Bill Haywood

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Bill Haywood

William Dudley "Big Bill" Haywood (February 4, 1869May 18, 1928) was a prominent figure in American radical unionism as a leader of the Western Federation of Miners (WFM) and later as a founding member and leader of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).


  • I've never read Marx's Capital, but I've got the marks of capital all over my body.
    • Humour and Social Protest, By Marjolein that & Dennis Bos, 2007, page 39.
  • If one man has a dollar he didn't work for, some other man worked for a dollar he didn't get.
    • Roughneck, The Life and Times of Big Bill Haywood, Peter Carlson, 1983, page 146.
  • The bandage will remain on the eyes of Justice as long as the Capitalist has the cut, shuffle, and deal.
    • Roughneck, The Life and Times of Big Bill Haywood, Peter Carlson, 1983, page 146.
  • Eight hours of work, eight hours of play, eight hours of sleep - eight hours a day! (From the Haymarket era eight-hour campaign)
    • (Haywood variation) Eight hours of work, eight hours of play, eight hours of sleep - and eight dollars a day!
    • Roughneck, The Life and Times of Big Bill Haywood, Peter Carlson, 1983, page 147.
  • The mine owners "did not find the gold, they did not mine the gold, they did not mill the gold, but by some weird alchemy all the gold belonged to them!"
    • Haywood, William D. The Autobiography of Big Bill Haywood. New York: International Publishers, 1929, p. 171.
  • The capitalist has no heart, but harpoon him in the pocketbook and you will draw blood.
    • Bread and Roses: Mills, Migrants, and The Struggle for the American Dream, Bruce Watson. Viking-Penguin, 2005; pg. 93.
  • Tonight I am going to speak on the class struggle and I am going to make it so plain that even a lawyer can understand it.
    • Bread and Roses: Mills, Migrants, and The Struggle for the American Dream, Bruce Watson. Viking-Penguin, 2005; pg. 95.
  • Sabotage means to push back, pull out or break off the fangs of Capitalism.
    • Rebel Voices, pp. 65

Quotes about Bill Haywood[edit]

  • Moyer and Haywood are our comrades, staunch and true, and if we do not stand by them to the shedding of the last drop of blood in our veins, we are disgraced forever and deserve the fate of cringing cowards. We are not responsible for the issue. It is not of our seeking. It has been forced upon us; and for the very reason that we deprecate violence and abhor bloodshed we cannot desert our comrades and allow them to be put to death. If they can be murdered without cause so can we, and so will we be dealt with at the pleasure of these tyrants. They have driven us to the wall and now let us rally our forces and face them and fight. If they attempt to murder Moyer, Haywood and their brothers, a million revolutionists, at least will meet them with guns. They have done their best and their worst to crush and enslave us. Their politicians have betrayed us, their courts have thrown us into jail without trial and their soldiers have shot our comrades dead in their tracks. The worm turns at last, and so does the worker.
  • This is the agitator's work, this continual activity. And we lay awake many nights trying to think of something more we could give them to do. I remember one night in Lawrence none of us slept. The strike spirit was in danger of waning for lack of action. And I remember Bill Haywood said finally, "Let's get a picket line out in Essex street. Get every striker to put a little red ribbon on and walk up and down and show that the strike is not broken." A few days later the suggestion was carried out, and when they got out of their homes and saw this great body that they were, they had renewed strength and renewed energy which carried them along for many weeks more in the strike.
  • "Big" Bill Haywood came out of jail a hero-a fitting symbol of the solidarity of labor. He was described by one reporter as, "big in body, in brain, and in courage." He made a triumphal tour of the United States and Canada, under the auspices of the Socialist Party and the labor organizations which had defended him. He was an intensely down-to-earth dramatic speaker. I remember hearing him say: "I'm a two-gun man from the West, you know," and while the audience waited breathlessly, he pulled his union card from one pocket and his Socialist card from the other.
  • Bill Haywood decided that we had to speak English so these people could understand it. And I will never forget the lesson he gave to us. I was very young at that time, I was 22, and he said, now listen here, you speak to these workers, these miners in the same kind of English that their children who are in the primary school would speak to them and they would understand that. Well, that's not easy -- to speak to them in primary school English. Well, we learned how to do it. The only trouble is with me it kind of stuck and when I go to speak to a college audience I feel at a little bit of a disadvantage because I don't know all the big words. The small words, the short words, were the ones I was drilled in by William Haywood.
  • At the same time that this Lawrence strike was going on, there was a great strike of timber workers in Louisiana, also under the auspices of the IWW, and I single that out, although we had strikes all over the place, we were just hopping all over from one place to another, because there for the first time the discrimination, the segregation rules were-broken down. William D. Haywood went down there to speak and he said every striker sits wherever he wants to sit. Segregation in this hall of the IWW and the Negro and white workers, I think for the first time in American labor history, broke that taboo and met together.
  • A suffragette once asked Bill Haywood, who leaned toward the anarcho-syndicalist faith, if he thought women should have the vote, and Bill said: "Sure, and besides, they can have mine." Such was the indifference to political action held by many who could see no hope in the ballot, nor in the whole set-up of parliaments, but put their full faith in the organization of labor.
  • As the Socialists became more successful at the polls (Debs got 900,000 votes in 1912, double what he had in 1908), and more concerned with increasing that appeal, they became more critical of IWW tactics of "sabotage" and "violence," and in 1913 removed Bill Haywood from the Socialist Party Executive Committee, claiming he advocated violence (although some of Debs's writings were far more inflammatory).

Emma Goldman, Living My Life (1931)[edit]

  • The gap left by the arrest of Joseph Ettor and Arturo Giovannitti was immediately filled by Bill Haywood' and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. Haywood's years of experience in the labour struggle, his determination and tact, made him a distinctive power in the Lawrence situation. On the other hand, Elizabeth's youth, charm, and eloquence easily won everybody's heart. The names of the two and their reputation gained for the strike country-wide publicity and support...Bill Haywood had but recently come to live in New York. We had met almost immediately and became very friendly. Bill also was not an anarchist, but, like Elizabeth, he was free from narrow sectarianism. He frankly admitted that he felt much more at home with the anarchists, and especially with the Mother Earth group, than with the zealots in his own ranks. The most notable characteristic of Bill was his extraordinary sensitiveness. This giant, outwardly so hard, would wince at a coarse word and tremble at the sight of pain. On one occasion, when he addressed our eleventh-of-November commemoration, he related to me the effect the crime of 1887 had had on him. He was but a youngster at the time, already working in the mines. "Since then," he told me, "our Chicago martyrs have been my greatest inspiration, their courage my guiding star." The apartment at 210 East Thirteenth Street became Bill's retreat. Frequently he spent his free evenings at our place. There he could read and rest to his heart's content, or drink coffee "black as the night, strong as the revolutionary ideal, sweet as love."
  • Sasha was inclined to believe it; he had lost faith in Bill since 1914, when the latter had shown himself weak-kneed during the free-speech fights that Sasha had conducted in New York. I defended Bill hotly, pointing out that our actions are not always to be judged so easily.
  • Bill Haywood had often been under our roof, by day and by night, always our welcome guest, our comrade in many battles, though not sharing the same ideas.
  • He had jumped his bail, he said suddenly; he had run away. Not because of the twenty years of prison that faced him, though that was no small matter at his age. "Ridiculous, Bill," I interrupted; "you would never have to serve the whole sentence. Gene Debs was pardoned and Kate Richard O'Hare also." "Listen first," he interrupted; "the prison was not the deciding factor. It was Russia, Russia, which fulfilled what we had dreamed about and propagated all our lives, I as well as you. Russia, the home of the liberated proletariat, was calling me." He had also been urged by Moscow to come, he added. He was told he was needed in Russia. From here he would be able to revolutionize the American masses and to prepare them for the dictatorship of the proletariat. It had not been easy to decide to leave his comrades to face their long terms in prison alone. But the Revolution was more important and its ends justified all means.
  • Bill had always stood for a strong State and centralization. What was his One Big Union but a dictatorship?

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