Strike! Lawrence, Massachusetts~January, 1912

The years opens with what will become one of the most famous strikes in American labor history– textile workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Political and social change take place in China, South Africa, Great Britain, Germany, eastern Europe, Ecuador, as well as the cities of Toronto, Canada, Lisbon, Portugal, and Brisbane, Australia.

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January 1–Monday– Nanjing, China– Following three months of fighting and turmoil, leaders of fifteen of the country’s twenty-four provinces elect Sun Yat-sen, 45 years old, as provisional president of the new Republic of China. This marks the beginning of the end of over 2,000 years of imperial rule and the end of the power of the Quing dynasty which has ruled since 1644. Although Sun’s supporters control most of southern China, Yuan Shih-kai retains power in the north as the chief of the Imperial army in Beijing.

January 1–Monday– Toronto, Canada–In municipal elections, Mayor George R Geary, age 38,facing no opponents, wins reelection by acclamation. Two incumbent members of the Board of Control are defeated. Noted Liberal Frank Spence loses his seat but is replaced by fellow Liberal Jesse McCarthy. J. J. Ward, considered a representative of labor also loses his seat. [George Geary dies April 30, 1954.]

January 1–Monday– New York City– The NAACP, founded three years ago, issues its second annual report. The report lists active chapters in Boston and Chicago as well as here and receipts of $10,317.43 for the eight months ending in December, 1911. [That equals approximately $265,000 in current dollars, using the Consumer Price Index.]

January 2– Tuesday– Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada– Birth of Barbara Pentland, composer, musician and educator. [Dies February 5, 2000.]

January 2–Tuesday– Tabriz, Persia– With 4,000 Russian troops occupying the city to protect Russian interests, the Russian authorities execute eight Persian leaders who had supported the Constitutional Revolution between 1905 and 1907. Other such leaders had fled the city.

January 3– Wednesday– Disraeli, Quebec, Canada– Birth of Louise Marguerite Renaude Lapointe, one of the first Canadian women to build a career in journalism and who will serve as a senator from 1971 to 1987. [Dies May 11,2002.]

January 5– Friday– Prague, Austro-Hungarian Empire–At the International Party Conference, Vladimir Ilich Lenin, age 41, and the Bolshevik Party break away from the rest of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party.

January 5– Friday– Nanjing, China– Dr. Sun Yat-sen issues the “Manifesto from the Republic of China to All Friendly Nations,” signaling a major change in Chinese foreign policy with a promise to end the isolationism of the Manchu Emperors and “to rejoin China with the international community.” On the same day, he meets with woman’s suffrage activist Lin Zongsu and pledges to allow women the right to vote in the new republic.

January 5–Friday– Melbourne, Victoria, Australia– Birth of Doris Jessie Carter, athlete who in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin will become the first Australian woman to make it into the Olympic finals. [Dies July 28, 1999.]

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January 6– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– New Mexico is admitted as the 47th state in the Union.

January 6–Saturday– Bordeaux, France–Birth of Jacques Ellul, philosopher, sociologist, law professor and Christian anarchist. [Dies May 19, 1994.]

January 7–Sunday– The Red Sea outside of Kunfida (now Al Qunfudhah in Saudi Arabia)– Seven Turkish gunboats are sunk by three Italian warships as the hostilities begun last September continue.

January 7– Sunday– Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England– Dr. Sophia Louisa Jex-Blake, an English physician, teacher and feminist, dies two weeks away from her 72nd birthday. She was one of the first women to practice medicine in the United Kingdom, a leading campaigner for medical education for women and involved in founding two medical schools for women, one in London and the other in Edinburgh, where she also started a women’s hospital.

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January 8– Monday– Bloemfontein, South Africa–John Dube, Pixley ka Isaka Seme and Sol Plaatie along with a number of the chiefs of indigenous peoples, people’s representatives, and church representatives form the African National Congress [the ANC] to bring all Africans together to work for liberation and freedom. From its inception the ANC represents both traditional and modern elements, from tribal chiefs to church and community bodies and educated black professionals, though women will only be admitted as affiliate members and only after 1930.

January 8–Monday– Port Maitland, Nova Scotia, Canada– Birth of Lawrence Walsh, U.S. federal prosecutor who will gain notoriety during his investigation the Iran-Contra affair.[Dies March 19, 2014].

January 8–Monday– Washington, D. C.– The United States Monetary Commission presents its plan to Congress to establish what will become the Federal Reserve System.

January 9– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– The Democratic National Committee announces that this year’s presidential nominating convention will be held in Baltimore beginning on June 25.

Preparing for the 4th of July parade held by the textile mill committees.

Preparing for the 4th of July parade held by the textile mill committees.

January 11–Thursday– Lawrence, Massachusetts–Women weavers, mostly immigrants, at Everett Cotton Mills realize that the company has reduced their pay by 32 cents and they stop their looms and leave the mill, shouting “short pay, short pay!” and thereby begin what will become know as “the Bread and Roses strike.” [The women earn a little less than $9.00 a week for nearly 60 hours of work. This equals about $231 in current dollars, using the Consumer Price Index.]

January 12– Friday– Berlin, Germany– The first round of the German parliamentary election is held today with 208 seats in the Reichstag at stake.

January 12– Friday– London, England– The General Post Office of the British government takes complete control of the national telephone system, leaving only the United States as the sole major industrialized nation in which the network is privately owned.

January 12–Friday– Lawrence, Massachusetts–Almost 10,00 workers in area textile plants walk out on strike as thousands more join the 1750 who walked out yesterday. At the Washington Mills, the workers turn off the power, cut belts on machines and break light bulbs as they walk out. Half of the strikers are women.

January 13–Saturday– New York City– Speaking at Bryant Hall, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, age 21, and has worked as an I.W.W. organizer for five years, encourages striking waiters to refuse tip-taking and instead to demand a living wage from the hotel and restaurant proprietors. The idea provokes considerable debate among the strikers, many of whom are immigrants, and the final vote is unanimous against accepting gratuities.

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Elizabeth Gurley Flynn

 

January 13– Saturday– Lawrence, Massachusetts– The Evening Tribune reports that “It is felt that the worst uprising in the city has reached its climax and that the trouble will now gradually simmer down to normal conditions.”

January 14–Sunday– Wahoo, Nebraska– Birth of Tillie Lerner Olsen, author and feminist. [Dies January 1, 2007.]

January 15–Monday– Ecuador–The battleship USS Maryland arrives to protect American interests during the violence of the civil war.

January 15–Monday– Paris, France– Birth of Michel Jean-Pierre Debre who will serve in the French Resistance during the Second World War and as the first Prime Minister of the Fifth French Republic from 1959 to 1962. [Dies August 2, 1996.]

January 15– Monday– Washington, D.C.– The Senate votes 58-8 to discuss arbitration treaties publicly rather than in closed sessions. Peace advocates see this as a step forward.

January 15–Monday– Lawrence, Massachusetts–Authorities arrest 36 strikers for throwing snowballs at police officers and militiamen. Organizers of the IWW establish twenty-four hours a day picketing of the mills. The Evening Tribune reports that “Authorities have the situation well in hand.”

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cavalry troopers in Lawrence

 

January 15– Monday– Boston, Massachusetts– The governor orders five companies of state militia to Lowell “to suppress the rioting, to preserve order and to protect property.”

January 16–Tuesday– Ankara, Turkey– The Sultan Abdul Hamid II on his own initiative dissolves the Turkish Chamber of Deputies. Engaged in an expensive and bloody war with Italy since the end of September, 1911, attempting to repel the Italian invasion of Libya, an Ottoman province, the Sultan appears angry and frustrated with the Chamber.

January 17– Wednesday– Lawrence, Massachusetts– At the train station about 3000 strikers and supporters cheer the arrival of “Smiling Joe” Ettor, 26 years old and well known labor organizer and IWW activist. [Ettor dies in California sometime in 1948.]

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January 18– Thursday– Brisbane, Queensland, Australia– Members of the Australian Tramway Employees Association are dismissed from their jobs when they wear union badges to work. Although the Brisbane tramways are owned by the General Electric Company of the United Kingdom, they are managed by Joseph Stillman Badger, an American, who is responsible for the firing of these workers. Later he will refuse to negotiate with the Queensland main union body, the Australian Labour Federation. The terminated workers and supporters march to Brisbane Trades Hall where a meeting is held. In the evening 10,000 people gather in Market Square to protest the company’s action.

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Brisbane tram

 

 

January 18– Thursday– Yaguachi, Ecuador– Over 1,000 people are killed in fighting between troops from the Quito national government and the Guayaquil rebel government.

January 18– Thursday– Roanne, France– Birth of David Rousset, writer and political activist who will survive the Buchenwald concentration camp during the Second World War.

January 18–Thursday– Tientsin, China– American troops occupy the city to protect American interests. The United States is concerned about political instability in China.

January 18– Thursday– London, England– The British Miners’ Federation releases the final tally on a strike vote with 445,801 in favor and 115,921 opposed. The strike, aimed at securing a minimum wage for coal miners, is scheduled begin on March 1.

January 20– Saturday– Berlin, Germany– The second round of Reichstag elections begins with 77 seats at stake.

January 20–Saturday– Lawrence, Massachusetts– Police detectives find a stash of dynamite in an empty room in back of Marad Dye Works and arrest seven people, two of them women.

January 22– Monday– Hamilton, Georgia–A white mob lynches three black men and one black woman.

January 22–Monday– Lawrence, Massachusetts–Almost 22,000 workers are now on strike. Business in town is at a standstill.

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January 22– Monday– Nanjing, China– Sun Yat-sen and Yuan Shih-kai complete negotiations on the unification of the Republic of China, with Dr. Sun agreeing to yield the presidency to Yuan upon the abdication of the emperor.

January 23–Monday– The Hague, The Netherlands– For the first time ever, a number of countries sign a treaty to control drug trade. The International Opium Convention, signed by China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Persia, Portugal, Russia, Siam, the United States and the United Kingdom, provides that the signatories “shall use their best endeavors to control, or to cause to be controlled, all persons manufacturing, importing, selling, distributing, and exporting morphine, cocaine, and their respective salts, as well as the buildings in which these persons carry such an industry or trade.” Other countries are invited to agree to the terms later.

January 24– Tuesday– Lawrence, Massachusetts– At the train station thousands of strikers, their families and supporters cheer the arrival of “Big Bill” Haywood, age 42 and well known labor organizer and IWW activist. In a speech before Haywood’s arrival Joseph Ettor warns the strikers to beware of Pinkerton detectives who may act as agent provocateurs to discredit the workers.

January 25– Thursday– Guayaquil, Ecuador– General Pedro Montero, who had been proclaimed President of Ecuador on December 29, 1911, by rebelling Ecuadorian troops, is sentenced to 16 years in prison. When the sentence is announced, the crowd outside the courthouse nosily protests that the sentence is too light. A number of people rush in, shoot Montero to death, and carry his corpse outside, where others behead and then burn the body.

January 25–Thursday– Berlin, Germany– Voting in elections for the Reichstag concludes today with the Socialists having the largest number of seats, winning 100, and the Radical and National Liberal parties having won 44 and 47, respectively, and the (Catholic) Centre Party taking 91 seats. The results make possible a majority coalition of groups hostile to or ambivalent about the ruling elites of the German Empire; however, distrust and in-fighting among liberals and progressives will, for the most part, leave the government of Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg free to do as it wishes.

January 26–Friday– Beijing, China– A group of 47 generals and commanders of the Imperial Army, all of whom had pledged their allegiance to the monarchy earlier in this month, sign a petition to the Emperor and the regent, asking that the dynasty give way to a republic under Yuan Shih-kai.

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factory in Lawrence

 

January 27– Saturday– Lawrence, Massachusetts– Benoit Clothing Company, a local store, runs advertisements pledging 10% of each days sales to be given to relief of the strikers.

January 28– Sunday– Newark, New Jersey– Birth of Sidney Lens, author, labor organizer and socialist political activist. [Dies June 18,1986.]

January 28– Sunday– Quito, Ecuador– A mob storms the prison where former President Eloy Alfaro and his brothers Flavio and Medardo are being held as prisoners of war since their capture six days ago, and lynches them.

January 29–Monday– Chicago, Illinois– At a meeting of the “No Vote, No Tax League”–a women’s tax resistance group–an intense debate begins when Miss Belle Squire and Dr Cornelia De Bey urge the group to endorse Teddy Roosevelt for President of the United States. Dr De Bay declares that “When he sees that votes for women is a winning issue he will embrace it.” However, the proposal is defeated by a 2-to1 margin.

January 29– Monday– Pierce City, Missouri– Birth of Martha Wright Griffiths, lawyer and judge. She will become the first woman elected to the United States Congress from Michigan as a member of the Democratic Party and the first woman to serve on the powerful House Committee on Ways and Means. She will also be the person most responsible for including the prohibition of sex discrimination under Title VII in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and will finish her distinguished career becoming the first woman elected as Lieutenant Governor of Michigan. [Dies April 22, 2003.]

January 29–Monday– Lawrence, Massachusetts–Police and strikers clash. Annie Lo Pizza, a striker, is shot and killed. The Evening Tribune opines that while strikers appear more confident than ever, “the chaos which prevailed at the early stages of the strike has returned and it seems as if drastic efforts would be necessary to once again restore order. It is possible that the city will be placed under martial law.” In response to the threats of the mayor and business owners, Joseph Ettor declares, “Fine! We will win the strike even if they erect scaffolds on the streets.”

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January 29–Monday– Lisbon, Portugal– A general strike cripples the city as newspapers, stores and theaters are closed and no streetcars run. The government blames strikers for several bombings.

January 30–Tuesday– New York City–Birth of Barbara Tuchman, historian. [Dies February 6, 1989.]

January 30–Tuesday– Chicago, Illinois– In an interview with the Evening Post, former President Theodore Roosevelt goes on record as saying that he would accept nomination for the presidency, though he is not actively seek a return to the White House. The 53 year old Roosevelt has been hunting big game in Africa and lecturing in Europe since leaving office in March of 1909 but is beginning to drift apart from his old friend President Taft.

January 30–Tuesday– Lawrence, Massachusetts–Soldiers bayonet and kill a 16 year old boy who is not a striker. Also, Joseph Ettor and Arturo Giovannitti, IWW labor organizers, are arrested and charged as “accessories” in the murder of Annie Lo Pizza.

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Giovannitti & Ettor

 

January 30–Tuesday– Washington, D. C.– Mrs Lillian M N Stevens, National President of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, and Mrs Mary Harris Armour, of the Georgia WCTU, testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee and encourage the passage of a prohibition amendment to the federal constitution.

January 31– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– A bill introduced today in the House of Representatives authorizes $1,557,583 in payment for Civil War claims– $458,386 to churches and organizations for use of their buildings and property during the war; $1035,560 to individuals fror unpaid invoices for army stores and supplies; and $59,576 to various Union officers whose pay had been withheld for an assortment of reasons.

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