William D. Haywood


When the Kiddies Came Home

(May 1912)


Source: From International Socialist Review, Vol. 12 No. 11, May 1912, pp. 716–714.
Transcription: Matthew Siegfried.
HTML mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists Internet Archive (2019).
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2022). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.


After two months’ vacation in their temporary homes in New York, Philadelphia, Barre, Vt., and Manchester, N.H., the children of the Lawrence strikers, who had been involved for ten weeks in an industrial war with the master class of the woolen and cotton industries, returned to receive the greatest reception ever held at Lawrence. Most of the children were too young to appreciate what the wonderful demonstration of solidarity meant or the reason of their departure and their return under such changed circumstances. There were among their number, however, some who were strikers themselves and knew their home leaving was to lessen the burden of their parents. The strikers understood it was not a matter of sentiment, but that this rigorous action was adopted as a war measure.

It was for the purpose of calling the attention of the world to the conditions existing at Lawrence, to the conditions of the thousands of children in the textile industry of the New England states that were slowly starving to death because their pa rents were unable to make a living wage, likewise for the purpose of relieving the Strike Committee of the burden incident to caring for so many little ones and to remove their emaciated and wan faces from the vision of their parents who were on strike.

Although this measure had never been adopted before in America, its significance was soon realized and the spirit of class consciousness became aroused in the working class everywhere. The children found excellent homes and the letters they wrote back to their parents were a comfort and an inspiration. At the same time it enabled those who cared for the children to take an active part in the struggle that was on at Lawrence. Ordinarily they would have contributed their quota to the strike fund, but in caring for the little ones of the striking textile workers, they not only gave many times what their contributions would have amounted to, but they took a big part in the real battle.

The strikers of Lawrence hold a feeling of deepest appreciation for those who have cared for their children. They know that their little ones were treated better than they could have been at home. From all reports, they were received as little guests, and when the time came for them to leave: their “Strike Parents” there was many a tug at their little heartstrings. They had learned to love their new homes. They left Lawrence physically destitute, often ill-clad and without underclothes and wearing garments made of shoddy.

These were the children of parents who weave the cotton, linen and woolen fabric that helps to clothe the world.

They went to other cities to be clothed and returned to their homes well dressed, with roses in their cheeks and laden with toys and other gifts.

Their arrival was made the occasion of a great demonstration in celebration of the millworkers’ notable industrial victory. More than 40,000 people thronged the streets, over half of them taking part in the monster parade.

While the mass of workers were waiting for the arrival of the train, the Syrians, headed by their drum corps, marched around the county jail playing their inspiring Oriental music and carrying to the cells of Ettor and Giovannitti the glad tidings of the coming children.

Long before the special train with the children arrived from Boston, the region in the vicinity was black with people, while along the side streets leading into Broadway, the different divisions of the Indus trial Workers of the World were drawn up in line according to nationality, there being fourteen divisions in all. The Italians and Syrians were accorded the place of honor. The heads of their divisions were made prominent by the beautiful floral decorations, the Italians carrying a massive piece on a litter held up by four men. It was these two nationalities that furnished the martyrs for the strike, Anna Lapizzio, the Italian woman who was killed in a fusillade of bullets fired by policemen, and John Rami, the sixteen-year-old Syrian boy who was stabbed in the back with a bayonet in the hands of a militiaman. His lung was pierced and he died shortly after being taken to the hospital. The floral pieces were in remembrance of the dead.

At the railroad station the jam was terrific and when the train rolled into the station at 5 o’clock there was such a rush to see the little ones that the arrangements of the reception committee were somewhat disjointed, and instead of passing through the parallel lines of the Strike Committee of the I.W.W. on through the station, the children were swept around the upper end of the depot, where they were put aboard seven big picnic wagons. The sides of the barges were covered with appropriate inscriptions, among the most significant being:

“Open the jail doors or we’ll close the mill gates.
Though you are in prison, our hearts are with you.
We will remember our exile.
Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage.”

The parents of the returning youngsters were at the station, but had little opportunity to greet their children in the crowd there. But they were soon driven over the route of the parade, shouting and laughing and enjoying the universal jubilation.

The tumultuous cheering that greeted them along the line of march was taken up and carried along for miles of the parade. Up Broadway and along Park Street, down Hampshire to the jail, where Joseph J. Ettor and Artruro Giovannitti are confined, the marchers wended their way, keeping step to the music furnished by six bands and drum corps. At the jail every voice rang out with the Marseillaise and the Internationale, which was the battle song of the workers all during the strike. In the jail vicinity every head was uncovered as they sang the last verse of the Red Flag:

With heads uncovered swear we all
To bear it onward till we fall;
Come dungeon dark or gallows grim,
This song shall be our parting hymn.

Then raise the scarlet standard high!
Within its shade we’ll live and die.
Tho’ cowards flinch and traitors sneer,
We’ll keep the red flag flying here.

On we marched around the Common, down to Essex Street, the principal thoroughfare, and thence to Franco-Belgian Hall, where the children were received in the loving embraces of their parents.

Last updated on 10 June 2022