Arthur G. Burgoyne_
Eighteen and Ninety Three_
Homestead_ A Complete History_
The feeling of ownership had a place in the reasoning of these simple people. Many of them had bought and paid for their homes and were pillars of the borough government. Some were still paying for their dwellings—paying off the mortgages held by the Carnegie Company, which had been in the habit of helping those who cared to build, and which even did a regular banking business for the advantage of its employees.
The Eighth of Chapters_
Carnegie's Property Protected—Confidence Still Strong Among the Men—Homestead as a News Center—The Death-Roll—Burial of the Dead—Anarchists Get a Short Shrift—The Sheriff Fails Again—Interviewing the Governor—Martial Law In Sight—Proceedings In Congress—Opinions of Newspapers and Publicists—A Press Censorship Established at Homestead.
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 the guardianship of the Carnegie Company's property. The men had guaranteed protection to the plant and showed by this step that they meant to keep their word.
At an early hour all Homestead was stirring, and anxious crowds assembled at headquarters and other distributing centers of information to ascertain what the new day was likely to bring forth. For the most part, the feeling of self-confidence which had inspired the locked-out men was as strong now, when a reaction might have been expected to set in, as it was at any time previously. Rumors of the coming of a fresh detachment of Pinkertons put the men on their mettle, and it was apparent that a repetition of Mr. Frick's experiment would be worse than futile.
Nobody gave serious thought to the likelihood of prosecutions to follow. The Pinkertons were invaders, whose purpose was to murder, and the workmen were legally justified in repelling them vi et armis. So the people reasoned, and this line of argument seemed, in their judgment, to be the only one that could present itself to any fair-minded and intelligent person. Even if it was wrong to kill and wound armed invaders, they believed it would be preposterous to think of arresting and imprisoning several thousand citizens.
The extraordinary interest taken in affairs at Homestead by the world without was demonstrated by the fact that, within the twenty-four hours elapsing after the firing of the first shot on July 6, this usually quiet little town was transformed into the busiest and most prolific news center in the United States. An army of newspaper correspondents from all parts of the country found quarters in the hotels and took possession of the telegraph offices. The ten daily papers of Pittsburgh had variously from two to ten men on the ground. The New York World headed the list of outsiders with five correspondents and a special artist. The New York Herald, Sunand Mail and Express; the Chicago Tribune and Herald; the Philadelphia Press and Times; the Cleveland Leaderand Press, and the Baltimore Sun and World all dispatched bright, able "specials" to the scene of disturbance with that admirable promptitude which makes American journalism a world's wonder. The Postal and Western Union Telegraph Companies also proved fully equal to the emergency. The Postal Company placed a corps of operators in a large room in the building where the Amalgamated Association held its meetings, and the Western Union, in addition to its regular office, established an annex in a restaurant, where two expert operators were kept busy handling huge masses of "copy," intended to be put in type, perhaps a thousand miles away. The excellence and magnitude of the work done by the newspaper men and telegraph operators at Homestead from this time on were unprecedented. Reporters from Pittsburgh were on hand to meet the Pinkertons when a landing was attempted, fraternized with the firing parties behind the barricades while the battle was in progress, interviewed the Pinkertons as they emerged from the barges after the surrender, and withal seemed to lead a charmed life, for there is no record of injury to any of the "gentlemen of the press." The latitude enjoyed by the journalistic fraternity was owing chiefly to the influence of Hugh O'Donnell, who had himself been a newspaper correspondent in a small way and who realized besides the advisability of aiding the press to secure accurate details of the struggle, so that the motives and actions of the workmen should not be injuriously represented. The gallant young leader had his reward. In a single day, the newspapers made him world-famous.
The making up of a list of the killed and wounded turned out to be a difficult matter. The Pinkertons had been hurried away, carrying many of their wounded with them and leaving not more than a dozen of their number in the Pittsburgh hospitals. At Homestead, there was a tendency to conceal the losses of the workingmen. How many of the latter were badly wounded has never been definitely ascertained. The official list of the dead, on both sides, as it appears on the books of the coroner of Allegheny County, is as follows:
Detectives—J.W. Klein, Edward A.R. Speer and T.J. Connors.
Workmen—Joseph Sotak, John E. Morris, Silas Wain, Thomas Weldon, Henry Striegel, George W. Rutter and Peter Farris.
Speer, who was a Pinkerton lieutenant in Chicago, was shot in the leg and lingered at the Homeopathic Hospital, in Pittsburgh, until July 17, when death ended his sufferings.
Rutter also survived until July 17. He fell at the first volley, having been shot in the thigh and abdomen. This man was a veteran of the Union army and one of the most respected millworkers in Homestead. He possessed courage above the ordinary and died rejoicing that he had been able to lay down his life for his fellow workmen.
At two o'clock in the afternoon of July 7, the members of the Amalgamated lodges and of the various other local societies were marshaled in attendance at the funeral services of their dead brethren—John E. Morris, Silas Wain and Peter Farris. The funeral of Morris was under the supervision of the order of Odd Fellows, of which he was a valued member. Rev. J. J. McIlyar conducted services at the Fourth Avenue M. E. Church, and delivered an impassioned oration, embodying a recital of the untoward events which had made Homestead a place of mourning. "The millmen," he said, "were organized in an association that enabled them to obtain just and adequate remuneration for their services. The existence of this union of the men was threatened by a body of Pinkertons, employed by somebody for the purpose. This is what has put this blessed man in his coffin to-day; a perfect citizen; an intelligent man; a good husband who was never lacking in his duty; a brother who was devoted and loyal and who will surely find his reward."
Rev. Mr. McIlyar told how easily the difficulty between the Carnegie firm and its employees might have been adjusted had arbitration been resorted to. "But," he added, "this town is bathed in tears to-day and it is all brought about by one man, who is less respected by the laboring people than any other employer in the country. There is no more sensibility in that man than in a toad." While the minister was speaking the sobs of Morris's broken-hearted widow interrupted his address, and her grief found a sympathetic echo in the hearts of all present.
Crowds lined the route to the cemetery and watched with tear-dimmed eyes the passage of the funeral cortege. On the way the hearse that bore the remains of Peter Farris fell into line. After the last sad rites had been performed over the graves of Morris and Farris, another procession was formed and all that was mortal of Silas Wain was removed to its resting-place.
Towards evening a stir was created by the appearance on the streets of a little band of anarchists from Allegheny City, who, like vultures attracted by the scent of prey, were drawn to the scene of trouble by the hope of fomenting still greater disorders. The unbidden guests proceeded to distribute incendiary circulars, setting forth that the mills were the rightful property of the workingmen and should be seized as such, and calling on the good people of Homestead to become anarchists and strike for liberty hand-in-hand with their "brothers." Two of the agitators were placed under arrest and confined in the lock-up. The rest were promptly shipped out of town with an admonition not to return. It caused the workmen much concern to suppose that they might be credited with anarchistic tendencies; and, as a consequence, a species of censorship was established over the newspaper correspondents, with a view to preventing the publication of reports describing the Homestead defenders as a set of cut-throats and desperadoes, whereas, they wished the whole world to know that they were honest men, fighting for bread for themselves and their wives and children.
On the night of July 6, as has been told in the preceding chapter, Sheriff McCleary set his clerks to work on the issuing of notices to prominent citizens to report for service as deputies. The papers were delivered early in the morning, but the results were far from satisfactory. Some of the editors, bankers, merchants, manufacturers and political leaders addressed were too far advanced in years to be physically fit for active service, at least one of the number being over 80 years of age. Others had too wholesome a regard for their own safety to risk doing duty at Homestead and preferred being arrested and fined, if a penalty should be required. Only thirty-two men reported at the sheriffs office, and these were unarmed. The sheriff dismissed them with the remark that it was useless to go to Homestead with so small a force. Governor Pattison, however, was not moved by the representation that an appeal directed to persons who were not likely to undertake police duty under any circumstances exhausted the powers of the county government. He had already taxed the sheriff with shirking his duty and the course of events after the battle did not seem to have altered his opinion on this head. But the sheriff had made up his mind to incur no danger that he could avoid, and, therefore, remained all day in his office, leaving the local authorities of Homestead to preserve the peace if they could or would. The only important move which he made looking to the restoration of order was to call a conference in the evening to consider a proposition to introduce deputies into the Homestead works. At this meeting, C. L. Magee, John F. Cox, a Homestead attorney, Burgess John McLuckie, Hugh O'Donnell, President Weihe and President-elect Garland, of the Amalgamated Association, David Lynch, William Roberts, Jerry Doherty and James McCrory, also of the Amalgamated Association, were in attendance. As might have been expected no definite conclusion was reached, beyond what was embodied in the assurances tendered by the Amalgamated men that they would do their utmost in the interest of peace. The persistent refusal of the Carnegie Company to lift a hand for the prevention of another outbreak or to exhibit any trace of friendly consideration for its locked-out employees was an obstacle in the path of the peacemakers that could not well be overcome.
A conference of militia officers at the Seventh Avenue Hotel, in which the sheriff was also a participant, excited considerable interest. The purpose of this consultation, it was understood, was to consider the facilities for getting the citizen-soldiery into the field on short notice, in case the governor should finally decide to order them out.
Much uneasiness was felt in Homestead concerning the chances of military interference. The citizens were naturally averse to the quartering of troops in the town for an indefinite period. It was apparent that this was what Mr. Frick was aiming at. His own hired troop having failed, it was his desire, with the aid of Sheriff McCleary, to force the governor to call out the troops of the state and place them indirectly at the disposal of the Carnegie firm. With the militia at his back, the Carnegie Company's chairman counted on easily filling the mill with non-union men and breaking up the Amalgamated lodges.
In order to prevent the execution of this design and to offset the sheriffs representations, leading citizens of Homestead telegraphed the governor requesting him to take no action until he had conferred with a committee which would immediately wait upon him at Harrisburg. The committee, which consisted of Attorney John F. Cox, Hugh O'Donnell, J. H. Williams, Dr. John Purman and G. W. Sarver, reached the executive chamber at 10:20 P. M. on July 8 and remained in conference with the governor until midnight. Messrs. Cox and O'Donnell made strong arguments against the calling out of the military, assuring the governor that order was restored in Homestead and that the sheriff would be allowed to take peaceable possession of the Carnegie property. Governor Pattison's reply was to the effect that insubordination would be checked if it took the whole military power of the state and of the nation; but, he added, the rights of all parties to the struggle would be maintained without regard to the merits or demerits of the business differences between them, and the military would be subordinated to the civil power. In short, without stating positively that he would call out the military, the governor sent the committee home with a pretty firm conviction that Sheriff McCleary's supineness had done its work and that, unless conditions altered amazingly, the troops would soon be on the ground. It was learned afterwards that the governor had sent an officer of the national guard to examine into the condition of things at Homestead and make an accurate report. The experiences of this individual, who, being a stranger, fell under suspicion and had some disagreeable encounters with the pickets and workmen's committees, were, no doubt, the real occasion of the governor's action; for it is certain that Sheriff McCleary's pleading telegrams had little weight at Harrisburg.
In the meantime, the aspect of affairs at Homestead became, if anything, more warlike. After the burial of their dead comrades had been attended to, the men set about strengthening their defenses, so as to guard against any attack, whether from Pinkertons or others. The fence around the mill-yard was repaired; the picket lines were restored and reinforced and arms and ammunition were freely distributed. Scouts were sent out with instructions to post themselves in the railroad yards around Pittsburgh and at points along the river and to give the alarm at the approach of an invading party of any description. The military organization of the men was well-nigh perfect, and it was manifestly impossible that they could be surprised.
But one alarm was given during the night. At 1 A. M. the ringing of bells and the blowing of whistles aroused the town, and the works were quickly surrounded by men carrying loaded rifles. When it was ascertained that the alarm was a false one, the crowd just as quickly dispersed and from a state of wild excitement the town lapsed back into peace and quietude.
Much encouragement was given to the men by the interest taken in their cause not only by organized labor throughout the land but by some of the most noted men in public life. Congress entered into the discussion of the Homestead struggle with extraordinary zest. Representative Camminetti opened the ball in the lower house on July 6, and on the following day Mr. Palmer, of Illinois, made a fiery speech in the senate, declaring the Pinkerton invasion to be an insult to the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and that the coercion of wage-workers by an armed force was reprehensible and called for the sternest condemnation. Mr. Palmer maintained further that the workmen of Homestead, having built up the mills by their labor, had a right to insist upon, permanency of employment and reasonable compensation. Mr. Voorhees, of Indiana, argued that the Homestead troubles were the direct result of the Republican tariff system, by which the iron barons of Pennsylvania were heavily protected with a pretended understanding that the workingman would get his share of the benefits conferred. Mr. Carnegie, the speaker said, had done his part by sending an armed mob to shoot down his employees if they refused to serve for reduced wages or to abandon their jobs to others whose services could be had for less money. The Pinkertons had been killed by men acting in self-defense, and it was his only regret that Carnegie himself had not been at the head of that squad "instead of skulking in his castle in Scotland." Republican senators responded to these speeches, defending the protective tariff, but emphatically repudiating Pinkertonism. While these proceedings were going on in the senate, the house busied itself with arrangements to send a committee to Homestead, and several speakers also took occasion to denounce the employment of Pinkerton trained bands as contrary to the spirit of American institutions.
The press of the country was almost a unit in deploring the harsh methods employed by the Carnegie Company and in demanding legislation prohibiting the maintainence of a Pinkerton "standing army" and its utilization in labor troubles. The New York Worldsuggested that the dispute at Homestead be settled by referring it to a board of arbitration, to be composed of100 Governor McKinley, of Ohio; Governor Pattison, of Pennsylvania, and Terence V. Powderly, Grand Master Workman of the Knights of Labor. The New York Sunstood alone among the Democratic papers in upholding Mr. Frick and the Pinkertons.
General B. F. Butler, whose reputation as a constitutional lawyer gave special significance to his remarks, expressed the opinion that the Carnegie Company should be held legally responsible for the provocation of bloodshed, since it had prepared for riot and sent an armed expedition to precipitate it. In his judgment, the government should cause the Pinkerton forces to be disbanded.
General Weaver, the nominee of the People's Party for president, pronounced the outbreak an illustration of the subjugation of the Republic to corporate despotism. "When Rome was near her fall," he said, "the wealthy barons had their braves. Our corporate barons have their Pinkertons.... The frightful condition of affairs in Pennsylvania will strike the whole country like an alarm bell at midnight."
The newspapers containing these expressions were scanned with avidity by the locked-out men, and, at the same time the scrutiny exercised over the reporters was made all the more vigorous as it became apparent even to those of limited intelligence that Homestead was now the focus of world-wide observation, and that the judgment formed abroad depended entirely on the carefulness and veracity of the correspondents. Some of the latter protested hotly against what they regarded as unwarrantable interference with their work, but protests counted for nothing. Spies and impostors had slipped101 into town in the guise of newspaper men and the committeemen of the lodges deemed it necessary to supervise with the utmost vigor the work of those whose credentials were accepted, especially since the reporters were necessarily aware of the identity of the most active combatants and were in a position to betray secrets which might be used afterwards with fatal effect. Several correspondents who were suspected of making a questionable use of their opportunities were arrested and driven out of town, and those who were allowed to remain, had to wear badges provided for them by the committeemen. That there was reasonable foundation for these precautions was attested later on when it turned out that a few men who professed to represent reputable journals were in the pay of the Carnegie Company. One of these spies held credentials from a well known Chicago newspaper.