Wobbly; The Rough-and-Tumble Story of an American Radical

Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1948. Presumed First Edition, First printing. Hardcover. vi, 435, [11--including illustrations]. Index. No dust jacket present. Cover has some wear and soiling. Bookplate on fep. Bookseller's stamp on rep. Minor damp staining at bottom of some back pages. Ralph Hosea Chaplin (1887–1961) was an American writer, artist and labor activist. He began work in various union positions. For two years Chaplin worked in the strike committee with Mother Jones for the bloody Kanawha County, West Virginia strike of coal miners in 1912–13. These influences led him to write a number of labor oriented poems, one of which became the words for the oft-sung union anthem, "Solidarity Forever". Chaplin became active in the Industrial Workers of the World (the IWW, or "Wobblies") and became editor of its eastern U.S. publication Solidarity. In 1917 Chaplin and some 100 other Wobblies were rounded up, convicted, and jailed under the Espionage Act of 1917 for conspiring to hinder the draft and encourage desertion. He wrote Bars And Shadows: The Prison Poems while serving four years of a 20-year sentence. Chaplin was very disillusioned by the aftermath of the Russian Revolution and the evolution of the Soviet state and international communism, as he details in his autobiography, Wobbly. Chaplin maintained his involvement with the IWW, serving in Chicago as editor of its newspaper, the Industrial Worker, from 1932 to 1936. Eventually Chaplin settled in Tacoma, Washington, where he edited the local labor publication. From 1949 until his death, he was curator of manuscripts for the Washington State Historical Society. The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), nicknamed "Wobblies", is an international labor union founded in Chicago in 1905. The nickname's origin is uncertain. Its ideology combines general unionism with industrial unionism, as it is a general union, subdivided between the various industries which employ its members. The philosophy and tactics of the IWW are described as "revolutionary industrial unionism", with ties to socialist, syndicalist, and anarchist labor movements. In the 1910s and early 1920s, the IWW achieved many of its short-term goals, particularly in the American West, and cut across traditional guild and union lines to organize workers in a variety of trades and industries. At their peak in August 1917, IWW membership was estimated at more than 150,000, with active wings in the United States, the UK, Canada, and Australia. The extremely high rate of IWW membership turnover during this era (estimated at 133% per decade) makes it difficult for historians to state membership totals with any certainty, as workers tended to join the IWW in large numbers for relatively short periods (e.g., during labor strikes and periods of generalized economic distress). Membership also declined due to government crackdowns on radical, anarchist, and socialist groups during the First Red Scare after World War I. In Canada the IWW was outlawed by the federal government by an Order in Council on September 24, 1918. Probably the most decisive factor in the decline in IWW membership and influence was a 1924 schism in the organization, from which the IWW never fully recovered. Condition: Good.

Keywords: Industrial Workers, IWW, Wobblies, Socialism, Proletariat, Kanawha Miners, Strike, Mother Jones, Solidarity Forever, Joe Hill, Frank Little, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, Bill Haywood, Ricardo Flores Magon, Sacco, Vanzetti, Eugene V. Debs, Harry Bridges

[Book #85677]

Price: $75.00

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