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In Sentences and Bills:1917 Joe Napora
uses incisive and startling poems to cast fresh light on an important, yet almost forgotten, era of our Nation’s history.
|“Your poems and prose not only bring back in a startling way that crucial moment of our
history, World War I, the IWW, the liberal terror of Wilson, they inspire us with the little acts of protest, the ‘small sentences’ of obscure and heroic people. I hope this piece of writing gets circulated over the country, especially to school teachers and school children of the new generation.”
— Howard Zinn
By the dawn of the 20th century the
had become one of the leading industrial powers in the world, with more
than seventeen million factory workers, many of them working in what we
would today characterize as deplorable conditions. Events and
legislation of the late 1800s had virtually crushed U.S. labor organizers, leaving unions with only 500,000 members.
Of all the U.S. labor organizations of the early 1900s, the Industrial Workers of the
World provoked the most controversy and hostility. Many of the leaders
of the organization were Marxists or socialists. The IWW—the Wobblies—were
at the peak of their activity in 1917 when the
entered World War I. Under the pressures of patriotism and the war
industry, the radical social and political beliefs of the IWW and their
protests through work slowdowns and strikes were intolerable. The IWW
came under vigilante attack and federal harassment, with prosecution and
incarceration of its members.
What survives of the IWW today are a few protest songs, the legends of
those such as Frank Little, Joe Hill, and Mother Jones, and the
knowledge that some depressed and alienated workers once had the will to
demand equality and justice and were for a time given a new sense of
power and dignity, a spirit still alive in the working men and
women of today.
the book —
Drafts and Anti-drafts
Antonin Gualberti handed out
sentences with an anti-draft message.
Antonin Gualberti was handed out
a sentence: 3 years in the pen.
Joseph Selzer at
had anti-war literature in
was opened. He was
fined $1,000 and given a one-year sentence.
The judge, Milo P. Smith, said, “It
pleases me to impose this sentence.”
His case was closed.