We’re not sure exactly where she was born, or when she was born, but we know that Mary Harris was from somewhere in Cork County, Ireland, and immigrated to North America with her family as a child to escape the Irish famine. In her early twenties, she moved to Chicago, where she worked as a dressmaker, and then to Memphis, Tennessee, where she met and married George Jones, a skilled iron molder and staunch unionist. The couple had four children.  Then tragedy struck: a yellow fever epidemic in 1867 took the lives of Mary’s husband and all four children. Mary Harris Jones returned to Chicago where she continued to sew, becoming a dressmaker for the wealthy. “I would look out of the plate glass windows and see the poor, shivering wretches, jobless and hungry, walking alongside the frozen lake front,” she said. “The tropical contrast of their condition with that of the tropical comfort of the people for whom I sewed was painful to me. My employers seemed neither to notice nor to care.” Then came the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Mary once again lost everything.

After the fire, Mary began to travel across the country. The nation was undergoing dramatic change, and industrialization was changing the nature of work. She worked with the Knights of Labor, often giving speeches to inspire the workers during strikes. She organized assistance for workers’ strikes, and prepared for workers’ marches. In June 1897, after Mary addressed the railway union convention, she began to be referred to as “Mother” by the men of the union. The name stuck. That summer, when the 9,000-member Mine Workers called a nationwide strike of bituminous (soft coal) miners and tens of thousands of miners laid down their tools, Mary arrived in Pittsburgh to assist them. She became “Mother Jones” to millions of working men and women across the country for her efforts on behalf of the miners. Mother Jones was so effective the union would send her into mines, to help miners to join unions. In addition to miners, Mother Jones also was very concerned about child workers. To attract attention to the cause of abolishing child labor, in 1903, she led a children’s march of 100 children from the textile mills of Philadelphia to New York City “to show the New York millionaires our grievances.” She led the children all the way to President Theodore Roosevelt’s Long Island home.

A political progressive, she was a founder of the Social Democratic Party in 1898. Mother Jones also helped establish the Industrial Workers of the World in 1905. For all of her social reform and labor activities, she was considered by the authorities to be one of the most dangerous women in America. In 1912, Mother Jones was even charged with a capital offense by a military tribunal in West Virginia and held under house arrest for weeks until popular outrage and national attention forced the governor to release her. In her eighties, Mother Jones settled down near Washington, D.C., in 1921 but continued to travel across the country. She died, possibly aged 100, in 1930.  Her final request was to be buried in the Miners Cemetery in Mt. Olive, Illinois, where you can visit her grave today.

Norfolk and Western commuter train crossing the Chicago River

Caption: “Inbound to Chicago Union Station crossing the 21st Street bridge. A year or less before, this train still operated out of Dearborn Station (at least next to it). This was a Wabash train before the 1964 merger.”


September 1977

Photo by Gary Morris

Strikes in Greece keep up the pressure from below

Health workers protest on Wednesday of last week (Pic: Workers Solidarity)

Hospital workers walked out across Greece on Wednesday of last week, in the biggest strike since the election of radical left party Syriza in January.

They were demanding more funding to remedy the staffing crisis that’s been caused by austerity. Many workers were also out to get unpaid wages.

Then it was the turn of civil aviation workers last weekend.

Their union called on the government to declare airport authorities in a state of emergency due to their “financial strangulation” by austerity.

Successive Greek governments have implemented harsh austerity programmes in exchange for the European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailing out their debts to the bankers.

Syriza’s election victory—on the back of five years of strikes and protest movements—was a rejection of that.

But EU and IMF leaders are trying to force it into passing more neoliberal reforms that make workers pay for the crisis.  

They are withholding bailout funds until Greece signs a deal on their terms. But Greece needs those bailout funds to meet impending payments.

Syriza prime minister Alexis Tsipras last week insisted he wanted a “viable and long-lasting” deal—and not one on “humiliating terms”.

Interior minister Nikos Voutsis warned that without a deal Greece would not be able to pay its next bill to the IMF.

Red lines

He ruled out a 23 percent VAT tax rate and attacks on workers’ rights, saying Syriza wouldn’t cross “red lines”.

But the election promise of a higher minimum wage doesn’t seem to be one of them—nor does halting major privatisations such as that of Piraeus port.

Syriza negotiators have progressively backed down from their radical programme in search of a deal.

As finance minister Yanis Varoufakis put it last Sunday, “We have met them three quarters of the way, they need to meet us one quarter of the way.”

But polls carried out for Syriza newspaper Avgi last week revealed support for its negotiating positions had dropped to 54 percent.

Some 59 percent of respondents wanted Syriza to refuse further austerity measures. Some 89 percent were against pension cuts and 81 percent against mass redundancies.

Varoufakis and Tsipras continue to underline their commitment to staying in the euro. But for poll respondents this was a lower priority than defending the remaining “red lines”.

These debates are reflected within Syriza.

The party’s Left Platform put forward a proposal to default on the next debt payment and nationalise the banks at a meeting of Syriza’s central committee last weekend.

It was narrowly rejected, by 95 votes to 75, but Syriza’s leadership has so far been able to contain its left.

The more important opposition to a new austerity deal is the pressure from below.

And the return of strikes in recent weeks after a period of calm since the election shows that this hasn’t gone away.

Source:- http://socialistworker.co.uk/art/40596/Strikes+in+Greece+keep+up+the+pressure+from+below+against+austerity


On the thirtieth of May 1536, Henry and Jane were married at Whitehall palace at the Queen’s Closet. The ceremony was officiated by none other than the archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer who was Jane’s predecessor former chaplain. The wedding took place, according to Fraser “quickly and quietly”

Jane quickly established herself in her new role. Although she wasn’t vociferous like her predecessors, Jane did voice her opinion on several occasions. Her latest biographers Loades and Norton show that when she voiced them, she was very subtle. Had she lived, Norton believes Jane would have taken on “the political role that would have been open to her as the mother of the heir to the throne”. Jane Seymour appears as ‘boring’ or ‘conniving’ in popular culture, slammed for daring to take Anne’s position (which many view was rightfully hers). But history medieval and renaissance history is not about who was right or wrong. Laws could be changed or interpreted in many different ways. Ultimately who deserved the right to be called queen, or be revered, is to the reader.
Given Henry’s tastes it is hard to say whether he would have tired of Jane or not. She displayed herself as many other consorts before her had done, including Henry’s mother whom Henry revered and whom he seemed to judge his other wives on. Women were expected to take on certain roles, Consorts bore more responsibilities. They had to present themselves as the epitomes of virtue, and be prepared to rule in their husband’s absence or when their sons were too young to do so after they were crowned.
Would anyone be surprised if we were to find out that the “she wolves” Isabella of France and Marguerite of Anjou behaved like Jane Seymour before shit hit the fan? Thought so.
Isabella of France submitted herself to humiliation on the part of her husband and his favorites. During her coronation she saw her husband’s favorite’s arms displayed on the banquet instead of hers. She saw honors heaped on this man and then his replacement after he was executed by the Earl of Lancaster. Isabella said nothing, not a word while she lived. She obviously felt angry, but she never voiced her opinions. She did what Consorts did. She bore Edward II’s children, begged mercy for traitors, and appeared on state functions with her husband –including when they went to visit her father Philip IV “the Fair” of France. Isabella’s chance for revenge came when he sent her to France, to negotiate on his behalf with the new King of France, her brother Charles. There she met the exile Roger Mortimer and the two began a torrid love affair which ended with their alliance, their invasion to England in her son’s name, the deposition of her husband, and their regency for Edward III.

Marguerite of Anjou was less radical. She did not rebel against her husband, she stuck with him for better or for worse. Instead of replacing him with her son as Isabella had done, Marguerite decided to take the fight to Richard, Duke of York, the Earl of Salisbury, the Earls of March, Rutland, and Warwick. These were their number one enemies and when they forced her husband to sign a treaty where he acknowledged Richard’s right to be King, and made him his heir, passing over his son. Marguerite decided to take up arms against them again. Marguerite ended losing her war. Her son and husband died, ending the Lancastrian dynasty once and for all. There was only one last Lancastrian (although he descended from the Beauforts which were still considered by many illegitimate) and he ended up becoming King in 1485 after he defeated Richard III at Bosworth Field. He was Henry VII and his son Henry VIII was now Jane’s husband. Four days later, Sir John Russell wrote to Lord Lisle that in making Jane his wife, he had made a wise choice for “she is as gentle a lady as ever I knew, and as fair a queen as any in Christendom. The King hath come out of hell into heaven for the gentleness in this and the cursedness and the unhappiness in the other. You would do well to write to the king again that you rejoice he is so well match with so gracious a woman as is reported.”

Jane acted with tact, speaking when she felt was wise, and crossing the line only once when she voiced empathy for the pilgrimage of grace. Jane served two Queens, possible three if the theory of her serving Princess Mary when she married Louis XII of France is correct; and under them she had seen many things, learned many things. The number one lesson she learned was not to get on Henry’s bad side, not just for her own safety but for her family.

Marriage was like a business contract and it was the goal for many highborn at this time. As with Anne, Jane would have viewed the opportunity of being Queen a golden one. As with her predecessor, she was walking a fine thread with no friends in high places like Henry VIII’s first Queen, Katherine of Aragon. Had she said ‘no’ to Henry and genuinely refused all his attentions, Henry would have found someone else to replace Anne and that woman would no doubt be the one slammed instead of Jane.


  • Jane Seymour: Henry VIII’s true love by Elizabeth Norton
  • Jane Seymour by David Loades
  • The Wives of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser
  • The Six Wives and the Many Mistresses of Henry VIII by Amy Licence.

Penn Central E-units Chicago IL 1974 by Mark LLanuza on Flickr.

The Amtrak Broadway Limited arriving at Chicago Union Station, led by a former Penn Central E-unit. The old Pennsylvania Railroad Freight Terminal is undergoing demolition on the left.



Photo by Mark Llanuza


Saturday’s Stud

It Will Be Hard To Watch Leinster And Ireland Play Without Gordon D’Arcy. He Has Been Phenomenal On The Pitch, And He Is Just Damn Cute To Boot! 

Although I‘ll Miss Gordo, I Take Comfort In The Knowledge That A New Friend Blushes At The Mention Of The Irish Centre. Check Out My Buddy’s Tumblr. He Has Phenomenal Taste In Men!

Godspeed To Gordo!