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I die with a clear conscience I die fighting not like a coward. But mark my words the day of my vindication is coming in a prison cell in the American West on a November night in 1915. A solitary figure raced against time in the final hours of his life. He scrawled message after message saying goodbye. His legal battle had been the most controversial of its time. His death sentence was the subject of protests around the world even gripping the White House and even before he faced his firing squad. His legend had reached near mythic proportions. His life and his death would challenge the American values of fairness and justice and would provide a rallying cry for determined workers for generations to come. I die like a true rebel. Don't waste any time mourning organize.
Joe Hill local production of Joe Hill was made possible by the members of KQED in partnership with U.S. West communications. Life's better here. Give me your tired your poor your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these the homeless tempest tost to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door. Emma Lazarus
1883. The American nation was a wash in the tidal wave of immigration. Lazarus's words were fixed to the Statue of Liberty. In the first years of the 20th century. More than 1 million people a year were leaving their homelands to start anew in the United States. Poverty was the main reason and Americans just don't realize the kind of poverty that the Europeans particularly the southern Europeans had to endure. In this time of open doors and dreams of endless opportunity. The first image of the man who would become known as Joe Hill comes into focus. Born Joel Hagglund in Sweden. He's sailed to New York in 1902 landing on Ellis Island at the age of 22 or 23. I see him as simply an example that was
repeated to millions of other times by other people. I mean clearly his family was poor. They couldn't survive economically. And. America seemed like a place to come. There was a lot of opportunity and hope and so he and his brother came to America. And they were filled with all the idealism of any immigrant and they were hopeful and optimistic and. Wide eyed about the possibilities of America. But the reality is his life was tough for them across the board as all the immigrants Germans Irish Italians Japanese. Everybody had a difficult time of it. And. Most of the people that came here found that the dreams of the streets lined with gold were shimmering. They were like the seven cities that everybody saw. I could never find. Joel Hagglund. First job was cleaning dirty spittoons in the saloons of New York's Lower East Side a unique vantage point for observing a
rising anti-immigrant sentiment that was gripping the nation. Immigration was coming primarily from Eastern Europe and Asia. And those were people who did not fit the stereotype of the old guard of Anglo-Saxon Protestant background and they Riverview culturally as inferior. In religion they were not protestant they were Catholic they were Orthodox Christians. Or they were Jewish. And from that point forward Americans are are increasing in their perception of being under siege by those who are inferior by those who are racially inferior who are representing religious challenges to be on guard. And Americans really most of them despise them. They thought they were the flotsam of the world. Because they were so poor and uneducated. Anti-immigration League started to form throughout the nation. Initiative started to
make their way through Congress to block the huddled masses from passing through the golden door. They were afraid that they would somehow be overrun that in newspapers they always said they use the words that immigrants would take over the foreigners would take take over. And also they feared two more things. One that these new people were anarchistic and secondly that they would seduce their daughters. A yawning cultural and economic chasm had opened in America. An estimate of the days said that 5 percent of the population controlled 90 percent of the nation's wealth. As the class of dispossessed immigrants grew larger. The chasm widened resulting in deeper suspicions and sharper opinions. They may adopt the language of the true American.
They may wear his clothes they may steal his name and they are beginning to steal his women. But they seldom adopts his religion or understand his ideals. Madison Gramp trustee of the Museum of Natural History New York. Without job skills for the burgeoning industrial economy. Without the benefit of language to bridge the chasm. Many immigrants felt they had fallen into a subclass that lived beneath the streets paved with gold. It wasn't unusual for immigrants from Italy and Eastern Europe to refer to the Americans as the white people. They were not considered white and on labor gangs they were segregated and they could not rent in certain areas of towns. And there were demonstrations against them. They felt themselves in a sense as indentured servants and although not consciously subconsciously felt as though that they were slaves
to the people that they were. But even in the lowest paying jobs the influx of immigrants to the American workforce was deeply resented. The resentment extended to self-described champions of the working man. Such as Samuel Gompers of the American Federation of Labor. Both the intelligence and the prosperity of our working people are endangered by the present immigration cheap labor ignorant labor takes our jobs and cuts our wages. Samuel Gompers. There were few champions for workers at the bottom rung of the labor ladder in the first years of the 20th century. The jobs most often taken by immigrants were the unskilled heavy lifting jobs in the booming industries of steel the railroads and mining. Labor agents under contract to large employers would travel to Europe to recruit immigrant labor with promises of high
pay comfortable homes. And a piece of the American dream. In the uneven days before unions ethnic groups were often brought in to break strikes. Greeks would replace striking American workers. The Italians would replace the Greeks Slavs would replace the Italians. With little safety regulation or oversight. Mining in particular was a dangerous even deadly way of life. And the lives of miners could be considered one of the costs of doing business. They were disposable even in a sense that we don't dispose of recyclable garbage in the sense that they weren't recycled. One of many examples of the delicate balance of life was found in the mining camp of Scofield's Utah on May 1st of 9300. Three hundred men entered the winter quarters mine on that day. Many were
immigrants. Nearly 100 were newly arrived workers from Finland. A company paid inspector had declared the mine safe the month before. Thick choking coal dust had ignited a rolling wall of flame incinerated dozens of men before they could move. Others were torn apart by the explosion and dozens died when trapped in pockets of deadly carbon monoxide gas. The first man brought out from the mines by a rescue team was alive. But so badly burned he begged his rescuers to kill him. He died within minutes. Over 200 miners died including more than 60 of the Finnish workers 20 young boys under the age of 12 died as well. Some immigrant families lost the entire male side of their clan fathers uncles brothers and sons all dead. In one moment.
Bodies were stacked like cordwood in the local schoolhouse in church and Coppins had to be freighted in because of a lack of wood. Scofield's finished Lutheran minister conducted one enormous graveside service as the cemetery population tripled in one day. The Pleasant Valley coal company provided a suit and coffin for each dead miner. Paid the surviving widows $500. And agreed to forgive the dead miners debts of the company store. For people such as my grandfather on my dad's side who came here from Croatia there was a joke in the mines that if there is a cave in save the mule it's hard to train a mule to go into a hole but there are there are always plenty of Bo honks. Which was the pejorative term for
Croatians and there are always plenty of them to go into the holes so save the meal. Beyond the risk posed by accidents and explosions mining could also exact a heavy toll on those who were able to stay on the job. For long has become clogged from inhaling coal dust. The body and limbs become stiff and sore. A mind loses the power of thought. After 12 years the lungs black. A miner dies. Thirty five of the miners consumption. And men are dying by inches. And the world knows not. Andrew Roy. Hundreds of miners in Butte for example contracted lung disease. Well once they had that illness there was no nothing to to help them they just had to lose their job and live however they could. Well if you're a miner and you no
longer can mine what in the world are you going to do. Every minute of each day in the life of a worker could be owned by the mining company. First off they were your employer. Secondly they were your landlord. You buy your groceries from the company store. They really reached into every aspect of a person's life. Even if you making high wages you're going to continue to be in debt. If you're paying 95 percent of your check to the company town store or whatever. 95 percent is 95 percent in many mind settings such as the Bingham Canyon mine of Utah. The turn of the century. The company left the workers to provide for their own housing resulting in stunning problems with hygiene and disease. There were streams running at the side one of sewage and one of water. And the manager. His name is Gimel said. Well if we did build them boarding houses they would prefer to stay where they are. That was the general view of the immigrant
laborers. Time and again. Industrious said you can mine coal without a machine gun. And that's exactly what they would do. It was through this reality of an unskilled working class of immigrants that Joel Hagglund drifted for eight years from road crews to timber camps to loading docks on the California coast. The Swedish immigrant pass through America. And the idealism of his early days vanished. He turns away from being a naive hopeful person to a more hardened person a person who realizes that things aren't going to happen unless you make them happen. That just being co-operative isn't going to get anywhere. He can stand up and defend yourself and defend other people who are in your condition somewhere along the line he fell on the wrong side of the law or
company and changed his name apparently to avoid being put on a list of troublemakers. People are blacklisted. You know that when he follows him around don't hire so-and-so he's a union man don't hire this person he's an IWW he's an agitator He's a troublemaker. Joel Hagglund disappeared to be replaced in name by Joseph hillstrom. And Joe Hillstrand became a wobbly nickname for members of the Industrial Workers of the world sometimes called the IWW the Wobblies were a determined ragtag idealistic and aggressive collection of dispossessed workers with the lofty goal of tearing down the economic free market structure of the United States. It was a goal they laid out at their founding in Chicago in $9900 the working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of working people
and the few who make up the employing class have all the good things in life. It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism. They were very militant very radical and they honestly believe they could build a new society within the shell of the old society. It's intended to do and that it attempts to do it with the most educated the most recent immigrants the most unskilled people. It's very revolutionary. Approach. The Wobblies organized confrontational strikes and filled the air with fiery rhetoric against big businessmen the government and the existing social order far more aggressive than any other branch of the fledgling union movement. The IWW vowed to use sabotage and even violence to tear down the system. They're perceived as a threat to the status quo. They're perceived as anarchists and they're perceived as people who are not averse to using violence to achieve their
ends. When a bomb detonated at the strongly anti-union Los Angeles Times building in 1910 killing some workers and knocking the paper off the street. The blame immediately centered on the IWW. Hanging is none too good for them and they would be much better dead. They are absolutely useless in the human economy. They are the waste material of creation and should be trained Doffen the sewer of oblivion to rot like any other extreme and the San Diego Union. Wabbly strikes from Massachusetts to Washington state turned violent with government heeding the call of business to restore order and no matter what state you're looking at in the United States during this period of time the police always took the side of business and whenever there was a strike they the police weighed in with police power and we're not
just talking about harsh words. They use Billy clubs they used weapons. Firing on Gaoth who were in striking lines. And so the United States had basically unilateral attitude toward labor unions which was negative and regarded them as a form of sedition a form of treason if you will. Again the economic and social chasm spread wide. People on both sides of the issue felt the future and the very soul of the nation were at stake. At least one mine owner felt strikes did more than challenge stability they challenge the natural order. Should the working man control a business in which he has no interest then to secure a fair wage. The rights and interests of the laboring man will be protected and cared for not by radical labor agitators but by the Christian men to whom God has given control of the property interests of
the country. Pray earnestly that all right may triumphs always remembering that the Lord God omnipotent still reigns and that his reign is one of Law and Order. George F.. Bear. Wabbly strikes increased as the world drew close to war and the years after 1910 and the Lobley picket lines would be filled with songs of defiance songs of organizing and many times. They were the songs of Joseph flustering. He was dealing with a bunch of people who couldn't see and speak the same language. How do you organize people and. Work and get them to do something in unison. If you can't even communicate. When the songs were one might do them. His songs are very direct. They're very easy
they're repetitive and sometimes he uses popular tunes of the day and him tunes which are easy to sing familiar he makes. He takes music. And makes it the instrument of convincing people. Ideologically that they need to belong to the union and it's very direct. Workers of the world awaken break your chains demand your rights. All the wealth you make is taken. By exploiting parasites shall you kneeling in deep submission from your cradle to your grave. Is the height of your ambition to be a good and willing slave. Well that's pretty straightforward stuff. That's not right poetry. And that may not be great art but boy it pretty well gives you the ideological version of the idea of early 20th century cap corporate capitalism.
Hillstrom had been introduced to music as a child growing up in Sweden. He played the violin could work a piano and would pick out tunes on a guitar. Simplicity was the key as the songs were passed along the IWW network. And as the songs were passed so too was the songwriter's name simplified. Wobblies throughout the nation shared the songs of Joe Hill hillstrom and Hill would be used interchangeably for the rest of his life. A pamphlet no matter how good is never read more than once but a song is learned by heart and repeated over and over. And I maintain that if a person can put a few common sense facts into a song and dress them up in a cloak of humor he will succeed in reaching a great number of workers who are too unintelligent or indifferent to read Joe Hill. More than ten years in the United States. His songs now printed by the IWW headquarters in Chicago Hill remains a mystery as 19:13 draws to
a close. He's reported to be in Mexico during that nation's revolution. He's reported on picket lines during a longshoreman strike in San Pedro and in the forests of the Northwest during a lumber strike. He's arrested for vagrancy in Southern California. A standard charge against Wobblies but he's released. He spends time in a Christian mission flophouse. He's often seen. But never photographed. His first adult picture will be taken in Salt Lake City Utah in 1914. In 1914. Utah had been a state for less than 20 years. Headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints more commonly referred to as the Mormon Church. The Territory of Utah had a troubled relationship with the nation and the federal government in the previous 50 years.
Unique church practices involving politics the economy and the very unique practice of polygamy had left the Mormon people at odds with an increasingly impatient federal government. Federal crackdowns reached a breaking point in 1890 and the Mormon Church took steps to shed the image of somehow being un-American. Polygamy was dropped as a mainstream practice but for many observers doubts of Utah and Mormon national loyalty lingered. That church had to show that it was loyal to the United States and it was not a subversive organization. One area the Mormon Church was able to display unquestioned loyalty was in business affairs. Church leaders once relegated to primarily church owned businesses were now actively involved in mining railroad and other private enterprises. LDS Church leaders were very American in their attitudes toward the effort to unionize. And when I say that is
the LDS Church represented a leadership group and leadership groups throughout the United States without exception were anti-union. They regarded unions as destructive of social order. Utah lashed out in attempts to unionize mine workers. And once again the Industrial Workers of the world were identified as the most clear and present danger. As for the IWW. That organization is fast getting to be a universal menace to the public peace. A standing threat against the good order of the community everywhere wherever its membership appears. There are riots and fighting the Salt Lake Tribune. The Wobblies were viewed as the driving force behind strikes that had gripped mines in Utah and when the IWW attempted to deliver verbal attacks against mine owners in downtown Salt Lake City in 1913 the Wobblies were severely beaten by private guards hired by the mines.
It was a scene played throughout the mountain west. I see the Rocky Mountain States as a colony in our own country. It was supplying raw materials from companies who were outside owned and most of the profits went outside and the political game the companies played well to work with the state legislatures and the political structure and the National Guard to keep their workers under control and so it was a hand in hand with the workers being under the thumb of the companies and the political structure and the National Guard if needed was there to actually put down strikes and they did in Utah and they did and every other western state. The reasons are lost to passing time. But in 1913 Joe Hill came to Utah. He worked for a time in the mines of Park City but he fell ill possibly with
pneumonia and he ended up in the hospital. He drifted into the Swedish community that was centered in a suburb of Salt Lake City. The general Utah climate was not conducive to being known as a wildly. So Hill apparently kept the very low profile. It was anonymity that would not last long. Why. On Saturday January 10 in the new year of 1914 John Morrison was closing his small grocery store less than a mile south of the heart of Salt Lake City. Morrison's son also John but known by his middle name of Arleen. Was helping to sweep up.
Freezing temperatures kept the foot traffic light through the area. It was almost 10 o'clock. Seventeen year old John Arleen Morrison was dead. His father John G. Morrison died minutes later. The crime stunned Utah and dominated local newspaper coverage the next day. Police announced with certainty that one of the gunmen had been wounded by a shot fired by young Arlene Morrison before he died. And one of the highest ranking police officers in the city said the motive for the murders was revenge. Revenge for Morrison's bygone days as a member of the city police force. Police Captain John Hempel's even claimed Morrison had foretold his death
just days before the shooting. He told me John I have only five hundred dollars left of the money I made in this city by mighty hard work and I would gladly give it up if I could have my name blotted out of the police department records. I have lived to regret that I ever was a member of the force. Morrison was in constant dread of many at arrested when he was a policeman. Captain A.J. Hample Salt Lake City police. He had told individuals that there was someone in the neighborhood was out that was out to get him. Indeed there was one and at that time prime suspect a man named Frank C. Wilson who had been recently released from the Utah State Prison. A man that Morrison had arrested and who had a vendetta and had apparently sworn it out against Morrison in Salt Lake City police records failed to confirm that Frank CSY Wilson was arrested by Morrison when he was a police officer but a compelling bit of concrete evidence implicating Wilson was the testimony of a
street car conductor. Minutes after the murders a man boarded a street car in the area and the conductor said the man seemed injured when brought to police headquarters to look through photographs. The conductor conclusively picked this picture a photo of Frank CSY Wilson who had been released from the state prison only months earlier. Police fanned out looking for Wilson looking for evidence and arresting anyone wounded and virtually anyone who looked suspicious. Joe Hill is shot the same night as the Morrison murder he shot in the chest. He gets on a street car. He goes to Murray. Doctor whose name is McCuen Dr. McHugh for treatment of the swoon in Frank McHugh's treatment room in the Salt Lake City suburb of Murray Utah. A gun fell from Joe Hill's pocket. I ask him how he came to be shot. And he told me that he and another
fellow had quarreled over a girl and he struck the other man who retaliated by shooting him. Dr. Frank McHugh McHugh reads the paper the next morning reads about these murders of the Morrisons and calls the police and said look I treated a guy last night who had a gunshot wound. Check him out. Police kicked down the door of Hill's bedroom in the home of Swedish friends as Hill reached across the bed. Police shot him in the hand thinking he was reaching for a gun. Instead he was reaching for his pants. I ask to be taken to a hospital but was instead taken upstairs to a solitary cell and told I was charged with murder and had better confess right away. I did not know anything about a murder and told them so. They still insisted that I confess and they would take me to a hospital and treat me white if I did. I finally pulled through because I made up my mind not to die.
Joe hillstrom. Police announced that they were convinced Joe hillstrom was actually Frank CSY Wilson and they said Hellstrom was refusing to explain how he was wounded on the very night of the Morrisson murders that he was innocent they argue he would be eager to tell them how and under what circumstances he was wounded and tell them where they might corroborate his tale. The Salt Lake Tribune. When Hill refused to offer an alibi he was identified as the prime suspect in the Morrison murders. At a preliminary hearing a series of witnesses failed to conclusively identify hillstrom as one of the men who entered the Morrison store just before the shooting. But his chest wound. And his silence convinced the court to try Joseph Hillstrand. For murder. I have no witnesses in favor of my case. At the present time I have no further statements to offer at the present time. My case will be presented when it
comes before the district court. The Morrisons were buried on January 14th. More than five hundred mourners formed a procession through Salt Lake City to the nearby cemetery. Joe hillstrom was held in the city jail for six months before the start of his trial on a murder charge. His affiliation with the Industrial Workers of the world remained unknown except for a handful of local Wobblies who visited him in his cell. They local here in Salt Lake City when he is arrested goes to him and says we'll help you out. And he says this is prior to the preliminary hearing. He says I don't want your help I don't want you involved I don't want to bring the union and it is basically without union backing.
Hillstrom was faced with the prospect of defending himself until he was approached by a local attorney named FBC Scott who offered to represent hill without charge saying that the proposition was in perfect harmony with my bankroll. I accepted his offer. Joe Hill. The trial opened in June of 1914 in District Court for the state of Utah and the imposing city and county building of Salt Lake City. Morris Ritchies sat as the judge and the Leatherwood the local district attorney would handle the prosecution. Hillstrand would be tried on one count of murder. The shooting death of the Father John G Morrison. Just as the trial was underway. The Salt Lake Tribune broke the story that Hellstrom was no ordinary defendant. Hillstrom is the author of a score of poems and songs many of which have been adopted by the IWW organization. And have been sung all over the country. That is why the IWW is financing his defense and why so many
WWC are present at the trial. The Salt Lake Tribune I think. As it became clear that Joe Hill really had baggage. I mean he was I mean he. Was a political person and there became a big defense to save him. Then I think the whole thing changed from Mr. Leatherwood point of view. He could see a political career developing here for himself and took advantage of her to convince the jury Leatherwood was forced to rely on circumstantial evidence that the killer of the Morrisons had been wounded by the Morrisons and that Joe Hill had a wound that the Morrisons had been shot with an automatic handgun and that Hill had been seen with one. And he would try to use the testimony of several people to establish that hill or hillstrom was one of the gunmen who entered the store the night the Morrisons were shot. But Leatherwood also had an unlikely resource in the courtroom. The
prosecution's best weapon may have been the conduct of Joe Hill. In the early stages of prosecution. Hill jumped to his feet to fire Scott and co-counsel Eddie McDougal claiming they were incompetent. May I say a few words. I have three prosecuting attorneys here and I intend to get rid of two of them. I wish to announce that I have discharged my two lawyers. When in doubt blame your lawyer. It's nice to know that dad has been a. That has existed in trials from the beginning. But it's interesting because he does this in front of the jury and the judge. Judge Richie basically lets most of it go on in front of the jury and the credibility of hill at that time had to reach an all up all time low with these 12 good men and true. Fearing a mistrial. Judge Ritchie refused to let Hill represent himself and
he instructed Scott and McDougal to continue as attorneys. The prosecution then set about reconstructing the events of the Morrison shooting using peripheral witnesses to try and place Hill in or near the store at the time of the shooting. The intriguing thing about it is. As virtually all of that testimony that comes in improved over time from the preliminary hearing where the eyewitness identification is marginal at best. And in some cases nonexistent too positive identification by a number of these people during the course of the trial. On the night of the murders Phoebe Seeley had been walking with her husband near the Morrison store. She reported being roughly bumped off the sidewalk by two men hurrying in the direction of the store when she testified in the trial. She said
she was clearly able to distinguish facial scars on one of the men scars that matched those of Joe Hill. Vira Hanson had rushed from her home across the street after hearing shots fired in the Morrison store. She testified that one of the men was clearly injured and was clutching his chest and even announced he had been shot. Another witness claimed she had watched from her window as the gunman ran from the store and that one was clearly hurt moving slower than the other. Having introduced testimony that placed hill at the scene and testimony that one of the gunmen had been shot by the Morrisons. Prosecutor Leatherwood introduced his star witness. Thirteen year old Marilyn Morrison took the stand. Marilyn had been at the store the night his father and brother were shot. When the gunman entered the store. Merlin was in the back. When gunfire erupted.
He apparently hid behind boxes when the shooting was over. Merlin came out and discovered the bodies of his brother and his father a pistol near the hand of his dead brother apparently raised in self-defense. Marilyn Morrison was the closest thing to an eyewitness to the crime. Does the general appearance of Mr. hillstrom resemble that of the tall man. He looks the same. Does this man's general appearance correspond with that of the man who shot your father. Yes. One newspaper reported the testimony as a definitive identification of Joe Hill as the murderer scanning the defendant up and down carefully. The boy declared positively and general build height form of body and shape of head Hellstrom bears a striking resemblance to the taller of the two highwaymen the Salt Lake Herald Republican but another reporter
listening to the same testimony came to a different conclusion. Marilyn Morrison could not identify hillstrom as being the taller of the two bandits who shot Mr. Morrison. The boy could not identify the man's features because the taller of the two bandits wore a red handkerchief over the lower part of his face. A Deseret News after introducing testimony about bloodstains in the neighborhood and Dr. McHugh's testimony on Joe Hill's room. The prosecution rested. The whole trial was plain before a packed courtroom and one of the most conspicuous members of the audience was the daughter of a past president of the Mormon Church Virginia snow Stephen was the daughter of Lorenzo's snow. She was an art instructor at the University of Utah and a self-proclaimed socialist on her own. She contacted one of the West's most prominent defense attorneys Orrin Hilton of Denver and urged him to take the Hill case.
I am so firmly convinced of his innocence. The man who wrote the songs and composed the music that Joseph Hellstrom has simply could not be guilty of so brutal a murder as the killing of the Morrisons Virginia snow Stephen Hilton agreed to take the case on appeal if necessary and send an observer to watch the trial play out. Hill's defense tried to poke holes in the prosecution's case. They produced an expert who was prepared to say there was no evidence that the Morrison gun had been fired that night. Hence a gunshot wound could not identify the assailants. But the judge disallowed the testimony. They argued that hill had been shot clean through the chest. If it happened in the Morrison store. Where was the bullet for none was ever found. And the lead bullets of the Morrison gun would not have had the velocity necessary to pass through a human body. A bullet would have been found by Dr McHugh in Joe Hill.
Hill's testimony about how he was wounded was viewed as a critical piece of the puzzle. The opportunity to establish himself away from the Morrison store. It did not happen. Abruptly and unexpectedly the defense ceased introducing evidence. After a lengthy conference with the defendant. The defense rested its case without placing the accused man on the stand. The Salt Lake Herald Republican. Hillstrom from the very beginning of the trial insisted that he was going to take the witness chair owing to bad advice from someone else. At the 11th hour he changed his mind and refused to take the witness chair. FBI Scott Hamlett never talks and that kind of takes the wind away from the defense and allows this idea of proof beyond a reasonable doubt to be more readily accepted by the jurors.
The courtroom was filled with unanswered questions. Who shot Joe Hill who was the woman he claimed was the reason for the shooting. And who convinced Hill not to testify. Hill would never say in closing arguments to a 12 member jury. Prosecutor Leatherwood mistook him. For his silence. If you were an innocent man joe hillstrom when asked for an explanation of your Woon why in God's name did you not tell the story and clear your name from the stain upon it. Because you were a guilty man and you couldn't tell a story that could be corroborated. That's why. While you're sitting on the jury and prosecuting attorneys a pretty good attorney and you say to yourself wow you know maybe that's true. Why in the world won't he tell us what happened. Hill's defense attorney tried to argue that silence could not be used against his client.
I don't know how he was shot but I do know that he was not shot in the Morrison store but his refusal to tell how he was wounded should not be held against him. It's not the duty of the defendant to prove that he's innocent. The burden is on the state to prove that he is guilty. Eddie McDougal. In his final comments prosecutor Leatherwood was careful not to mention the Industrial Workers of the world by name but he did link Joe Hill to the fears of the day and said The future was in the balance in force. The majesty of the law enforced it so that anarchy and murder and crime shall be pushed back beyond the pale of civilization in force so that you and your sons and all upright men shall walk the earth free from the dangers of those parasites who murder and rob. Rather than make an honest living. The jury began its deliberations late in the afternoon of June 25th
1914. As the jury met on into the night. Rumors started to circulate that an IWW uprising was in the works to free. Information was furnished. Sheriff Andrew Smith yesterday that IWW sympathizers are planning to rescue Joseph hillstrom from the courtroom. In case the jury should find him guilty. The Salt Lake Herald Republic. There was no evidence of a plan to break hill out of jail. But there was the first public outcry by the IWW that Joseph Hellstrom had been set up set up by a sinister conspiracy involving the Mormon Church and big business. But intriguingly in this case six of the 12 jurors were non Mormon. The judge is known not Mormon and the prosecutor wasn't Mormon. The LDS church simply was not involved either at an institutional level nor were its leaders involved at a personal level in arranging for the outcome of the Joe Hill case.
But I think there was a climate not only in Utah but in the west of the IWW was a threat to the status quo the power structure executing Joe Hill was consistent with opposing the IWW. That's a much more serious situation than than saying that this was a conspiracy of the mining companies and Utah construction company and the LDS church because it's the whole community that feels this way about that situation. Joseph hillstrom was found guilty of the murder of John G Morrison. And sentenced to death. Consistent with state law. Judge Morris Ritchie gave Hill a choice for his execution. Death by hanging or by firing squad. I'll take shooting. I'm used to that. I've been shot a few times in the past and I guess I can stand that again. I've been in this calaboose almost a full year and that's a long time to live on the kind of stew they
serve here. I keep myself in good spirits by reminding myself that the worst is yet to come. Once a month or so a missionary comes around I think he prays for me. Joe Hill. One year after the Morrison murders Hill was still in the Salt Lake City jail waiting for an appeal to be heard by the Utah State Supreme Court. The inmates identity had become split. To the authorities he was Joseph hillstrom condemned to die to the industrial workers of the world. He was Joe Hill a symbol to say. Another crime is about to be perpetrated by the capitalist class against the workers. Our Songbird is about to be executed before he ever has a chance to sing for us the glorious songs of freedom. Will permit him to be executed only we can prevent his execution.
We demand this life and we are going to enforce our demands. Amobi little in the spring of 1915 Hill was visited in his cell by Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. Flynn was a bright and fiery leader of strikes for the IWW in the East. She was a remarkably strong orator. She could harangue a crowd of working stiffs and inspire them. She was a tough organizer with a modern feminist sensibility. Flynn came away from the meeting as Hill's new champion. He is tall good looking but naturally thin after 16 months in a dark narrow cell with another row of cells between him in daylight. Joe Hill had nothing to say about his case or himself. He only said I'm not afraid of death but I'd like to be in the fight a little longer. Can we afford to give up our Joe Hill without a struggle.
Elizabeth Gurley Flann Hill immediately composed a song in honor of Flann a tune that championed the women of the IWW. He titled it The rebel girl. The meeting with Flyn also signaled a change in Hill's statements about his case. One of the first to notice was oron Hilton. His union backed attorney for the appeal of his conviction Hellstrom is a security man. He seems to me to be a man who wants to be a martyr for cops. And Hilton. He does seem to change and there comes a time where in my opinion he'll decides that he will be the martyr for the labor movement. He was a very smart man and he realized what was happening and that he could be useful too because he really believed in playing that role. I think that became part of it towards them.
Hill bristled at the confines of jail acknowledging in a letter to a friend that delays in his appeal had become a strain. The hearing on my case has been postponed and they are trying to make me believe that it's for my benefit. But I tell you it's damn hard for me to see where the benefit comes in. Damn hard. Yours as ever. Joe Hill. Finally in the summer of 1915 the Utah Supreme Court met in the Salt Lake City and county building to hear Hill's appeal. May it please the court. A careful study of the record in this case warrants the assertion that no case appealed to this court. In recent years is so utterly lacking in the essential fundamental elements of truth to sustain a conviction. And Hilton Hilton's lengthy argument was essentially simple. The trial was not fair. Convicting hill on the basis of his unexplained
gunshot wound was ridiculous and holding Hill's silence against him in reaching a conviction was outrageous. The three member court reached a rapid conclusion. Under the circumstances the defendant's wound without an explanation was quite as much a distinguishing mark as though one of the assailants had one of his ears chopped off and the defendant may not avoid the natural and reasonable inference of remaining silent. Daniel Amstrup chief justice. July 7th 1915. Their friend and fellow worker. Was denied a new trial and was immediately moved to the state prison where I am now. I'm only a drop in the bucket and this is a fight where individuals don't count. My right hand was Shaab all the splinters Anyway when I was arrested. So it doesn't matter much where I
tell you the truth. I hate to lay down as long as there's a fighting chance. You're the one big. Joe Hill. William D Haywood. Big Bill the leader of the Industrial Workers of the world telegraphed him telling him the union would bankroll and appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. July 28 1915. William D Haywood. Dear Fellow Worker. There's no reason to be sentimental about it Bill. We cannot afford to let the whole organization go bankrupt over one individual. Yours for industrial freedom. Joe Hill. Hill's execution date was set for October 1st 1915 from her base in New York. Elizabeth Gurley Flynn orchestrated a national campaign to pressure Utah to stop the execution. His exceptional courage makes his plight even more pathetic and doubles our
determination to save him. If we are to save his life we must appeal to you for immediate financial assistance. Will you and your friends sign and mail the enclosed appeal to the governor. Elizabeth Gurley Flynn the IWW campaign and the national newspaper coverage of the pending Hill execution generated an avalanche of mail for the office of Utah's governor William spry letters and telegrams from all parts of the world demanding a pardon for Hill poured into the office of governor spry yesterday. Most are from lawyers and professional men who are not affiliated with the IWW. The governor's office is receiving an average of 200 letters per day. Salt Lake Tribune. Not all of the letters were simple petitions for Hill's life. Some promised a reign of terror for Utah if Hill should die. We work silently but when the time comes for reckoning it will be swift sure and terrible for the revenge of the Codi is
silent swift sure and terrible. We never fail. Agent 7 K. O. D. Authorities quickly translated k o d to mean the Knights of death and the authorities announced that the knights were clearly an attack squad formed by the IWW to terrorize Utah. I am not afraid of any threats that may be made by any man or organization when they resort to the unprincipled tactics of anonymous letters. I am going about my business as I always have and am not frightened by the threats of death to myself or my family. William Spera governor but privately Spry was terrified at the prospects of Utah and him specifically being targeted by a group he considered mad bombers he hired as many as two dozen private detectives from the Pinkerton agency as guards and as undercover spies to monitor the Wobblies.
He also is afraid for his family because there have been threats made against him. He has guards that help with his children taking them to school and various things of that sort. So he's concerned about what the effect might be on his family that they might be in danger spry even joined with Hiram Johnson the governor of California in requesting a federal strike force to crush the IWW. My dear governor many thousands of letters have poured into the office and hundreds have contained vicious threats on my life the lives of members of my family and against the property of the state. Like you I am satisfied. Few people realize the extent of the operations of this organization and I will be more than glad to cooperate with you in requesting federal assistance. William spry governor. Elizabeth Gurley Flint New York City.
Their friend and fellow worker. According to the local press the only hope forming now is the board of pardons. I suppose that means they're going to give me life if I beg for it. Real nice. I'll tell you girlie. I think I would rather be buried dead buried alive. I never licked the hand that holds the whip. And I don't see why I should have to start now. Yours. Joe Hill. Hill was back in the city county building once again. This time he was to appear before the State Board of Pardons. It was a familiar group since it was made up of three state Supreme Court justices Governor William spry and Utah's attorney general. But rather than turn he'll away. The board offered him a chance to tell how he was shocked. To identify the mystery woman that he claimed was the subject of the argument that left him wounded. All you've got to do is allow us to verify your alibi and we'll cut you.
That's interesting. But I think that at that point he had decided he was better employed as a martyr. I could not want my death sentence commuted to life imprisonment. And I'm not clamoring for a pardon. I do however want a new trial a fair trial. If I cannot have a new trial I'm willing to give my blood as a martyr that others may be afforded fair trials. Joseph hillstrom. If I were convinced in the least that Hellstrom is not rightfully convicted I would vote to give him a full pardon. But. When he did not take the opportunity offered him he practically confessed that the conviction is legal and right. Justice William McCartin. Even the attorneys for Hellstrom were disgusted with his performance before the State Board of Pardons governor spry and the other members of the board actually pleaded with Hellstrom to present any new evidence he might have.
But hillstrom dramatically stated he did not want his freedom that he wanted vindication. The Salt Lake Tribune. Back in his cell he'll started writing goodbye letters in anticipation of execution on October 1st. First to a group of friends in California their friend and fellow worker shouldn't feel so sentimental about this this dying business is not quite so bad as it's cracked up to be. I was moved to another cell last night and have an armed guard in front of my cell. I was also given some swell feed for the first time and God knows how long. And that's the surest sign. Now just forget me and say goodbye to the bunch. Then to a Salt Lake City wabbly who wanted to write a biography. We shall not through and fine letter paper in writing such trash. The only time that exists for me is the present. I am a citizen of the world. And I was born on a planet called Earth. On
which side of this planet I first saw light means so little. It is not worth talking about. I shall only say that I have always tried to do the little I could to advance freedom's banner a little closer to its goal. And finally to Elizabeth Gurley Flynn a letter that revealed a deeper connection than its opening indicated. Dear friend and fellow worker. Well girlie I guess I'm off for the great unknown tomorrow morning. They can kill me. I know. They can never make me eat my own crow. I would like to kiss you good bye girlie. Not because you are a girl. But because you are the original rebel girl. With. By. Joe. But the scene of the drama was shifting to Washington D.C.. Virginia snow
Stephen had not surrendered her belief in Hill's innocence. Less than two weeks before his execution she telegraphed the Swedish ambassador to the United States. September 20th 1915. Joseph hillstrom a Swedish subject has been sentenced to be shot to death October 1st at Salt Lake City. Will you request secretary of state to delay execution pending investigation. Virginia snow Stephen. The telegram found its way to a kangaroo. The Swedish minister to the United States. To the President. Said objeck name yours if he is through. Has been sentenced by the courts of you. To be sure took Toban first for murder in the first degree. I have come to the conclusion that the evidence which is circumstantial is insufficient to Varman capital punishment. My government has instructed me to do my utmost. I
venture to most respectfully laid the case before you Mr President. Well you would be Neverland consideration if King didn't see the kangaroo and the telegram was placed on the desk of President Woodrow Wilson. Woodrow Wilson is an idealist. He believed that there was perfectability in mankind and so he could be appealed to on idealistic grounds and he was an innocent man perhaps being executed. This is consistent with Wilson to try to save someone in that situation. September 30th 1915. So the governor of Utah. Now please find out his name and address. I respectfully ask if it would not be possible to postpone the execution of Joseph hillstrom until the Swedish Minister has an opportunity to present his view of the case fully to your Excellency. Woodrow Wilson.
In Utah governor spry bristled at the unprecedented presidential intervention but he agreed to halt the execution to allow Congress to present his new evidence. He is convinced that Joe Hill is guilty and that Wilson is interfering in something that is not his affair because this is a state matter not a federal matter. If the action is to become precedent our governors will be reduced to defending the administration of justice and their states to members of the diplomatic corps. The New York Sun Wilson thinking his action was entirely innocent was stunned that the national press reaction media governors. Of course you understand that I sent you the message I did in the Hillstrand case only because I thought it due to the representative of a foreign nation to give him the utmost benefit of any possible process in the case of a subject of his government sentenced to death. Very sincerely yours. Woodrow Wilson.
Again the invitation was extended to Hill to tell his full story and save his life. Joseph hillstrom still has a chance left to escape the execution chair at Hellstrom will tell his attorneys in confidence the name of the woman over who he alleges he was shot. So that Arthur Pratt warden of the state prison may make an investigation. He may go free something like Harold Republican. Once again he'll refuse to provide the information I have stated the facts as I know them in my own simple way. I did not have a fair and impartial trial in spite of what the learned jurists may say to the contrary. I'm going to stick to my principles no matter what may come I am going to have a new trial or die trying yours for fair play. Joe Hill in Washington. The Swedish minister turned one more time to President Wilson to intervene. My dear Mr. President I am firmly of the
opinion that the evidence and course of the trial do not warrant the execution of this death sentence. This time I would most respectfully ask whether you could recommend to the board of pardons that the death sentence be commuted. Most respectfully use the F Khinjan media Mr. Minister what I have learned about the hillstrom case has given me a great deal of concern and I wish most unaffectedly that it had been possible for me to do more. But my slight intervention in the matter aroused resentment on the part of the authorities of Utah. The case is entirely beyond my official jurisdiction cordially. Woodrow Wilson the Board of Pardons said a new trial was not an option. Hill's execution was rescheduled for November 19th 1915 October 27th 1915.
Hilton. Denver Colorado judge well judge I guess the legal part of the case is done now and I'm glad of it. With best wishes for your health and welfare I remain Respectfully your client Joe Hill. Why would he let himself become a symbol to the degree he let himself become and why would he give up his life if he was really innocent. I mean it's just a compelling drama. And it's an unanswerable question in many ways and any answer will question but external pressure to block the execution did not ease the popular leader of the Socialist Party of America. Eugene Debs made a direct plea to Governor spry to stop the execution. I am convinced that there is more than a reasonable doubt as to the guilt of this unfortunate brother of ours in the cause of labor. Joe Hill is a poet a writer of songs a man of soul. Joe Hill is not a murderer and
the great state of Utah where murder is so abhorred cannot afford to take his life. Yours very truly. Eugene V Dabbs the pressure increased in Washington for Wilson as well with celebrity voices joining the chorus to save Joe Hill on November 16th. A woman who had overcome severe disability to achieve a revered place in American hearts begged the president to stop the execution. Your excellency I believe that Joseph hillstrom has not had a fair trial and the sentence passed upon him is unjust. I appeal to you as official Father of all the people to use your great power and influence to save one of the nation's helpless sons. Helen Keller Wilson quickly dictated a reply my dear Miss Kella I was very much touched by your telegram of November 16th. But unhappily there is nothing that I can do with sincere regard.
Woodrow Wilson No sooner had Wilson dictated the letter to Helen Keller saying there was nothing he could do. Then another telegram hit the desk of Wilson's special political assistant Joseph Tumulty who is a very shrewd guy and like all presidents how around them when a president can count and is usually a shrewd person too. But in Wilson's case and in some other cases the president could stand above the fray. But Tumulty was in the fray elbowing and doing his job. To multis job in the fall of 1915 was to make sure Woodrow Wilson could be re-elected in 1916. It was far from certain and Tim altie was trying to build a coalition of voting interests to keep Wilson in office. The telegram to multi received at 6:30 in the evening of November 16th was addressed to President Wilson from Samuel Gompers leader of the American Federation of Labor. May I not prevail upon you to exercise your great influence to at least
help in saving the life of Joseph hillstrom when there is so much doubt concerning his case. Samuel Gompers while far from the political power it would flex one day the AFL represented organized workers spanning America too large of a voting block to ignore. On the morning of November 17th all they dashed off a return telegram to Gompers. The president has received your telegram and has this morning telegraph the governor of Utah urging the Justice and advisability of a thorough reconsideration of the case. JP Tumulty Gompers received word even before the telegram was sent to Governor spry the White House November 17th with unaffected hesitation but with a very earnest conviction of the importance of the case I again venture to urge upon your Excellency the Justice and advisability of a thorough reconsideration of the case of Joseph hillstrom.
Woodrow Wilson. In Salt Lake City. Governor William spry was under great pressure. His operatives were filing reports which indicated the Industrial Workers of the world might conduct an armed assault to free Joe Hill. Or even worse to launch an attack against the state the till was executed as scheduled in 48 hours when Wilson's telegram reached his desk spry exploded in response at the eleventh hour. You as the president without stating any reasons. Again wire me urging a thorough reconsideration. Your interference in the case may have elevated it to an undue importance but the case is important in Utah only for establishing the guilt of one of the perpetrators of one of the most atrocious murders ever committed in that state. I cannot and will not lend myself or my office to such interference. William spry governor in Washington Utah
Senator Reid Smoots sent a bubbling telegram of congratulations to his fellow Republican William spry for his tough response to Democrat Wilson. Dear Governor. Eastern papers are criticizing Wilson for his attitude. It ought to chill him as far as Utah is concerned and the only excuse that can be offered is that it was political expediency. He will crawl on his belly to the IWW when ever requested. But if I were you I would not be too hasty in dismissing the men that have been guarding you and your family. Yours sincerely. Read Smoot. Once again. Joe Hill was sending out goodbye letters. One went to Elizabeth Hurley Flynns son nicknamed Buster who had sent a picture of himself taken as
he sat on a pony in a new york city park. I got your picture buster. You are riding on a pony. Your pony is a real one too. You wouldn't have a phony Buster Flynn. He sure is game. His eyes are full of luster. I think we'd better change his name and call him Bronco buster. With a kind greeting. Joe Hill. Hill also took time to acknowledge the failed efforts of Swedish minister Kingsman. The case is closed. Now my friends know I am innocent and I don't care what the rest think. Hearty thanks to you and the whole Swedish nation for your noble support. I remain yours Joseph hillstrom. In a final telegram to Big Bill Haywood Hill crafted a rallying cry for the IWW and managed to slip in a wry comment about a final resting place. Goodbye Bill. I die like a true rebel. Don't waste any time mourning
organize. It's a hundred miles from here to Wyoming. Could you arrange to have my body hauled to the state line to be buried. I don't want to get caught dead in Utah. Joe Hill. Goodbye Joe. You will live long in the hearts of the working class. Those songs will be sung wherever the workers toil urging them to organize budy work. There was one last telegram to send. Dear friend. I. Have been saying goodbye so much that it's becoming monotonous but I just cannot help to send a few more lines because you've been more to me than a fellow worker. You have been an inspiration. When I wrote the rebel girl who was right there and helped me all the time.
Now goodbye girl. It's like a rebel and I shall die like a Tohil. Late on the night of November 18th. Joe Hill gave a final interview to a handful of newspaper reporters gathered outside his cell. I die with a clear conscience. I die fighting not like a coward but mark my words the day of my vindication is coming. With the shadow of death slowly creeping across the last sunset. His eyes might see. Him calmly answered questions. He retired last night at ten o'clock and went into a peaceful and immediate sleep. The Salt Lake Herald Republican. As Hill slept in his cell troops surrounded the state prison to ward off an expected
wobbly uprising. A machine gun guarded the main gate. The fear of an uprising was fueled by Governor surprise private corps of spies who were conducting surveillance on local IWW figures. The detectives filed dozens of reports breathlessly reporting where Wobblies ate dinner but never able to document the uprising they had predicted. But his supporters were active going so far as to wake Arden anti-union Senator Reid Smoot with a desperate request for his intervention on his behalf. At two o'clock this morning the telephone rang and I answered it. The caller a woman commenced to argue Hill Strom's innocence. I told her it would be useless to follow that any further. She demanded I telephoned governor spry requesting a stay of Hillstrand execution which takes place this morning. I told her I could not and would not do so. Reed's
moved. At five o'clock on the morning of November 19th. The outward calm of Joe Hill shattered in a last frenzied confused struggle for a life. Without warning. Hill lashed out at his guards. The condemned man had broken off the handle from a broom he had in his cell and threatened everyone who came near with a sharp pointed end. Then he placed mattresses in front of the door as a barricade. The Salt Lake Tribune. There are reports that a local doctor administered a large injection of opium to control hill in the face of his outburst. Like so many of the claims about his life the drug report is heavily disputed blindfolded. Hill was led from his cell to the prison yard peeking under the mask and seen a small crowd assembled for the execution. Hill called out. Hoping to find three friends he had invited to witness his death. By. Boys. This is it. I'm going. But the warden
had borrowed his friends from the execution on the basis of their IWW membership. As first light swept the peaks of a nearby Wasatch Mountains. The doctor stepped forward and pinned the paper target over Bill's heart. Five rifles levelled at the target. One loaded with a blank and a traditionalist. Unnecessary gesture. Of absolution to the firing squad. Joel Hagg. Also known as Joseph Hill also known as Joe Hill fought to have the last word. At the end of his life. Hey yeah. Fire. To Elizabeth Hurley Flint New York City. Joe Hill
shot at sunrise. He died. The law has been enforced and justice has been satisfied for this result. Every good citizen should be profoundly grateful. The Deseret News. Joe Hill's body was rushed from the prison yard a required autopsy merely confirmed the obvious and enterprising photographer captured the end defect that netted each member of the firing squad. Twenty dollars in gold. Hill's body was shipped to Chicago where the Industrial Workers of the world staged a funeral. More than 30000 people turned out. They heard Hill's final attorney Oren Hilton. Launch a lengthy and blistering attack on Utah.
You can now see the trial was unfair. And that some influence was brought to bear upon the Supreme Court to persuade it into an attitude of hostility toward maelstrom. I do not say that this was done by direct influence other than the imponderable and undefined but always a parent and dominating fear of the Mormon Church. Hilton never substantiated the charge but the belief that a conspiracy killed Joe Hill would endure. The charge outraged the Mormon Church and Deseret News in Salt Lake City. Now if Judge Hilton really uttered these venomous and slanderous statements it is unfortunate that he was able to get away from the state before the officers of the law could compel him to prove his words or eat them. The Deseret News. Hilton was barred from the practice of law in Utah. In response he said he was honored by the gesture. Some of the players in the case of Joe Hill found their lives indelibly scarred by the affair.
Others seemed untouched. Leatherwood Roeg the notoriety of his prosecution of hill to a seat in Congress where he would serve until his death in 1929. William spry riding a wave of local popularity for his tough stand in the hill case would watch his support erode when he refused to back prohibition in Utah. He was dumped by his party in a bid for a third term in 1916. On the other hand Woodrow Wilson would win re-election as president. In 1916 he received the backing of organized labor and rather than lose States over the hill case. Wilson actually carried the state of Utah a small but critical step in his election victory. Much to the chagrin of Republican Reid Smoot who had declared Wilson politically dead because of Joe Hill. Virginia snow Stephen paid the price for her tireless advocacy of Hill's innocence.
She was fired from her position as art instructor at the University of Utah amid community complaints that the school had become a hotbed for Radicals. She moved to California. And what of Frank CSY Wilson the man originally identified by police as the prime suspect in the murder of the Morrisons in 1914. He disappeared from Salt Lake City after the Morrison shooting and the arrest of Joe Hill. He turned up in Chicago where he was arrested. He turned up in Ohio where he was arrested. He turned up in Minnesota where he was arrested and eventually disappeared. In the late 1920s. In an age when the average male height was near five feet seven inches tall hill and Wilson were considered quite tall at six feet. They had the same general build and weighed roughly the same weight. In January of 1914. Side by side with features obscured as they would be by the presence of a hat
and the handkerchief pulled up to the nose. Their identities seemed to blur. Utah authorities never questioned Frank CSY Wilson if Wilson disappeared from the case others were simply forgotten. The Morrison family was devastated by the crimes but after the trial of Joe Hill they were ignored. Marie Morrison would live another 56 years after the brutal slaying of her husband and her son. Dying in 1970 just before her 98th birthday. She was laid to rest next to John G. Morrison. Nearby was her son Arling next to the graves of three children. She had lost in their infancy. And Mirlande Morrison the first on the scene who watched his father and brother die would cry every time he talked of that night in 1914 until he died at the age of 83.
The Morrisons were forgotten and the name of Joe Hill lived on. 30 years after his execution. Dr. Frank McHugh made a startling claim in the 1940s. MCHUGH told his story that Joe Hill had actually confessed to the arson murders. Hill was being treated for his gunshot wound. Viewed as conclusive evidence by some it was dismissed as self-promotional grandstanding by others. Those convinced of Hill's guilt would forever remain convinced. And those convinced of his innocence would use their beliefs to sustain and enhance the legend of hill. His songs would be sung his name invoked in labor struggles throughout the 20th century. The legend providing a sort of immortality that hill hinted at as he wrote his last will. The night before his execution. My will is easy to decide. For there is nothing to divide.
My kids don't need to fuss and moan. MOS does not cling to urelements. My body. If I could choose. I would use it to reduce. And let the merry breezes blow. My dust to where some flowers bloom. Perhaps some fading flower dam. Would come to life. And bloom again. This is my last and final will. Good luck to all of you. Joe Hill. Local production of Joe Hill was made possible by the members of KQED in
partnership with us West communications. Life's better here.
Joe Hill
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PBS Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah)
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
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"Produced by public television station KUED-TV in Salt Lake City, the documentary 'JOE HILL' examines one of the most controversial death penalty cases in the nation's history. In the process, this ninety-minute program explores a 'forgotten time' during which America struggled with fundamental issues of equality, justice and opportunity. "Set in the uncertain days leading to America's entry into World War One, 'JOE HILL' is the story of a swedish immigrant in pursuit of the all-too-common dream of economic opportunity and streets 'paved with gold.' Instead, Joel Haagland finds difficult, even demeaning, conditions for immigrant workers and embarks on a personal odyssey that eventually leads to his membership in a radical affiliation of workers known as the Industrial Workers of the World. He becomes a prolific songwriter, using his way with words to attack the existing social and economic conditions of his adopted nation, and earn the anger of mainstream society for his pledge to tear the system down. "In Salt Lake City in 1914, Haagland (now known as Joe Hillstrom or Joe Hill, having changed his name [to avoid] blacklisting in another location) is arrested for the brutal murder of a grocer and his son in what police describe as a botched robbery. "The trial, conviction and execution of Joe Hill trigger an unprecedented international debate and force the nation to closely examine its commitment to equal justice under law."--1998 Peabody Awards entry form.
The story of the charismatic union and labor organizer whose controversial execution by the State of Utah in 1915 left many americans in protest.
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Producer: Ken Verdoia
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The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
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Chicago: “Joe Hill,” 1998-11-20, PBS Utah, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 8, 2023,
MLA: “Joe Hill.” 1998-11-20. PBS Utah, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 8, 2023. <>.
APA: Joe Hill. Boston, MA: PBS Utah, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from