Thomas Joseph “Tom” Mooney

Thomas Joseph “Tom” Mooney

Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Death 6 Mar 1942 (aged 59)
San Francisco, San Francisco County, California, USA
Burial Colma, San Mateo County, California, USA
Plot Palm Mound, Lot 301
Memorial ID 727 · View Source
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Social Reformer. Thomas Joseph Mooney was born in Chicago, the son of Irish immigrants. His father had been a coal miner and organizer for the Knights of Labor. He worked in industry, then he toured Europe, where he learned about socialism. After arriving in California, he joined the Socialist Party of America. He settled in San Francisco where he married Rena Hermann in 1911, and became the publisher of The Revolt, a socialist newspaper. In 1913, he was arrested and charged with transporting explosives for the purpose of blowing up power transmission lines during a Pacific Gas & Electric strike. He was tried three times but never convicted. In 1916 he was implicated in the Preparedness Day bombing in San Francisco. He, his wife Rena, and two associates, Warren K. Billings and Israel Weinberg, were arrested. The trial that followed was later widely criticized for the false testimony of some of the witnesses, and the jury selection seemingly prepared to guarantee conviction. He and Billings were convicted in separate trials; he was sentenced to be hanged and Billings was sentenced to life in prison. Rena Mooney and Weinberg were acquitted. There was a great deal of publicity about the lack of validity of the trial, and President Woodrow Wilson became involved, telegraphing California Governor William Stephens asking him to commute Mooney's sentence. In 1918, his sentence was changed to life imprisonment. He became one of the most famous prisoners in America. Many well-known people campaigned for his release, such as Bulletin editor Fremont Older, anarchists Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman, heiress Aline Barnsdall, Hollywood celebrities, and many others. A report on the Mooney-Billings case prepared in 1931 by the National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement cast serious doubt on the evidence that led to Mooney’s conviction. He filed a writ of habeas corpus which was heard by the United States Supreme Court in 1937. Though he showed evidence that his conviction was obtained through perjured testimony and that the prosecution had suppressed favorable evidence, his writ was denied because he had not first filed a writ in state court. He was pardoned in 1939 by Governor Culbert Olson. He then campaigned for Billings, leading to his release in 1939 and pardon in 1961. He was ill from years in prison, sick with ulcers and jaundice. After attempting a lecture tour, he collapsed and was hospitalized. He died at Saint Luke's Hospital in San Francisco.

Bio by: Pete Mohney

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 727
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Thomas Joseph “Tom” Mooney (8 Dec 1882–6 Mar 1942), Find a Grave Memorial no. 727, citing Cypress Lawn Memorial Park, Colma, San Mateo County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .