America- Rise of Industrialization

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The Great Railroad Strike of 1877

Who: "The strike," an anonymous Baltimore merchant wrote, "is not a revolution of fanatics willing to fight for an idea. It is a revolt of working men against low prices of labor, which have not been accomplished with corresponding low prices of food, clothing and house rent."

What: The strike was a series of violent outbreaks in many cities by workers who felt they were underpaid and overworked.

When: In 1877, northern railroads began cutting salaries and wages. On July 13, the Baltimore & Ohio line cut the wages of all employees making more than a dollar a day by 10 percent. Also in July, the Pennsylvania Railroad announced that it would double the length of all eastbound trains from Pittsburgh with no increase in the size of their crews.

Where: Violent strikes broke out in Baltimore, Chicago, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and San Francisco. Governors in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia called out their state militias to stop the rioting.

Why: The strike is important because even though it was broken up within a few weeks, it helped set the stage for later violence in the 1880s and 1890s.

Citation: The Great Railroad Strike. Digital History. 2013. http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook.cfm?smtID=2&psid=3189.

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