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Joseph Labadie
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Joseph A. Labadie

Labor activist, writer, poet, printer, anarchist. Born on April 18, 1850 in Paw Paw, Michigan. Died October 7, 1933 in Detroit.


Joseph Labadie was instrumental in organizing the Detroit Trades Council, a city-wide assembly of trades unions, & served as its president while continuing as an official of the Knights of Labor & Socialist Labor Party. Joseph Labadie continued issuing a succession of labor papers, including the nationally influential "Advance & Labor Leaf," & was a widely-published columnist for the labor press, recognized for his forthright style & originality of thought.

In 1883, Labadie abandoned socialism & embraced individualist anarchism. He became a close associate of Benjamin Tucker & a frequent contributor to the latter's "Liberty."

In 1908, the city postal inspector banned his mail because it bore stickers with anarchist quotations. A month later, the water board dismissed him for expressing anarchist sentiments. In both cases, the officials were forced to back down in the face of massive public support for one of Detroit's most popular figures.

At the age of 50, he began writing verse & publishing artistic hand-crafted booklets.

The greater the danger the louder the roar,
And my foghorn voice is pitched deep and strong.
I am the spirit of Discontent.
I chafe under the galling collar of wrongful restraint,
And Nature has conferred upon me the power of insight, of foresight.
The things I see I shall tell,
And the world shall judge be they true or false.
I shall speak out!

       excerpt, "Freedom of Speech"

After the 1886 Haymarket bombing in Chicago triggered an anti-anarchist hysteria, which was echoed by Knights of Labor leader Terence Powderly, Labadie became Powderly's enemy. He condemned the Knights' leaders for a series of blunders & accused them of corruption. He visited the imprisoned Haymarket anarchists in Chicago on his way to the 1887 Knights of Labor convention in Minneapolis as delegate from Detroit. After Powderly opposed a clemency resolution for the Haymarket defendants, Labadie delivered a scathing indictment of Powderly & his ring.

Disillusioned with the Knights of Labor, in 1888 Labadie helped organize the Michigan Federation of Labor, became its first president, & forged an alliance with Samuel Gompers.

Labadie founded several discussion clubs, lectured frequently on anarchism, & helped arrange appearances for anarchist Emma Goldman.



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