Kate Richards O'Hare

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Kate Richards O'Hare in 1915

Carrie Katherine "Kate" Richards O'Hare (March 26, 1876 – January 10, 1948) was an American Socialist Party activist, editor, and orator best known for her controversial imprisonment during World War I.


"Booze and Revolution" (1915)[edit]

The Masses, April, 1915

  • Prohibition has not reduced the sale of liquor, but if the ruling classes can succeed in cutting down drinking by liquor legislation, will it speed the coming revolution? Most assuredly!
  • Sobriety means efficiency, and "efficiency" movements have in all ages been the incubators in which revolutions were hatched.
  • The ruling class has always desired more efficient slaves. They bred them to be more efficient, and then found that efficiency in producing wealth also produced a desire on the part of the slave to enjoy more. In order to secure more, the slaves revolted.
  • When that efficient worker has built a world of beauty, comfort and luxury, he will not stop at the puny gates of private property with which the ruling class would shut him out of the Paradise he has created, but he will use the same efficiency with which he built the gates to hammer them down again.
  • A man whose brain is pickled in whiskey is of little value to the ruling class, and he is of inestimable less value to the working class. Efficiency oils the wheels of revolution.
  • Of course John D. Rockefeller does not realize the fact, but it is true nevertheless that the Hookworm Commission he is supporting in the South is doing more for the revolutionary awakening in Dixie than anything else.
  • we Socialists know that hookworms in the tummy and revolutionary thoughts in the brain cannot exist in the same man at the same time.
  • An efficient man is a rebellious man. And anything that raises the efficiency of the working class will speed the revolution.
  • Get busy, you middle class foes of booze! We guarantee that if you can keep them sober, we will organize them for revolution.

"Farewell Address of a Socialist" (1919)[edit]

Caption in Outspoken Women: Speeches By American Women Reformers, 1635 1935: "The following address was delivered to audiences in Miller's Hall, La Touraine Hall and the East Side Labor Lyceum in Buffalo, New York on April 8, 9, 10, 1919. Kate was on her way to be incarcerated at the Missouri State Prison on April 15, 1919. It appeared in printed form in the Oakland World (April 25, 1919)."

  • For eighteen months the very atmosphere of the nation has been surcharged with the roaring, shricking shouts of Americanism, then in a single day a thunderous silence descended upon us and we felt the stunned scene of unreality that fell upon the soldiers in the trenches when the signing of the armistice suddenly stopped the roar and bedlam of war.
  • Max Eastman, one of the foremost writers and teachers of the country, went to Fargo, North Dakota, to deliver a lecture on "Democracy." A great crowd evidently interested in the thing we were fighting to make the world safe for, gathered in the court to listen to what he had to say. A drunken mob, led by a judge and a "very respectable" attorney, invaded the "temple of justice" and would have murdered Max Eastman but for the sublime heroism and unflinching courage of a woman. An attempted murder of Max Eastman was flaunted as an exhibition of the "spirit of Americanism."
  • there was written into the history of our country the most shameful story of abject cowardice on the part of elected officials that has ever blackened the pages of human history the so-called "espionage act."
  • By the enactment of certain parts of this one act a way was opened by which we as people lost rights secured by hundreds of years of ceaseless struggle, rights that had been bought and paid for in the blood and suffering of our fathers, religious liberty, the very ideal that sent the Puritan forefathers to this savage land, was destroyed overnight. In the land whose constitution guarantees religious liberty, by the misuse of this act, scores of men were sent to prison for ten and twenty years for circulating a book that stated in the mildest, gentlest language that wars were contrary to the teaching of Jesus. Thousands of young men whose religious convictions made it impossible for them to bear arms or kill their fellow men were forced by the most brutal methods into uniforms, dragged like felons to training camps, subjected to tortures that vie with the horrors of the Inquisition, and that sent many of them to an untimely grave.
  • Under the operation of the "espionage act" it was not necessary to really commit the crime of having an opinion of the administration; it was not necessary to do anything at all, or to be responsible for any results. Hundreds of people are now behind prison bars whom the administration never charged with any overt act; they merely were found guilty for having an "intent," and that "intent" was sufficient to call down upon their heads punishment far more severe than is dealt out to thieves, bank wreckers, white slaves and murderers. No white slaver who has made traffic in human flesh for the profits of vice in this country has ever been sentenced to five, ten or twenty years in prison, as Rose Pastor Stokes, Eugene V. Debs and others have been sentenced for having an "intent" that never accomplished any purpose whatever.
  • I saw in the tombs in New York City a tiny, half-starved scrap of girlhood that should have been in a grade school, who was sentenced to twenty years at hard labor for saying that President Wilson was a hypocrite, and that girl is now serving this monstrous sentence with Stars and Stripes the emblem of freedom, justice, and democracy, flying over the hell-hole in which she is imprisoned.
  • Soon the country was overrun by spies, seeking not German vandals but Americans who held ideas and beliefs differing from the administration. Soon every vicious element in our society was hot on the trail of every man or woman who had ever stood for social justice and industrial democracy, and found it an easy matter to railroad them to prison. It was only necessary to cry "disloyal," "seditious," "pro-German," "un-American," and like the witches of old the leaders of the working class were hounded, imprisoned and murdered.
  • We have learned by long and bitter experience that when the "kept press" assails a thing, that it must be something very beneficial to the working class; that when the newspapers slander and villify an individual or movement may be serving the masses and endangering the privileged classes.
  • Bolshevism is a new word, but the charges brought against it and its supporters have a strangely familiar sound-we seem to remember them of old. Privilege is so sterile of ideas; so barren of imagination, that it has not been able to think of one new lie; to concoct one fresh slander; to turn one new trick or say one new thing about Bolshevism that has not already been worn to tatters in the assaults upon abolition of slavery, trade unionism, woman's suffrage, Socialism, the Non-Partisan League and the I. W. W.
  • Bolshevism may cause the goose-flesh of abject terror to prickle the spine of the "powers that prey," but it has no terrors for the working class.
  • Socialism is coming, and it seems poetic justice that it should be thrust upon the world by its most bitter enemies. Industrial and political autocracy run mad plunged the whole world into war, and then the world, in order to save itself from utter destruction, was compelled to turn to Socialism for salvation. The warring nations did not make the long strides towards industrial democracy because they loved the Socialists, or wanted Socialism, but because it is the only thing that can meet the situation and save the world from utter chaos and ruin.
  • The want of a biscuit, a beefsteak and a job has caused more revolutions than all the flags that ever waved
  • Looking back over twenty years, I am content. I gave to the service of the working class all that I had and all that I was, and no one can do more.
  • If there is any institution in our social organism which needs the light of intelligent study, rational understanding and sane revolution, it is our criminal laws; their administration and systems of punishment.

Quotes about Kate Richards O'Hare[edit]

  • April added another political, Mrs. Kate Richards O'Hare, to our company... She had been convicted under the Espionage Law, but she was emphatic that the Supreme Court would reverse the verdict, and that in any event she would not serve time in our place. Soon we politicals-Kate, Ella, and I-were nicknamed "the trinity." We spent much time together and became very neighbourly. Kate had the cell on my right, and Ella was next to her. We did not ignore our fellow-prisoners or deny ourselves to them, but intellectually Kate and Ella created a new world for me, and I basked in its interests, its friendship and affection.
  • Kate Richards O'Hare, as I have described, was a prominent and extremely effective Socialist speaker.
  • Kate Richards O'Hare, a tall Irish woman, was arrested in North Dakota for opposing the war and came to our house before the trial. She had taken a children's march to Washington after their fathers were arrested in Oklahoma for what came to be known as the Green Corn Rebellion. They had hidden with their hunting rifles in the tall corn rather than go to the war, until the militia shot them out when the corn withered. She walked with these children across the country, fed by the farmers on the way. To the horror of President Wilson they stood before the White House in their hunger and rags and asked for amnesty for their fathers.
  • Charlotte Perkins Gilman put her feminism before her socialism; Kate Richards O'Hare, who served on the National Committee of the Socialist Party of America and worked closely with Eugene Debs, reversed that pattern. Although O'Hare supported women's suffrage, her feminist argument nevertheless differed in important respects from Gilman's. For example, O'Hare was not convinced that an emancipated, economically productive womanhood was an essential precondition for a socialist society. Not opposed to working women per se (no good socialist could be), O'Hare nevertheless emphasized the importance of female domesticity. Although she expected that a socialist society both would alter the conditions of work and provide support systems such as communal kitchens and laundries, she was far less radical then Gilman in her conception of woman's place. For example, she suggested that the care of children under socialism would rest primarily with the mother, who during the period when her children were growing up would not engage in outside work...She forcefully expressed her domestic predilections in her lament that young women had lost the art of homemaking because "we insist that our girls be educated. We provide teachers for them in art and science but entirely ignore the greatest art known to man, that of making a house a home, and giving life to well-born children." While she claimed that she was not denigrating intellectual or artistic education for women, she still insisted that girls had "an inalienable right to a "domestic" education as well. One suspects that her priorities would not have changed drastically after the revolution. O'Hare did argue that men should participate more actively in the process of raising children, that they should be educated "for the duties of fatherhood" and must learn "to be helpers and sustainers" within the domestic circle. Given the overall character of her argument, it seems probable that O'Hare's conception of fatherhood was simply an extension of Catharine Beecher's view that the home should serve as the focal point of human activity for both sexes. O'Hare was not anticipating the argument of some late-twentieth-century feminists that since women have the right to participate completely in what used to be called "man's world," men ought similarly to enter fully into the joys and responsibilities of childrearing.
    • Margaret S Marsh, Anarchist Women, 1870-1920 (1981)
  • Despite O'Hare's prominent position in the Socialist Party, on the whole the party itself paid little attention to developing a feminist stance. Its leaders actively discouraged specific women's activities until 1907, when the International Congress of Socialists formally endorsed woman suffrage. After that the American Socialist Party's neglect of women's needs became a point of controversy. The Socialist Woman (later the Progressive Woman) resulted from the awakened interest.
    • Margaret S Marsh, Anarchist Women, 1870-1920 (1981)
  • Kate Richards O'Hare was arrested and served 14 months of a five-year sentence for an anti-war speech in which she said women should refuse to breed sons to fertilize the soil. I visited her in the Missouri State Penitentiary at Jefferson City, and found she had to sew a daily quota of heavy duck overalls for the prisoners.

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