Spoiled Silk: The Red Mayor & The great Paterson Textile Strike

George William Shea [ $30.00 ]

Spoiled Silk is the story of two immigrants from the Rhineland, William Brueckmann and his wife, Katherine, who started a new life in the American industrial city of Paterson, New Jersey. Committed to a socialist dream, they struggled to improve the lot of their fellow immigrants and, at the same time, to raise a family in the midst of the turbulence surrounding them. Their efforts contributed to the long-lived struggle to improve working conditions in American mills, but their dream of a socialist America was never to be realized.

It was in 1913 that the workers in the Paterson textile mills, having learned that a new kind of loom would put many of them out of work, went on strike. In desperation, they called in big Bill Haywood and the Wobblies (I.W.W.) to help them. The Paterson authorities moved quickly to crush the strike by forbidding the strikers to hold public meetings. Alone among the elected officials, William Brueckmann, mayor of  the neighboring town of Haledon, defied the Paterson authorities and their police department and upheld the constitutional rights of the strikers by giving the ma safe haven in his town. His action marked the beginning of a long and bitter struggle that brought thousands of workers into the open fields of Haledon and forced the city of Paterson to its knees.

The strike is an important chapter in the history of the American labor movement. For William and Katherine Brueckmann it did not, however, mark the end of their struggles. Spoiled Silk also chronicles the prejudice they faced during the First World War and the pressures that eventually drove them to compromise with the postwar American and its Good Times.

The recent interest in immigration to America has tended to overlook the largest group of immigrants, the German-Americans. Vividly told, Spoiled Silk brings to life the experiences of two of these valiant people in the earliest decade of the century just past. 9"x6" 205p. 

The Museum Store has a wide array of labor-related books, apparel, music, posters and educational aides.  Order online.  Or to call in your order and pay by check contact us at 973-595-7953.  Questions or comments, please e-mail us using our contact form

Please note: Prices quoted do not include NJ sales tax and shipping and handling.