Union organizer, rabble-rouser and hell-raiser, Mary Harris Jones was only 10 years old when she left famine-stricken Ireland to become one of the most influential political activists in the United States. Overcoming inconceivable personal tragedy, Mary Harris Jones dedicated her life to serving the sick, fighting for fair labor laws, and demanding for the rights of children.
Married and the mother of four children under the age of five, Mary experienced inconceivable tragedy in Memphis. The city became a major epicenter of the Yellow Fever plague. With the span of a week, Mary watched as her husband and each of her four little children died because of the horrific disease assaulting the city.
Losing her entire family to the plague, and surviving the infection herself, Mary concluded she was called to serve other people in Memphis during the challenging and deadly times. She went to the homes of people who were dying and had died. She made funereal clothing for those who had passed and lacked funds for proper burials.
When the plague subsided in Memphis, Mary moved to Chicago where she opened a dressmaking shop. Incalculable tragedy visited her once again. On this occasion Mary -- as was the case with much of the Windy City -- lost everything in the Great Chicago Fire. Mary would again repeat what she learned during the Memphis plague. She went to work helping those who around her who lost all in the fire, tirelessly helping to bring sense of hope to others.
Through her personal experiences, Mary learned firsthand the plight of worker in the United States. What she witnessed result in her becoming perhaps the most important labor and workers' rights leader of the 20th century. Leading protests at mines and factories, Mary Harris Jones would soon become known as hell-raiser Mother Jones, referred to by some of the governmental powers-that-be as the "most dangerous woman in America."
The work of Mother Jones reached a pinnacle following the horrific Ludlow Massacre in Colorado, a brutal event that took the lives of men, women, and children in rural mining camp. Incarcerated herself at the time of the Ludlow Massacre, Mother went to the devastated tent community shortly after the slaughter of workers and their families occurred. From Ludlow, Mother Jones led the charge to reform labor laws, including the eight-hour work week, child labor laws, and other worker safety laws enacted in the USA.