Mary Harris Jones
The Autobiography of Mother Jones
"You Don't Need a Vote to Raise Hell" (Chapter XXII, pp. 202-204)
(Here Mother Jones describes a trip to New York City in the aftermath of the Ludlow Massacre.)
I came to New York to raise funds for the miners' families. Although they had
gone back beaten to work, their condition was pitiful. The women and children
were in rags and they were hungry. I spoke to a great mass meeting in Cooper
Union. I told the people after they had cheered me for ten minutes, that cheering
was easy. That the side lines where it was safe, always cheered.
"The miners lost," I told them, "because they had only the constitution. The other
side had bayonets. In the' end, bayonets always win."
I told them how Lieutenant Howert of Walsenberg had offered me his arm when
he escorted me to jail. "Madam," said he, "will you take my arm?"
"I am not a Madam," said I. "I am Mother Jones. The Government can't take my
life and you can't take my arm, but you can take my suitcase."
I told the audience how I had sent a letter to John Rockefeller, Junior, telling him
of conditions in the mines. I had heard he was a good young man and read the Bible,
and I thought I'd take a chance. The letter came back with "Refused" written across
"Well," I said, "how could I expect him to listen to an old woman when lie would not
listen to the President of the United States through his representative, Senator Foster."
Five hundred women got up a dinner and asked me to speak. Most of the women
were crazy about women suffrage. They thought that Kingdom-come would follow
the enfranchisement of women.
"You must stand for free speech in the streets," I told them.
"How can we," piped a woman, "when we haven't a vote?"
"I have never had a vote," said I, "and I have raised bell all over this country! You
don't need a vote to raise hell! You need convictions and a voice!"
Some one meowed, "You're an anti!"
"I am not an anti to anything which will bring freedom to my class," said I. "But I
am going to be honest with you sincere women who are working for votes for women.
The women of Colorado have had the vote for two generations and the working men
and women are in slavery. The state is in slavery, vassal to the Colorado Iron and
Fuel Company and its subsidiary interests. A man who was present at a meeting of
mine owners told me that when the trouble started in the mines, one operator
proposed that women be disfranchised because here and there some woman bad
raised her voice in behalf of the miners. Another operator jumped to his feet and
shouted, 'For God's sake! What are you talking about! If it had not been for the
women's vote the miners would have beaten us long ago!'"
Some of the women gasped with horror. One or two left the room. I told the women
I did not believe in women's rights nor in men's rights but in human rights. "No matter
what your fight," I said, "don't be ladylike! God Almighty made women and the
Rockefeller gang of thieves made the ladies. I have just fought through sixteen months
of bitter warfare in Colorado. I have been up against armed mercenaries but this old
woman, without a vote, and with nothing but a hatpin has scared them.
"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."