Jim Larkin’s History in the United States

Many people know Jim Larkin for his trade union organization in Ireland and England but he also made an impression in the United States as well. After the famed Dublin Lockout that featured 20,000 workers striking against just over 400 employers failed to result in as many changes as he had hoped, Jim Larkin traveled to the United States. Despite being out of the country, Jim Larkin remained the ITGWU’s general secretary by title.

While many assumed that he was just traveling to the United States to recuperate from the effects of the strike he had gone with the intention of starting a new career in the country. Read more: James Larkin | Biography and James Larkin | Wikipedia

Jim Larkin’s intent was to become a public speaker spreading his message of workers’ rights around the world. Unfortunately, he was never that great at planning and his plans in the United States quickly went off track.

While the United States staunchly opposed the war that was raging in Europe, Jim Larkin was openly pro-German. This made his efforts to become a socialist speaker in the United States. For 2 years until 1917, he was funded by the Germans as he was disrupting the munitions industry in the US that had a large part in supporting the Allies. Learn more about Jim Larkin: https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/big-jim-larkin-hero-or-wrecker-review-when-big-jim-looked-small-1.2524094 and http://ireland-calling.com/james-larkin/

Eventually, the Germans parted ways with Larkin and he joined New York’s Socialist Party. Inspired by Russia, he eventually tried to convert the Socialists in a Communist Party instead which led to his arrest in 1919.

After being charged with “criminal anarchy” Larkin was imprisoned in Sing Sing and later released after a pardon. He had been trying to leave the United States since 1918 but was unable to obtain a passport to enter Ireland.

While he had plenty of contacts in the shipping industry that would have helped him into the country, his advanced age and health problems made him prefer to take more traditional methods of travel.

After being pardoned in 1923, Jim Larkin was deported to his country of birth England. Unfortunately, he started to be known for his outrageous behavior and quickly lost allies. He simply had a hard time dealing with losing the throngs of admirers he used to have.