This Day in History

Aug. 1, 1917: Labor Organizer Frank Little Lynched

Time Periods: 1910
Themes: Democracy & Citizenship, Economics, Labor, Organizing
Frank Little portrait.

Portrait of Frank Little by Nicole Schulman.

On Aug. 1, 1917, Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) labor organizer Frank Little was taken forcibly from his boarding house in Butte, Montana, and was lynched from a railroad trestle.

In the summer of 1917, Little had been helping to organize copper workers in a strike against the Anaconda Copper Company.

He also took a stand against the war, arguing that all working men should refuse to join the army and fight on behalf of their capitalist oppressors. He said in the last speech before his death,

I stand for the solidarity of labor.

He took part in the free speech campaigns of the early 20th century. In Spokane, he was sentenced to 30 days in prison for reading the Declaration of Independence.

Continue reading this description of Frank Little at the I.W.W. website.

Watch the video below from the Harvey Richards Media Archive.

Learn more from the twitter thread below by Erik Loomis, author of A History of America in Ten Strikes (New Press, 2018).

Check out “Frank Little,” a song by Joe DeFilippo, a Baltimore songwriter and retired social studies teacher. Performed by the R. J. Phillips Band.

View resources below for teaching about labor history.