Hellraisers Journal: Mother Jones Leads Her Army out of Kensington on the Children's Crusade

You ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes.
-Mother Jones

Tuesday July 7, 1903
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Mother Jones Leads Her Army out of Kensington

Today Mother Jones began what is being called "The Children's Crusade." At 11 o'clock this morning, starting from the Kensington Labor Lyceum, she led her army of 300 men, women and children out of Kensington toward the northeastern Philadelphia neighborhood of Torresdale where they will camp for the night. The little army was accompanied by fifes and drums, American flags, and union banners.

Before leaving Kensington, Mother gave an interview to the North American where she explained her reasons for undertaking the "Children's Crusade." We offer a few quotes from that interview:

The sight of little children at work in mills when they ought to be at school or at play always rouses me. I found the conditions in this city deplorable, and I resolved to do what I could to shorten the hours of toil of the striking textile workers so as to gain more liberty for the children and women. I led a parade of children through the city-the cradle of Liberty-but the citizens were not moved to pity by the object lesson


The curse of greed so pressed on their hearts that they could not pause to express their pity for future men and women who are being stunted mentally, morally, and physically, so that they cannot possibly become good citizens. I cannot believe that the public conscience is so callous that it will not respond. I am going out of Philadelphia to see if there are people with human blood in their veins.

I am going to picture capitalism and caricature the money-mad. I am going to show Wall Street the flesh and blood from which it squeezes its wealth. I am going to show President Roosevelt the poor little things on which the boasted commercial greatness of our country is built. Not one single Philadelphia minister of Christ's Gospel has so much as touched on the textile strike in this city. I shall endeavor to arouse sleeping Christians to a sense of their duty towards the poor little ones.

Understand me, I do not blame the manufacturers individually. They are, I repeat, victims of the competitive system. But I do blame society for allowing such evils to exist and to grow without an effort to destroy them. God help the nation if something is not done for a day of reckoning will surely come and with it bloody revolution.

emphasis added

Mother Jones Speaks
-ed. by Philip S Foner
NY, 1983

Mother Jones
the Miners' Angel
-by Dale Fetherling
So IL U Press, 1974

The Comrade -of August 1903
"Child Slaves of Philadelphia"
-by John Spargo
(Search with title of article, choose p.253
& scroll to bottom of this page for photos of Mother Jones
& John Spargo with strikers, taken on 1st day of the march.)


Monday July 7, 1913
Paterson, New Jersey - Adolph Lessig urges silk strikers to continue the fight.

At the weekly Sunday meeting in Haledon, 5000 silk strikers gathered to hear a speech by Adolph Lessig, local I.W.W. leader. Lessing urged the strikers to carry on with the strike in spite of hardship and hunger. He told the strikers that it may become necessary to live on bread and water. He noted that bread and water is what they got in jail and, if those in jail could live on it, then so could those who are at liberty.

Alexander Scott was also present. He is the Socialist editor of The Weekly Issue who was recently sentenced to 1-15 years in state prison. He is free, for the time being, pending appeal. Copies of the Issue were distributed to the strikers. The Issue strongly condemns the sentencing and imprisonment of Patrick Quinlan.

The New York Times
-of July 7, 1913

Sunday July 7, 2013
From Care2: Kristina Chew reports on Child Labor in Greece

About 100,000 children may be working illegally in Greece, according to an estimate from child protection groups and the Greek ombudsman, reports the Greek daily Ekathimerini. The speculation is yet another sign of how Greece’s economic crisis (Greece is in its sixth year of recession and almost 10 percent of children live in a household in which not even one family member has a job) continues to take a huge toll on all sectors of Greek society.

The actual number of children working illegally — whose parents are unemployed and/or who are Roma or migrants and often without any health coverage — can only be estimated. Most of the work child laborers do is undocumented and therefore very likely to consist of low pay, unsafe and substandard conditions. For example, children working on farms in rural areas are being exposed to agricultural chemicals. Child victims of trafficking or forced labor typically work illegally, so they are not included in labor statistics.

Read full article here:


Shall we let them live forever
In their gilded halls of crime,
With our children doomed to toil beneath their goad?
(song starts at 1:00)

The Commonwealth of Toil by Ralph Chaplin
Sung by Pete Seeger





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