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What is Necessity

What is Necessity
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Monday, July 16, 2018

gregorygalloway: The Great Railroad Strike of 1877 began on 16...



gregorygalloway:

The Great Railroad Strike of 1877 began on 16 July in Martinsburg, WV. Workers for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad were protesting their second wage reduction of the year and the strikers refused to let the trains run until the most recent 10 % pay cut was returned to the employees.

West Virginia’s governor, Henry M. Mathews, quickly called out the state’s militia. Most militia members sympathized with the workers and refused to intervene, prompting the governor to request federal government assistance.  President Rutherford B. Hayes sent federal troops, who got trains running from Martinsburg on 20 July.

In the meantime, the strike had spread to several other states, including Maryland, where violence erupted in Baltimore between the strikers and that state’s militia, who killed 10 bystanders on 20 July.

In Philadelphia, on July 21, federal troops made a bayonet charge at strikers after local law enforcement refused to clear the tracks. A riot erupted, with guns fired on both sides, and as many as 20 deaths resulted. The troops withdrew into a roundhouse while the crowd, sympathetic to the strikers, set fire to the Pennsylvania Railroad’s engines, cars, and buildings. Gunfire was exchanged through the next night, with 20 more crowd members being killed, along with 5 federal troops.

In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and St. Louis, Missouri, strikers temporarily gained control of the cities until federal soldiers reestablished order. In Chicago, Illinois, more than 20,000 people rallied in support of the strikers.

By the end of July, the federal troops were able to retake control of the railroads and the strikes, which had started more as spontaneous reactions instead of organized efforts, dissipated.

More than 100,000 workers participated in the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, at the height of which more than half the freight on the country’s tracks had come to a halt. By the time the strikes were over, about 1,000 people had gone to jail and some 100 had been killed.

Some national politicians talked of labor reforms, but nothing came of it, while others blamed “foreign agitators.” Industrialists continued to cut wages and break unions. Labor strikes in the rail yards recurred from 1884 to 1886, from 1888 to 1889, and again in 1894.



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