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 Seventeenth of Chapters_
The Last Mass Meeting—Strikers Surrender Unconditionally—Cost of the Homestead Dispute to Capital, Labor and the State—Few Old Hands Get Work and Poverty Stalks Abroad—Noble Service of Relief Committees—The Coming of Santa Claus—Congressional Investigations Wind Up Without Accomplishing Anything—A Batch of Useless Reports—The Kearns Anti-Pinkerton Bill Becomes a Law in Pennsylvania.
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 resigned in order to take a position in a mill at Uniontown, Pa., and that Richard Hotchkiss, Secretary of the board, had been appointed to fill the vacancy. The discussion turned mainly on the necessity, now self-evident, of abandoning the strike and declaring the Homestead mill open to union men. It was manifestly the sense of the meeting that this step should be taken, but the men recoiled from it, and, after a debate lasting four hours, action was deferred until the following day.
It was a mournful little band that assembled in the rink on Sunday morning. In that memorable meeting-place which had again and again resounded with triumphant oratory and with the plaudits of sanguine multitudes, less than 300 dispirited men now came together to register the confirmation of their defeat. There were some who argued passionately against capitulation. To yield, they said, would be to hasten the disintegration of the Amalgamated Association. Better go naked and starve than sacrifice the principles on the vindication of which the men of Homestead had staked everything. But this reasoning was of no avail. A standing vote was taken on the question of declaring the mill open and the proposition was carried by 101 to 91.
There was no outburst when the result was declared. The men sat and stared at one another for a few seconds, and then dropped out of the hall in twos and threes, some of them giving vent to their feelings in bitter denunciations of the action of the majority.
The news caused little excitement through the town. It was no more than had been expected, and, for the most part, the people were glad of it, for it had long been understood that the continuance of the unequal struggle with the Carnegie Company meant an increased burden of debt and poverty.
It was among the outside sympathizers that the keenest regret was felt over the failure of the strike. Messrs. Powderly, Devlin, Wright and other high officers of the K. of L. deplored the collapse, and here and there K. of L. men took occasion to lay the blame on the shoulders of Samuel Gompers and his associates in the management of the Federation.
Hugh O'Donnell gave his opinion of the ending of the strike in the appended letter to the Pittsburgh Leader:
"Editor Leader:—In reply to your request for an expression of opinion concerning the action of the men at Homestead in declaring the strike off, I can say but little at the present time. Owing to the fact that, certain of my acts in that most memorable struggle are sub judice, I am not in a position to criticize the acts of my late associates. Great battles are rarely, if ever, fought as planned. The world has never witnessed before so much suffering and sacrifice for a cause. The action of the three thousand laborers and mechanics who came out with our men on pure principle alone is unexampled in the history of labor struggles.
"But to the men in the Lawrenceville and Beaver Falls mills too much praise cannot be given. Their loyalty and steadfastness to the principles for which they were contending should never be forgotten. Out of consideration for them I regret that the Homestead struggle should have terminated in the manner in which it did.
"Allegheny county jail, November 21."
Secretary Lovejoy contented himself with assuring the newspapers that the surrender would have no effect on the cases of the strikers under arrest, as far as the Carnegie firm was concerned.
On Monday the Advisory board disbanded and the dissolution of the workingmen's once great and powerful organization was complete.
The battle for the preservation of the integrity of this body had been fought at a fearful cost. The outlay on the side of the Carnegie Company has never been made known, but it cannot have fallen short of $250,000. The workmen, in the course of twenty weeks of idleness, lost $850,000 in wages, and the expense to the state of maintaining the militia at Homestead was about $500,000. In round numbers then, the total cost of the strike to all parties involved, allowing for the pay of deputy sheriffs, the expense of court trials and the relief funds, may be set down at two million dollars, an enormous sum to be paid for the gratification of Mr. Frick's desire to get rid of unions and unionism. Inasmuch, however, as but a small portion of this amount came out of the coffers of the Carnegie Company, Mr. Frick had no reason to feel dissatisfied. His victory was in reality, a cheap one. Had he not precipitated a bloody conflict by shipping Pinkertons to Homestead and in this way secured the support of the entire military force of Pennsylvania, there is no telling how long the strike might have been continued and how heavy the loss that might have been inflicted on the firm by the stoppage of operations.
The last restraint having been removed, hundreds of men who had been active among the strikers now thronged the mill office and besieged the officials with applications for positions. Superintendent Schwab began receiving the applicants at 9 o'clock on Monday morning. At that hour about 500 men were in line. The men were admitted in groups of five and those who were not black-listed as dangerous rioters received permits authorizing them to file their applications with the superintendents of the various departments. The line of waiting ones kept constantly growing and it was not until 4 o'clock that Mr. Schwab and his assistants were enabled to wind up their labors. Unfortunately the number of vacancies was so small that but few of the old employees could be accommodated by the superintendents, and fully 2,500 men were left to keep the wolf from the door as best they could, without the assurance of early employment. The prospect confronting these unfortunates was disheartening in the extreme. Most of them were already embarrassed in consequence of their long idleness. Rent and taxes were unpaid, the endurance of grocers and butchers was exhausted, and with winter at hand and no money in sight to purchase the necessaries of life, what was to become of these destitute workingmen and their families?
The Amalgamated Association came at once to the relief of its own members, a large number of whom were on the blacklist, by voting the payment of $6 a week to each as long as he should be out of employment. The ordinary financial resources of the lodges would not have justified this step, but contributions continued to come in and the special necessity for relief now exhibited was recognized by union workingmen everywhere.
The events of the next two weeks after the strike was declared off showed but little brightening of the outlook. By actual count there were 2,715 men on the pay rolls of the mill on the day when the mechanics and laborers went back to work. Two weeks later there were 3,121 men employed in the works, from which showing it will be seen that out of 2,200 men who had applied for reinstatement only 406 obtained employment. Almost all of these were laborers.
At the call of Burgess Hollingshead, successor to Honest John McLuckie, a meeting of citizens was held to consider plans for the relief of the many cases of absolute destitution reported in the town. Dr. Purman presided and J. H. Rose acted as secretary. David Lynch explained to those present that the Amalgamated men would take care of themselves, but that the suffering among those for whom the Association could not undertake to provide was intense and demanded prompt measures for its alleviation. A committee consisting of David Lynch, William Gaches and Harry Bayne was appointed to investigate the immediate needs of the people, and a fund was started on the spot by the subscription of $200 among the citizens in attendance. After a few days' work the sub-committee reported to the general committee, and on the strength of the information presented the following appeal was adopted:
"There are 218 families in Homestead and vicinity in a state of destitution. This fact has been ascertained by a competent committee, consisting of three persons, appointed at a citizens' meeting held on Friday evening, December 2, 1892. The undersigned committee was appointed as a result of the above investigation to issue this appeal to the country, asking public aid in caring for these destitute families. The strike is over, but less than 800 of the 3,800 former workmen of the Carnegie Steel Company have as yet secured employment in the mill, and only a limited number elsewhere. It is highly improbable that this vast body of unemployed men will be able to secure work for many weeks to come. This means prolonged and increasing distress. The people of Homestead, although liberal in their contributions, are unable to provide for the demands of such general want. This call is an urgent one, and the public must assist us."
The general relief committee perfected its organization by electing Burgess Hollingshead president, William Gaches, treasurer, and George Hadfield, secretary. Mr. Hollingshead was authorized to receive money contributions and turn them over to the treasurer, and to Mr. Hadfield was assigned the duty of receiving donations of food, fuel and clothing.
One of the first subscriptions received was the sum of $25 from the employees of Kaufman Brothers of Philadelphia, transmitted by the city editor of the Philadelphia Record. Others poured in rapidly, the business people of Pittsburgh being especially liberal in their response to the demands upon them. The Building Trades council appointed a committee to take charge of the Pittsburgh donations, with Vice President Michael Sharran at the head. Mr. Sharran, assisted by Mr. D.S. Mitchell, labored with untiring activity and these two men were instrumental in securing thousands of dollars worth of supplies.
Among the most liberal contributors was Mrs. J.M. Gusky, head of the great clothing firm of J.M. Gusky & Company, a lady noted for her charities and always foremost to respond in emergencies such as that occurring at Homestead.
Kaufmann Brothers and Eisner & Philipps gave an immense quantity of clothing. W.M. Laird contributed a sufficient quantity of shoes for all claimants, and the large grocery and commission firms forwarded provisions of all kinds.
The Pittsburgh Press raised a fund of $2,500 in addition to supplies of clothing and other necessaries, and the Dispatchcollected over $700, to which was added $300 from the charitable people of Washington, D.C.
As Christmas drew near, public sympathy was more and more keenly aroused in behalf of the Homestead sufferers. A few days before that holiday of holidays, the children in the Homestead public schools were instructed to write letters to Santa Claus, asking for whatever they most desired. Nearly all the letters contained requests for shoes and other necessaries. Many of them were published in the newspapers and spoke volumes for the unhappy condition of the poorer class of strikers and their families.
Santa Claus was not missing, however, when the eventful morning came, nor were the other essentials of a merry Christmas conspicuous by their absence. One thousand turkeys came from the kind hearted workingmen of McKeesport and 300 from Mrs. Gusky, and the heart of every child was gladdened by the gift of a picture book and a box of candy from Kaufmann Bros. of Pittsburgh.
The Homestead relief committee kept up its good work until the end of March, by which time the necessities of the people ceased to be pressing. A report was then published showing receipts amounting to $5,587.28, of which $4,926.79 had been expended in relieving distressed families. A committee of three was appointed to use the unexpended balance in relief work, and the general committee then dissolved, having excellently discharged its mission.
Reference has already been made to the appointment of a committee of United States senators to investigate the Homestead affair and the postponement of action by Senator Gallinger, the Republican chairman of that committee, until after the presidential election. Within two weeks after election day, Senators Gallinger and Pfeffer began the inquiry at Chicago, where a hearing was given to Pinkerton agents and authorities on police methods, the latter submitting opinions on the best means of coping with labor disturbances. Chief of Police McClaughrey advocated the removal of the police force in great cities from the field of politics and placing municipal departments under a civil service system, and Marshal Hitchcock suggested the enactment of a law providing a severe penalty for refusing to serve on a posse comitatus. On November 23, Messrs. Gallinger and Pfeffer arrived in Pittsburgh. The other members of the committee, Messrs. Hansbrough, of North Dakota; Felton, of California; Sanders, of Montana; White, of Louisiana, and Hill, of New York, did not find it convenient to attend. The testimony taken was mainly a repetition of that given before the House Committee. Captain Rodgers repeated his tale of the adventures of the Little Bill; Superintendent Potter told of the innocence of the purpose entertained in the bringing in of the Pinkertonian Three Hundred; William Weihe explained how easily the trouble could have been adjusted if the Carnegie firm had desired an amicable settlement and condemned the facilities afforded for the importation of cheap labor in violation of the contract labor law; David Lynch and William G. Roberts testified to the peaceable disposition of the Homestead men prior to the Pinkerton invasion and their respect for the property rights of their employers; A. C. Robertson, a politician who had formerly been a glass blower, condemned arbitration, whether voluntary or compulsory, as a failure, and ex-Judge Thomas Mellon declared the employment of armed guards during strikes to be necessary because there is "too much politics" to permit of the proper enforcement of the law.
After a visit to the Homestead mill, the committee proceeded directly to New York where the testimony of Robert A. Pinkerton and Captain Heinde was heard. The Pinkerton chief described the men sent to Homestead as model citizens. It had been agreed, he said, that the guards should be sworn in as deputy sheriffs. There had been no firing from the barges until after the captain was shot, and then only in sheer self-defense. Witness claimed that his agency had lost $15,000 by the Homestead affair, owing to the seizure of rifles and other property, and the cost of caring for men hurt in the battle. He thought it doubtful that Mr. Carnegie would reimburse the agency. Being asked if he thought that the violence committed at Homestead was due to the strikers or to the rabble attracted there, he said: "I think it was committed by the strikers, their leaders and the advisory committee itself." Captain Heinde's evidence was merely a recital of the events of July 6. With his examination the investigation was concluded.
The report of the committee, presented to the senate on February 11, 1893, denounced the employment of Pinkertons as "an utterly vicious system, responsible for much of the ill-feeling and bad blood displayed by the working classes," and suggested that if Mr. Frick had carried out the humane policy enunciated by Mr. Carnegie in his famous article in the Forum, the Homestead strike might have been avoided. At the same time, it declared that there was "no excuse for the scenes of disorder and terrorism for which the strikers were themselves responsible," and that "laboring men should learn the lesson that they cannot better their condition by violating the law or resisting lawful authority." The committee doubted the power of Congress to mend matters by legislation, and advised arbitration as the only middle ground on which employer and employe could meet without depreciating the rights of either.
About this time the House committee on investigation of the Homestead strike awoke from its lethargy and Messrs. Ray and Broderick, the Republican members, handed in a minority report, condemning the employment of armed guards, but advising that legislation on this question be left to the several states. In the judgment of the minority of the committee the "present system of federal taxation" had nothing to do with the Homestead strike, which was in reality a struggle for supremacy between organized capital and organized labor.
The majority report was presented shortly afterwards. It held that Mr. Frick should have united with the sheriff of Allegheny county, without regard to the inefficiency of that officer, in an appeal to the governor, instead of undertaking to crush the strikers on his own account; criticized the Amalgamated Association as a body the members of which were encouraged to become intemperate zealots, denied the right of the Homestead men to oppose the landing of the Pinkertons, and ended by suggesting that it be left to the several states to enact laws regulating Pinkertonism.
Individual minority reports were presented as follows:
By Mr. Broderick, advocating the passage of a compulsory arbitration law by the states.
By Mr. Buchanan, of New Jersey, declaring the investigation to have acted as a boomerang against the Democrats in that it showed a high protective tariff to be productive of high wages.
By Mr. Boatner, claiming that, under the clause of the constitution which authorizes the inter-state commerce law, inter-state carriers can be prevented from hiring Pinkertons.
By Mr. Stockdale, of Mississippi, claiming that the Pinkertons were trespassers; and
By Messrs. Bynum and Layton confessing their inability to find a remedy for conflicts between capital and labor.
All the reports cited having been duly read and filed away by the two branches of Congress, the Homestead question was thereupon dropped by general consent and, its political utility having vanished, was heard of no more in the national legislature.
The Pennsylvania legislature, which assembled in January, 1893, was obliged to meet the Pinkerton question squarely. All the members of the lower branch of that body—the House of Representatives—and one-half of the members of the senate came fresh from the people, having been chosen in the November elections, and a large proportion of them stood pledged to their constituents to aid in the passage of an anti-Pinkerton bill. Many measures of this character were introduced, but that upon which support was centered, by common consent, was a bill introduced by Representative John Kearns, of Pittsburgh, a gentleman in close touch with organized labor. The Kearns bill was entitled "An Act relative to the appointing of special deputies, marshals, detectives or policemen by sheriffs, mayors or other persons authorized by law to make such appointments, and by individuals, associations or corporations incorporated under the laws of this State or any other State of the United States, and making it a misdemeanor for persons to exercise the functions of an officer without authority."
The bill underwent some vicissitudes, which delayed its passage until May, although introduced early in January and advanced on the House calendar through Mr. Kearns' energetic efforts. At one stage in its progress, a proviso was added requiring that any person appointed or deputized to perform the duties of special deputy, marshal, policeman or detective should be "of known good moral character and temperate habits" and should give bond in a considerable sum for the faithful performance of his duties. This provision was attacked because of its being presumably aimed at the low class of detectives employed by the Law and Order society of Pittsburgh, which was just then making war on Sunday newspapers and lobbying against a bill for the protection of journals publishing Sunday editions, and for this reason it was eliminated. The word "detectives" was stricken out of the title and, as it was feared that the bill might interfere with the appointment of regular policemen in municipalities, a special proviso to prevent such a result was added in the senate:
As finally enacted into a law, signed by the governor, and placed upon the statute books, the measure reads as follows:
Section 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in General Assembly met, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That no sheriff of a county, mayor of a city, or other person authorized by law to appoint special deputies, marshals or policemen in this Commonwealth to preserve the public peace and prevent or quell public disturbances, and no individuals, association, company or corporation incorporated under the laws of this State or of any other State of the United States and doing business in this State, shall hereafter appoint or employ as such special deputy, marshal or policeman any person who shall not be a citizen of this Commonwealth.
Section 2. That any person who shall in this240 Commonwealth without due authority pretend or hold himself out to any one as a deputy sheriff, marshal, policeman, constable or peace officer, shall be deemed guilty of misdemeanor.
Section 3. Any person or persons, company or association, or any person in the employ of such company or association violating any of the provisions of this act shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be sentenced to pay a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars, or undergo an imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both or either at the discretion of the court.
Provided, That if any company or association be convicted under this act it shall be sentenced to pay a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars.
Provided further, That the provisions of this act shall not be construed as applying to policemen, constables or specials appointed by municipalities for municipal purposes.
As long as the Kearns act stands—and it is safe to say that it is not likely ever to be repealed—the Pinkerton Detective Agency is effectually barred out of Pennsylvania.