Johnstown, Pierpont Morgan, Andy Carnegie discussed on History That Doesn't Suck


A war. It's now early. Eighteen ninety two roughly two and a half years since the johnstown flood. Andy is the largest steel producer in the united states his size he's looking to reorganize again and bring all his businesses. Save for it coke under a new umbrella. The carnegie steel company. We're talking about an enterprise with the value of twenty five million seeing profits of five million per year yeah not too shabby. Meanwhile andy's increasingly enjoying being a philanthropist. In new york alone. He's throwing millions into a glamorous new music hall as well as teamed up with the famous banker. J pierpont morgan to create a botanical garden and a massive arena called madison square garden. Okay these aren't straight up charity. But there are some charitable aspects in there and he's playing those up that set he's also doing some straight up charitable stuff like building libraries. Oh does any love gifting. The public libraries. It's part of why many on both sides of the atlantic would be happy to tell you the andy carnegie. Isn't one of those immoral robber barons rather. He's an enlightened industrialist. But it's amazing. How fast perceptions can change about sixty miles west of johnstown pennsylvania just a few miles outside. Pittsburgh is a town of ten thousand called homestead any employees three thousand eight hundred workers in his steel mill here. Seven hundred eighty of whom are skilled workers represented by the most labor union in the steel industry. The amalgamated association. The amalgamated current. three year. Contract is about up and its representatives are feeling good about the upcoming negotiations. It's no secret. How well carnegie steel doing an andy has gone on public record as we well know stating his support for collective bargaining so surely figure this will go smoothly but it doesn't the ascendant chairman under the newly organized company h. Clay frick is digging in his heels. On three items i he says these employees whose pay reflects a sliding scale related to the cost of steel need to accept a new minimum rate of twenty three dollars per tonne rather than their current twenty five dollars. There's no maximum payout and so clarke's if they are open to the benefits of highs they can share more of the burden that comes with the lows second. This contract expiration date needs to move from june thirtieth to december thirty first to better line with the calendar year. Finally a third point with another aspect of pay determined by the mill's output. He says the amalgamated needs to accept a reduction here as well because it's the new technology they've invested in not the workers the has significantly increased output. Well the union reps aren't standing for this. They think this is ridiculous. They're willing to come down to twenty four dollars on the sliding scale but no less as for changing the day they know it has nothing to do with the counter and everything to do with steel sales dropping in the winter. They are moving to the years weakest point just to give carnegie steel the upper hand in the next sit down and ask for output click hitting. These men worked themselves to the bone. He risked their lives in dangerous mills. That's productions up not his new tack so now we are two perspectives. But here's the real kicker fight only relates to three hundred. Twenty five of the amalgamated seven hundred eighty men at the three thousand eight hundred employees homestead mill in other words. It's a small group but things get heated fast. Clay has a three mile fence built to encircle the mill. It has holes supposedly for a lookout but the kind of look more like a pork for rifles. And it's topped with barbed wire. He also rex guard towers equipped with searchlights. What on earth well. The thing is clay's overreacting because a strike a few months ago at the edgar thomson. Mill has spooked. Also wants to show andy he can handle things. Scotsman is a little checked out right now playing in his native homeland. Let's not mince words for all his progressive talk. Andy's given klay pretty much full latitude in these negotiations. But you know if you want the skilled and unskilled workers to set aside their differences which they most definitely have as the first group significantly out earns the ladder turning the mill into some sort of prison slash military. Outpost is a solid way to do it. The impasse negotiations folds right through the contract's expiration. On june thirtieth. Meanwhile clay orders the mill. Closed starts looking to bringing in strikebreakers in response an army of skilled and unskilled steelworker sees the mill but the moustachioed carnegie chairman isn't backing down. Play will build his own army. Just past two a m july sixth eighteen ninety two three hundred pinkerton men clamber into two large barges along the ohio river. Just north of pittsburgh between them. They have three hundred pistols two hundred fifty winchester rifles and more than enough ammo on food to lay siege the soon heading southeast travelling via the local river systems toward the homestead. But as they move in the dark of night labor union century notices them. He telegraphs the mill. Watch the river. Steamer with barges left here an hour and a half later at four. Am the three hundred well-armed pinkerton derive their greeted by an army of five thousand steel men and their families. Some of the workers take shots tugboats pulls the largest toward the dots. But you delete her. Hugh o'donnell tries to avoid a firefight with the boats shouting distance. He calls out on behalf of five thousand men. I beg of you to lead here. At once we the workers in these mills are peaceably inclined. We have not damaged any property. And we do not intend to if you will send a committee with us we will take them through the works and promise them a safe return to their boats but in the name of god and humanity. Don't attend to enter. These works by force. A pinkerton captain jumps onto the dock. He answers we were sent here to take possession of this property. We don't wish blood. But few men don't withdraw. We will note every one of you down and enter in spite of you. You'd better disperse for land. We will but follows. God details all the time isn't it. Who's in a different place. Different time and different people. But i've told you the story before more than once. Further words exchanged there's more posturing and then it happens to guns discharge and yeah you guessed it. We don't know which side fired for. All we do know is the battle has commenced to armies both of whom have more guns than experienced soldiers fire at each other until five pm nine evening. Perhaps we can think they're inexperienced for the relatively low death. Count seven strikers and at least three pinkerton the strikers take the pinkerton prisoners doesn't last long though days later. Pennsylvania governor robert e pattison sins in an eight thousand strong state militia which seizes.

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