Mother Jones to President Theodore Roosevelt


President Theodore Roosevelt

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

     Following the end of the West Virginia strike, Jones turned her attention briefly to textile workers in Philadelphia, particularly to the children working in that industry. Workers struck in 1903, and Jones became involved in order to shed light on the poor work conditions for children under the age of 16.

     With the assistance of other organizers, Jones led a march of 100 children from Philadelphia to New York, threatening to try to meet with President Theodore Roosevelt at his New York home. Jones wrote to Roosevelt seeking his help in ending child labor, and this letter was published in the North American newspaper of Philadelphia. Roosevelt did not meet with the marchers, as his personal secretary blocked such a meeting and said any requests should be made in writing to the President. No evidence exists that Roosevelt read the letters from Jones. Her biographer Elliott Gorn wrote that Roosevelt’s secretary drafted a reply that said that the President sympathized with the movement, but that the Constitution left such matters to the purview of the states.


Article featuring letter from Jones to Roosevelt

Though stymied in a practical sense, Jones reflected in her Autobiography that the march “had done its work. (pg. 83). Soon after, Jones’ own attention was drawn to the west and the growing mining discontent in Colorado.

     For more on Jones and the Children's Crusade, click here.



As you read this document, reflect on the following questions:

1. What does Jones say to Roosevelt that the consequences will be if child labor is not eliminated?

2. What request does Jones make of Roosevelt?