Drawing / print

Item no. 28196
July 1913
New York
Collection: Wagner Labor Archives

"The Pageant of the Paterson Strike", Program Cover of the Paterson strike pageant.

With the strike fund dwindling and under escalating pressure from Paterson authorities, the IWW groped for a winning strategy. They believed they found such a strategy when they met up with John Reed. Reed conceived the idea of making the Paterson strike into a pageant which would be put on and performed by the strikers themselves. Through ticket sales the IWW could replenish its strike fund and the plight of Paterson's silk workers would receive publicity the way that of Lawrence strikers' had.

The first labor play in American history took place on June 7, 1913 at Madison Square Garden before an audience of 15,000. Although a highly creative achievement, the play was a strategic blunder. Far from raising funds for the strike, the expense of putting on the pageant actually created a deficit. Furthermore, the play diverted the time and energy of the strikers at a time when scabs crossing the unmanned picket line. Financially desperate and thoroughly disheartened, the Paterson silk workers slowly made their way back to the mills under the same conditions they had originally left it.

See this image in the Solidarity Forever: A Look at Wobbly Culture exhibit.

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