(09/2015) “Big Bill” Haywood was a big man with a big heart and a big dream – to build one big union for workers from every industry. He could break a man’s jaw with a single blow, but he wept openly when a poem moved him.
“Big Bill” was born William Dudley Haywood on Feb. 4, 1869, in Salt Lake City. He learned hard lessons early in life. His father, a Pony Express rider, died when he was 3; he witnessed a fatal gun duel between classmates at age 7, and at age 9, he blinded himself in one eye in a slingshot accident.
But it was an incident he observed at age 15 that changed Haywood forever: He saw a black man lynched. Shaken to the core, he resolved to fight oppression.