Centenary of the Easter Rising

jamesconnollycoverIt is good to see this graphic account of the life of James Connolly, the socialist and fighter for Irish freedom who also defended the rights of women to revolt. He was one of the inspirations in the late 1960s when early womens liberation groups started to form. His ideas are as needful today as they were in the twentieth century.

  Sheila Rowbotham

May 1916 marks the centenary of the execution of IWW/labor organizer James Connolly by British authorities for his part in leading the Easter Rebellion. The IWW Hungarian Literature Fund is commemorating the occasion by publishing, in collaboration with PM Press, a graphic history of his life by veteran comic artist Tom Keough, followed by a modest selection of Connollys writings and an afterword by labor historian (and editor of the graphic history The Wobblies) Paul Buhle.

Copies of the 42-page pamphlet A Full Life: James Connolly the Irish Rebel are available for $4.95, or three for $10.00, post-paid to U.S. addresses. (Inquire for international postage)

To order, click here or visit our Shop page.

“Tom Keough and Paul Buhle have put together a terrific graphic remembrance of a giant among working class heroes: James Connolly.  I hope that it will serve as an introduction to many, and foster a greater understanding of the depth and intensity of Connolly’s contributions to the labor movement and socialism.”  — Anne Feeney

There are a number of online collections of Connolly’s writings, including:


James Connolly, “Facets of American Liberty”
Workers’ Republic, December 1908 (excerpts)

“Where Liberty is, there is my country.”

So said the enthusiastic 18th century revolutionist. But if he lived nowadays he would have a long search for his country – where Liberty is. The only liberty we know of now, outside the liberty to go hungry, stands in New York Bay, where it has been placed, I am told, in order that immigrants from Europe may get their first and last look at it before setting foot on American soil.

You see, it would be decidedly awkward for our Fourth of July orators to be orating to the newcomers about the blessings of American liberty and then to be asked by some ignorant European to tell where that liberty is to be found.

Some ignorant, discontented unit of the hordes of Europe, for instance, might feel tempted to go nosing around in this great country in search of liberty, and his search might take him into the most awkward places.

He might go down South and see little white American children of seven, eight and nine years of age working in our cotton mills enjoying their liberty to work for a boss at an age when other children are still compelled by tyrannical laws to stay on wrestling with the dreadful problems of reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic.

He might have visited Alabama and seen American citizens out on strike, driven out of their homes by the power of the capitalist mine-owner, and when they erected tents upon private land granted by a charitable farmer for that purpose, he might have seen a Democratic governor order in the state militia to cut down the tents and drive the American workers back to the mine at the point of the bayonet.

He might, being an ignorant European, visit Florida and see men lured from the big cities to the railroad construction camps and kept there on a hunger diet, compelled to endure blows and foulest insults, and when they attempted to escape he might see the power of the state detective force employed to arrest them as if they were criminals and take them back handcuffed to their slavery.

This ignorant representative of the scum of Europe might have visited Colorado in 1904 and seen armed militia invade newspaper offices and imprison printers and journalists alike without legal warrant or pretense at trial, trade union meetings suppressed, duly elected public officials compelled to resign under threat of lynching, respectable men taken out of their beds in the middle of the night and without [being] given a chance to even put their shoes on marched under armed guards across the state lines, hundreds of men thrown into cattle enclosures and kept there for months without trial, and Pinkerton detectives employed to manufacture outrages in order to hang innocent men.

This pilgrim in search of liberty might have learned from the coal miners of Pennsylvania that their state is dotted over east and west with localities where union miners were shot down like dogs whilst peacefully parading the streets or roads in time of strikes, he might have learned that practically every industrial center in the country from Albany, N.Y., to San Francisco, Calif., from New Orleans to Minnesota, has the same tale to tell of the spilling of workmen’s blood by the hirelings of the master class, and he might have attended the unemployed demonstration in Union Square, New York, and have seen the free American citizens rapped on the head for daring to ask a job collectively, instead of begging for it individually. …

The Liberty we have in Bartholdi’s statue is truly typical of liberty in this age and country.

It is placed upon a pedestal out of the reach of the multitudes; it can only be approached by those who have money enough to pay the expense; it has a lamp to enlighten the world, but the lamp is never lit, and it smiles upon us as we approach America, but when we are once in the country we never see anything but its back.

‘Tis a great world we live in. …

 

 

 

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