Margolis, Jacob, 1885-1959

Pittsburgh based Immigrant labor, union and IWW lawyer and public speaker. Margolis was an anarcho-syndicalist, and a leading voice in the Pittsburgh branch of the Socialist party of America. He played an important role in Pittsburgh unionism, both as a lawyer and as the secretary for the Pittsburgh Vehicle Workers union. Margolis was a fierce pacifist, and anti-war and conscription activist. Margolis was the attorney in 1917 for the International Molders' Union. He was also a legal adviser for the National Civil Liberties Bureau, which later became American Civil Liberties Union. In September of 1917, as a member of the International Workers' Defense League of Pittsburgh, Margolis wrote a letter to the American Federation of Labor (AFL) on behalf of the International Workers' Defense Conference, urging a general strike in protest of the Supreme Court of California's refusal to grant Tom Mooney a new trial. When the August 1917 edition of Mother Earth was banned from the mail, issues for Pittsburgh were sent to Margolis to be distributed. Margolis corresponded frequently with EG during her imprisonment. In LML EG reminisces about the debates she had with Margolis on Soviet Russia and praises him as her "very able friend." Until late 1918, Margolis lauded the Bolsheviki political aims as intrinsically linked to the aims of the IWW. He retracted this view point in early 1919 and criticized the Bolsheviks as he felt they no longer represented the Russian workers and had become a political dictatorship. Margolis also worked hard to solicited money for the IWW and other political prisoners' defense funds. On 25 and 26 November 1919 Margolis spoke with AB and EG on political prisoners and deportations in Detroit, Michigan. Margolis was disbarred in 1920 after testifying before a US Senate committee on 20 October 1919 on radicalism in the labor movement. His testimony which stated that he supported the steel strike in Pittsburgh and was an atheist and syndicalist anarchist was regarded by the Pittsburgh legal fraternity as a betrayal of his oath to the American constitution. Margolis contributed to One Big Union Monthly and Mother Earth.

Created by Caroline Yee .
Last edited by Caroline Yee .
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