When more than 100,000 railroad workers carried out the first national strike in the United States, it started in Baltimore at Camden Yards on July 16, 1877 as workers resisted a second round of pay cuts on the B& O Railroad.
Local labor educator and organizer Bill Barry has been a driving force behind the recent surge in historical work around Baltimore's role in kicking off one of the biggest strike waves this country has ever seen, including playing a key role in getting the first official historical marker placed commemorating the strike. And now he's collected his extensive research in the definitive account of how the great railroad strike began in Charm City.
The 1877 Railroad Strike in Baltimore focuses in detail on the weeks of the strike both in
Baltimore, where two other strikes in the city were also in progress and 10 innocent bystanders were murdered by the Maryland militia near Baltimore City Hall, and on related strikes across the country.
The book emphasizes that the strike became an epic moment not just in labor history but in US history, as it provoked critical issues, like the role of the federal government, the need for standing armies and the role of workers in an industrial society. The book also considers the political controversies of the time and the Red Scare that accompanied the strikes.
The 1877 Railroad Strike in Baltimore covers the development of railroads as a national industry, and particularly the history of the B & O, early labor disputes and unionism on the railroads, the immigrant and working-class communities of Baltimore, and community support for the strikers. It uses original research from newspapers and committee hearings, minutes from the Hayes administration, as well as documents from the archives of the B & O Museum—including the notorious Gatling Letter—and even a section of poems about the strike, created by students in Baltimore. There are numerous period graphics and color photographs to illustrate the history.