  • George Bailey
  • James Burch
  • Roy A. Brown
  • R. J. Bobba
  • Richard Brazier
  • Dan Buckley
  • Julio Blanco
  • Nick Berbore (Verhore)
  • J. R. Baskett
  • G. J. Bourg
  • J. H. Beyer
  • Stanley J. Clark
  • McGregor Cole
  • Ed Cunningham
  • Pedro Cori
  • Ernest P. Condit
  • Ray Cordes
  • Ralph H. Chaplin
  • Roger S. Culver
  • Alex Cournos
  • Arthur C. Christ
  • J. T. Doran
  • E. F. Doree
  • Pete Dailey
  • C. W. Davis
  • Stanley Dembrieki
  • James Elliot
  • Jos. J. Ettor
  • Forest Edwards
  • Phineas Eastman
  • B. E. Fabio
  • Meyer Friedkin
  • John M. Foss
  • Ben Fletcher
  • Joe Foley
  • Lizzie Flynn
  • Ray S. Fanning
  • Ted Fraser
  • Sam Fisher
  • J. Fishbein
  • Peter Green
  • H. A. Giltner
  • Joe Graber
  • C. R. Griffin
  • Fred Goulder
  • Charles Carcia
  • Jos. J. Gordon
  • Harrison George
  • Jack Gaveel
  • Arturo Giovannitti
  • James Gilday
  • Ed Hamilton
  • Clyde Hough
  • F. Humphrey
  • William D. Haywood
  • George Hardy
  • Harrison Haight
  • Dave Ingar
  • C. A. Jones
  • Ragnar Johanson
  • Fred Jaakola
  • Otto Justh
  • Charles Jacobson
  • Charles R. Jacobs
  • Peter Kerkonen
  • Charles Kratspiger
  • Phil Kurinsky
  • Wm. Kornuk
  • Ben Klein
  • H. J. Kane
  • Jas. Keenan
  • A. P. Kimball
  • Jack Law
  • Leo Laukki
  • Vladimir Lossieff
  • ———— Lanikos
  • W. H. Lewis
  • Bert Lorton
  • Harry Lloyd
  • Morris Levine
  • Charles L. Lambert
  • H. H. Munson
  • ———— Mowes
  • Wm. Moran
  • James H. Manning
  • N. G. Marlatt
  • Herbert Mahler
  • A. Martinez
  • John Martin
  • Edward Mattson
  • W. E. Mattingly
  • Francis Miller
  • Joe McCarty
  • Charles McWhirt
  • H. E. McGuckin
  • Peter McEvoy
  • Herbert McCutcheson,
    or E. J. McCosken
  • Charles H. McKinnon
  • J. A. McDonald
  • Walter T. Nef
  • Pietro Nigra
  • Geo. Numcoff
  • Fred Nelson
  • J. V. O'Hair
  • Jos. A. Oates
  • Paul Pika
  • Lewis Parenti
  • Grover H. Perry
  • Albert B. Prashner
  • John Pancner
  • James Phillips
  • Charles Plahn
  • Walter Reeder
  • Abraham Rodriguez
  • Glen Robert
  • Fred C. Ritter
  • Frank Reiley
  • Frank Russell
  • Manuel Rey
  • J. E. Rogers
  • James Rowan
  • Charles Rothfisher
  • Herman Reed
  • C. H. Rice
  • Ed Rowan
  • Sigfried Stenberg
  • Geo. Stone (Lowenstein)
  • Alton Soper
  • Walter Smith
  • Ben Schraeger
  • George Speed
  • Jos. Schmidt
  • Archie Sinclaire
  • Sam Scarlett
  • Vincent St. John
  • Wm. Shorey
  • Abe Schram
  • Don Sheridan
  • J. P. Sullivan
  • James Slovick
  • Wm. Tanner
  • John I. Turner
  • Louis tori
  • Harry Trotter
  • James P. Thompson
  • Carlo Tresca
  • Jos. Usapiet
  • Albert Wills
  • John Walsh
  • Ben H. Williams
  • Franz Westerlund
  • Pierce C. Wetter
  • R. J. Wright
  • Wm. Weyh
  • Wm. Wiertola
  • Salvatore Zumpana



Duty to Yourself and to Your Class Calls You To Aid in Defense of the 166 Prisoners


WM. D. HAYWOOD, Sec'y-Treas.



This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1926. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).