‘William D. Haywood, Socialist Candidate for Governor’ by Walter Hurt from Appeal to Reason. No. 564. September 22, 1906.

On trial in Idaho for the ridiculous charges of murdering that state’s former governor Frank Steunenberg in 1905, Western Federation of Miners leader William D. Haywood ran for Governor of Colorado (where he was extradited from) on the Socialist Party ticket in 1906 winning 16,000 votes or about 8%. Haywood and his comrades were successfully defended by Clarence Darrow in a trial that brought Haywood to national attention with speeches and actions in the courthouse. Haywood and his comrades were acquitted in July, 1907. This valuable early biography of Haywood appeared in Appeal to Reason.

‘William D. Haywood, Socialist Candidate for Governor’ from Appeal to Reason. No. 564. September 22, 1906.

William D. Haywood, Socialist candidate for governor of Colorado, comes rightfully by his revolutionary spirit; for it is a fact, although one to which, being a modest man, he seldom and reluctantly refers, that he is directly descended from a gallant Continental rebel. But the pride of such ancestry, instead of making of him an arrogant snobocrat, as is the case in too many instances, imbues him with the idea that he can best honor his liberty-loving forbear by being an uncompromising democrat in the fundamental meaning of the term.

Comrade Haywood was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Feb. 4, 1869, and to him belongs the unique distinction of being the first Gentile male child born within the borders of Zion.

From his earliest days Haywood was dedicated to the mining craft. His first job, when he was nine years old, was with his step-father on the Russian (!) Mine, Ophir, Utah, as tool-nipper and roustabout.

Even at this early age the robust physique of his later manhood was developed to a degree that enabled him to twist a drill with considerable dexterity and comparative ease.

The family returned to the Mormon metropolis, and when young Haywood was twelve years old an uncle bound him out to farmer, John Holden, of South Cottonwood, eleven miles from Salt Lake. Like a modern and callow Cincinnatus he seized the ox goad and followed the plow, varying the program by occasionally riding the harrow. This agricultural apprenticeship was of brief duration. The potential governor of Colorado got along all right with his yoke of quadrupedal brutes, but when the biped to whom he was bound undertook to chastise him for some boyish prank, he issued an individual declaration of independence, and again like another Cincinnatus, left the plow in the furrow-or, rather, the harrow in the middle of the field-and turned his back forever upon peaceful agricultural pursuits. He went to the house, combed the hayseed from his hair, made his scanty belongings into a bundle, and hit the trail for home.

After this Haywood worked in the city at various vocations-in grocery stores, a telegraph office, etc.-until he was sixteen years old, when he went to Nevada and worked in the mines of the Humbolt Company. Later he learned assaying and surveying. He returned to Utah and worked in different mining camps in that state for two years, then went again to Nevada and subsequently to Idaho and Colorado. In 1895 he located in Silver City, Idaho.

Here it was that Haywood’s career may be said to have begun, and ever after his life was crowded with things of consequence. He became a charter member of Silver City Miners’ Union No. 66, W. F. of M., which was organized in August, 1896. He successively filled all the offices of the union, from finance committeeman to president. In 1898 he was sent as a delegate to the W. F. of M. convention; in 1900 he was elected a member of the executive board of that organization, and in 1901 he was chosen for secretary-treasurer, which office he has since continuously occupied with signal ability and to the complete satisfaction of the members. His work has been as excellent as his rise has been rapid.

Haywood was one of the conferees who met in Chicago, Jan. 2-4, and signed the manifesto that resulted in the convention that organized the Industrial Workers of the World in June, 1905, being also a delegate from the W. F. of M. to that convention, of which he was chosen chairman.

The more recent events in Haywood’s career, culminating in his present tragic martyrdom and his dramatic nomination for governor of Colorado, are too fresh in the public mind to call for any reference here.

The matter of Haywood’s education is one of exceptional interest. Like many another distinguished man, it may be said of him that he is self-educated. His formal schooling was extremely limited. When a child he attended St. Mark’s school in Salt Lake for a short time. As a young man he attended night school for two terms. Yet Haywood has an education that many collegians might envy-that ripe and rounded erudition which results from ceaseless home-study, combined with inveterate and discriminating reading. For he is always the student, and one of rare taste. In a recent letter to the writer, from the jail at Boise, he said: “confinement is not bad when the narrow vigils are broaden to a world-wide scope through the medium of Hugo, Balzac, Sue, Lecky, Draper, Buckle, Blackstone, Prescott, Kielland, Milton and Shakespeare. Besides, we can get books from the public (Carnegie) library.”

A goodly list of intellectual comrades this – the author-associates whom Haywood has made the companions of his historic confinement. And continual attrition with such master-minds is what has given his own powerful mentality its present high polish.

As a writer Haywood is genuinely gifted. He expresses his thought in strong, nervous English that is strikingly effective. Whenever there is occasion for it, he always has something to say worth saying, says it well, and then stops.

Immediately upon reaching his majority, Haywood married Miss J. [Jane] Nevada Minor. They have two children, Vernia, who will be sixteen next November, and Henrietta, who was nine last June. These daughters are as personally devoted to their father as they are proud of his admirable achievements.

And this is William D. Haywood-next governor of Colorado, whose name will be handed down in history as the ablest and purest and bravest executive head the state has ever had. Eminently a man of the masses, he has proved that among the proletariat can be found some of the nation’s best blood, and that from their ranks there may rise the Messiah of the Social Salvation. He is a splendid example of what a man of fundamental character, endowed with brains and persistence and determination, can accomplish unaided even under our present adverse system, and his career is for all an inspiration to hope and courage.

Look well upon this man, ye voters of Colorado, and mark him fairly; and then determine whether you shall exalt him to your highest executive office, that he may bring relief and blessings to your prostrate state.

The Appeal to Reason was among the most important and widely read left papers in the United States. With a weekly run of over 550,000 copies by 1910, it remains the largest socialist paper in US history. Founded by utopian socialist and Ruskin Colony leader Julius Wayland it was published privately in Girard, Kansas from 1895 until 1922. The paper came from the Midwestern populist tradition to become the leading national voice in support of the Socialist Party of America in 1901. A ‘popular’ paper, the Appeal was Eugene Debs main literary outlet and saw writings by Upton Sinclair, Jack London, Mary “Mother” Jones, Helen Keller and many others.

PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/appeal-to-reason/060922-appealtoreason-w564.pdf

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