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Nationalism, Populism, and Internationalism in the Lyrics of the Little Red Songbook (1909-1917) [1]

By Jackson Albert Mann


Joe Hill and the Defense of Song

On February 20th, 1913, a short article entitled “The People” appeared in the pages of the Industrial Worker, the main publication of the Spokane, WA, local of the U.S.-based international industrial labor union the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). In a few brief paragraphs, the author attacked the continued inclusion of James Connell’s British labor anthem “The Red Flag'' within the pages of the Little Red Songbook (LRS), the IWW’s flagship cultural initiative. The author cited the song’s opening line, “the people’s flag is deepest red,” as grounds for its exclusion or possible rewriting.[2] “Who are the people?” the author asks before going on to demonstrate through a number of comical examples how populist gestures, such as those invoked by Connell, had been used by U.S. politicians to deceive working class citizens.[3] After moving on to a humorous anecdote meant to highlight how populist discourse in mainstream politics almost always refers to those of the middle class, the author ends the article by stating “it is about time that every rebel wakes up to the fact that ‘the people’ and the workingclass [sic] have nothing in common,” a play on the opening lines of the IWW’s famous preamble.[4] [5]

The author of this article was none other than Joe Hill, the most famous of whom labor organizer and historian Daniel Gross has called the IWW’s “worker-scholar-poets”—members of the union who constantly switched between roles as rank-and-file workers, organizers, theorists, administrators, and artists.[6] Hill, a Swedish immigrant, was born on October 7th, 1879 as Joel Emmanuel Hägglund in the coastal town of Gälve, Sweden. By all accounts, he was a talented musician from a young age. Both of his parents had some musical training, teaching him and his siblings to play organ “as soon as they could reach the keys.”[7] According to Ester Dahl, his only surviving sibling by the time scholarly inquiry into his life began, Hill started composing what she called “teasing songs” as a child, as well as contrafacta of popular Swedish Salvation Army hymns.[8] In an interview in 1956, Dahl recalled Hill beginning to compose his own original music in his late teens, around the mid-1890s.[9] In 1902, he and his older brother Paul immigrated to the United States. They arrived in New York City, where Hill worked part-time as a professional pianist and janitor, before leaving to find better work elsewhere.[10]

Like much of the U.S. working class in the early 20th century, Hill became a full-time migrant laborer, taking whatever small jobs he could get before moving on. By late 1905, he had arrived on the West Coast.[11] A short article that he published in the Industrial Worker reveals that he joined the IWW sometime in 1910.[12] After moving to San Pedro, California, he quickly became a dedicated member of the local organization as a rank-and-file longshore worker. He also began to publish numerous articles, songs, poems, and cartoons in the union’s national multilingual press, mostly in the pages of the Industrial Worker and the LRS. By 1913, Hill had become the best known songwriter in the IWW, as well as moderately famous within the larger U.S. labor movement, as a result of his witty contrafacta. Many of these lyrics were written for specific organizing drives, labor actions, and strikes undertaken by the union. After a decade on the West Coast, in January of 1914, Hill began to make his way back East with the intention of settling in Chicago.[13]

Hill’s 1913 article was not the last time he would become involved in debates regarding the role of music and song in the IWW. On November 19th, 1914, a few months after he was arrested and imprisioned in Utah as a suspect in a Salt Lake City murder, an article of Hill’s was published in the IWW journal Solidarity, in which he defended the growing use of songs by the union as educational material. After mentioning a number of suggested corrections to the LRS, Hill argued that “a pamphlet, no matter how good, is never read more than once, but a song is learned by heart and repeated over and over.”[14] He continued, asserting that:

"...if a person can put a few cold, common sense facts into a song, and dress them (the facts) up in a cloak of humor to take the dryness off of them, he will succeed in reaching a great number of workers who are too unintelligent or too indifferent to read a pamphlet or an editorial on economic science."[15]

Why did Hill feel the need to voice his opinions on the IWW’s use of song around this time? Although he had been writing short articles for the IWW press for over three years, he had never felt the need to publicly defend his work before.

In many ways, Hill’s songs were not particularly different from other anglophone labor music. The majority of his lyrics contained the typical invocations of working class power, as well as the classic critiques of capitalism, bad working conditions, low wages, and hypocritical employers. However, many of Hill’s songs went a step further than his contemporaries, openly denouncing the particularities of religion, nationalism, and racism in the U.S.

Hill was not breaking with any official positions of the union in making such direct critiques. Although no union leaders ever described the IWW as a revolutionary syndicalist organization, an “examination of the language used in newspapers, pamphlets, books and speeches of the IWW, reveals ideas, concepts and theories (although not all tactics) that are almost indistinguishable from those espoused by European union militants who described themselves as syndicalists.”[16] The union was also international, officially dedicated to the construction of “one big labor alliance the world over.”[17] Although its institutional backbone always remained in the United States, by 1911, the IWW had small national chapters in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia.[18] It maintained global affiliations with other syndicalist labor unions, such as the Spanish Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT), and even briefly joined the Soviet Union-initiated Red International of Labor Unions (RILU) in the early 1920s.[19] [20] While the IWW was never officially anti-nationalist, the global revolutionary project the union was founded to support was, by default, opposed to U.S. nationalism. The ideological orientation of Hill’s songs was well-aligned with this project, and this may be why his lyrics were particularly popular with the membership. Yet, he still felt it necessary to defend what he was doing.

Despite the ideological positions of the IWW, I believe that the particularly explicit anti-nationalist, anti-religious, and anti-racist elements of Hill’s lyrics were disturbing to a number of fellow members, especially those who had previous experience in earlier anglophone left-wing politico-cultural movements. Similarly to how Benedict Anderson contends that “official nationalism” over-determined the ways in which 20th century revolutionary anti-colonial leaderships could imagine the post-colonial future, I argue that earlier anglophone left-wing working class discourses may have over-determined the parameters of acceptable discourse within the cultural production of the IWW.[21] Though I have found no evidence of direct attacks on Hill’s lyrics, there is evidence that implicit critiques were made of his music by other IWW members in the union’s press, as well as further possible proof that continuing inclusion of Hill’s songs in the LRS initiated a struggle for editorial control of the Songbook.

The work of developing an international working class culture among a diverse population with a multiplicity of national, cultural, and ethnic loyalties is complex. In the early 20th century U.S., this complexity was made even more difficult by the presence of multiple insurgent anglophone discourses derived from the dominant national culture and which often carried over the implicit white supremacist and nationalist sentiments of that culture, impeding the work of building international, multi-racial solidarity. Revealing how these tensions played out within the cultural discourse of the IWW is important, not only because it is historically interesting, but because it holds lessons for communist organizers engaged in similar work today.


The Development of the Little Red Songbook

Although the IWW was founded in 1905, the union suffered a series of early setbacks which postponed the construction of a functioning administration. Between 1905 and 1906, political confrontations exploded between cliques jockeying for the power to affiliate the union with competing socialist political parties, specifically Daniel DeLeon’s Socialist Labor Party (SLP) and Eugene V. Debs’ Socialist Party of America (SPA). The “comic opera circumstances of the [1906] second convention,” which included physical confrontations, political intrigue, and even the arrest of IWW leaders Bill Haywood and Charles Moyer, led the Western Federation of Miners (WFM), the union’s original institutional spine, to slowly back out of the IWW between 1907 and 1908.[22]

Following this debacle, another year-long political confrontation took place when DeLeon, who, having politically survived the previous convention, attempted to affiliate the IWW to his SLP in 1908. However, DeLeon was outmaneuvered. A delegation of West Coast members led by organizer J.H. Walsh formed a coalition with DeLeon’s former political ally, Vincent St. John. This coalition voted to oust DeLeon from the union’s leadership. With DeLeon gone, there was very little incentive to affiliate with any political party and one of the IWW’s most famous principles, non-affiliation with political parties, was born as an accident of this political maneuvering.

By the end of the 1908 convention, the IWW had fought through most of the major political differences within its leadership and was ready to begin organizing. This included the rapid construction of an unprecedentedly large print-media infrastructure. The unparalleled size and scope of this project was not without purpose. Anticipating a later statement by Russian Revolutionary V.I. Lenin, Haywood argued in 1905 that the IWW’s primary goal was to go “down into the gutter to get at the mass of workers,” referring to the tens of millions of immigrant and Black working class citizens that had been ignored by the U.S. Government and the American Federation of Labor craft unions.[23] [24] A print-media infrastructure of extraordinary size would be necessary to reach and educate the multicultural, multiethnic, multiracial, and, most importantly, multilingual mass of U.S. workers. By the early 1910s, the union was publishing newspapers in at least twelve languages.[25]

Saying that the IWW encouraged member participation in its publications is an understatement. Print-media was such an integral part of life in the union that when members were arrested for striking, as they often were, it was common for them to “set up their own circulating prison libraries [and] publish a handwritten I.W.W. prison newspaper.”[26]

The IWW began publishing lyrics in its print-media early on. Additionally, the practice of selling “song cards,” small pocket-sized cards on which were printed witty IWW-themed contrafacta, had begun as early as 1908, when it was suggested by J.H. Walsh as a promotional and educational strategy.[27] [28] Walsh, who, during the first years of the union had been charged with establishing an IWW presence in Alaska, was relocated to the rapidly growing Spokane local as National Organizer. He arrived just after the end of the 1908 convention.[29]

Spokane was “the job-buying center for thousands of migratory workers who labored in the agricultural, mining, and lumber industries” of the Pacific Northwest.[30] The critical mass of migrant workers attracted all sorts of shady operators, often called employment sharks, who would prey on workers' desperation by promising non-existent jobs for a fee. One of the primary goals of the IWW in Spokane was to warn “incoming workers of the treachery of the sharks.”[31] Soon after arriving, Walsh “organized a red-uniformed I.W.W. band to [...] compete [with the Sharks] for the attention of the crowds.”[32] Combining two good ideas, Walsh also began to sell song cards containing contrafacta that the band performed around the city.[33] It was these song cards that “blazed the trail for the larger songbook [the LRS] to come, a songbook of lasting fame, and one that would make the I.W.W. known in all corners of the earth.”[34]

Inspired by Walsh’s project, the General Executive Board of the Spokane IWW voted to draft plans for the publication of an official union songbook, organizing a Songbook Committee in December of 1908. The Committee, headed by songwriter Richard Brazier, quickly compiled a set of songs with a focus on “local talent,” developed a distinctive red graphic design, and agreed on a print run of 10,000 copies.[35] The first edition of the LRS was published in January 1909 and “sold out in under a month.”[36] The LRS went on to become one of the best-selling pieces of IWW literature. For instance, by “the mid-1910s, the usual [yearly] print-run was 50,000 copies; by 1917 it was up to 100,000.”[37]


Populism, Nationalism, Internationalism, and the Struggle for the Little Red Songbook

While Hill’s 1913 article focuses specifically on the first line of the first song included in the original LRS, he was most likely responding to the first edition as a whole, which was dominated by the songs of the aforementioned Richard Brazier. Out of twenty-four songs, fifteen were composed by Brazier. His lyrical style is typical of anglophone labor songs, imploring the workers to “unite, unite / in one union grand” in order to “overthrow their masters’ might.”[38] [39]

However, Brazier and his fellow committee members also included a number of anonymously composed lyrics, two of which invoke ‘the people.’ For example, “Walking on the Grass,” a contrafacta of the Irish ballad “The Wearing of the Green,” begins with these lines:

In this blessed land of freedom where King Mammon wears the crown There are many ways illegal now to hold the people down[40]

The second set of lyrics, titled “A Song for 1910” contains this verse-chorus set:

Long in their bondage the people have waited. Lulled to inaction by pulpit and press; Hoping their wrongs would in time be abated, Trusting the ballot to give them redress, Vainly they trusted; a high court’s decision Swept the last bulwark of freedom away; The voice of the people is met with derision, But a people in action no court will gainsay.


Then up with the masses and down with the classes, Death to the traitor whom money can buy. Co-operation’s the hope of the nation, Strike for it now or your liberties die.[41]

In the first example, ‘the people’ invoked by the author are held down through illegal means, implying that authority over the definition of legality can be claimed by ‘the people’ as, in the words of historian Eric Hobsbawn, a “right by custom from time immemorial.”[42] As will be demonstrated, Hill interprets workers’ notion of ‘legality’ as a progressive concept as naïveté. According to Hill, the concept of legality is a tool to be used by capitalists to dominate the working class.

While the second set of lyrics are less trustworthy of ‘the people’s’ ability to claim any legal rights, it invokes another concept that is later ridiculed by Hill: the nation. The chorus argues that the nation, implicitly made up of the people and their liberties, is in danger, but can be saved through cooperative ownership. According to this conception, the nation is not a tool of the ruling class, but a living body of citizens that has been sickened by capitalist’s corrupt behavior. It can be rejuvenated, however, if the people rid it of the traitor class.

A third song of interest in the first edition is another anonymously authored contrafactum, this one using the melody of “The Star Spangled Banner” and titled “The Banner of Labor.” The song does not invoke ‘the people.’ However, it attempts to reclaim U.S. nationalism for ‘the people’ by mobilizing one of its most potent musical representations:

Oh say, can you hear, coming near and more near The call now resounding: “Come all ye who labor?” The Industrial Band, throughout all the land Bids toilers remember, each toiler’s his neighbor. Come, workers, unite! ‘tis Humanity’s fight; We call, you come forth in your manhood and might.


And the Banner of Labor will surely soon wave O’er the land that is free, from the master and slave The blood and the lives of children and wives Are ground into dollars for parasites’ pleasure; The children now slave, till they sink in their grave That robbers may fatten and add to their treasure. Will you idly sit by, unheeding their cry? Arise! Be ye men, see, the battle draws nigh. Long, long has the spoil of labor and toil Been wrung from the workers by parasite classes; While Poverty, gaunt, Desolation and Want Have dwelt in the hovels of earth’s toiling masses. Through bloodshed and tears, our day star appears, Industrial Union, the wage slave now cheers.[43]

In his notes to these lyrics in the IWW song anthology, The Big Red Songbook, folklorist Archie Green described “The Banner of Labor” as a “parody,” going on to say that “most IWW songwriters freely used gospel, national, or patriotic numbers as sources for caricatures.”[44] However, I agree with historian Kaitlyn Bylard, who asserts that the song is “less a parody of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’” than “a continuation of the martial and unifying sentiments of the [original] song.”[45] While “The Banner of Labor” lyrically beseeches workers to fight for themselves and excoriates the evils of the capitalist parasites, it also invokes the progressive revitalization of the nation musically by framing the laborers battle within a potent national musical expression.

Although all three of these songs were published anonymously, there is a distinct possibility that they were authored by the Songbook Committee collectively. Why did Brazier and his colleagues include such songs? The IWW, from the very beginning, was an explicitly internationalist working-class organization and its official positions were highly anti-populist. It refused membership to anyone who owned property and, in a conscious repudiation of common sense practice in early 20th century U.S. left-wing organizations, even denied tenant farmers entry.[46]

The most likely explanation for the highly populist and progressive nationalist tone of the LRS’ first edition is Brazier’s own background. Born and raised in Birmingham, England, he was deeply influenced by the Chartist hymns still sung by workers’ choirs and street musicians in the late-19th century.[47] Although he had immigrated to North America sometime in the 1910s, Brazier’s lyrical style remained rooted in the “spiritualized nationalism” of English Chartism.[48]

While Hill had already published a number of songs in the IWW press, his first song to be featured in the LRS was in the Songbook’s fourth edition, published in July 1911. “The Preacher and the Slave,” a contrafactum of the well-known gospel tune “Sweet Bye-and-Bye,” is one of Hill’s best known songs. Although earlier editions of the LRS had begun to feature some lyrics that tepidly critiqued Christian institutions, “The Preacher and the Slave” goes a step further, castigating the hypocrisy of the “starvation army.”[49] In fact, one verse goes so far as to implicitly compare Jesus Christ with the notorious employment sharks:

Holy Rollers and jumpers come out, They holler, they jump, and they shout Give your money to Jesus they say, He will cure all diseases today[50]

Interestingly, in his 1969 monograph on Hill, Gibbs M. Smith discovered that this particular verse was deleted by subsequent LRS editors, though he was unable to ascertain why.[51] May it have been that this comparison went a step too far for the Spokane Songbook Committee?

Within the next year, however, Hill’s popularity as a songwriter exploded. Out of the seventeen songs added to the next two editions of the LRS, published in July 1912 and March 1913 respectively, thirteen were authored by Hill. These lyrics contained some of Hill’s most scathing attacks on U.S. nationalism. In “Mr. Block,” the title character’s nationalism is sarcastically equated with ignorance and naïveté:

Please give me your attention, I’ll introduce to you A man who is a credit to ‘Our Red, White, and Blue,’ His head is made of lumber, and solid as a rock; He is a common worker and his name is Mr. Block. And Block he thinks he may Be President someday[52] [53]

Exasperated by Block’s gullible nationalism, Hill implores him to:

Tie a rock on your block and then jump in the lake, Kindly do that for Liberty’s sake[54]

In “John Golden and the Lawrence Strike,” a song written for the now-legendary 1912 IWW-led strike of textile workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts, Hill points out that the enemies of workers wear “stars and stripes” and are “sent by Uncle Sam.”[55]

Finally, in his anti-war ballad “Should I Ever Be a Soldier,” Hill literally absolves IWW members of their loyalty to the United States, invoking a counter-loyalty to the red flag as a symbol of socialist internationalism:

Don’t sing ‘My Country, ‘tis of thee,’ But sing this little chorus: Should I ever be a soldier, ‘Neath the Red Flag I would fight.[56]

Importantly, it is within the period between 1911 and 1913, just after Hill’s lyrics began to dominate the pages of what had become the IWW’s most important cultural initiative, that concerns regarding the LRS began to emerge within the union’s press. For instance, in January of 1912, an article written by F.W. Horn appeared in Solidarity “belittling the growing acceptance of songs in I.W.W. organizational work,” to which another member, Fred Isler, replied in the following issue with a passionate defense of the promotional and educational function of the songs.[57] [58] Another article appeared in the same publication two years later defending the LRS from those who believed it to be “irreverent, coarse, and crude.”[59]

Additionally, editorial control of the LRS itself became an issue of contention. At the 1913 General Convention, delegate Walker C. Smith, a ‘decentralizer’ in the growing political split around the level of executive power held by the Chicago headquarters, had forced a “referendum vote to take away [control of] those songbooks from the Spokane locals.”[60] Editorial control of the LRS was successfully removed from Spokane and given to the Cleveland, Ohio branch, which published three editions before the Chicago headquarters took control of the Songbook in 1917.

Were the power struggles around control of the LRS related to the recent debates on the value of the songs contained within? Another possibility is that it was merely an outgrowth of the general popularity of the Songbook, which led competing delegations to attempt to mobilize its wide appeal for their own particular political goals. However, it is interesting to note that in the first edition published by the Cleveland branch, which included ten new sets of lyrics, Hill’s songs are entirely absent.[61] It was only after Hill was arrested and imprisoned on suspicion of murder in Salt Lake City that his songs reappeared in a Joe Hill Legal Defense Fund edition, and then after his conviction and execution on famously circumstancial evidence, in a Joe Hill Memorial Edition of March 1916.

Other IWW members who were active in the union’s print-media held very different views from both the union leadership and Hill. For instance, Covington Hall, a longtime IWW organizer who also wrote a wealth of original poetry and song for the union, was dedicated to a particular “brand of [progressive] Southern nationalism” heavily influenced by the ideology and strategy of the U.S. Populist Party.[62] Hall was the descendent of a minor Southern Plantation family of Mississippi. However, in the wake of the Civil War, the family fell on hard times and, by 1891, they had lost everything. Hall experienced rapid downward mobility and within a year was a fully proletarianized dock worker in New Orleans.

As an active supporter of the Populist Party in the 1890s, he witnessed the rise and collapse of radical left-wing populist leader William Lamb’s struggle to build a multi-racial coalition between Southern farmers and “the organized workers of the Knights of Labor.”[63] Despite the implosion of the Populist Party in 1896, Hall continued to cling to the notion that a multiracial farmer-labor coalition was necessary for the success of any radical left-wing political project in the U.S. To no avail, he continued to implore the IWW to organize Southern “small farmers as well as tenant cultivators” until his death in 1951.[64]

Interestingly, the first edition of the LRS published by the Cleveland branch included a contrafacta of the Confederate anthem “Dixie,” entreating Southern workers to “live and die for Dixie” by organizing against “the boss.”[65] While there is no explicit attempt to invoke multi-racial unity, the lyrics do imply that white and Black Southerners share a common existence in which both “work away, day by day, nary pay” in “Dixie land.”[66] Rather than repudiating Dixie itself, the song states that the Southern nation can be restored along more egalitarian lines if ‘the boss’ is forced out from the community.[67] Just as Brazier’s lyrical style had been deeply shaped, and even possibly confined, by the nationalist discourse of English Chartism, so was the style of Hall and others constricted by the discourses of earlier left-wing nationalist political projects in the United States.


A Premature Conclusion

Despite interventions by President Woodrow Wilson and the Swedish embassy in Washington, D.C., Joe Hill was executed for the murder of Salt Lake City grocer and former police officer John G. Morrison on November 19th, 1915. Because his conviction was based entirely on circumstantial evidence, many believed that Hill, whether innocent or guilty, was probably executed as a result of his prominence in the IWW. Hill’s execution propelled him to national, and later international, fame as the U.S. labor movement’s most prominent martyr, musician, and songwriter. However, it most likely ended a developing debate between IWW members involved in the union’s print-media on the use of song in union activities and how these songs represented union ideology. Importantly, this debate may have been a proxy for a larger dispute regarding IWW ideology itself, specifically with regard to issues of U.S. nationalism, populism, and working-class internationalism.

However, it was not only Hill’s execution that ended these intra-organizational debates. An intense campaign of repression aimed at labor organizing within both urban immigrant communities and migrant worker circles was initiated by the U.S. Government in 1917. At the center of these attacks was the IWW, which was forced into virtual non-existence. On September 5th, 1917, the Department of Justice “staged simultaneous raids on forty-eight IWW local halls across the entire nation, seizing five tons of... documents” and destroying most of the union’s records in the process.[68] [69] Over one-hundred IWW leaders, including Bill Haywood, Vincent St. John, Ben Fletcher, and Ralph Chaplin, were charged and convicted of “sabotage and conspiracy to obstruct [U.S. involvement in] the [First World] War.”[70] Although the union was able to survive this period, rebuilding in the early-1920s, the repression broke the continuity of its print-media and, as a result, the development of these debates.

The IWW was a revolutionary organization officially committed to building an international working-class alliance. However, in its day-to-day organizing the union confronted the messy multiplicity of cultural, ethnic, and national loyalties of the United States’ diverse working population. As we have seen, these tensions emerged within the debates around the LRS and the widespread use of songs in the union’s educational work. In fact, it was the anglophone left-wing discourses of Populism and Chartism that seemingly determined the cultural parameters that were being both contested and defended within the context of the union’s music. Developing a clearer picture of how the IWW confronted these cultural parameters is not only important from a purely historical perspective, but as an example for communist organizers confronting similar situations today.



[1] The following article is not meant as an attack on the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), but rather an explication of the difficulties in constructing an international working class culture. As the only historical example of a “genuinely proletarian... mass labor organization” in the United States, the IWW is one of the best examples of the struggle to develop international working class consciousness for U.S. communists. Additionally, the author hopes that in the coming years archival research will lead to a more developed argument built on the initial evidence presented herein. See: J. Sakai, Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat From Mayflower to Modern (Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2014), 154.

[2] Archie Green, The Big Red Songbook, ed. By Archie Green, David Roediger, Franklin Rosemont, and Salvatore Salerno (Chicago, IL: Charles H. Kerr Publishing, 2007), 38.

[3] Joe Hill, The Letters of Joe Hill, ed. By Philip S. Foner (Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books, 2015), 80.

[4] Ibid.

[5] The preamble, first promulgated in 1905, states that “the working class and the employing class have nothing in common.” The preamble was amended and updated in 1908 but the opening line remained the same. Both versions can be found in: Joyce Kornbluh, Rebel Voices: An IWW Anthology (Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2011), 12-13.

[6] Daniel Gross, “Preface,” Rebel Voices: An IWW Anthology, ed. by Joyce Kornbluh (Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2011), x.

[7] Franklin Rosemont, Joe Hill: The IWW & The Making of a Revolutionary Workingclass Counterculture, (Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2015), 50.

[8] Ibid, 50-51.

[9] Ibid, 48.

[10] Ibid, 45.

[11] Hill, The Letters of Joe Hill, 73-75.

[12] Rosemont, 46.

[13] Rosemont, 103.

[14] Hill, 11.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ralph Darlington, Syndicalism and the Transition to Communism: An International Comparative Analysis (Hampshire, UK: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2008), 6.

[17] Thomas Hagerty, “Father Hagerty’s ‘Wheel of Fortune’: The Structure of the Industrial System,” in Rebel Voices: An IWW Anthology, ed. by Joyce Kornbluh (Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2011), 11.

[18] Patrick Renshaw, The Wobblies: The Story of the IWW and Syndicalism in the United States (Chicago, IL: Ivan R. Dee Publisher, 1999), 222-232.

[19] Rosemont, 26.

[20] Renshaw, 199.

[21] Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities, (London, UK: Verso Books, 2006), 155-162.

[22] Renshaw, 61.

[23] The 1916 statement by Lenin is “and therefore it is our duty, if we wish to remain socialists, to go down lower and deeper, to the real masses.” From: V.I. Lenin, “Imperialism and the Split in Socialism,” in Lenin’s Collected Works (Moscow, RS: Progress Press, 1964), 105-120.

[24] Rosemont, 7.

[25] Gibbs M. Smith, Joe Hill, (Salt Lake City, UT: Peregrine Smith Books, 1984), 8-9.

[26] Ibid, 9.

[27] Ibid, 19.

[28] Walsh claimed that his delegation had sold 4,000 Spokane IWW-produced song cards to interested workers during their trip to the delegation, making a profit of $200. From: Smith, 19.

[29] Richard Brazier, “The Story of the I.W.W.’s ‘Little Red Songbook,’” Labor History 9, no. 1 (1968), 92.

[30] Smith, 16.

[31] Smith, 17.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Ibid.

[34] Brazier, 92.

[35] Ibid, 100.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Rosemont, 481.

[38] Brazier, “If You Workers Would Only Unite,” The Big Red Songbook, ed. by Archie Green, David Roediger, Franklin Rosemont, and Salvatore Salerno (Chicago, IL: Charles H. Kerr Publishing, 2007), 40.

[39] Brazier, “Workingmen, Do You Hear?,” The Big Red Songbook, 43.

[40] The Big Red Songbook, 41.

[41] The Big Red Songbook, 46-47.

[42] Eric Hobsbawm, “Introduction: Inventing Traditions,” The Invention of Tradition, ed. by Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 2.

[43] The Big Red Songbook, 49.

[44] The Big Red Songbook, 48.

[45] Kaitlyn Bylard, “‘We Will Sing One Song’: American Fears, Revolution, and Solidarity in the Music of the Industrial Workers of the World,” ExPostFacto 24 (2015), 89-90.

[46] Rosemont, 219.

[47] Rosemont, 63.

[48] Peter J. Gurney, “The Democratic Idiom: Languages of Democracy in the Chartist Movement,” The Journal of Modern History 86, no. 3 (September, 2014), 593.

[49] The Salvation Army was often ridiculed by IWW members. However, this was the first time an attack was made on that organization within the pages of the LRS.

[50] The Big Red Songbook, 99.

[51] Smith, 21.

[52] The Big Red Songbook, 116.

[53] The Mr. Block character was based on a well-known IWW comic of the same name, penned by IWW member Ernst Riebe, which detailed the adventures of a naively nationalistic migrant worker. Riebe’s cartoon debuted in early 1912 and ran continuously until 1917, when the union was the subject of intense repression by the U.S. government, leading to a temporary pause for most of the IWW’s operations. The cartoon reappeared in the late-1910s and continued sporadically throughout the 1920s. Though it is unlikely that the two met in person, Riebe and Hill often took influence from one another. For instance, Riebe published a comic in the January 1913 issue of the Industrial Worker based on Hill’s song “Everybody’s Joining It.” See: Rosemont, 185-187.

[54] The Big Red Songbook, 117.

[55] The Big Red Songbook, 110.

[56] The Big Red Songbook, 111.

[57] Smith, 18.

[58] “F.W.” is probably short for “Fellow Worker.” Members of the contemporary IWW continue to address one another in this manner.

[59] Smith,18-19.

[60] The Big Red Songbook, 16.

[61] Although no songs of Hill’s were included, a short poem by Hill titled “Liberty Forever” was. See: The Big Red Songbook, 148.

[62] David R. Roediger, “Covington Hall: The Poetry and Politics of Southern Nationalism and Labour Radicalism,” History Workshop 19 (Spring, 1985), 162.

[63] Lawrence Goodwyn, The Populist Moment: A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1978), 39.

[64] Roediger, 163.

[65] The Big Red Songbook, 151-152.

[66] Ibid, 151.

[67] Ibid, 152.

[68] Renshaw, 174.

[69] Rosemont, 46.

[70] Renshaw, 177.


Works Cited

Brazier, Richard. “The Story of the I.W.W.’s ‘Little Red Songbook.’” Labor History 9, no. 1 (1968): 91-105.

Bylard, Kaitlyn. “‘We Will Sing One Song’: American Fears, Revolution, and Solidarity in the Music of the Industrial Workers of the World.” ExPostFacto 24 (2015): 82-103.

Darlington, Ralph. Syndicalism and the Transition to Communism: An International Comparative Analysis. Hampshire, UK: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2008.

Goodwyn, Lawrence. The Populist Moment: A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1978.

Green, Archie; Roediger, David; Rosemont, Franklin; Salerno, Salvatore, eds. The Big Red Songbook. Chicago, IL: Charles H. Kerr Publishing, 2007.

Gurney, Peter J. “The Democratic Idiom: Languages of Democracy in the Chartist Movement.” The Journal of Modern History 86, no. 3 (September, 2014): 566-602.

Foner, Philip S., ed. The Letters of Joe Hill. Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books, 2015. Hobsbawm, Eric; Ranger, Terence. The Invention of Tradition. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge

University Press, 1992.

Kornbluh, Joyce, ed. Rebel Voices: An IWW Anthology. Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2011.

Lenin, V.I. Lenin’s Collected Works. Moscow, RS: Progress Press, 1964.

Renshaw, Patrick. The Wobblies: The Story of the IWW and Syndicalism in the United States. Chicago, IL: Ivan R. Dee Publisher, 1999.

Roediger, David R. “Covington Hall: The Poetry and Politics of Southern Nationalism and Labour Radicalism.” History Workshop 19 (Spring, 1985): 162-168.

Rosemont, Franklin. Joe Hill: The IWW & The Making of a Revolutionary Workingclass Counterculture. Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2015.

Sakai, J. Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat From Mayflower to Modern. Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2014.

Smith, Gibbs M. Joe Hill. Salt Lake City, UT: Peregrine Smith Books, 1984.


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