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“The Most Dangerous Woman in America”

Written by: Utah Phillips
Performed by: Utah Phillips & Ani DiFranco


“I was traveling through Illinois, when I was invited to stop and sing at a memorial, there in a little town called Mount Olive. Now, who of note in American history is buried in the cemetery in Mount Olive. I’ll give you a hint, she was a woman, it is a Union Miner’s Cemetery. Have it yet? Mary Harris, Mary Harris Jones, Mother Jones.

It is hard for the mind to encompass the life that embraced the Presidency between Andrew Jackson and Herbert Hoover. Why, when Mother Jones was a little girl, there were people still alive that remembered the Revolutionary War. She died on the eve of the New Deal. Her dress shop burned down in the great Chicago fire, and she had heard Abe Lincoln, speak in person. Mostly though Mother Jones was the miner’s friend.

Down in Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, men were organizing the underground workers, the miners. Mother Jones had already organized their wives and led them over the snow covered game trails down into the holler, where armed with mops and brooms they drove the scabs out of the coal pits. Now, Mother Jones wasn’t an organizer, she was an agitator. Which meant often enough she was hated by the organizers as she was by the bosses.

One time Mother Jones was out in Colorado at the Great Ludlow Strike. Now that was the strike to enforce the eight hour day, which the state of Colorado had made into law. But they couldn’t enforce it because Rockefeller owned the militia. Now the Governor promised not to send the militia into the coal fields, but he lied, and he did.

Mother Jones was in the Union Hall down there in Ludlow when word came that the militia had entered into the coal fields. Well, she leapt up and she screamed, “Let’s go get the Son’s of B**ches.” And she stormed out. She didn’t look to see if anybody was following her. Nobody, was following her. She just flounced up the road alone, and confronted the militia.

And that’s the year that President Theodore Roosevelt called Mother Jones, “The Most Dangerous Woman in America.” And she was 83 years old, that’s some kind of dangerous woman.

The most dangerous woman in America, 83 years old, Mother Jones.
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