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Thomas (Tommy) Dodd (c. 1866–?)

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Thomas (Tommy) Dodd (c.1866-?) dealer, agent and political activist 

Birth: about 1866. Marriage: to Janet Mowd?. Death: details unknown, possibly in Tasmania. 

  • One-armed, unemployed movement activist in Sydney in early 1890s.
  • With Arthur Desmond and John Dwyer was prominent in the Active Service Brigade (ASB), an organisation of radicals which aimed to disrupt meetings of conservative politicians. The brigade obtained premises in Castlereagh Street, where beds were provided for the homeless and workless for 3d. per night. Secretary of the brigade, from 1892 to 1893, he suffered recurrent sore throat from constant public speaking.
  • At NSW Labor Party conference of November 1893 he co-sponsored a successful motion condemning members of parliament J. D. Fitzgerald and A. J. Kelly as 'traitors to the sacred cause they were elected to support . . . and treated with undying hostility’. This was the beginning of a policy that became known known as the pledge.
  • Arrested after responding to Kelly’s personally abusive remarks. In April 1894 he was fined for riotous behaviour. As one of the registered proprietors of a newspaper, Justice, in June he was summonsed with other members of the ASB for criminal libel on Thomas Slattery and was sentenced to nine months hard labour.
  • Opponent of the Federation Bill in 1899. Member of the Sydney Debating Club and honorary secretary of the Newtown-St Peters branch of the Political Labor League in 1901. Member of the East Sydney PLL in 1903. May have been the Thomas Dodd reported as a member of the Loyal St John’s Lodge, No. 6, Manchester Unity Independent Order of Oddfellows in Newtown in 1904-05.
  • Moved to Tasmania, where he took no prominent part in politics. Reported by the Worker as grown "sleek and mild of speech … as little like an agitator as possible". Insurance salesman in Hobart from 1911 to 1914.
  • In an address in Adelaide in July 1914 Opposition leader Andrew Fisher recalled the harsh days of the depression of the 1890s: “I saw what happened in those days in Sydney. I have seen Tommy Dodd with his active service brigade, which provided penny beds and breakfasts, and I have seen manly men glad to accept his hospitality”.

Sources
H. J. Gibbney and Ann G. Smith, A Biographical Register 1788-1939, vol 1 (Canberra, 1987); Verity Burgmann, In Our Time: Socialism and the Rise of Labor, 1885-1905 (Sydney, 1985); Bob James, Anarchism and State Violence in Sydney and Melbourne 1886-1896: An argument about Australian labor history, (Newcastle, 1986); Bede Nairn, Civilising Capitalism; the Labor Movement in New South Wales 1870-1900 (Canberra, 1973, p 95); Mark Graeme Hearn, Hard Cash, John Dwyer and his Contemporaries, 1890-1914, PhD thesis, University of Sydney, 2000, https://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/handle/2123/847

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Citation details

'Dodd, Thomas (Tommy) (c. 1866–?)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/dodd-thomas-tommy-33371/text41692, accessed 26 February 2024.

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