Anna LoPizzo

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Photo, Memorial Day 1912, Lawrence, Massachusetts, at the grave of Anna LoPizzo

Anna LoPizzo was a striker killed during the Lawrence textile strike (also known as the Bread and Roses strike), considered one of the most significant struggles in U.S. labor history. Eugene Debs said of the strike, "The Victory at Lawrence was the most decisive and far-reaching ever won by organized labor."[1] Author Peter Carlson saw this strike conducted by the militant Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) as a turning point. He wrote, "Wary of [a war with the anti-capitalist IWW], some mill owners swallowed their hatred of unions and actually invited the AFL to organize their workers.[2]

Anna LoPizzo's death was significant to both sides in the struggle. Wrote Bruce Watson in his epic Bread and Roses: Mills, Migrants, and the Struggle for the American Dream, "If America had a Tomb of the Unknown Immigrant paying tribute to the millions of immigrants known only to god and distant cousins compiling family trees, Anna LoPizzo would be a prime candidate to lie in it."[3]

Anna LoPizzo in life[edit]

Ardis Cameron describes the immigrant's world in which Anna LoPizzo lived:

Relying on old-world practices and principles of collectivity, the immigrant community routinely "swapped" names and falsified documents to evade "impossible" laws and ensure mutual survival...[4]

Falsification of documents might serve a number of purposes — citizenship status, job experience, age requirements...

[In America immigrants often] took the name of the person who got [them] the job. To those who lived on Common Street [in Lawrence, Massachusetts], Anna LoPizzo, a slain mill worker during the strike of 1912, was Anna LaMonica, once too young to work.[5]

Upon her death, Anna's adopted name was destined to become the name by which she would be known for all time.

Anna LoPizzo's death[edit]

Fred Thompson's book The I.W.W.: Its First Seventy Years states that,

On Jan. 29 a peaceful parade of the strikers was charged by the militia, and officer Oscar Benoit firing into the crowd, hit striker Anna Lo Pezza (sic), killing her.[6]

In his autobiography Big Bill Haywood wrote that,

...nineteen witnesses had seen Policeman Benoit murder the girl.[7]

In the book Roughneck, Peter Carlson has written,

At the barricades, pickets and police began to push and shove each other. The police advanced, packing the retreating marchers so tight that they could no longer move, and then began clubbing. Some strikers fought back. A policeman received a stab wound. A police sergeant ordered his men to draw their weapons and fire. Their shots killed a young Italian striker named Anna LoPizzo.[8]

The IWW offered its own account a year after the strike, based upon trial proceedings:

[On] January 29, a striker, Annie LoPizzo, was killed on the corner of Union and Garden Streets, during police and military interference with lawful picketing. She was shot by a bullet said to have been fired by Police Officer Oscar Benoit, though Benoit and Police Officer Marshall claim it was fired from behind Benoit by a personal enemy of the latter, following an altercation. Be that as it may, both Ettor and Arturo Giovannitti were arrested; charged with inciting and procuring the commission of the crime in [pursuit] of an unlawful conspiracy. Though the murderer was unknown, they were held as “accessories before the fact.”[9]

Ettor and Giovannitti were IWW organizers arrested for the murder.

The testimony of Officers Benoit and Marshall showed that the fatal shot had been fired at Benoit by a man who had a personal grudge against Benoit, and who took advantage of the troublous times to square accounts... Other testimony showed Officer Benoit to be the killer of Annie Lo Pizzo.[10]

A third man was arrested for the murder; however,

Three witnesses—his landlord, his child's god-father and his wife—helped Caruso to establish a complete alibi; he was at home eating supper when Annie Lo Pizzo was alleged to have been shot by him... Caruso said he was not a member of the I.W.W., but would join as soon as he got out [of the jail].[11]

Immigrants in the Lawrence mills[edit]

Lawrence, Massachusetts was home to many textile mills which relied heavily upon immigrant labor. According to Carlson the strike was "a spontaneous revolt by immigrants who had arrived in Lawrence expecting a land of opportunity, but found instead a claustrophobic life of hard work and low pay."[12] Carlson continues,

"It is obvious," the State Bureau of Labor Statistics concluded in 1911, "that the full-time earnings of a large number of adult employees are entirely inadequate for a family." Consequently, the average Lawrence family sent mother, father, and all children over the legal minimum age of fourteen to work. The dirty, crowded mills were breeding grounds for disease. Tuberculosis and other respiratory ailments killed some 70 percent of the city's mill workers. "A considerable number of the boys and girls die within the first two or three years after beginning work," wrote Dr. Elizabeth Shapleigh, a Lawrence physician. "Thirty-six of every 100 of all men and women who work in the mills die before or by the time they are 25 years of age." ... While the mill hands lived and died in poverty, their employers thrived.[13]

The Industrial Workers of the World already had a significant presence in the Lawrence mills. Fred Thompson has written,

A persistent myth about the IWW is that it plunged into strikes without previous organization, bringing out contented workers with spell-binding oratory, won great victories, then deserted the workers to repeat the process elsewhere. The myth is groundless... Prior to its fame at Lawrence the IWW had been organizing textile workers for seven years, and these constituted roughly half of its membership.[14]

The IWW's national organizers became involved when the Italian immigrant community in Lawrence sent a telegram to organizer Joseph Ettor.[15] Ettor was an Italian and, at age 27, already a veteran organizer for the IWW.[16]

Haywood wrote in his autobiography that there were about twenty-eight different nationalities among the strikers, and they spoke forty-five different dialects.[17] (Thompson reported 16 "major" languages.)[18]

Ettor and fellow organizer Arturo Giovannitti had successfully organized the strike by the time chief IWW organizer Bill Haywood arrived. Within a month of walking out of the mills, there were twenty-five thousand workers participating in the strike.[19] Haywood was sufficiently impressed that he thought it appropriate to leave the strike in the hands of his experienced organizers, and go on a speaking tour of northeastern U.S. cities in support of the strike.[20]

The charges and the trial[edit]

The death of Anna LoPizzo was used by the authorities during the Lawrence strike as a means of disrupting and pressuring the union. Although union leaders Ettor and Giovannitti were two miles away at the time of her death, they were charged with her murder and imprisoned without bail until trial.[21] Bill Haywood cut short his tour, and returned to take control of the strike effort.

The trial of Caruso, Ettor and Giovannitti was held on September 30, keeping the two capable and multi-lingual organizers out of action for eight months. At trial, Ettor and Giovannitti were locked in metal cages. The district attorney referred to them as "social vultures" and "labor buzzards." Yet they were not accused of the murder for which they were arrested.[22] All three were acquitted.

Significance of Anna LoPizzo's death[edit]

Anna LoPizzo's death on the picket line had given the authorities a chance to remove the two main organizers from action for the duration of the strike, but it also became a rallying cry for the workers to demand justice. The March 10–17, 1999 issue of Metro Santa Cruz offers an example of how the strikers reacted. An excerpt:

Mill owners who had predicted a quick end to the strike after LoPizzo's death were surprised when, a few days later, a group of enraged Italian women happened upon a lone police officer on an icy bridge. After stripping him of his gun, club and badge, they sliced the officer's suspenders and took off his pants--a humiliation technique popular with the disorderly women of Lawrence--and dangled the officer over the freezing river. That put an end to any hope that they would quickly scurry back to work...

Consiglia Teutonica ... helped historian Ardis Cameron piece together oral histories of the Bread and Roses strike. She told of a protest following LoPizzo's death when soldiers again drew their guns and bayonets. According to Teutonica, this time a 22-year-old Syrian immigrant named Annie Kiami stepped in front of the crowd. Calling the soldiers "Cossacks," Kiami wrapped an American flag around her body and dared them to shoot holes in Old Glory.

Once thought of as docile and subservient, the Bread and Roses women quickly gained the notorious title among mill owners of radicals of the worst sort.

"One policeman can handle 10 men," Lawrence's district attorney lamented, "while it takes 10 policemen to handle one woman."

In the words of one horrified boss, the women activists were full of "lots of cunning and also lots of bad temper. They're everywhere, and it's getting worse all the time."[23]

The strike was successful because the workers stayed united in their demands.[24] Business writers began to question employers' and the local authorities' tactics relating not only to the strike, but specifically relating to the handling of Anna LoPizzo's death. One writer concerned about the success of the IWW's organizing tactics was Arno Dosch, who wrote in the magazine The World's Work,

The efforts that have been made by employers and by governmental authorities to repress the movement have been worse than useless. Every move that has been made against the I. W. W. has had the effect of winning sympathy... The trial of the three agitators, Mr. Ettor, Mr. Giovannitti, and Mr. Caruso, for the murder of a woman whose death was indirectly due to the strike, was a tactical error. Mr. Ettor won the support of millions of people when he said, " I have been tried here not for my acts, but for my views."[25]

Before the Lawrence strike and the trial for the death of Anna LoPizzo, many businessmen categorically refused to recognize any unions. After the strike, the American Federation of Labor was courted by some employers, if only as a bulwark against the radical and militant Industrial Workers of the World.

Carlson records,

Shortly after the Lawrence strike, John Golden, president of the AFL's United Textile Workers union (a rival to the IWW's organizing efforts in Lawrence), observed that frightened mill owners "are falling all over themselves now to do business with our organization." Lincoln Steffens summed up the attitude of the panicky mill bosses. "Haywood makes Gompers look like an angel," he wrote. "The IWW makes the millmen sigh for the AFL."[26]

The foreboding on the part of employers resulted from their fears about what this new labor organization, the IWW, actually represented. Thompson quoted Harry Fosdick in the June issue of Outlook in 1912,

Wages have been raised, work has been resumed, the militia has gone, and the whirring looms suggest industrial peace; but behind all this the most revolutionary organization in the history of American industry is building up an army of volunteers. The I.W.W. leaves behind as hopelessly passé, the methods of the American Federation of Labor.[27]

Some believed that the success of the strikers called for other measures. Fosdick quoted a Boston lawyer who stated,

The strike should have been stopped in the first twenty-four hours. The militia should have been instructed to shoot. That is the way Napoleon did it.[28]

Commemoration[edit]

News item (excerpt):

October 2, 2000 — A MARKER FOR A MARTYR — Anna Lopizzo was killed Jan. 28, 1912, at age 34, shot through the heart during the Bread and Roses strike in Lawrence, Mass., when more than 30,000 laborers were on strike for 63 days against American Woolen Co., after management cut wages. Her grave was unmarked for 88 years, until David R. Morris, assistant business manager of Electrical Workers Local 2321 in North Andover, set about getting a headstone made. Granite cutters in Barre, Vt., where children of the strikers were taken for safety in 1912, donated a headstone carved with the Bread and Roses symbol — grain stalks and a rose. The gravestone was displayed at Lawrence Heritage State Park as part of the annual Bread and Roses festival until Labor Day and placed on her grave in ceremonies held Sept. 14.[29]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Roughneck, The Life and Times of Big Bill Haywood, Peter Carlson, 1983, page 190.
  2. ^ Roughneck, The Life and Times of Big Bill Haywood, Peter Carlson, 1983, page 190.
  3. ^ Bruce Watson, Bread and Roses: Mills, Migrants, and the Struggle for the American Dream. Penguin Books. 2005.
  4. ^ Radicals of the Worst Sort: Laboring Women in Lawrence Massachusetts, 1860-1912, Ardis Cameron, 1995, page 106, University of Illinois Press, ISBN 0-252-06318-X.
  5. ^ Radicals of the Worst Sort: Laboring Women in Lawrence Massachusetts, 1860-1912, Ardis Cameron, 1995, page 106, University of Illinois Press, ISBN 0-252-06318-X.
  6. ^ The I.W.W.: Its First Seventy Years, Fred W. Thompson & Patrick Murfin, 1976, page 56.
  7. ^ Autobiography of Big Bill Haywood, William Dudley Haywood, 1929, page 249.
  8. ^ Roughneck, The Life and Times of Big Bill Haywood, Peter Carlson, 1983, page 166.
  9. ^ The Trial of a New Society, Being a Review of The Celebrated Ettor-Giovannitti-Caruso Case, Beginning with the Lawrence Textile Strike that caused it and including the general strike that grew out of it, CHAPTER III. THE INDUSTRIAL DEMOCRACY OVERCOMES ALL OPPOSITION, April 1913, Published by I.W.W. PUBLISHING BUREAU, From http://www.workerseducation.org/crutch/pamphlets/ebert_trial/chapter3.html Retrieved February 20, 2007.
  10. ^ The Trial of a New Society, Being a Review of The Celebrated Ettor-Giovannitti-Caruso Case, Beginning with the Lawrence Textile Strike that caused it and including the general strike that grew out of it, CHAPTER V, THE INDUSTRIAL DEMOCRACY TRIUMPHS IN COURT, April 1913, Published by I.W.W. PUBLISHING BUREAU, From http://www.workerseducation.org/crutch/pamphlets/ebert_trial/chapter5.html Retrieved February 20, 2007.
  11. ^ The Trial of a New Society, Being a Review of The Celebrated Ettor-Giovannitti-Caruso Case, Beginning with the Lawrence Textile Strike that caused it and including the general strike that grew out of it, CHAPTER V, THE INDUSTRIAL DEMOCRACY TRIUMPHS IN COURT, April 1913, Published by I.W.W. PUBLISHING BUREAU, From http://www.workerseducation.org/crutch/pamphlets/ebert_trial/chapter5.html Retrieved February 20, 2007.
  12. ^ Roughneck, The Life and Times of Big Bill Haywood, Peter Carlson, 1983, page 161.
  13. ^ Roughneck, The Life and Times of Big Bill Haywood, Peter Carlson, 1983, page 161.
  14. ^ The I.W.W.: Its First Seventy Years, Fred W. Thompson & Patrick Murfin, 1976, page 56.
  15. ^ Autobiography of Big Bill Haywood, William Dudley Haywood, 1929, page 246.
  16. ^ Roughneck, The Life and Times of Big Bill Haywood, Peter Carlson, 1983, page 161.
  17. ^ Autobiography of Big Bill Haywood, William Dudley Haywood, 1929, page 247.
  18. ^ The I.W.W.: Its First Seventy Years, Fred W. Thompson & Patrick Murfin, 1976, page 59.
  19. ^ Autobiography of Big Bill Haywood, William Dudley Haywood, 1929, page 247.
  20. ^ Roughneck, The Life and Times of Big Bill Haywood, Peter Carlson, 1983, page 165.
  21. ^ Roughneck, The Life and Times of Big Bill Haywood, Peter Carlson, 1983, page 166.
  22. ^ Roughneck, The Life and Times of Big Bill Haywood, Peter Carlson, 1983, page 190.
  23. ^ From "Bread Winners", Mary Spicuzza, March 10–17, 1999 issue of Metro Santa Cruz http://www.metroactive.com/papers/cruz/03.10.99/women3-9910.html Accessed February 20, 2007.
  24. ^ Roughneck, The Life and Times of Big Bill Haywood, Peter Carlson, 1983, page 185.
  25. ^ Arno Dosch, "WHAT THE I.W.W. IS", The World's Work, vol. XXVI, no. 4 (August 1913), pp. 406-420, accessed February 20, 2007 at http://www.workerseducation.org/crutch/others/dosch.html
  26. ^ Roughneck, The Life and Times of Big Bill Haywood, Peter Carlson, 1983, page 191.
  27. ^ The I.W.W.: Its First Seventy Years, Fred W. Thompson & Patrick Murfin, 1976, page 58.
  28. ^ Bread and Roses: The 1912 Lawrence textile Strike, By Joyce Kornbluh, http://www.lucyparsonsproject.org/iww/kornbluh_bread_roses.html retrieved February 20, 2007.
  29. ^ News item from Work in Progress: http://unionyes.htmlplanet.com/newfile.html Retrieved February 20, 2007.

See also[edit]