Labor's Hosts Parade

September 6, 1902


John Mitchell, the president of the United Mine Workers of America, gives two powerful speeches in Philadelphia to a crowd of over 10,000 union men, noted as “the greatest demonstration organized labor ever held.”


Over 10,000 Union Men in Line in Philadelphia.
Mitchell Makes Two Speeches
Presence of miners' chief in Quaker City was the occasion of the greatest demonstration organized labor ever held.

Philadelphia, Sept. 3-- The organized workmen of Philadelphia yesterday paid their tribute to John Mitchell, president of the United Mine Workers of America, and at the same time showed their sympathy in a substantial way for the striking anthracite mine workers of Northeastern Pennsylvania. The presence of the miners' chief was made the occasion of probably the greatest demonstration that organized labor has ever held on Labor Day. In the forenoon a parade was held under the auspices of the Central Labor Union, in which nearly all the trades of the city were represented. It is estimated that more than 10,000 men were in line.
After the parade a big picnic was held at Washington Park, on the New Jersey side of the Delaware river, a few miles below this city. There were probably 40,000 persons in attendance. Here Mr. Mitchell made two addresses. His principal speech was made in the grove, where between 4,000 and 5,000 listened and cheered the strikers' leader.
Mr. Mitchell said: "This day has been decreed as labor's special holiday, and from one end of the country to the other the great hosts of labor have assembled and are reviewing the struggles of the past and preparing for the struggles of the future. The year that has just closed has been unprecedented in the growth of the trades union movement and the growth of independent thought and independent action, but with the great growth of the trades union movement new problems have arisen that will tax our greatest strength to solve. We have this year government by injunction and ownership by Divine right in their most accentuated form. If one of the most conspicuous of the capitalists of the country properly represents the sentiment and feeling of his associates, then we must take it for granted that they believe that God in His infinite wisdom has given into their control all the resources of our country. I was taught to believe, when a boy, that God loved all His people alike. I was taught to believe that He conferred no more power or favors upon one than upon another; and not withstanding the declaration of the controllers of trusts, I am not prepared to abandon the teachings of my boyhood days.
"Every year sees some struggle of the workers that stands out more conspicuously than other struggles. This year it happens that the coal miners of Pennsylvania are engaged in a life and death struggle for the right to live. Ladies and gentlemen, I am one who believes that the time is not far distant when the workingman will have to solve the labor problem. I am free to say that my own views have been somewhat changed since this strike started. I look forward to the time when those who build the mansions will not have to live in hovels. I look forward to the time when those whose labor builds beautiful edifices whose spires point heavenward will not have to walk past them, too ragged to enter. I stand for the solidarity of the trade union movement. I hope to see the time when no man who earns his bread by the sweat of his brow will be outside the ranks ow his trade union. I look forward to the time when the workers of our country will take possession of their own country."
Mr. Mitchell's second speech was confined to an appeal for aid. Among the other speakers at the two meetings was M. M. Dolphin, of New York, formerly national president of the Railway Telegraphers' Union. The entire proceeds of the picnic, estimated at $10,000, will be turned over to the miners' union.
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Brooke Royer


“Labor's Hosts Parade,” Black Virginia: The Richmond Planet, 1894-1909, accessed February 20, 2024,