Joe Hill

Joe Hill


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Joel Emmanuel Hägglund was born in Gefle (Gävle), Sweden in 1882. As a child, after the death of his father, in 1887, he worked in a rope factory. He emigrated to the United States in 1902 and settled in California where he changed his name to Joe Hill. Converted to socialism in 1910, Hill became a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and was one of the leaders of the San Pedro dock workers' strike. In 1912 he was beaten up and permanently scarred during a free speech campaign in San Diego.

Hill was also a songwriter and his socialist songs appeared in the trade union newspapers, Industrial Worker and Solidarity. After his Red Songbook was published his songs were sung on picket lines and demonstrations. Songs such as The Preacher and the Slave and Casey Jones - The Union Scab became internationally known folk songs.

His biographer, Franklin Rosemont, has pointed out: "Hill contributed to the IWW cause primarily as wordsmith and artist rather than as organizer or soap-boxer. He loved to draw and his cartoons show that he carefully studied the work of such pioneering exemplars of the cartoonist's art as F.B. Opper and Rube Goldberg. He played piano, accordion, guitar, and banjo, and clearly enjoyed the popular music of his day."

George Seldes interviewed Hill and William Haywood in 1912: "When Bill Hayward came to the coal and iron capital of America, Ray Springle and I went to his headquarters, not for news stories, which we knew would never be published, but out of interest in the new labor movement, the Industrial Workers of the World. And so, by chance along with its new leaders we met the ballad-maker of the IWW, Joe Hill." Seldes later recalled: "Joe Hill was a man of great enthusiasm and such easy friendship that in the week or ten days in which we knew him the three of us and another of his friends pledged a lifetime of loyalty to one another."

Hill's trade union activities made him a marked man and unable to find work in California, he moved to Utah. In 1913 Hill helped to organize a successful strike at the United Construction Company. During this dispute Hill stayed with some friends in Salt Lake City. While he was there, John G. Morrison, a former policeman, and his son, Arling, were shot dead by two masked gunman in his grocery shop. A few weeks before the murder, Morrison had told a journalist that he had recently been threatened with a revenge attack because of an incident while he was in the police force.

After the shooting, police discovered two men trying to board a departing train at a railroad station near the store. According to the official report, officers Crosby and Hendrickson had to "empty their guns" to prevent the two men from escaping. The men were taken into custody and identified as C.E. Christensen and Joe Woods, two men with arrest warrants in Prescott, Arizona for robbery.

On the night of the murder, 10th January, 1914, Hill visited a doctor with a bullet wound in his left lung. Hill claimed he had been shot in a quarrel over a woman. Noting that the bullet had gone clean through the body, the doctor reported Hill's visit to the police. They already knew about Hill's trade union activities and decided to arrest him. Hill refused to say how he got the wound. As a witnesses standing outside Morrison's store claimed that he heard one of the murderers say: "Oh, God, I'm shot." Hill was charged with the murder of Morrison and Christensen and Woods were released from custody.

The police chief of San Pedro, who had once held Hill for thirty days on a charge of "vagrancy" because of his efforts to organize longshoremen, wrote to the Salt Lake City police: "I see you have under arrest for murder one Joseph Hillstrom. You have the right man... He is certanly an undesirable citizen. He is somewhat of a musician and writer of songs for the IWW songbook."

Leaders of the Industrial Workers of the World argued that Hill had been framed as a warning to others considering trade union activity. Even William Spry, the Republican governor of Utah admitted that he wanted to use the case to "stop street speaking" and to clear the state of this "lawless elements, whether they be corrupt businessmen, IWW agitators, or whatever name they call themselves"

At Hill's trial in Salt Lake City none of the witnesses were able to identify Hill as one of the murders. This included thirteen-year-old Merlin Morrison, who witnessed the killing of her father and brother. The bullet that hit Hill was not found in the store. Nor was any of Hill's blood. As no money was taken and one of the gunman was heard to say: "We've got you now", the defence argued that it was a revenge killing. However, Hill, who had no previous connection with Morrison, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death.

Franklin Rosemont has argued: "Nearly all historians have come to recognize as one of the worst travesties of justice in American history. After a trial riddled with biased rulings, suppression of important defense evidence, and other violations of judicial procedure characteristic of cases involving labor radicals, Hill was convicted and sentenced to death."

Bill Haywood and the IWW launched a campaign to halt the execution. Elizabeth Flynn visited Hill in prison and was a leading figure in the attempts to force a retrial. In July, 1915, 30,000 members of Australian IWW sent a resolution calling on Governor William Spry to free Hill. Similar resolutions were passed at trade union meetings in Britain and other European countries. Woodrow Wilson also contacted Spry and asked for a retrial. This was refused and plans were made for Hill's execution by firing-squad on 19th November, 1915.

When he heard the news, Hill sent a message to Bill Haywood saying: "Goodbye Bill. I die like a true blue rebel. Don't waste any time in mourning. Organize." He also asked Haywood to arrange his funeral: "Could you arrange to have my body hauled to the state line to be buried? I don't want to be found dead in Utah." Hill last act before his death was to write the poem, My Last Will.

An estimated 30,000 people attended Hill's funeral. The instructions left in Hill's last poem were carried out: "And let the merry breezes blow/My dust to where some flowers grow/Perhaps some fading flower then/Would come to life and bloom again." Hill's ashes were put into small envelopes and on May Day, 1916, were scattered to the winds in every state of the union. This ceremony also took place in several other countries.

Alfred Hayes wrote a poem about Hill that was later adapted by Earl Robinson and became the famous folk song, I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night. The folk singer, Phil Ochs, wrote and recorded a different, original song called Joe Hill. In 1971 Bo Widerberg wrote and directed the popular Swedish film, Joe Hill.

When Bill Hayward came to the coal and iron capital of America, Ray Springle and I went to his headquarters, not for news stories, which we knew would never be published, but out of interest in the new labor movement, the Industrial Workers of the World. And so, by chance along with its new leaders we met the ballad-maker of the IWW, Joe Hill.

Joe Hill was a man of great enthusiasm and such easy friendship that in the week or ten days in which we knew him the three of us and another of his friends pledged a lifetime of loyalty to one another. But it was only a few months later that the last member of our foursome... sent me a photograph of Joe Hill sitting upright in his coffin with five bullet holes in his left chest.

I have always tried to make this earth a little better for the great producing class, and I can pass off into the great unknown with the pleasure of knowing that I never in my life double-crossed a man, woman or child.

If you are not in favor of Justice, then you can only be expected to be treated as you would treat others.... We are not going to see any working man perish without being avenged, when we are satisfied he was not proven guilty of the crime charged in our estimation. Every principle of justice was denied this man.... If Utah takes this life it will pay dearly for so doing. Governor the Issue is up to you. Act, and Act Right, or others will act right. Our demand is that Hillstrom be pardoned.

In spite of all the hideous pictures and all the bad things and printed about me, I had only been arrested once before in my life, and that was in Sal Pedro, California. At the time of the stevedores' and dock workers' strike. I was secretary of the strike committee, and I suppose I was a little too active to suit the chief of that burg, so he arrested me and gave me thirty days in the city jail for vagrancy and there you have the full extent of my "criminal record".

The main and only fact worth considering, however, is this: I never killed Morrison and do not know a thing about it. He was, as the records plainly show, killed by some enemy for the sake of revenge, and I have not been in the city long enough to make an enemy.

Shortly before my arrest I came down from Park City; where I was working in the mines. Owing to the prominence of Mr Morrison, there had to be a "goat" and the undersigned being, as they thought, a friendless tramp, a Swede, and worst of all, an I.W.W, had no right to live anyway, and was therefore duly selected to be "the goat".

I have always worked hard for a living and paid for everything i got, and in my spare time I spend by painting pictures, writing songs and composing music.

Now, if the people of the state of Utah want to shoot me without giving me half a chance to state my side of the case, bring on your firing squads - I am ready for you. I have lived like an artist and I shall die like an artist.

My will is easy to decide,

For there is nothing to divide.

My kin don't need to fuss and moan -

"Moss does not cling to a rolling stone."

My body? - Oh! - If I could choose,

I would to ashes it reduce,

And let the merry breezes blow

My dust to where some flowers grow.

Perhaps some fading flower then

Would come to life and bloom again.

This is my last and final will.

Good luck to all of you.

By 10.30 the streets were blocked in all directions; street cars could not run and all traffic was suspended. Within the hall one could almost hear the drop of a pin at all times. The casket was placed on the flower-laden, black and red draped stage, above which was hanging a hand woven I.W.W. label.

The funeral exercises were opened with the singing of Joe Hill's wonderful song, Workers of the World, Awaken - members of the I.W.W. leading and the audience swelling out the chorus. This was followed by Jennie Wosczynska's singing of the Rebel Girl, written and composed by Joe Hill, after which came two beautiful tenor solos, one in Swedish by John Chellman and one in Italian by Ivan Rodems.

Thousands in the procession wore I.W.W. pennants on their sleeves or red ribbons worded, "Joe Hill, murdered by the authorities of the state of Utah, November the 19th, 1915" or "Joe Hill, I.W.W. martyr to a great cause," "Don't mourn - organize, Joe Hill" and many others.

Songs were sung all along the way, chiefly Joe Hill's, although some of the foreign-speaking workers sang revolutionary songs in their native tongues. As soon as a song would die down in one place, the same song would or another would be taken up by other voices along the line.

The murdering of martyrs has never yet made a tyrant's place secure. The state of Utah has shot our song-writer into everlasting immortality and has shot itself into everlasting shame.

Joseph Hillstrom, one of the Ishmaelites of the industrial world, was to hand and they "shot him to death" because he was a rebel, one of the disinherited, because he was the voice of the inarticulate downtrodden; they crucified him on their cross of gold, spilled his blood on the altar of their God - Profit. Therefore, Comrades, over the great heart of Joe Hill, now stilled in death, let us take up his burden, rededicate ourselves to the cause that knows no failure, and for which Joseph Hillstrom cheerfully gave his all, his valuable life.

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night

Alive as you and me.

Says I, "But Joe, you're ten years dead."

"I never died," says he.

"Joe Hill ain't dead," he says to me.

"Joe Hill ain't never died,

Where workingmen are out on strike

Joe Hill is at their side!"


Joe Hill

Joe Hill, (born Joel Emmanuel Hägglund) also known as Joseph Hillström, was a Swedish-American trade union activist. He was an avid supporter of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or "Wobblies"), a group which promotes "One Big Union" for workers and democracy in the workplace.

He immigrated to the United States in 1902, and was a member of the IWW by 1910. Hill mostly drifted from place to place, often trying to support unions. He also wrote numerous poems and songs, such as "The Preacher and The Slave" (which also coined the term "Pie in the Sky"), "The Girl Question", and "The Tramp". They are collected in the Little Red Songbook.

In 1914, he was accused of the murders of John G. Morrison and his son Arling. The trial was quite controversial. Hill visited a doctor on the night of the murder with a gunshot wound. Hill also owned a red bandanna, which is something the killers used as a disguise. Hill denied these claims, saying he was shot by the husband of a woman he was with. He could not use this as a defense, however, as it would ruin the woman's reputation. Even the star witness shouted out that Hill was not the murderer in open court. Hill was convicted and sentenced to death. It only took the jury a few hours to convict him.

Hill met his fate with a firing squad on November 19, 1915. His last word was "Fire." President Wilson, Helen Keller, and people in Sweden were all appalled by this and demanded the decision be overturned.


Joe Hill

Joe Hill was a union organizer and songwriter. In 1914 he was accused of murder, and the following year he was executed, even though many people believed he was innocent. His songs are still an inspiration for all kinds of workers. For example, you might know “The Preacher and the Slave,” also known as “Pie in the Sky.”
You will eat, by and by
In that glorious land above the sky
Work and pray, live on hay
You’ll get pie in the sky when you die.
More famous than Joe Hill’s own songs, though, is a song that was written about him. Ten years after he died, Alfred Hayes wrote a poem called “I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night.” Earl Robinson set it to music about a decade later, and it quickly became an anthem for the labor movement.
Starting in the 1930s, the African-American actor and singer Paul Robeson was one of this country’s most passionate voices for the outsider. He lent his voice to the struggles of blacks, workers, and anyone who had trouble getting a fair deal. Paul Robeson sang “I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night” all over the world, at rallies and protests -- and in concert.
--Miriam Lewin

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
alive as you and me.
Says I “But Joe, you’re ten years dead”
“I never died” says he,
“I never died” says he.

“In Salt Lake City, Joe,” says I,
Him standing by my bed,
“They framed you on a murder charge,”
Says Joe, “But I ain’t dead,”
Says Joe, “But I ain’t dead.”

“The Copper Bosses killed you Joe,
they shot you Joe” says I.
“Takes more than guns to kill a man”
Says Joe “I didn’t die”
Says Joe “I didn’t die”

And standing there as big as life
and smiling with his eyes.
Says Joe “What they can never kill
went on to organize,
went on to organize”

From San Diego up to Maine,
in every mine and mill,
Where workers strike and organize
it’s there you’ll find Joe Hill,
it’s there you’ll find Joe Hill!

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
alive as you and me.
Says I “But Joe, you’re ten years dead”
“I never died” says he,
“I never died” says he.
“I never died” says he.


Joe Hill - History

New Boston Historical Society
New Boston, New Hampshire

Joe English Hill
A brief discussion of a Native American, a big bomb, and an enormous antenna.

Joe English Hill is a prominent landmark on the southern edge of New Boston. It rises up gradually from McCurdy Road to its 1,200 foot summit and then ends abruptly with a 300-foot cliff. It is first mentioned in histories of the early 1700s, before New Boston was incorporated as a town. In fact, during the lifetime of the Native American called "Joe English" there was no permanent settlement of English people in New Boston. The nearest English settlers lived in towns like Dunstable, which is now Nashua NH. The English settlers were frightened of Indian attacks in this time of Queen Anne's War, when French agents encouraged some Native American tribes to harass the English.

In "The History of Manchester" published in 1856, C.E. Potter tells how Joe English Hill got its name:

The hill terminates on the south in a rough precipice, presenting in the distance a height of some two or three hundred feet, and almost perpendicular. The hill took its name from an incident of olden time connected with this precipice.

In 1705 or 1706, there was an Indian living in these parts, noted for his friendship for the English settlers. He was an accomplished warrior and hunter [and] steadfast in his partiality for his white neighbors. From this fact the Indians, as was their wont, gave him the name, significant of this trait, of 'Joe English.'

In course of time the Indians, satisfied that Joe gave information of their hostile designs to the English, determined upon killing him upon the first fitting opportunity. Accordingly, just at twilight, they found Joe upon one of the branches of the 'Squog,' [i.e. the Piscataquog River] hunting, and commenced an attack upon him but he escaped from them, two or three in number and made directly for this hill, in the southern part of New Boston.

With the quick thought of the Indian, he made up his mind that the chances were against him in a long race, and he must have recourse to stratagem. As he ran up the hill, he slackened his pace, until his pursuers were almost upon him that they might become more eager in the pursuit. Once near the top he started off with great rapidity, and the Indians after him, straining every nerve.

As Joe came upon the brink of the precipice before mentioned, he leaped behind a jutting rock, and waited in breathless anxiety. But a moment passed, and the hard breathing and measured but light footsteps of his pursuers were heard, and another moment, with a screech and yell, their dark forms were rolling down the rocky precipice, to be left at its base, food for hungry wolves!

Henceforth the hill was called Joe English, and well did his constant friendship deserve so enduring a monument.

(The portrait of Joe from the "Joe English Echo", the 1927 yearbook of the New Boston High School, may or may not be historically accurate.)

Later in the 1700s and 1800s, many settlers of European descent arrived in New Boston. They cut down the forests, plowed fields and built houses and roads all over town, including on the slopes of Joe English Hill. In 1854, while on her way to Schoolhouse #3 which was built at the base of Joe English Hill, young Sevilla Jones was met by her rejected suitor Henry Sargent, who was armed with a revolver. But that is another story (see "Henry & Sevilla" on the Cemetery page).


Saw mill at the base of Joe English Hill c.1880


Generally speaking, Joe English Hill and the nearby Joe English Pond were quiet New Boston landmarks until 1942, which is when the bombs began falling.

The Bombing of Joe English Pond

Not far from Joe English Hill is Joe English Pond. The pond may not be visited by the public today, as it is within the grounds of the New Boston Air Force Station, a 3,000-acre property owned by the federal government in New Boston, Amherst and Mont Vernon.

The New Boston Air Force Station dates back to 1942, when Grenier Field -- now Manchester-Boston Regional Airport -- was preparing to meet the demands of World War II.

On Sept. 5, 1941, Col. John Moore, commanding officer of the U.S. Army Air Corps at Grenier Field, wrote a letter proposing the government create a bombing range in New Boston near Joe English Pond. "The nature of the terrain around the pond is such that aerial bombing thereon would offer the elements of surprise, concealed approach and navigation to a point," Moore wrote. "It is believed that Joe English Hill (altitude 1,245 feet) would be a satisfactory stop for any ricochet bullets from ground machine gun targets."

Eventually, land belonging to 16 families, 12 of them in New Boston, was taken at a cost of $23,200.

There was no electricity on site, and water had to be brought from Dodge's store in the center of New Boston. Nail kegs were used as chairs. Locals felt so sorry for the soldiers that they donated used furniture.

During World War II, local residents remember watching fighters and bombers train at the Air Force station and learned to recognize the sounds of strafing and bombing as they went about their tasks.

"I'd watch from the kitchen window," 89-year-old Evelyn Barss told the Telegraph of Nashua newspaper in a 2005 story. "They would come in across the hill and drop their bombs and we would see them. These little black specks would go down, and you would hear a small discharge - they didn't use a lot of powder because it was scarce during the war."

In an article titled "The Bombing Range" written in 1963 for New Boston's bi-centennial, Oliver "Gus" Andrews wrote: "The boys that were stationed at the range came from all over the United States, and many of them married New Boston girls." He listed nine examples, including a young man from Maine named Oliver Andrews. Gus married Lucille Kenney in 1943 and later became postmaster of New Boston for many years, and a Selectman too.

Charles Peirce and his family called their house at the base of Joe English Hill "the Wigwam" for reasons unknown. The Peirce family home was taken by the Army Air Corps and used as lodging for the first soldiers to arrive at the new bombing range.

I read in multiple histories that water had to be brought to the Wigwam from Dodge's store until a well was drilled in 1942. I wondered how the Peirce family lived in the Wigwam for six years without any water. I asked Bea Peirce, whose husband George lived in the Wigwam as a boy, and she replied, "If they had five hundred chickens, they must have had water!"

Photo of "the Wigwam" under Joe English Hill c.1941 courtesy of Mrs. Bea Peirce. Is this the same house that's to the left of the saw mill in the 1880 photo above?


If you have hiked around Joe English Hill and ignored the warning signs like the one above, please note that 135 items of unexploded ordnance were found within the off-limits fenced area of NBAFS between 2008-2009. In 2010 the Air Force "dewatered" Joe English Pond which is the military expression for "pumping 70 million gallons of water out of the pond" and more ordnance was discovered including the specimen in the photograph below.


A 2,000-pound general purpose bomb was found in Joe English Pond in 2010.
It was detonated safely by the Army Corps of Engineers. (US Air Force photo)

E-mail messages warning of detonations are still sent occasionally to New Boston residents. For example:
"As part of the metal debris clearance activities underway at New Boston Air Force Station, two demolition shots of unexploded ordnance have been planned for October 20, 2011 between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm. As part of the clearance activities a trained explosive ordnance disposal team is on site for the planned detonations. A separate email will be sent out after the detonations have been completed."

MEMORIES WANTED: If you lived in New Boston between 1942-1956 and have memories of the bombing range to share,
please e-mail the NBHS website editor, Dan Rothman: [email protected]

1. New Boston and the U.S. Navy: Stories from the Korean War
In November of 2013 I spoke with Vic, a veteran now living in Florida, who thought this web page should mention the Navy. Vic volunteered in 1951 during the Korean War and was based at Grenier Field which is now the Manchester Airport. During the Korean War, Navy air squadrons had to qualify at a bombing range before going overseas. Almost every morning Vic's team would go to the New Boston bombing range to maintain the targets. The targets were 55-gallon drums painted red, surrounded at 50 yard intervals by rings of trees that had been felled and whitewashed to make a prominent bull's-eye target. Vic's team would use a Caterpillar D4 bulldozer to skid the trees out.

The Navy used carrier-based planes (fighters and light bombers) which flew out of Quonset Point, RI. They would radio up to New Hampshire to warn that a flight was on its way. Vic and the other sailors would go to one of three steel huts to observe the target area through 6" x 18" slits cut in the 3/4" steel. They would report on the accuracy of the bomb drops to the fire tower, which would relay the results back to Quonset Point. Once someone forgot to notify the sailors in New Boston so they were surprised to see a plane diving at them while other planes were circling in the air. Some of the men dove under the bulldozer while the CPO shouted "get in the pick-up truck and get the hell out of here!" The pilots must have seen the men because no bombs were dropped. The 500-pound practice bombs did not have much powder in them.

Vic told me that there was also strafing practice at a field where some old tanks and trucks were parked. The fighter planes were not supposed to use tracer ammunition as the pyrotechnic charge might start a forest fire. When this instruction was ignored, Vic's team had to put the fires out using "Indian" fire pump extinguishers, shovels and brooms.

Vic and a 3rd-class Petty Officer enjoyed tapping maple trees at the bombing range. To boil off the sap they went to the mess hall and borrowed large coffee containers and built fires under them. They made gallons of sweet syrup.

Vic and the dozen other Navy men in his New Hampshire unit did not often see any officers visit from Quonset Point, except when they decided to "inspect the bombing range" which meant that they wanted to go deer hunting in New Boston.

2. A Bad Time to Go Fishing on Joe English Pond
In March of 2015 I received an e-mail from R. Wade Covill, MD of Columbia Falls, Montana. Dr. Covill grew up in Weare, NH, and around 1947 his father was logging near the Bombing Range. There were crews working in the range, so father and son believed there would be no bombing that day. Dr. Covill wrote:

Well, as a 12 year old with an obsession for fishing, I could not resist sneaking in to fish the pond! Rod in hand, I rode my bike into the range. Don't recall a gate, but if there was one, it was open (I think). Anyway, I got to the pond. Could hear heavy equipment working somewhere on the other side of the pond, but fortunately beyond my line of sight. I was on a shoreline devoid of vegetation, lots of junk littering the ground. Little canvas covered frames positioned about the area, looking much the worse for wear. The shoreline was easy to fish as it was pretty torn up. I caught a nice pickerel on my second cast, and thought I was going to have a great day, when I looked up at the hill between me and Manchester.

Diving straight toward me were three P47's in full attack mode. Thank God they didn't fire, with this dumb kid standing in the middle of the target area. Needless to say I didn't stick around to see what might happen next. In retrospect I doubt it was intended to be a live fire exercise, with work crews nearby. Little did I consider how much unexploded ordnance I must have tramped on. (Didn't our stuff always work?). Most of all, I still remember quite vividly what it feels like to be in the sights of three P47's on a strafing run!

P-47 photo from the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

3. Pheasants, Ducks, and Johnny Cash
In October of 2020 I received a phone call from Bill Harrell, a retired Master Sergeant from Las Cruces, NM. Bill served at the tracking station from 1967-1969, where he supervised the calibration laboratory. His duties included work on a wildlife commission Bill's wife and daughter helped him raise pheasants from eggs in an enclosed area and ducks on Joe English Pond.

When I asked Bill where he served before coming to Grenier Field and New Boston, he told me that one of his first postings after he joined the Air Force in the 1950s was at the base in Landsberg, Germany, where his roommate was Johnny Cash, who like Bill was from northeastern Arkansas. The men were radio intercept operators who monitored Morse code transmissions. Bill said that John Cash couldn't sing very well or play the guitar at the time, but another roommate, Orville Rigdon, was an accomplished guitar player who tried to teach him the basics on a guitar Cash bought for twenty marks &mdash about five dollars.

New Boston Air Force Station - Satellite Tracking

The land around Joe English Pond was used as a military bombing range from 1942-1956, including World War II and the Korean War. When the bombs stopped falling, the government had almost 3,000 acres littered with unexploded ordnance, which undoubtedly reduced the property's potential agricultural or recreational value. What to do with this land?

In 1959, the U.S Air Force began constructing on the former bombing range a "Satellite Control Network Remote Tracking Station whose mission is to provide tactical support to Joint Functional Component Command for Space by performing satellite operations 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. New Boston provides a real-time capability to users performing on-orbit tracking, telemetry, commanding and mission data retrieval services for more than 140 Department of Defense, national agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and allied satellites," according to the Air Force. It is not clear what the preceding sentences mean in English, but the mission is probably very important.


Photo of a "golf ball," designed to protect an Air Force Satellite Control Network antenna from the elements, under construction in 1960.
Joe English Hill can be seen in the background.
Today there are five golf balls, as depicted in Cyndie Wilson's quilt square for New Boston's 250th Anniversary quilt.
The newest golf balls are inflatable, not rigid.


The rock climber and extreme sportsman Dean Potter (1972-2015) learned to climb on the cliffs of Joe English Hill. A 2011 interview by Matt Samet published in Outside magazine included this story:

Potter began climbing in 1988, at 16, doing most of his apprenticeship near his home in New Boston, New Hampshire, on the granite cliffs of Joe English Hill, a 1,273-foot mountain that sits on federal land controlled by a local Air Force base.

DEAN POTTER: In the early days at Joe English, my friend John and I climbed a lot by pushing on each other's feet and pulling on each other's hands. Later, some older guys - the Adams brothers - ran into us and said, "Damn kids, you guys are going to die!" They told us to get a harness, and they said you can't use a laundry line for climbing. We were doing top ropes with stuff we got from John's father's garage.

PATRICIA DELLERT (Dean's mother): I wasn't aware of Dean's love of climbing until his high school years, when he was going over to Joe English Hill. I didn't know he was climbing on the cliff, because it's a military reserve, a satellite-tracking station. He was in there illegally. I thought he was just climbing the boulders below.

POTTER: My parents didn't want to believe their son was 200 feet up, free-soloing. They liked to go on long walks and runs, and they would go right by Joe English. Later they'd say, "Hey, we saw someone climbing up there." They would describe what they saw, and I'd be wearing the exact same outfit. And I'd say, "Oh. Nope, wasn't me!"


Socialist Women and Joe Hill

Olivia McHugh was born and raised in Kentucky. After graduating from Kentucky State University and the Sargeant School of Education in Cambridge, Massachusetts, McHugh worked as a teacher at Randolph Macon Women’s College and the Kentucky Institute for the Blind. She also served as director of the Louisville municipal gymnasium.

McHugh moved to Utah in 1910 and settled with her physician husband, Frank, in Murray where both became active members of the Murray Socialist local. In later years she recalled that she “had not even heard of the Socialist party” until coming to Murray but was attracted to it because the town had an effective Socialist administration. This administration had built “a municipally owned power-plant which was one of the most efficient in the country.”

Additionally, the McHughs were attracted to the Socialist banner because they were “young, idealistic, and sympathetic to the plight of the working class.” Both McHughs were candidates for office Frank as the party’s nominee for governor in 1912 and Olivia as candidate for superintendent of public instruction in both 1912 and 1914. In reviewing these campaigns, some sixty years later, Olivia McHugh recalled: “There weren’t many people who could meet the qualifications for the office of superintendent, which basically were graduation from a university or normal school. I could meet those qualifications, so I became the candidate! I ran strictly as a protest candidate and knew there was no chance of my winning. I received quite a few votes, but I was well-known in women’s clubs and therefore a lot of people voted for me out of friendship and not because of my Socialist affiliation.” Olivia was, in fact, active in a number of civic organizations, including the Ladies Literary Club, the League of Utah Writers, the Salt Lake County Medical Association Auxiliary, and others. She was also a member of the Unitarian church in Salt Lake City.

In 1915 the McHughs’ lives were touched by the case of Joe Hill, the legendary Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) songwriter and organizer whose execution in Utah became a cause celebre in American labor history. Frank McHugh was the physician who treated Joe Hill for gunshot wounds the same night that Salt Lake City grocer John G. Morrison and his son Arling were murdered. Ultimately, Hill was executed for that crime. In later years Olivia speculated that Hill probably came to her husband for aid because he had seen him at Socialist meetings in Murray (where Hill was living at the time with the Eselius family, who were also patients of McHugh) and felt that since the physician had Socialist sympathies he would not report the incident or charge him for medical services. Actually, it was McHugh who tipped off the Murray police after reading of the Morrison murders the next day in the newspaper.

The same year as the Hill case, Olivia helped organize the Utah branch of the Woman’s Peace party. Like her counterparts nationally, she shared the goals of preventing American involvement in the war and supporting the use of neutral mediators to bring about an end to the European conflict. Once America officially entered the war, however, McHugh—like many other women in the WPP—supported the country’s efforts in World War I. Similarly, she broke with the Socialist party, as did a number of others, when it continued to oppose American participation after Congress declared war in April 1917. From that time forward Olivia McHugh dropped her affiliation with the Socialist party, although she was attracted to the presidential candidacy of Socialist nominee Norman Thomas a decade later.

Also touched by the Joe Hill case was Virginia Snow Stephen. Born in Brigham City in 1864, Virginia was the daughter of Mormon apostle (and later church president) Lorenzo Snow and one of his polygamous wives, Mary Elizabeth Houtz. Despite her parentage, Virginia evidenced only minimal ties in her adult years to the LDS faith. After graduating from the University of Deseret with a normal degree, Virginia returned to Brigham City where she taught school. In 1892 she married Jay R. Stephen and moved to Salt Lake City where she again taught school and studied art. At the time of the arrest of Joe Hill, Mrs. Stephen was a member of the Art Department faculty at the University of Utah. By this time she had become a Socialist and a staunch opponent of capital punishment. She believed that even in the case of murder the community had no right to “commit a worse murder” by taking a criminal’s life. She argued, “if it is evil to kill in the heat of passion, is it not a double evil to kill by a supine community consent called law?”

At the same time, Stephen became particularly interested in the struggle of the working class to obtain justice under the United States legal system. She scoffed at the idea that poor or working people could obtain equal justice under capitalist law, particularly in cases involving working women. In a letter to a friend, she commented that conditions existing in Salt Lake City at the time convinced her of that unlikelihood.

Her deepening Socialist awareness led Stephen to cooperate with various groups and individuals seeking change in the status quo, though she was apparently a supporter and not a joiner of these organizations. In explaining her political views, she noted that there were many changes needed in society and that she wanted to be affiliated with efforts to secure those changes. Aware that such activity might lead to censure, she commented: “We may be persecuted and prosecuted for doing or saying the unusual—but we go on working for [change] just the same. We are not out for the honor of the hour we are working for reforms which will be enjoyed by your children and your children’s children. These changes will be slow in coming, they may come most unexpectedly, but they will come.”

Virginia Snow Stephen’s commitment to socialism, opposition to capital punishment, and support of equal justice for working people, received considerable attention after her identification with Joe Hill. Initially she became involved in the case because of her radical sympathies as well as her friendship with Ed Rowan, an IWW member and an activist in the Joe Hill Defense Committee in Salt Lake. Stephen conferred personally with Hill while he was in the Salt Lake County jail. She came away convinced that he was not capable of committing the crime for which he had been charged. Relating these views, she gained a high profile in the local press, which found it “good copy” that a faculty member at the university, as well as a daughter of a prominent Mormon, would even associate with Joe Hill, let alone champion his innocence.

Sources: Salt Lake Tribune, September 11, 1973. Interview with Olivia McHugh, Salt Lake City, November 4, 1971. Ibid. Box Elder County, Utah, Record of Marriages, Book I, p. 95, Box Elder County Courthouse, Brigham City. The marriage to Jay R. Stephen was short-lived and ended in divorce in May 1897. See State of Utah, Third District Court, Salt Lake County, “Papers in the Case of Virginia S. Stephen vs. Jay R. Stephen, no. 1137,” Utah State Archives, Salt Lake City. Salt Lake Herald-Republican, June 21, 1914.


1915: The murder of Joe Hill

The story of the death of the American trade unionist, revolutionary and popular song-writer Joe Hill, framed for murder and executed.

Don't mourn - organise!
Joel Emmanuel Haaglund was born in Gefle, Sweden in 1882. He emigrated to the United States in 1901 and settled in California where he changed his name to Joe Hill. Converted to socialism in 1910, Hill became a member of the revolutionary rank-and-file union the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and was one of the leaders of the San Pedro dock workers' strike. In 1912 he was beaten up and permanently scarred during a free speech campaign in San Diego.

Hill, left, was also a songwriter and his socialist songs appeared in the trade union newspapers, Industrial Worker and Solidarity. After his Red Songbook was published his songs were sung on picket lines and demonstrations. Songs such as The Preacher and the Slave (the phrase “pie in the sky” originates from a lyric in this song) and Casey Jones - The Union Scab became internationally known folk songs.

When Hill's trade union activities made him a marked man and unable to find work in California, he moved to Utah. In 1913 it is believed Hill helped to organise a successful strike at the United Construction Company. During this dispute Hill stayed with some friends in Salt Lake City. While he was there, J. B. Morrison, a former policeman, was shot dead by two masked gunmen in his grocery shop. A few weeks before the murder, Morrison had told a journalist that he had recently been threatened with a revenge attack because of an incident while he was in the police force.

On the night of the murder, 10th January, 1914, Hill visited a doctor with a bullet wound in his left lung. Hill claimed he had been shot in a quarrel over a woman. Noting that the bullet had gone clean through the body, the doctor reported Hill's visit to the police. They already knew about Hill's trade union activities and decided to arrest him. Hill refused to say how he got the wound. As a witness standing outside Morrison's store claimed that he heard one of the murderers say: "Oh, God, I'm shot." Hill was charged with the murder of Morrison.

Leaders of the Industrial Workers of the World argued that Hill had been framed as a warning to others considering trade union activity. Even William Spry, the Republican governor of Utah admitted that he wanted to use the case to "stop street speaking" and to clear the state of this "lawless elements, whether they be corrupt businessmen, IWW agitators, or whatever name they call themselves"

At Hill's trial in Salt Lake City none of the witnesses were able to identify Hill as one of the murderers. The bullet that hit Hill was not found in the store. Nor was any of Hill's blood. As no money was taken and one of the gunmen was heard to say: "We've got you now", the defence argued that it was a revenge killing. However, Hill, who had no previous connection with Morrison, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death.

The IWW launched a campaign to halt the execution. Wobbly (IWW member) Elizabeth Flynn visited Hill in prison and was a leading figure in the attempts to force a retrial. In July, 1915, 30,000 members of Australian IWW sent a resolution calling on Governor William Spry to free Hill. Similar resolutions were passed at trade union meetings in Britain and other European countries. Woodrow Wilson also contacted Spry and asked for a retrial. This was refused and plans were made for Hill's execution by firing-squad on 19th November, 1915.

When he heard the news, Hill sent a message to IWW leader Bill Haywood saying: "Goodbye Bill. I die like a true blue rebel. Don't waste any time in mourning. Organise." He also asked Haywood to arrange his funeral: "Could you arrange to have my body hauled to the state line to be buried? I don't want to be found dead in Utah." Hill’s last act before his death was to write the poem, My Last Will.

An estimated 30,000 people attended Hill's funeral (see picture, right). The instructions left in Hill's last poem were carried out:

And let the merry breezes blow
My dust to where some flowers grow
Perhaps some fading flower then
Would come to life and bloom again.

Hill's ashes were put into small envelopes and on May Day, 1916, were scattered to the winds in every state of the union. This ceremony also took place in several other countries.

More information
Alfred Hayes wrote a poem about Hill that was later adapted by Earl Robinson and became the famous folk song, I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night. Bo Widerberg's popular Swedish film, Joe Hill,
also appeared in 1971


Joe Hill and the I. W. W.

Joe Hill was a labor organizer and songwriter who was accused of murder and executed in Salt Lake City on 19 November 1915.

Joel Hagglund, better known as Joe Hill, organized for the Industrial Workers of the World and penned radical songs to aid the labor movement. One evening in January 1914, Hill asked a Socialist doctor in Murray to treat a bullet wound in his chest that he said he received while defending a woman companion. A few days after treating Hill, the doctor called the police.

His call was prompted by reports of a double murder the evening he treated Hill. A Salt Lake City grocer by the name of John G. Morrison and his seventeen-year-old son, John Arling Morrison, had been shot to death in the store. One of two masked assailants had been wounded. (Although the incident was presumed a robbery, no money was taken. Merlin Morrison recalled hearing the men say, “We’ve got you now.” The elder Morrison had been the target of an earlier shoot-out, during which he wounded a man.) The doctor’s tip led to murder charges against Hill who maintained his innocence.

The question of Hill’s guilt became polarized by labor issues and muddied by trial irregularities. On one hand, it seemed unlikely he could have traveled through the cold night from the capital to Murray with a chest wound on the other, Hill refused to provide an alibi even to the judge during a private chat in chambers. Meanwhile his trial in the City and County Building within the labor-hostile valley sparked a national controversy as labor leaders insisted Hill was being framed by the copper bosses. His conviction prompted widespread national outrage and precisely the type of publicity the valley had tried so diligently to overcome.

While Hill languished in the Sugar House Prison, protests and telegrams flooded in, including one from the deaf and blind humanitarian Helen Keller. President Woodrow Wilson requested a stay of execution granted by the governor but when the stay ran out, Hill died in a fury of bullets on 19 November 1915.

Since Hill had told the I. W. W.’s “Big Bill” Haywood (born in Utah in 1869) that he “didn’t want to be caught dead in Utah,” his ashes went to I. W. W. groups in every other state. Huge funeral demonstrations took place throughout the nation in answer to his admonition, “Don’t mourn, organize!” and Hill became labor’s martyr.

Sources: Thomas G. Alexander, “Integration into the National Economy, 1869�,” Utah’s History, 444. Thomas G. Alexander, “The Burgeoning of Utah’s Economy, 1910󈝾,” in May, Dependent Commonwealth, 84. John S. McCormick and John R. Sillito, “Respectable Reformers: Utah Socialists in Power 1900�,” in McCormick and Sillito, A World We Thought We Knew: Readings in Utah History (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1995), 115󈞉. Gibbs M. Smith, Joe Hill (Salt Lake City: University of Utah, 1969). This is regarded as the standard account, briefly summarized in this chapter. For another view, see Philip S. Foner, The Case of Joe Hill (New York: International Publishers, 1965). Smith, Joe Hill. Thomas G. Alexander, “Political Patterns of Early Statehood, 1896�,” Utah’s History, 422󈞃. Alexander concludes that it “seems probable that Hill was rightfully convicted of the crime, but the state of public opinion in Utah makes the fairness of his trial questionable.”


Hill, Joe (1879-1915) – Labor Folk Hero

Introduction: A songwriter, itinerant laborer, and union organizer, Joe Hill became famous around the world after a Utah court convicted him of murder. Even before the international campaign to have his conviction reversed, however, Joe Hill was well known in hobo jungles, on picket lines and at workers’ rallies as the author of popular labor songs and as an Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) agitator. Thanks in large part to his songs and to his stirring, well-publicized call to his fellow workers on the eve of his execution -“Don’t waste time mourning, organize!”— Hill became, and he has remained, the best-known IWW martyr and labor folk hero.

Early Years: Born Joel Hägglund on Oct. 7, 1879, the future “troubadour of discontent” grew up the fourth of six surviving children in a devoutly religious Lutheran family in Gävle, Sweden, where his father, Olaf, worked as a railroad conductor. Both his parents enjoyed music and often led the family in song. As a young man, Hill composed songs about members of his family, attended concerts at the workers’ association hall in Gävle and played piano in a local café.

In 1887, Hill’s father died from an occupational injury and the children were forced to quit school to support themselves. The 9-year-old Hill worked in a rope factory and later as a fireman on a steam-powered crane. Stricken with skin and joint tuberculosis in 1900, Hill moved to Stockholm in search of a cure and worked odd jobs while receiving radiation treatment and enduring a series of disfiguring operations on his face and neck. Two years later, Hill’s mother, Margareta Katarina Hägglund, died after also undergoing a series of operations to cure a persistent back ailment. With her death, the six surviving Hägglund children sold the family home and ventured out on their own. Four of them settled elsewhere in Sweden, but the future Joe Hill and his younger brother, Paul, booked passage to the United States in 1902.

Career in the U.S.: Little is known of Hill’s doings or whereabouts for the next 12 years. He reportedly worked at various odd jobs in New York before striking out for Chicago, where he worked in a machine shop, got fired and was blacklisted for trying to organize a union. The record finds him in Cleveland in 1905, in San Francisco during the April 1906 Great Earthquake and in San Pedro, Calif., in 1910. There he joined the IWW, served for several years as the secretary for the San Pedro local and wrote many of his most famous songs, including “The Preacher and the Slave” and “Casey Jones—A Union Scab.” His songs, appearing in the IWW’s “Little Red Song Book,” addressed the experience of vitually every major IWW group, from immigrant factory workers to homeless migratory workers to railway shopcraft workers.

In 1911, he was in Tijuana, Mexico, part of an army of several hundred wandering hoboes and radicals who sought to overthrow the Mexican dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz, seize Baja California, emancipate the working class and declare industrial freedom. (The invasion lasted six months before internal dissension and a large detachment of better—trained Mexican troops drove the last 100 rebels back across the border.) In 1912, Hill apparently was active in a “Free Speech” coalition of Wobblies, socialists, single taxers, suffragists and AFL members in San Diego that protested a police decision to close the downtown area to street meetings. He also put in an appearance at a railroad construction crew strike in British Columbia, writing several songs before returning to San Pedro, where he lent musical support to a strike of Italian dockworkers.

The San Pedro dockworkers’ strike led to Hill’s first recorded encounter with the police, who arrested him in June 1913 and held him for 30 days on a charge of vagrancy because, he said later, he was “a little too active to suit the chief of the burg” during the strike. On Jan. 10, 1914, Hill knocked on the door of a Salt Lake City doctor at 11:30 p.m. asking to be treated for a gunshot wound he said was inflicted by an angry husband who had accused Hill of insulting his wife. Earlier that evening, in another part of town, a grocer and his son had been killed. One of the assailants was wounded in the chest by the younger victim before he died. Hill’s injury therefore tied him to the incident. The uncertain testimony of two eyewitnesses and the lack of any corroboration of Hill’s alibi convinced a local jury of Hill’s guilt, even though neither witness was able to identify Hill conclusively and the gun used in the murders was never recovered.

The campaign to exonerate Hill began two months before the trial and continued up to and even beyond his execution by firing squad on Nov. 19, 1915. His supporters included the socially prominent daughter of a former Mormon church president, labor radicals, activists and sympathizers including AFL President Samuel Gompers, the Swedish minister to the United States and even President Woodrow Wilson. The Utah Supreme Court, however, refused to overturn the verdict and the Utah Board of Pardons refused to commute Hill’s sentence. The board declared its willingness to hear testimony from the woman’s husband in a closed session, but Hill refused to identify his alleged assailant, insisting that to do so would harm the reputation of the lady.

Hill became more famous in death than he had been in life. To Bill Haywood, the former president of the Western Federation of Miners and the best-known leader of the IWW, Hill wrote: “Goodbye Bill: I die like a true rebel. Don’t waste any time mourning, organize! It is 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 be found dead in Utah.” Apparently he did die like a rebel. A member of the firing squad at his execution claimed that the command to “Fire!” had come from Hill himself.

After a brief service in Salt Lake City, Hill’s body was sent to Chicago, where thousands of mourners heard Hill’s “Rebel Girl” sung for the first time, listened to hours of speeches and then walked behind his casket to Graceland Cemetery, where the body was cremated and the ashes mailed to IWW locals in every state but Utah as well as to supporters in every inhabited continent on the globe. According to one of Hill’s Wobbly-songwriter colleagues, Ralph Chaplin (who wrote the words to “Solidarity Forever,” among other songs), all the envelopes were opened on May 1, 1916, and their contents scattered to the winds, in accordance with Hill’s last wishes, expressed in a poem written on the eve of his death:

My Will is easy to decide
For there is nothing to divide.
My kin don’t need to fuss and moan.
“Moss does not cling to rolling stone.”

My body?—Oh!—If I could choose
I would to ashes it reduce
And let the merry breezes blow
My dust to where some flowers grow.

Perhaps some fading flower then
Would come to life and bloom again.
This is my Last and Final Will—
Good Luck to All of you,

For further reading and research:

How to Cite this Article (APA Format): AFL- CIO America’s Unions. (2016). Joe Hill (1879-1915): Songwriter, itinerant laborer, union organizer and labor folk hero. Social Welfare History Project. Retrieved [date accessed] from http://socialwelfare.library.vcu.edu/organizations/labor/hill-joe-1879-1915-songwriter-union-organizer-and-folk-hero/

Resources related to this topic may be found in the Social Welfare History Image Portal.


Short Stories From Joe Hill, Spiked With Mayhem and Evil

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FULL THROTTLE
Stories
By Joe Hill

In the story notes section of his new collection, “Full Throttle,” Joe Hill muses that one of these days, he’ll “learn how to write a story with a happy ending.” I hope he never gets around to it. He’s already so good at endings of the unhappy variety. Shocking, terrible, whoa, cover-your-mouth-and-gasp endings. Endings that are perfect and yet a page early, arriving before you’re ready. Endings that tear off the story’s edge, leaving it ragged and bloody, leaving you wanting more. So yes, Hill has a way with endings.

Also beginnings. Often middles, too, his stories pushing you along with the intangible dread of a fable, pulling you forward with the inexorable logic of a mathematical proof. Lots of dead bodies, very few dead parts — among Hill’s many talents is his ability to braid together his strands:

What the story is about and

In each, the gruesome skin of horror — the genre premise — wraps around a darker psychological root: the horrors of everyday life.

In “Dark Carousel,” four teenagers on a double date taking “their final stand against adulthood” go for a ride on a demented merry-go-round. In “Faun,” wealthy big-game hunters pay extra for a chance at what’s on the other side of the “little door.” A number of the stories have, to some extent, a version of this framework: Characters make bad choices that come back to haunt them. And then the characters try to outrun the bad choices, for the next few minutes, or hours, or decades. Some of the monsters in this collection feel almost familiar — almost, but not quite. Like old body parts salvaged and used to create an all-new beast, terrifying not in spite of but because of our mutual recognition: mundane objects repurposed to much darker use.

But it’s never a formula. More like a worldview. Hill’s universe is for the most part very bleak, but it has a moral coherence to it, a sense in which things make a kind of sense, however perverse. In the pseudo-title story, “Throttle,” written with Stephen King (one of two in the collection — what I like to think of as tangent points between the Hill-verse and King-verse), a biker gang story that starts out feeling like mayhem, blood and chrome and exhaust fumes, reveals itself one turn at a time until it feels almost elemental, a grim accounting of evil and retribution rigorously worked out in narrative form.

It’s not all horror, either. Hill occasionally opens the cellar door and tosses us a handful of nourishment. Bits of melancholy, or kindness, or warmth. Caring between a robot and its master, love between siblings or — especially — between parents and children. Even wonder, as Hill shows us the world through the eyes of children in “By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain,” a tale about fantasy and fact and the permeable boundary layer between. And in his very best stories (“Thumbprint” and “You Are Released” stand out), Hill gets to moments of lyricism, of pain or connection or both.

While all of Hill’s experiments with form are inventive, some work better than others — the mythic “The Devil on the Staircase” is more evocative and haunting than the clever if somewhat thin “Twittering From the Circus of the Dead.” At times, Hill tends to explain his own premise (all the more a shame because he’s usually set it up so deftly), offering up one more spoonful of explication than necessary. “Late Returns,” one of the most affecting stories in the collection, is a moving and thoughtful exploration of grief, among other things, that would be even better with about 10 percent less exposition.

And once in a while, the moral math of Hill’s cosmos can get a little one-to-one, the syllogism plodding forward, the reader’s mind jumping ahead to see the next equation in the proof. This is nit-picking, though, and it’s made easier because the few imperfections stand out against Hill’s otherwise seamless and finely crafted work.


Lies, damned lies and the truth about Joe Biden

Nancy Pelosi Nancy PelosiOmar says she doesn't regret past comments on Israel House panel votes to create plaque honoring police who served on Jan. 6 House passes bill to remove Confederate statues from Capitol MORE dismissed Tara Reade’s accusations of sexual assault against Joe Biden Joe BidenPoll: Workers more likely to be vaccinated if employers offer paid time off Criminal justice group urges clemency for offenders released to home confinement during pandemic Progressive poll: Majority supports passing Biden agenda through reconciliation MORE . “I know him,” said the House Speaker authoritatively, and that was that.

Does Biden’s record warrant such confidence? Not really. In fact, Biden has a long history of lying — about himself, about his past and about events that never took place.

Democrats want the 2020 campaign to be a referendum on President Trump. Fine, but if this is to be a contest of characters, it is only appropriate that Joe Biden’s history of fabrication and deceit – often intended to bolster his intellectual credentials – also be fair game.

Over the past year, Biden thundered that the Obama administration “didn’t lock people up in cages.” He also claimed that, “Immediately, the moment [the Iraq War] started, I came out against it.” And… “I was always labeled one of the most liberal members of Congress.” Politico’s rating of all three assertions? False.

No one should be surprised. Lest we forget…

A video is making the rounds in which Biden boasts at a 1987 rally, "I went to law school on a full academic scholarship…[and] ended up in the top half of my class."

Biden also maintained that he "graduated with three degrees from undergraduate school" and was the “outstanding student in the political science department.”

Not one of those claims was true, as newscasters at the time affirmed. In fact, Biden graduated 76th of 85 students in his law school class, had only a partial scholarship and did not win top honors in his undergraduate discipline.

Biden explained in his 2007 autobiography “Promises to Keep” that he had been angry at that rally since “it sounded to me that one of my own supporters doubted my intelligence." According to a 1987 Newsweek piece, a supporter had “politely” asked Biden what law school he attended and how well he had done.

Biden bristled, saying “I think I have a much higher IQ than you do,” reeled off his fabricated accomplishments and concluded “I’d be delighted to sit down and compare my IQ to yours if you’d like, Frank.”

The episode reminds us of Biden recently snapping “You’re full of sh*t” at an auto worker who dared to challenge Biden’s stance on guns or calling an Iowa voter a “damn liar” for insinuating that Biden had helped his son gain access in Ukraine.

The Newsweek reporter wrote that Biden appears “hyper, glib and intellectually insecure,” and says the 1987 encounter was critical to understanding why Biden’s first run at higher office flopped. “The clip…reflects a view of Biden's character widely shared in the community. Reporters and political consultants long ago concluded that Biden's chief character flaw was his tendency to wing it. He seems to lack a crucial synapse between brain and tongue, the one that makes the do-I-really-want-to-say-this decision.”

That commentary holds up well, as today more than ever Biden blunders into conversational crevasses, with no way out. (Think: "If they believe Tara Reade, they probably shouldn't vote for me.” A new Harvard-Harris poll shows 55 percent of the country believes Tara Reade. Game. Set. Match.)

Biden’s 1987 campaign foundered also because he was caught lifting passages of a speech given by Neil Kinnock. Biden echoed (falsely) the British Labor leader’s history that he was the first "in a thousand generations" to graduate from college and repeated virtually verbatim the same story about his wife, just as Kinnock had.

More shocking, Biden claimed: “My ancestors…worked in the coal mines of Northeast Pennsylvania and would come up after 12 hours and play football for four hours,’’ even though no one in Biden’s family tree ever worked underground. That was Kinnock’s family.

It wasn’t the first time Biden had also been caught plagiarizing during law school. He “borrowed” an entire five pages from a published law review article without attribution and had to beg not to be expelled.

Interestingly, just last summer complaints arose about Biden “borrowing” the work of others, in putting together his climate plan. As Vox reported, Biden’s plan “contains a number of passages that seem to have been copied and pasted, at times with very superficial changes” from a variety of sources.

Biden supporters will dismiss these episodes as being in the distant past. But Biden’s tendency to mislead did not expire in 1988. More recently, the former vice president has told audiences that after his stint in the White House, “I became a teacher. I became a professor.” While it is true that he took a lofty salary to make a handful of speeches for the University of Pennsylvania, Biden has never taught students.

Then there was the inspiring tale of visiting Afghanistan to honor a heroic naval officer. Biden described the officer’s actions in detail, adding, “This is God’s truth, my word as a Biden.” But according to a review in the Washington Post, no such incident occurred. Biden was lucky not to be hit by lightning.

There were also Biden’s claims of having been arrested in the 1970s because he tried to visit Nelson Mandela in prison. Nope, didn’t happen. He has also cast himself as a civil rights activist and co-sponsor of the Endangered Species Act those things aren’t true either.

Character does not change. Biden’s winning smile and genial nature have granted him license to mislead. But as Biden denies alleged misdeeds related to General Flynn, to his son Hunter’s involvement in Ukraine or to Tara Reade, his history of bending the truth is informative.

Democrats will counter that President Trump frequently exaggerates and embellishes, which is true. But we know Trump he has been on the griddle for nearly four years, and been continually stripped and flayed by a hostile press.

Many of us are just getting to know Joe Biden.

Liz Peek is a former partner of major bracket Wall Street firm Wertheim & Company. Follow her on Twitter @lizpeek.


Watch the video: Paul Robeson, Joe Hill


Comments:

  1. Targ

    This magnificent thought, by the way, falls

  2. Brazahn

    And where is your logic?

  3. Aodhfionn

    It's out of the question.

  4. Amsden

    Sometimes there are objects and worse



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