Skip to content
Secondary Content

Remembering Joe Hill

Joe Hill

Joe HillJoe Hill was a Swedish immigrant who became a labor organizer and gifted songwriter for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, more commonly known as the Wobblies), during the early twentieth century.  An itinerant laborer who wandered throughout the country, Hill was convicted of murder by a Salt Lake City court in 1915 and sentenced to death.  An international public outcry ensued, and Hill’s case became a touchstone for the labor movement. Letters and telegrams poured in demanding that Utah Governor William Spry secure Hill’s release. Helen Keller, President Woodrow Wilson, and the Swedish ambassador were among the hundreds who implored the governor to stay the execution. Spry refused to intervene, and Hill died by firing squad on November Governor Spry19, 1915. Awaiting his execution, Hill wrote to IWW president “Big Bill” Haywood: “Don’t waste time mourning. Organize!” These words would inspire protesters and workers for decades to come.  2015 marks the 100th anniversary of Hill’s death. Hill’s trial and execution remain controversial today.

Salt Lake Tribune Cover November 19, 1915

Salt Lake Tribune November 19, 1915 Governor Spry’s reply

Salt Lake Tribune Cover November 20, 2015

Salt Lake Tribune cover November 21, 1915