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 Sixteenth of Chapters_
More Prosecutions—The Soldiers Withdraw—A Non-Union Hotel Dynamited—Homestead Figures in Parades and Gives a Democratic Majority—Slavs Weakening—The "Local News" Predicts Defeat—Gompers Again—Sheriff McCleary Is Harassed and Increases His Corps of Deputies—Lawyer Jones in Trouble—Schwab Succeeds Potter as Superintendent—Homestead's Last Riot—Striker Roberts Hints at Defeat—Mechanics and Laborers Go Back to Work.
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 by feloniously importing a force of armed men. No arrests were made on these informations. Blank bail bonds were signed by the Mellon banking firm and filled in by the defendants.
Sheriff McCleary, while he no longer experienced trouble in procuring a sufficient number of deputies at $2.50 a day, to patrol every street in Homestead and enforce order when necessary, found it a hard matter to induce these emergency policemen to attend to their duties. Non-union men coming out of the mill at noon for dinner, were repeatedly assaulted, the intractable element among the strikers caring little for the presence of the sheriff's officers. Early in September, Mr. McCleary quietly investigated the methods of his underlings, and ascertained that many of them were simply taking a holiday at the county's expense. The force was then reorganized, the loafers being summarily discharged. It was only now that the sheriff's pent-up feelings found vent. He was utterly disgusted, he said, and had come to the conclusion that, even if the salary of the sheriff were increased to $15,000 a year, the man who sought the office would be an idiot. The show of authority which Mr. McCleary made had a visible effect and when the deputies bestirred themselves order was sufficiently restored, for the time being, to elicit from Provost Marshal Mechling the opinion that, if the sheriff kept on attending to business, the troops would be withdrawn within two weeks.
Adjutant General Greenland was very severe on the sheriff, whose incompetency, he said, was productive of continual harassment to the troops. In General Greenland's opinion, it was in the sheriff's power, with twenty-five deputies under his personal direction, to keep the peace at Homestead and enable the militia to withdraw.
The improvement in the work of the deputies had such a marked effect that, in the third week of September, the Fifteenth regiment was ordered home, and, on the last day of the month four companies of the Sixteenth regiment broke camp, leaving but four companies on the ground, one of which was posted on the hillside across the river from Homestead. Two weeks later, on October 13, the last of the militia received orders to leave, the first intimation of the good news being conveyed to the men when the band struck up "Home, Sweet Home" at the morning reveille. Tents were struck and baggage packed in short order, and at 10 A. M. the last vestige of the encampment was removed, and with a cheer that re-echoed among the hills the boys in blue marched to Munhall Station and were soon on the way to their homes in the oil country. The Homesteaders watched the departure without showing much feeling, although many of them, doubtless, experienced a consciousness of relief now that, after ninety-five days of military surveillance, the town was restored to the hands of the civil authorities. Henceforward the preservation of the peace was exclusively in the hands of the sheriff's deputies, thirty in number.
An outrage which caused considerable indignation about this time was the attempt made by unknown desperadoes to blow up the Mansion House, a hotel situated at the corner of Fifth avenue and Amity street, in the most populous quarter of Homestead. The establishment was conducted by Mrs. Marron, a widow who had been induced to come from Pittsburgh in order to provide boarding for employees of the Carnegie firm. She secured 40 boarders from among the clerks and non-union steelworkers employed in the mill. On the night of October 6, when the occupants of the hotel were sleeping, an explosive of some kind was thrown through a window of the dining-room on the ground floor. The missile exploded with great force, tore a hole through the floor and penetrated the cellar. Beyond the wrecking of an empty room, however, no damage was done. Mrs. Marron naturally laid the blame for the occurrence on the strikers, but they stoutly disclaimed responsibility and contended that the damage had been done by a natural gas explosion and not by a bomb thrown with intent to kill and destroy. Another theory which found favor among the men was that some wily foe to organized labor had done the mischief in order to discredit the cause of the strikers and hasten the end of the strike by altering the drift of public sympathy. Mr. Frick offered $1,000 for the arrest of the supposed dynamiter and $100 additional was offered by the advisory committee, but the reward was never earned.
The night of October 8 was made memorable by Homestead's share in the greatest Democratic parade held in Pittsburgh during the presidential campaign. Preparations for this event had been in progress for some time. In previous years Homestead had been a Republican stronghold, giving heavy majorities for high tariff candidates, but as has been signified in the preceding pages, political sentiment in the town had undergone a complete revulsion, and the men were determined to make this fact conspicuous in the Pittsburgh demonstration. Under the command of David Lynch and Charles Guessner, 600 of the strikers marched in the parade, and were greeted with cheers all along the route. When the Homestead men arrived opposite the court house, they halted and gave three rousing cheers for Hugh O'Donnell and others of their associates who were confined in the county jail. Passing down Fifth Avenue, the Carnegie offices were reached. Here the marchers gave vent to their feelings in a chorus of groans.
Some of the transparencies carried in this notable procession spoke volumes for the influence of the Homestead trouble as a political factor. One bore a picture of a rooster and the inscription:
"The cock will crow in '92
Over Fort Frick and its Pinkerton crew."
On another appeared the query, "Who protects the 2,200 locked-out men in Lawrenceville?" and the response, "Ask McKinley," while on the reverse side was the defiant invitation:
"Show us a man in a Pittsburgh mill
Who had his wages raised by the McKinley bill."
The maker of this couplet may have been weak in the matter of rhythm, but the deadliness of his low tariff logic challenged and received admiration from the crowd.
Yet another legend worth noting was: "The Three (Dis) Graces—Protection for Carnegie, Persecution for his men and Pinkertons for support." At every glimpse of the mottoes quoted, the mob of on-lookers cheered lustily and it looked on that October night very much as though Pittsburgh, the headquarters of high tariff sentiment, had become suddenly inoculated with free-trade virus. There could be no mistaking the opinion of the crowd as to Mr. Frick and the Pinkertons. Evidently the friends of these worthies had accepted discretion as being the better part of valor and remained at home.
The eclat with which the Homesteaders performed their part of the political display in Pittsburgh encouraged them to repeat the demonstration still more energetically in their own town. October 23 was fixed as the date on which the cession of Homestead to the Democracy was to be celebrated. On that evening the town was profusely decorated, Chinese lanterns, bunting, starry flags and red fire contributing to the picturesqueness of the scene. The parade, held in honor of Cleveland and Stevenson, was headed by the best known Republicans in the district, including such notables as Thomas J. Crawford, W. T. Roberts, Captain O. C. Coon and William Gaches. Prominent among the emblems carried was a live sheep painted black, beside which stood a man arrayed as a negro wench. On the float occupied by this group was the motto, "This is Protection." As the float moved along the street, men, women and children strained their lungs with the cry of "Carnegie's Blacksheep!" The success of the Homestead demonstration was the "last straw," and Republican missionaries visited the benighted town no more.
The Hungarians continued to grow more and more restless as they saw the number of men in the mill increase and the chances of their getting back their jobs diminish correspondingly. All these foreigners belonged to the laboring class and it was especially hard for them to stand the strain of a long period of idleness. Arnold Frank, a representative of the race who continued in the employ of the Carnegie Company, devoted himself to quiet missionary work among his compatriots and took frequent occasion to inform the newspapers that a break in the ranks of the Slavs might be looked for at any time. Mr. Frank claimed to be the recipient of daily applications for jobs from Hungarian strikers and that these men were sick and tired of hardships endured for the benefit of an organization which did not even admit them to membership. Slav leaders, who were loyal to the Amalgamated Association, rebutted Mr. Frank's statements, alleging that their fellow-countrymen received their full share of strike benefits and were just as steadfast as any other class among the strikers.
Another cause of disquietude was a sudden change of base on the part of the Homestead Local News, which was originally the mouth-piece of the advisory board. In its issue of October 15, the Newseditorially reviewed the situation, setting forth that there were now over 2000 workmen in the mill, 200 of these being former Homestead employees, that recruits were daily being received and preparations being made to accommodate a large additional number of non-unionists; and that businessmen and intelligent members of the Amalgamated Association privately admitted that the battle was lost. In conclusion the article held these two conclusions to be indisputable: "First—The Carnegie Company is gradually succeeding. Second—The great Homestead strike is gradually dying out." The treachery of the News, as the men regarded it, provoked unbounded indignation among the strikers. Nevertheless the truth of the statement made by the paper was privately conceded by many Homestead people, and especially by the store-keepers, whose capacity for doing business on trust was being taxed to an extent threatening some of them with bankruptcy. The sympathies of these people were entirely with the Amalgamated Association; but, on the other hand, the prospect of heavy loss to themselves, in case the strike should be a failure, stared them in the face, and the apparent success of the Carnegie Company in manning its works boded ill for the prospect of their recouping themselves.
One assertion made by the News, viz.: that 200 former Homestead employees had returned to work, was stigmatized as an absolute falsehood by the union leaders, who insisted that not one union man had forsaken his allegiance.
Two days later, a quartet of unionists, including a heater, a mechanic, an engineer and a laborer, applied for and obtained work. This was the first break in the ranks of the strikers that was openly made and admitted at Amalgamated headquarters.
A visit from Gompers at this time was a positive godsend. The pugnacious chief of the Federation arrived in state on October 21 and was met by a brass band and almost the entire population of the town. A procession was formed and the welcome visitor was escorted to the rink to the inspiring strains of "See, the Conquering Hero Comes." All representatives of the press, with the exception of the correspondent of the Pittsburgh Leader, were excluded from the meeting which followed, the preference given the Leader being due to the reputation exclusively enjoyed by that journal for giving fair treatment to organized labor. Thomas Crawford presided over the assemblage. Mr. Gompers made a vigorous speech, in the course of which he said:
"On a former occasion I explained the purpose underlying this contest, but a new feature has since developed. The militia has been withdrawn and the civil authority prevails. But we see the judges on the bench trying to distort the laws against the people of Homestead and against justice. Judge Paxson, holding the most honored position on the bench of this state, recently, in charging the grand jury regarding the men of Homestead, impressed upon their minds that these men were guilty of treason. When that charge was published in the press of the country it not only shocked the laboring men, their wives and children, but even the lawyers who could not or would not depend on his action.
"I am not a lawyer, but I don't think it necessary to be one to know what constitutes treason and what patriotism. Shall patriotism be measured by the yard-stick of the Carnegie firm or be weighed as their pig iron? Is it because these men in those latter days like those in Boston harbor, declared they had some rights and dared maintain them that they shall be declared traitors? The men who lost their blood and limbs on the field of battle to maintain and preserve this country and knock off the shackles of millions of slaves can not be construed as traitors, Judge Paxson's charge notwithstanding. Now some of your men are in prison, others out on bail, but you are now out three and one-half months on strike with your ranks practically unbroken. I would not ask you to stand out one moment longer than your rights demanded, but are there not some acts of the Carnegie firm that show you that you are working in a winning cause? Because you are here in Homestead you don't know the great victory you have won. In all great lock-outs there are certain inconveniences to suffer and these must be endured, but if you were to end the struggle to-day you have won a victory. There are employers fair and unfair, and when they think of offering a reduction of wages to their employees in the future the fight you have waged will have some effect in the carrying out of this resolve. Don't you think your stand will have its effect on the workmen of this country? Not only here, but throughout the civilized globe, this fight will have its effect. The fraternity of the wage-workers of the civilized world is at hand. Be true to yourselves, one to the other, open and above board; and above all confer with those who are leading you and have your interest at stake and act with them jointly. No matter whether they may appear the enemies of our constitution or our country's institutions, it matters little. We propose to defend our country, its flag with its stars and stripes, in the face of those who would tear it down, for it represents our sovereign rights. We want to maintain the rights of the people and their manhood and we can only do this by organization—ready to stand by one another, ready to defend our constitution, the people of this country, the wage-workers and especially those of Homestead."
President Sheehan and Vice-President Carney, of the Amalgamated Association and others followed with brief addresses, declaring the fight to be practically won by the strikers and exhorting them to stand firm to the end. The men were much encouraged by these exhortations and comforted themselves with the reflection that when so many competent authorities predicted victory, the expectation of defeat must be merely the chimera of a diseased imagination.
Towards the end of October assaults on non-unionists became very frequent. Men were waylaid and beaten while going to and from work, and the non-union boarding houses were bombarded with bricks and stones. The attacking parties were seldom arrested, the deputies being rather disposed to keep under cover than to do aggressive detective work. A detail of coal and iron police was brought in to assist in quelling the disorders, but without improving the state of affairs to any perceptible extent, as many as six non-unionists being attacked with slung-shots and other weapons in a single evening, despite the vigilance of deputies and policemen combined.
At length Sheriff McCleary, perceiving that a dangerous crisis was threatened, added 50 deputies to his force and thus succeeded in checking the tendency to lawlessness. Ninety-one of the non-union workmen were also sworn in as deputies.
The sheriff attributed the spread of insubordination mainly to the influence of Hon. D. R. Jones, an attorney who had at one time been president of the Miners' Union and who had served two terms in the legislature. Mr. Jones was called in to defend James Holleran, who had resisted arrest for disorderly conduct and been aided by a number of strikers at whose hands the deputy sheriffs received rough usage. At the hearing, which was held before 'Squire Oeffner, Mr. Jones said that "the person under arrest and all others not only exercised a right but performed a sacred duty in resisting unless the officer had a warrant for the arrest." The defendant was held in $500 bail for court, but his friends construed Attorney Jones' remarks as exonerating Holleran and all others who undertook to resist a deputy venturing to make an arrest without a warrant. In this way, the sheriff contended, the disorderly element was incited to misconduct and Mr. Jones should be held responsible. Application was made before Judge McClung by the sheriff's attorney asking that Mr. Jones be summoned to explain his action in court. An order was made accordingly and Mr. Jones in response set up the defense that his utterances had been misrepresented and misunderstood and that he had not aimed at kindling disaffection and lawlessness. This explanation was accepted and the matter dismissed.
The prevalence of disorder caused a meeting of protest to be held by the leading professional and businessmen of Homestead, and resolutions were adopted calling upon the sheriff, in case the trouble continued and he should be unable to suppress it, to apply to the Governor for aid. The members of the advisory board also condemned the disposition to defy the law and used their best efforts to put a stop to the misdeeds of the rougher element.
William Gaches, treasurer of the strikers' organization, was kept busy, day in and day out, receiving and disbursing funds for the relief of the strikers, although as time wore on, the golden stream of contributions began to dwindle unpleasantly. A goodly lift was given to the relief fund by the celebration of "Homestead Day" in Chicago, on October 29, when each of the 90,000 union workmen in that city was expected to contribute a day's wages. The receipts from this source were estimated by the newspapers at $40,000. Even that sum, however, was only a stop-gap. A mint of money was needed to support the 4,000 idle men at Homestead, and, however generous the subscriptions from abroad, it was impossible that the enormous expense of maintaining this army of unemployed persons could be kept up much longer.
Mr. Frick was a steady visitor to the works and made arrangements for elaborate improvements. He rather surprised the strikers by removing John A. Potter from the superintendency and substituting Charles M. Schwab, who had been serving as manager of the Braddock mill. As Mr. Schwab was known to be a genial and amiable gentleman, and Mr. Potter was the reverse of popular, the strikers formed the conclusion that the removal of the latter was intended to placate them, and perhaps to serve as a means of hastening desertions from the Amalgamated ranks. Mr. Potter lost nothing by the change, inasmuch as he was appointed chief mechanical engineer of the Carnegie Company, a transfer which was equivalent to a promotion.
The first week of November was marked by a feeling of unusual uneasiness among the Amalgamated men. Dissatisfaction was rife among the mechanics and desertions from their ranks began to multiply rapidly. Superintendent Schwab labored industriously among the old hands, holding out extraordinary inducements to tempt back to work those whose superior skill rendered their services almost indispensable.
The Federation officials sought to buoy the men up and revive the determined spirit which had been exhibited in the early stages of the conflict. Mr. Gompers taxed his powers of oratory to the utmost. William Weihe, Chris. Evans, David Lynch and others made stirring appeals; but all without avail. Disaffection had found a lodgment and it was too late now to prevent the stampede which every one felt was soon to come.
Such was the condition of things when election day, November 8, was ushered in. The grand effort by which Homestead was to discard Republicanism as a rebuke to advocates of one-sided protection was to be the last combined effort of any kind that the workingmen of the devoted town were to make. Hugh O'Donnell, then confined in the county jail, was the only Homesteader of prominence that refused to go over to the Democracy. Hugh was, of course, debarred from voting, but he made up for this deprivation by sending out for publication a letter in which he said: "All the enemies of the locked-out men at Homestead are Democrats from Governor Pattison down, including General Snowden, Chief Justice Paxson, the New York Sun and other Democratic papers."
The election returns gave Homestead to the Democrats by an average majority of 137. David Lynch, who was a candidate for the legislature, received the highest vote, his majority being 300. The strikers were jubilant over the result and held high carnival on the day after election.
On Sunday, November 14, Homestead saw its last riotous demonstration. The affair arose out of an altercation between two colored non-unionists and a striker. The striker knocked down one of the negroes and was joined in an instant by a crowd of men, women and children, eager to lend a hand. The negroes drew revolvers and fled, firing into the crowd as they ran. At City Farm Lane, six more negroes joined the fugitives, and the whole party ran to their boarding-house and barred themselves in. An angry mob surrounded the house, tore down the fence and was about to burn the place, when a posse of deputies and borough officers arrived and placed the negroes under arrest. While the prisoners were on their way to the lock-up they were assailed with stones and clubs, and it was only by drawing revolvers and threatening to fire that the deputies succeeded in protecting themselves and the poor wretches in their custody. The striker who was concerned in the beginning of the outbreak and one of his companions were also placed under arrest. These men, as well as most of the negroes, were pretty severely wounded.
The usual Saturday afternoon meeting on November 13 was marked by symptoms indicating only too plainly that the end was near at hand. William T. Roberts, fresh from a campaigning tour in the East, made an address substantially conceding that the cause of unionism at Homestead was on its last legs. He spoke of the desertion of the finishers from the ranks of the Amalgamated Association as an assault on the integrity of organized labor inspired by the Carnegie people for the purpose of defeating the Homestead men and added, "In view of the confidence you have placed in me, I don't propose to come here and tell you that everything is rosy when it is not. If you think with this combined opposition in your own ranks you can fight it out to the end, I am with you." The men, being asked what they wished to do, shouted with one voice, "Fight it out to the end!" There were few among them, however, that did not comprehend the intent of Mr. Robert's words. The first doubt of ability to go on with the strike had been openly expressed by one of their own leaders and listened to without protest. This was the beginning of the end.
Another circumstance showing that a crisis was at hand was the convocation of the advisory boards of Homestead, Lawrenceville and Beaver Falls at the Pittsburgh headquarters of the Amalgamated Association, to consider the question whether or not the strikes at those places should be declared off. It could not be ignored that enthusiasm was flagging, and the flow of contributions falling off to a degree that was positively perilous. The committeemen, nevertheless, could not nerve themselves to face the consequences of ordering a discontinuance. Had they done so the failure of the strikes would undoubtedly have been charged up to their account by the majority of their fellow-workmen, and they would be in the position of making a thankless sacrifice.
The reader has already been informed of the manner in which the Lawrenceville and Beaver Falls strikes came to an end. At Homestead, the mechanics and laborers were the first to weaken. These men, to the number of about 2000, met on the morning of Thursday, November 18, and appointed a committee to wait upon the Amalgamated men and submit the proposition that the strike be declared off and the mechanics and laborers be released from further obligations. The Amalgamated men met in the evening, with President Weihe in the chair.
The proposition of the mechanics and laborers was rejected by a vote of 106 to 75.
A ballot was then taken on the advisability of continuing the strike and resulted in an affirmative decision by a vote of 224 to 129.
A committee was appointed to notify the mechanics and laborers that they could act as they liked, but that the Amalgamated Association would not be responsible for their actions.
Next morning the mechanics and laborers reconvened, received the report of the committee of the Amalgamated Association, and agreed unanimously to return to work, but under no circumstances to accept tonnage jobs, as by so doing they would trespass on the rights of the Amalgamated men.
The meeting adjourned quickly, and the men proceeded at once to the mill and put in their applications for reinstatement. More than half of the mechanics were turned away, as the number of vacancies was limited, but the laborers were all put to work or assured of employment in a few days. So great was the rush of returning prodigals that two clerks were required to make out passes for the applicants. Chairman Frick was on hand to supervise the re-employment of the old men and enjoyed, in his undemonstrative way, the successful culmination of his plans to break up unionism in Homestead.