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Browne, Carl (1846–16 January 1914), political agitator, reform journalist, and organizer of "Coxey's Army", political agitator, reform journalist, and organizer of “Coxey’s Army,” was born in Springfield, Illinois. (The date and place of his birth are sometimes less reliably given as 4 July 1849 in Newton, Iowa). Browne was working as a sign painter in western Iowa in 1869 when he suddenly decided to move to California. At that time he desired more than anything else to paint a gargantuan panorama of the Yosemite Valley. He later exhibited this painting up and down the Pacific Coast, such panoramas being a popular form of folk art in the nineteenth century. One unfriendly critic observed, “As an artist Carl Browne belongs to a distinct school. In fact, he constitutes the entire school.” Browne’s response to critics was to affirm that as a young man he had apprenticed with a carriage and house painter (an experience that probably accounted for his love of huge panoramic images and garish colors such as might adorn a circus wagon)....

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Cameron, Andrew Carr (28 September 1836–28 May 1892), labor leader and editor, was born in Berwick-on-Tweed, England, the son of a Scots printer (his father’s occupation and nationality are all that are known about his parents). After only a brief time in school, Cameron went to work in his father’s shop. In 1851 he emigrated with his parents to the United States, settling just outside of Chicago....

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Chaplin, Ralph Hosea (30 August 1887–23 May 1961), radical labor editor and artist, was born in Cloud County, Kansas, the son of Edgar Chaplin and Clara Bradford, farmers. Hard times forced his family to leave Kansas when Chaplin was an infant, and he was raised in Chicago, where his family moved frequently and struggled against poverty....

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Evans, George Henry (25 March 1805–02 February 1856), labor editor and land reformer, was born in Bromyard, in Herefordshire, England, the son of George Evans, who served in the British army during the Napoleonic Wars, and Sarah White, who came from the modestly landed gentry. When she died in 1815 George Henry remained with his father to receive a “scholastic” education while his younger brother Frederick William was sent to live with relatives. In 1820 Evans immigrated to the United States with his father and brother; he was apprenticed to a printer in Ithaca, New York, where the family settled. The Evans brothers studied the writings of ...

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Arturo Giovannitti Right, with Joseph J. Ettor, center, and Joseph Caruso. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-108488).

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Giovannitti, Arturo Massimo (07 January 1884–31 December 1959), poet, journalist, and labor leader, was born in Ripabottoni (Molise), Italy, the son of Domenico Giovannitti, a physician and pharmacist, and Adelaide Levante. Raised in a family of middle-class professionals in southern Italy, Arturo Giovannitti was educated at the Collegio Mario Pagano in Campobasso, the regional capital, where he first demonstrated his literary ability by winning a national contest for poetry. Rather than attend university in Italy, Giovannitti decided to “visit the world,” immigrating to Canada by himself at age sixteen or seventeen. Little is known about Giovannitti’s activities in Canada before he enrolled in a theological seminary affiliated with McGill University in Montreal and became a pastor’s assistant at a Presbyterian mission for Italians. His early attraction to Protestantism has never been adequately explained....

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Gresham, Newt (20 February 1858–10 April 1906), labor organizer and editor, was born Isaac Newton Gresham in Lauderdale County, near Florence, Alabama, the son of Henry Gresham and Marcipia Narcissa Wilcoxon, tenant farmers. The family moved to Kaufman County, Texas, in 1859 (though some sources claim they moved after the Civil War). After his parents’ deaths in 1868, Gresham lived with his older brother Ben....

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Haessler, Carl (05 August 1888–01 December 1972), journalist and socialist trade unionist, was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of Herman F. Haessler and Elizabeth Wagner. The political life of that city was dominated at that time by immigrant German social democrats. Haessler earned a B.A. at the University of Milwaukee, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and won a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University, where he studied for two years. He completed his formal education with a Ph.D. degree from the University of Illinois, where he also taught. In 1917 he married Mildred Barnes; they had two children....

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Hall, William Covington (25 August 1871–21 February 1952), labor organizer, newspaper editor, and educator, was born in Woodville, Mississippi, the son of William A. Hall, a Presbyterian minister and educator, and Mary Elizabeth Pierce. When his parents separated, Hall—who went by his middle name Covington—moved to Rural Retreat Plantation, a family estate located in the sugarcane district of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, to live with his uncle Dr. A. V. “Ami” Woods. Although Hall was raised and educated for a life of privilege among the southern planter elite, he grew up in a household that teetered on the brink of financial ruin. In the fall of 1887 some 10,000 of the region’s mostly African American plantation workers organized under the auspices of the Knights of Labor and went on strike. The only planter to concede to the workers’ wage demands was Hall’s uncle, who did so not out of sympathy with the union but to prevent the loss of his crop and to preserve the solvency of his estate. Unsympathetic to the Hall family’s circumstances, the region’s wealthiest planters accused Hall’s uncle of disloyalty to his class interests and broke the union. The restoration of labor order did little to promote the Halls’ financial recovery. By 1891 the bank foreclosed on Rural Retreat Plantation, forcing its sale at a sheriff’s auction....

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Harrison, Hubert Henry (27 April 1883–17 December 1927), black intellectual and radical political activist, was born in Concordia, St. Croix, Danish West Indies (now U.S. Virgin Islands), the son of William Adolphus Harrison and Cecilia Elizabeth Haines. Little is known of his father. His mother had at least three other children and, in 1889, married a laborer. Harrison received a primary education in St. Croix. In September 1900, after his mother died, he immigrated to New York City, where he worked low-paying jobs, attended evening high school, did some writing, editing, and lecturing, and read voraciously. In 1907 he obtained postal employment and moved to Harlem. The following year he taught at the White Rose Home, where he was deeply influenced by social worker Frances Reynolds Keyser, a future founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In 1909 he married Irene Louise Horton, with whom he had five children....

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Hayes, Max Sebastian (25 May 1866–11 October 1945), labor editor and trade union leader, was born in Huron County, Ohio, the son of Joseph Maximilian Sebastian Hoize and Elizabeth Storer, farmers. His parents, immigrants from central Europe, had changed their name to Hayes and made their way to Ohio by ox team. Hayes attended grammar school in Fremont, Ohio, where he became an apprentice printer in 1879. In 1883 the Hayes family moved to Cleveland, and Hayes began a lifelong career in journalism by going to work on the ...

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Jackson, Gardner (10 September 1896–17 April 1965), newspaperman, public official, and liberal gadfly, also known as “Pat,” was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the son of William Sharpless Jackson, a wealthy banker and railroad magnate, and Helen Banfield. In the Jackson family, affluence mingled with sympathy for the oppressed: Jackson’s father was a Quaker, and his mother was the niece of his father’s late and revered second wife, ...

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Litchman, Charles Henry (08 April 1849–20 May 1902), labor reformer and editor, was born in Marblehead, Massachusetts, the son of William Litchman and Sarah Bartlett. He attended Marblehead public schools and made shoes in his father’s factory, where he worked as a salesman from 1864 to 1870. He married Annie Shirley in February 1868; the couple had several children....

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Mosessohn, David Nehemiah (01 January 1883–16 December 1930), dress industry arbitrator and editor, was born in Ekaterinoslav, Russia, the son of Nehemiah Mosessohn, a rabbi and publisher, and Theresa Nissenson. Mosessohn came from a long line of rabbis, and his grandfather had once been chief rabbi of Odessa. In 1888 the entire family emigrated to the United States, and David grew up in Portland, Oregon, where he graduated from high school in 1900. He attended the University of Oregon and received his law degree from that university in 1902. That same year his father also received his law degree, and they were the youngest and the oldest graduates in 1902. Between 1902 and 1918 Mosessohn engaged in a general law practice while a senior member of Mosessohn and Mosessohn. Between 1908 and 1910 he served as deputy district attorney of Multnomah County. Together with his brother Moses Dayann Mosessohn, Mosessohn also served as publisher of the weekly ...

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Swinton, John (12 December 1829–15 December 1901), journalist, author, and labor activist, was born in Salton, Haddingtonshire, Scotland, the son of William Swinton and Jane Currie. In 1843 the Swintons emigrated to Montreal, Canada. His training as a printer’s apprentice on the Montreal Witness...

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Tresca, Carlo (09 March 1879–11 January 1943), anarcho-syndicalist labor leader and newspaper editor, was born in Sulmona, Abruzzi, Italy, the son of Filippo Tresca, a landowner, and Filomena Faciano. He attended a scuola technica (commercial high school) in Sulmona. His family could not afford to send him to a university. After joining the Italian Socialist party as a young man, Tresca became local secretary of the (Railroad) Firemen’s and Engineers’ Union and editor of ...

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Tveitmoe, Olaf Anders (07 December 1865–19 March 1923), labor leader and editor, was born in Valdres, Norway, the son of Anders O. Sløte and Ingebjørg Anfinnsdatter Berge. His mother, who was not married to his father, married Anders Olsen Tveitmoen, a farmer, in 1872. Olaf had a brief secondary education and a provincial rural upbringing. In 1882 he emigrated to the United States and settled in a Norwegian community in Minnesota, where he worked as a farm hand, attended St. Olaf College between 1887 and 1889, and in 1889 married Ingeborg Ødegaard, with whom he would have six children. As an editor for the college newspaper, he displayed the literary flair and unabashed political wit that would mark his career. He sharpened these skills writing for the Crookston Farmers’ Alliance’s ...

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Walling, William English (14 March 1877–12 September 1936), writer and reformer, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of Willoughby Walling, a physician, and Rosalind English, daughter of William Hayden English, an Indiana politician and banker who was a member of Congress and the Democratic candidate for vice president in 1880. English, as he was known, enjoyed a childhood of affluence and was in later life “independently wealthy.” He was educated in Edinburgh while his father was U.S. consul there, at a private school in Louisville, and at Hyde Park high school in Chicago....

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Yorke, Peter Christopher (15 August 1864–05 April 1925), Catholic priest and social justice advocate, was born in Galway, Ireland, the son of Gregory Yorke, a fisherman, and Bridget Kelly. His father died when Yorke was six months old, and his mother remarried. Sometime in the 1870s or 1880s his mother and family immigrated to British Columbia and, after her second husband’s death, moved to San Francisco. Yorke, however, stayed in Ireland where he received most of his early education in Galway and Tuam....