Mayday, the 8-hour movement and the Knights of Labor - Jeremy Brecher

Inaccurate contemporary illustration of the Haymarket bomb

Jeremy Brecher's account of the growth of the Knights of Labor union in the US, the agitation for a maximum 8-hour working day and the Chicago Haymarket events of 1886.

Labor discontent was not long in re-emerging after the suppression of the Great Upheaval. By the mid-1880's, a vast "labor agitation" was coursing from the largest cities to the smallest towns. Perhaps typical were the groups that developed in the obscure railroad town of Sedalia, Missouri, in 1884. Led by a cobbler and a railroad machinist, they would meet night after night, discussing the condition of workers and how to change it, debating various labor philosophies and their promise for immediate action. From these groups came the leaders of future strikes in the area.

The discontent frightened Terence Powderly, the somewhat bumbling head of the Knights of Labor-soon to become the most important labor organization in the land-and in December, 1884, he issued a secret circular, charged with fear that workers might try a "repetition of 1877 on a larger scale."1

"A change is slowly but surely coming over the whole country," he wrote. "The discussion of the labor question takes up more of the time and attention of men in all walks of life at the present time than it ever did before. . . . The number of unemployed at the present time is very great, and constantly increasing. Reduction in wages, suspension of men, stoppage of factories and furnaces are of daily occurrence. . . . Under such circumstances as I have pointed out it is but natural for men to grow desperate and restive. The demonstrations in some of our large cities testify to that fact."2

Of course, history never repeats the same external events, and the strike wave of 1886-like each subsequent one-developed on a pattern of its own. No other period of mass strike in American history developed quite the character of a national insurrection seen in the Great Upheaval of 1877. Indeed; that character was a result of the extremely undeveloped and disorganized condition of capitalist society at that time. Nonetheless, historians have generally considered the mid-1880's a more revolutionary period, even though it was marked by less insurrectionary violence. As in the Great Upheaval, workers were responding to a general depression that led to unemployment and wage cutting. But they responded with a far higher degree of planning, organization, and thought-out goals.

According to John R. Commons' classic History of the Labor Movement in the United States, "all the peculiar characteristics of the dramatic events of 1886 and 1887, the highly feverish pace at which organizations grew, the nationwide wave of strikes, . . . the wide use of the boycott, the obliteration, apparently complete, of all lines that divide the laboring class, whether geographic or trade, the violence and turbulence which accompanied the movement-all of these were the signs of a great movement by the class of the unskilled, which had finally risen in rebellion. This movement, rising as an elemental protest against oppression and degradation, could be but feebly restrained by any considerations of expediency or prudence. . . . The movement bore in every way the aspect of a social war. A frenzied hatred of labour for capital was shown in every important strike. . . . Extreme bitterness toward capital manifested itself in all the actions of the Knights of Labor, and wherever the leaders undertook to hold it within bounds they were generally discarded by their followers, and others who would lead as directed were placed in charge. The feeling of 'give no quarter' is illustrated in the refusal to submit grievances to arbitration when the employees felt that they had the upper hand over their employers."3

Two months after Powderly's circular, a five percent wage cut was added to a previous ten percent reduction for shopmen on the Missouri Pacific Railroad, the Missouri, Kansas and Texas, and the Wabash-the lines composing Jay Gould's Southwest System.

The Wabash shopmen struck spontaneously the day after they received their wage cuts, and the strike rapidly spread to the shopmen on the other Southwest System roads. By the first week of March the strike had spread to all the important shops of the system in Missouri and Texas, involving 10,000 miles of railroad. Railroad officials tried to move the hundreds of freight cars that piled up, but without success, for the trainmen supported the strike. When an engine was fired up and attached to a train, the engineer was approached by the strikers with the plea: "For the sake of your family and ours, don't take out that engine."4 Missouri Pacific retracted the cut and agreed to other demands on March 15th.

In the course of the strike, the railroad workers on the Union Pacific Railroad, who were members of the Knights of Labor, sent $30,000 and an organizer to support the strike. As a result, the Southwest System strikers began organizing local assemblies of the Knights of Labor; soon there were thirty locals and thousands of members. The railroads decided to move against the Knights, and began firing shop men on the Wabash and finally closing the railroad shops altogether, then opening them up again with fifty scabs armed with revolvers and brass knuckles.

In reply, all Knights of Labor on the Wabash struck. The workers on the rest of the Southwest System demanded support from the leaders of the Knights of Labor, who reluctantly instructed all members to refuse to handle Wabash rolling stock "and if this order is antagonized by the companies through any of its officials, your executive committee is hereby ordered to call out all K. of L. on the above system without any further action."5

The Southwest System was controlled by Jay Gould, known as "The Wizard of Wall Street," and perhaps the most hated of the robber barons of his day. Faced now with a strike that would equal the dimensions of the 1877 railroad strike and close down his entire system, Gould decided instead to come to terms, at least for the time being. He met with the Executive Board of the Knights of Labor and, according to them, Gould advised the general manager of the Wabash to agree with their demands. The manager thereupon agreed to reinstate those fired and promised that "no official shall discriminate against the K. of L."6

John R. Commons' History of Labor put well the significance of the victory: "Here a labor organization for the first time dealt on an equal footing with the most powerful capitalist in the country. It forced Jay Gould to recognize it as a power equal to himself, a fact which he amply conceded when he declared his readiness to arbitrate all labor difficulties that might arise. The oppressed laboring masses finally discovered a champion which could curb the power of a man stronger even than the government itself. All the pent-up feeling of bitterness and resentment which had accumulated during the two years of depression, in consequence of the repeated cuts in wages and the intensified domination by employers, now found vent in a rush to organize under the banner of the powerful Knights of Labor."7

The result of these victories - headlined across the country - was the sudden explosive growth both of strikes and of the Knights of Labor. "Every week," wrote a contemporary labor journalist, "trade unions are turned into local [Knights of Labor] assemblies or assemblies are organized out of trade unions and every day new mixed assemblies spring into existence. The numerous strikes East and West during the past twelve months have added greatly to its growth."8 The usual pattern was to "strike first and then join the Knights of Labor."

The growth of the Knights of Labor was phenomenal. Here are the figures:

July 1,1884 - 71,326
July 1, 1885 - 111,395
Julý 1, 1886 - 729,6779

The Knights of Labor had been founded by nine obscure garment cutters in Philadelphia in 1869. It combined the functions of a trade union with an opposition to the wage system as a whole, and originally had a deep religious strain as well. As one of its founders, Uriah Stephens, put it, "Knighthood must base its claims for labor upon higher ground than participation in the profits and emoluments, and a lessening of the hours and fatigues of labor. These are only physical effects and objects of a grosser nature, and, although imperative, are but the stepping-stone to a higher cause, of a nobler nature. The real and ultimate reason must be based upon the more exalted and divine nature of man, his high and noble capability for good. Excessive labor and small pay stints and blunts and degrades those God-like faculties, until the image of God, in which he was created and intended by his great Author to exhibit, are scarcely discernable."10

The one great sentiment embodied in the Knights of Labor was the idea of solidarity among all workers, whether white or black, skilled or unskilled, men or women. As historian Norman Ware put it, "The solidarity of labor was fast becoming an economic reality if not a psychological fact. . . The Order tried to teach the American wage-earner that he was a wage-earner first and a bricklayer, carpenter, miner, shoemaker, . . . a Catholic, Protestant, Jew, white, black, Democrat, Republican after."11 The Order's motto, "An injury to one is the concern of all," captured the popular imagination. This feeling was expressed over and over again by the head of the Order, Grand Master Workman Terence Powderly:

"The belief was prevalent until a short time ago among workingmen, that only the man who was engaged in manual toil could be called a workingman. The man who labored at the bench or anvil, the man who held the throttles of the engine or delved in the everlasting gloom of the coal mine did not believe that the man who made the drawings from which he forged, turned, or dug could be classed as a worker. The draughtsman, the timekeeper, the clerk, the school teacher, the civil engineer, the editor, the reporter, or the worst paid, most abused and illy appreciated of all toilers - women - could not be called a worker. . . . Narrow prejudice, born of the injustice and oppressions of the past, must be overcome, and all who interest themselves in producing for the world's good must be made to understand that their interests are identical."12

This sense of class unity developed in opposition of the spirit of the trade unions, which at that time generally represented only the most highly skilled craftsmen, the "aristocracy of labor," and fought to maintain their privileged position. According to Powderly, "The sentiment expressed in the words, 'The condition of one part of our class can not be improved permanently unless all are improved together,' was not acceptable to trade unionists, who were selfishly bound up in the work of ameliorating the condition of those who belonged to their own particular callings alone."13

"The failure which really led to the organization of the Knights of Labor, was the failure of the trade union to grapple, and satisfactorily deal with, the labor question on its broad, far-reaching basic principle: the right of all to have a say in the affairs of one. . . . The rights of the common, every-day laborer were to be considered by the new order,"14 Whereas the trade unions' attitude was, "we will not associate with the common, every-day laborers in any organization of labor. . ."

Trade unions also differed from the Knights, Powderly pointed out, in that they accepted the wage system. "Many of the members of these organizations seemed to regard themselves as being hired for life; they were content with demanding and obtaining from their masters better conditions in the regulation of workshops and wages; beyond that they did not think they had a right to venture."15 The Knights - and workers generally at the time - felt differently. "We are the willing victims of an outrageous system. . . We should not war with men for being what we make them, but strike a powerful, telling blow at the base of the system which makes the laborer the slave of his master. . . . So long as a pernicious system leaves one man at the mercy of another, so long will labor and capital be at war. . . . Far be it from me to say that I can point out the way. . . I can only offer a suggestion that comes to me as a result of experience. . . to abolish the wage system."16

Although they had no clear idea of how to put it into practice, the Knights saw a society based on cooperative production as the alternative. "The fundamental principle on which the organization was based was co-operation; not a co-operation of men for the mere purpose of enhancing the value of their combined contributions to any productive enterprise alone, but a co-operation of the various callings and crafts by which men earned the right to remain upon the earth's surface as contributors to the public good."17 Indeed, the idea of a class of permanent wage workers - so distant from the ideal that every man could become an independent entrepreneur - still seemed positively un-American to the workers of the 1880's; as Norman Ware wrote, "The reluctance of the labor movement to accept collective bargaining as its major function was due largely to the fact that this involved an acceptance of the wage system."18

Yet despite their opposition to the wage system, the leaders of the Knights of Labor opposed strikes and revolutionary activities even more. "I will never advocate a strike," Powderly wrote, "unless it be a strike at the ballot-box, or such a one as was proclaimed to the world by the unmistakable sound of the strikers' guns on the field of Lexington. But the necessity for such a strike as the latter does not exist at the present. The men who made the name of Lexington famous in the world's history were forced to adopt the bullet because they did not possess the ballot."19 Powderly still hoped that the former position of workers as independent producers could be restored by creating producers' cooperatives and by controlling monopoly through the government. He feared that strikes distracted from this task and threatened to generate revolutionary disorder. Much of Powderly's energy, as we shall see, went into forestalling and weakening strikes.

But this opposition to strikes did not stop men who wanted to strike from joining the Knights. As John Swinton, perhaps the leading contemporary labor journalist, wrote, "While the order is opposed to strikes, the first news we are likely to hear after its [a strike's] close is of the union of the men with the K. of L."20 Nor did the Order stop the Knights from striking, for while in theory it was highly centralized, in practice each local assembly acted on its own initiative, striking despite disapproval from on high.

During the same years as the Knights' rapid growth, a revolutionary tendency began developing within the labor movement, generally referred to as anarchism. The anarchists called upon all "revolutionists and armed workingmen's organizations in the country" to prepare to "offer armed resistance to the invasions by the capitalistic class and capitalistic legislatures."21 This development was a response to the evident failure of political action and trade unionism in the face of the growing misery of the depression. Indeed, one of the leading anarchists, Albert Parsons, had only a few years before spent his time running for political office in Chicago and lobbying in Washington for the eight-hour day for Federal employees. The anarchist program, as set forth by a national congress in 1883, read in part:

By force our ancestors liberated themselves from political oppression, by force their children will have to liberate themselves from economic bondage. "It is, therefore, your right, it is your duty," says Jefferson, "to arm!"

What we would achieve is, therefore, plainly and simply:
First - Destruction of the existing class rule by all means - i.e. by energetic, relentless, revolutionary and international action.
Second - Establishment of a free society based upon co-operative organization of production.
Third - Free exchange of equivalent products by and between the productive organizations without commerce and profit-mongery.
Fourth - Organization of education on a secular, scientific, and equal basis for both sexes.
Fifth - Equal rights for all, without distinction to sex or race.
Sixth - Regulation of all public affairs by free contracts between the autonomous (independent) Communes and associations, resting on a federalistic basis.22

In many places the anarchists were only a small sect, but in Chicago a significant section of the workers joined the revolutionary trend. In 1884, a large part of the Chicago cigar makers called for "open rebellion of the robbed class," pulled out of the existing Amalgamated Trades and Labor Assembly, and organized the Central Labor Union along with the German metalworkers, the carpenters and joiners, the cabinetworkers, and the butchers. By the end of 1885 the new Central Labor Union was nearly as large and strong as the old Assembly, and by April, 1886, it included the eleven largest unions in the city.

Eighteen-eighty-six was a year of tumult. One contemporary aptly called it "the year of the great uprising of labor."23 Historians have called it a "revolutionary year,"24 and the "great upheaval," "more deserving of this title than even the convulsive events of 1887."25 This movement took a form originally promoted by neither the anarchists nor the Knights of Labor - an enormous strike wave culminating in a virtual nationwide general strike. These statistics suggest what happened26:

Year - Strikes - Establishments involved - No. striking
1881 - 471 - 2,928 - 129,521
1882 - 454 - 2,105 - 154,671
1883 - 478 - 2,759 - 149,763
1884 - 443 - 2,367 - 147,054
1885 - 645 - 2,284 - 242,705
1886 - 1,411 - 9,891 - 499,489

To summarize, the number of strikers in 1886 tripled compared with the average for the previous five years, and the number of establishments struck nearly quadrupled. The strikes were of every trade and in every area.

Further, the character of strikes changed radically. Through the depression years that preceded 1886, strikes had mostly been in resistance to wage cuts. Now, with the beginnings of business recovery, they became above all strikes for power over such issues as the hours of labor, hiring and firing, the organization of work, and the arbitrary power of foremen and superintendents.

The wave began late in 1885 with "spontaneous outbreaks of unorganized masses."27 Typical was a strike for the ten-hour day in the Saginaw Valley in Michigan. The legislature had passed a ten-hour law which proved unenforceable. In response, with little previous organization, the predominantly Polish and American workers in the lumber and shingle mills struck for an immediate ten-hour day with no reduction in pay. The strikers marched in a body from mill to mill, demanding that the men quit work, and shut down the entire lumber industry, turning off steam and banking fires, including seventeen shingle mills, sixty-one lumber mills, and fifty-eight salt blocks. Although the employers imported more than fifty Pinkerton detectives and a large body of militia was poised to intervene, the strike was won after two months.

The workers on Jay Gould's Southwestern Railroad System exemplified this movement. They had discovered their power in previous strikes and had developed their own organization and coordination. Yet they still were subject to the arbitrary power of their employers, their wages constantly cut or chisled, arbitrarily transferred from one job to another, harassed by local railroad officials, and beset by grievances on which they could get no answer.

When one of their members was fired for attending a union meeting, even though he had been given permission, the strike they had long felt inevitable broke out March 6th, 1886.

A letter from one of the strikers to a contemporary labor journal gives the spirit in which they struck:

"Tell the world that the men of the Gould Southwest System are on strike. We strike for justice to ourselves and our fellowmen everywhere. Fourteen thousand men are out. . . . I would say to all railroad employees everywhere. . . make your demands to the corporation for the eight-hour day and no reduction of pay. Demand $1.50 per day for all laboring men. Demand that yourselves and your families be carried on all railways for one cent a mile. Bring in all your grievances in one bundle at once, and come out to a man and stay out until they are all settled to your entire satisfaction. Let us demand our rights and compel the exploiters to accede to our demands. . ."28

The objective of the strikers, according to Ruth Allen, the historian of the strike, was to be recognized by management as "men equally powerful in and responsible for the conduct of the Gould Southwest System." Recognition, according to the worker whose firing triggered the strike, meant that corporation officials, instead of holding all authority themselves, would "recognize and treat with the committee appointed by the Order to settle by arbitration the difficulties or grievances that might arise."29 (The term "arbitration" at that time included any settlement reached through negotiation or collective bargaining.) H.M. Hoxie, Gould's top official on the scene, agreed that the time had come "when the question had to be decided whether he should run his own railroad or have the Knights of Labor run it."30

When the strike began on the Texas and Pacific Railroad, Joseph Buchanan, one of the most radical leaders of the Knights of Labor, tried to dissuade others on the Southwest System from striking in sympathy. "Let us say the strike is ordered and the shops closed, though the trains are running. You know as well as I do that you cannot defeat a railroad company if the trains continue to run; therefore you will attempt to stop the trains. The police, deputy United States marshals, deputy sheriffs, and constables will swarm in the yards and on the tracks; you must drive them off. You are husky fellows and full of fight, so I'll admit that you can whip the police and deputies. Then the militia of the various states through which the roads run will be called out to oppose you. Who are the militiamen? Only a lot of spindle-legged counter-jumpers, but they are well trained and armed for business. Still, guns are plentiful in your part of the country and most of you are pretty good shooters yourselves; besides, you will be battling for a principle and the welfare of 'Betty and the babies.' If you are brave men and have intelligent leadership, you can clean out the militia. Now what happens? The Federal judges, under whom the roads are being operated, appeal to the President of the United States for assistance, and the regulars are sent to put down what has by this time become an armed revolution - rebellion, in fact."31 Nonetheless, the shopmen, switchmen, trackmen and telegraph operators, and even coal heavers and miners throughout Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Nebraska, and Indian Territory joined the strike.

According to the New York Times, the "striking mania" in Missouri had even extended to a class of laborers who it was supposed would be the last to fall into line.

The farm hands of these counties have demanded of their employers an increase from $15 and board to $20 and board per month. The demand was at first refused, when no less than 50 men quit work. The employers have conceded their demands. . . and the projectors hope to have the demand become general throughout the State.32

The Great Southwest Strike began March 1st, 1886, with an occupation of the shops similar in some ways to the sitdown strikes of later years. When the men walked out, responsible strikers were placed in control of the shops and rolling stock to prevent it from being used and to protect it from violence. But soon the railroads secured dozens of injunctions, bench warrants, and writs of assistance, thus putting the strikers in contempt of court. Special police paid by the railroads and large numbers of extraordinary deputies were sworn in to enforce the orders.

To break the strike, the companies advertised widely for strikebreakers. In one bizarre episode, nine young men were recruited in New Orleans and sent to Marshall, Texas, on the assurance there was no strike in progress. On arrival they were sworn in as deputy United States marshals to protect company property.

Next morning they wrote in the local paper that, "After due investigation, and hearing both sides of the question, we found undeniable proof of a strike, and as man to man we could not justifiably go to work and take the bread out of our fellow-workmen's mouths, no matter how much we needed it ourselves."33 Thereupon the United States Marshal for East Texas arrested the men under a charge of contempt and intimidation and defrauding the company by their refusal to work after accepting transportation from New Orleans, and had them given sentences of three to four months in the Galveston County jail.

The characteristic response of the workers to the attempts to break the strike was the "killing" of engines. This was done by putting out the engine's fire, letting out the water, displacing engine connections, and destroying part of the machinery. The workers also tried to prevent operation by strikebreakers by tampering with the rails and setting fires at terminals, water tanks, and shops.

A dispatch from Atchison, Kansas, gave a vivid example:

At 12:45 this morning the ten men on guard at the Missouri Pacific roundhouse were surprised by the appearance of 35 or 40 masked men. The guards were corralled in the oil room by a detachment of the visitors, who stood guard with pistols. . . drawn, while the rest of them thoroughly disabled 12 locomotives which stood in the stalls.34

Another from Dallas, Texas, illustrated the widespread court action against strikers' tactics:

Charles Wilson, charged with displacing a switch for the purpose of derailing an engine at Denton on March 27, was sentenced to five months' imprisonment in the county jail; C. Bishop, for taking possession of a switch at Forth Worth on April 2, was found guilty and remanded to await sentence; Richard Gordon, striking a switchman with a stone at night, three months' imprisonment in the county jail.35

In addition, the railroads relied upon armed force to break the strike. They started in Palestine, Texas, where 300 links, 500 couplings, and 500 "draw-heads" had been removed, and where, of thirty-seven engines, two had been thrown from the track, eight were held by the strikers, and twenty-seven had been "killed."

When the strikers gave notice that no trains would be allowed to move, the Sheriff summoned a posse of 200 armed men and cleared the tracks; the first train was sent out guarded by armed men.36 In Fort Worth, an old-style western gunman (who had once fled arrest in New Mexico because his methods of "freeing the land of 'squatters'" resulted in two deaths) was Acting City Marshal. He engaged in a shoot-out to get a train through in which half a dozen officers and strikers were killed or wounded. Thereupon a vigilante group of 100 was formed in Fort Worth and nearly 300 state militia troops were rushed in. A news dispatch described one scene there:

Lawlessness and disorder have won in Fort Worth. One thousand desperado men have set the law and its executors at defiance, and their sweet will rules. . . . As early as 8:30 o'clock citizens who had been summoned by the Sheriff began to repair to the Missouri Pacific yards. Strikers and Knights of Labor, with sympathizers to the number of at least 400, were already there. Many of them had been there all night. . . . By 9:00 o'clock not less than 3,000 people were gathered in the yards of the road. At 10:00 o'clock a train was made up on a side track. A Missouri Pacific locomotive left the Texas and Pacific roundhouse, and the strikers yelled "Here she comes." On this locomotive and tender were a dozen officers. . . . About the locomotive was a squad of officers. The strikers surged about the train, but were forced back by the officers. Pistols flashed in the sunlight in an ominous manner.

"Kill the engine, kill the engine!" yelled a striker, and the bulk of the crowd rushed forward to the locomotive.

"Back! I'll kill the first man who touches this engine," cried out the Chief Deputy. The officers stationed along the train left their posts and, throwing the strikers to right and left, gathered about the locomotive. That engine wasn't touched, but the strikers, seeing their opportunity, rushed between the cars, pulled the pins, and even took the nuts out of the drawheads. Sheriff Maddox ordered the engineer to pull up, but not a car followed the engine, and the strikers yelled themselves hoarse with derision.37

This process reached its peak in East St. Louis, where on April 9th a group of deputies fired into a crowd, killing nine and wounding many. The crowd in fury retaliated by burning the shops and yards, destroying $75,000 of railroad property. According to the New York Times, it started when one member of a crowd stepped on railroad property. He was arrested, and as part of the crowd surged forward to rescue him, there was a pistol shot, which in a few seconds was followed by the ringing reports of Winchester rifles. The shrieks and yells that rose from the crowd could be heard on the bridge, a third of a mile away.

"Crack, crack" went the deadly rifles. The crowd split into two unequal parts and ran like mad in opposite directions. . . . Terror was king and drove all before him. The deadly ball had been fired at short range against a solid wall of flesh and blood. . . . On the bridge and roadway lay Mrs. John Pfeffer, shot through the spine and mortally wounded; John Bonner, a coal miner, dead; Oscar Washington, a painter, dead; Patrick Driscoll, a Wabash section hand, dead, and Major Rychman, a rolling mill employee, shot in the head and shoulder, mortally wounded.

When the fleeing mob recovered from its terror, and turning saw its assailants in full flight toward the Louisville and Nashville freight house, shouts rose from it of "To arms, to arms," and men who stood over the dead and wounded vowed they would have a terrible revenge. Some of the wildest spirits rushed through the town calling on the strikers and their friends to arm themselves and kill all Deputy Sheriffs on sight. Pale-faced men soon appeared on the streets armed with revolvers and shotguns. Here and there a man could be seen carrying a small coil of rope. The cry of "Hang them" kept pace with that of "Kill them all."38

Leaders of the Knights of Labor tried to head off the crowd.

One of them addressed the crowd:

"Brothers, I appeal to you, be calm and disperse to your homes. . . . I beg of you please do nothing rash. . . . Don't forget how hard we worked to build up our organization, do not tear it down in ruins by one rash act."

Nonetheless, the New York Times reported, a few hours later

. . . the sky was reddened by the burning of the Louisville and Nashville freight house. The mob had begun the work of what it considered retaliation. The fire was not long confined to cars, for at midnight the Cairo Short Line freight depot was in flames.39

The Governor responded by sending in 700 National Guardsmen and putting East St. Louis under military law.

The strikers held out for two months in the face of such opposition, but as the company broke their blockade with strikebreakers and armed violence, they eventually were forced to return to work defeated. The final call to end the strike came May 4th, but most of the strikers were refused their jobs, which had been taken by the strikebreakers.

Shorter hours had long been a major objective for labor, both to decrease the burden of toil and to cut unemployment by spreading the work. Ever since the 1830's the 1840's, labor reform societies had pushed for legislation establishing first the ten - and then the eight-hour day. But even when such legislation passed, it remained a dead letter, unenforced. Some trades likewise had tried to shorten hours by strikes and negotiation, but with limited success, since unless the eight-hour system was adopted everywhere it put those firms which accepted it at a competitive disadvantage.

In 1884, a dying organization, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions passed a resolution that "eight hours shall constitute a legal day's work from and after May 1, 1886."40

According to historian Norman J. Ware, "By a stroke of fortune, a resolution passed in the dull times of 1884 reached fruition in the revolutionary year of 1886 and became a rallying point and a battle cry for the aggressive forces of that year. . . . It was little more than a gesture which, because of the changed conditions of 1886, became a revolutionary threat."41

As a resolution passed by the Federation in December, 1885, suggests, the idea of a general strike for the eight-hour day developed out of the failure of other methods. The resolution noted that

. . . it would be in vain to expect the introduction of the eight-hour rule through legislative measures, and that a united demand to reduce the hours of labor, supported by a firmly established and determined organization, would be far more effective than a thousand laws, whose execution depends upon the good will of aspiring politicians or syncophantic department officials.

The call for a general strike was based upon the view

That the workmen in their endeavor to reform the prevailing economic conditions must rely upon themselves and their own power exclusively.42

The May Day strike movement received little support from existing organizations. The Federation that originally suggested the May 1st deadline was so weak that when it polled its members on the plan only about 2,500 even voted. Powderly, head of the Knights of Labor, opposed the May Day strike from the start. In a secret circular December 15th, 1884, he proposed that instead of striking, each Knights of Labor assembly "have its members write short essays on the eight-hour question."43 The anarchists at first argued that the eight-hour movement was a compromise with the wage system. Their paper, the Alarm, declared that "it is a lost battle, and. . . though the eight-hour system should be established the wage workers would gain nothing."44

But the idea of a general strike for the eight-hour day had caught the imagination of tens of thousands of workers. Despite the opposition of national leaders, the movement burgeoned locally across the country. Local Knights of Labor organizers, over protest of the national organization, established new local assemblies around the eight-hour issue; one formed three new assemblies in one night, despite a rule that an organizer must attend five weekly meetings before chartering a local. In the one month of February, 1886, 515 new locals were organized. The Knights of Labor Secretary for the Boston District Assembly reported on April 19th, 1886, that the Order had more than trebled in the previous three months, and that in the Boston Area District there were four times as many members as thirteen weeks before.45

The leadership was alarmed at the militance of the new members pouring in. Powderly complained that "the majority of the newcomers were not of the quality the order had sought for in the past."46 They suspended organizing of new assemblies for forty days, but the organizers went on anyway, simply holding back charter fees until the forty days expired. In an attempt to halt the growth of their own organization, the Knights of Labor leaders next refused to approve 300 new organizers' commissions, and finally suspended all their organizers.

Powderly gives a vivid picture of what was happening locally: "In the early part of 1886 many of the new local assemblies began to pass resolutions favoring the 'action of the General Assembly in fixing the first of May, 1886, as the day on which to strike for eight hours.' They sent them to the General Master Workman, who saw at once that a grave danger threatened the Order through the ignorance of the members who had been so hurriedly gathered into the assemblies. They were induced to come in by a false statement. Many organizers assisted in keeping up the delusion for the purpose of making 'big returns.'''47

At this point, Powderly tried deliberately to sabotage the movement. He issued a secret circular to Knights of Labor locals saying, "The executive officers of the Knights of Labor have never fixed upon the first of May for a strike of any kind, and they will not do so. . . . No assembly of the Knights of Labor must strike for the eight-hour system on May 1st under the impression that they are obeying orders from headquarters, for such an order was not, and will not, be given."48 The movement represented a kind of class conflict which Powderly abhorred. The opposition of the Knights of Labor leadership was unable to stop the strike, or even to stop widespread participation of Knights of Labor locals, but it did severely disrupt the unity and effectiveness of the movement.

Preparatory agitation for the strike built up to major proportions in March and came to a head in April. A considerable number of eight-hour strikes broke out ahead of time, the eight-hour demand was injected into labor struggles over other issues, and massive eight-hour demonstrations were held throughout the country.

The movement centered in the major industrial cities of Chicago, New York, Cincinnati, Baltimore, and Milwaukee, with Boston, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Washington affected to a lesser degree.

Even before May 1st, almost a quarter of a million workers throughout the country were involved in the eight-hour movement. Some 30,000 had already been granted an eight-hour, or at least a shorter, day. At least 6,000 were on strike during the last week of April. It was estimated in April that not less than 100,000 were prepared to resort to the strike to secure their demand.

Yet the movement in fact proved even bigger than anticipated. By the second week in May, some 340,000 workers had participated, 190,000 of them by striking.49 Eighty thousand struck in Chicago, 45,000 in New York, 32,000 in Cincinnati, 9,000 in Baltimore, 7,000 in Milwaukee, 4,700 in Boston, 4,250 in Pittsburgh, 3,000 in Detroit, 2,000 in St. Louis, 1,500 in Washington, and 13,000 in other cities.50 Nearly 200,000 workers, according to Bradstreet's, won shorter hours. Socialist satirist Oscar Ameringer, writing half a century later, described the May Day strike in Cincinnati. He had just arrived from Germany and found a job in a furniture factory-which he found totally different from his father's carpentry shop.

Here everything was done by machine. Our only task was assembling, gluing together, and finishing, at so much a chair or table, the two specialties of the factory. Speed came first, quality of workmanship last. . . The work was monotonous, the hours of drudgery ten a day, my wages a dollar a day. Also, spring was coming on. Birds and blue hills beckoned. And so, when agitators from the Knights of Labor invaded our sweatshop preaching the divine message of less work for more pay, I became theirs . . .51

Ameringer joined a woodworkers' union affiliated with the Knights of Labor. "The membership was almost exclusively German and seasoned with a good sprinkling of anarchists." Before the May Day strike, "there had been groups of older or more militant members manufacturing bombs out of gas pipes. All of us expected violence, I suppose." At the kick-off march, "only red flags were carried . . . the only song we sang was the 'Arbeiters Marseillaise' . . . a workers' battalion of 400 Springfield rifles headed the procession. It was the Lehr und Wehr Verein, the educational and protective society of embattled toil."52

Such brigades of armed workers had grown up in a number of cities, largely in response to the use of police and military forces in 1877. By 1886 they existed not only in Cincinnati, but also Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Omaha, Newark, New York, San Francisco, Denver, and other cities, adding to the feeling that a bitter conflict was at hand.

In Milwaukee, an enormous labor agitation was launched well in advance of May Day. In February, 1886, the local assemblies of the Knights of Labor, despite the national leadership, organized an Eight Hour League, and in the following month were joined by the local trade unions. A mass meeting of 3,000 built pressure for the change.53

The Commissioner of Labor and Industrial Statistics reported,

. . . the agitation permeated our entire social atmosphere. Skilled and unskilled laborers formed unions or assemblies. Men, and even women, contributed money and time to its promulgation. It was the topic of conversation in the shop, on the street, at the family table, at the bar, in the counting rooms, and the subject of numerous able sermons from the pulpit.54

As May 1st approached, workers in 200 workshops and factories made their demands. On April 29th, the workers at the large John Plankinton & Co. packing house and several hundred workers from the sash and door shops struck for eight hours.

By May 1st, 3,000 brewers, 1,500 carpenters and other construction workers, and large numbers of bakers, cigar-makers, brickyard workers, slaughterhouse workers, laborers, and others had struck-a total of about 8,000. On Sunday, May 2nd, 2,500 workers held a parade through downtown Milwaukee complete with several bands and ending with a picnic. The strike continued to spread on Monday, as workers from smaller shops left their jobs.

By the end of the day 14,000 were on strike, and victories began appearing. The master masons and bricklayers granted a twenty percent wage increase and allowed their men to work eight or ten hours, as they preferred; the Filer-Stowell foundry granted eight hours; Best Brewing met the workers' wage and hour demands. All but total victory seemed at hand and the workers refused to go . back unless the company would fire those workers who had not struck.

The strike now began to spread in the pattern of the General Strikes of 1877. Monday morning, 1,000 striking brewers lined up in front of the Falk Brewery, the only large brewery not on strike, to prevent employees from going to work; the Falk workers quit when the local assembly of the Knights of Labor called them out. That afternoon a crowd of several hundred strikers tried to force 1,400 men at the West Milwaukee Railway shops to quit. Turned away by the police, they marched on the still-running Allis works, where they were dispersed after being doused with streams of water from the mill. Fearing further violence, Allis decided to close the works, charging that "this afternoon a band of Polish laborers marched from the West Milwaukee shops. . . to my works, and with brandished clubs endeavored to force an entrance. Although the mob of men with clubs marched directly before the eyes of the police at the south side station, who had been notified of their coming and of their purpose, not a policeman moved to keep them from attack."55 The Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad shops likewise closed to avoid violence.

The next morning one crowd gathered in the Menomonee River valley and moved along the river trying to close plants. Seventy-five policemen were powerless to control the crowd.

Another group of 1,500 workers moved on the Brandt & Co. stove works and forced the men to quit work. Still another crowd gathered at St. Stanislaus Church in the Polish district and decided to march to the North Chicago Rolling Mills plant at Bay View, the largest plant in the city still in operation. When a committee of the crowd presented the mill officials' explanation that the workers were paid by the ton not by the hour and asked if they were satisfied with it, the crowd yelled back "Eight Hours!" They felt that it was no longer a matter between individual workers and employers, but rather a test of power between workers and employers as a whole.

As one of the employers they attacked put it, the issue had become more than hours and wages, it was a question of "my right to run my works and your right to sell me your time and labor. Our whole civilization and independence hangs on these. . ."56

Alarmed, Governor Rusk of Wisconsin called up the militia and sent them to Bay View. Three companies arrived by train and were stoned by the crowd as they marched onto the mill grounds. About 350 militiamen stayed in the mill overnight.

Next morning at 6:00 a.m., a crowd of 1,500 gathered again at St. Stanislaus Church to return to the Bay View mills. A Milwaukee Journal reporter who spent the night with the rioters reported, "They have no organization or leaders, and act merely under pressure of momentary excitement."57 The men assured reporters "that they had no intention of making an attack on the militia or the company's property, and simply wished to show that they had not been intimidated by the presence of the militia."58 They marched to the mill in orderly fashion, led by a red, white and blue banner with a clock set at eight o'clock in the middle. They carried clubs, iron bars, broken scythes, stones, and a few guns. According to General Charles King of the Wisconsin National Guard, Governor Rusk was telephoned and gave the order, "Fire on them!"59

As the crowd approached the mill, the commander of the militia gave them an inaudible warning to stop, then ordered the militia to fire. "As if by a common impulse the entire crowd fell headlong to the ground, and for a minute it appeared as though nearly all had been killed or wounded by the first discharge. When the troops ceased firing, all who were uninjured turned and ran pell mell back to the city, leaving six dead or dying in the dusty road."60 The shooting broke the back of the eight-hour movement in Milwaukee, and gradually the strikers returned to work, mostly at the old terms.

The eight-hour movement was launched in New York with a rally of 20,000 in Union Square, under a heavy police guard: "About 600 police officers were visible to the naked eye and over 100 more were hidden from view in the buildings surrounding the square. Not many blocks away 200 or 300 more officers might have been quickly called."61 Nearly 4,000 furniture workers established shorter hours simply by reporting for work at 8:00 and leaving at 5:00. One thousand piano workers, seven hundred fifty furriers, five hundred carriage and wagon makers, two hundred fifty marble workers, to select a few examples, struck for shorter hours. Those winning their demands included:

Eight Hours
Brownstone Cutters 1,600
Cigarmakers and Packers 11,000
Cabinet & other furniture trades 4,000
Piano Makers 3,000
Fresco Painters 700
Furriers 750
Typographers 360
Wagon and Carriage Makers 600
Total: 22,000

Nine Hours
Coopers 1,500
Machinist & Pattern Makers 20,000
Bricklayers & Building Trades 40,000
Metal Workers, including Brass Workers 2, 000
Clothing Cutters 1, 500
Total: 65,000

"Besides the above trades there are numerous others, such as the bakers and brewers, and salesmen of all kinds that have reduced their hours of labor from fifteen to twelve and ten."62 The street railway men reduced their working day by as much as five hours to twelve a day.

From Baltimore, John Swinton's Paper reported, "the third of May will be remembered in Baltimore as witnessing the largest and most imposing street parades of organized workingmen ever seen in this section. . . . Twenty thousand is the estimated number . . . a monster mass meeting. . . in the eight-hour interest was held at Concordia Opera House. About 10,000 organized workingmen were in line of procession. . . . The streets along the road were a blaze of light, lit up by thousands of torches and lanterns carried by the men in line."63

In Pittsburgh, cabinetmakers struck for a twenty percent advance in wages and a reduction from ten to eight hours; the carpenters struck for nine hours and a ten percent increase; stonecutters quickly won nine hours. Bakers closed 120 of 160 bakeries demanding shorter hours in Pittsburgh and Allegheny; coal miners at Imperial, Pennsylvania, struck for an advance of half a cent per bushel; 1 ,500 colliers won wage increases. "The horseshoers are happy," a labor paper reported. "Hereafter they quit work at 4:00 p.m. Saturdays."64

In Troy, New York, 5,000 went out on strike for eight hours, including 2,000 stove molders and all the building trades. Three hundred Italian railroad laborers struck for a wage increase, and "after stopping work they tied red handkerchiefs to their pickaxes and shovels and marched down the track in a body to another place where a second gang was at work and induced them to join the strikers."65

In Grand Rapids, several thousand furniture workers held a mass meeting demanding the eight-hour day; manufacturers accepted eight hours only with comparable wage reductions and were struck. In Detroit there were a number of strikes. On May 10th, sixty policemen were drawn up in a line in front of the Michigan Car Works in an attempt to break a strike there.

The street in front of the works was thronged with strikers waiting to see how many of their number would, as had been announced, return to work when the whistle sounded. Several "spotters" were stationed near the gates leading into the works. These closely scrutinized each workman who entered, apparently taking notes for future reference. Every time a man in working garb turned from the sidewalk to pass through the gate, loud cries of "Come out of that," "Coward," "shame," &c., went up from the waiting and watching strikers. . . . The net result of all this effort was that nine-tenths of the men were eventually kept out.66

In St. Louis, plumbers and water works employees struck for eight hours without wage cuts; carpenters imposed the eight-hour rule; furniture manufacturers agreed to eight hours, but with no wage adjustment. In Indianapolis, furniture workers struck for eight hours, and wheel works employees were locked out. In Louisville, Kentucky, furniture workers were shut out for demanding eight hours with adjusted pay. In Washington, D.C., the building trades decided to impose the eight-hour day, and were soon seen at quitting time brushing shoulders with the government clerks, who already had attained it. The tinners of Fort Worth, Texas, adopted the eight-hour system. Ten thousand miners at Wilkes Barre demonstrated for the eight-hour day. From New Haven, Connecticut, the New York Times reported: "This town has picked up the reputation lately of having more strikes than any other city of its size in the country. Very likely it deserves it; at any rate the labor problem is in everybody's mouth. There are two societies devoted to its discussion," drawing hundreds of participants.67 In Portland, Maine, cigar makers struck for wage increases.

Of course, in a number of cities the eight-hour movement failed to catch on. From Boston, for example, John Swinton's Paper reported, "Although there have been a great deal of agitation, discussion and argument in this city for the last seven months over the adoption of the eight-hour day"-indeed, 100 meetings on the question had been held by May 1st-"yet when the third of May arrived only four trades struck for the proposed change. . . the carpenters, plumbers, painters and masons."68 And from Philadelphia it reported,

The short hour movement has caused several strikes, most notably among the furniture workers and cabinet makers. . . . But the whole movement is dull as ditch water in Philadelphia."69

The heart of the eight-hour movement was in Chicago. Local Knights of Labor, trade unionists and anarchists-reversing their previous opposition-all supported the Eight-Hour Association which agitated for the strike. Through April, a series of huge mass demonstrations drew upwards of 25,000 people each. "Nearly everyone was certain that with this display of spirit and the excellent organization of the Chicago workers, the movement would succeed."70

The other side prepared as well. The police were readied for emergency action; the militia was equipped for instant participation in street disorders; and leading businessmen created a committee of the Citizens' Association of Chicago to hold almost continuous sessions "for the purpose of agreeing upon a plan of action in case the necessities of the situation should demand [its] intervention in any way."71

More than a year before, newspapers had reported the formation of military armed bodies by businessmen, who armed their employees in wholesale houses, and the enlargement of the National Guard. "In one large business house alone there is an organization of 150 young men who have been armed with Remington breech-loading rifles and pursue a regular course of drilling. . . . This is by no means an isolated case."72

On the eve of the strike, the Times reported from Chicago that "within the past forty-eight hours nearly $2,000 has been subscribed by various members of the Commercial Club, with which it is proposed to purchase some sort of a machine gun for the First Infantry, Illinois National Guard. The idea was suggested at the inspection and drill of the regiment Tuesday night and was readily adopted, when it was hinted that in case of a riot such a piece would prove a valuable weapon in the hands of the Guardsmen."73

By May Day, the movement in Chicago had already won impressive concessions: 1,000 brewers reduced their hours from sixteen to ten; 1 ,000 bakers who formerly worked fourteen to eighteen hours, gained a ten-hour day. A good proportion of furniture workers won the eight-hour day with a twenty-five percent increase in hourly wages; 1,600 clothing cutters won ten hours' pay for eight hours' work. Some tobacco, shoe, lard, packing, and other companies likewise reduced hours. A great many more workers, however, were expecting a hard fight to win. Among these were 4,000 bricklayers and stonemasons, 1,500 brickmakers, 1,200 metalworkers, butchers, carpenters, coopers, lathers, shoemakers, upholsterers, and molders.

On May 1st, the Illinois State Register reported, "The supreme officers of the police department have ceased in the attempt to smooth over the fears of the last few weeks regarding the labor movement. Their sole idea now is that. . . there will be a great deal of trouble."74 That day 30,000 struck, including 10,000 lumbermen, 2,500 freight handlers, and 5,000 carpenters and woodworkers.75 Perhaps twice that number watched or took part in demonstrations.76 Freight handlers met and made a tour of the railroad freight depots, bringing out their fellows on all but two railroads. About 10,000 Bohemians, Poles, and Germans employed in and about the lumberyards marched through the streets with music and flags.77 Perhaps because of their overwhelming numbers, there were no violent conflicts with the police.

By May 3rd, more and more groups of workers were joining the strike. A correspondent for John Swinton's Paper reported jubilantly, "It is an eight-hour boom, and we are scoring victory after victory. Today the packing houses of the Union Stock Yards all yielded. . . men. . . are wild with joy at the grand victory they have gained."78

But that day the police fired on a crowd that was attacking strikebreakers at the McCormack factory, killing four and seriously wounding many. With this the atmosphere turned bitter, and next day repeated street fighting developed between the crowd and police. The anarchists issued an appeal for workers to take up arms, and many labor gatherings were called for that night, including a rally at Haymarket Square to protest police brutality.

Only about 1,200 people attended the Haymarket rally; all but about 300 of them had left as rain began to fall. The last speaker was just saying, "In conclusion . . ." when to everyone's amazement a body of 180 policemen marched in and ordered the meeting to disperse. As the speakers climbed down from their platform, suddenly a dynamite bomb flew through the air and exploded among the police, killing one and wounding almost seventy. The police reformed ranks and fired into the crowd, killing one and wounding many.

Popular hysteria followed. The next day, wrote a Chicago lawyer, "I passed many groups of people . . . whose excited conversations about the events of the preceding night, I could not fail to overhear. Everybody assumed that the speakers at the meeting and other labor agitators were the perpetrators of the horrible crime.

'Hang them first and try them afterwards,' was an expression which I heard repeatedly. . . . The air was charged with anger, fear and hatred."79 The press throughout the country did everything possible to stir up this feeling. The New York Times, for example, wrote, "No disturbance of the peace that has occurred in the United States since the war of the rebellion has excited public sentiment through the Union as it is excited by the Anarchists' murder of policemen in Chicago on Tuesday night. We say murder with the fullest consciousness of what that word means. It is silly to speak of the crime as a riot. All the evidence goes to show that it was concerted, deliberately planned, and cooly executed murder."80

The hysteria aroused by the bombing was turned against labor in general. As an anonymous Chicagoan wrote at the time, "the newspapers have taken advantage of the trouble to lump the socialists, anarchists, and strikers all together, making no distinction between them, and the consequence is that the labor cause will have to suffer. There will be a lull, and then a terrible reaction."81 "The bomb," John Swinton wrote, "was a godsend to the enemies of the labor movement. They have used it as an explosive against all the objects that the working people are bent upon accomplishing, and in defense of all the evils that capital is bent upon maintaining."82

The reaction was not long in coming. Mayor Carter Harrison of Chicago issued a proclamation declaring that, since crowds, processions and the like were "dangerous" with conditions as they were, he had ordered the police to break up all such gatherings. An enormous police dragnet was organized, no less than fifty supposed "hang-outs" of radicals were raided within two days, and those under even the slightest suspicion of radical affiliation were arrested. It was reported that "the principal police stations are filled with anarchists and men who were arrested out of the mobs Tuesday night. At Desplaines Street alone there are over fifty, at the Armory nearly seventy-five, and about twenty-five at the Twelfth Street Station."83 Most of those arrested were taken without warrants, and for some time no specific charges were lodged against them. As a Chicago socialist wrote to William Morris at the time,

One week ago freedom of speech and of the press was a right unquestioned by the bitterest anti-Socialist. . . . Today all this is changed. . . . Socialists are hunted like wolves. . . . The Chicago papers are loud and unceasing in their demand for the lives of all prominent Socialists. To proclaim one's-self a Socialist in Chicago now is to invite immediate arrest. . . . All the attaches of all the Socialist papers have been seized and the papers broken up."84

Seven of the anarchists seized were tried and sentenced to death; four were eventually hanged, although there was virtually no evidence connecting them with the bombing.

The Haymarket hysteria gave the signal for the law and order forces throughout the country to act. Oscar Ameringer describes its effects on the eight-hour strike in Cincinnati. At first, it had been a "jolly strike;" victory had seemed certain, for "the forces of the opposition kept in the background, and did not almost everyone belong to the Knights of Labor?" As the strike benefits ran out, however, morale had begun to decline. Then suddenly newsboys were crying "Anarchists bomb-throwers kill one hundred policemen in Haymarket in Chicago. . ." "The bad news from Chicago," Ameringer wrote, "fell like an exceedingly cold blanket on us strikers. To our erstwhile friends and sympathizers the news was the clarion for speedy evaporation. Some of our weaker Knights broke rank. . . . The police grew more numerous and ill-mannered."85

The First Regiment Militia was stationed in the Cincinnati Armory and three regiments from Columbus and Springfield were camped at Carthage, ten miles out, with special trains at hand to bring them into the city in twenty minutes if necessary. Most of the trades had compromised by May 10th on nine hours' pay for eight hours' work. Only the furniture makers remained out; their strike was gradually broken and the men returned to work.

The pattern of demoralization and compromise was the same throughout the country.

The mass strike of 1886 was an attempt by the new class of industrial workers to use their power to gain some control over the conditions of their life and work. The Southwest strike was a direct bid for dual power over the operation of the railroads. The eight-hour strike was both an assertion that the worker was a human being whose life should not be consumed in toil, and an attack on the deliberate policy of keeping hours long and unemployment high in order to get the most work for the least wages.

The movement was met with a fierce wave of reaction, taking the Haymarket hysteria as its starting point and utilizing the techniques that had been developed against the Southwest strikes.

There developed a "tidal wave of formation of employers' associations to check the abuses of unionism, even to crush it."86

By September, a leading labor journalist was writing that "Since May last, many corporations and Employers' Associations have been resorting to all sorts of unusual expedients to break up the labor organizations whose strength has become so great within the past two or three years."87

To take two cases out of scores, the association of shirt manufacturers of Jamesburg, New Jersey, locked out 2,000 employees whom they discovered had joined the Knights of Labor, and the manufacturers of silver goods in New York, Brooklyn, and Providence formed an association and locked out 1,200 workers for the same reason.88 Thousands were not only fired but blacklisted, and thus kept from getting work elsewhere. The "Iron-Clad Oath" (later known as the "Yellow-Dog Contract"), which forced workers to swear they would not join a labor organization, became widely required for employment. The movement for labor solidarity and power was broken for the time, but it would arise again in less than a decade.

Excerpted from Strike! - Jeremy Brecher

  • 1. Terence V. Powderly, Thirty Years of Labor 1859-1889 (Columbus, Ohio: Ex- celsior Publishing House, 1889), p. 539.
  • 2. Ibid., p. 538.
  • 3. John R. Commons, History of Laboùr in the United States, Vol. II (N.Y.: Mac- millan Co., 1918), pp. 373-4.
  • 4. Harry Frumerman, "The Railroad Strikes of 1885-86," in Marxist Quarterly (Oct.-Dec. 1937), Vol. I, pp. 394-6.
  • 5. Norman J. Ware, The Labor Movement in the United States 1860-1895, A Study in Democracy (N.Y.: Vintage Books, 1964), p. 143.
  • 6. Proceedings, 1885 General Assembly, pp. 84-91, quoted in Ware, p. 143.
  • 7. Commons, Vol. II, p. 370.
  • 8. John Swinton, John Swinton's Paper, April 12, 1885, cited in Ware, p. 66.
  • 9. Ware, p. 66.
  • 10. Powderly, p. 163.
  • 11. Ware, p. xviii.
  • 12. Powderly, pp. 258-9.
  • 13. Ibid., p. 123.
  • 14. Ibid., p. 156.
  • 15. Ibid., p. 53.
  • 16. Ware, pp. xv-xvi.
  • 17. Powderly, p. 151.
  • 18. Ware, p. 320.
  • 19. Powderly, p. 275.
  • 20. John Swinton's Paper, April 12, 1885, cited in Ware, p. 140.
  • 21. Cited in Ware, p. 307.
  • 22. Lucy E. Parsons, Life of Albert R. Parsons with Brief History of the Labor Movememt in America (Chicago: Lucy E. Parsons, 1889), p. 22.
  • 23. Henry David, The History of the Haymarket Affair, A Study in the American Social-Revolutionary and Labor Movememts (N. Y.: Collier Books, 1963), p. 21.
  • 24. Ware, p. 302.
  • 25. David, p. 21.
  • 26. Report of the Commissioner of Labor, Third Annual Report, 1887, p. 12.
  • 27. Commons, Vol. II, p. 366.
  • 28. John Swimon's Paper, March 14, 1886, cited in Ware, p. 146.
  • 29. Ruth Allen
  • 30. Ibid., p. 156.
  • 31. Ibid., pp. 132-3.
  • 32. New York Times, March 20, 1886.
  • 33. Allen, pp. 76-7.
  • 34. New York Times, March 24, 1886.
  • 35. New York Times, April 18, 1886.
  • 36. Allen, pp. 77-8.
  • 37. New York Times, April 3, 1886.
  • 38. New York Times, April 10, 1886.
  • 39. Ibid.
  • 40. Proceedings, Federation, 1884, pp. 24-5, cited in Ware, p. 301.
  • 41. Ware, p. 302.
  • 42. Proceedings, Federation, 1885, cited in Powderly, pp. 499-500.
  • 43. Powderly, p. 483.
  • 44. Cited in David, p. 148.
  • 45. New York Times, April 20, 1886.
  • 46. Powderly, p. 495.
  • 47. Ibid.
  • 48. Cited Ibid., p. 496.
  • 49. Ibid., p. 156.
  • 50. Commons, Vol. II, p. 385.
  • 51. Oscar Ameringer, If You Don't Weaken (N.Y.: Henry Holt and Co., 1940), p.44.
  • 52. Ibid., pp. 44-5.
  • 53. Thomas W. Gavett, Development of the Labor Movement in Milwaukee (Madi- son and Milwaukee, Wise.: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1965), p. 58.
  • 54. Wisconsin Bureau Labor Statistics, Second Biennial Report, p. 319, cited in Gavett, p. 59.
  • 55. Ibid., p. 330, cited in Roger Simon, "The Bay View Incident and the People's Party in Milwaukee," unpublished paper, 1967, p. 6.
  • 56. Milwaukee Daily Journal, May 5,1886, cited in Simon, p. 9.
  • 57. Cited in Gavett, p. 64.
  • 58. Milwaukee Daily Journal, May 5, 1886, cited in Simon, p. 10.
  • 59. Gavett, p. 64.
  • 60. Milwaukee Daily Journal, May 5, 1886, cited in Simon, p. 11.
  • 61. New York Times, May 2, 1886.
  • 62. John Swinton's Paper, May 9, 1886.
  • 63. John Swinton's Paper, May 9, 1886.
  • 64. Ibid.
  • 65. New York Times, May 2, 1886.
  • 66. New York Times, May 11, 1886.
  • 67. New York Times, May 2, 1886.
  • 68. John Swinton's Paper, May 9, 1886.
  • 69. John Swinton's Paper, May 9, 1886.
  • 70. David, p. 159.
  • 71. Ibid., p. 161.
  • 72. Ibid., p. 137.
  • 73. New York Times, May 1, 1886.
  • 74. Illinois State Register, May 1, 1886, cited in David, p. 163.
  • 75. New York Times, May 2, 1886.
  • 76. David, p. 163.
  • 77. New York Times, May 2, 1886.
  • 78. John Swinton's Paper, May 9, 1886.
  • 79. Cited in David, p. 179.
  • 80. New York Times, cited in David, p. 183.
  • 81. Cited.in David, p. 194.
  • 82. John Swinton's Paper, cited in David, p. 186.
  • 83. Cited in David, p. 190.
  • 84. Cited in David, p. 193.
  • 85. Ameringer, p. 46.
  • 86. Clarence E. Bonnett, History of Employers' Associations in the United States States (N.Y.: Vantage Press, 1956), p. 282.
  • 87. Commons, Vol. 11, p. 414.
  • 88. Ibid.