Speech of William D. Haywood on the Case of Ettor and Giovannitti

By William Haywood (1912)

Entry 1354


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Untitled Anarchism Speech of William D. Haywood on the Case of Ettor and Giovannitti

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(1869 - 1928)

Big Bill Haywood, Founder and Leader of the IWW

: One of the foremost labor radicals of the American West, "Big Bill" Haywood became a leading figure in labor activities across the United States. (From: Anarchy Archives.)
• "For them it was work or starve. Work or starve it is still, not because nature forces us to do so, but because we have not yet seen our way out of it. We are enslaved not to the soil but to the people who own the machines. The Socialist Movement has come to place the machines, the shops, the railroads, the land and the mines in the possession of the workers. That will mean freedom, security and opportunity for all who live." (From: "Industrial Socialism," by Frank Bohn and William ....)
• "...I know I owe my life to the workers of the nation, it is to the working class of the nation that I am under obligation, not to any subdivision of that class. That is why I am here now. That is why I am talking working-class solidarity, because I want to see the working class do for themselves what they did for me." (From: ...I know I owe my life to the workers of the nati....)
• "For the revolution to be successful, it will have to result in the ownership and control of the land, shops, mines and railroads by the workers." (From: "Industrial Socialism," by Frank Bohn and William ....)

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Speech of William D. Haywood on the Case of Ettor and Giovannitti

 Photo by Ava Babili, CC BY-NC-ND License

Photo by Ava Babili,
CC BY-NC-ND License

On the Case of Ettor and Giovannitti

Coooper Union, New York

Dedicated to the World's Workers,

In Behalf of Ettor and Giovannitti,

By the Speaker


Published By The



The pathway to civic liberty and Industrial freedom is marked with blood, its miles are the cross, stake, gibbet, guillotine, scaffold, and the firing squad. Shall the electric chair be added to that bloody list.-


In a prison cell, accused by capitalists' agents of a crime committed by a policeman.

Ettor and Giovannitti organized the 85,000 Lawrence textile workers, whose wages averaged less than six dollars per week. The bosses were defeated, the mill workers won.

"Let spies and legal kept men follow their instructions and swear against us, our only 'crime' is Loyalty to the Working Class, and if death is to he the reward we will die with a song on our lips."


At Ettor-Giovannitti Protest Meeting, Cooper Union, May 21, 1912.

Haywood was greeted with tremendous applause. COMRADES AND FELLOW WORKERS :

It was the rumble of just applause that gave me courage and strength when I was in the same position as the men in whose behalf we are appealing to you tonight. I feel that my life must have been preserved by you for such occasions as this ; and I feel now that it is not me to whom you are giving this magnificent reception, but the principles for which I stand. (Applause). Your applause i3 but an echo of your hearts, but an echo of your own desires ; and you realize that the men who are in jail at Lawrence, are in jail because they are fight- ing your battles. I felt that when I was in jail in Boise. And I know that without the united action of the workingmen and women of New York City, of the state of New York, of the United States of America and of the world, instead of appealing to you here tonight on behalf of Ettor and Giovannitti, my comrades and I would have been judicially murdered by the authorities of the State of Idaho. The mine owners of Colorado, like the woolen and cotton kings of Massachusetts and the New England states, had determined to bring about our death, even as these vultures of capitalism intend to make horrible examples of Ettor and Giovannitti.


We have heard and are hearing much of the


wonderful victory of the strike in Lawrence. What- ever was achieved there in the way of victory was not accomplished by Ettor and Giovannitti alone; not accomplished alone by the men and women and children who went to make up that one big union of the working class ; but the success of the Lawrence strike was largely due to the support and the influence of the socialist movement of America. (Applause). It was you who came to our relief. When we made an appeal for financial aid it was the socialists who sent nearly three-fourths of all the funds that were raised during that strike. It was the working class of New York City, of Philadelphia, of Manchester and Barre, many of whom were socialists, who took care of the children during the long period of that industrial war. Without the support of the socialists, the strike of Lawrence could never have been won. (Applause). Without the support of the socialist movement, no strike in America can be won. (Applause). And without the support, without the influence, without the power of this great movement Ettor and Giovannitti would be helpless tonight. But they have a right to expect your support. They are of your class. They are a part of the working class movement of America. They have devoted their lives to improving the condition of the downtrodden and the submerged, the unskilled and the unorganized, the common and the despised laborer. Yes, they are entitled to your support; and I know by your response here and by the response that you will give in the future and by the work that you will do among your fellow workers in the workshop and in your socialist locals, that Ettor and Giovannitti are once again to see the sunlight and to carry the message of socialism to the working class.


I remember the last occasion of my speaking in this hall. It was a discussion between Comrade Hillquit and myself. We were not agreed on that occasion as to all points. We. are agreed tonight. At the time of that discussion Joseph Ettor occupied a seat in the audience. He had a telegram in his pocket. You will remember, it was the 11th of January. That telegram was urging him to come to Lawrence. It came from that small part of the working class that had already been organized by the Industrial Workers of the World. It stated that a strike was imminent. Ettor felt that he ought to leave that night. He had some work to do. After leaving the meeting he corrected manuscript on a debate that he had had some time previous. He sat up all night. And the next day he left for Lawrence.

The strike was then unorganized — the workers were in a state of chaos. Ettor showed a wonderful ability, a remarkable personality, a magnetism that few men are endowed with. It was Joseph J. Ettor, supported by Arturo Giovannitti, who brought together that great mass of humanity in Lawrence, Massachusetts : 27 different nationalities, speaking 48 different dialects, organized into one big union; melted, welded, amalgamated so strongly together that the capitalist class with all their machinations were unable to make even a dent in it.


The strike, as you know, was against a reduction of wages. The legislature of Massachusetts, a meddling lot of reformers, without taking into consideration at all what it meant, passed a law reducing the hours of labor of women and children from 56 to 54 hours a week — not taking into consideration the. men. The mill owners, without drafting any .Jaws, on their part immediately tried to dis- place the women in the mills — they were more than 50 percent— by employing men, it being their intention to work the men 12 hours day and 12 hours night shift. But the supply of men in the New England states has about been exhausted. There were not enough to take the places of the women. -As many as there were, were employed. The -mill owners, without drafting laws reduced wages, when the 54-hour law went into effect ; they put 'their thieving fingers into the envelopes of 30,000 mill workers and from each and every envelope extracted an amount that averaged 30 cents for each individual.


Thirty cents is a small sum, not enough to turn a world upside down about. But for 30 cents they turned Lawrence upside down. They put a "bole through Schedule K, that changed the complexion of presidential candidates. They made some presidential candidates look like 30 cents. Thirty cents amounted to a great deal to the textile workers. It was the difference between life and death. You will think that this statement is somewhat exaggerated. Knowing that these people must have been receiving some wages, certainly they could have lived on 30 cents less. But remember: 30 cents was the difference between life and death. You remember the children that were sent to you to take care of, the first 119. When they arrived in New York they were taken to the


headquarters of the Socialist Party on 84th street and after a repast they were critically 'examined by a corps of physicians. It was found, as a result oft such examination, that every one of those 119 children was suffering from malnutrition, that is, starvation. And it was not the result of three or fours days' hunger, but it was a chronic condition. Those children had been starving from birth. They had been starved in their mothers' wombs. And their mothers had been starving before the children were conceived.


When the workers discovered that they hac been robbed of another 30 cents — and it was but a continuation of robberies that reduced them to the terrible condition that they were in. Something told them that action was necessary. They had no common tongue. They could not understand each* other. They had been gathered together by the cupidity of the mill owners as an old sea captain selects his crew, of many tongues, so that there could be no coming together of minds, so that there could be no conspiracy, no mutiny, no strike, no under- standing. But the mill owners overlooked the fact that each one of their workers was equipped with* an organ that spoke the same in all languages, anc that recognized no religion, no color, no nationality. They were equipped with a stomach. And they knew that SO cents less in their envelopes meant a corresponding shrinkage in their stomachs. They knew that 30 cents less in the envelopes meant that some of their children were that much nearer death.

And it was the Italians who shouted, Viva let sciopero!" The Syrians responded, and all the other workers joined in. They went out of the Wood mill. They went to the Washington mill and they took all the workers with them. And from there they went to the Low»r Pacific mills. They approached the bridge across the canal ; the mill owners seemingly had provided themselves for such an occasion. They had a hydrant on the out- side of the mill, guarding the approach of the bridge. On this hydrant was affixed hose ; and streams oi hot and c*r>ld water were turned upon the strikers. They were drenched to the skin. It made then. mad. They were excited, incited. They went to a car loaded with palings and they took those sticks of lumber and they went into the mill and they broke the machinery ; they smashed the windows; they tore the fabric out of the looms. They destroyed much machinery, a few hundred dollars' worth (laughter), as much perhaps as a gang of Harvard students would destroy in one night's debauch celebrating the winning of a foot ball game.


But it was enough. It was the excuse that the mill owners wanted. They called on the mayor for the police. And the mayor sent what police he had. And the mill owners called again. And the mayor sent the fire department to take the place of policemen. Again they called. The mayor sent all the detectives. And he called on the governor for police. And the metropolitan police that we call the gray wolves" came. They came from Boston, from Haverhill, from Salem, from Lynn, from Lowell. The town was crowded with police. And the mill owners were hollering for more police. And the mayor went to the saloons and gathered up all the bums, the material out of which police are made even in times of peace (Applause), and he put a star upon the breast of each one of these noble sons of Massachusetts, a club in their hand and a six-shooter in their pocket, and he started them against the strikers.


The strikers had gotten all over their excite- ment. They were no longer angry. They were marching the streets with bands of music : the Syr- ians with their drum corps with its thrilling Oriental tunes. The strikers kept step. No thought of trouble. But the mill owners,, particularly Mr. Burrell of the Duck mill, kept calling on the mayor for the militia, calling on the governor for the mil- itia. Mr. Burrell was the manager of the mill of which Mr. Turner is president. The mere name Mr. Turner" will not signify anything to you. Mr. Turner is a man of many wives and some wards. He married the last ward after he got rid of his wives. She lived in Brooklyn. They took their honeymoon. It was to Chicago. They had a pal- ace train. Two Pullman cars were reserved for the bride's dogs. When those two carloads of dogs ar- rived in Chicago with their mistress they were taken to a fashionable hotel, registered, assigned to private rooms and were fed on the choicest cuts of meat; porterhouse steak. Dogs eating porter- house steak while the little children of Lawrence were starving to death!

This was the man that wanted the militia. He is the kind of man who own the militia. He is the kind of man who use the militia to protect them in their licentious luxury.

The militia came. And it came to Lawrence, as it goes everywhere, to protect the property of the capitalist class. It did not come to police the town of Lawrence. There was no need of police. The people were quiet. But it came to protect the brick and steel that go to make up the equipment of the mills. And they came, as militia always come, with murder in their hearts. (Applause). And they committed murder.


They killed John Rami, a Syrian boy, 16 years old, too young to die; a bright beautiful boy. He was out on the' picket line that morning with other members of the band to which he belonged. He had a cornet in his hand — the only weapon. A soldier told him to move on. He didn't under- stand the English language well, but saw by the movements of the soldier that he meant that he should go. He turned and was walking up the sidewalk when the soldier plunged a bayonet in his back. It pierced his lung. He fell to the side- walk. They took him to the hospital, and a few minutes after his arrival John Rami expired, the first martyr of the Lawrence strike.


It was only a few days after that the police killed Anna La Pizza. The picket line was out that morning, 23,000 strong, an endless chain of pickets. And the police began to crowd them ; crowded them up Common street, up Union street, down Broadway, until they were massed in so thick that they could not move back any further. Then the policemen began to club them. Some of the sympathizers threw coal from the windows. The strikers themselves threw snowballs and chunks of ice at the policemen. And one of the policemen was hit with a chunk of coal or a chunk of ice on the leg. It was the sergeant. He ordered the policemen to pull out the guns. And as they did, they fired. And officer Benoit is said to have fired the shot that killed Anna LaPizza. Nineteen witnesses saw him fire the shot. Anna LaPizza died, the second martyr to the Lawrence strike.

The second day after she was killed, Joseph J. Ettor and Arturo Giovannitti were arrested for being accessories to her murder. Ettor or Giovannitti would willingly have laid down their lives to have saved the life of Anna LaPizza. (Applause.) It was they who shed tears when they learned that Anna La Pizza had been killed. They were two miles away at the time, speaking at the German meeting. Today they are in jail. They were held without bail, although there was no witness to say that they had had anything to do with the killing of Anna LaPizza. There was no witness to say that Joseph J. Ettor or Arturo Giovannitti had ever spoken an inflammatory word all during the Lawrence strike.


To read the record of the Lawrence strike is to acknowledge that the Industrial Workers of the World is pure in heart, that its conscience is clear and that its hands are clean of any violent work. (Applause). In that strike the workers knew their power. They were organized to exert that power. And the power that they possessed, was their productive power. Though foreigners not having a franchise, most of them women, many of them children — still they had their economic power. They had their labor power. They had the only power that you have got. The only capital that you have got is the one which is done up in your own hide. And they had just as much of that, more valuable to the mill owners than yours would be, because they were skilled in that particular line of work. And they committed no violence except that of removing their hands : big bands, delicate hands, baby bands ; some of them gnarled and torn and crippled. But they removed those hands from the machinery. And when they took those hands away from the wheels of machinery the machinery was dead. (Applause).

And that was the violence" of the Lawrence strike. And there is nothing more violent, in the eyes of the capitalist class, than to deprive them of the labor power out of which they get all their capital. There is nothing that will make the capitalist class so mad, that will make them froth at the mouth so quickly as to see a working man with his hands in his pockets, or a working woman with her arms folded, or the little children playing with their dolls or their tops or their marbles. If they belong to the working army they want all those hands busy. Not to see them busy means that the golden stream has ceased to run into their coffers. And this is what makes the capitalist class crazy. (Applause). This is what has driven them mad. They see that while we realize that we have a tremendous political power and we are every year preparing ourselves to use that political power, there are those of us who also understand the tremendous significance of the power of our labor (applause) ; of the industrial organization ; there are those of us who know that the foreigners in Lawrence have no vote because they have not been here long enough ; and we know that the women couldn't vote, because Massachusetts is not in China ; and we know that the children could not vote, that though they were old enough to work, they were not old enough to say under what conditions they should work. So the only power that they had, was to organize on the industrial field and withdraw from the mills their economic power that the mill owners had been so ruthlessly exploiting. And they went on strike.


It was a wonderful strike, the most significant strike, the greatest strike that has ever been carried on in this country or any other country. Not be- cause it was so large numerically, but because we were able to bring together so many different nationalities. And the most significant part of that strike was that it was a democracy. The strikers handled their own affairs. There was no president of the organization who looked in and said, Howdydo." There were no members of an executive board. There was no one the boss could see except the strikers. The strikers had a committee of 56, representing 27 different languages. The boss would have to see all the committee to do any business with them. And immediately behind that committee was a substitute committee of another 56 prepared in the event of the original committee's being arrested. Every official in touch with affairs at Lawrence had a substitute selected to take his place in the event of being thrown in jail.

All the workers in connection with that strike were picked from material that in the mill was regarded as worth no more than $6 or $7 a week. The workers did their own bookkeeping. They handled their own stores, six in number. They ran eleven soup kitchens. There were 120 investigating cases for relief. They had their own finance committee, their own relief committee. And their work was carried on in the open, even as this socialist meeting is being conducted, with the press on hand, with all the visitors that wanted to come, the hall packed with the strikers themselves. And when this committee finally reduced itself to ten to make negotiations with the mill owners it was agreed before they left that they must meet the mill owners alone.


When they arrived in Boston they found that the mill owners had their lawyers on hand. The strikers objected to the presence of the lawyers. And Mr. Wood the great financier said, Oh, we must have our counsel, we must have our attorneys. ' ' 'Why?" one of the strikers said, Don't you think that you can take care of your end of it as well as we can of ours?" If you insist on having your lawyer, Congressman Henry, why we will have to send down to Lawrence and bring up our adviser Haywood." They finally concluded that they could get along without counselors on either side. Time and again we hear it said that the workers can't do this business for themselves ; that they haven't the education, they haven't the intelligence. And now remember that those Lawrence strikers were on the very lowest stratum. They were receiving wages so low that there were none who had a job so mean that he would leave it to come and scab in Lawrence. They were the people who were said to be the scum of Europe. But they could conduct their own business. And they conducted it successfully.

You will remember now that when the strike was declared, it was to prevent a reduction of wages of 30 cents. When the strike was organized the strikers demanded the reduction of hours, a rein- statement of the 30 cents, and a general increase of 15 percent. In the course of negotiations the adjustment was finally made on the basis of five percent for the highest paid, and 25 percent for the lowest paid, (applause), those who needed it most ; time and a quarter for overtime ; readjustment of the premium system, and no discrimination against any man or woman or kid for the part that they took in the strike. You know, at the time of the great anthracite strike of 1902, John Mitchell, the greatest labor leader that the world has ever known" (laughter) said that in all great battles there are some soldiers that must fall. That is, he said, in effect, that there can be a limited blacklist established. But the Lawrence strikers, the "ignorant workers," said, "We will have no fallen soldiers ; not in this battle." Out of their own wisdom they said there would be no blacklist. And there was no blacklist.


There was a great and wonderful organization, an organization where we saw the Italian coming to the Turk notwithstanding that the war was go- ing on in Tripoli, and inviting him to come up to his kitchen for soup. (Applause). You could see the German reaching across a mulligan stew shak- ing hands with a Frenchman. No question of nationality. 1 have spoken to those Italians in a meeting and asked them what country they be- longed to. And they said, "The Industrial Work- ers of the World. " (Applause).

Nor did that limit their perception. When they saw the power that they had, they realized the necessity of controlling the city in which they lived. And after the strike we find the Socialist Party growing by the hundreds every meeting night. You say the workers can't conduct their own affairs. Let me tell you that in that strike all the money was handled by the strikers. The books- were not well kept ; there will be some questions perhaps as to the disbursement of the funds, and the manner in which they were receipted for. But just remember this ; that when we grow a little bigger we are not going to run a revolution with a set of books. My advice to the workers there at the time the injunction was issued, was to burn the books. (Applause). If it had not been for the fact that a financial report had been asked for, we would have burned the books.


Get used to the manner in which a revolution- ary strike is conducted. Figure in your own minds- as to what it is going to amount to. Remember,, there were as many as 50,000 people, men, women and children on relief during the latter part of that strike, and something less than $80,000 to take care of them for ten weeks. So they handled the finances well. They handled their strike committee well.

When the report came from the mill owners that the concessions were granted, the ten members of the committee brought it to the 112 members. The 112 members carried it out to the different nationalities, where it was voted upon. And when the different nationalities accepted it they met on the Common. Now remember, the town hall meetings in New England states are lawful. Their action is legal. But we didn't have a town hall big enough to hold 27,000. So they met under the vaulted blue tabernacle, on the Common. Do you question whether this organization believes in political action or not? There on the Common the proposition was submitted to the strikers. And I saw men, women and children vote for an increase in wages, for a reduction of hours, for better shop conditions. And that is political action. Every mass action of the working class against the capitalist class is a political action.


And now we are here asking you tonight for more of that kind of action. I wish it were possible for the workers of this country to realize the tremendous significance of the impending trial in Lawrence. If you could realize that any one of you who addresses a handful of men might at some future time following the speech that you make, be sent to jail and tried for murder or any crime that comes out of it. No matter even though you had only said the Lord's prayer at the meeting — the fact that you had addressed a gathering and some crime was perpetrated over which you had no control and which, if you had known about, you would have done anything to prevent — that is the condition you are confronting. Now, there is a manner in which the lives of these men can be saved. When the four cigarmakers in Tampa, Florida, were sent to jail the cigarmakers' union, 10,000 strong, went on a general strike demanding a writ of habeas corpus, and the second day of that strike the men were released from jail. When Durand, the secretary of the coal heavers' union in France, addressed a meeting at Rouen, two months later a man was killed. Durand was arrested and charged with murder^-as a result of his alleged incendiary speech sometime previous. The labor unions of France took up his cause and they threatened a general strike. The result was that the sentence was commuted. Instead of the guillotine he was given 12 years in prison. But the workers said, No; if you can send Durand to prison for twelve years you can send any or all of us to prison. Either throw open the doors or put him to the guillotine." And they went on with their agitation for a general strike. And the result was that the doors of the prison were thrown open and Durand stepped forth a free man.

Here you have the same power. It is going to require all the power you have got. You will have to work harder for Ettor and Giovannitti than you worked even for Moyer, Haywood and Pettibone. The capitalist class are feeling j'our strength. They see the tremendous growth of socialism ; they are going to stop that growth if they possibly can. They are going to stop the growth of unionism. It will require your every effort. And let me appeal to you tonight, comrades, one and all to stand shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand, heart to heart and mind to mind, and you can do for Ettor and Giovannitti even as you did for me. (Tremendous applause).


ETTOR and GIOVANNITTI are in jail for leading the Lawrence strike to success according to Industrial Union methods.

With the Working Class organized according to Industries great improvement and emancipation are possible.

Industrial Unionism is growing by leaps and bounds. Get acquainted with and join the Union of your Class.

Industrial Unionism is by and for the Working Class.


intended for the Ettor-Giovannitti Defense to WILLIAM YATES, Treasurer, Central Building, Lawrence, Mass.

FUNDS SOLICITED! Also address Yates (or all information relating to industrial Unionism.


W. E. Trautmann, Secretary Wm. Yates, Treasurer

W. D. Haywood,

W. E. Trautmann,

Wm. Yates,

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn,

Francis Miller,

Augustus Detollenaere,

Josephine Liss,

Guido Mazzarelli,

Defense Committee.

From : Archive.org


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May 21, 1912
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