Cartoon art

Item no. 28185
August 1917
Collection: Other

'String 'Em Up' by Ralph Chaplin, Solidarity, August 11, 1917.

At the time of America's entrance into the First World War, a fast-growing IWW was finally maturing into an effective fighting union. In the mines of the southwest, the lumber camps of the north, and the grain fields of Midwest, the IWW was giving employers a run for their money. In an effort to protect their wartime profits, businessmen enlisted public opinion and the power of the state to check Wobbly interference. In the press, IWW views on war and nationalism were cited in an effort to discredit the organization and brand the Wobblies as pro-German conspirators and enemies of the state.

Incensed by spurious news stories about IWW plots of destruction and wrapped up in the frenzy of wartime hysteria, citizens took to the streets to rid their communities of menacing Wobblies. In 1917, 14,000 copper miners in Butte, Montana went out on strike when a fire, caused by the company's neglect of safety regulations, consumed 164 of their fellow workers. The newspapers cried "treason," claiming the strike was an IWW plot to sabotage war production. On August 1, a group of armed vigilantes dragged IWW organizer Frank Little from his bed, took him to the edge of town, and lynched him. To his corpse they pinned a note warning other organizers that they could be next.

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

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