Search America's historic newspaper pages from 1789-1924 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the
National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress. external link Learn more
Image provided by: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL
Newspaper Page Text
"-would get together; that they would
timidly pass resolutions begging tie
legislature to help them; appealing to
the MEN of Illinois to do something
for their sisters an ordinary sort of
here-we-are-let-somebody - else - do-the-rest
But it wasn't anything like that
at all. .
They began by singing songsand
all of the 800 of them stoqd on their
foot to join in the choruses. And
they finished by standing up together
?nnd singing "My Country, 'Tis of
Thee." And you could see in their
races that they were thinking more
of their country than ev.er they had
done before, and more of what their
fight would mean for their country
than what it migiht.mean for their
own individual selves.1
And through the words of every
speaker rang the courage of women
who had prepared themselves and
-vere ready to fight, and to fight
There wasn't any begging for help.
True, they passed one resolution
th.it anight read that way. But if
you read that resolution, addressed
to the churches of Chicago, a second,
time you will see that it just asks the
churches to ask the men of Illinois
to keep theii; hands off and give the
women a chance to do something for
themselves," a chance to organize, a
chance to fight.
That's really all these tired look
ing women with the new hope in
their faces, ask'ed a chance to fight
their own -battles, a chance-to or
ganize a chance to be able tosay to
the big employers of Chicago:
"We are one; you cannot treat one
of us badly without treating all of us
badly; you cannot starve one girl
without every other girl working for
you or your brother millionaires .re
senting it; you cannot dig a grave.be
fore the feet of one child among us
without all of us fighting you for iC
"Working women have a right to
life, have a right to sunshine, -have
a right to a little play as well a to-a
lot of work. 'And. we're' ready to go
as far as possible to get these rights,'"
said Mary McDowell, the woman who
has become known as "The Mother
of the Stockyards."
"If a girl could live on $8 a week,
as some of these millionaires say,"
said Mrs. John T. Bowen, "it would
leave nothing.for emergency, nothing
for amusement, nothing for right liv
ing. We must demand more, and, we
must make, our demand so strong
we'll get more."
"I don't believe in people getting
together and pitying themselves,"
said Mary McDowell. "We're not go
ing to do that. We're going to get
to work." n
"Organization is the only hope of.
the women," said Elizabeth Maloney,
the fighting little waitress who did
more than any other one person to
force a slnggish, employer-cowed
legislature to pass the ten-hour
law.. "If there we're a few more
strikes on State; street, the girls of
the department stores would get
inore decent treatment. You j girls'
have a right to live and to enjoy life.
You've got to fight for that right. . .
I think you're ready to do it . . . ."
"I found that the girls o the de
partment stores looked'bn the work
.of the O'Hara commission as a God
send," said Mary O'Reilly. "They're
all ready now to fight for the right
to help themselves upward "
And all through the meeting, the
women, the young girls with the
fresh complexions, and the old wom
en with weary, bowed backs, cheered.
And at the end they stoodup and
sang "My Country, 'Tis ofLThee,"
with a new spirit, a new hope and a
It's a pity that none of the big mil
lionaires, who Jeaned back fatly in
their chairs before the O'Hara com- "
mission and talked about how easy it
would be for a girl to live on $4 or $5
a week, -who smugly declared that
any really good girl would starve to
death before she'd- ever go wrong,
who, by the way they talked of their