The Court-Martial of Mother Jones
This arrest and conviction came in the latter years of Mother Jones's long career as a labor agitator. Eighty-one and feisty as ever, she was able to focus national attention on the miners' cause and on the governor's tactics for handling the dispute. Over the course of seven months, more than two hundred civilians were tried by courts-martial. Only during the Civil War and Reconstruction had the courts been used so extensively against private citizens, and the trial raised a number of civil rights issues.
The national outcry over Mother Jones's imprisonment led the United States Senate to appoint a subcommittee to examine mining conditions in West Virginia—the first Senate subcommittee ever appointed to investigate a labor controversy. Public sentiment eventually forced a release of the prisoners and brought about a settlement of the strike. In the face of this overwhelmingly adverse publicity, the governor suppressed publication of the trial transcript, and it was long thought to have been destroyed.
Edward M. Steel Jr., an authority on Mother Jones, uncovered the trial proceedings while searching for Jones's manuscripts amid private papers at the West Virginia and Regional Collection. This volume makes available for the first time the transcript of this landmark case in labor and legal history, including an introduction that provides background on the issues involved.
About the Author
"Steel's introduction to the transcript is thoughtful, his editing work meticulous. He is to be commended for making this document available to a wide readership."—Journal of Southern History
"This is far more than simply another book on this remarkable woman. It is a scholarly presentation of an event which demonstrated the raw power of state and industry working in collusion to control labor."—West Virginia History
"Steel provides a long, thoughtful, and complete introduction to the actual trial itself and the dominant role of Mother Jones in the strikes. . . . The combination of primary court documents and an introductory essay is a rewarding marriage in this volume."—Journal of American History