Molly Maguires

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The Molly Maguires was a secret Catholic Irish network of mine workers in Pennsylvania around 1870 that used violence and murder to control the mines.

An informer planted in the group exposed their deeds, and 18 were executed for murder in 1877. The Mollys disappeared, but remain heroes among violent leftists and even some Irish.


The most recent scholarly study is Kevin Kenny, Making Sense of the Molly Maguires (1998). Kenny believes the Mollies were guilty, but that the trials were unfair because of poor defensive lawyers. He claims the killings reflected premodern Irish traditions of "justice" against ethnic foes (especially the Welsh) and argues the Mollies arose only after the union collapsed. Other leftist historians condemn the persecution of the Mollies as an attack on labor unions.

External links

Further reading

  • Adams, Sean Patrick. "The US Coal Industry in the Nineteenth Century." (1901) ;;EH.Net Encyclopedia scholarly overview online edition
  • Broehl, Jr., Wayne G. The Molly Maguires (1964) excellent scholarly study
  • Dewees, Francis P. The Molly Maguires: The Origin, Growth, and Character of the Organization (1877), classic account, first published in 1877, used by Rhodes.
  • Gudelunas, Jr., William Anthony, and William G. Shade. Before the Molly Maguires: The Emergence of the Ethnoreligious Factor in the Politics of the Lower Anthracite Region: 1844-1972 (1976). on local politics and ethnic conflicts
  • Jensen, Richard. "'No Irish Need Apply': A Myth of Victimization" Journal of Social History v. 36 #2 (2002) 405-429 online scholarly essay on prejudice against the Irish
  • Kenny, Kevin. Making Sense of the Molly Maguires (1998).
  • Kenny, Kevin, "The Molly Maguires in Popular Culture," Journal of American Ethnic History (1995) 14(4): 27-46. Looks at 8 novels and a film to show how popular depictions have moved from negative to positive. in EBSCO
  • Kenny, Kevin. "The Molly Maguires and the Catholic Church," Labor History 1995 36(3): 345-376. The bishops vigorously attacked the Mollies and the AOF (Hibernians) to expell violence from the Irish community and make it law-abiding.
  • Rhodes, James Ford. History of the United States of America, From the Compromise of 1850 to the McKinley-Bryan Campaign of 1896: Vol 8: 1877-1896 (1919) Chapter 2. online
  • Orth, Samuel P. The Armies of Labor (1920) ch 4 has good overview of late 19th century labor history online edition