The Mysterious Lynching of Frank Little: Activist Who Fought Inequality and Lost

Labor News

The funeral procession for Frank Little. Photograph: Walter P Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University

Reprinted from The Guardian by Rory Carroll on September 21, 2016.

The murderers parked in front of 316 North Wyoming Street shortly after 3am. One stayed by the car while the others – six of them, all masked – entered the boarding house. They roused the owner, a woman named Nora Byrne. “We want Frank Little,” they said. Terrified, she directed them to room 32. They kicked in the door.

Their quarry, a slender, dark-haired man, had been sleeping. They hauled him out in his underwear, giving him no time to dress or grab his crutches, and bundled him in the car. They drove a short distance, stopped, tied him to the rear bumper and dragged him over the street’s granite blocks.

Out on the Milwaukee bridge, just outside town, they beat him. Then they attached a rope to a railway trestle and strung him up. “Cause of death: strangulation by hanging,” said the coroner’s report.

So ended the short, eventful life of Frank Little, labour leader, strike organiser and anti-war protester, in Butte, Montana, on 1 August 1917. A crippled, one-eyed, itinerant activist, he took on a giant corporation, and the US government, and lost. …

The Guardian 9/21 

About Jeffrey Burman 3188 Articles
Jeff Burman represents assistant editors on the Guild’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at

Leave a Reply