Today in Labor History – July 22nd


A General Strike occurred in St. Louis, as part of the national Great Strike. The St. Louis strike is generally considered the first General Strike in U.S. history. It was organized by the radical Knights of Labor and the Workingman’s Party. In addition to joining in solidarity with striking rail workers, thousands in other trades came out to fight for the 8-hour day and an end to child labor. 3,000 federal troops and 5,000 deputized police (vigilantes?) ended the strike by killing at least 18 people and arresting at least 70 – 1877

Newly unionized brewery workers in San Francisco, mostly German socialists, declare victory after the city’s breweries give in to their demands for free beer, the closed shop, freedom to live anywhere (they had typically been required to live in the breweries), a 10-hour day, six-day week, and a board of arbitration – 1886

Alexander Berkman tried to assassinate Henry Clay Frick, responsible for the deaths of nine miners killed by Pinkerton thugs on July 6, during Homestead Strike – 1892

A bomb was set off during a pro-war “Preparedness Day” parade in San Francisco, killing 10 and injuring 40 others. Thomas J. Mooney, a labor organizer, and Warren K. Billings, a shoe worker, were convicted on flimsy evidence, but both were pardoned in 1939. Not surprisingly, only anarchists were suspected in the bombing. A few days after the bombing, they searched and seized materials from the offices ofThe Blast, Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman’s local paper, and threatened to arrest Berkman – 1916


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