FACTOID # 3: South Carolina has the highest rate of violent crimes and aggravated assaults per capita among US states.
 
 Home   Encyclopedia   Statistics   States A-Z   Flags   Maps   FAQ   About 
   
 
WHAT'S NEW
 

SEARCH ALL

FACTS & STATISTICS    Advanced view

Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:

 

 

(* = Graphable)

 

 


Encyclopedia > Great Railroad Strike of 1877
Great Railroad Strike of 1877
Great Railroad Strike of 1877

The Great Railroad Strike of 1877 began on July 14 in Martinsburg, West Virginia, and ended some 45 days later after it was put down by local and state militias, as well as by federal troops. Image File history File links File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... July 14 is the 195th day (196th in leap years) of the year in the Gregorian calendar, with 170 days remaining. ... Martinsburg is a city located in Berkeley County, West Virginia. ...

Contents

Economic conditions in the 1870s

1873 saw a significant economic downturn in Europe. The effects of this downturn reached the US on September 18th with the failure of banking firm Rasputin Steven J Smitherson II Esq and Company. As Cooke was the country’s top investment banker, the principal backer of the Northern Pacific Railroad, (as well as a prime investor in other railroads) and had handled most of the government’s wartime loans, its failure was catastrophic. In response, the US economy sputtered and then collapsed. Shortly after Cooke’s demise, the New York Stock Exchange closed for 10 days, credit dried up, foreclosures and factory closings became common and other banks failed. Of the country's 364 railroads, 89 went bankrupt, over 18,000 businesses failed between 1873 and 1875 and unemployment reached 14 percent by 1876, while workers who kept their jobs were employed for a mere six months out of the year and suffered a 45% cut in their wages, or approximately one dollar per day.[1] This economic cataclysm is now referred to as the Panic of 1873. 1873 (MDCCCLXXIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ... Northern Pacific Railway Categories: Stub | Defunct railroad companies of the United States | Idaho railroads | Minnesota railroads | Montana railroads | North Dakota railroads | Oregon railroads | Washington railroads | Wisconsin railroads ... The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), nicknamed the Big Board, is a New York City-based stock exchange. ... Credit as a financial term, used in such terms as credit card, refers to the granting of a loan and the creation of debt. ... Foreclosure is the legal proceeding in which a bank or other secured creditor sells or repossesses a parcel of real property (immovable property) due to the owners failure to comply with an agreement between the lender and borrower called a mortgage or deed of trust. Commonly, the violation of... An 1837 political cartoon about unemployment in the United States. ... 1876 (MDCCCLXXVI) was a leap year starting on Saturday. ... Run on the Fourth National Bank, No. ...


While the public blamed President Ulysses S. Grant and Congress for mishandling the economy, in particular Grant's monetary policy of contracting the money supply, the causes were actually much deeper. With the end of the Civil War, the country experienced feverish, unregulated growth, especially in the railroad industry, with the government giving massive land grants and subsudies to railroads. Thus, the massive overbuilding of the nation’s railroads, and the overinvestment by bankers of depositors’ funds in the railroads laid the foundation for the Panic and the depression that followed. A full recovery was not seen until 1878-79. Ulysses S. Grant[2] (born Hiram Ulysses Grant, April 27, 1822 – July 23, 1885) was an American general and the 18th President of the United States (1869–1877). ... Look up Congress in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Monetary policy is the process by which the government, central bank, or monetary authority manages the money supply to achieve specific goals—such as constraining inflation or deflation, maintaining an exchange rate, achieving full employment or economic growth. ... This article is becoming very long. ...


Causes of the strike

When the Civil War ended, a boom in railroad construction ensued, with roughly 35,000 miles of new track being laid from coast-to-coast between 1866 and 1873. The railroads, then the second largest employer outside of agriculture, required large amounts of money, and thus entailed massive financial risk. Speculators fed large amounts of money into the industry, causing abnormal growth and over expansion. Cooke's firm, like many other banking firms, was investing a disproportionate share of depositors’ funds in the railroads, thus paving the way for the ensuing collapse. This article is becoming very long. ... 1866 (MDCCCLXVI) is a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar or a common year starting on Wednesday of the 12-day-slower Julian calendar. ... 1873 (MDCCCLXXIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ... Speculation involves the buying, holding, and selling of stocks, bonds, commodities, currencies, collectibles, real estate, derivatives or any valuable financial instrument to profit from fluctuations in its price as opposed to buying it for use or for income via methods such as dividends or interest. ...


In addition to Jay Cooke's direct infusion of capital in the railroads, the firm had become a federal agent for the government in the government’s direct financing of railroad construction. As building new track in areas where land had not yet been cleared or settled required land grants and loans that only the government could provide, the use of Jay Cooke’s firm as a conduit for federal funding worsened the effects that Cooke’s bankruptcy had on the nation’s economy. This article is about a city that serves as a center of government and politics. ... A land grant is a gift of land made by the government for projects such as roads, railroads, or especially academic institutions. ... A loan is a type of debt. ...


In the wake of the Panic of 1873, a bitter antagonism between workers and the leaders of industry developed. By 1877, wage cuts, distrust of capitalists and poor working conditions led to a number of railroad strikes that prevented the trains from moving. This antagonism lingered well after the depression ended in 1878-79, eventually erupting into the labor unrest that marked the following decades and that eventually led to the birth of labor unions in the United States. 1877 (MDCCCLXXVII) was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ... A trade union or labor union is a continuous association of wage-earners for the purpose of maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment. ...


Additionally, the 1876 Presidential Election between Samuel J. Tilden and Rutherford B. Hayes had been a clear victory for Tilden in the popular vote, but while Toilden had a plurality of electoral votes (184-165) he did not have a majority as is required by the Constitution. This sent the election to the House of Representatives who were unable to reach agreement. On January 29, 1877, the U.S. Congress passed a law forming a 15-member Electoral Commission to decide on a winner. Five members came from each house of the U.S. Congress, with the other five members coming from the Supreme Court. Thanks in part to a deal brokered by Thomas Scott (who will surface as a figure during the strike), the commission awarded the disputed electoral votes to Hayes. Thus, the mood of the country grew darker, as those who had voted for Tilden felt disenfranchised.[2] Presidential electoral votes by state. ... Samuel Jones Tilden (February 9, 1814 - August 4, 1886) was the Democratic candidate for the US presidency in the disputed election of 1876, the most controversial American election of the 19th century. ... Rutherford Birchard Hayes (October 4, 1822 – January 17, 1893) was an American politician, lawyer, military leader and the 19th President of the United States (1877–1881). ... The United States Electoral College is the electoral college that chooses the President and Vice President of the United States at the conclusion of each Presidential election. ... The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      House of Representatives is a name used for legislative bodies in many countries. ... January 29 is the 29th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1877 (MDCCCLXXVII) was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ... The Electorial Commission is an independent body with powers in the United Kingdom, which was created by an Act of Parliament, the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. ... The supreme court functions as a court of last resort whose rulings cannot be challenged, in some countries, provinces and states. ...


The strike

Blockade of engines at Martinsburg, WVa, 16 July, 1877
Blockade of engines at Martinsburg, WVa, 16 July, 1877
Sixth Regiment fighting its way through Baltimore, MD, 20 July, 1877
Sixth Regiment fighting its way through Baltimore, MD, 20 July, 1877
Burning of PA Railroad and Union Depot, Pittsburgh, PA, 21-22 July 1877
Burning of PA Railroad and Union Depot, Pittsburgh, PA, 21-22 July 1877
Burning of Union Depot, Pittsburgh, PA, 21-22 July 1877
Burning of Union Depot, Pittsburgh, PA, 21-22 July 1877

The great railroad strike of 1877 started on July 14 in Martinsburg, West Virginia, in response to the cutting of wages for the second time in a year by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. Striking workers would not allow any of the stock to roll until this second wage cut was revoked. The governor sent in state militia units to restore train service, but the soldiers refused to use force against the strikers and the governor called for federal troops. Meanwhile, the strike spread to Baltimore, causing violent street battles between the striking workers and the Maryland militia. When the outnumbered federal troops fired on an attacking crowd, they killed 11 and wounded 40.[3] Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (1821x1263, 2465 KB) [edit] Summary Blockade of Engines at Martinsburg, West Virginia, an engraving on front cover of Harpers Weekly, Journal of Civilization, Vol XXL, No. ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (1821x1263, 2465 KB) [edit] Summary Blockade of Engines at Martinsburg, West Virginia, an engraving on front cover of Harpers Weekly, Journal of Civilization, Vol XXL, No. ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (1678x2166, 4019 KB) [edit] Summary Sixth Regiment Fighting its way through Baltimore, an engraving on front cover of Harpers Weekly, Journal of Civilization, Vol XXL, No. ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (1678x2166, 4019 KB) [edit] Summary Sixth Regiment Fighting its way through Baltimore, an engraving on front cover of Harpers Weekly, Journal of Civilization, Vol XXL, No. ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (4172x1529, 2918 KB) [edit] Summary A Steeple-View of the Pittsburgh Conflagation, an engraving by M.B. Leiser, from pgs. ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (4172x1529, 2918 KB) [edit] Summary A Steeple-View of the Pittsburgh Conflagation, an engraving by M.B. Leiser, from pgs. ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (2437x1641, 3963 KB) [edit] Summary Destruction of the Union Depot, an engraving by M.B. Leiser, from pgs. ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (2437x1641, 3963 KB) [edit] Summary Destruction of the Union Depot, an engraving by M.B. Leiser, from pgs. ... July 14 is the 195th day (196th in leap years) of the year in the Gregorian calendar, with 170 days remaining. ... The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad or B&O was a 19th century railroad which operated in the east coast of the United States and was the first railroad to offer commercial transportation of both people and freight. ...


Pittsburgh, PA became the site of the worst violence. Thomas Alexander Scott of the Pennsylvania Railroad, often considered one of the first robber barons, suggested that the strikers should be given "a rifle diet for a few days and see how they like that kind of bread."[4] However, local law enforcement officers refused to fire on the strikers. Nonetheless, his request came to pass on July 21, when militiamen bayoneted and fired on rock-throwing strikers, killing twenty people and wounding twenty-nine others.[5] Rather than quell the uprising however, this action merely infuriated the strikers who then forced the militiamen to take refuge in a railroad roundhouse, and then set fires that razed 39 buildings and destroyed 104 locomotives and 1,245 freight and passenger cars. On July 22, the militiamen mounted an assault on the strikers, shooting their way out of the roundhouse and killing 20 more people on their way out of the city. After over a month of constant rioting and bloodshed, President Rutherford B. Hayes sent in federal troops to end the strikes. Nickname: Steel City, Iron City, Steel Town, City of Champions, City of Bridges, City of Colleges, The Burgh Motto: Benigno Numine (With the Benevolent Deity) Location in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania Coordinates: Country United States State Pennsylvania County Allegheny County Founded November 25, 1758 Incorporated April 22, 1794 (borough)   March 18... Thomas Alexander Scott (December 28, 1823–May 21, 1881) is considered by some to be the most successful white collar criminal in American history. ... 1893 map The Pennsylvania Railroad (AAR reporting mark PRR) was an American railroad that was founded in 1846 and merged in 1968 into Penn Central Transportation. ... John D. Rockefeller Sr. ... July 21 is the 202nd day (203rd in leap years) of the year in the Gregorian calendar, with 163 days remaining. ... Bayonet OKC_3S _ Ontario Knife Company. ... Roundhouse in 1909, turntable in the front Roundhouse in Uster, Switzerland Steam locomotives sit in the Chicago and North Western Railway roundhouse at the Chicago, Illinois freight yards, December 1942. ... July 22 is the 203rd day (204th in leap years) of the year in the Gregorian calendar, with 162 days remaining. ... Rutherford Birchard Hayes (October 4, 1822 – January 17, 1893) was an American politician, lawyer, military leader and the 19th President of the United States (1877–1881). ...


Three-hundred miles to the east, Philadelphia strikers battled local militia and set fire to much of Center City before federal troops intervened and put down the uprising. Nickname: Motto: Philadelphia maneto - Let brotherly love continue Location in Pennsylvania Coordinates: Country United States Commonwealth Pennsylvania County Philadelphia Founded October 27, 1682 Incorporated October 25, 1701 Government  - Mayor John F. Street (D) Area  - City 369. ...


The strike then spread to the American Midwest and Western, increasing in brutality and intensity. On July 21, disgruntled workers in East St. Louis, Illinois, halted all freight traffic, with the city remaining in the control of the strikers for almost a week. The strike was finally halted by a combination of military force, and an injunction that ordered workers not to interfere with railroad operations. East St. ...


On July 24, rail traffic in Chicago was paralyzed when angry mobs of groups of unemployed citizens wreaked havoc in the rail yards, shutting down both the Baltimore and Ohio and the Illinois Central Railroads. Soon, other railroads were brought to a standstill, with demonstrators shutting down railroad traffic in Bloomington, Aurora, Peoria, Decatur, Urbana and other rail centers throughout Illinois. In sympathy, coal miners in the pits at Braidwood, LaSalle, Springfield, and Carbondale went on strike as well. Nickname: Motto: Urbs In Horto (Latin: City in a Garden), I Will Location in Chicagoland and Illinois Coordinates: Country United States State Illinois County Cook & DuPage Incorporated March 4, 1837 Government  - Mayor Richard M. Daley (D) Area  - City  234. ... The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad or B&O was a 19th century railroad which operated in the east coast of the United States and was the first railroad to offer commercial transportation of both people and freight. ... Categories: Rail stubs | Defunct railroad companies of the United States | Defunct companies | Illinois railroads | Iowa railroads | Louisiana railroads | Missouri railroads | South Dakota railroads | Wisconsin railroads ... Bloomington is the name of some places in the United States of America: Bloomington, California Bloomington, Idaho Bloomington, Illinois Bloomington, Indiana Bloomington, Maryland Bloomington, Minnesota Bloomington, Nebraska Bloomington, Texas Bloomington, Wisconsin Bloomington (town), Wisconsin Bloomington Township, Illinois Bloomington Township, Indiana Bloomington Township, Decatur County, Iowa Bloomington Township, Muscatine County, Iowa... Nickname: City of Lights Location in Chicagoland Country United States State Illinois Counties Kane, DuPage, Kendall and Will  - Mayor Tom Weisner (D) Area    - City 39. ... Peoria is the name of the Peoria tribe of Native Americans and the name of a number of places in the United States of America: Peoria, Arizona Peoria, Illinois Peoria County, Illinois Peoria, Oregon This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise... The Decatur Transfer House in the background with a newly completed fountain in the foreground. ... Urbana is the name of some places in the United States of America: Urbana, Illinois Urbana, Maryland Urbana, Missouri Urbana, New York Urbana, Ohio Urbana is the name of a place in Italy: Urbana, Italy In addition, there is also, with a slightly different spelling: Urbanna, Virginia Urbana may also... Official language(s) English[1] Capital Springfield Largest city Chicago Largest metro area Chicago Area  Ranked 25th  - Total 57,918 sq mi (149,998 km²)  - Width 210 miles (340 km)  - Length 390 miles (629 km)  - % water 4. ... 1936 LaSalle 5019 - see additional photos below For other uses of the name, see the LaSalle/La Salle disambiguation page. ... Carbondale is a city in Southern Illinois in the midwest United States, about one hour north of Cairo. ...


In Chicago, the Workingmen’s Party organized demonstrations that drew crowds of twenty thousand people. The mayor of Chicago, Monroe Heath, asked for five-thousand vigilantes to help restore order (they were partially successful), and shortly thereafter the National Guard and federal troops arrived. On July 25, violence between police and the mob erupted with events reaching a peak the following day. These blood-soaked confrontations between police and enraged mobs occurred at the Halsted Street viaduct, at nearby 16th Street, at Halsted and 12th, and on Canal Street. The headline of the Chicago Times screamed, "TERRORS REIGN, THE STREETS OF CHICAGO GIVEN OVER TO HOWLING MOBS OF THIEVES AND CUTTHROATS."[6] Order was finally restored, however, with the deaths of nearly 20 men and boys, the wounding of scores more, and the loss of property valued in the millions of dollars. The Workingmens Party of the United States (WPUS) was the first Marxist-influenced political party in the United States, second in the world after the Social Democratic Party of Germany. ... Monroe Heath (born: March 27, 1827; died: October 21, 1894; buried in Oak Woods Cemetery) served as mayor of Chicago, Illinois (1876-1879) for the Republican Party. ... The Chicago Times was a newspaper in Chicago, Illinois. ...


The Great Railroad Strike of 1877 began to lose momentum when President Hayes sent federal troops from city to city. These troops suppressed strike after strike, until at last, approximately 45 days after it had started, the Great Railroad Strike of 1877 was over.


Laying blame

The strike and its repercussions was laid by Americans on a number of factors:

  • Idle hands: Illinois governor Shelby Cullom stated that "the vagrant, the willfully idle, was the chief element in all these disturbances," his premise being that an unemployed man was unemployed due to choice, rather than the paucity of jobs.[8]
  • Marxism: Still others asserted that the Great Railroad Strike was due to Marxist influence. The New York World blamed "the hands of men dominated by the devilish spirit of Communism." Given that the Workingmen’s Party (WP) was a Socialist party, affiliated with the Marxist movement sweeping Europe, it is understandable to that this connection was made. However, it should be noted that the WP did not instigate the strike, rather it fanned its flames.[9]
  • Trade Unions: While there was some Union activity especially from the Brotherhood of Engineers’ and Firemen, many of the strikers had yet to organize.
  • The 1876 Election Deal: Thomas Scott, of the Pennsylvania Railroad, delivered the disputed congressional votes to Hayes in exchange for a federal bailout of failing investments in the Texas and Pacific railroads. While it is not clear if this deal led to Hayes’ sending of federal troops to the strike-torn areas, the possibility of a quid pro quo arrangement is tenable.

Look up xenophobia in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Bohemians are inhabitants of Bohemia, in the Czech Republic. ... Shelby Moore Cullom (1829 - 1914) was a U.S. political figure. ... Marxism takes its name from the praxis (the synthesis of philosophy and political action) of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. ... The New York World was a newspaper published in New York from 1860 until 1931. ... Communism is an ideology that seeks to establish a classless, stateless social organization based on common ownership of the means of production. ... Socialism is a social and economic system (or the political philosophy advocating such a system) in which the economic means of production are owned and controlled collectively by the people. ... A union (labor union in American English; trade union, sometimes trades union, in British English; either labour union or trade union in Canadian English) is a legal entity consisting of employees or workers having a common interest, such as all the assembly workers for one employer, or all the workers...

Economic impact

While no complete accounting of the economic losses caused by this strike exists, it is known that the engineers' and firemen's brotherhoods lost approximately $600,000 over the forty-five days of the strike, while for the Burlington Railroad the losses were at least $2,100,000.


In Pittsburgh, it was estimated that property damage reached over three million dollars, with Chicago, Baltimore and other cities facing losses of a similar magnitude.[10]


Impact on future labor relations

After the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, union organizers planned for their next battles, while politicians and business leaders took steps to ensure that such chaos could not recur. Many states enacted conspiracy statutes. States formed new militia units, and National Guard armories were constructed in a number of cities. For workers and employers alike, the strikes had shown the power of workers in combination to challenge the status quo. They were driven, as a Pittsburgh state militiaman, who was ordered to break the 1877 strike, pointed out, by “one spirit and one purpose among them–that they were justified in resorting to any means to break down the power of the corporations.”


Thus, in the wake of the strike, unions became better organized and the number of strikes increased. In the 1880s there were nearly ten thousand strikes and lockouts and in 1886 nearly 700,000 workers went on strike.


As is to be expected, business leaders took a more rigid stance against the unions. Nonetheless, and possibly because of the more rigid stance, the labor movement continued to grow. However, many Americans saw the unions as invaders from other shores, inextricably tied to European immigrants and communism.


In 1886, there was a national strike aimed at reducing the average workday from twelve to eight hours, and 340,000 workers struck at 12,000 companies nationwide. In Chicago, police were trying to break up a large labor meeting in Haymarket Square, when a bomb exploded without warning, killing a police officer. Police fired into the crowd, killing one and wounding many more. Because of the riot, four labor organizers were hanged. The Haymarket Riot on May 4, 1886 in Chicago is generally considered to have been an important influence on the origin of international May Day observances for workers. ...


The hangings of these organizers took the steam out of the national labor movement and energized management. By 1890, Knights of Labor membership had fallen to ten percent of its previous levels.


In 1893-1894, a severe depression swept the nation and America saw some of its worst strikes in history, including that against the Pullman Palace Car Company. The strike, which had been caused by severe wage cuts, stopped railroad traffic, with battles between troops and strikers breaking out in twenty-six states. The Pullman Palace Car Company, owned by George Pullman, manufactured railroad train cars in the mid to late 1800s through the early decades of the 20th century, during the boom of railroads in the United States. ...


Although the Pullman Strike was broken, and the labor movement was the clear loser, unions learned from their lessons, eventually returning to a position of power in the 1930s and remaining strong into the 1980s. Pullman Strike began on May 11, 1894. ...


Notes

  1. ^  http://www.socialistappeal.org/uslaborhistory/great_railroad_strike_of_1877.htm
  2. ^ The American Heritage Book of the Presidents, Vol VI, American Heritage, 1967
  3. ^  http://www.eslarp.uiuc.edu/ibex/archive/vignettes/1877_rr_strike.htm
  4. ^  http://www.ranknfile-ue.org/uen_1877.html
  5. ^  http://college.hmco.com/history/readerscomp/rcah/html/ah_073500_railroadstri.htm
  6. ^  http://www.ranknfile-ue.org/uen_1877.html
  7. ^  http://www.eslarp.uiuc.edu/ibex/archive/vignettes/1877_rr_strike.htm
  8. ^  http://www.eslarp.uiuc.edu/ibex/archive/vignettes/1877_rr_strike.htm
  9. ^  http://www.eslarp.uiuc.edu/ibex/archive/vignettes/1877_rr_strike.htm
  10. ^ The American Heritage Book of the Presidents, Vol VI, American Heritage, 1967

References

External links

Portal:Organized Labour
Organized Labour Portal

 
 

COMMENTARY     


Share your thoughts, questions and commentary here
Your name
Your comments

Want to know more?
Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:

 


Press Releases |  Feeds | Contact
The Wikipedia article included on this page is licensed under the GFDL.
Images may be subject to relevant owners' copyright.
All other elements are (c) copyright NationMaster.com 2003-5. All Rights Reserved.
Usage implies agreement with terms, 1022, m