Category: Archive

St. Patrick’s Day Feds tracked labor leader post-Sing Sing stay

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

James Larkin was pardoned by New York Gov. Al Smith and freed from Sing Sing in early 1923. For several months before returning to Ireland, however, Larkin continued to tour the U.S. agitating on behalf of labor’s cause. The Bureau of Investigation was with him all the way, as another once "Confidential" Bureau report on his activities reveals.

The report, which also turned up in the Larkin file obtained by Claire Culleton at Kent State University, originates in early February 1923. It is labeled "Cleveland File No. 2102" and outlines the work by Bureau agents, local police and "undercover agencies," in Cleveland, where Larkin was expected to speak at a meeting on Feb. 6.

The report reveals that various halls in Cleveland in which Larkin would be expected to speak were "covered" by federal agents, but no information was secured as to Larkin speaking in the city.

The agents then discovered, by away of a "confidential informant," that Larkin was not going to speak in Cleveland at all but had just done so at a meeting, two days earlier, in Chicago. The informant provided details of the Chicago meeting to the Bureau.

In that meeting, according to the Bureau account, Larkin revealed that he had been told of another plot against his life.

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"Jim Larkin was effusively introduced as the next speaker, and spoke for two hours," the Bureau report states.

"He said that the key to the Irish situation is the six counties of Ulster, which British Imperialism, thru the capitalist class, is holding by political and economic movements.

"He then told of a unique ship which he is planning to take to Ireland this spring. He said that legend had it that deliverance for Ireland must come from the sea, and that gave him the idea of sending the ship to them with food, clothing etc. He stated that the ship would sail from N.Y. Harbor on or about Easter Sunday, and would arrive in Ireland about the 29th of April. He said ‘I know we will have many obstacles in our way, and they may even give us a fight, but I will sink the ship before I will give it up to England.’"

Larkin then told the assembled gathering that he had warned of a plot against his life. The plot "was on foot to have him go to Clinton, Iowa."

Larkin said that he had been warned that if he accepted the invitation, "I would be killed for the sole purpose of preventing my going to Ireland. The invitation came to me just as he stated, and I am satisfied there is a conspiracy to put me out of the way; and the worst part of it is that this country has a part in the conspiracy, because it is linked up with the other countries."

The Bureau report’s account of the Chicago meeting ends with Larkin’s concluding words: "Some may think I am going over to Ireland to pull the chestnuts out of the fire, but you may depend upon it, if I pull them out, I will crack them. If I die in the struggle, there will be other leaders who will follow me as I am following those who went before me."

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