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This letter is part of the International Institute for Social History's Alexander Berkman archive and appears in Anarchy Archives with ISSH's permission.

Aug. 16, 1931

Dear Comrade Nettlau.

I wrote you the other day, but it just occurred to me that I forgot to answer your question re Mooney and his pamphlet against the labor leaders of Calif.

Yes, what Mooney writes there is perfectly true. The leaders of A.F.L., and those of the conservative Calif. union in particular have always been opposed to Tom Mooney. In former days they fought him directly and openly, but since he was imprisoned they refused to do anything at all for him.

There were just one or two exceptions in Calif., as Mooney's own Moulders Union.

The defense of Tom Mooney and Billings was started first of all by the BLAST, in San Francisco, which I was publishing and editing then (1916-1917). Together with Bob Minor (the American Illustrator, then Anarchist, now Communist) I started the first Defense Comm. At that time the labor leaders of San Fr. did not want to hear anything of the case. To them Mooney was guilty anyhow, as they hated Mooney. Mooney was an energetic and revolutionary worker who had led a number of strikes in Calif. He was practically an I.W.W., though a member of the Amer. Feder. of Labor, and so the leaders of the Feder. hated him and were glad to see him go to prison.

I personally talked to those labor leaders and they were all against Mooney. The San Fr. labor papers would not even mention the case. That was why our Defense Comm. asked me to go to N.Y. and secure a big lawyer, with a big name. We had no money, but I secured Burke Cochran, one of the biggest men in N.Y. at that time and he went to Calif. with his secretary and sterongr. without CHARGE. Then I visited all the big labor unions between San Fr. an New York and talked to them on the Mooney case and got them to contribute money for the defense. The MEMBERS were with me, and Leaders against Mooney.

And so it remained till today. -- It would be well if YOU, dear comrade, would write on the case. I could give you all the material, some even unpublished so far. It is not well for me to write about it, because I was too active on the case and so people would imagine I am advertising myself. But it is a fact that not a soul in the East had ever heard of Mooney or of the case until I returned to N.Y. from San Fr. and began systematically visiting all the unions and talking to them about it. It was for THAT activity that Calif. later demanded my extradition charging me with 3 murder cases in connection with the explosion in S.F. on Perparadness Day. Enough for today.



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