Wonderful local detail in these brief reports of 1908’s May Day celebrations in Lowell, Massachusetts, as well as Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon.
‘I.W.W. Celebrates May Day in Seattle, Portland, and Lowell’ from Industrial Union Bulletin. Vol. 2 No. 12. May 16, 1908.
PORTLAND, Ore., May 5, 1908.
For the first time in the history of this city the working people have conjointly celebrated the International Labor Day, the first of May. But owing to the present industrial situation, it was impossible for the workers to lay off on the real International Labor Day, the “first,” so we celebrated the first on Sunday, the third. It was one of the largest gatherings of proletarians ever scene in a hall in this city. There were about 1,200 in the hall and about 200 or 300 were turned away. The hall was so crowded that it was impossible to move. Five organizations participated officially in the celebration. A splendid program, consisting of three speeches, two in English and one in Scandinavian, music, recitations and songs, were presented with enthusiasm and received with approbation. Comrade Lewis, organizer of the Socialist party, made an all around hit with the crowd, and he said that he was ready to line up with a pigtail in order to defeat the capitalist masters. He also spoke at length upon the futility of craft unionism, and explained the superiority and absolute necessity of industrial organization. Fellow Worker Walsh, national organizer of the I.W.W., spoke upon the Moyer, Haywood and Pettibone trial, the strike in Goldfield, the panic, the constitution, and so on: it was a good one. Gustaf Berg, of the Scandinavian Club, spoke upon the progress of the international working class movement and Socialism, and condemned capitalism to its speedy doom. All three, of course, made clear the significance of May day. It was another mile-post passed in our onward march to industrial liberty. E.S. NELSON.
SEATTLE, Wash., May 6, 1908.
Fellow Worker: —I was instructed to send you notice of our Labor Day meeting, which occurred Friday evening, May 1st, 1908, at Egan’s Hall, and proved a success in every way. It was held under the auspices of the Industrial Workers. Socialist Labor party, Swedish and Lettish Federations, Finnish Local Socialist party. The Socialist party in this city, being split in two factions, both had invitations from the Industrial Workers. One faction accepted, but the other decided to hold a celebration on their own account in the same hall, Sunday, May 3d. However, quite a number were present as individuals. The Finnish Singing Club sang several revolutionary songs. The speakers were T.E. Latimer, S.P.; J.H. Walsh, I.W.W.; Guido Eiago, Italian I.W.W.: John Monette, S.L.P. and Federations. The expenses for the meeting, $40, was more than met by a collection, the surplus going to the I.W.W. locals, who are endeavoring to raise funds in order to get new headquarters in the right location to do better propaganda work among the workers.
Yours for the I.W.W., THOS. WHITEHEAD, Sec’y May Day Conference Com.
LOWELL, Massachusetts. Now I want to tell you about our celebration of May Day in Lowell.
We decorated the hall on April 30th in the evening, and worked on it till eleven or half past, and finished it on May 1st in the morning. On entering the hall you will see on the wall the mottoes in English, and French, and Belgian, such as: “Only men that are conscious of their interest as a class will write, ‘Labor Is entitled to all it produces,’ and ‘An injury to one is an injury to all.’
Fellow-worker Louis Wljehaert started the ball a-rolling by giving a short address concerning May 1st, and its meaning to the working class, which was listened to with rapt attention. Then followed the singing, and a great portion of the songs were blended with the interests of the working class, such as they sing in the old country; and it was very interesting to listen to by all workers whose minds become enlightened to their teachings. Fellow worker Bernard Sparkert, one of the members of the Belgian Branch, kindly brought his graphophone over to the hall, and we listened to some very nice selections. There was quite a number of songs sung by boys and girls, women and men. If he had all their names on a programme I would send them to be printed in The Bulletin with the rest of this writeup. Everybody listened and enjoyed themselves tip top until two o’clock in the afternoon, and then we all went home and got dinner, and made ready for the dance in the evening. The same is to be said of the dance as of the entertainment. They all enjoyed themselves until 12 o’clock. There were at our dance English. Polish, Belgian and French. It was a surprise to all. All those who took an active part wore a red pin as an emblem. They looked fine.
Fellow worker Carrol L. Pingree was floor director, and Mr. and Mrs. McDonals, and another Belgian lady, took charge of the tonic table, and their services were greatly appreciated. They took in the sum of $11.40. Fellow-worker Victor De Rammelar sold tickets at the door, and Fellow worker Hugh McManus took the tickets and sold clothes checks, and their services were also appreciated. All worked together for the success of the dance, and it certainly was a big success from all points of view, and we all hope to have more of such times in the near future.
I also want to tell of something that happened which caused us to continue the celebration on the second of May. In the Merrimack Mills there were quite a few of our members. They were running four days a week, and the boss came around and told them he wanted them to work until 9 o’clock at night. This was on Thursday, April 30th. Fellow worker Louis Wijehaert and Victor De Rammelar, and Karl Habbinlich came to the hall and wrote up some notices against working until 9 o’clock at night, but stated in said notices that they would work five days and a half instead, and it was done. This caused some of them to work that wanted to be there, so we celebrated May Day on the 2nd as well as the 1st, from half past eight until twelve o’clock. We enjoyed ourselves, and the hall was full, and I must say the same about the second of May, as I did the first. We had an enjoyable entertainment in the evening.
The Industrial Union Bulletin, and the Industrial Worker were newspapers published by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) from 1907 until 1913. First printed in Joliet, Illinois, IUB incorporated The Voice of Labor, the newspaper of the American Labor Union which had joined the IWW, and another IWW affiliate, International Metal Worker.The Trautmann-DeLeon faction issued its weekly from March 1907. Soon after, De Leon would be expelled and Trautmann would continue IUB until March 1909. It was edited by A. S. Edwards. 1909, production moved to Spokane, Washington and became The Industrial Worker, “the voice of revolutionary industrial unionism.”
PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/industrialworker/iub/v2n12-may-16-1908-iub.pdf