Mary Harris Jones

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Mary Harris Jones, also remembered as ‘Mother Jones’ was an irish immigrant born in 1830. After losing her family to yellow fever she became a motivational public speaker who worked towards the rights of the working class. Jones was a union activist for the knights of labor and helped to organize strikes for the working class. Mother Jones worked on behalf of workers in the railroad, steel, copper, brewing, garment, and textile industries (Mary Harris Jones 1). She was nicknamed Mother Jones by coal miners during a strike that was in response to wage cuts. Jones was viewed as an inspiration. A New York Times article about her describes one of her speeches about her and her ‘army’. She denounced child labor, saying that the children were pitched from the cradle to the factories to sweat out their lives for capitalists (‘MOTHER’ JONES KEEPS MOVING 1). The press brought even more attention to her and her cause, and helped her become a famous public figure. Some of her accomplishments included establishing the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), founding the Social Democratic Party, and being a threat to the rich capitalists. She continued her work for the rest of her life. At around 80 a miner described, Her hair was snow white but she was yet full of fight and that She fired [strikers] with enthusiasm, she burned them with criticism, then cried with them because of their abuses. The miners loved, worshipped, and adored her. . . (Mary Jones 6). She was very passionate about what she did, and workers loved her for it. Jones contributed to the progressive era by calling attention to the pressing issues of child labor, terrible conditions, and unfair wages.

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Mary Harris Jones promoted moral improvement by speaking out against child labor. She also protected social welfare of citizens by organizing and supporting strikes which in many cases prevented rich owners from lowering wages to an unlivable amount in doing this Jones created economic reform. During her life she called out the government many times, saying they should be more accountable and efficient. One example of this was when, as one article describes, She led a parade of 400 children, some of them crippled by industrial accidents, from Philadelphia to New York to publicize the scandal of child labor (5). It goes on to say that Jones planned to visit President Theodore Roosevelt at his Oyster Bay home as a finale, but he refused to meet her (Mary Jones 5). Mother Jones was an important figure in the progressive era, and worked for change.

Today Mary Harris Jones and other progressives from the era would be likely to speak out against some of the policies in place today and the choices being made by our government. For instance a few weeks ago Republican candidate Brett Kavanaugh was chosen by President Donald Trump for the open Supreme Court seat. However Dr. Blasey came forward with sexual assault allegations against him. Despite her emotional testimony and Kavanaugh’s multiple outbursts combined with his outright disrespectful behavior, no evidence was found and he was sworn in. Mother Jones stood for the rights of the working class, against the government and people of power who were treating the working class unfairly. This could translate to the President’s horrible treatment of Dr. Ford and the lack of presence the citizens’ voice has to make changes today.

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Mary Harris Jones. (2019, Jun 24). Retrieved February 7, 2023 , from

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