STORIES
Angels

Mother Jones

by Cristian Ibarra from TMMS Chicago

 

Mother Jones by Bertha Howell [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Mother Jones
Photo: Bertha Howell [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Mother Jones was born in Cork Country, Ireland; her and her family came to North America to escape the Irish famine. As a girl she spent her time in Canada and trained to be a dressmaker and teacher. No one really knows her actual date of birth but they suggest between 1830 and 1844. In her early 20's she moved to Chicago where she worked as a dressmaker. Later she moved to Memphis, Tennessee where she met and married her husband George Jones. They had four children but unfortunately they had caught the yellow fever. The kids and her husband had died and all she could do was watch.

After Mother Jones's kids and husband died she moved back to Chicago where she opened up her own shop. Again tragedy hit her; she had lost her shop during The Great Chicago Fire, during 1872. After the fire, Mother Jones started to travel the country. During this time the world was changing in work conditions. She moved from state to state and city to city to help workers and their struggles. In Kansas City, she advanced work for a group of unemployed men who marched to Washington, D.C. to demand jobs. In Birmingham, Alabama., she helped black and white miners during a nationwide coal strike.

Mother Jones walking with mill children (http://www.eoearth.org/article/Mother_Jones_Speaks_to_Striking_Coal_Miners_(historical))

Photo: Encyclopedia of Earth [Public Domain]

Mother Jones walking with mill children

"In June 1897, after Mary went to the railway union convention, she began to be referred to as "Mother" by the men of the union. The name stuck. That summer, when the 9,000-member Mine Workers called a nationwide strike of bituminous, also known as soft coal, miners and tens of thousands of miners stopped working and put down their tools, Mary arrived in Pittsburgh to assist them. She became "Mother Jones" to millions of working men and women across the country for her efforts on behalf of the miners." (aflcio.org)

"Mother Jones also was very worried about child workers. During a silk strike in Philadelphia, over 100,000 workers including 16,000 children left their jobs over a demand that their hours be cut from 60 to 55 hours." (aflcio.org) To attract attention to the cause of abolishing child labor, Mother Jones called her friend who worked as a reporter in New York, she had him take pictures and write the children's stories. She had tried to ask the Philadelphia reporters to do the story but they had refused because the children's bosses ran the news too.

After the march in Philadelphia, Mother Jones decided to have a march to New York so she could talk to Theodore Roosevelt. The march of Mother Jones was long; it was 125 miles to Oyster Bay with thousands of children that worked in mills. The owners of the mills were not doing anything to help these children; they just wanted the children to work all day so that the mills could make money. Children were getting seriously injured in these mills like getting their hands crushed or chopped off or their fingers were missing.

Children who worked instead of being in school (http://explorepahistory.com/displayimage.php?imgId=1-2-121B)

Photo: explorepahistory.com [Pubic Domain]

Children who worked instead of being in school

The reason why I have chosen Mother Jones as my hero goes on and on, she is the mother of mothers. Mother Jones had lost so much but still had the will to move on and help others without one complaint and to me that is a true hero. I did not see anyone that had the courage to do what she did, especially for kids. If it wasn’t for her I would be working now and could be a kid with only three fingers. Mother Jones never stopped, she did not stay quiet, she fought for what she believed and that is what a hero is. That is Mother Jones.

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Page created on 1/11/2012 12:03:12 PM

Last edited 8/20/2018 7:08:13 PM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

Mother Jones bio on AFL-CIO - The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) is the largest US federation of trade unions, established in 1955.
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