Today in Labor History – July 10th

Mary Jane McLeod Bethune was born. Bethune was an American educator, stateswoman, philanthropist, humanitarian, and civil right activist best known for starting a private school for African-American students in Daytona Beach, Florida. She attracted donations of time and money, and developed the academic school as a college. It later continued to develop as Bethune-Cookman University. She was appointed as a national adviser to President Roosevelt as part of what was known as his Black Cabinet. She was known as “The First Lady of the Struggle” because of her commitment to gain better lives for African Americans. – 1875

14,000 federal and state troops finally succeed in putting down the strike against the Pullman Palace Car Company The strike had been peaceful until July 5, when federal troops intervened in Chicago, against the repeated protests of the Governor and Chicago’s mayor. Some 34 American Railway Union members were killed by troops over the course of the strike. – 1894

A powerful gas and dust explosion occurred in the Rolling Mill Mine in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. At approximately 11 a.m., the explosion occurred in the Klondike section of the mine, and ultimately 112 miners, 84 of whom were immigrants from England, Poland, and Slovakia, lost their lives. Killed immediately were those miners working in the Klondike section. Many other miners, as well as the vast majority of the mine animals, were killed by an asphyxiating gall called afterdam that spread through the mine as they fled to the Millcreek Portal, several miles away, the only other exit from the mine. The Rolling Mill Mine Disaster still ranks as one the most deadly mining accidents in American history. – 1902

The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce held a mass meeting of more than 2,000 merchants to organize what was to become a frontal assault on union strength and the closed shop. The failure of wages to keep up with inflation after the 1906 earthquake had spurred multiple strikes in the city. – 1916

Sidney Hillman died at age 59. Head of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, he was a key figure in the founding of the Congress of Industrial Organization and in marshaling labor’s support for Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Democratic Party. – 1946

Mary McLeod Bethune

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