Today in labor history: Soldiers flee striking Pittsburgh workers

On this day in 1877 during the Great Railroad strike, workers in Pittsburgh forced soldiers sent to quell the job action to flee the city.  The strike, which began in West Virginia, spread to Pennsylvania, Illinois, Maryland and Missouri.

Robber baron Thomas Alexander Scott of the Pennsylvania Railroad in response to the strike proposed giving the workers “a rifle diet for a few days and see how they like that kind of bread.”

On July 21 the National Guard attacked the strike killing over 20 workers. The strikers responded by setting fire to railroad cars and forcing the soldiers into one of the railroad buildings. More violence ensued the next day and 20 more strikers were massacred.

The battles continued in several cities for over a month until President Rutherford Hays put down the strike with federal troops. The work stoppage was in response to wage cuts by B & O Railroad.

Photo: via WikiMedia



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