There are many ideas about how the “Molly Maguires” got their name. One of the most popular is that Molly was a poor widow, who was evicted from her home after the landlord’s agent apparently, “severely abused her and her daughter”. The group adopted this name in homage to the Molly and her bravery. Another theory is that Molly’s home was used as the first meeting place of this new secret society, so they used her name as their title. Yet another speculation for this name is that Molly was a huge, fierce Irish woman with a pistol strapped to each thigh, who led gangs of young Irishmen dressed in women’s clothing on night raids. One of the most famous Irish theories is that Molly was a crazy old woman from Count Fermanagh, who imagined that she had great armies and organizations of men under her control. However, no one really knows exactly how the title” the Molly Maguires” came about.
The “Mollies”, as they were sometimes called, were miners in the anthracite coal region of Pennsylvania who organized into a union during the 1860’s and ‘70’s. These miners were mostly Irish. Their union was called the Workingmen’s Benevolent Association. Many members of this union were also members of the Ancient Order of the Hibernians.
The Ancient Order of the Hibernians was a semi-secret fraternal society, that was begun in Ireland as a completely secret and anonymous association. This group was determined to be the most powerful charitable and immigrant-aid group lodge in the country.
A question the reader may now be asking themselves is, why were they fighting? The Mollies, as stated in the beginning of this paper, were miners who formed unions because of their frustration dealing with their working circumstances. It was not the actual conditions of the mines; it was the conditions of the worker’s lives that pushed them to extreme action. Salary was low, the company store was overpriced, and the living conditions, horrendous. In addi...
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...al advancement of others.
One could learn many things from the struggles of these men. Such as, if you believe in something enough, it will give you the courage to go all the way in order to achieve your goal. It also shows why the laborers of the 1800’s fought so forcefully to achieve small objectives. It was due to the ignorance of the American people the immigrants were treated so poorly and were forced to resort to violent acts.
Society may never know what really went on with the Molly Maguires. Did they really commit the violent acts of murder for which they were charged? Or did the vicious, information-seeking, coal company spies who were so desperate for a morsel of intelligence to bring back to their bosses? Perhaps, that’s for you to decide.
Kenny, Kevin. Making Sense of the Molly Maguires. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998
Broehl Jr., Wayne G. The Molly Maguires. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1965
Hall, Patrick J. Overthrow of the Molly Maguires. Hit on: 11/3/03
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