Molly Maguires

Molly Maguires


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En el siglo XIX, el condado de Schuylkill, Pensilvania, se convirtió en una fuente importante de carbón antracita. La mayoría de los hombres que trabajaban en estas minas eran inmigrantes de Gales, Inglaterra, Alemania e Irlanda.

En 1868, John Siney, un inmigrante irlandés que había estado trabajando en minas de carbón en Inglaterra, formó la Asociación Benevolente de Trabajadores (WBA). El principal objetivo de Siney es intentar mejorar las condiciones salariales y laborales. Las condiciones en las minas eran espantosas y los hombres tuvieron que soportar accidentes, inundaciones, incendios y explosiones. En un período de siete años en el condado de Schuylkill, 566 mineros murieron y otros 1.665 resultaron gravemente heridos.

Uno de los peores desastres tuvo lugar en la mina de carbón de Avondale en 1869 cuando un incendio mató a 179 mineros. Esto dio lugar a que el condado de Schuylkill aprobara una legislación que establecía que todas las minas debían tener más de una abertura y que era responsabilidad de los propietarios de las minas proporcionar una ventilación eficaz. Se contrató a inspectores estatales de minas, pero debido al poder de los propietarios de las minas, esta legislación rara vez se hizo cumplir.

John Siney era un sindicalista moderado que creía en la negociación con los empleadores y prohibía estrictamente el uso de la violencia por parte de sus miembros. La Asociación de Trabajadores Benéficos amenazó con una huelga y, tras una breve disputa, los propietarios de las minas de carbón acordaron un pequeño aumento salarial. Parte del trato involucró a Siney prometiendo que no permitiría que los mineros que usaban o defendían la violencia siguieran siendo miembros del sindicato.

Franklin B. Gowen, presidente de Philadelphia & Reading Railroad, estaba descontento con el creciente poder de la AMB. La empresa de Gowen poseía una gran cantidad de minas de carbón del condado de Schuylkill y temía que las actividades de la WBA redujeran las ganancias. En 1873, Gowen se acercó a Allan Pinkerton de la Agencia de Detectives Pinkerton sobre la mejor manera de destruir el sindicato.

Allan Pinkerton decidió enviar al inmigrante irlandés James McParland al condado de Schuylkill. Asumiendo el alias de James McKenna, encontró trabajo como obrero en Shenandoah. Poco después se unió a la Asociación de Benevolencia de Trabajadores y la rama de Shenandoah de la Antigua Orden de Hibernios (AOH), una organización para inmigrantes irlandeses.

Después de unos meses de investigaciones, James McParland informó a Allan Pinkerton que algunos miembros de la Antigua Orden de los Hibernianos también estaban activos en la organización secreta Molly Maguire. McParland estimó que el grupo tenía unos 3.000 miembros. Cada condado estaba gobernado por un director de cuerpo que reclutaba miembros y daba órdenes para cometer delitos. Estos bodymasters solían ser ex-mineros que ahora trabajaban como taberneros.

Durante un período de dos años, McParland recopiló pruebas sobre las actividades delictivas de Molly Maguire. Esto incluyó el asesinato de unos cincuenta hombres en el condado de Schuylkill. Muchos de estos hombres eran administradores de minas de carbón en la región.

John Kehoe, uno de los líderes de Molly Maguire, comenzó a sospechar de James McParland y comenzó a investigar su pasado. McParland fue informado de que Kehoe estaba planeando asesinarlo, por lo que huyó del área.

En 1876 y 1877 McParland fue el testigo estrella del enjuiciamiento de John Kehoe y Molly Maguire. Veinte miembros fueron declarados culpables de asesinato y ejecutados. Esto incluyó a Kehoe, un ex activista sindical que fue condenado por un asesinato que había tenido lugar catorce años antes.

Hubo mucha controversia sobre la forma en que se llevó a cabo el juicio. Los católicos irlandeses fueron excluidos de los jurados, mientras que se aceptaron inmigrantes que no podían hablar inglés. Los inmigrantes galeses, que durante mucho tiempo habían estado en conflicto con los irlandeses en el condado de Schuylkill también estaban bien representados en estos jurados.

La mayoría de los testigos que aportaron pruebas en estos casos eran como James McParland en la nómina de las empresas ferroviarias y mineras que intentaban destruir el movimiento sindical. En otros casos, se persuadió a los acusados ​​de convertir las pruebas del estado para ayudar a condenar a sus presuntos colaboradores.

También se señaló que la mayoría de las víctimas de asesinato eran empleados de pequeñas empresas de carbón que luego fueron adquiridas por Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Company. Algunos historiadores han sugerido que fue la empresa dirigida por Franklin B. Gowen, y el hombre que inició la investigación original, la que tuvo más que ganar con estos asesinatos y la destrucción del movimiento sindical emergente.

En 1883 Gowen dejó su puesto como presidente de la empresa y regresó a su práctica legal privada. Gowen parecía estar bien, pero el 13 de diciembre de 1889 se encerró en su habitación de hotel y se suicidó pegándose un tiro en la cabeza.

Después de una larga campaña, Joseph Wayne logró persuadir al gobernador de Pensilvania, Milton Shapp, para que concediera a John Kehoe un indulto póstumo en 1980. Wayne era bisnieto de Kehoe.

¿Hay algún hombre en esta audiencia, mirándome ahora y escuchándome denunciar esta asociación, que anhele apuntarme con su pistola? Le digo que tiene tantas posibilidades aquí como nunca las tendrá. Le digo que si hay otro asesinato en este condado, cometido por esta organización, cada uno de los quinientos miembros de la orden en este condado o fuera de él. quien conspira, será culpable de asesinato en primer grado y puede ser colgado del cuello hasta que muera. Le digo que si hay otro asesinato en este condado por parte de esta sociedad, habrá una inquisición por sangre con la que nada de lo que se ha conocido en los anales de la prudencia del jurista criminal se puede comparar.

¿Y con quién estamos en deuda por esta seguridad, de la que ahora me enorgullezco? ¿A quién le debemos todo esto? Bajo la divina providencia de Dios, a quien sea todo el honor y toda la gloria, debemos esta seguridad a James McParland; y si alguna vez hubo un hombre a quien la gente de este condado debería erigir un monumento, ese es James McParland, el detective. Es simplemente una cuestión entre Molly Maguire por un lado y la Agencia de Detectives de Pinkerton por el otro; y sé demasiado bien que la agencia de detectives de Pinkerton ganará. No hay un lugar en el mundo habitable donde estos hombres puedan encontrar refugio y en el que no sean localizados.

El origen y desarrollo de Molly Maguire siempre presentará un problema difícil para el filósofo social, quien, quizás, encontrará alguna relación sutil entre el crimen y el carbón. Uno comprende el acto de un asesino común que mata por codicia, miedo u odio; pero los Molly Maguire mataron a hombres y mujeres con quienes no habían tenido tratos, contra quienes no tenían resentimientos personales, y de cuya muerte no tenían nada que ganar, excepto, tal vez, el precio de unas cuantas rondas de whisky. Cometieron asesinatos por cuenta, estúpida, brutalmente, como un buey conducido gira a izquierda o derecha a la orden, sin saber por qué, y sin importarle. Los hombres que decretaron estos monstruosos crímenes lo hicieron por las razones más triviales: una reducción de salario, una aversión personal, algún agravio imaginario de un amigo. Fueron suficientes para pedir la orden de quemar una casa donde dormían mujeres y niños, matar a tiros a sangre fría a un patrón o compañero de trabajo, esperar a un oficial de la ley y matarlo a palos. En el juicio de uno de ellos, el Sr. Franklin B. Gowen describió el reinado de estos asesinos como una época "en la que los hombres se retiraban a sus hogares a las ocho o nueve de la noche y nadie se aventuraba más allá de los recintos de su propia puerta; cuando todo hombre comprometido en cualquier empresa de magnitud, o relacionado con actividades industriales, abandonaba su casa por la mañana con la mano en la pistola, sin saber si volvería vivo de nuevo; cuando los cimientos mismos de la sociedad estaban siendo derribados. "


Los Molly Maguires

Resumen y definición de Molly Maguires
Definición y resumen: Los Molly Maguire eran una sociedad secreta de mineros del carbón irlandeses e irlandeses-estadounidenses con base en la región del carbón de Pensilvania. Los Molly Maguire buscaron un trato justo y condiciones de trabajo más seguras, lo que condujo a una amarga disputa con las empresas del carbón denominada "Huelga larga de 1875". El nombre inusual de esta sociedad secreta militante proviene de una mujer irlandesa luchadora, Molly Maguire, que dirigió violentos Agitadores Anti-terratenientes en Irlanda durante la década de 1840. El 21 de junio de 1877, 20 miembros de Molly Maguire fueron injustamente ahorcados por asesinato y luego recibieron indultos póstumos.

Molly Maguires para niños
Ulysses Grant fue el decimoctavo presidente estadounidense que ocupó el cargo desde el 4 de marzo de 1869 hasta el 4 de marzo de 1877. Uno de los eventos importantes durante su presidencia fueron los Molly Maguire.

Los hechos de Molly Maguires para niños
A continuación se detallan datos interesantes sobre Molly Maguire. La historia de Molly Maguires se cuenta en una secuencia fáctica que consta de una serie de hechos breves que proporcionan un método simple de relatar la historia y los eventos de Molly Maguires.

Hoja informativa de Molly Maguires: datos para niños

Hecho de Molly Maguires 1: La Molly Maguire original fue una legendaria mujer irlandesa que encabezó manifestantes contra los tiránicos terratenientes ingleses que intentaron robar sus casas y tierras.

Hecho de Molly Maguires 2: Los primeros 'Mollies' fueron conocidos por sangrientas peleas a puño limpio con sus opresores. La sociedad secreta de mineros del carbón irlandeses e irlandeses-estadounidenses adoptó con orgullo el nombre de su propia sociedad secreta.

Hecho de Molly Maguires 3: Los Mollies surgieron durante la depresión económica conocida como el Pánico de 1873 que se prolongó durante seis años y provocó dificultades financieras, disturbios civiles de indigencia, manifestaciones y las primeras huelgas a nivel nacional.

Hecho de Molly Maguires 4: Más de un millón de inmigrantes irlandeses huyeron de la devastación de la hambruna irlandesa de la papa en 1845 para buscar una nueva vida en los Estados Unidos. Los hombres tomaron trabajo donde pudieron conseguirlo, muchos en los ferrocarriles y otros en las minas de carbón de Pensilvania.

Hecho de Molly Maguires 5: Las minas de carbón más grandes estaban ubicadas en los condados de Carbon, Schuylkill, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Columbia, Northumberland y Lehigh de Pensilvania. Los irlandeses se enfrentaron a un trato severo y a la discriminación. El trabajo en las minas de carbón era extremadamente peligroso y las condiciones laborales eran espantosas.

Hecho 6 de Molly Maguires: La Asociación de Trabajadores Benevolentes (WBA) se estableció en 1864 para mejorar las condiciones laborales en la industria minera. Sin embargo, los organizadores de la WBA también tenían prejuicios contra los irlandeses que formaron su propio sindicato para proteger a los trabajadores irlandeses.

Hecho de Molly Maguires 7: El grupo irlandés era conocido como la Antigua Orden de los Hibernianos (AOH). Solo a los irlandeses o estadounidenses-irlandeses de ascendencia irlandesa se les permitió unirse a la sociedad AOH.

Hecho de Molly Maguires 8: Los Molly Maguire eran una organización secreta "derivada" de la AOH. Solo los miembros de confianza de AOH serían admitidos en los Mollies. La identidad de los miembros de los Mollies se mantuvo en secreto, ya que eran militantes y recurrían a la intimidación o la acción violenta si era necesario.

Hecho de Molly Maguires 9: Las condiciones de trabajo carecían de precauciones de seguridad y los mineros estaban sujetos a peligros constantes. Tanto las lesiones como las muertes fueron frecuentes. Su vida laboral fue una lucha constante y amarga por sobrevivir.

Hecho de Molly Maguires 10: Trabajo infantil: no solo las condiciones laborales eran terribles, sino que las empresas del carbón también recurrían al trabajo infantil. Los hijos de los mineros irlandeses comenzaron a trabajar a la edad de solo siete años y trabajaron por un salario de $ 1 a $ 3 dólares por semana hasta los 16 años.

Datos de Molly Maguires para niños

Molly Maguires
La información sobre Molly Maguire brinda datos interesantes e información importante sobre este importante evento que ocurrió durante la presidencia del 18 ° Presidente de los Estados Unidos de América.

Datos de Molly Maguires para niños
La interesante historia y los hechos de Molly Maguires para niños continúan a continuación.

Datos de Molly Maguires para niños

Hecho 11 de Molly Maguires: Los Molllies protestaron y las compañías de carbón comenzaron a reclutar a otros inmigrantes para reemplazar a los irlandeses. Esto provocó la "huelga larga de 1875".

Hecho 12 de Molly Maguires: Franklin B. Gowen (presidente de Filadelfia y Reading Railroad, y Filadelfia y Reading Coal and Iron Company) contrató los servicios de la Agencia Nacional de Detectives Pinkerton para ocuparse de los Mollies y su huelga.

Hecho 13 de Molly Maguires: Pinkerton seleccionó a James McParland, un irlandés del condado de Armagh, para ir de incógnito contra los Mollies.

Hecho 14 de Molly Maguires: James McParland usó el alias de "James McKenna" y logró infiltrarse en los Mollies.

Hecho 15 de Molly Maguires: James McParland trabajó con la Policía del Carbón y del Hierro (apodada los & quot; cosacos de Pensilvania & quot), una fuerza policial privada establecida por la Asamblea General de Pensilvania que fue empleada y pagada por las compañías de carbón.

Hecho 16 de Molly Maguires: La información de James McParland condujo al arresto de 60 Mollies en 1875. Los arrestos pusieron fin a la huelga, sin embargo, las Coal Companies querían que se diera un ejemplo y los hombres fueron llevados a juicio.

Hecho 17 de Molly Maguires: Los juicios individuales se llevaron a cabo desde 1875 hasta 1877 en Pottsville, Pensilvania, relacionados con presuntos crímenes cometidos por los Mollies. No se proporcionó ninguna prueba para vincular al acusado con los Molly Maguire, de hecho, no se proporcionó ninguna prueba para demostrar que existiera una sociedad tan secreta.

Hecho de Molly Maguires 19: Veinte hombres fueron ahorcados en las prisiones de los condados de Carbon y Schuylkill por asesinato en primer grado el 21 de junio de 1877, basándose en el dudoso testimonio de James McParland y los & quot; cosacos de Pensilvania & quot.

Hecho 20 de Molly Maguires: Desde entonces, los ahorcamientos de los Mollies han sido reconocidos como injustificados. Los mollies son venerados como héroes irlandeses. La película de 1970 llamada 'Molly Maguires' fue dirigida por Martin Ritt y protagonizada por Richard Harris y Sean Connery.

Datos de Molly Maguires para niños

Molly Maguires: auge de las grandes empresas y las corporaciones
Para obtener información y datos adicionales, consulte el Auge de las grandes empresas y las corporaciones que involucran a los monopolios y fideicomisos. Aprenda sobre los industriales ricos a los que se hace referencia como los barones ladrones y los capitanes de la industria y descubra la industrialización en Estados Unidos que condujo a disturbios, huelgas y sindicatos. Para obtener información adicional, consulte el artículo sobre la historia de los sindicatos.

Molly Maguires - Video del presidente Ulysses Grant
El artículo sobre Molly Maguire ofrece una descripción general de uno de los temas importantes de su mandato presidencial. El siguiente video de Ulysses Grant le brindará datos y fechas importantes adicionales sobre los eventos políticos vividos por el decimoctavo presidente estadounidense, cuya presidencia abarcó desde el 4 de marzo de 1869 hasta el 4 de marzo de 1877.

Molly Maguires - Depresión económica

Molly Maguires - Historia de EE. UU. - Hechos - Evento importante - Definición - Estadounidense - EE. UU. - Historia de EE. UU. - Molly Maguires - América - Fechas - Historia de Estados Unidos - Historia de EE. Historia - Importante - Eventos - Historia - Interesante - Información - Información - Historia estadounidense - Hechos - Histórico - Eventos importantes - Molly Maguires


Los Molly Maguires

En la década de 1850 y # 8217, las minas de carbón del noreste de Pensilvania se convirtieron en una zona de guerra, ya que los mineros luchaban por sindicalizarse y los propietarios de las minas llamaban a pistoleros contratados. Una de estas peleas se centró en un grupo que se hizo conocido como & # 8220The Molly Maguires & # 8221.

La cárcel de Jim Thorpe, Pensilvania, donde cuatro de los Molly Maguire fueron ahorcados.

Cuando la hambruna de la papa azotó Irlanda en la década de 1840 y # 8217, un gran número de irlandeses pobres de clase trabajadora emigraron a los Estados Unidos con la esperanza de encontrar seguridad económica. Muchos de ellos se asentaron en el noreste de Pensilvania, en un área de las Montañas Azules que se conoció como & # 8220The Coal Belt & # 8221. En los Estados Unidos de 1860 & # 8217, la Revolución Industrial estaba comenzando, y el carbón era su combustible. El carbón calentó las casas, alimentó los trenes y dirigió las fábricas. Toda la economía estadounidense dependía de él. Y gran parte del carbón de la nación procedía de Pensilvania.

En los años posteriores a la Guerra Civil, la Compañía de Ferrocarriles de Filadelfia y Pensilvania estaba dirigida por Frank Gowen. Un barón ladrón despiadado, Gowen esperaba comprar suficientes minas de carbón de Pensilvania para dominar toda la industria, proporcionando combustible barato para su ferrocarril y ganancias adicionales para él. En poco tiempo, Gowen poseía dos tercios de todas las minas de carbón de la región. En las pequeñas ciudades mineras de carbón en los condados de Carbon, Lackawanna, Luzerne y Schuylkill, donde casi todos eran inmigrantes irlandeses y trabajaban en las minas, las compañías de carbón de Gowen y los ferrocarriles dominaban por completo la vida de todos. Hombres y niños de hasta ocho años trabajaban en las minas y canteras. Solo en el condado de Schuylkill había más de 20.000 trabajadores del carbón, una cuarta parte de los cuales eran niños. Al igual que otros mineros en la región de la antracita de Pensilvania, vivían en viviendas propiedad de la empresa y compraban alimentos en la tienda general propiedad de la empresa (a menudo se pagaban con vales privados emitidos por la empresa en lugar de efectivo). Las condiciones de trabajo eran inseguras y los accidentes mortales eran una rutina (en 1869, un incendio de carbón en una mina mató a 110 trabajadores). Los católicos irlandeses fueron a menudo víctimas de discriminación étnica y religiosa, y fueron canalizados hacia los trabajos más peligrosos, sucios y mal pagados. La fuerza de policía local estaba organizada y pagada por la compañía de carbón, y los jueces y políticos locales dependían del apoyo político de las compañías de carbón.

Mientras tanto, se produjo la recesión conocida como el pánico financiero de 1873, y Gowen trató de proteger sus ganancias recortando los salarios y acelerando la producción. Para fortalecer a las empresas contra los trabajadores y sus sindicatos, Gowen organizó un cartel industrial que contenía las otras empresas mineras que no le pertenecían, que establecían los salarios y las condiciones para toda la zona.

En respuesta, los mineros irlandeses comenzaron a organizarse. Durante cientos de años, la gente en Irlanda había estado formando sociedades secretas armadas para luchar contra los terratenientes británicos que dominaban su país, por lo que era natural que muchos de los mismos métodos se trasladaran a Estados Unidos. Dado que los sindicatos eran ilegales, los inmigrantes transformaron la Antigua Orden de Hibernianos, que siempre había sido una organización fraternal legal, en una célula clandestina secreta de organizadores sindicales. De los 35.000 mineros del carbón en el área de Mauch Chunk, el 85% eran miembros del sindicato.

Para aplastar cualquier nuevo esfuerzo sindical, Gowen recurrió a la Agencia de Detectives Pinkerton. En octubre de 1873, los Pinkerton insertaron a un espía en la fuerza laboral, llamado James McParland pero usando el alias James McKenna, para vigilar a todos e informar a Gowen.

Durante los siguientes cuatro años, McParland se insertó en el movimiento sindical y pasó información a los Pinkerton. McParland informó que existía una organización secreta entre los mineros que se hacía llamar & # 8220Molly Maguires & # 8221, el nombre de una sociedad secreta armada en Irlanda que utilizó el asesinato y el incendio provocado para castigar a los terratenientes británicos que imputaban rentas exorbitantes a los agricultores irlandeses. Según los informes de McParland & # 8217, los Molly Maguire en Pensilvania estaban utilizando la Antigua Orden de Hibernianos como fachada para la organización sindical.

En diciembre de 1874, Gowen anunció un recorte salarial del veinte por ciento para todos los mineros y, desesperado, el sindicato del carbón se declaró en huelga en enero siguiente. En lo que se conoció como & # 8220The Long Strike & # 8221, los mineros resistieron durante casi seis meses. Las compañías de carbón respondieron con un terror implacable. Utilizando información de McParland, la policía local identificó a los líderes sindicales y arrestó a más de 25 de ellos, acusándolos de conspiración ilegal. Varios simpatizantes sindicales fueron encontrados muertos a tiros. Se convocó a la milicia estatal para disolver las manifestaciones de trabajadores. En junio de 1875, la huelga se había roto y los trabajadores hambrientos y acobardados regresaron a las minas con un recorte salarial.

Fue a raíz de la huelga fallida, informó McParland, que los Molly Maguire realmente comenzaron a ganar apoyo entre los mineros. Personas prominentes antisindicales, incluidos los capataces de la empresa, la policía local del hierro y el carbón y presuntos informantes, comenzaron a aparecer muertos. Las instalaciones de la empresa fueron saboteadas o incendiadas, incluidas oficinas de telégrafos, puentes ferroviarios y equipos de minería. Según los informes de McParland & # 8217, fue obra de los Mollies.

Las autoridades entraron ahora. En 1876, decenas de sospechosos de Molly Maguires fueron arrestados. Gowen, un ex fiscal de distrito del condado de Schuylkill, ahora se había designado como fiscal especial y supervisó personalmente los juicios. McParland fue el testigo estrella. Uno de los jueces locales se quejó del dominio de la compañía de carbón sobre todo el proceso y dijo: & # 8220Los juicios de Molly Maguire fueron una renuncia a la soberanía estatal. Una corporación privada inició la investigación a través de una agencia de detectives privados. Una fuerza policial privada arrestó a los presuntos defensores y los procesaron abogados privados de las empresas de carbón. El estado proporcionó solo la sala del tribunal y la horca. & # 8221

El 21 de junio de 1877 (ahora conocido como & # 8220The Day of the Rope & # 8221), seis Molly Maguires convictos fueron ahorcados en Pottsville, PA. El mismo día, cuatro Mollies más fueron ahorcados en Mauch Chunk. Uno de ellos fue Alexander Campbell. Según la leyenda, cuando Campbell fue sacado de su celda a la horca, se frotó la mano contra el suelo, golpeó la pared con una huella de barro y declaró que, como prueba de su inocencia, la huella de la mano nunca desaparecería. Desde entonces, la huella de la mano, según la historia, se ha mantenido a pesar de estar pintada y enlucida, y todavía es visible hoy en la celda de Campbell & # 8217 en el Old Jail Museum en Jim Thorpe, Pensilvania (el nombre tomado por la ciudad de Mauch Chunk en la década de 1920 y # 8217). Durante el año siguiente, diez Molly Maguires más fueron ahorcados.

Hoy, los historiadores están divididos sobre Molly Maguires. Algunos han llegado a la conclusión de que los Mollies eran simplemente un grupo terrorista que asesinaba a personas por rencores personales o asuntos privados, y utilizaban el movimiento sindical como una excusa conveniente. Otros elogian a los Maguire como uno de los primeros sindicatos en los campos de carbón, y condenan a McParland como un mentiroso que engañó a personas inocentes para ganarse el favor de sus jefes de Pinkerton. Varios historiadores señalan que muchos de los arrestados & # 8220Molly Maguires & # 8221 habían estado involucrados anteriormente en protestas contra el reclutamiento durante la Guerra Civil, y se preguntan si algunos de los arrestos fueron simplemente una oportunidad para ajustar cuentas viejas.

En septiembre de 1978, el gobernador de Pensilvania, Milton Shapp, emitió una declaración en la que concedía el perdón a John & # 8220Black Jack & # 8221 Kehoe, el llamado & # 8220 Rey de los Molly Maguires & # 8221 que había sido ahorcado en 1878. Shapp concluyó que los juicios habían sido Ha sido injusto, que no había pruebas reales para condenar a nadie, y anunció: & # 8220 Podemos estar orgullosos de los hombres conocidos como los Molly Maguire porque desafiantemente enfrentaron acusaciones que intentaron convertir el sindicalismo en una conspiración criminal. & # 8221


Cómo Molly Maguire & # 8217 Ejecuciones dieron a luz a una leyenda

"Eran irlandeses", afirma la voz en off. “Eran católicos”, continúa mientras la cámara recorre las vías de un elevador de carbón. "Eran rebeldes". Para la mayoría de los estadounidenses fuera de la región carbonífera del noreste de Pensilvania, esta habría sido su primera introducción a una sociedad laboral secreta de vigilantes tan arraigada en la tradición de Pensilvania que algunos historiadores han cuestionado el alcance de su existencia e influencia: los Molly Maguire. La voz en off proviene del tráiler de la década de 1970. Los Molly Maguires película, protagonizada por Sean Connery y Richard Harris en los picos de su carrera, así como la ganadora del Globo de Oro Samantha Eggars. A pesar de los bajos números de taquilla, la película reavivó un mayor interés nacional en los "Mollies", como se los conocía coloquialmente, y su papel como uno de los primeros grupos de derechos laborales no sindicalizados en los EE. UU.

Aún así, su existencia en los Estados Unidos está envuelta en un misterio, ya que (como era de esperar) no dejó registros, documentación o lista de miembros. (Los Molly Maguire salieron a la luz en Irlanda en la década de 1830 como un movimiento de agitación agraria por los derechos de los agricultores arrendatarios y luego se extendió a Inglaterra, luego a los EE. UU.) Los condenados y ejecutados por delitos atribuidos a los Mollies negaron sus actividades y asociación con el grupo. , y gran parte de la evidencia de las 20 ejecuciones de presuntos miembros entre 1877 y 1879 provino de un único detective privado que trabajaba para la infame Agencia de Detectives Pinkerton, conocida por romper huelgas, desmantelar sindicatos, intimidar a los trabajadores y cosas peores en nombre de la agencia más grande del país. corporaciones a lo largo de la Edad Dorada.

Por esta razón, su mitología ha perdurado, y hoy se cita a los Molly Maguire por haber librado la primera guerra laboral en los EE. UU., Así como como inspiración para futuros esfuerzos de organización laboral a principios del siglo XX. Pero, ¿quiénes eran realmente los Mollies? ¿Qué los unió? Y lo más importante, ¿qué querían?

James McParland, el detective de Pinkerton que se infiltró en las supuestas Molly Maguires y cuyo testimonio dio lugar a 20 ejecuciones. (Biblioteca del Congreso)

La historia de los Molly Maguire comenzó en 1835, cuando cada día más inquilinos católicos pobres se quedaban sin hogar. Estos pequeños productores de papas estaban sufriendo frente a la creciente tendencia de cercado y pastoreo de la tierra, una práctica conocida como "cercado" de la que solo los terratenientes y los arrendatarios más ricos podían beneficiarse al no poder pagar la renta que se esperaba de ellos. los menos acomodados fueron desalojados de sus hogares. A partir de esta desigualdad, surgió una especie de rebelión agrícola: se derribaron cercas y el ganado a menudo murió o resultó gravemente herido por la noche. A los que se beneficiaron de este nuevo e injusto sistema se les hizo vivir con miedo como pago por su conducta inmoral. Los rebeldes detrás de estos actos radicales se llamaron a sí mismos Molly Maguire.

En un número del 25 de agosto de 1845 de Los tiempos El escritor Thomas Campbell Foster señaló que el primer acto del llamado Molly Maguireism fue cometido contra un Lord Lorton, en retribución por el desalojo injusto de sus inquilinos irlandeses en Ballinaluck, Longford en 1835, el primer incidente de muchos. Algunos informes incluso hablan de líderes de grupos rebeldes que se disfrazan de mujeres enfermas y mendigan a agentes de tierras, intermediarios y arrendatarios ricos por monedas con las que alimentar a sus hijos cuando los rechazaban (y casi siempre este era el caso), los Molly Maguire. golpearía, robaría, amenazaría y, a menudo, golpearía a la víctima por su crueldad.

Casi dos meses antes del artículo de Campbell Foster, sin embargo, había aparecido otro artículo relacionado con los Mollies en El diario del hombre libre y a pesar de que los Molly Maguire tuvieron cuidado de ocultar sus identidades (generalmente ennegreciéndose la cara con corcho quemado) cuando estaban en acción, el contenido del texto, aunque anónimo, era absolutamente directo.

El “Discurso de Molly Maguire a sus hijos” contenía 12 reglas clave por las que todos los Mollies deben comprometerse a vivir. La dirección estaba vinculada a la inexistente Molly Maguire, cuya residencia figuraba como Maguire's Grove en la parroquia de Cloone, Co. Leitrim. Las instrucciones de la misteriosa Madre Molly fueron las siguientes:

  • No permitir a ningún propietario más que el valor justo por su tenencia.
  • Que no se debe pagar alquiler hasta la época de la cosecha.
  • Y ni siquiera entonces sin un abatimiento, donde el terreno es demasiado alto.
  • Sin perjuicio de los inquilinos, o honorarios de alguacil & # 8217s a pagar.
  • Ningún inquilino puede ser despedido a menos que no se hayan pagado dos años de alquiler.
  • Brindar ayuda moral a los propietarios en la recaudación de alquileres.
  • Apreciar y respetar a los buenos propietarios y agentes.
  • Evitar viajar de noche.
  • Nunca tomar las armas ni de día ni de noche contra ningún individuo.
  • Para evitar la interacción con la policía o el ejército (porque "solo hacen lo que no pueden ayudar").
  • No discriminar a nadie por su religión, sino juzgarlo solo por sus acciones.
  • Perdonar y olvidar lo prudente "pero estar atentos al tiempo que viene".

El interés particular que tenían las publicaciones inglesas por las historias sobre los Molly Maguire se debía al hecho de que también en su país los miembros de la sociedad secreta caminaban entre la población civil. En el Reino Unido, los Mollies estaban más concentrados en Liverpool, donde innumerables familias irlandesas se establecieron en el siglo XIX, y muchas más pasaron por la ciudad como parte de su viaje más largo a América del Norte. La presencia de los Mollies en Liverpool se notó por primera vez el 10 de mayo de 1853 en el local Liverpool Mercury :

"Una lucha de facciones regular tuvo lugar en Marybone entre los ciudadanos irlandeses en ese distrito", decía. “Se reunieron unos 200 hombres y mujeres, que se dividieron en cuatro grupos: los 'Molly Maguires', los 'Kellys', los 'Fitzpatricks' y los 'Murphys', la mayoría de los cuales iban armados con palos y piedras. Las tres últimas secciones se opusieron a las 'Molly Maguires', y los beligerantes estuvieron involucrados en un conflicto candente durante aproximadamente media hora, cuando los guardianes de la paz interfirieron ".

La rama de Liverpool de los Molly Maguire, estaba claro, había dejado atrás su objetivo original de promover enérgicamente el bienestar del pueblo irlandés. En cambio, se hicieron conocidos por su gángsterismo, una red cuya función principal era salir en defensa de sus miembros cada vez que infringían la ley, lo que hacían, y con frecuencia.

Por medios violentos, los Mollies buscaron la justicia en Irlanda y el poder en el Reino Unido. ¿Qué fue, entonces, de la facción de Mollies para quienes Inglaterra era sólo un trampolín, la primera etapa de su viaje a un continente a través del vasto océano? De alguna manera, fueron el subgrupo más notorio de todos.

Recolectores de pizarra en una mina de antracita cerca de Scranton, Pensilvania, 1905. Aunque los Molly Maguire fueron arrestados, sus esfuerzos finalmente llevaron a una reforma de las condiciones laborales en toda la industria. (Biblioteca pública de Boston / Flickr)

A mediados del siglo XIX, la industria de la minería del carbón había comenzado a dominar el estado de Pensilvania. Ansiosas por atraer más mano de obra, las compañías de carbón comenzaron a contratar inmigrantes del extranjero con la intención de pagarles menos que a sus empleados estadounidenses actuales, al tiempo que colgaban la falsa promesa de “hacer fortuna” frente a sus narices. Pero para la mayoría de estos inmigrantes, era imposible acumular una cantidad suficiente de dinero. En cambio, trabajaron hasta el hueso en las minas de carbón, donde un movimiento en falso podía significar lesiones o la muerte y traían a casa una miseria al final de cada día largo y duro. Entre las décadas de 1840 y 1860, unos 20.000 inmigrantes irlandeses habían sido víctimas de esta forma de vida.

A partir de 1873 y durante seis largos años, una de las peores depresiones que jamás haya golpeado a los Estados Unidos dejó a una quinta parte de la población trabajadora sin empleo. Otro quinto, los privilegiados, mantenían trabajos de tiempo completo. Fue una época de desigualdad desenfrenada, y para los inmigrantes irlandeses con vínculos con los Mollies, un eco cruel de los conflictos por la tierra en Irlanda años antes. While the masses starved, a small few luxuriated fury ensued, and with it came acts of arson, kidnapping, and murder.

Through Franklin B. Gowan, president of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad and Coal and Iron Companies (as well as the wealthiest anthracite coal mine owner in the world at the time), Pinkerton private detective James McParland, himself a native of Co. Armagh, was selected to go undercover against the Mollies, infiltrating the group to bring them to justice from the inside. Under the name “James McKenna,” he became a valued member of the organization in order to furnish his employers with information on murder and kidnapping plots. But, frustratingly, leads were few and far between. He wrote: “I am sick and tired of this thing. I seem to be making no progress.”

By this time, an unhappy 85 percent of Pennsylvania miners had joined the union to fight for their welfare. Wishing to put an end to this and secure future cheap labor for his empire, Franklin B. Gowan took a gamble and forced a worker’s strike, which began on January 1, 1875. Around this time, McParland came up with the theory that the Molly Maguires, beginning to worry about the repercussions of their their violent actions, had taken on a new name, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, a public and peaceful-seeming organization. Out of their 450 members, 400 belonged to the union.

Franklin B. Gowen, district attorney for Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, president of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, who prosecuted many of the crimes attributed to the Molly Maguires.

Edward Coyle, the leader of the union and Ancient Order of Hibernians, was mysteriously murdered that March. Later that year, three men and two women, all known Mollies identified by James McParland, were attacked in their home by masked men. Two, a man and a woman, were killed. Horrified, James McParland theorized the masked attackers to have been vigilantes hired by his employers. It is important to note that his outrage did not lie with the idea of male Mollies being killed as a result of their crimes the cold-blooded murder of women and (potentially) children, however, was more than he could bear. He took the issue up with his employers. Despite these protests, the vigilante attacks continued.

The union was all but shattered by the loss of its leaders and continuing attacks on its strikers. Stories began to spread of similar attacks in mining communities beyond Pennsylvania, in Illinois, New Jersey, and Ohio. Fear claimed the season, and after six months, the strike came to an end. The miners returned to work worse off than before with a 20 percent cut in pay leaving them beyond destitute. Those who were members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (and, ostensibly, the Molly Maguires), however, weren’t willing to give in so easily.

After the atrocities their group had suffered, public support for the Mollies had begun to mount. McParland wrote, “Men, who last winter would not notice a Molly Maguire, are now glad to take them by the hand and make much of them. If the bosses exercise tyranny over the men, they appear to look to the organization for help.” And help they did. The coalfield Irish could no longer trust the legal system to settle their grievances, and so beef with lawyers and policemen was turned over to the ruthless Mollies for handling. Bodies began to pile up, and from his place within the inner circle of the Molly Maguires, James McParland saw it all.

So began the trials of those at the heart of the organization, those who Franklin B. Gowan referred to as the “puppet-masters.” Determined to bring the Mollies to an end, he appointed himself as a special prosecutor.

Schuylkill County Jail, where 10 alleged Molly Maguire members were hanged in 1877. The jail has a sign marking the occasion and murky events that led to the executions. (Jo Guldi / Flickr)

With death on the line in a court setting, McParland proved more comfortable. Ultimately, his testimony in the trials helped send ten men to the gallows for the crimes they were charged with. He argued firmly that the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Molly Maguires were indeed one and the same, and all defendants guilty of their murders.

On June 21, 1877, six men were hanged at the prison in Pottsville . Miners, along with their wives and children, had walked through the night from surrounding areas to pay homage, and by 9am “the crowd in Pottsville stretched as far as one could see.” The people were completely silent in order to pay due respect to those about to die. Ten more men were hanged at a Carbon County prison in Mauch Chuk (present day Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania).

One man, Alexander Campbell , is reported to have slapped a muddy handprint on the wall of his holding cell being being removed from it, loudly proclaiming “There is proof of my words. That mark of mine will never be wiped out. It will remain forever to shame the county for hanging an innocent man.” Ten more of his fellow Molly Maguires died in the same spot over the next two years, including local A.O.H. leader John Kehoe and supposed “king” of the Mollies (played by Sean Connery in The Molly Maguires ).

Whether the Molly Maguires existed as a unified and organized society in Pennsylvania in the second half of the 19th century is almost beside the point. As Boston College historian Kevin Kenny notes , “some Irish workers in Pennsylvania clearly used violence to advance the cause of labor as they saw it.” And today, the executions and violence inflicted upon Irish coal miners is correctly identified as one of the worst perversions of the American justice system of the century.

The Old Jail Museum in Jim Thorpe, PA, where many of the Molly Maguires were held and some executed. (Google Streetview Screenshot)

Nine years after The Molly Maguires was released in theaters and more than 100 years after the trials, Pennsylvania governor Milton Shapp posthumously pardoned John Kehoe, calling the Mollies “martyrs to labor” and arguing that far from actual criminal activity, it was instead Kehoe’s enviable leadership of the miners that caused Franklin Gowan “to fear, despise and ultimately destroy [him].”

“[I]t is impossible for us to imagine the plight of the 19th Century miners in Pennsylvania’s anthracite region,” Shapp wrote . “We can be proud of the men known as the Molly Maguires, because they defiantly faced allegations which attempted to make trade unionism a criminal conspiracy.”

Writing in 1994, Carbon County judge James P. Lavelle put the Molly Maguire courtroom proceedings into even starker terms: “The Molly Maguire trials were a surrender of state sovereignty. A private corporation initiated the investigation through a private detective agency. A private police force arrested the alleged defenders, and private attorneys for the coal companies prosecuted them. The state provided only the courtroom and the gallows.”

Their legacy lives on in the many worker-led disruptions of industry throughout the 20th century, and their “organization” such as it was, is considered the first “worker-only led labor movement in American history.”

And though there has never been any official primary documentation of the society in the U.S., you can still visit and view all the archives related to the court proceedings at the Pennsylvania State Archives. Who knows, maybe there’s something there just waiting to be discovered that can settle the question once and for all.

Anyone interested in learning more should also visit the Old Jail Museum in Jim Thorpe, where visitors can walk around the same halls and rooms where the Mollies were imprisoned and hanged. You can even still see Campbell’s handprint on the wall. (The museum is also currently for sale for the especially curious.)


In American History

In Pennsylvania the Molly Maguires apparently acted behind the cover of an ostensibly peaceful Irish fraternal organization called the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH). The case was cracked by a Pinkerton detective, James McParlan, who spent almost two years in the coal district working undercover.

More than fifty Molly Maguires went on trial between 1875 and 1878 twenty were executed and twenty more went to prison. The first ten Molly Maguires were hanged on a single day, 21 June 1877, known to the people of the anthracite region ever since as “Black Thursday.”


The Molly Maguires stood accused of killing as many as sixteen mine owners, superintendents, bosses, and workers. Their trials, conducted in the midst of enormously hostile national publicity, were a travesty of justice. The defendants were arrested by the private police force of the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad, whose ambitious president, Franklin B. Gowen, had financed the Pinkerton operation.

They were convicted on the evidence of an undercover detective who was accused (somewhat half-heartedly) by the defense of being an agent provocateur, supplemented by the confessions of a series of informers who had turned state’s evidence to save their necks.

Irish Catholics were excluded from the juries as a matter of course. Most of the prosecuting attorneys worked for railroads and mining companies. Remarkably, Franklin B. Gowen himself appeared as the star prosecutor at several trials, with his courtroom speeches rushed into print as popular pamphlets.

In effect, the AOH itself was put on trial: mere membership of that organization was presented as de facto membership of the Molly Maguires, and membership of either was routinely presented by the prosecution as evidence of guilt—on charges not simply of belonging to an oath-bound society but of using that society to plan and execute diabolical crimes.

Viewed in retrospect, the case of the Molly Maguires displayed many of the classic hallmarks of a U.S. conspiracy theory. Even by nineteenth-century standards the arrests, trials, and executions were flagrant in their abuse of judicial procedure and their flaunting of corporate power. Yet only a handful of dissenting voices were to be heard, chiefly those of labor radicals.

To explain why something like this could happen it is important to understand why the prosecution’s depiction of the Irish defendants seemed so convincing to contemporaries. The prosecution offered no plausible explanation of motive and nor, it seems, was one expected.

The explanation of Irish depravity was simply that the Irish were depraved by nature they killed people because that’s the type of people they were. This argument, while perfectly circular, was a surprisingly powerful one in the United States of the mid-nineteenth century.

Irish American violence and depravity, from the labor upheavals and urban rioting of the antebellum era to the draft riots of the Civil War and the Orange and Green riots of 1870�, were presented as the logical transatlantic outgrowth of an alien immigrant culture.

In the United States, moreover, that culture was equipped with an international conspiratorial organization, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, whose tentacles were said to reach across both the North American continent and the Atlantic Ocean.

The inherent savagery of the Irish was the guiding premise in what passed for the first wave of interpretation of the Molly Maguires, a stream of pamphlets, newspaper reports, and histories produced by contemporaries.

Even a somewhat sympathetic observer like Dewees (The Molly Maguires: The Origins, Growth, and Character of the Organization, 1877) took the Irish propensity for violence more or less for granted, while the author of the other standard contemporary history, Allan Pinkerton—founder of the famous detective agency—took Irish depravity as his central theme (The Molly Maguires and the Detectives, 1877).

This highly pejorative and highly conspiratorial perspective, which constituted the foundational myth of the Molly Maguires, remained dominant for the next two generations, resurfacing, for example, in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel The Valley of Fear (1904) and providing a staple of dime novel fiction until the mid-twentieth century.

By the 1930s, however, the tide had begun to turn. Anthony Bimba, a Marxist historian, was the first to offer a major revision (The Molly Maguires, 1932), placing the Molly Maguire affair firmly in the context of labor and capital.

So concerned was Bimba to overturn the prevailing myth of the Molly Maguires, however, that he turned it on its head, retaining its elements of circularity, tautology, and conspiracy while transferring the burden of evil from Irish workers to their employers. Evil is not a very useful category of historical analysis, at least in cases like this, for it freezes time and character rather than trying to explain causation and motivation.

Why did the employers frame twenty innocent men? Because they were evil or, put another way, because they were capitalist. At the same time, by collapsing all workers into a single category, Bimba ignored the class and ethnic diversity among them, a consideration that is now crucial to our understanding.

J. Walter Coleman, in The Molly Maguire Riots: Industrial Conflict in the Pennsylvania Coal Region (1936), was the first to open up this line of inquiry. Despite its apparently pejorative title, Coleman’s book is among the most sympathetic and convincing accounts of the subject.

The Molly Maguires, he argued, represented a specifically Irish form of labor protest, distinct from the British-inspired tradition of trade unionism in the anthracite region. If this diversity is one of the keys to understanding the Molly Maguires, another is the inherent unreliability of the evidence produced by James McParlan. He was, after all, a trained liar.

Both of these points were persuasively made by Coleman but largely ignored in Wayne G. Broehl’s The Molly Maguires (1964), which, by the standards of its time, seems curiously sympathetic to James McParlan, to his employer Allan Pinkerton, and to the employer of both, Franklin B. Gowen.

A rendition of the subject more in keeping with the radical ethic of the 1960s can be found in the film The Molly Maguires (dir. Martin Ritt 1970) starring Sean Connery as the hero (alleged Molly ringleader John Kehoe) and Richard Harris as the anti-hero (turncoat James McParlan).

It is a revealing footnote to U.S. cultural history that the director, Walter Bernstein, had been blacklisted in the McCarthy era and in part saw his film as a response to Elia Kazan, who had notoriously “named names” in the 1950s, and whose hero in On the Waterfront informs against his corrupt union bosses.

How, then, is one to make sense of the Molly Maguires? Clearly, what is needed is an explanation that can break free of the two existing poles of interpretation: the Molly Maguires as depraved killers and the Molly Maguires as innocent victims of oppression, whether economic, religious, or ethnic.

The Mollys themselves, being socially marginalized and largely illiterate, left us virtually no evidence, which exposes the subject to all manner of conspiracy theories, from both the Right and the Left. We do, however, have plenty of evidence about them left by other people: employers, Catholic clergymen, politicians, newspapermen, pamphleteers, census takers, government officials, and contemporary historians.

Read carefully, these forms of evidence can yield at least some reliable information about who the Mollys were. Equally important, they can tell us a great deal about the aims and motivations of those who set out to destroy them. In the end, though, some fundamental historical questions demand at least a tentative answer: Who were the Molly Maguires, what did they do, and why?

The starting place in seeking an answer to these questions is the country where the Molly Maguires originated. To the historian familiar with Ireland as well as the United States, the most striking aspect of the activities in Pennsylvania is how clearly they conformed to a pattern of violent protest evident in the Irish countryside from the mid-eighteenth century onward.

The Molly Maguires, who emerged toward the end of the Great Famine (1845�), were so named because their members (invariably young men) disguised themselves in women’s clothing, used powder or burnt cork on their faces, and pledged their allegiance to a mythical woman who symbolized their struggle against injustice.

The American Mollys were evidently a rare transatlantic outgrowth of this pattern of Irish rural protest. Contrary to contemporary conspiracy theories, however, it is highly unlikely that there was any direct continuity of organization or personnel between Ireland and Pennsylvania.

There is no evidence at all that a conspiratorial organization was somehow imported into the United States by Irish immigrants, nor is there any evidence that individuals convicted in Pennsylvania had been involved in violent activities in Ireland.

The immigrants did arrive, however, with a cultural memory and established social traditions. Faced with appalling conditions in the mines of Pennsylvania, they responded by deploying a specifically Irish form of collective violence against their enemies, up to and including assassination.

To that extent, the American Molly Maguires clearly did exist, even if they never existed as the full-fledged diabolical organization depicted by contemporaries. They were not purely a figment of the conspiratorial imagination indeed the conspiracy theories about them could have achieved little credibility if Irish workers had not been engaged in collective violence of some sort.

There were two distinct waves of Molly Maguire activity in Pennsylvania, one in the 1860s and the other in the 1870s. The first wave, which included six assassinations, occurred during and directly after the Civil War.

Nobody was convicted of these crimes at the time, although a mysterious group called the Molly Maguires was widely believed to be responsible. Only during the trials of the 1870s were the killings of the previous decade retrospectively traced to individual members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

At the heart of the violence in the 1860s was a combination of resistance to the military draft with some form of rudimentary labor organizing by a shadowy group known variously as the “Committee,” the “Buckshots,” and the “Molly Maguires.” During the crisis of the Civil War, all forms of labor organizing were seen as potentially seditious.

The second wave of violence did not occur until 1875, in part because of the introduction of a more efficient policing and judicial system, but mainly because of the emergence of a powerful new trade union, the Workingmen’s Benevolent Association (WBA), which united Irish, British, and U.S. workers across the lines of ethnicity and skill.

The labor movement of the anthracite region now took two distinct but overlapping forms: a powerful and inclusive trade union movement, half of whose leaders were Irishborn and an exclusively Irish and largely unskilled group of workers called the Molly Maguires.

Favoring collective bargaining, strikes, and peaceful reform, the leaders of the WBA publicly condemned violence, singling out the Molly Maguires specifically. Yet Franklin B. Gowen repeatedly insisted that the WBA was simply a cover for the Molly Maguires, who constituted the union’s terrorist arm.

Although this claim was manifestly false, it was highly effective by collapsing the distinction between the two organizations Gowen succeeded in destroying the power of both. Not only was the union discredited by this strategy, the Molly Maguires were equipped with an institutional structure they never had. The defeat of one would now entail the defeat of the other.

To gather information against both arms of the labor movement, Gowen hired Allan Pinkerton in October 1873. Pinkerton dispatched James McParlan to the anthracite region. Several other agents would follow later. Shortly after McParlan fled the anthracite region, in spring 1875, matters reached a climax. After a heroic six-month strike against Gowen and his railroad, the WBA went down to final defeat.

In the disarray that followed, the Molly Maguires stepped up their activities to a new level: six of the sixteen assassinations attributed to them took place in the summer of 1875, even as the leaders of the now-defunct trade union continued to voice their condemnation. In January 1876 the arrests began, and that summer the famous trials commenced.

With labor utterly defeated, Franklin B. Gowen completed his conquest of the local economy, securing full control over production and distribution in the lower anthracite region. This was the goal the trade union and the Molly Maguires had long threatened, and it is quite clear that Gowen had been prepared to take all necessary means to eliminate that threat.

For almost a century nobody in the Pennsylvania anthracite region was willing to say much about the Molly Maguires. The story was too painful, too divisive. Not the least remarkable aspect of this ongoing story, however, has been a dramatic renewal of interest in the anthracite region itself.

Every June 21 for the last six years several hundred people have arrived in the mining region to commemorate the Molly Maguires. Descendants of the convicted men and their alleged victims have sat down together to eat, drink, and talk.


Molly Maguires in Nineteenth Century America

June 21, 1877 became known in PA history as the “day of the rope”. It was the day that ten Irishmen were hanged after being convicted for murdering a coal mine manager.

In the early 1800s anthracite coal was discovered in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Soon people from all over were arriving in the small town of Mauch Chunk to work in the coalmines.

Irish Arrive in Coalmines and Labeled as Molly Maguires

During the Civil War Irish immigrants arrived to work in Pennsylvania coalmines. From the moment of their arrival, they were considered outcasts. In the coalmines, they worked with other Europeans from countries such as Wales, England, and Germany.

Because of the history between Ireland and Great Britain the Irish were thought of as trouble makers and soon earned the name of American Molly Maguires. The term Molly Maguire originated in Ireland and is named for a group of Irishmen who went against the English landlords to help a homeless widow woman by the name of Molly Maguire. The Irishmen stole food for her and her children.

Irishmen who were members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians were marked as Molly Maguires. AOH members were Irish Catholics.

Coalminers Protest against the Civil War

The problems began in northeast Pennsylvania when President Abraham Lincoln called for a draft of 300,000 militiamen, 17,000 of those men were to come from Pennsylvania. Women and boys began to protest against the drafters by throwing hot water, sticks, stones, and anything else at them when they came to take a census.

On October 16, 1862, the draft list was displayed and what turned out to be a nonviolent protest soon became violent. In order to end the violence, Colonel Alexander McClure, friend to President Lincoln, asked if the conscripts could be told the quota is filled for Pennsylvania and they do not need to report to duty? Although, it was not true, Lincoln agreed in order to end the violence.

Violence in the Coalmines Grew

By the 1870s the working and living conditions for the coalminers were intolerable. The mine owners refused to improve the conditions. Soon anyone involved in the operations of the coalmines were beaten and/or murdered.

Coalmine owners brought in the Pinkerton Detectives to investigate who was responsible for the violent acts.

James McParland took the name of James Mckenna and infiltrated the AOH, aka Molly Maguires. McKenna soon became a respected member of the group because he was able to read and write.

During his tenure with the group several murders took place including one of a police officer. The Order felt that Benjamin Yost betrayed them when he beat and arrested one of the AOH members, Thomas Duffy.

The murder of Yost took place on July 4, 1875. Hugh McGhen, James Boyle, and James ‘Powder Keg’ Kerrigan waited in a near by cemetery for Yost’s arrival. While climbing a ladder to extinguish a lantern the three man came out of the shadows and shot Yost. He fell to the ground dead.

Several more killings took place and along with them came arrests. The AOH members soon realized there had to be an informer in the group. After confronting the groups leader, Jack Kehoe, McKenna disappeared.

Molly Maguires Arrested for Murder

Arrested for the murders of Morgan Powell, John P. Jones, and Benjamin Doyle were Alexander Campbell, Thomas Duffy, James Roarity, Hugh McGehn, James Carroll, and James Boyle.

Although Alexander Campbell was not arrested for actually killing the men he was considered the master mind behind the murders of Powell and Jones.

Alexander Campbell is Put on Trial

During his trial, James McPharland reappears and testifies that the night before the murder of Jones, Campbell met with Kelly and Doyle at his saloon.

The jurors came to the decision that Campbell was guilty of masterminding the murders and was therefore to be hanged.

Handprint on Cell Wall Suggests Innocence

Before Alexander Campbell was taken to the gallows to be hanged, he placed his hand upon the wall of his prison cell and told the guard that his handprint will remain as proof of his innocence


Hiring the Pinkerton Agency

In 1873, Gowen hired the Pinkerton Detective Agency, paying them $100,000 to arrange for spies to infiltrate and join the Workingman&aposs Benevolent Agency (WBA). Gowen needed to get information to force the workers into submission and break their backs to eliminate opposition. They recruited James McFarland to go undercover. McFarland was able to gain information and his orders were "to remain in the field until every cut-throat has paid with his life for the lives cruelly taken." In the meantime, the Pinkerton Agency paid vigilantes who murdered miners who were suspected of belonging to the Molly Maguires.


Flogging Molly – A Brief History of the Molly Maguires

On June 21, 1877, four Irish-born miners sat in a Pennsylvania cell waiting for their death sentence to be answered by a hangman’s noose. The four men were accused of murder and of having been members of the notorious Molly Maguires.

Their conviction and execution rested on the testimony of a single Pinkerton detective. This man would later be discredited as a charlatan decades later. But as the legend goes, when the guards entered the cell of one of the convicted men, Alexander Campbell, he bent over and dabbed the palm of his hand with a substance from the floor.

Turning to the guards, it is said that he stated, “I am innocent, and let this be my testimony.” With that, Campbell slammed his open palm against the wall of his cell, leaving behind a mark that remains there to this day, despite every effort to scrub it away.

The story of the Molly Maguires began among the anthracite coalfields in Pennsylvania. These fields produced the lifeblood of the American industrial age, and also gave birth to the robber barons of the era. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the fields created an exploited class of workers. These workers consisted of an immigrant labor force, recently arrived from Wales, Germany, the Netherlands, but mostly from Ireland. These workers earned less than $12 a week and were often paid in scrip: company-issued paper money, worthless outside the coalfields.

Frank Gowen, mine owner and president of the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad, was not pleased with the growing power of the miner’s union, the Workingmen’s Benevolent Association (WBA), and called upon the Pinkerton Detective Agency to find a way to break the union. The Pinkertons had built a reputation of destroying labor unions through violence and thuggary, not limiting themselves to the laws of the land.

The Pinkertons sent in agent James McParland under the alias of James McKenna, who for two years lived among the Irish miners building a case against the union activists. McParland claimed that a secret organization, known as the Molly Maguires, engaged in criminal activities throughout the minefield. He accused the Molly Maguires of having participated in nearly fifty murders. The accused, consisting mainly of Irish labor leaders and activists, were quickly arrested and tried for the crimes.

During the Molly trials, the accused had the deck stacked against them. The prosecutor was none other than Frank Gowan, the man who had hired the Pinkertons. The judge was an old friend of Gowan’s, and was brought in by the railroad company to rule over the trials. Between 1877 and 1879, nineteen miners were sent to their deaths as a result of Molly Maguire trials. All of them died proclaiming their innocence.

Alexander Campbell was one of four men accused of the murder of mining company executives John P. Jones and Morgan Powell. The jury included non-English speaking German immigrants and Welsh immigrants, known for not getting along with their Irish neighbors. After their conviction, for days the men listened to the noise made by gallows being built outside of their prison cells. On the day of the execution, the cursed men kept their dignity with Campbell making his last great stand.

In 1906, still acting as a Pinkerton agent, James McParland resurfaced during a murder trial against ‘Big Bill’ Haywood from the Western Federation of Miners. During the trial, the famous Charles Darrow, defending Haywood, was able to prove that McParland had helped to fabricate the only evidence against the labor leader. Haywood was released after the case fell apart and McParland’s reputation was discredited.

Still to this day, the handprint of Alexander Campbell remains, acting as a blemish on the face of American history and a reminder of the injustice that took place in the Pennsylvania minefields over 130 years ago. In 2006, both branches of the Pennsylvania legislature passed resolutions recognizing the trials of Alexander Campbell and the other accused Molly Maguires as being inherently unconstitutional, and called on Governor Ed Rendell (D) to do the same, but he did not.


Remembering the Molly Maguires: Sacrifice, Duty, and Faithful Fortitude

Do you worry about today or what the future holds? Opening the newspaper or reading the latest tweet certainly provides enough kindling for worry to become a roaring fire. If this sounds familiar, you are not alone.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about fears Americans and other nationalities confronted in the past. Pondering history is not meant to diminish current events that cause anxiety, especially this past year. However, stepping back to consider other difficulties in America’s history can provide encouragement (we’ve been here before) and hope (we’ve also moved on before).

Irish Catholics fled atrocities, starvation, and the Great Potato Famine. They did not arrive in America as a privileged group but clawed their way to a better life through hard work and determination. They readily accepted the sacrifice, for in exchange, America offered them “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Coal miners experienced dangerous working conditions, including hazardous gases, coal dust, smoke, falling rocks, fires, and flooding. If they survived the coal mines, many succumbed to fatal pulmonary diseases by age 50. My husband’s maternal grandmother lost two husbands to coal mining accidents.

Enter the Molly Maguires, a labor movement that pushed for fair wages and safer working conditions. Mine owners had no sympathy. Frank Gowen, who headed the Reading Railroad, and the monopoly on railroad and coal mining, was determined to end the Mollies. With unlimited resources and political power, he used extreme measures, creating his own Coal & Iron Police and hiring a Pinkerton Detective to infiltrate the group.

After the collapse of a strike for better conditions, miners’ wages decreased 20%. The region began experiencing tit-for-tat violence between railroad/mining bosses and Molly Maguires. Gowen’s Coal & Iron Police and the Pinkerton informant shockingly escalated tensions by shooting Mollies, including the killing of a pregnant mother and her unborn baby. The perpetrators were not arrested, although witnesses saw Gowen’s Coal & Iron Police at the scene.

The exact actions of the Molly Maguires remain unclear. Debate raged whether Mollies or vigilantes killed mining and railroad managers. The Molly Maguires contended they were victims of false evidence. Historians now believe the Pinkerton informant, whose testimony condemned all 20 men, provided false statements.

Gowen’s lethal and political power had no bounds. He even convinced Archbishop James Wood to threaten Molly Maguires with excommunication. The Mollies ignored the Archbishop.

Intent on halting the group’s push for labor rights, Gowen also led efforts to mastermind kangaroo trials — all to rig the outcome. They prohibited Irish Catholics from serving as jurors and instead used jurors lacking English or from immigrant groups with prejudices against the Irish. Harold Aurand, in “Coal Cracker Culture,” wrote about the miscarriage of justice:

“The Molly Maguire investigation and trials marked one of the most astounding surrenders of sovereignty in American history. A private corporation initiated the investigation through a private detective agency, a private police force arrested the supposed offenders, and coal company attorneys prosecuted — the state provided only the courtroom and hangman.”

Not surprisingly, jurors returned guilty verdicts. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania hanged 10 Mollies on 21 June and another 10 during the ensuing months. Instead of standing up against the wickedness, officials stood by as private citizens bent the levers of government for illegal goals — they got away with it for 102 years.

This changed in 1979, when Pennsylvania pardoned the group’s leader, who had been hanged along with the others, and admitted the trials and hangings represented “a shameful part of…history.” The Schuylkill County Historical Society now highlights the Molly Maguires and sells a book describing them as “labor’s martyred pioneers.”

A few days before his hanging, Patrick Hester spoke about the injustice. While declaring his innocence, he prayed for God to forgive the men who had illegally plotted against him. Remarkably, he acknowledged “everything has to come as God wills it.” Other Molly Maguires did the same. An article summed up the men with one word: fortitude.

My husband’s great-grandfather, Patrick Collins, also had fortitude. Holding a position in the group made Collins a marked man. An 1878 New York Times hit-piece on him praised the “Honorable” Gowen, who smugly asserted, “the day will come” when he “[will] be hung” in the very “jail” Collins built as County Commissioner. Collins lived into old age Gowen didn’t.

We credit Patrick’s survival to God’s providential mercy. From knowing Mollies that hanged to being falsely accused, he endured “evil men” conspiring to “make this evil world” (St. Augustine). He could have become embittered toward life, America, and God. But, he did not.

Patrick taught his children to love God and country and to stand up against wrongs these values continued like a river flowing through his descendants. Each generation has shown faithful fortitude and served America, either in the military, fighting to protect our freedoms, or on the Homefront. This happens not by accident, for “one generation commends” Godly faith and values “to another” (Psalms).

That mantle now passes to us. Ours is a duty to teach the next generation to love God and country and to stand up against wrongs. Let challenges not overwhelm — ponder history, and perhaps today’s troubles will pale in comparison. With Father’s Day just yesterday, it’s appropriate to remember “my father’s God” is also “my God,” and He is most certainly “my strength,” “my defense,” and “my salvation.”

Hilary F. Collins lives in northern Virginia where she and her family attend a Catholic Church in the Arlington Diocese. She is a homeschooling mom. Along with her husband, they strive to instill Godly knowledge and faithful fortitude in their child.


The Molly Maguires

In the later part of the 19th century, the anthracite coal region of Pennsylvania was swept by hysteria over a secret Irish immigrant society, The Molly Maguires, who were accused of committing murder and industrial sabotage. Vilified by the establishment of the day, with time they would be seen as heroes of the labor movement and idolized as counter-culture heroes in a movie. Who though were “The Molly Maguires” and is either version correct?

Even the origin of the term “Molly Maguire” is subject to debate. Legend has it that it arose from the name of an old woman who was forcibly evicted from her property, a move that was then violently resisted by neighbors on her behalf. Other traditions point to a tactic of ambushing a heartless rent collector or landlord by having one of the participants dress as a woman and act as a decoy to slow the intended targets carriage so that it could be attacked. However, there is little evidence that an organized secret society existed in Ireland called “The Molly Maguires”, rather it was a term used to describe “rural justice” and reprisals against wrongs committed by the ruling class.

In the years after the civil war America’s industrial boom and expansion was fueled by coal and the mines of Pennsylvania attracted thousands of Irish immigrants. The conditions of employment were deplorable and exploitive: in addition to back breaking labor the miners were required to pay rent for homes that were owned by the mine, had to shop in stores owned by the mine and would have deductions from their pay for the use of the very tools they used to mine coal. It was not unusual after a week’s hard labor for a miner to find himself owing money to the mine rather than receiving pay. The miners lived, as one mine owner put it, in a state of “semi-slavery.”

Labor Unions did try to form to work to protect the miners, but they were brutally suppressed, by men like Franklin B. Gowen. Gowen was a former Pennsylvania prosecutor who had ruthlessly climbed to power of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad and Philadelphia Coal and Iron Company. Gowen was not satisfied in simply crushing the unions, he wished to exterminate any future threat of organized resistance and leadership among the Irish Catholic mining community. To justify a crack down on potential organizers, Gowen, along with newspaper publisher Benjamin Bannon, began disseminating information of a secret organization that was engaged in a campaign of violence, “The Molly Maguires”. To add credibility to this conspiracy theory, Gowen took steps to link the alleged “Molly Maguires” to a known “secret organization” of Irish Americans, who by organizing and speaking up for the rights Irish immigrants had already caused the mine owners trouble: the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

Gowen arranged for a Pinkerton Detective, James McParland to infiltrate the AOH. McParland was an Irish immigrant who had a checkered past, even allegations of having committed a murder in Buffalo. Alan Pinkerton stated McParland was not the sort of man to be troubled if he thought Gowen’s attack on the AOH was “simply persecution for opinions sake.” McParland was able to infiltrate the miners and the AOH, but after two years was unable to provide a link between the violence of the coalfields and the AOH, nor the existence of a group called the “Molly Maguires.” This was no problem as Gowen was able to arrange through his influence that any violent act that occurred was an example of “Molly violence”. The coalfields had always been a fertile ground for feuds and vigilante justice, and not just by Irish Americans, a group of Dutch Immigrants, the Mudochs, had waged an undeclared war against Irish American for years. It is also likely more than coincidence that some of the smaller mine owners who were the victims of “The Mollies” were also competitors of Gowen. Gowen’s agent McParland, having found no direct evidence of the Mollies, was not averse to attempting to provoke members of the AOH to violence where they could be entrapped. Pinkerton himself openly admitted that members of the AOH were “quietly murdered.”

Events culminated in bringing 50 miners to trial. That Gowen was leaving nothing to chance with the outcome of the trials can be seen in the case of “Black Jack Kehoe”. Kehoe, a retired miner and leader of the AOH had been a known spokesman for miner rights. Gowen arranged for himself to serve as prosecutor in Kehoe’s case (a clear conflict of interest) and imported a sympathetic judge to hear the case. Irish Catholics were barred from serving on the jury. One juror, a Dutch immigrant, later admitted that he did not understand much of the English testimony “but was for hanging him anyway”. Kehoe was convicted of a murder that had occurred 14 years before despite the fact that the victim, who had lived for several days after the attack and knew Kehoe, never implicated him and several witnesses for Kehoe placed him away from the scene of the attack. However, Gowen, through testimony from McParland and others that is now largely considered perjury, successfully portrayed Kehoe as “The King of the Mollies.” Kehoe and eighteen other men would eventually be hanged.

As to the credibility of Gowen and McParland’s claims regarding the existence of the “Molly Maguires”, one can draw conclusions from their later lives. McParland would later fail in an attempt to frame several labor leaders for the murder of the former Governor of Idaho. Once again, McParland would again try to invoke the image of a “secret conspiracy” but failed to convince anyone of its existence. Gowen would later be forced to resign his position as president of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad and Philadelphia Coal and Iron Company, but not without making powerful enemies of men perhaps even more ruthless than himself: J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller. Gowen was found dead in a case of a “suspicious suicide”.

It is somewhat sad to note that the men who were hanged for being “Molly Maguires” are still victims of the efforts of Gowen and McParland today, but ironically by people who attempt to idolize them. These admirers of the “Mollies” still accept as fact the dubious accusations of their persecutors, but now for their own ends portray these events as the acts of righteous “Robin Hoods”. It is hoped that one day the less romantic but perhaps more frightening truth will win out, that these men were likely the innocent victims of one of the great witch hunts in history and their chief crime was nothing more than for the “crime” of being Irish, Catholic and Hibernians.


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Comentarios:

  1. Banbhan

    Qué palabras necesarias ... genial, una frase brillante

  2. Yot

    Hubo un error



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