Friday, July 10, 2009

Challenge Accepted Synopsis and Chapter List

The Työmies Publishing Company printed the English language newspaper the Wage Slave in an attempt to join and influence the American socialist movement

A 500-or-so-word synopsis of Challenge Accepted:

Generally, Finnish immigrants entered Michigan’s Copper Country during the late 19th and early 20th centuries with little understanding of the American industrial setting. Their experiences with Copper Country industry and society led some of these immigrants to formulate a proactive response via direct action against the hegemony of Copper Country monopoly capital. Challenge Accepted explores the Finnish immigrants’ clash with the Copper Country industrial setting by examining the written record and material culture of Finnish immigrant proletarians through analysis of buildings, cultural institutions, and publication of socialist-unionist media.

This collective response by Finnish immigrant proletarians was in essence an answer to an unspoken challenge issued by the Copper Country’s mining oligarchy to Finnish immigrants, beguiling them to struggle for the betterment of their lives in America. Finnish immigrant proletarians accepted this tacit challenge from the mining companies facing great odds. Resistance to this challenge came fast and furious from the mining companies and at times, even from within their own organizations as the movement struggled with equality within its ranks, creating a focused direction, recognizing a guiding ideology, and utilizing agreed upon strategy and tactics.

Finnish immigrant proletarians wagered the success of their organizational efforts by agitating for and participating in the bitter, sometimes bloody 1913-14 Copper Country Strike. This 9-month struggle between organized labor (Western Federation of Miners) and the mining companies created great fits of passion and sorrow. No event created more anguish than the tragic events at Italian Hall. Challenge Accepted examines the events of the 1913-14 Strike and Italian Hall using often-overlooked proletarian Finnish immigrant sources.

Challenge Accepted concludes that the most noteworthy accomplishment of the Finnish immigrant socialist-unionists in the Copper Country was that as a largely unskilled group of immigrant laborers, newspaper employees, and “hobo” socialists, they had a very considerable impact on the history of a place dominated by powerful mining companies and the men who ran those companies. Finnish immigrant socialist-unionists in Hancock grew a small upstart cultural organization, with a small upstart publishing company, into a force that could contend with the power of monopoly capital in the Copper Country.

This was truly remarkable, a challenge accepted by Finnish immigrant socialist-unionists to have a say in their own working conditions in a place dominated by a mining oligarchy; but embedded in this study of ethnic political-labor history is also a story of division and decline that ultimately and terminally fractured a truly proletarian movement dedicated to working-class solidarity. This demise is significant when recounting the capabilities and vulnerabilities of the American labor movement in the early twentieth century.

Chapter List:

Chapter 1. Finnish Immigration and Settlement in a Hancock, Michigan, Neighborhood
Chapter 2. Finnish Immigrant Cultural Organizations and the “Finn Hall”
Chapter 3. Finnish Immigrant Socialist-Unionists in Hancock
Chapter 4. The Early Existence of the Työmies Publishing Company, 1904–1909
Chapter 5. The Työmies Publishing Company Reaches Maturity, 1910–1913
Chapter 6. The 1913–14 Copper Country Strike
Chapter 7. Gun Hounds, Scabs, and Tragedy
Appendix 1. Työmies Publishing Company Staff and Contributors, 1909
Appendix 2. Työmies Publishing Company Interior Use of Space
Appendix 3. Copper Territory Strikers’ March Song, 1913
Appendix 4. Työmies Publishing Company’s Composite List of Italian Hall Deceased, 1913

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