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 Eleventh of Chapters_
Bringing in the "Blacksheep"—Pittsburgh, Beaver Falls and Duquesne Men Come Out—An Alarm in Camp—The Governor Arrives—The Boycott as a Persuader—Politics to the Rescue—Murder Charged and Warrants Issued—McLuckie, O'Donnell and Ross Surrender and are Released on Bail—General Snowden's Disheartening Announcement.
The locked-out men were not mistaken in their belief that the Carnegie 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' guns. Agents of the firm were set to work in every large city procuring recruits, and while it was found rather difficult to tempt men to risk the desperate chances of a trip to Homestead to take the places of the conquerors of the Pinkertons, a small number were secured each day until, within a week after the first squad was brought in, nearly one hundred men were quartered within the mill enclosure. Hundreds of cots were provided for the accommodation of the new hands, and large quantities of food and other supplies were laid in. At the same time, the firm advertised for proposals to build 100 houses on the City Farm plan of lots at Munhall station, thus signifying its intention of establishing permanent quarters for those who were to take the places of the old employees.
On Friday, July 15, for the first time since the lock-out began, smoke issued from the cupolas of the great steel plant. The furnaces were lit at last, and the news circulated rapidly throughout the town that the company was suspected of having smuggled in enough non-unionists to renew operations. An excited mob rushed pell-mell towards the mill yard, but was stopped short at the picket lines, where the guards, with levelled bayonets, barred progress.
As a matter of fact there were but few steelworkers among the first hundred men brought in by the Tide. Fifteen of them were carpenters, who were engaged on a temporary lodging house between the machine pressing mill and the river, and a majority of the others were waiters, cooks, clerks and bosses.
A final notice to the old employees was posted in Homestead on July 16. It set forth that "individual" applications for employment would be received by the general superintendent until 6 P. M., Thursday, July 21; that it was the company's desire to retain those of its former workmen who had not taken part in the disturbances, and that the positions of those who failed to comply with this notice would be given to non-union men.
The locked-out men treated this manifesto with indifference, letting the prescribed period pass by without any sign of a desire to return to work on Mr. Frick's terms. Their sole reply was embodied in a circular issued July 22, wherein it was set forth that the workingmen of Homestead and the general public had a vested interest in the great industrial establishment built up by the labor of the one and indirectly sustained by tariff taxes paid by the other; that those interests would be asserted and defended in the courts and the halls of legislation and that the men rested their cause—"the cause of American liberty against anarchy on the one hand and despotism on the other, with the courts, the legislatures and the public conscience."
On this same day a large force of non-union men reported at the Carnegie offices in Pittsburgh and were shipped to Homestead on the Tide, starting from the Monongahela wharf amid the jeers of a crowd of on-lookers. Similar trips were made every day thereafter, the safe arrival of the first batches of recruits having emboldened others. Once the ball was set rolling, the firm experienced little trouble in securing men. There is always an army of unemployed in the United States, and upon these as well as underpaid workers in various lines—clerks, struggling young professional men and others—who were tempted by the high wages said to be paid at Homestead the firm could and did draw freely. The Homestead leaders contended that it would be impossible to operate the mills without a force of expert steel workers, but Mr. Frick seemed to care little about skill as long as he could secure men able and willing to learn the work entrusted to them. The mills, it appeared, were to be a school in which an entirely new set of artisans were to be instructed, regardless of the losses that must be sustained in the process.
In the meantime trouble was brewing in other concerns operated by the Carnegie Company. Mr. Frick had already signed the scale at the Pittsburgh and Beaver Falls mills, and expected to accomplish at these plants much of the work which was suspended at Homestead. The workmen at both places, however, sympathized with their brethren at Homestead and decided accordingly to break their contract with the firm and go out on strike until the trouble at Homestead should be fairly adjusted. The Pittsburgh men, employed at the Upper and Lower Union Mills in Lawrenceville, went out on July 15 and the Beaver Falls men on the following day. The mill at Duquesne was non-union, but there, too, the spirit of resistance manifested itself and on July 19, the men took preliminary steps toward entering the Amalgamated Association so as to be in proper shape to strike. On July 20 the Duquesne lodges were permanently organized and on the 23d a strike was declared.
Homestead was now, in a degree, under martial law, the power of the borough authorities being limited to the arrest of drunken and disorderly persons. Two companies of soldiers did guard duty on the streets and had orders to arrest any of Burgess McLuckie's special policemen found exceeding their duty.
Life in Camp Black was anything but a bed of roses. Colonel Hawkins' command spent two days and nights on the hills above Port Perry without tents and suffered much from the inclemency of the weather, broiling heat alternating with rain that drenched the men to the skin. A storm blew down most of the tents on the second day of the encampment.
The first alarm that brought the soldiers out occurred after midnight on July 15. Someone brought in word that the camp was to be attacked from the rear. Bugles were sounded, the drums beat to arms, and in a few minutes the Second and Third brigades were ready for action and threw out their skirmish lines, while the force of pickets was doubled. The alarm proved to be a false one; nevertheless the Sixteenth regiment was kept under arms until daybreak.
It had been decided that the period of service at Homestead should take the place of the regular annual encampment of the National Guard, and Governor Pattison and his staff arrived accordingly on the 19th to conduct the annual inspection, to which a week's time was devoted. Some of the workmen supposed that the Governor might entertain the idea of mediating between the conflicting parties, but it was soon found that he harbored no such design. He visited the mills, inspected the scene of the battle with the Pinkertons and conversed informally with citizens of the town concerning the history of the trouble, but declined to interfere further, confining himself mainly to his official functions as Commander of the National Guard. Quarters were assigned to the Governor and his staff in three comfortable cottages belonging to the Carnegie Company, adjoining the Carnegie hotel on Eighth avenue, and opposite the main entrance to the steel works. General Snowden and his staff had been patronizing the hotel cuisine, previously sacred to the discriminating palates of the Carnegie officials. An odd incident temporarily deprived the General of this accommodation. One morning the head waiter, having formed the opinion that the troops were helping to take the bread out of the mouths of the workingmen, informed the proprietor that he could not be instrumental in conveying the staff of life to the mouths of "the enemy" and resigned on the spot. The head cook followed, and the under-waiters and cooks went out with their leaders. When the officers arrived for breakfast and found that there was nothing to eat, the air was made blue with profanity. The boycott was one which all the military force of the commonwealth was powerless to lift. After this, General Snowden had his meals prepared and served at headquarters by a colored cook drafted from one of the regiments. Young women who could be relied on not to indulge in a sympathetic strike were installed in the places of the cooks and waiters who had deserted from the hotel.
While the workmen were somewhat dismayed by the signs of activity within the mill enclosure, feeling, as they did, that the thin end of the non-union wedge had already been inserted, they stoutly refused to admit that the firm could find enough skilled steelworkers in the country to operate the mill or could successfully utilize green hands in the intricate work which it had taken old employees, in many cases, years to learn. This argument seemed invincible and was used on every hand as confirming the supposition that the firm was merely making a pretense of manning and operating the mill, so as to discourage the old hands and provoke a stampede back to work. Such devices as this, the men said, would be futile. The Homestead workers were firmly bound together and there would be no deserters from their ranks. Mr. Frick might be able to get non-union laborers, helpers, blacksmiths, mechanics, carpenters and painters, but all these had to depend on the skilled labor of the men who made the steel. Without rollers, heaters, shearers, cutters and other trained workers, the mills could not start, and on these the Amalgamated Association had a solid hold and would maintain it.
"Our weapon," said Hugh O'Donnell, "will be the boycott—the workingman's only effective weapon. While Carnegie is seeking to starve us into submission, we will endeavor to strike a blow at his every industry. The strikes at Lawrenceville and Beaver Falls, and the action of some of the carpenters' unions in refusing to work in buildings where Carnegie's structural material is used constitute the kind of assistance that we want."
There was certainly abundant reason for anticipating a general boycott of the Carnegie Company's product. Labor unions in Pittsburgh, Chicago, Philadelphia and elsewhere were holding meetings and pledging themselves to carry out the program outlined by O'Donnell and it was even reported that the railroad brotherhoods would interpose to prevent the transportation of freight to and from the various Carnegie plants.
In any case there was no fear of actual suffering among the locked-out men for a long time to come. Under the rules of the Amalgamated Association, strike benefits would be paid out of the treasury of the order and an additional and comfortably large fund was created by the contributions which flowed into Homestead daily from every section of the country.
There was also a strong conviction among the men that the Republican party leaders would come to the rescue. The political aspect of the wage dispute was explained in a previous chapter. This phase of the matter was taken up with fierce avidity by the Democratic press after the conflict of July 6, and the country rang with denunciations of a protective policy which protected the manufacturer only and left reduced wages and Pinkerton lead to the workingman as his share of tariff benefits. Genuine apprehension was felt among the Republican politicians, and Republican newspaper organs, seeing and dreading the disturbed condition of the labor world, hardly dared respond to the sneers of the opposition. The high tariff party had so long catered to the labor vote that the problem of meeting labor's demands with regard to Homestead was full of embarrassment, and it was evident that President Harrison's prospects of re-election were seriously threatened.
The leaders at Homestead, knowing the dependence of the Carnegie Company on tariff legislation and believing that the fealty of Messrs. Carnegie and Frick to the Republican party would be an all-powerful consideration in a crisis wherein the presidency itself was at stake, sent Hugh O'Donnell to New York to confer secretly with General Clarkson and other ruling spirits in the Republican national committee. O'Donnell left on this mission on July 17. On the following day Mr. Frick played another trump card, the forcing out of the military having been the first of a hand which the implacable little chairman confidently asserted would turn out to be all trumps.
Burgess John McLuckie was arrested on the charge of murder.
And this was not all. The information, lodged before Alderman McMasters, of Pittsburgh, in pursuance of which the warrant for McLuckie's arrest was issued, included also the names of Hugh O'Donnell, Sylvester Critchlow, Anthony Flaherty, Samuel Burkett, James Flannigan and Hugh Ross. F.T.F. Lovejoy, secretary of the Carnegie Company, was the prosecutor and he affirmed that the men named "did of their malice aforethought feloniously and riotously with force and arms and deadly weapons kill and murder one T. J. Connors then and there being in the peace of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania." A second information charged the same persons with the murder of Silas Wain.
Three constables were sent to Homestead to make the arrests. They applied to General Snowden for assistance, which was promptly furnished, two companies of infantry being detailed to their support. At the same time the patrols were increased and two regiments were kept under arms so as to be ready for any contingency. No trouble was experienced, however. The accused had been forewarned and all, with the exception of O'Donnell and McLuckie, had locked up their houses and gone into hiding. The doughty burgess, strong in the consciousness of his innocence, went to Pittsburgh at an early hour, surrendered himself at the alderman's office and was committed to jail. Before the prison gates closed upon him, he informed the newspaper representatives that the Amalgamated men, in turn, would make informations against Carnegie, Frick and Potter. "We will make this man Frick come down on his knees so hard that the sound will be heard in the farthest corner of civilization" was honest John's last observation as he was led into durance.
Secretary Lovejoy also had something to say for the enlightenment of the public. "We have good cases against 1000 of these men," he said "and from now on from twelve to fifteen informations will be made every day. The laws of Pennsylvania are very broad on this subject. Persons who were on the premises at the time of the shooting are liable not only as accessories, but as principals."
McLuckie spent only one night in jail, being released next morning on $10,000 bail after a brief hearing before Judge Magee in the county criminal court. He took the first train for Homestead and was received there with acclamations, the townspeople turning out en masse to receive him. A procession was formed in his honor, and to the strains of "Home, Sweet Home," performed with unusual energy by the crack brass band of the town, the hero of the hour was escorted to the rink, where he made a speech of thanks to the people.
Hugh O'Donnell no sooner heard that a warrant was out for his arrest than he suspended his operations in New York and returned to Homestead. Like McLuckie, he spared the constables the trouble of arresting him and, in company with Hugh Ross, proceeded to Pittsburgh with the intention of surrendering. The two men went directly into the criminal court and, without the aid of an attorney, presented themselves to Judge Magee. O'Donnell addressed the judge, explaining that he had not sought to evade the arrest and asking that the law take its course. The judge was non-plussed by the unprecedented behavior of the two workmen in thus walking calmly into what was, from their point of view, the "lion's den," but, after some questioning, advised them to surrender themselves at the office of Alderman McMasters. This they did, and within an hour, they were behind prison bars. Two days later Peter Allen and Nathan Foy were arrested at their homes and lodged in jail.
An application for the admission of O'Donnell and his companions to bail was heard by Judge Magee on Saturday, July 23. Attorneys William J. Brennen and John F. Cox appeared for the defendants on behalf of the Amalgamated Association, and District Attorney Clarence Burleigh and D.F. Patterson, Esq. represented the prosecution. The testimony of a number of Pinkerton detectives, newspaper reporters, deputy sheriffs and others was taken, showing conclusively O'Donnell's leadership and his presence at the battle in the mill yard. The defence argued that O'Donnell's part in the "riot" was that of a peacemaker. Judge Magee reserved his decision until Monday, when he finally admitted the four prisoners to bail in the sum of $10,000 each, the case having "within its possibility a conviction of murder in the second degree."
The succession of arrests had, of course, a depressing effect on the people of Homestead. A still more discouraging circumstance was General Snowden's announcement that the troops would be kept in Homestead until one side or the other should give in. As long as the troops remained the mill was so securely guarded that the question was not merely of providing against violence but of preventing the Amalgamated men from obtaining access to the non-unionists and bringing persuasion to bear upon them after the manner customary with labor organizations. General Snowden was denounced without stint for what the men construed as a desire on his part to play into the hands of the Carnegie Company. But the General did not seem to mind denunciations. The last attempt to subjugate him was made by the high constable of the borough on an occasion when a stray cow had paid the debt of nature within the lines of the encampment. The constable undertook to storm the enemy's works with a view to compelling the interment of the cow with the honors of war, but was seized and incarcerated over night in the guard house. With the fall of this functionary came the collapse of all that remained of civil authority in Homestead, and thereafter General Snowden's word was law.
The advisory committee was sorely perplexed over the disposition to be made of the guns taken from the Pinkertons. The Attorney General of the state was addressed on the subject but declined to give advice, and it was doubtful that the guns could lawfully be retained as the "spoils of war." Ultimately the individual holders of the weapons settled the matter in their own way by hiding the trophies where prying detectives would be unable to find them.
The death of George W. Rutter, at the Homeopathic hospital, Pittsburgh, on July 18 closed the list of fatalities on the side of the workingmen. Rutter remained in a delirium until the last, always imagining in his ravings that he was back on the bank of the Monongahela, fighting against the Pinkertons. He was buried at Verona, Pa., where his widow and children resided.