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The Great Railroad Strike Of 1877

1121 words - 4 pages

The Great Railroad Strike of 1877The Great Railroad Strike of 1877 began in the month of July and started off in a town called Martinburg which was located in the state of West Virginia. What lead up The Great Railroad Strike of 1877 was a depression that started in September of 1873. The depression had a hold on the country that included wage cuts, evictions, breadlines, and layoffs. Many Americans suffered for the rest of the year as well as throughout the year of 1874. Even though 1874 was a hard year for Americans it was also the year that the union began to try and demand higher wages for the working class, as well as organize workers and the union even tried to make shorter work days. The result came to little or no success, because at that time the second largest employer in America was the railroad system, the first was agriculture.By the year of 1877, roughly 27 percent of Americas working population was unemployed. The people who were able to hold onto their jobs worked only half of the year (6 months) and their income had been cut by almost 45 percent, which came out to about a dollar a day. In response to the second wage cut of the year, the employers of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroads (B&O) went on strike due to Baltimore and Ohio Railroad wage cut. The strikers refused to go back to work until the second wage cut was returned to employees. The governor of the West Virginia sent the states militia to Martinburgs to get the train stations and train service back up and running. The states militia understood the strikers and the soldiers refused to take part, so the governor of west Virginia asked President Rutherford B. Hayes for further help and the president decided to call for federal troops to come in and restore train service.The great Railroad Strike traveled to Cumberland, Maryland by putting a stop to freight trains as well as stopping traffic with passengers. The governor of Maryland at that time was John Carroll, and he ordered for the Maryland militia to come and stop the strikers. The strikers had become violent and had begun to start street fights, so Governor Carroll called the fifth and sixth regiments of the National Guard to bring an end to the strike. Since, the strikers had become so violent the sixth regiment began to fight back and they ended up killing 10 protestors. The rioters threw rock and sticks at the militia. Not only did the rioters fight with the militia but they also burned down portions of train stations as well as train cars and train engines. President Rutherford B. Hayes sent Marines and federal troops to Baltimore to get the strikers back in order.The striker movement then moved on to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where one of the most violent battles took place. The local police in Pittsburgh refused to fight and fire on the strikers so President Hayes then called the militia to come to the rescue. The strikers were so furious with the wage cut that they trapped the militia inside of a railroad...

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