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A Ceylon Waterfront
This colourized photo shows a water front somewhere on Ceylon. The type of boat and nature of the bank would suggest that this was a canal picture, taken from a bridge over the waterway.
Many thanks to Ken Creed for sending us these pictures, which were taken by his wife's uncle Terry Ruff during his time with No.357 Squadron, a special operations unit that operated over Burma, Malaya and Sumatra.
The Bo-Kaap (“above the Cape" in Afrikaans) is an area of Cape Town, South Africa formerly known as the Malay Quarter. It is a former racially segregated area, situated on the slopes of Signal Hill above the city centre and is a historical centre of Cape Malay culture in Cape Town. The Nurul Islam Mosque, established in 1844, is located in the area.
Bo-Kaap is known for its brightly coloured homes and cobble stoned streets. The area is traditionally a multicultural neighbourhood, and 56.9% of its population identify as Muslim.  According to the South African Heritage Resources Agency, the area contains the largest concentration of pre-1850 architecture in South Africa, and is the oldest surviving residential neighborhood in Cape Town. 
The pressure for Ceylon’s independence increased after the conclusion of World War II. Following the Ceylon Independence Act of 1947, the region gained independence in 1948. However, the British retained some of their air and sea bases as well as occupying senior army roles. These bases were removed in 1957, which was a move aimed towards ensuring that Ceylon was not aligned to any country. This removal was important because this perceived alignment with the British was what denied Ceylon entry to the United Nations even after independence as the British elite still had a lot of power. After going through a number of challenges such as corruption and poor leadership, reforms in the nation took hold in 1972 when the current constitution was adopted and the country became a republic.
Where to Surf and Stay on Sri Lanka’s South Coast
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Sri Lanka’s spectacular coastline boasts palm-dotted bays and sweeping stretches of warm sand fringed by bathtub-temperature water and rolling waves, not to mention charming boutique hotels and cafés. It’s perfect for surfers, but has something for every kind of beachgoer, from the adventurous to the sunbathing. Fly to Colombo and travel by car a couple of hours south to reach these picturesque villages in a relatively unexplored paradise full of hidden gems.
Ceylon Sliders Café and Weligama Bay
Photo: Courtesy of Matilde Wergeland / @matildew Courtesy of Matilde Wergeland / @matildew
Ahangama and Weligama
You’ve probably fantasized about leaving your job and moving to an exotic island—Swedish couple Petter and Linn did just that. After finishing school in Sweden, they decided that they wanted to explore the world. While visiting most corners of the world, they started to write about all the inspiring people they met. These short stories grew into a successful blog, which in turn inspired a surf and yoga camp. Tucked in the jungle in the lush village Ahangama, Sunshinestories is the perfect match for the vigorous traveler seeking thrilling, active experiences, plus an unlimited stock of fresh coconuts.
In 2016, the Swedish power couple opened up a boutique hotel, Ceylon Sliders, in the nearby village of Weligama. But it goes beyond the usual hotel amenities. Their café is a must-visit (try their Salty Island smoothie and their avocado toast), as is their adorable shop. Lastly, sign up for their yoga classes held at both dawn and dusk on the rooftop, where a stunning view over the beach is an extra treat. If you pick dawn, grab a surfboard and hit the waves, just outside the hotel entrance, right after. For your après, head to quaint Green Peace Innfor fresh juices and smoothie bowls, or stop by Wijaya Beach in Unawatuna for authentic Sri Lankan food and pizzas.
Nearby, another lovely and inspiring couple owns Sri Lanka’s best-kept secret, the newly opened boutique hotel The Kip. Owners Phoebs and Seddy, originally from Australia and Italy, will make you feel at home as soon as you arrive. Their impeccable taste is evident in the magnificent interiors, and each room is thoughtfully decorated in a minimalist, yet intimate, style. In addition to the over-the-top service, attention to detail, and heavenly surroundings, this boho-luxe sanctuary also offers delectable food thanks to Seddy’s incredible Italian cooking skills (ask for his pasta!). Checking into this paradise is a must—it’s a true home away from home.
Koggala and Tangalle
Set by the serene lake Koggala, the remarkable Tri hotel is another mandatory stop. Unwind by the infinity pool overlooking the tranquil lake, practice yoga in the coolest yoga studio you have ever seen, or just wander around the gorgeous modern buildings and rooms. Relish Sri Lankan delicacies with a modern twist in the restaurant.
Another exquisite hideaway is the remote and stylish Amanwella, a member of the exclusive Aman family, in the village Tangalle, a match made in heaven for those longing to unplug and wind down. You’ll have access to a peaceful private beach backed by swaying coconut palms, an extraordinary infinity pool, flawless service, enticing food, and sophisticated rooms.
Amangalla, another Aman property, is located in the charismatic town of Galle. Set in a restored colonial building from 1684 and full of tasteful antique furnishings, this hotel is one of the most inspiring on the island. Dine in the elegant restaurant among dazzling chandeliers, white linen cloths, and beautiful tile floors, or lounge by the pool—and don’t forget to visit the excellent spa where you can get Ayurvedic treatments after consulting with a specialist.
While most of the other south coast towns have managed to escape mainstream tourism and globalization, Galle is a slightly more urban peninsula town where ancient Sri Lankan history meets modern restaurants, shops, and cafés. Some boutiques worth checking out are KK The Collection, Exotic Roots, Stick no Bills Poster Gallery, and Spa Ceylon. Stop by the delectable restaurant Poonie’s Kitchen, where your order should include the Thali salad, pumpkin and coconut soup, and a piece of the tastiest carrot cake in the world.
Other mandatory activities include visiting the Galle Lighthouse and Dutch Fort, then taking a stroll along the waterfront. But if you’re looking for half- or full-day excursions on the coasts, try exploring the national park and wildlife reserve Udawalawe, visit the tea plantation and factory Handunugoda Tea Estate (buy their signature Virgin White Tea, extremely rich in antioxidants and said to be the healthiest tea in the world), or go on a whale and dolphin safari in Mirissa. With all these distractions from the surf and sun, you may just have to extend your stay to soak it all in.
The 1955 razing of the New York streets in the South End. With names like Oswego, Rochester, Troy, Oneida and the sole survivor, Albany, the New York streets were a crowded, diverse and vibrant section of the South End. As the first urban renewal project in Boston, the demolition made way for various civic and commercial enterprises. Displacing more than 800 families from their homes and shuttering businesses, the wholesale leveling of the neighborhood predated the demolition of the West End by several years. 1958. (Courtesy City of Boston) Plywood panels on the John Hancock Tower, which began to lose its panes of glass shortly after construction. Back Bay, 1973. (Courtesy National Archives) Loathed from inception, the Central Artery cut a swath through the city. Called the "Distress Way" and the "World's Largest Parking Lot," this huge gash, now underground, will never be missed. Downtown, 1954. (Courtesy Mass. State Archives)
This article was originally published on November 12, 2014.
This segment aired on November 12, 2014.
Host, All Things Considered
Sacha Pfeiffer was formerly the host of WBUR's All Things Considered.
The 50th Anniversary of New York’s Most Sensational Jewel Heist
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They are old men now in their 70s, two robbers who were famous long ago and now sport white hair, Butch and Sundance in twilight. Five decades ago, Jack Murphy (a.k.a., “Murf the Surf”) and his partner Allan Kuhn were high-spirited beach boys who gave swimming lessons at Miami Beach hotels and had a lucrative second occupation—as jewel thieves. In 1964, bored with preying on wealthy divorcees and tourists, these athletic young men drove to Manhattan and pulled off the most audacious jewel heist of the last half-century. Climbing up the stone walls of the American Museum of Natural History on the evening of October 29, 1964, they broke in through a window and stole priceless gems from the J.P. Morgan jewel collection: the Star of India sapphire, the DeLong Star ruby, and fistfuls of diamonds and emeralds. Murphy, now garrulous and robust at age 77, explains, “Just like mountain climbers and skiers, as a jewel thief, you go for the challenge. It’s dangerous, it’s glamorous, there’s an adrenalin rush. We couldn’t just keep doing Palm Beach.”
Apprehended within 48 hours of the robbery, the two men, plus accomplice Roger Clark, became national folk heroes. With the jewels nowhere to be found, an ambitious 23-year-old Wellesley graduate, Nora Ephron, landed her first front-page story for the New York Post by sneaking into the hotel where the thieves had stayed. “These guys had committed the perfect victimless crime,” Ephron recalled in an interview in the fall of 2010. “It was delicious. No one had a clue what they had been up to, they just seemed like fabulous party boys.”
Jack Murphy, left, and Allan Kuhn, right, suspects in the jewel robbery at the American Museum of Natural History, at hearing., Both by Lynn Pelham/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Image.
Upon their arrest, the three beach boys taunted and outwitted the authorities. Federal and state prosecutors vied to retrieve the jewels, convening separate grand juries and stealing each other’s witnesses. Only after a bizarre series of events—including a Miami chase scene that included Kuhn jumping out a hotel window, double-dealing by a fence, and ransom money paid by one of America’s richest businessmen—were most of the jewels eventually recovered. The three beach boys, who pled guilty, spent more than two years at Rikers Island.
The second and third acts of Murphy and Kuhn’s story have equally dramatic arcs. Their sentence completed, the three jewel thieves walked out of prison free and famous—and then made choices that took each of them in radically different directions. The bonds of friendship have frayed, yet the men have been forever bound together by their night at the museum. Roger Clark, the amiable bumbler who served as the lookout, suffered from heart disease and died in 2007, at age 71. But Jack Murphy and Allan Kuhn, once high-living partners in crime, still talk about their good old (bad old) days.
Jack Murphy has made being Murf the Surf (his preferred spelling) into a career. A charismatic mile-a-minute talker, Murphy is based near Tampa and makes his living as a prison evangelist, traveling the country—Angola one week, Raiford the next—discussing his rap sheet and urging convicts to find God. In conversation, he is mesmerizingly manipulative—funny and ebullient, then abruptly exuding a hard-edged and menacing persona with a thousand-yard stare. He delights in keeping people off-kilter. “I wasn’t always the kindly white-haired grandfather that you see before you now,” he says. These days, he goes to comic extremes to convey that he is a law-abiding citizen the fear of even a parking ticket upsets the former second-story man. “I don’t want to get in trouble with the Miami cops,” he says. “I’ve had enough trouble here.”
While Murphy even has his own Web site touting his role in the museum robbery, Allan Kuhn, by contrast, has spent the intervening decades doing everything possible to be invisible. His phone is unlisted. He lives in a tiny mountain town in Northern California, a winding two-hour drive from a major airport that ends with a few turns down a rutted dirt road to a rustic rental house. Kuhn has not met with a reporter in 40-plus years, and insisted as a condition of our interview that I not reveal the name of his hometown. Photos of Kuhn as a young man highlight his chiseled build and daredevil grin even now, at age 76, he’s in wiry good health and bears a long white ponytail and laidback demeanor. A believer in New Age spirituality, his living room features a shrine with candles, offerings, and photos of U.F.O.s.
A childless widower, Kuhn stumbled into a new line of work in 2007. After complaining about insomnia to a local doctor, Kuhn was given a prescription to grow medical marijuana, which was surprising to a man who had done jail time in the late 1960s for possession of a joint. His backyard crop now provides a lucrative livelihood. When I visited, Kuhn had just returned from delivering a batch to Los Angeles clinics, and the house reeked of weed.
Out of touch for many years, Kuhn and Murphy now frequently reminisce with each other, yet memories have a way of shape-shifting. “Allan can’t remember anything,” complains Murphy, noting that Kuhn has smoked a lot of marijuana. Kuhn shakes his head, saying, “Jack has a need to make every story just a little better.”
A kaleidoscope of other recollections fills in the fractured gaps. Maurice Nadjari, now 90, the Manhattan prosecutor who pursued the thieves with Javert–like determination, still vividly remembers the case that made his career. Detective Richard Maline dictated his memories in a 50-page oral history, which his widow Barbara passed along to me. Roger Clark, before his death, confided tidbits to family members and friends. Freedom of Information requests produced a trove of yellowing documents from police, prison, and court archives.
The Miami beach boys were clean-cut and photogenic, unlikely types to turn up in a police lineup. Kuhn and Clark had spent several years in the Navy. Murphy, a college dropout from a middle-class family, was a surfer. Their spree began as a game, a way to rebel against society. “It was never about the money,” insists Kuhn. “It was always the thrill of the chase.”
Kuhn had a gritty childhood in West Grove, Missouri. His father abandoned the family when he was a toddler, and his mother worked menial jobs to support Kuhn and his baby sister. “We were always poor,” he says. As a 15-year-old, he was arrested for breaking into neighbors’ homes and sentenced to probation. After a semester at Southern Illinois University, Kuhn enlisted and saw the world via submarine. When his tour of duty ended in 1962, he left the Key West Naval Air Station and headed to Miami Beach, landing a job as a swimming instructor at the Casablanca hotel, an art-deco classic on Collins Drive.
“How did I go from law-abiding citizen to a life of crime?” Kuhn says, grinning. One night a bartender took him into a backroom, where a local jewel thief was nursing a graze from a bullet. The man told Kuhn that he had just been shot by a police officer while trying to rob a coin store he dared Kuhn to finish the job. “I climbed up the building and found the hole in the roof that Johnny had cut,” Kuhn recalls. “I went down a rope and I cleaned the place out. It was just truly a thrill.” He had been earning $100 a day with tips at the Casablanca a few days later he claims he was handed an envelope containing $180,000. “I’ve always been adventurous,” he says.
Murphy, the only child of a telephone-company lineman and a housewife, grew up in Oceanside, California, with two strangely contrasting passions—the violin and surfing. “Our home was always decent, clean, moral, no drinking, honesty in all things,” his mother Ruth wrote in a letter attesting to her son’s character. The family moved to Pittsburgh when Jack was in high school. He brags that as a 15-year-old he played violin with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and won a tennis scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh. On a snowy day his freshman year, wanderlust hit. “I’m standing in the slush, you could see the junk in the air floating from the steel mills,” he recalls. “I thought, I’m going to die here.” A train came by and he hopped on, eventually arriving in Miami, in the winter of 1955.
He stacked hotel pool chairs, raked beaches, painted cabanas, and was hired to perform diving stunts in hotel aquatic shows. He claims that Barbara Walters’s father, the showman Lou Walters, who owned the Miami Beach nightclub Latin Quarter, booked him for gigs. After a nine-day acquaintance, Murphy married Gloria Sostoc, a well-to-do hotel guest, in 1957, but five years and two sons later, the couple divorced. He quickly remarried. Seeking to capitalize on his fame as a championship surfer, he moved with his second wife to Cocoa Beach and opened a surfboard store. But after a financial dispute with partners, Murphy lost the shop. With his second marriage unraveling, Murphy returned to Miami Beach.
One night he joined friends on a boat ride to rob a mansion, earning a quick $15,000 as his share of the proceeds. The easy money was irresistible. Murphy and Kuhn, who had mutual friends, soon began working together to plunder the city. A bellman or a manicurist might tip them off that a tourist had left her room a crooked insurance agent might know which rich locals had upped jewelry riders. “We accumulated master keys at most of the hotels,” Murphy claims. Kuhn insists that he never used weapons. “I just didn’t think it was necessary to take something forcibly from someone else.” Murphy had no such qualms. “I had some connections with bad guys. I did some enforcing,” he says. “I had already been further down the dark road than Allan.”
As jewel thieves, they were not subtle. “You do a job, and you go back to the bar that night,” Murphy says. “It’s in the newspapers and it’s not long before everyone knows.” Kuhn says he initially kept a low profile and blames Murphy for initiating him into the good life. “Jack talked me into spending money,” he says. Kuhn upgraded to a tony building and a white Cadillac, speedboat, and sailboat. As Kuhn says wistfully, “That money came and went.” His current abstemious lifestyle includes a $550-per-month rental home, modest furnishings, and a 2002 Subaru.
The thieves recruited house painter Roger Clark to join the crew. A native of Meriden, Connecticut, Clark had been a high-school lifeguard before joining the Navy. After finishing his service, he briefly tried the nine-to-five life at a Connecticut chemical factory, and then headed for Miami, where he took on gigs as a jack of all trades. “Roger was a sweet guy and he just got in over his head,” says his sister-in-law, Myrta Clark. “The other two were professionals Roger got caught up in it.” Clark played the extra man, watching out for the police or driving the getaway car. As Murphy recalls, “Roger was a backup guy. Roger was real quiet, real cool, very calm.”
Index of the Journal of the Dutch Burgher Union of Ceylon
For more information on the Journal of the Dutch Burgher Union of Ceylon you can contact:
VICTOR MELDER SRI LANKA LIBRARY
7, Benambra Street
Broadmeadows, Vic 3047
The library has the entire set of the Dutch Burgher Union Journals, published from 1908 to date and also the indexes to the baptisms and marriages at the Dutch Reformed Church, Wolvendaal, Colombo for the period 1702 to 1952.
Index of vol. I (1), 1908
The disuse of the Dutch language in Ceylon – by R. G. Anthonisz ————————–p. 29-37
List of some of the founders of families, which settled in Ceylon from Europe
during the Dutch administration, A. D. 1640-1796 – by Advocate F. H. de Vos ———p. 37-40
List of some of the founders of families, which settled in Ceylon from Europe
during the Dutch administration, A. D. 1640-1796 – by Advocate F. H. de Vos ———p. 85-
List of some of the founders of families, which settled in Ceylon from Europe
during the Dutch administration, A. D. 1640-1796 – by Advocate F. H. de Vos ——-p. 158-
History of Ceylon Tea
The evolution of tea in Ceylon is an extraordinary story. While tea is the obvious focus in this tale, it is in fact the culminating result the icing on the cake if you will of what was a remarkable plantation enterprise that commenced under British colonial rule post-1796. This enterprise embarked with coffee growing as its core harvest, and indeed, the first coffee plantation preceded tea by nearly half a century. Ceylon coffee progressed to being amongst the world&rsquos best, before the &lsquocoffee rust disease&rsquo decimated the industry, by the 1870s.
This gave rise to the tea industry of Ceylon, which not only flourished, but proceeded to gain repute as the world&rsquos finest tea. While James Taylor is the rightfully acknowledged pioneer, the success of the industry had numerous benefactors, across multiple fields. Roads, railways, bridges and tunnels botanists, engineers, surveyors, and even politicians. It was this cohesion and collective contribution from the various professional spheres that enabled the industry to prosper as it did.
The Estate Register is a record of most, if not all of the plantations established, at some point in time or another. These records have been obtained from the Ferguson&rsquos Directories. Several plantations had their beginnings in coffee before switching to tea. Many are still in operation, while some have merged with neighboring plantations, and others have ceased to exist altogether.
The Estate Register data is extracted from the Ferguson&rsquos Directories. The first phase of the Register took in available data from 1871 through to 1930 &ndash with gaps in-between. For example, while we had the data for 1871-72, the next available year was 1880-81. In phases to follow, it is our intention to extend this data pre 1871 and post 1930, as well as fill in data for the gap years. The Ferguson&rsquos Directories commenced in 1859 and concluded in 1999-2000, and our objective is to have the data from every volume recorded in our Estate and Planters Registers&rsquo. Data entry has been a painstaking process &ndash not the least due to the poor condition of the documents from which the information was extracted. Consequently, the information is not flawless, and the process of cleaning up the database will be an on-going exercise for the foreseeable future.
A Ceylon Waterfront - History
The old produce market once occupied part of today's downtown, the areas near the docks stretching northward from the Ferry Building. You can see the low-rise buildings going off this 1947 photo to the top and right (west and north), and the produce market started right in that area. More photos below.
Photo: Private Collection, San Francisco, CA
The Produce Market occupied a couple of dozen square blocks of land adjacent to the northern waterfront, east and slightly north of the downtown financial district. It became the first prominent project of the Redevelopment Agency ultimately leading to the complete removal of the industry that had long been at the heart of San Francisco's Italian community.
Produce market workers sharing some early morning stories, c. 1950.
Photo: Shaping San Francisco
As Alison Isbenberg details in her important book Designing San Francisco: Art, Land, and Urban Renewal in the City by the Bay (Princeton University Press: 2017), the neighborhood's suitability for a modernizing redevelopment project depended on selling city streets at a fraction of their actual value. This discounted transfer of property went hand in hand with the clearance of land and property rights using the Redevelopment Agency's power of eminent domain, and then subsequent sale of that same land to private investors at far below their market value.
77.7 acres were identified as potentially available for the site. Of these 77.7 acres, a staggering 46 acres consisted of existing streets. The proposed redevelopment parcel converted 21 acres of former streets into buildable land for development by paring down 46 acres of former streets to 24.9 acres for new streets. Thus 21 of the plan’s projected 52.8 net available acreage came from former streets.
Within months of [Justin] Herman’s hiring, the SF Redevelopment Agency was buying properties, clearing parcels, and selling land. Herman’s leadership was credited, and blamed, for mobilizing the city’s three redevelopment projects: the Western Addition, based on a controversial neighborhood clearance Diamond Heights, a middle-income residential project on vacant land and, of course, the Golden Gateway, which required demolishing the produce market and its surrounding low-density commercial district.
One of the streets demolished to make way for One Maritime Plaza was Ceylon Street, here looking north along its one block from Clay to Washington between Davis and Front Streets, seen here in May 1959.
Photo: OpenSFHistory.org wnp28.2419.
Another lost street to redevelopment, Oregon Street looking west, between Washington and Jackson Streets. You can see the ICE building (it was known then as the Appraisers Bldg) and the backsides of DeMartini Co., and Levy & Zentner Co. at left (scroll to bottom to see front of Levy & Zentner Co.)
Photo: OpenSFHistory.org wnp28.1202.
Golden Gateway Apartments towering over more recent, smaller-scale offices and condos along Davis at Pacific, built over the old Produce Market site.
Photo: Chris Carlsson, 2011
Colombo Market, c. 1920s
Photo: California Historical Society
Colombo Market Arch, Front Street between Jackson and Pacific, 1959.
Photo: OpenSFHistory.org wnp28.2474
The old Colombo Market gate, still standing today as an entry arch to the park.
The old Colombo Market gate, recently relieved of its ivy covering, standing alongside Sydney Walton Square, the private/public park of the Golden Gateway Apartments.
Produce Market at Washington and Davis Streets, mid-1950s.
May 1959, Davis and Washington Streets.
Photo: OpenSFHistory.org wnp14.11135
These are the produce market owners who tried to fight the city's redevelopment plans for the site of the market. Joe Carcione is the young man 4th from the left, who later became TV's Greengrocer.
Photo: San Francisco History Center, SF Public Library
Joe Carcioni during his "salad days" as a TV Greengrocer.
Photo: provenance unknown, via Facebook
One of the main arguments in favor of moving the old produce market was that the streets were so clogged with vehicles that it led to the wastage of large quantities of fresh produce.
Photos: San Francisco History Center, SF Public Library
Looking south on Davis near Washington. The tall building in distance with the cupola style top is the Matson Building, while the one next to it on the right is the Pacific, Gas and Electric Building. Today this view is blocked by the Embarcadero Center and other highrises.
Photo: San Francisco History Center, SF Public Library
June 1959 view south on Drumm Street across Washington towards Market Street.
Photo: OpenSFHistory.org wnp14.10237
In these days the old produce market was the heart of Italian San Francisco, dominated by families from Genoa and the Italian-speaking canton of Switzerland, Ticino. Local Italians led the founding of the Farmers' Market in 1943 at Market and Duboce, in part to overcome bottlenecks in distribution of locally grown produce during WWII.
Photo: San Francisco History Center, SF Public Library
Dozens of 1- and 2-story warehouses characterized the district, long forgotten in the 21st century where the Embarcadero Center and surrounding rehabilitated buildings full of architectural firms, lawyers, restaurants, and other modern uses.
Photo: San Francisco History Center, SF Public Library
View westward on Washington from apx. Davis in the mid-1950s.
Photo: San Francisco History Center, SF Public Library
Same view west on Washington of the Golden Gateway Apartments and the edge of the INS building (center rear). This was the former site of the downtown produce market.
Photo: Chris Carlsson, 2007
The former site of the produce market in downtown is now a modern office development and the small park area.
May 1959 looking west on Washington Street. Levy & Zentner Co. at right.
Photo: OpenSFHistory.org wnp14.11134
1963 view in color of Levy & Zentner at the northwest corner of Davis and Washington Streets, not long before demolition.
Photo: OpenSFHistory.org wnp25.0261
November 1963, intersection of Washington and Davis again, now being demolished to make way for the Golden Gateway Redevelopment Project.
War on the Waterfront
The year 1917 was one of profound changes. The United States officially entered the war in Europe in April. Three months later, on September 5, 1917, Local 8's headquarters at 121 Catherine Street and the MTW1 offices near City Hall were stormed by federal agents of the US Department of Justice. The six most important Wobblies were arrested, and all of the union's records confiscated. The raids in Philadelphia were part of a well-coordinated federal plan to destroy the entire IWW, perceived as a threat to the Allied war effort. Two months after the raids the Bolsheviks overthrew the new, already tottering, parliamentary government in Russia and declared the world's first Communist nation. The United States and entire world were forever changed by these events.
The war years presented dramatic challenges to the members of Local 8, who served the war effort loyally but also sought to protect themselves and expand their power. As other workers did, Philly longshoremen worked very hard to serve the nation, but also used the war as leverage to improve their wages. They also sought to expand their influence by working toward the One Big Union, specifically targeting the large riverside sugar refineries. Concurrently, the federal repression suffered by Local 8 and the IWW nationwide was the greatest threat the union had yet experienced. Although profoundly hurt by the loss of their dynamic leaders, Philadelphia's longshoremen emerged from this battle still holding on to job control. After the war they joined millions of other American workers in an unprecedented surge of militant strikes.
The year 1917 also saw tremendous growth for the city's many industries and its port, in both trade and shipbuilding. The Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce boldly declared, “When Uncle Sam calls the roll of those who are furnishing most to wage this mighty war, he finds that th[is] district . leads all the rest. Philadelphia counts in this war with the weight of a belligerent nation.” In his celebratory book Philadelphia: A Story of Progress , Herman LeRoy Collins declared, “In one war year 7000 vessels came to Philadelphia wharves and docks to sail away fully laden.” More than $600 million in exports and imports in 1917 shattered the record set the year prior. For example, grain exports doubled from 1914 to 1915 and remained at these record levels through 1918. Sugar refining also benefited from the economic upswing production in this waterfront industry surged, making it the city's fourth largest manufacturing industry.2
Local 8 quickly capitalized on the economic upswing, in part thanks to a new leader, Walter T. Nef. Nef's presence signaled a renewed IWW commitment to organizing in the East, which, with the notable exception of Local 8, had lagged after the failed Paterson strike in 1913. Arriving from Switzerland in 1901 at the age of nineteen, “Big Nef”quickly found his way to northern California, working jobs as varied as logger and milk driver. He took out union cards in whatever field he worked, most notably in an industrial union that subsequently was split into craft unions upon affiliating with the AFL. In 1908 Nef heard IWW organizer George Speed, who later helped charter Local 8, speak on the San Francisco waterfront about the futility of craft unions. Speed's talk resonated with Nef, who shortly thereafter joined the IWW in Portland. During the winter of 1909-10 Nef helped lead the first major IWW free-speech fight in Spokane, Washington, and served time, along with hundreds of Wobblies, in that city's jail. Nef remained in the Pacific Northwest until the spring of 1915, when he was elected secretary-treasurer of the IWW's new Agricultural Workers Organization (AWO). Nef spent the next two years building up the AWO. In the process, he led the entire IWW (Local 8 included) out of the, doldrums it had experienced at the war's start. Differences with IWW General Secretary-Treasurer Haywood over the role of the AWO led to Nef's resignation in November 1916. Still, Nef remained a darling in the IWW.3
Nef had big plans for the MTW Too, intending to apply the same methods that had worked so successfully among “bindle stiffs.” As with the AWO, Nef hoped to establish a delegate system for the MTW. By increasing the number of delegates (organizers) on the job, rather than on the streets or by the docks, the union could agitate more effectively. In Philadelphia Nef was assisted by two port delegates, one Spanish and one English speaking, at the meager wage of $18 a week (still, most ports maintained only one delegate). Then, Nef promptly raised the initiation fee to $2 for taking out a “red card” in any industry, a high amount in the IWW, and $5 in any industry where the IWW maintained job control, namely Philadelphia's deep-sea piers. Nef argued that the increase was. needed to create a powerful and stable organization that could improve conditions and wages on the job and increase delegates. Nef concluded, “Now all together for the one Big, Powerful Union of all workers in all industries.”4
A second seasoned and equally well-traveled IWW organizer, Edwin Frederick Doree, arrived to help Nef. Born to Swedish immigrants in Philadelphia in 1889, Doree first experienced the migratory existence of the American working class while just a child, when his family moved to Skagway, Alaska. At the age of thirteen Doree started apprenticing in a railroad car factory until, eighteen months later, he lost several fingers in a workplace accident. He drifted down to Washington State, where he first joined the IWW in 1906, becoming an accomplished organizer but only after a stint as a professional baseball player. In 1912 Doree accompanied George Speed to Louisiana to assist the Brotherhood of Timber Workers. In those nine months he witnessed some of the most oppressive conditions in the nation, agitated to keep an interracial union alive despite massive resistance, and spent time in jail. Doree also received a nasty head wound that laid him up for several months. Afterward, Doree organized textile workers in Rochester, New York where he met his wife, Chika, a Jewish immigrant, at a strike meeting and migratory farm workers throughout the Midwest, following the workers north as they followed the harvests. Possibly, Doree met Nef when the latter took the reigns of the AWO, although they likely met in the Spokane free-speech fight. In 1916 Doree again organized textile workers, this time in Baltimore. When Nef moved to Philly, so did Doree. Nef then met Doree's sister-in-law, Feige, who soon married Walter. As its textile industry employed more than one hundred thousand workers, Philadelphia was a logical place to base a newly created Textile Workers Industrial Union (TWIU), #1000, with Doree's TWIU office next to Nef's reborn MTW. Doree also organized for Local 8 and, at times, found work as a longshoreman.5
With Nef and Doree's arrival, two of Local 8's most able organizers were dispatched to other ports. Ben Fletcher, a national organizer as of the previous fall, went to Providence, Rhode Island, to organize longshoremen, many of whom were Cape Verdean (i.e., of African ancestry). Jack Walsh spent the end of 1916 and start of 1917 in Baltimore helping Jack Lever, the main IWW organizer. Emil John (Jack) Lever, a Russian immigrant, joined the IWW in 1914 while in Salt Lake City and later that same year worked as a machinist in Toledo, where he witnessed organized labor's racism firsthand as a member of the AFL's International Association of Machinists. Lever later met Walsh and Fletcher in Philadelphia, where, according to Lever, “we found out we were in agreement” on issues like industrial unionism and racial equality. As in Philadelphia before Local 8, longshoremen in Baltimore were a mixture of African Americans, Irish Americans, and Poles, none of whom got along. The ILA had established an all-white local in 1912 as Lever put it years later, “The ILA came in and organized whites and left the Negroes out. And we said, a union is a union. And we proceeded to organize the Negroes.” Lever and Walsh signed up nearly fifteen hundred black longshoremen before Walsh requested Fletcher's presence. Walsh hoped to convince white longshoremen to switch to the IWW when the ILA's contract expired, but most whites, immigrant and native-born, stuck with the ILA.6
As Fletcher, Lever, and Walsh organized along the Atlantic seaboard, Local 8 again targeted Philadelphia's sugar workers after they spontaneously struck. Unlike longshoremen, the men and women who toiled in the sugar refineries remained weak and completely subject to their employers' will. Most received a wage of twenty-five cents per hour (some less) for twelve-hour days (or nights, the factories ran twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week), fourteen hours a shift during busy times, without higher overtime or night rates. The sugar-refining boom during the war forced employees to work even harder, until they walked out of the Spreckles Sugar Refinery on February 1, demanding a raise of five cents per hour, time and a half for any work over ten hours a day, and Sundays off. Most of the workers were immigrants, especially Lithuanians, Poles, and Russians, though some were recent Southern black migrants. At the walkout's start, the workers were overwhelmingly non-union, but hundreds quickly joined the IWW. Within two days the strike spread to the McCahan and Pennsylvania refineries, and picket lines emerged around all three plants.7
The Philadelphia sugar strike was part of a national wave of worker militancy. In fact, the number of strikes in 1917 surpassed that of any previous year in U.S. history. Sparked by the wartime labor shortage and inflation, unprecedented numbers of workers, often nonunion, struck for better wages and fewer hours. As in Philadelphia, strikes occurred in other sugar-refinery centers in Brooklyn workers went out in late January, soon spreading to Long Island, Jersey City, and Yonkers.8
With no settlement in sight, the IWW, led by Doree, Nef, and Joseph Weitzen (the secretary of Local 8 and an African American), determined that the strike could be won only by expanding it. In an uncommon instance of skilled-unskilled worker solidarity, IWW engineers, coopers, machinists, oilers, foremen, and sack sewers joined the strike, which soon spread to the city's molasses refinery, the “Smear works.” The city's newspapers reported between two thousand and three thousand sugar workers out, the IWW claimed over four thousand. The IWW signed up more than one thousand strikers to the Sugar Workers' Industrial Union 497. A week into the strike a thousand Wobbly longshoremen who worked the refineries' piers also struck. IWW seamen refused to divert ships to alternate ports.9
From its start the strike proved quite effective, despite daily beatings and arrests from local police, assisted by private detectives hired by employers. With over three-quarters of their employees out, refinery officials admitted that production had slowed to a fraction of normal. Six large steamships and several lighters loaded with sugar were dead “in the stream.” A million pounds of unrefined sugar was diverted to other ports.10
As Philadelphia refined one-sixth of the nation's sugar, sugar prices quickly rose, which sparked female-led protests. Several thousand women, mostly immigrants, clashed with the police in what the Public Ledger called “food riots.” One wholesale grocer gave voice, no doubt, to others' fears: “The consumer . is also tending to force the hands of the refiners to do something which the refiners may consider unwise or unjust in composing labor difficulties.” Women, some of them refinery workers, many with babies in their arms and others leading toddlers, repeatedly attacked strikebreakers despite police protection. Historian Temma Kaplan contextualizes such actions: “When women left their households to protest against certain indignities or demand changes in their own and their families' lives, they presented themselves not as political actors, but as the very conscience of the community.”11
Such protests incited thousands of strikers and sympathizers, who clashed with hundreds of police, leaving one dead, many injured, and scores arrested. After two hours of fighting one night, Martynas Petkus, a Lithuanian Wobbly and rank-and-file activist, lay dead. In an interview with the Public Ledger, Florence Sholde — the wife of a Polish striker, a mother of four, and of late a convicted criminal — spoke passionately of the strike. Revealing the close bonds in her working-class neighborhood, she claimed, “We would be starving down here now if the butcher and the grocer did not trust us until my husband goes to work. If they stop charging it on the book, we will all go hungry. All the women and their families are just the same.”12
The strikers held several large events for the fallen striker. Thousands viewed his body in an open casket at the Lithuanian Hall, despite police opposition in the name of “public safety.” The large room was full of flowers, many donated by the IWW and the Lithuanian Socialist Federation, to which Petkus also belonged. The following day many thousands, red carnations in their lapels, marched, again defying the police, which had refused a permit. After the funeral, Wobblies Joseph Schmidt, Joseph Graber, A. Mariella, and Doree spoke in Lithuanian, Polish, Italian, and English, respectively. Kaplan explains that “collective mourning at political funerals is a civic ritual that unites a community, enables it to reclaim sacred spaces, and permits it to cleanse itself of death.”13
The death hardened both sides. Clashes, injuries, and arrests continued unabated. Members of the state and federal governments' arbitration services shuttled between employers and strikers, yet neither side relented. Earl D. Babst, president of the American Sugar Refining Company, the parent of Spreckles, announced that his company “would not yield an inch. would not propose to hand over the control of this industry to any outside organization [IWW].” Just as firmly, the strikers claimed, “There is no vindication of the dead unless we have a victory for the living.”14
After dragging into an eighth week, the strike fizzled. The strikers had succeeded in significantly curtailing sugar refining in Philadelphia. The strike lasted for as long as it did because the union maintained the solidarity of the strikers across craft, ethnicity, gender, and race lines with tremendous support in the diverse, working-class waterfront neighborhoods. Nevertheless, the employers' strength outmatched strikers' solidarity. Still, as often happens in strikes, employers did raise wages almost to the level demanded by the strikers (from 25 to 29.7 cents an hour). For many strikers, though, the outcome has to be seen as a failure — thousands lost two months' wages, hundreds lost jobs and were arrested, and the refineries remained nonunion.15
Perhaps more alarming, workers inside the sugar refineries found themselves more racially divided. This splintering of workers, orchestrated by employers, had profound ramifications. The Spreckles superintendent acknowledged that “Negroes had been employed to replace and 'equalize' the foreign laborers.” As a result, the governmental report Negro Migration in 1916-17 concluded that “there has been developing [since the strike] a strong undercurrent of [racial] prejudice among foreign workers, particularly the Slavs.” One “Negro dock foreman” complained that Poles “dislike to work beside the colored men, and are going to make trouble for us.” This strike, then, contributed to rising anti-black sentiment among recent immigrants — which contributed to the ultimate decline of Local 8. Notably, this same report concluded that “there had been no race trouble on the docks where whites and blacks [who were Local 8 members] had worked side by side.” Of course, unity never was a given and played a major role in Local 8's postwar unraveling.16
Local 8 and the IWW strove to keep its heterogeneous members, in particular the African Americans, committed to the union. Big Bill Haywood, the IWW's general secretary-treasurer, addressed this issue in his petition “To Colored Working Men and Women.” Haywood contended that black and white workers had the same goals — to improve their conditions in work and life. Haywood argued, however, that under the present system, black (and white) people had yet to achieve true freedom. Haywood noted that African Americans were virulently discriminated against, that “as [black] wage workers, the boss may work us to death, at the hardest and most hazardous labor, the longest hours, at the lowest pay.” Then Haywood argued that white workers did not fare much better, “regarded by the boss only as a means of making profits.” Thus, the crux of Haywood's argument (echoed by other socialists like Fletcher) was that all workers shared common interests. Haywood also noted how employers sought to divide white and black workers to keep them weak. To build a strong union, Haywood contended that “race prejudice has no place in a labor organization.” The challenge of organizing across racial lines soon was compounded by the war-induced Great Migration and — perhaps an even greater threat to the IWW's viability — the wrath of the federal government.”17
In April 1917, the United States entered World War I, and most Americans quickly rallied around the flag. The immediate cause was Germany's decision to resume unrestricted submarine warfare against all vessels sailing toward Britain. After the German announcement, American ships remained in their safe harbors, unwilling to challenge German U-boats, so wheat, cotton, and other goods piled up on piers all along the Atlantic seaboard. When President Wilson asked Congress to declare war, the citizens of Philadelphia immediately responded. To mobilize food, fuel, and workers, recruit troops, and sell war bonds, the Pennsylvania Council for National Defense was created. In Philadelphia so-called Four Minute Men marshaled an army of speakers to rally the city's populace. Philadelphians purchased a billion dollars in Liberty Bonds to help the war effort.”18
While the port of Philadelphia experienced major growth in 1915 and 1916, the true economic boom was in 1917. In the years 1910 to 1914, foreign trade hovered around $165 million. In 1917 foreign trade rose to more than $600 million. During February 1917, despite the sugar strike and though the winter traditionally was a slack time, exports from Philadelphia totaled $57 million, a stunning $48 million increase over February 1916. According to one source, fully 40% of all war-related commodities shipped to Europe left from Philadelphia. The city government worked actively to promote the port, making “liberal appropriations” to harbor development and public relations.19
In the short term, America's entry into the war materially benefited all Philadelphia waterfront workers. One MTW circular advised workers to organize to improve their wages and conditions during the war as, “on account [of] the European War, prosperity reigns on the seas. The Ship-owners are making millions of dollars.” In Philadelphia, as in other ports, the wages of waterfront workers rose during the war. Local 8 won its demand for a raise to sixty cents per hour for loading gunpowder and munitions. As for Philadelphia sailors, they also agitated for raises, knowing that ships could not get enough able-bodied seamen. Just prior to the U.S. declaration of war MTW Too struck for a $ T o raise in monthly wages across-the-board instead of striking individual ships. World War I, which simultaneously led to a tremendous increase in production and a shortage of labor, drove wages up for American workers. In other ways, the war was far more disadvantageous, especially for Wobblies.20
The IWW's stance on the war confirmed its ideology and revealed its view of American society. Like other socialist organizations, from 1914 onward the IWW labeled the European war a capitalist enterprise, caused by and solely benefiting the rich and powerful at the cost of the overwhelming majority of people, who fought and died on Europe's battlefields. In 1916 the IWW GEB declared, “We reaffirm with unfaltering determination the unalterable opposition to all wars.” Throughout 1916 and 1917 the IWW made its stance on the war clear, declaring once, “Capitalists of America, we will fight against you, not for you.” The IWW also contrasted its stand on war with the AFL, whose superpatriotism appalled many socialists. However, many in the IWW, including its leadership, took the fatalist stance that America inevitably would enter the fray.21
Yet, despite its doctrinal opposition to the war, the IWW did not tell its members to refuse registering for military service, nor did it participate as an organization in antiwar activities. IWW leaders were fully aware that, by 1917, most Americans supported the war, which was a perfect excuse for the government and employers to suppress leftist organizations, especially the IWW. Thus, the union (also demonstrating its anarchist tendencies) let individual members decide whether to register. IWW publications noted on more than one occasion that failure to register would bring only more hostility down upon the IWW. So, although no official position was taken, it was clear that the IWW leadership believed its members should, in fact, register for military conscription, which most Wobblies did.22
In Philadelphia fully 100 % of Local 8's members registered for the draft. MTW 100 Secretary-Treasurer Nef did not register because he was too old, but he advised Jack Lever and James Phillips, secretaries of the Baltimore and Boston MTW respectively, to inform their members of the Selective Service Act (Lever himself volunteered). Doree also encouraged many Socialists (some of whom were Wobblies, too), who opposed conscription, to register. Still, Doree was critical of the draft in a letter to IWW Secretary-Treasurer Haywood, Doree wrote of “physical discrimination” practiced by the Philadelphia draft board, believing a higher percentage of working-class residents was called up than upper-class ones.23
Beyond advising members to register, both Local 8 and the national IWW left decisions about the war up to individual members. Doree and others did not believe in speaking publicly against the war instead, during the war he resolved to “keep his mouth shut.” At his trial in 1918, Doree made it clear he opposed wars as “trouble” and that he had enough of that already. Doree registered because he saw the Allies as the lesser of two evils, citing German Socialists as useless after they failed, in 1914, 4, to call a general strike to prevent their nation's militarism. Nef, himself a German Swiss, had supported the Allies since 1914, opposing Prussian militarism from his youth.24
The rank and file of Local 8 actively supported the war effort. At its hall, the local maintained an honor roll of members serving in the military. Several local hiring bosses estimated that more than seven hundred members of Local 8 performed military service during the war. At one wartime meeting, the members agreed “that any Member of our Local Union who has been in the United States Army or Navy service and shows an Honorable discharge when he returns, his book be straightened up,” meaning a veteran could rejoin the union without paying another initiation fee or back dues. Nor was Local 8 the only IWW branch that acted so strongly on behalf of the Allies.25
Perhaps the most extraordinary example of Local 8's support of the war was a meeting organized by Ben Fletcher, Polly Baker, and Jack Lever in early 1917. At the behest of Colonel Freely, commander of the Schuylkill Arsenal, an Army supply depot in Philadelphia, the three Wobblies set up a meeting at Local 8's hall. The building was filled to capacity, six hundred strong, to hear Fletcher, Nef, and Walsh address the membership on the need to support the war effort by working efficiently. Lever later wrote that Fletcher's “high standing with his race [African Americans], who formed about 6o % of the port workers, was invaluable” at that meeting. The members of Local 8 later voted not to strike for the duration of the war.26
In addition to those already discussed, Local 8 supported the war for numerous reasons. Most obviously, the men needed work and the union needed to operate. As most work on the river was war-related, an antiwar stance was not only potentially dangerous, but it was not viable. Second, though a great many Germans and Italians resided in Philadelphia, few, if any, were longshoremen, and Nef was a vocal critic of Germany. Third, the large number of Local 8 members who served in the military, the Liberty Bonds purchased by the union, and the no-strike pledge suggest some patriotic tendencies. As for the African Americans, who made up roughly half the union, generally the black community supported this war. Most famously W. E. B. Du Bois, the influential editor of the NAACP's Crisis, encouraged blacks to rally around the flag and support the push for democracy (falsely assuming that black loyalty abroad would be rewarded at home after the war).27
The IWW, including Local 8, also saw World War I as an opportunity to organize, understanding that the war could create the sort of crisis in which revolutions happen. The IWW argued that workers should continue to prepare for the true fight, the class war. Indeed, the actions and attitudes of Local 8 members echo those of syndicalist (and later Communist) William Z. Foster. By this time Foster had broken from the IWW and focused on “boring from within” the mainstream AFL. Foster publicly supported the war and bought war bonds, but also took advantage of the war to organize a brilliant campaign in the Chicago stockyard and later the national steel strike in 1919. Whether Local 8's stance is considered patriotic, opportunistic, or syndicalist (i.e., ignoring the politics of war in favor of sticking with organizing on the job), it was not alone among Leftists.28
Philadelphia was one of the most important U.S. ports in the war effort. Out of Philadelphia went many of the men as well as much of the food, munitions, oil, and steel on its way to Europe. In 1917 more than 75 % of the cargo that left Philadelphia went to help fight the war. A report in 1919 by the recently created United States Shipping Board (USSB) stated that the longshoremen of Local 8 “loaded a large part of the munitions sent to Europe.”29
The only work stoppage that Local 8 conducted during the war was its anniversary strike. In May 1917 the union celebrated its birth just as it had in previous years, by shutting down the docks and celebrating. The membership notified employers that despite the recent American declaration of war, longshoremen would not work on May 15. As the Wobblies marched down Delaware Avenue led by three bands, IWW organizer C. L. Lambert commented, “You could see in the lines of men walking five abreast, American, Polish, Lithuanian, Belgian and colored in the same line” chanting, “No creed, no color can bar you from membership” and the official IWW motto, “An injury to one is an injury to all.” Local 8's annual strike reaffirmed its commitment to solidarity and disproved the notion that the IWW could not organize a radical yet stable union. As Nef wrote, “I have always urged the men to do their work well and if they had any complaints to bring them up at the union meetings so that they could be acted upon in an orderly fashion.”30
That the members of Local 8 stopped work during the war to celebrate their anniversary reveals a great deal about their power and how they perceived themselves. Local 8 wielded job control all along the Philadelphia waterfront and beyond. In 1917 Local 8 claimed close to four thousand paid-up members in Philadelphia, Camden, New Jersey, and down river in Wilmington, Delaware. Francis Fisher Kane, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania during the war, later testified that every longshoreman in Philadelphia was a Wobbly. Local 8's power was so complete that its members handled all of the munitions as well as the oil for the Army and Navy. William Anderson, a Local 8 member (along with his father), worked as a foreman at Murphy-Cook, which held an Army contract. Anderson said that if a ship loaded, say iron, at an unorganized dock but was slated to carry a load of gunpowder as well, activity stopped until a gang of Wobblies arrived to work the ammunition. Among the Dupont Company powder workers at both Carney's Point, New Jersey, and Wilmington, which Local 8 dominated during the war, vessels simply were not allowed to load gunpowder at a non-IWW pier. Thus, Wobblies contributed mightily to the Allied war effort, and workers, employers, and government all knew it. Local 8's power paralleled that of other IWW strongholds in important war industries, including the copper mines of Montana and Arizona and the Pacific Northwest's woods.31
Every deep-sea stevedore and shipping firm dealt exclusively with Local 8, with the exception of two companies. The Hamburg-American Line and Furness-Withy, both of whom contracted for their longshoremen through the Atlantic Transportation Company, refused to recognize the union. All other jobs on the waterfront either went through the IWW hall or at the “hiring corner” less than two blocks from it. As Jack Walsh proclaimed: “Any time they [bosses] ran short they telephone[d] up to the IWW hall for men.” Even the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) acknowledged that Local 8 “is an extremely powerful organization locally.”32
As in other war-related industries, the federal government took an active role in labor relations in maritime transport. The government dramatically increased spending on shipbuilding to develop an American merchant marine fleet, through a new body called the Emergency Fleet Corporation. Another new agency, the USSB, was created to coordinate and regulate the industry, including labor relations aboard ships and in ports. Following the lead of the president, the National War Labor Board encouraged cooperation between employers and employees and their unions, for the sake of efficiency.33
The federal government simultaneously supported the “bona fide” labor movement, embodied by the AFL, and worked to dismantle the renegade IWW. The AFL recognized that the government had the power to eliminate the IWW, thereby ridding the AFL of its main rival in his autobiography, Samuel Gompers labeled the IWW “a radical fungus on the labor movement.” Accordingly, in August 1917 the USSB created the National Adjustment Commission (NAC), along with a committee representing shipping interests (in particular the American Steamship Association, which represented dozens of shipping lines) and the ILA (which represented at least some longshoremen in every port excepting Philadelphia). The USSB, War Department, shipping interests, stevedores, and ILA all were represented on the NAC, which resolved disputes concerning wages, hours, and conditions. The shippers, ILA, and government formally excluded Local 8 and the MTW from these discussions, despite what the USSB labeled “the important work” performed by Local 8 members. Nor did the NAC establish a local presence in Philadelphia. Crucially, T. V. O'Connor, the ILA president, and Joseph Ryan, the ILA leader in New York, sat on the commission. O'Connor later headed the USSB in his autobiography, Gompers praised O'Connor and the ILA for trying to drive the IWW off the docks. In 1917 the ILA journal The Longshoreman ran many anti-IWW stories, accusing it of “treasonable” acts and wanting “to destroy society — to overturn civilization — to stamp out individuality, and to erase the laws of private property of any sort.”34
Local 8 continued to battle the ILA during the war. In 1916-17 the ILA chartered two locals in Philadelphia. Correspondence in June 1917 between one local president and AFL headquarters confirms that the ILA had a difficult time. Charles Goodwin, the local's president, wrote, “We have a rival organization here about 4000 strong to fight,” so he requested more money to organize. During the war an ILA local signed an agreement with the NAC to handle lumber in Philadelphia. This contract also acknowledged the power of Local 8: “The organization of Local 916 was to some extent disorganized by competitive organizations.” A few months after signing the contract, ILA President O'Connor admitted in The Longshoreman that Philadelphia was “very much in need of attention and it will be necessary for considerable organizing work to be done before we can hope to have anything like the membership we should have when the population and amount of shipping to, and from,” is considered. The ONI confirmed that the ILA “has frequently endeavored to gain a foothold in Philadelphia, but has been uniformly unsuccessful.” Both ILA locals collapsed within a year.35
As the IWW never signed contracts with employers, Local 8 would not, on principle, have participated in the NAC. Jack Lever discussed the Wobblies' direct-action approach: “We didn't get formal bargaining, but we simply told people to stop work until they got what they wanted.” Still, Local 8's exclusion from the NAC was pushed by the ILA. For in' stance, Patrick Quinlan, an AFL organizer, recommended to Todd Daniel, the senior Philadelphia agent of the U.S. Bureau of Investigation, that he work with Polish Catholic priests, who opposed the atheistic IWW, to subvert Local 8 still, there is no evidence of any Catholic parishes opposing Local 8. ILA efforts in Philadelphia parallel its actions in Norfolk, Virginia, where Earl Lewis has documented how the ILA used the USSB to displace the all-black, independent Transportation Workers Association. The AFL colluded with the government, hoping to subvert the IWW nationwide.36
Nevertheless, Local 8 maintained job control and the Wobblies performed their work admirably. Not a single work stoppage occurred after May 15, 1917. This policy even extended to their annual birthday strike. At one April 1918 meeting, the members voted “that we postpone the Celebration of the 15th of May which is our legal holiday ever since our Organization is in existence so as not to hamper the war work of the Government.” Clearly, the membership supported the war effort, shocking given the IWW's politics and the government's wartime repression — or perhaps not. Local 8's action combined one part patriotism (white hot by 1918), one part fear (of further arrests and raids), and one part pragmatism (almost all work was war-related). Rationales aside, when literally millions of tons of explosives and munitions were loaded and unloaded in the port, not a single explosion, accident, or shifting of cargo occurred in Philadelphia. In contrast, there were numerous explosions, fires, and accidents at other Atlantic ports, where ILA men worked. Incredibly, given the federal government's anti-IWW stance, the Navy did not allow any explosives to be loaded aboard a vessel in Philadelphia unless done so by Wobblies. Moreover, when a fire or explosion occurred on a ship loaded in New York (as when the Henderson caught fire at sea), it was sent to Philadelphia to be reloaded. Gompers claimed, without evidence, that such “accidents” on New York's Chelsea piers were sabotage conducted by pro-German Wobblies. Local 8 members were proud of their unblemished record and quick to point out that less efficient longshoremen were not Wobblies.37
As the city's shipping industry prospered, so did the union. Local 8 initiated dozens of new members, many African American, each week. Also of interest, the ONI reported that membership was “increasing daily, owing to the influx of a large number of West Indian negroes.” As Local 8's power increased, the longshoremen yet again set their sights on the Spreckles sugar docks, despite the brutal two-month winter strike. The campaign was part of a larger effort to increase IWW power by putting more delegates on docks and ships. This program also targeted Spanish-speaking workers by printing many pamphlets, including the union's constitution, in Spanish. These efforts, however, quickly were overshadowed by national events.38
On September 5, 1917, the U.S. Department of Justice carried out raids at sixty-four IWW halls and offices across the nation, ostensibly to prevent an IWW general strike. Federal agents confiscated more than five tons of IWW organizational minutes, official and personal correspondence, financial records, pamphlets, newspapers, circulars, books, stickers, membership lists, buttons, cards, publications, and office equipment all as “evidence.” The IWW in Philadelphia did not escape. Local 8's hall was raided, as were the headquarters of the MTW and TWIU. Walter Nef testified that “I found these officers taking everything except the framework of the desks,” including membership letters, correspondence, account books, financial records, and literature. In addition, and more seriously, the Department of Justice issued arrest warrants on the charges of treason and sedition for 166 Wobblies, including six from Philadelphia Benjamin H. Fletcher, Walter T. Nef, John J. Walsh, Edwin F. Doree, Manuel Rey, and Joseph Graeber (a Polish organizer who did not belong to Local 8 but who helped with refinery workers).39 All of those arrested were accused of interfering with the Selective Service Act, violating the Espionage Act of 1917, conspiring to strike, violating the constitutional right of employers executing government contracts, and using the mail to conspire to defraud employers. Possibly the most well-known chapter in the history of the IWW, this federal repression forever affected the union. Local 8 suffered from these raids, though it persevered far more effectively than most other branches.40
Local 8's rank and file organized to exonerate its local and national leaders. Out on bond prior to their trial, Doree and Nef volunteered for the IWW General Defense Committee (GDC), formed shortly after the raids. In Doree's words, the GDC worked “to raise funds, secure legal counsel, locate witnesses, and generally assist in the defense of the various members of the I.W.W.” Local 8 sold “liberty bonds” in order to raise money for the defense fund. The GDC also helped defendants' families. The ONI reported that Local 8 “has contributed liberally to the Defense Fund.”41
The purpose of the raids and arrests was abundantly clear: to destroy the IWW. In his deposition, Doree detailed the myriad ways in which the government obstructed the work of the GDC, by denying it mailing privileges, confiscating mails, intimidating lawyers and witnesses, and preventing the IWW Publishing Bureau from printing defense literature. Historian William Preston notes that the American entry into World War I allowed the Wilson administration to equate the threat of IWW strikes with “seditious interference in war production.” The Department of Justice's strategy was in keeping with the actions of Military Intelligence. According to historian Mark Ellis, Major General Ralph “Van Deman became convinced that the security of the United States and the war effort faced internal threats, not only from enemy agents, but also from the antiwar activities of American left-wing radicalism, in the form of unions such as the Industrial Workers of the World.” One hundred percent Americanism and the “atmosphere of war hysteria [that] colored all decisions from the local to the national level” also help explain why federal officials saw the IWW as “a vicious, treasonable, and criminal conspiracy.” At the Chicago trial the prosecution equated the IWW's anti-capitalist beliefs with pro-German sentiment and, by extension, treason.42
The repression of Local 8 lends further credence to the idea that the government's actions were geared more toward wrecking the IWW than protecting the nation since the members of Local 8 worked so diligently during the war. Philadelphia longshoremen loyally loaded thousands of vessels for the war effort, with but one short strike and no major mishaps. Hundreds of members joined the military, and others purchased Liberty Bonds. Nevertheless, Local 8 was undeniably an IWW outfit, the men proudly wearing their buttons to work — even at the Navy Yard. Although Wobblies loaded ships for the war, it was not because the government endorsed the IWW but rather because of the union's power. Even though no problems occurred, the federal government still equated Philadelphia Wobblies with anti-Americanism, capable of subverting the war effort. Addressing this issue in a letter written to his wife while jailed at Leavenworth, Doree claimed, “I did not know then , and have not since learned, of any `general strike scheme' on the part of the Industrial Workers of the World for the purpose of crippling the war program of the United States. Nothing of this was proven at our trial.” The plans for the federal raids emanated from the nation's capital, where the Departments of Justice, Labor, and War worked closely to suppress the so-called IWW threat. Since the IWW was powerful on the vital Philadelphia waterfront, it should come as no surprise that Local 8 was a main target.43
Further proof confirming the true purpose of the arrests — to crush the IWW — comes from whom the Department of Justice did not consult, namely federal officials in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia representatives of the Department of Justice were not asked in advance about the raids. Had they been, they would have told their superiors that there was no reason to suspect that the longshoremen were disloyal. Further, the Navy did not see Local 8 as a threat, despite the nature of the Department of Justice's charges. Only five months after the raids did Assistant Attorney General William C. Fitts contact the Secretary of Navy requesting evidence “to show that the needs of the Navy of the United States, with respect to preparation for participation in the war, were materially interfered with and retarded by the unrest fomented and low-down methods injected into the situation during the spring and summer of 1917 by the I.W.W.” In short, there was no concrete evidence that the American war effort was being subverted by the IWW or that a general strike was in the works. In particular, the Navy never supplied one shred of evidence that Philadelphians ever sabotaged the war effort or planned to. In fact, the U.S. pardon attorney who later investigated the cases of Local 8's leaders wrote that he had “considerable difficulty” in “ascertaining just what” these longshoremen had ,done “that constitute[d] the offense of which they were convicted.” Furthermore, the federal agent who conducted the raids on Local 8 in 1917 later admitted, “I personally do not know of any crime that he [Nef] has committed against the country.” Rather, in 1922 this agent volunteered to the pardon attorney that “I wish to state that Walter Neff [ sic ] is a clean cut high class intelligent man and a perfect gentleman” ! Finally, the U.S. Attorney for eastern Pennsylvania during the war wrote on behalf of the Local 8 leaders jailed, encouraging the president to pardon them.44
Nevertheless, given the anti-radical sentiments of the time, 101 Wobblies quickly were indicted by a grand jury in Chicago, where IWW headquarters were located, on five counts of conspiring to hinder eleven acts of Congress and presidential decrees concerning the war. The 1918 trial of the Wobblies was the longest in U.S. history up until that time. Nef testified to the strength of Local 8 in Philadelphia. Doree concentrated his discussion on the “brutal oppression” of timber workers in Louisiana whom he organized before moving to Philadelphia. Walsh “kept the courtroom in an undignified state of continual laughter with his references to 'Fellow Worker Nebeker' [the prosecuting attorney] and other Irish pleasantries.” Fletcher, curiously, did not testify. In a letter to the editor published in The Crisis in 1919, F. H. M. Murray wrote of running into Fletcher during the trial and asking him what he thought according to Murray, Fletcher “smiled broadly” and replied that Judge Landis was “a fakir. Wait until he gets a chance then he'll plaster it on thick.” After four months of testimony — in which the entire government case was based upon letters, newspaper articles, and other materials written prior to America's declaration of war — the jury delivered a verdict in less than an hour that every defendant on trial was guilty on all counts. The men from Local 8 were sentenced as severely as the other defendants. On August 30, 1918, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis sentenced Nef to twenty years in the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth and fined him $30,000 plus court costs. Doree, Fletcher, Walsh, and Graber were sentenced to ten years and $30,000 plus costs. Rey was sentenced to twenty years and $20,000. A decade later Big Bill Haywood wrote that, upon hearing the verdicts, “Ben Fletcher sidled over to me and said: 'The Judge has been using very ungrammatical language.' I looked at his smiling black face and asked: 'How's that, Ben?' He said: 'His sentences are much too long.' At one time previous to this during the great trial in a spirit of humor, Ben remarked: 'If it wasn't for me, there'd be no color in this trial at all.' I might explain that he was the only Negro in the group.”45
To the membership of Local 8, the loss of their leaders, Fletcher in particular, was devastating. Black longshoreman James Fair recalled, “Some of us were very hurt over it, because we knew what he was doing was something for us to earn a livelihood to support ourselves and families and it was just like well, I would say it was to ones who was interested in organized labor and improving our standards of life it was something near like Martin Luther King [being sent to jail].” While waiting in the infamous Cook County jail — the same prison where the Haymarket martyrs were hung thirty years before — to be loaded on a train for Leavenworth, Fletcher made light of the situation while simultaneously calling into question the authority of the entire proceedings. Haywood recalled Fletcher holding a mock court. Imitating Judge Landis, “looking solemn and spitting tobacco juice,” Fletcher “swore in the prisoners as a jury calling the guards and detectives up to him he sentenced them without further ado to be hanged and shot and imprisoned for life.”46
After the raids, the MTW continued its mission of organizing seamen. MTW headquarters moved to South Philadelphia the headquarters also housed other radical organizations, including the Russian Socialist Society. Most Wobbly seamen, especially in Philadelphia, were Spaniards and Italians. Nef estimated that between four thousand and five thousand seamen belonged to the MTW on the Atlantic coast. On virtually every coastwise vessel, much of the crew below decks — firemen, engineers, oilers, and water tenders — were Wobblies. Although not in the Navy, the merchant marine, including Philadelphia-based Wobblies, risked their lives on a daily basis for the Allied cause. Leonard Guillel and Francisco Alonso, both Spanish-born Wobs, were aboard the Standard Oil steamship Helton that was torpedoed on its way to Rotterdam twenty-two crewmen, twelve of them Wobblies, died. To curtail the MTW's power, Rey had been sent to Leavenworth for twenty years. Another Spanish anarchist, Genaro Pazos, took Rey's place as secretary-treasurer of MTW 100. Pazos had been very active in spreading IWW-MTW propaganda throughout the Atlantic and in raising money for the IWW Defense Committee. Even though the MTW had only a fraction of the ISU's members, the ONI recommended that Pazos and the union “be kept under close surveillance.”47
Despite Local 8's record of reliable, efficient labor and having its leaders imprisoned, the federal government still did not trust Local 8. In a comprehensive report entitled Investigation of the Marine Transport Workers and the Alleged Threatened Combination between Them and the Bolsheviki and Sinn Feiners , the ONI, in close collaboration with the Department of Justice, Plant Protection Sections of the Military Intelligence Division, and Emergency Fleet Corporation, concluded: “It is the opinion of this Office that subject [Local 8] is extremely dangerous potentially . This Office recommends that . it [Local 8] should be kept under strict surveillance by the aid for Information of the Fourth Naval District. It is further recommended that the leaders likewise be carefully watched, and punished for each and every infraction of the law, however slight.” The ONI soon placed one of its operatives inside Local 8.48
Yet, in spite of these enormous losses and threats, Local 8 achieved significant wage increases during the war. By the end of 1918 the wage rate for deep-sea longshoremen had jumped to sixty-five cents per hour, which can be attributed to a combination of labor scarcity and union power. Philadelphia's wages for deep-sea longshoremen paralleled those of other Atlantic ports, from thirty cents in the summer of 1917, to forty cents in July 1918, and sixty-five cents by the end of that year. Further, the coastwise longshoremen who had joined Local 8 received equal wages, unheard of in the era and due to the IWW's egalitarian streak — in contrast to the craft-based wage hierarchy of the ILA.49
Most of the IWW was thrown into utter turmoil as a result of wartime repression, but Local 8 maintained its power. In fact, although many contemporaries and historians consider the federal raids the beginning of the end of the IWW as a force, the ONI reported that, a year after the raids, “the shipping interests of the city generally recognize the power [of] the Local and are obliged to employ members of it exclusively. In many instances when stevedores are required a request is made direct to the [union's] headquarters.”50
With the arrests of Nef, Doree, Fletcher, Walsh, and Rey, other members, albeit with less experience, stepped to the fore. Joseph Weitzen replaced Charles J. Cole as secretary of Local 8, while his fellow union member Archie Robinson ably chaired meetings in 1917. In 1918 Weitzen took over as chair, and William “Dan” Jones was elected secretary. Polly Baker served as port delegate, and William Green was assistant secretary. With the exception of Baker, all of these leaders were African American. In 1918 longtime activist George McKenna, an Irish American, took over the position of secretary of the local from Weitzen. The orderly switch in officials was an example of the democratic impulses of the IWW. No member was allowed, according to local bylaws and MTW constitution, to hold a post for more than a year. Due to the union's commitment to its founding principles of industrial unionism, democracy, and racial and ethnic solidarity, Local 8 persevered, though weakened, and even sought to extend its gains after the war. Indeed, the 1917 sugar strike revealed how deeply committed Local 8 was to industrial unionism as an ideology and the strike as a tactic however, it also showed that the power of the union was limited severely by the even greater power of employers, especially when assisted by the government. And, having its first cadre of leaders removed from Philadelphia reverberated loudly in the years following the war. Just as the union had been a part of the wave of wartime militancy, taking advantage of the tight labor market, so too after the war Local 8 acted to impose its will upon hostile employers, as part of a national surge in strike activity.51