Subversive Historian – 07/07/09

Homestead Strikers Vs. Pinkertons

Back in the day on July 6th, 1892, steelworkers on strike from Andrew Carnegie’s Homestead Mill in Pennsylvania battled the infamous Pinkertons. Henry Clay Frick, who managed the plant, hired the private mercenaries to protect strike breakers he planned to employ. About three-hundred armed Pinkerton agents boarded barges to sail to the plant down the Monogahela River. Though the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steelworkers only represented a few hundred workers at the Homestead Mill, an overwhelming majority of the plant’s 3,800 employees had voted to strike. To protect their work stoppage, striking workers and citizens confronted the Pinkertons on the riverbanks. For the next several hours, the battle turned bloody as gunfire was exchanged on both sides that left several workers dead. The Pinkertons were forced back and retreated from the scene on trains.

Frick, who was in constant contact with a vacationing Carnegie, turned to the state after his mercenaries were beat back. The Pennsylvania National Guard was called in to protect the employment of strike breakers. It was just another example of state intervention that Capitalism detests in words, but not always in deeds…

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