Mother Jones in Court

By: Bob and Carol Damron

Page Two


In June 1902, Mother Jones was arrested while addressing a miners' rally in Clarksburg. With five others she was taken to Parkersburg, where they were brought before the Federal Court. As on other occasions, Mother quickly took control, turning the courtroom into a podium for her own views snd poking sly fun at the proceedings. But this time she found a judge she could admire-a "human judge" she called him-and left the court with an unusual respect for the administration of justice.
This excerpt from the play "Brimstone and Lace" is based on Chapter 7 of The Autobiography of Mother Jones, third edition, published by Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company and the Illinois Labor History Society in 1976. "Brimstone and Lace" was first published in 1976.
ACT I, SCENE 3
Prosecuting Attorney: Your honor, officials of the court, citizens of the State of West Virginia (nods to each respectively) . . . it is my duty as an officer of these proceedings to initiate contempt charges against the co-defendants for violations of injunctions issued and served by this Federal Court. Let it be known that the defendants, self- proclaimed union agitators and non-residents of said state, have willfully disrupted the harmonious operations of coal mining business in the Fairmont and Clarksburg districts. Let the records of these proceedings show that upon receipt of this court's orders forbidding such activities at or near the private property, the defendants flagrantly ignored the request to cease and desist and were arrested in open violation of the court's injunction. The prosecution contends that since their arrival in our state, it has been the sole purpose of the defendants to create industrial turmoil in our state by any number of subversive methods. And the prosecution intends to prove that the defendants have publicly advocated the use of violence for the purpose of work stoppage in said areas. (Crowd hub-bub) With Your Honor's permission...
Judge: Certainly, Mr. Prosecutor, proceed.
Pros. Att: The prosecution calls to the witness stand Mrs. Imogene Franklin. (Woman enters, appearing gaunt and self-conscious. Judge administers the oath in a monotone; the witness barely audibly says "I do.") Mrs. Franklin, I shall inform the Court that you are the wife of a coal miner and a resident of Monongah, West Virginia. Is it true that you have been present during so-called labor rallies in your community?


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