Mother Jones in Court
By: Bob and Carol Damron
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
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