The Homestead Strike of 1892

The Homestead Strike of 1892

With an Afterword by DAVID P. DEMAREST
Copyright Date: 1979
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    The Homestead Strike of 1892
    Book Description:

    In 1893 Arthur Burgoyne, one of Pittsburgh's most skilled and sensitive journalists, publishedHomestead, a complete history of the 1892 Homestead strike and the ensuing conflict between the Carnegie Steel Company and the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers. Accurate, readable, and judiciously balanced in assigning blame, this work gives crucial insight into a turbulent period in Pittsburgh's history.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7129-0
    Subjects: History, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. None)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. None)
  3. Homestead
      (pp. iii-iv)
      The Author

      The demand voiced by representative working-men in the Pittsburgh district, not only on their own account but on that of their brethren the world over, for a correct and impartial history of the Homestead trouble, sufficiently explains the appearance of this volume.

      The importance of the theme requires no demonstration. Since labor first organized for its own protection it has passed through no period more prolific in soul-stirring events and significant developments than that extending from July to November, 1892, and including the lock-out at the Carnegie mills, the battle with 300 Pinkerton guards, the military occupation of Homestead, the...

      (pp. v-viii)
    • CHAPTER I. Capital in Its Stronghold.
      (pp. 3-14)

      In a bend of the south bank of the Monongahela River, eight miles from Pittsburgh, nestles the thriving town of Homestead, a place of about 12,000 inhabitants, built up by the wealth and enterprise of the Carnegie Steel Company and the thrift of the artisans employed by that great manufacturing corporation.

      Without the Carnegie mills there would be no Homestead. Like the mushroom towns that sprang up along the Northern Pacific Railroad while the line was in process of construction and that died out as fast as the base of operations was shifted, so Homestead sprang into being when the...

    • CHAPTER II. The Gathering of the Storm.
      (pp. 15-26)

      The Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers is, with , the possible exception of the Association of Window Glass Workers, the best generaled and most substantially organized labor organization in the United States. One of the fundamental principles in the doctrine of the association is to avoid and discourage strikes; and so closely has this article of faith been observed that the number of strikes officially ordered in the iron and steel industries has been small in comparison with the record of most other labor unions.

      The adjustment of wage scales by the association is largely the affair of...

    • CHAPTER III. Locked Out.
      (pp. 27-40)

      About the time of the assembling of the delegates to the convention of the Amalgamated Association, the PittsburghPost,a Democratic newspaper, printed an article in which it was alleged that the impending conflict at Homestead was to be precipitated not in the interest of the Carnegie Company alone, but in that of all the iron and steel manufacturers of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio. Homestead, it was said, was chosen as a battle ground, (I) because of the ease with which the mill property could be equipped for offensive and defensive purposes; (2) because the ruin wrought in that...

    • Illustrations
      (pp. None)
    • CHAPTER IV. The Pinkerton Guards.
      (pp. 41-51)

      While Mr. Frick’s men were busily engaged in perfecting a martial organization and putting the government of the town of Homestead on a war footing, Mr. Frick himself was not idle. He did not waste any time in considering projects for immediately introducing non-union men into the mills, being well aware that, if men foolhardy enough to take the risk of “blacksheeping” at Homestead could be found, it would still be impracticable to get them past the picket lines of the locked-out steelworkers, and that, even if a force of non-unionists could be piloted into the mill their presence would...

    • CHAPTER V. The First Shot.
      (pp. 52-64)

      The barges on which Captain Heinde and his 300 men embarked were primitive specimens of the boat builders’ art, previously used for the transportation of freight. Unlike the ordinary coal barge, these were roofed in, and, were it not for the flat roof, would have exactly resembled Noah’s ark. They measured 125 feet long and 20 feet wide. One was known as the Iron Mountain; the other as the Monongahela. These floating barracks had been purchased a week before the time of the Pinkerton expedition by an agent of Mr. Frick’s, and quietly fitted up at the landing-place of the...

    • CHAPTER VI. The Bombardment.
      (pp. 65-77)

      While the heroes of the battle at the landing were building breastworks in the mill-yards and keeping up an intermittent fire on the enemy, a busy scene was in progress at the telegraph office in the advisory committee’s headquarters. Here a temporary arsenal was established and rifles, shot guns and ammunition were distributed to volunteers eager to take a hand against Mr. Frick’s emissaries.

      Soon a new terror was added to those already menacing the Pinkertons. The dull roar of a cannon was heard proceeding from the heights across the river, and, at the first shot, a huge gap was...

    • CHAPTER VII. The Surrender.
      (pp. 78-88)

      At three o’clock President William Weihe, of the Amalgamated Association, came up from Pittsburgh, bearing a commission from the Sheriff. He was accompanied by Assistant President-elect C. H. McEvay, of Youngstown, Ohio; Secretary Shaw, Charles Johns and other prominent officials and members of the association. President-elect Garland joined the party. The visitors, whose mission was one of mediation, arrived none too soon. The same indefatigable individuals who had experimented with the burning raft and the car of fire, had just turned their attention to pumping oil into the water and throwing heaps of burning waste upon it, expecting to set...

    • CHAPTER VIII. After the Battle.
      (pp. 89-101)

      At three o’clock on the morning of July 7, a committee of picked men made a search of the Homestead works, keeping a sharp look-out for stray Pinkertons, spies or other interlopers. Nothing was discovered. Even the rats were scared away from the place, where empty cartridge shells, wadding and discarded weapons—mute evidences of the bloody work that had been done the day before—were scattered around in profusion. Having completed its round, the committee retired to headquarters and prepared an order requiring the watchmen, who had deserted their posts when the battle with the Pinkertons began, to resume...

    • CHAPTER IX. Soldiers to the Front.
      (pp. 102-115)

      With the exception of alarms caused by rumors that Pinkertons were coming in force, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, July 8, 9 and 10, were comparatively uneventful days at Homestead.

      On Friday morning Harris Striegel, a lad of 19, who had been among the first to fall, was buried with solemn ceremonies. In the afternoon a mass meeting was held at the rink, under the auspices of President Weihe and other officers of the Amalgamated Association. William J. Brennen, attorney for the Association, addressed the men, advising them to let the sheriff take possession of the works. If they refused to...

    • CHAPTER X. Camp McClellan.
      (pp. 116-132)

      In pursuance of Gen. Snowden’s plan to take Homestead by surprise, the Second and Third Brigades, instead of being massed as announced in the newspapers, at Brinton, a station on the Pennsylvania R. R. nearly opposite Homestead, came together at Radebaugh, a mile and a half west of Greensburg, and 28½ miles distant from Pittsburgh. By 2.30 A. M. all the regiments had reached the rendezvous, and at 5 A. M. the order to advance was given and the troops moved towards Homestead, crossing the Monongahela river over the P. V. & C. bridge near Braddock. The Tenth and Fourteenth...

    • Illustrations
      (pp. None)
    • CHAPTER XI. The First Arrests.
      (pp. 133-145)

      The locked-out men were not mistaken in their belief that the Caṛnegie Company would take advantage of the presence of the military to bring non-union men into the mill. Troops were early detailed to garrison the mill yard, and a line of sentries was posted outside the fence, so that there could be no interference by the workmen either from the railroad or the river. The steamboat Tide was used as a special transport for non-unionists, the first squads of whom came over from Swissvale, on the Pennsylvania railroad, and were taken across the river under cover of Colonel Hawkins’...

    • CHAPTER XII. The Shooting of Frick.
      (pp. 146-158)

      “Frick is shot !”

      Such was the appalling announcement blazoned on bulletin boards, passed from mouth to mouth and hurried over the telegraph wires on the afternoon of Saturday, July 23, while O’Donnell and Ross were under-going their preliminary hearing in the county court. The first question on every lip was, “Did a Homestead man do the shooting?” and great was the feeling of relief among the sympathizers of organized labor when it was learned that the would-be assassin, Alexander Berkman, was a Russian anarchist, and that his crime was prompted solely by the teachings of the infamous class of...

    • CHAPTER XIII. Berkman and Iams.
      (pp. 159-173)

      Anarchist berkman received but a short shrift. He was placed on trial before Judge McClung on September 19, appearing at the bar without an attorney and without witnesses. His demeanor was cool and indifferent. District Attorney Burleigh presented six indictments, charging the prisoner with offenses ranging from felonious assault and battery down to carrying concealed weapons.

      Mr. Frick was placed on the stand and told the story of the shooting, and the blood-stained garments worn by the Carnegie chairman at the time of the attack were put in evidence. Corroborative testimony was furnished by Mr. Leishman and others.

      The prosecution...

    • CHAPTER XIV. Politicians at Work.
      (pp. 174-188)

      For reasons which were never fully disclosed, the House committee on Homestead, which entrusted to Representative Oates the preparation of a report to the general judiciary committee, rejected the report when completed and decided to let the whole matter drift over to the next session of Congress. Mr. Oates found that the differences between the Carnegie Company and its men might have been adjusted, had Mr. Frick stated to the conference committee the “bottom facts” prompting the demand for a reduction of wages, but the officers of the company invited trouble by failing to exercise “patience, indulgence and solicitude,” and...

    • CHAPTER XV. Treason.
      (pp. 189-208)

      During the month of August, the mill continued to fill up rapidly with non-union recruits. Among these there was an admixture of worthless characters, who went to Homestead only for the novelty of the thing or for the purpose of securing a few square meals and perhaps a little money from the Company without imposing any special tax on their energies. Men of this type rarely spent more than a day or two in the mill. Once their curiosity or rapacity was satisfied they deserted, threw themselves into the arms of the strikers, represented themselves as having been deluded by...

    • CHAPTER XVI. The First Break.
      (pp. 209-225)

      As an offset to the activity of Secretary Lovejoy, Burgess John McLuckie went before Alderman F. M. King on Wednesday, September 21, and lodged information for aggravated riot and conspiracy against H. C. Frick, George Lauder, Henry M. Curry, John G. A. Leishman, Otis Childs, F. T. F. Lovejoy, Lawrence C. Phipps, John A. Potter, G. A. Corey, J . F. Dovey, Nevin McConnell, William Pinkerton, Robert Pinkerton, John Cooper, C. W. Bedell, Fred Primer, W. H. Burt, Fred Heinde and others. In the information for conspiracy the defendants were charged with conspiring to “depress wages” and to incite riot...

    • CHAPTER XVII. Capitulation.
      (pp. 226-240)

      The secession of the mechanics and laborers was all that was wanting to complete the discouragement of the tonnage men. The usual mass meeting was held in the rink on Saturday, November 20, but the leaders, perceiving that a crisis was imminent, decided to exclude all who were not members of the lodges and only about 500 strikers took part in the secret deliberations which followed. Addresses were made by Vice Presidents Lynch and Carney, of the Amalgamated Association. Thomas Crawford, Chairman of the Advisory Board, was not present, and the information was conveyed to the meeting that he had...

    • CHAPTER XVIII. The First Trial.
      (pp. 241-260)

      Sylvester critchlow was the first of the Homestead men to be placed on trial in the Allegheny County Criminal Court, the charge against him being the murder of T. J. Connors.

      On the morning of November 18, 1892, Critchlow was arraigned before Judges Kennedy and McClung. A great crowd assembled in the court room, curious to observe the opening scenes in the memorable legal battle which was to ensue, but to the great disappointment of the throng, the judges ordered the room to be cleared of all except members of the bar, witnesses, jurors and reporters.

      The prisoner was perfectly...

    • CHAPTER XIX. Weaving New Toils.
      (pp. 261-279)

      The prevalence of disease among the non-union men in the Carnegie mill, and the alarming increase of mortality in the months of September and October were touched upon in an earlier chapter. It was not until December that the first intimation of the existence of a criminal cause for the species of epidemic which struck down man after man and baffled expert physicians and chemists reached the public. The Carnegie Company had concealed the truth as far as possible, endeavoring from the first to counteract the statements sent abroad by the Amalgamated Association to the effect that bad food, bad...

    • CHAPTER XX. The Denouement.
      (pp. 280-295)

      On February 2, 1893, Jack Clifford was put on trial before Judge Stowe, on an indictment charging him, jointly with Hugh Ross, Hugh O’Donnell, Burgess McLuckie and others, with the murder of Detective T. J. Connors. The counsel on both sides were the same that appeared in the Critchlow case, with the exception that W. S. Anderson, an eminent criminal lawyer of Youngstown, Ohio, was added to the side of the defense. The jury selected was as follows: John Erichson, J. L. Hammitt, Andrew Hepp, Jr., W. G. Bigham, Henry Lloyd, H. A. Price, John Stauffer, D. C. Mayer, Andrew...

      (pp. 296-298)

      Although ignobly routed in the courts, the Carnegie Company lost not a foot of the ground gained at Homestead. On the contrary, it has since doubly re-inforced itself, for not only is the spirit of unionism stamped out among the employees of the firm, but fully three-fourths of the former union men are now working, most of them at their old jobs, without exhibiting a trace of the independence which was once their pride, or making any pretensions to a voice in the determination of their wages.

      The re-employment of so many of the old hands was one of the...

    • Illustrations
      (pp. None)
    (pp. 301-317)
    David P. Demarest Jr.

    Two lurid events are associated in popular memory with the Homestead Strike of 1892—the bloody clash between the steel-workers and the Pinkerton Detectives along the shore of the Monongahela and the attempted assassination of Henry Clay Frick by the Russian anarchist, Alexander Berkman.

    Arthur Burgoyne’s account—the work of an on-the-scene Pittsburgh journalist—is not lurid. It tells the story of the strike from beginning to end, from the confidence with which the union approached discussions with management early in 1892 to its bitter defeat in the late days of November. Burgoyne’s narrative is, in fact, the best contemporary...

    (pp. 318-318)
    (pp. 318-318)
    (pp. 319-320)