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 Ninth of Chapters_
The Sheriff's Last Effort—Mr. Frick Issues a Statement and the Amalgamated Association Responds—Political and Industrial Organizations Indorse the Homestead Men—Interviewing Carnegie—Censorship of the Press—Governor Pattison Orders Out the National Guard—Strength of the Militia—Locked-Out Men Prepare to Welcome the Blue-Coats—A Speech That Burgess McLuckie Never Delivered.
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 do this, he said, the militia would be ordered out, and then, if resistance should be offered, the troops would undoubtedly fire upon the citizens at a fearful cost of human life. Other speakers took the same ground as Mr. Brennen, and the disposition of the men seemed favorable to the admission of the sheriff and a posse of unarmed deputies. Nevertheless, the meeting adjourned without taking definite action.
Sheriff McCleary arrived in the town shortly after the adjournment of the meeting and was met by Dr. Gladden and five business men. The sheriff said that at the conference held in his office the night before he had received from attorney Cox and Dr. Gladden a list of twenty business men of Homestead who would serve as deputies. Only six out of the twenty were on hand to serve. What was there for him to do but to go home again? A large crowd surrounded the speaker, listening to his remarks, and followed him wherever he went. One of the locked-out men, a turbulent individual, named Burke, accused the sheriff of double-dealing and abused him roundly. Mr. McCleary hastened to get out of his uncomfortable quarters and boarded the first train for Pittsburgh.
The Amalgamated leaders devoted considerable time to the discussion among themselves of an interview given by Mr. Frick to the Philadelphia Press and published simultaneously in the Pittsburgh morning papers. This deliverance conveyed a carefully prepared history of the trouble between the Carnegie firm and its workmen, justified every act of the former, condemned every act of the latter, and declared that the firm would never again recognize trades unions. The principal points in Mr. Frick's defense were these:
1.—That $23 a ton for billets was a reasonable minimum on which to base wages, and that its acceptance should follow from the fact that the introduction of new machinery into the mills, at great expense, had enabled the men to increase their output and consequently to increase their earnings.
2.—That the expiration of the sliding scale on June 30 was embarrassing, because, in order to make contracts for the year, the firm should be informed on January 1 of the rates of wages to be paid.
3.—That the improvements already referred to warranted a decrease in tonnage rates, and that, even allowing for this decrease, the tonnage men would make more money than they did when the sliding scale went into effect in 1889.
4.—That there was no question of starvation wages, since the reductions proposed would affect only 325 men out of 3,800A, and would merely bring the wages of these men to an equality with those paid in other mills operated with union labor but not possessing the improved appliances of the Carnegie plant.
A The event shows that Mr. Frick cannot have been sincere in this statement. Wages have been seriously depressed in almost all departments of the Homestead mill.
5.—That in the non-union mills operated by the Carnegie Company, good wages were paid and the employees were contented.
An answer to Mr. Frick's statement was drawn up by the workmen and published on the following day. The arguments in rebuttal were briefly as follows:
1.—That, as the workingmen do not sell the product of their labor, they must, under a sliding scale, protect themselves by requiring a minimum basis of wage-rates, which should not fall so low as to involve the payment of extremely low wages.
2.—That the enjoyment of fair rates of wages by the non-union workmen at Braddock and Duquesne was due to the fixing of a standard by the Amalgamated Association, below which the wages of non-unionists could not decently be permitted to fall.
3.—That, in preparing the scale, the workmen had made full allowance for improved machinery, not forgetting that the improvements had displaced many men, and thus, in a manner, repaid the cost of the investment. If there had been a misunderstanding on this head, it could have been adjusted by fair discussion, but fair discussion was impossible with an employer who declined to confer.
4.—That, of the 3,800 men employed, all or nearly all were affected by one or the other of the changes proposed, to-wit: a reduction in the minimum, another reduction in the proportionate rate of pay (thus making a double reduction) and the termination of the scale on December 31, 1893, instead of June 30, 1894.
In concluding their answer, the workmen said, "If argument and honest reasoning were substituted for the reserve and coldness of manner seen in the company's present attitude, there might be reason to expect an end of this deplorable state of affairs."
On Saturday, the Democratic Committee of Allegheny County met in Pittsburgh at the call of its chairman, William J. Brennen, Esq., the attorney for the Amalgamated Association, and, after the completion of routine business, adopted, by an unanimous vote, resolutions sympathizing with the men of Homestead in their efforts to "maintain American and resist European pauper wages," condoling with the friends of those who had been "shot down by the hirelings of a greedy and arbitrary combination of capital" and denouncing Pinkertonism. These resolutions were presented by Jere Dougherty, of the Amalgamated Association.
Resolutions of similar tenor were adopted by all the labor unions in Allegheny County, and thousands of lodges in other localities placed themselves on record to the same purpose and, in most cases, coupled their expressions of sympathy and endorsement with offers of financial support. The South Side Glassworkers' Union, of Pittsburgh, demanded that the city councils reject Andrew Carnegie's gift of $1,000,000 for a free library, since the library would be paid for by the reduction of workingmen's earnings. This home-thrust was repeated by scores of other unions in and around Pittsburgh, and, as a consequence, the councils let public business go to the wall and avoided holding a meeting until the excitement had simmered down. The fact is that, since the gift had been accepted, the money received and deposited to the order of a special commission, and some of it already spent, there was no way of returning it; but anyhow the councils did not venture on a discussion of the question, which must have led to a division on pro-Carnegie and anti-Carnegie lines.
At Columbus, O., 2,000 workmen met in the statehouse yard and passed resolutions calling upon the Pennsylvania authorities and the United States Congress to exterminate the Pinkerton system.
At Chicago, representatives of 20,000 men engaged in the building trades discussed the propriety of taking up arms and marching to the relief of Homestead.
Even in England, the trades unions entered protest against the Carnegie methods and called upon Kier Hardie, a workingmen's representative in Parliament, to whose election expenses Andrew Carnegie had contributed £100, to return the amount forthwith. Mr. Hardie very promptly forwarded the money, not to Mr. Carnegie, but to the people of Homestead, who, he held, had a valid title to receive and use it.
Three days elapsed after the battle at Homestead, before the English agents of the American press associations, who had been ordered to follow him up, were able to locate Mr. Carnegie and obtain an interview. Although regularly advised by cable of the progress of the troubles at his mills, he did not let the news interfere with his pleasures, but spent those three days on a coaching tour from Edinburgh to Kinloch, in Scotland. At Kinloch, he rented a shooting-box for eight weeks at a cost of $10,000. Here an American interviewer found him. According to the correspondent's statement, he was received by Mr. Carnegie in a "contemptuous and insulting" manner, as if the "intrusion upon his ducal magnificence" were a thing to be resented with the hauteur distinctively belonging to an American iron baron, who can afford to have castles and shooting-boxes in Europe. In response to a request for his opinion on the occurrences at Homestead, Mr. Carnegie said: "I am not willing to express an opinion. The men have chosen their course and I am powerless to change it. The handling of the case on the part of the company has my full approval and sanction. Further than this, I have no disposition to say anything."
Possibly this brusque statement may have been prompted in a measure by the irritation resulting from the use of the deadly parallels at the little millionaire's expense in the Pall Mall Gazette, a marked copy of which lay upon a table in the reception hall of the lodge. On one side appeared a report of Mr. Carnegie's philantrophic talk at the opening of the free library at Aberdeen, where he was seconded by the Earl and Countess of Aberdeen, and on the other a tell-tale table of reduced wages at Homestead.
The report of this interview with the high-priest of arbitration supplied a rich theme of comment to the locked-out men and it was well for Mr. Carnegie's dignity, that, just at this time, 3,000 miles separated him from his employees. Even at that distance, his ears must have tingled.
On Saturday evening, the press committee of the Amalgamated lodges, of which Hugh O'Donnell was chairman, distributed official press badges to the newspaper correspondents whose credentials were approved, and the committee signified its purpose of keeping close watch on the work of these gentlemen and of expelling from the town anyone of the number who, either by a violation of confidence or by sending out false statements proved himself unworthy of toleration. The reporters proposed the appointment of a committee composed of two newspaper men, two workmen and a fifth member, selected by these four, to pass upon disputes as to news matter, but this proposition was dropped on the receipt of a guarantee from Hugh O'Donnell that the rights of the press would be respected.
Throughout all these proceedings, the men acted in the belief that they were doing their best to maintain good order, and, although the committee which had been sent to Harrisburg returned without genuinely reassuring news, no one seemed to have the least idea that the military would be called out.
However, the visit of the governor's agent, previously referred to, had already borne fruit when, on the morning of Sunday, July 10, Sheriff McCleary forwarded his final appeal for military aid. In this communication, the sheriff once more averred that his powers were exhausted, and that the civil authorities could not raise a force of deputies large enough to cope with the locked-out men, "Only a large military force," he added, "will enable me to control matters."
At 10 o'clock on Sunday night the governor issued the following order:
George R. Snowden, Major-General Commanding N.G.P.:
Put the division under arms and move at once, with ammunition, to the support of the sheriff of Allegheny County, at Homestead. Maintain the peace, protect all persons in their rights under the constitution and laws of the state. Communicate with me.
Robert E. Pattison, Governor.
Sheriff McCleary was informed of this order and directed to communicate with General Snowden.
Immediately on receipt of his instructions, General Snowden issued orders to the brigade commanders. General Robert P. Dechert, in command of the First Brigade, with headquarters at Philadelphia, was directed to concentrate his brigade in camp at Mt. Gretna, near Lebanon, in the eastern part of the state, by Monday afternoon, battery horsed, and taking three days' rations. General J.P.S. Gobin, of the Second Brigade, was ordered to concentrate his command at Lewiston, moving west. General John A. Wiley, of the Third Brigade, composed of regiments from Western Pennsylvania, was ordered to proceed with his command to a point on the Pennsylvania Railroad within easy reach of the Monongahela River.
Within twelve hours from the time when Major General Snowden received the Governor's order the entire National Guard of Pennsylvania was on the march, fully equipped and ready for any kind of service.
It was no makeshift army that thus took the field on a few hours' notice. General Sherman said at the Garfield inauguration that the Pennsylvania Militia were the best body of troops in the National Guard of the country and, if confirmation of the accuracy of his judgment were needed, the Homestead "campaign" furnished it in amplest measure. The Guard underwent a signal transformation after the Pittsburgh railroad riot of 1877. Prior to that time it was a loosely constituted, loosely governed organization, wholly unfitted for service in an emergency and serving principally as an agency for the distribution of military titles. The disastrous consequences of the movement against the Pittsburgh rioters, in which ignorance, incompetency and lack of concrete organization, in addition to causing the destruction of millions of dollars' worth of property came near bringing about the loss of many lives, opened the eyes of Major General Hartranft, then Governor of the state, and led him to formulate and carry into execution a plan of reorganization the success of which is seen to-day in the superiority of the Pennsylvania militia to any other body of troops in the United States outside the regular army. Under Governor Hartranft's direction the several divisions of the guard existing under the old order of things were merged in a single division of three brigades, composed of eighteen regiments of infantry, three troops of cavalry and three batteries of artillery. The maximum enrollment was limited to 8000 men. The regiments are recruited from all parts of the state and include all classes of citizens—farmers, mechanics, clerks, merchants and gentlemen of leisure.
The mobilization of this great body of men was accomplished with a degree of celerity and effectiveness unknown since the civil war. When the regiments advanced on the morning of July 11, all had nearly their full complement of officers and men. In a single night, preparations for service, the duration and hardship of which could not be estimated, were completed, and 8000 soldiers stood unreservedly at the disposal of the commonwealth.
The news that the soldiers were coming was received in Homestead without any perceptible feeling of alarm. It was understood by every one in the town that resistance to the power of the commonwealth was out of the question, and at the same time the idea went abroad that General Snowden and his men would confine themselves to the preservation of the peace and not aid Mr. Frick in the manning of the mill with non-unionists or the landing of another force of Pinkertons. There were, it is true, some hot-heads who disputed the justice of the Governor's action and canvassed the possibility of resisting the militia or of inducing the workingmen who bore arms for the state to make common cause with their brethren in the beleaguered town. The advisory committeemen, however, aided by other influential and intelligent citizens, were quick to suppress these disorderly symptoms and to emphasize the necessity of giving the soldiers a cordial and patriotic reception.
At two o'clock on Tuesday afternoon a mass meeting of workingmen was held in the rink, with Hugh O'Donnell in the chair. Burgess McLuckie made a fervent address, counseling a friendly demeanor towards the soldiers and eulogizing the Governor. "This man Pattison," said the sturdy Burgess, "Is acting quietly and rightly. He understands our position. He does not cater to monopolies.... Your friends are about to come; the safest, the best people that can come. We don't want Pinkertons here. We want the militia.... I stand here to say that any man who insults the militia shall be taken to the river and ducked." Cheers and laughter followed this sally and a motion in favor of ducking in the river any man who insulted the militia was carried unanimously.
John M. Carter, of the Baltimore News, who was fresh from an interview with the Governor, delivered a cheering speech, and other addresses of a prudent, common-sense tenor were made by members of the Amalgamated Association.
The feeling of friendship for the militia became contagious. It was decided that the blue-coated visitors should be received in state. All the brass bands in town took to rehearsing music of a triumphal character, to the inspiring strains of which Homestead was to be amicably turned over to its "protectors." In one band room, when the question of appropriate tunes came up, the exhilaration of the hour brought forth some odd suggestions. A young man who proposed "See the Conquering Hero Comes" was summarily suppressed, and a like fate befell an individual who thought the "Rogues' March" might fit the occasion. "Hold the Fort." "Comrades," "Johnny Get Your Gun" and "The Bogie Man" were canvassed, but a compromise was not reached until some gentleman of equal tact and discretion suggested "Ta Ra Ra, Boom De Ay," which was accepted without a dissenting voice as the correct thing to express Homestead's new-born sentiments of hope and contentment.
A reception committee, headed by Burgess McLuckie and Hugh O'Donnell, was designated to welcome the representatives of the state and it remained only for the latter to reciprocate in kind to convert the military occupation of the town into a love-feast.
The Burgess issued a proclamation warning strangers to get out of town, directing the closing of drinking-places and enjoining women and children to keep off the streets. This duty performed, Honest John McLuckie immersed himself in the study of a speech, of specially artistic construction, intended for the edification of Major General Snowden and his staff on their entrance into Homestead, and warranted to inspire those dignitaries with a profound sense of the good-will and law-abiding spirit of the people of the town and their cheerful readiness to fraternize with the troops.
Unfortunately this little chef d'oeuvre was never delivered.
Like the flower in Gray's "Elegy," it was "born to blush unseen and waste its sweetness," if not on desert air, at all events on the cold and irresponsive dead wall of military discipline.
All other themes of interest had now sunk out of sight in the face of the great event of the hour—the converging of the militia regiments upon Homestead. Even the Pinkertons, the fear of whose return with reinforcements had endured over Sunday, were forgotten, and the entire community was on the tip-toe of expectation, not knowing at what moment the glitter of swords and bayonets and the clatter of horses' hoofs would herald the advent of the advance guard.
Night fell and still no soldiers. General Snowden had taken care not to advertise the route of the troops nor the time of their arrival. It was his purpose to take the town by surprise and to occupy the positions selected in advance by an officer detailed to make a reconnoissance, before the people could be apprised of the nature and scope of his movements.
The maneuvers were carried out with the desired secrecy, the newspaper men and telegraph operators along the lines of march being kept in the dark, despite their habitual alertness.
So the Homestead folk went to bed without the opportunity of looking down the muzzles of any guns except their own and even these, together with the Winchesters taken from the Pinkertons as the lawful spoils of war, had been hidden from view, the occasion for their use having now finally departed.
While the good people on the banks of the Monongahela slept the sleep of contentment, the soldiers of the First Brigade were stretched shivering on the open ground at Mt. Gretna, and General Snowden, with all of the Second and Third Brigades, except the regiments of the extreme West, was traveling as fast as the Pennsylvania Railroad Company could carry him towards the scene of disturbance.