Anton Johannsen (April 29, 1872) was a German-born carpenter, anarchist, and labor activist who was indicted for the Los Angeles Times bombing.
Life and work
Johannsen was born April 28, 1872 in Nordstrand, Germany. His family immigrated to the United States in 1881 when he was nine. They settled in the small town of Clinton, Iowa. His father, a poor man with little education, first found work as a brewery teamster but later settled into the profession of a saloon-keeper. Anton began work at age eleven when he left school to work in a brick factory. When he turned eighteen, he left on a boxcar and traveled aimlessly taking a variety of odd jobs to support himself.
In 1899, Johannsen settled down with a family in Chicago and became a carpenter in a woodworking shop led by a local union. He then began his career in activism within the city's labor defense leagues and anarchist circles. He became a member of the Brothers of Carpenters and Joiners in 1899. He penned the labor activism book, The Spirit of Labor, in 1902 with his friend Hutchins Hapgood. He served as a state organizer from 1909-1914 for California Building Trades Council and integrated his anarchist views into the labor movement.
In 1910, Johannsen was indicted for his alleged involvement in the Los Angeles Times Bombing. Two brothers affiliated with the International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers later admitted guilt and the government dropped the charges against Johannsen. Believing them innocent, Johannsen had traveled the country raising funds for their defense and was outraged when he heard of their guilt.
Following the trial, Johannsen continued his life as a union organizer in California. He was general organizer for the carpenter's in California from 1914-1917, an organizer to the labor defense council. In 1918, he returned to Chicago to work for seven years as a business agent for the Carpenters' District Council, and elected chair of the Chicago Federation of Labor's organizing committee from 1918-1922. In 1933, he was appointed by a democratic governor to the States' Industrial Commission, and in 1935 received his highest status serving as Vice President of the Chicago Federation of Labor. He died in Chicago and was buried in Waldheim cemetery alongside a monument to the Haymarket martyrs and amongst many labor activists.
- The Spirit of Labor, Hutchins Hapgood, 1902
- Solon De Leon, et al., The American Labor Who's Who (New York: Hanford Press, 1925), p. 116.