The Committee of Ten
The “Committee of Ten” was a group composed of nine Lawrence textile workers and Joseph Ettor of the I.W.W. This committee was charged with the responsibility for negotiations with William Wood and the American Woolen Company. With the arrest of Ettor on January 30, more responsibility fell on the remaining nine to maintain the momentum of the strike, solidarity of the strikers, and conduct negotiations with the corporations, most notably the American Woolen Company.
Of the nine local members, only Gilbert Smith was born in the United States. Some committee members had ties to the I.W.W., while others did not. Gilbert Smith was secretary-treasurer of I.W.W., Local 20, but Ed Riley who chaired the Committee of 10, had no discernible ties to the I.W.W.
Despite their different origins and experiences, the local members of the Committee of 10 were pivotal in maintaining the momentum of the strike. Whether meeting with Mayor Scanlon in Lawrence, William Wood in Boston, or representatives of the Massachusetts legislature, they were the face of a united and determined labor force that brokered the final agreement with the corporations that ended the strike on March 18, 1912.
Taken from an original essay by Clarisse A. Poirier, Ph.D., Associate Professor, History Department, Merrimack College, No. Andover, Massachusetts.