Joe Hill, born Joel Emmanuel Hägglund, and also known as Joseph Hillström (October 7, 1879 or 1882 – November 19, 1915) was a Swedish-American labor activist, songwriter, and member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, also known as the Wobblies). He was executed for murder after a controversial trial. After his death, he was memorialized by several folk songs.
Hill was born in Gävle, a city in the province of Gästrikland, Sweden. He emigrated to the United States in 1902, where he became a migrant laborer, moving from New York City to Cleveland, Ohio, and eventually to the west coast. He was in San Francisco, California, at the time of the 1906 earthquake. Hill joined the Industrial Workers of the World or Wobblies around 1910, when he was working on the docks in San Pedro, California. In late 1910 he wrote a letter to the IWW newspaper Industrial Worker, identifying himself as a member of the Portland, Oregon IWW local.
Hill rose in the IWW organization and traveled widely, organizing workers under the IWW banner, writing political songs and satirical poems, and making speeches. His songs frequently appropriated familiar melodies from songs of his time. He coined the phrase "pie in the sky", which appeared in his song "The Preacher and the Slave" (a parody of the hymn "In the Sweet Bye and Bye"). Other notable songs written by Hill include "The Tramp", "There is Power in the Union", "Rebel Girl", and "Casey Jones: Union Scab".