30 Interesting Facts about Thomas Mooney, US Labor Leader

30 Interesting Facts about Thomas Mooney, US Labor Leader

(Last Updated On: October 7, 2021)

Thomas Joseph “Tom” Mooney (December 8, 1882 – March 6, 1942) was an American political activist and labor leader who was convicted of the San Francisco Preparedness Day Bombing in 1916 together with Warren K. Billings. This article will feature many interesting facts about Thomas Mooney.

The Mooney case and subsequent campaigns to free him became an international cause celebre for two decades, with a substantial literature of publications demonstrating the conviction’s falsity; this literature and the facts of the case are surveyed in Richard H. Frost, The Mooney Case (Stanford University Press, 1968). Mooney was sentenced to 22 years in jail before being released in 1939, Thomas Mooney interesting facts will cove this.

The National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement issued a report on the Mooney-Billings case in 1931 that placed severe doubt on the facts that led to Mooney’s conviction.

Thomas Mooney interesting facts

1. Mooney was born on December 8, 1882, in Chicago, Illinois, to Irish immigrants.

2. Bernard, his father, was a coal miner and a militant organizer for the Knights of Labor in battles so fierce that he was left for dead after one confrontation.

3. Mooney was a highly trustworthy orderly in the prison hospital throughout his stay at San Quentin. Dorothea Lange visited him in prison to photograph him, and one of the images she captured was featured in a Tom Mooney Defense Committee banner.

4. In 1931, Tom’s sister Anna’s residence in San Francisco’s Mission District received a solidarity visit from New York City Mayor Jimmy Walker.

5. Governor Culbert Olson, a liberal Democrat, pardoned Mooney in 1939. On the Sunday after his release, he paid a visit to his mother’s grave on Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, one of his most ardent supporters.

6. When Tom, the eldest of three surviving children, was 10 years old, his father died of “miner’s con,” now known as silicosis, at the age of 36.

7. Mooney traveled across Europe as a young man, learning about socialism.

8. After coming to California, he married Rena and found work with the Socialist Party of America and Eugene V. Debs’ presidential campaign.

9. In 1910, Mooney earned a trip to Copenhagen for the Second International Conference by selling a large number of socialist Wilshire Magazine subscriptions.

10. In 1911, he married Rena Hermann and went on to found “The Revolt,” a socialist journal in San Francisco.

11. With a circulation of 1,500, the publication was a minor success.

12. He paid a visit to the British Trades Union Congress in Sheffield, England, on his way home.

13. Mooney had been informed of threats prior to the parade and had pushed resolutions through his union, the Iron Molders, as well as the San Francisco Central Labor Council and the Building Trades Council, warning that agents provocateurs might try to blacken the labor movement by disrupting the parade.

14. The explosion in the middle of the Preparedness Day procession resulted in ten deaths and forty injuries. The incident occurred at a time when anarchist violence in the United States was at an all-time high, particularly among Luigi Galleani’s Galleanist anarcho-communist organization.

15. Mooney, his wife Rena, and two colleagues, Warren K. Billings and jitney driver Israel Weinberg, were all arrested on December 20th, 1916.

16. Mooney’s sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 1918, the same as Billings’. Prisoner No. 31921, Mooney, soon rose to prominence as one of America’s most well-known political detainees.

17. Mooney’s release was the subject of an international campaign. Rena, Bulletin editor Fremont Older, anarchists Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman, heiress Aline Barnsdall, Hollywood celebrities, worldwide politicians, and many other well-known persons fought for his release throughout that period.

18. Mooney relocated to San Francisco, where he temporarily joined the Industrial Workers of the World before resigning.

19. Mooney later campaigned for sheriff as a candidate for the Socialist Party of America.

20. Mooney was arrested and tried three times after a 1913 Pacific Gas and Electric strike, but he was never convicted of carrying explosives for the intention of blowing up electricity transmission lines.

21. After many visits to Europe, he became dedicated to socialist ideas, joining the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), and helping to create Revolt, a socialist newspaper.

22. He was a notorious insurgent, socialist, and alleged dynamiter.

23. Mooney, his wife Rena Ellen Mooney (née Hermann), Billings, and many others were charged and convicted in 1916 for the bombing of the San Francisco Preparedness Day Parade, which killed ten people and wounded 40 more.

24. He was tried and convicted in San Francisco for the Preparedness Day explosion on July 22, 1916. The bomb went off near the Embarcadero at Steuart and Market Street.

25. Mooney became close with several of the IWW’s key personalities during the following few years, including William “Bill” Haywood, Mary “Mother” Jones, and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.

26. He and Warren Knox Billings, a teenage wanderer from New York, were involved in a protracted, violent strike of electrical workers against the Pacific Gas and Electrical Company in California from 1913 to 1914.

27. Anna, Tom’s sister, informed neighbors that the family came from Holyoke, Massachusetts, not Chicago.

28. Mooney worked as an industrial worker for many years before becoming a labor leader and socialist campaigner.

29. Billings was caught and briefly imprisoned for carrying explosives; Mooney was arrested and acquitted on identical charges.

30. Mooney’s execution sentence sparked two decades of protests and activism, culminating in the reduction of Mooney’s sentence to life imprisonment and, later, a pardon by California’s governor in 1939.

Thomas Mooney

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