The Life Of Labor Activist Jim Larkin

Jim Larkin was a labor activist who lived from January 21, 1876, until January 30, 1947. He was born in Liverpool England, and never received a formal education.

From a very young age by today’s standards, he became employed and worked a number of different jobs.

At a young age, he was named as a foreman on the docks of Liverpool where he handled cargo coming in and out of the port. He was also a socialist and Marxist who became a leader in his union.

Early on, Jim Larkin joined the National Union of Dock Labourers and became one of their union organizers in 1905 at the age of 29. He believed in using militant strike methods which weren’t supported by the leaders of his union at the time. Eventually, they shipped him off to Dublin in 1907.

Once he was in Dublin he established the Irish Transport and General Worker’s Union. His intent was to combine the force of all Irish industrial workers under the banner of just one union.

Later on he created the Irish Labour Party where he organized strikes against employers. One of these resulted in the 1913 Dublin Lockout which continued on for eight months and involved over 100,000 workers.

This strike resulted in the workers earning the right to fair employment.

Jim Larkin was against the British entering World War I. In order to fight against them he left to travel to the United States in order to raise money in support of anti-war efforts.

He wasn’t in the US for very long before he was charged with criminal anarchy and being a communist. After being convicted of these charges he spent three years in prison before being pardoned and then deported to Ireland. Read more: James Larkin | Biography

Upon his return to Dublin he started another labor union, Worker’s Union of Ireland. His behavior and attitude cost him a number of potential allies. It also cost him his relationship with his wife who he had been with since 1905 and had resulted in four children. Learn more about Jim Larkin:

The couple separated and he moved in with his sister, Delia, along with her husband. That also proved tumultuous and he moved out on his own rather than live with them.

He did, however, moderate in his later years especially as the Catholic Church, of which he was a part, denounced Communism. What eventually killed him was falling through the floor while a construction project was going on at his union hall.

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