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The Court-Martial of Mother Jones

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Quick Overview

Together with Steel's discerning introduction, the transcript of this landmark trial sheds new light on the Paint Creek/Cabin Creek strike and provides insights as well into the Progressive movement, the history of the United Mines Workers, the development of Congressional investigation committees, and the beginnings of the Labor Department. Most of all, it shows the use of an unusual judicial process that created the legal questions unresolved to this day.

The Court-Martial of Mother Jones

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In March 1913, labor agitator Mary Harris "Mother" Jones and forty-seven other civilians were tried by a military court on charges of murder and conspiracy to murder, charges stemming from violence that erupted during the long coal miners' strike in the Paint Creek and Cabin Creek areas of Kanawha County, West Virginia. Immediately after the trial, some of the convicted defendants received conditional pardons, but Mother Jones and eleven others remained in custody until early May. The National outcry over Mother Jones's imprisonment led the U.S 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 overwhelmingly adverse publicity, the governor suppressed publication of the trial transcript. It was long thought to have been destroyed, until Edward M. Steel, Jr. uncovered the trial proceedings amid private papers at the West Virginia and Regional Collection.

Additional Information

Author Edward M. Steel, JR., Editor
Publisher The University Press of Kentucky
Format Paperback
Pages 319
ISBN-10 0813108578
ISBN-13 9780813108575

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