why was the homestead strike called off
On July 2 all were discharged. The union, limited to skilled tradesmen, represented less than one-fifth of the thirty-eight hundred workers at the plant, but the rest voted overwhelmingly to join the strike. An advisory committee was formed, which directed the strike and soon took over the company town as well. Frick sent for three hundred Pinkerton guards, but when they arrived by barge on July 6 they were met by ten thousand strikers, many of them armed. After an all-day battle, the Pinkertons surrendered and were forced to run a gauntlet through the crowd. In all, nine strikers and seven Pinkertons were killed; many strikers and most of the remaining Pinkertons were injured, some seriously. The sheriff, unable to recruit local residents against the strikers, appealed to Governor William Stone for support; eight thousand militia arrived on July 12.
Gradually, under militia protection, strikebreakers got the plant running again. Frickвs intransigence had won sympathy for the strikers, but an attempt on his life by anarchist Alexander Berkman on July 23 caused most of it to evaporate. Meanwhile, the corporation had more than a hundred strikers arrested, some of them for murder; though most were finally released, each case consumed much of the unionвs time, money, and energy. The strike lost momentum and ended on November 20, 1892. With the Amalgamated Association virtually destroyed, Carnegie Steel moved quickly to institute longer hours and lower wages. The Homestead strike inspired many workers, but it also underscored how difficult it was for any union to prevail against the combined power of the corporation and the government. The Readerвs Companion to American History. Eric Foner and John A. Garraty, Editors.
Copyright В 1991 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
HOMESTEAD STRIKE, at the Carnegie Steel Company plant at Homestead, Pennsylvania, in 1892, was one of the most violent labor struggles in U. S. history. The company, owned by Andrew Carnegie and managed by Henry Clay Frick, was determined to break the Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel, and Tin Workers union, which represented 750 of Homestead's 3,800 laborers. Frick closed the mill and locked the workers out on 1 July, after they rejected his proposed 22 percent wage cut. While Carnegie remained at his castle in Scotland, Frick hired three hundred Pinkerton Detective Agency guards to battle the workers. A gunfight erupted when the Pinkertons attempted to land at the Monongahela River docks, and altogether at least sixteen people were killed and more than sixty wounded.
The fighting ended on 12 July, when Pennsylvania National Guard troops arrived. The lockout continued for almost five months, while steel production continued at Carnegie's other plants. The Amalgamated Association was ultimately driven from Homestead, forcing the remaining desperate workers to return to their jobs. In the following decade, the average workday rose from eight to twelve hours, and wages dropped an average of 25 percent. By 1903 all other steel plants in the country had defeated the union as well. Demarest, David P. , and Fannia Weingartner, eds. "The River Ran Red": Homestead 1892. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1992. Krause, Paul. The Battle for Homestead, 1880Б1892: Politics, Culture, and Steel. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1992. John Cashman See also.
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