The End of the Strike

The End of the Strike

William Wood and the American Woolen Company agreed to most of the strikers’ demands on March 12, 1912. The rest of the manufacturers followed by the end of the month and many textile companies throughout New England, anxious to avoid a similar confrontation, followed suit.

From Bruce Watson’s Bread and Roses: “On March 14, 1912, the throng that assembled on the Lawrence Common had come from all over the Western world. They had also come from just a few blocks away. Beneath hazy skies and merciful spring temperatures, fifteen thousand people clogged streets and alleys as they walked to their appointed meeting… But if their languages were many, their purpose was one. They would soon resume quarreling. All the former animosities, as old as the ‘old country,’ would surface. Yet for this singular afternoon, after sixty-three days without work or pay, surviving on soup and sandwiches doled out in dingy kitchens, witnessing the death of two strikers, the beatings of dozens, the arrests of hundreds, the marching of thousands, this cosmopolitan collection of the world’s workers had become an American tapestry (p. 209).

Signs on the Lawrence Common that day read: “In Struggle You Gain Your Rights,” “We Forgive You But Never be a Scab Again,” and “Release Our Prisoners, Ettor and Giovanitti.”

Joseph Ettor, Arturo Giovannitti, and Joseph Caruso remained in prison until November, 1912. Haywood threatened a general strike to demand their freedom, with the cry “Open the jail gates or we will close the mill gates.”

The IWW raised $60,000 for their defense and held demonstrations and mass meetings throughout the country in their support. At one point Boston, authorities arrested all the members of the Ettor-Giovannitti Defense Committee.

• Fifteen thousand Lawrence workers went on strike for one day on September 30 to demand that Caruso, Ettor, and Giovannitti be released.

• Swedish and French workers proposed a boycott of woolen goods from the United States and a refusal to load ships going to the U.S.

• Italian supporters of Giovannitti rallied in front of the U.S. consulate in Rome.

When the trial of Ettor, Giovannitti, and Caruso, accused of firing the shot that killed strike Anna LoPizzo, began in September 1912 in Salem, MA Judge Joseph F. Quinn ordered that the three defendants be kept in metal cages in the courtroom. One hundred and fifty witnesses and 350 potential jurors were called.

Witnesses testified without contradiction that Ettor and Giovannitti were miles away while Caruso, the third defendant, was at home eating supper at the time of the killing.

The three defendants were acquitted on November 26, 1912.