[1914:] Ein großer Teil der leitenden Personen der [amerikanischen] Sozialistischen Partei [...] unterzeichnete 1905 ein Manifest, in dem der Plan für eine neue gewerkschaftliche Organisation entwickelt wird. "An die Arbeiter der Welt. Ein Manifest. Herausgegeben von der Konferenz der Industrial Unionists, abgehalten in Chicago, den 2., 3. und 4. Januar 1905". So lautete der Titel des Schriftstücks, das in mehreren Sprachen abgefaßt, in Massen verbreitet wurde. Es handelte sich bei dem Plan nicht um den Ausbau des Bestehenden [der American Federation of Labor], sondern um eine vollständig neue Gründung. Rein mechanisch wurde die Organisation vorgezeichnet. [Dazu heißt es:] "Bemerken Sie also, wie durch ihr Wachstum diese Organisation sich in eine industrielle Demokratie entwickelt - eine kooperative Arbeiter-Republik - welche schließlich die Kapitalisten-Regierung sprengen wird, bis endlich die Arbeiter die Industrien zu ihrem eigenen Vorteil betreiben werden. [...]
- Eine Pflicht für alle.
- Ein Union-Mann in einer Industrie, ein Union-Mann für alle Zeiten in allen Industrien.
- Eine offene Union und ein "closed shop". [...]"
Unterzeichnet war dies Manifest [von Leuten, die] teils Mitglieder der Exekutive der Sozialistischen Partei oder Redakteure sozialistischer Zeitungen oder bekannte sozialistische Schriftsteller waren. So wird man es erklärlich finden, wenn die American Federation of Labor das neue Unternehmen als von der Sozialistischen Partei ausgehend ansah, wenn diese auch die neugegründete Organisation niemals anerkannt hat.
Der Kongreß in Chicago beschloß die Gründung einer neuen gewerkschaftlichen Vereinigung mit dem Namen "Industrial Workers of the World". [...] Die [so] geschaffene Organisation blieb nur wenige Jahre einig. Es zeigte sich bald eine verschiedenartige Auffassung über die gewerkschaftliche Taktik. Eine starke syndikalistische Strömung machte sich geltend, die auf der vierten Konvention die Oberhand behielt und die Prinzipienerklärung und Konstitution änderte. Die Minderheit hielt an den 1905 aufgestellten Grundsätzen fest, nach denen nicht nur wirtschaftliche, sondern auch politische Kampfesmittel zur Befreiung der Arbeiterklasse angewandt werden sollten. Es entstand eine zweite Organisation unter dem Namen "Industrial Workers of the World", die ihren Sitz in Detroit, Mich., erhielt, während der syndikalistische Teil in Chicago, Ill., domiziliert. Die erstere Organisation [...] hat nach ihrem letzten Jahresbericht 11 584 Mitglieder. Die letztere gibt an, 75 000 Mitglieder zu haben, jedoch wird die Richtigkeit dieser Angaben stark bezweifelt. (Carl Legien, Aus Amerikas Arbeiterbewegung, Verlag der Generalkommission der Gewerkschaften Deutschlands, Berlin 1914, S. 175ff.)
[1973:] As with so many other labor martyrs, Joe Hill has loomed larger in death than he did in life. In the 45 years since his execution, Joe Hill's songs have become known in every country of the world. Joe Hill was a Swedish immigrant who came to America in 1900. He shortly became a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and, displaying a rare gift for songs and political parodies, became one of that organization's leading song propagandists. Among his compositions are Pie in the Sky, Casey Jones - The Union Scab, There Is Power, The Rebel Girl and many others. (Reprint Sing Out 12, 323)
[1974:] Am 19. November 1915 wurde Joseph Hillström - wegen eines angeblichen Mordes zum Tode verurteilt - hingerichtet. So hatten die Behörden den ihnen unbequemen Gewerkschaftsführer und Liedermacher ausgeschaltet, der bei den Arbeitern als Joe Hill bekannt war. (Songbook 130)
[1980:] Woody [Guthrie] began to listen more closely to the old radicals [...]. They'd seen it all before. They had explanations. There were two sides, the rich and the poor, and you had to make your choice. [Some,] at the slightest encouragement, would reach into their pockets and pull out a battered red card that proved they had been members of the wildest, woolliest, most violent, joyous, and completely disorganized gang of Reds ever to strike fear in the hearts of the American bourgeoisie; the International Workers of the World, or I.W.W., or more familiarly, the Wobblies. For a brief time before World War I, they had terrorized half the country and tried to organize the other half into One Big Union. They stood as a militant reproach to the moderate, cautious American Federation of Labor and the increasingly tame Socialist Party. They led violent, futile strikes and advocated sabotage as a weapon in the class struggle a little too openly to be serious about it. [...] Their brazen, arms- and- elbows- style of radicalism was especially popular with the lumberjacks, the miners and the migrant workers out West. It fit perfectly into the self- conscious romanticism of the hobo culture. The blunt, overstated Wobbly style was summed up beautifully in the I.W.W. 'Preamble', a simple one- page document which began: "The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace as long as hunger and want are found among millions of working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things in life."
On the Wobblies see also http://iww.org/
In 1906, the Wobblies in Spokane had realized their street speakers were being drowned out by the noisy Salvation Army brass band. Ever resourceful, they decided to form their own band [for which Mac McLintock] and Jack Walsh wrote several parodies of Salvation Army hymns that were so successful the Wobblies put them out in a 'Little Red Songbook'. A few years later, an itinerant worker dropped into the headquarters with a parody of the Salvation Army hymn "In the Sweet By-and-By" which became one of the most famous Wobbly songs. The man's name was Joseph Hillstrom (né Joel Haaglund) [and the song was 'Pie in the Sky'].
Joe Hill was probably more rogue than radical, and the songs he wrote were often little more than doggerel ... but he came to symbolize the spirit of the Wobblies in the public mind, mostly because of the phenomenal success he achieved in orchestrating his own martyrdom. After arriving from Sweden in 1902, he wandered through the West for the next thirteen years. Not much was known about him except that he often hung around the San Pedro I.W.W. hall. Some of the old-timers suspected he made his living as a robber, and only used the Wobblies as a social club. Then, in 1914, he was arrested in Utah for the murder of a market owner, a murder he probably didn't commit. But he refused to say where he'd been at the time of the shooting (to protect the honor of a lady, it was said), and was convicted. In the years that followed, Joe Hill became a cause célèbre among radicals and liberals all over the world. He did some of his most inspired work while awaiting his death, including the famous line he sent to Big Bill Haywood, the Wobbly leader, in a telegram just before his execution: "Don't waste any time in mourning. Organize." (Klein, Woody Guthrie 82ff)
[1984:] At first a rather marginal figure in the I.W.W. struggles, [Joe Hill] was known chiefly for his songs which came to be sung across the world and were linked with working-class agitation as far afield as Australia. In 1914 he was arrested in Salt Lake City, Utah, on a murder charge, convicted on highly circumstantial evidence, and executed after 22 months in prison - despite an international defence movement, and petitions which included two pleas from President Wilson and one from the Swedish minister for further consideration of his case. The grim story of his trial by a hostile court, and the outcome, can be read in Barry Stavis's 'The Man Who Never Died'; written after five years of research into the facts, it fully endorses Joe's claim that he was framed as an anti-union, anti-I.W.W. move. This claim is also supported by the Labour historian Foner.
Joe's last message to his friends was "Don't mourn for me - organise". And his last will, written in the death-cell the night before he was shot, has a timeless nobility:
My will is easy to decide,
For there is nothing to divide.
My kin don't need to fuss and moan -
"Moss does not cling to rolling stone".
My body? - Oh! - if I could choose,
I would to ashes it reduce,
And let the merry breezes blow
My dust to where some flowers grow.
Perhaps some fading flower then
Would come to life and bloom again.
This is my last and final will.
Good luck to all of you,
Set to music by Ethel Raim in 1961, as Joe Hill's Will.
Joe's body was reduced to ashes, which were placed in many small envelopes: "These were sent to I.W.W. ... sympathisers in all forty-eight states of the U.S. except ... Utah", and to many other countries throughout the world, to be scattered over the earth on May 1, 1916. But the Harvard-educated revolutionary John Reed wrote, "I have met men carrying next their hearts, in the pockets of their working clothes, little bottles with some of Joe Hill's ashes in them." His funeral in Chicago was attended by an estimated 30,000 sympathisers, who marched through the streets to the cemetery.
Some twenty years later, Alfred Hayes and Earl Robinson wrote this song. [...] Robinson's fine tune is in the hymn-like style [...] which was popular among Labour songs up till the forties and the fifties.
In the sixties, the English composer Alan Bush based his fourth opera on the life and death of Joe Hill as told by Barry Stavis. 'Joe Hill: the Man Who Never Died' was first performed at the German State Opera House, East Berlin, in September 1970 and ran for the whole winter season. (Munro, Revival 27f)
[1985:] In Canada [in 1948], the provincial government of Quebec seized copies of the new 'People's Songbook' (edited by Wally Hille), declaring the song Joe Hill subversive; also confiscated in the raid were Tolstoy's 'War and Peace' and Whitman's 'Leaves of Grass'. (Dunaway, Seeger 125)
See also http://www.media.utah.edu/UHE/h/HILL,JOE.html