Almanac – November 19

1798 – Wolfe Tone died.  Irish revolutionary figure,  one of the founding members of the United Irishmen and  regarded as the father of Irish Republicanism.

He was captured by British forces at Lough Swilly in Donegal. Before he was to be executed, he attempted suicide and subsequently died from his wounds eight days after the attempt, thus avoiding being hanged as a convicted traitor to the Irish Crown for his involvement in the 1798 Irish Rebellion.

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1915 – Joe Hill died.  Swedish-American labor activist, songwriter, and member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, also known as the “Wobblies”). A native Swedish speaker, he learned English during the early 1900s, while working various jobs from New York to San Francisco. Hill, as an immigrant worker frequently facing unemployment and underemployment, became a popular song writer and cartoonist for the radical union.

His most famous songs include “The Preacher and the Slave”, “The Tramp”, “There is Power in a Union”, “The Rebel Girl”, and “Casey Jones—the Union Scab”, which generally express the harsh but combative life of itinerant workers, and the perceived necessity of organizing to improve conditions for working people.

Accused and convicted of murder, Hill was executed by firing squad  – his last word was “Fire!”

His last will, which was eventually set to music by Ethel Raim, founder of the group The Pennywhistlers, reads:

My will is easy to decide,
For there is nothing to divide.
My kin don’t need to fuss and moan,
“Moss does not cling to a rolling stone.”

My body? Oh, if I could choose
I would to ashes it reduce,
And let the merry breezes blow,
My dust to where some flowers grow.

Perhaps some fading flower then
Would come to life and bloom again.
This is my Last and final Will.
Good Luck to All of you,
Joe Hill

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