William Dudley Haywood

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Wikipedia.

Haywood, William Dudley

Haywood, William Dudley, 1869–1928, American labor leader, known as Big Bill Haywood, b. Salt Lake City, Utah. He began work as a miner at 15 years of age. In 1896 he joined the newly organized Western Federation of Miners, and in 1900 became a member of the executive board and national secretary-treasurer of the organization, with headquarters in Denver. His leadership was militant, and he was often accused of inciting violence, especially in the Colorado troubles culminating in the Cripple Creek strike (1904), which he led. He was also accused of instigating the assassination of former governor Steunenberg of Idaho in 1905, but was acquitted in a trial in which he was defended by Clarence S. Darrow; the trial attracted nationwide attention. In 1905 he was one of the organizers of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). He joined the Socialist party and became a member of its national executive board, but because of his advocacy of violence was forced out of the party. He led the famous Lawrence and Paterson textile workers' strikes in 1912 and 1913. Repudiating the crafts union ideal and the cooperation policy of the American Federation of Labor, he preached the IWW doctrines of class struggle, no compromise, and mass action. When the United States entered World War I he was arrested on a charge of sedition, was tried, convicted, and sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment. While awaiting a new trial in 1921, he forfeited bail and escaped to the Soviet Union, where he lived for the rest of his life. Haywood wrote many articles and prepared his own autobiography, published as Bill Haywood's Book (1929, repr. 1958).


See P. F. Brissenden, The I.W.W. (2d ed. 1920, repr. 1957); S. H. Holbrook, The Rocky Mountain Revolution (1956); J. A. Lukas, Big Trouble (1998).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Haywood, William Dudley


(nicknamed Big Bill). Born Feb. 4, 1869, in Salt Lake City, Utah; died May 18, 1928, in Moscow. Figure in the US labor movement.

Haywood was a miner’s son. He worked as a miner and took part in miners’ strikes and demonstrations. In 1896 he joined the Western Federation of Miners and in 1901 became the union’s secretary-treasurer. In 1901, Haywood joined the Socialist Party of the USA, allying himself with the party’s left wing. He was one of the leaders of the Industrial Workers of the World, an organization that he helped found in 1905. He struggled against the opportunistic line espoused by the leadership of the Socialist Party and for a time was influenced by anarchosyndicalist ideas. Haywood welcomed the October Revolution in Russia. In 1919 he joined the Communist Labor Party of America. He was repeatedly subjected to repression for his revolutionary activity. In 1921, while gravely ill, Haywood emigrated to the USSR. There he worked for the International Organization for Aid to Revolutionaries.


In Russian translation:
Krov’ islezy. Moscow, 1927.
Kniga Billia Kheivuda. Moscow-Leningrad, 1932.


Lapitskii, M. I. Uil’iam Kheivud. Moscow, 1974.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Haywood, William Dudley (“Big Bill”)

(1869–1928) labor leader; born in Salt Lake City, Utah. A miner at age nine, he worked at other jobs but kept returning to mining. Joining the Western Federation of Miners (WFM) (1896) and elected secretary-treasurer (1900), he led the WFM through several violent years of labor strife. In 1905 he cofounded the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) with the goal of eventually uniting all unions in "one big union." Later that year he was accused of involvement in the murder of an antilabor former governor of Idaho, Frank Steunenberg; defended by Clarence Darrow, he was acquitted and became a hero to labor. But his continued radicalism, including a call to destroy capitalism, led the WFM to withdraw from the IWW, and, in 1918, to dismiss Haywood. A member of the Socialist Party from 1901, he was also dropped from that party's councils for advocating violence (1912). He gained a new following when he championed the organizing of unskilled workers and led textile strikes in Lawrence, Mass. (1912), and Paterson, N.J. (1913). Convicted of violating wartime alien and sedition acts, he was sentenced to 20 years in jail (1918) but jumped bail and fled to the Soviet Union (1921).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
Mentioned in ?