1577: Soulmother of Kussnacht 1695: Zumbi dos Palmares

1915: Joe Hill

November 19th, 2007 Headsman

On this date in 1915, songwriter, poet and labor activist Joe Hill was shot in Utah for the murder of a local butcher.

Even before his execution, the Swedish immigrant was widely thought to have been railroaded for his IWW affiliation.

Though state authorities had little use for the worldwide clemency bid whose backers included U.S. President Woodrow Wilson — powerless to intervene officially, since the execution was a state matter — Hill walked spryly into his martyrdom. The strange post-mortem career of his totemic ashes is the least of the ways Hill lives on.

His dauntless last message to fellow Wobbly Bill Haywood — “Don’t waste any time mourning. Organize.” — is a permanent fixture on pins and placards among every stripe of left activist. The songs he wrote remain in print — and in performance.

And the Depression-era tribute ballad “I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night” can seamlessly serenade ripped-from-the-headlines footage, as a Paul Robeson rendition does in these clips of 1998 protests against then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Also on this date

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Activists,Artists,Arts and Literature,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,Famous,Famous Last Words,History,Language,Martyrs,Murder,Popular Culture,Shot,USA,Utah,Wrongful Executions

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7 Responses to “1915: Joe Hill”

  1. 1
    Völker hört die Signale Says:

    Don´t mourn – organize!…

    Am 19. November wurde der Wanderarbeiter, Sänger und Gewerkschaftsaktivist Joe Hill, in einem manipulierten Gerichtsverfahren zum Tode verurteilt, von der amerikanischen Justiz ermordet.
    Joe Hill – Autor Phil Ochs – Sänger Billy Bragg

    Joe Hill – Au…

  2. 2
    jeff Says:

    w00t! for the wobblies!

  3. 3
    jeff Says:

    they’re still around, btw: http://www.iww.org/ . i’m not a member. i probably should be, but it’s too romantic for me. lol.

  4. 4
    Andrew Davies Says:

    Sad, tragic but full of hope and grace

  5. 5
    {st louis mo attorneys} Says:

    {st louis mo attorneys}…

    [URL=dui-mo.com]…

  6. 6
    ExecutedToday.com » 1917: Frank Little of the IWW lynched Says:

    [...] Little undoubtedly had in mind the precedent of his fellow-martyr Joe Hill, executed judicially two years before in [...]

  7. 7
    Paul Robeson sings “Joe Hill” & the News « Micheline Walker's Blog Says:

    [...] again, I would recommend you visit the Executed Today site.  It is very [...]

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