The Anthracite Coal Strike Of 1902 by grantgunderson

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									The Anthracite Coal Strike Editorials
Public Opinion
October, 9, 16, 23, 30, December 4, 18, 25, 1902
Source: Pubic Opinion

                                    October 9, 1902
                              “The Coal Strike Conference”
                  Operators and Miners Called Together by the President.
    ACTING in accordance with the request of the president, the heads of the several
anthracite coal companies and President Mitchell of the mine workers met in conference
at on Friday with a view to ending the coal strike. President Roosevelt in earnest words
pointed out the seriousness of the situation raised by the continuance of the strike and
urged the operators and representatives of the miners to agree upon a basis for the
resumption of work in the mines, basing his plea, not on legal grounds or official right,
but upon the necessities and rights of the public and upon the duty and patriotism of the
    In reply to the president the operators prepared individual statements, all of which
take the ground that the obstacle in the way of the resumption of mining is the violence
and intimidation practiced by the miners. The operators allege that they are making every
effort to mine coal, that they have several thousand men at work and would have many
more if their properties and the safety of their employees willing to work were protected
by the state. The operators charge that the miners’ union is an anarchistic association,
organized and acting in defiance of federal and state laws, and they refuse to recognize it
in any way, claiming that a compromise with the forces of disorder and anarchy would be
a far greater evil than a temporary scarcity of fuel. The only concession offered by the
operators was to reemploy the miners on the terms previously existing, disputes at
individual collieries to be submitted for final determination to judges of the courts of
common pleas.
    On behalf of the miners, President Mitchell offered to call the strike off on condition
that the issues culminating in it be referred to the president and a tribunal of his selection,
the operators agreeing to embody the award of this tribunal in an agreement to run not
less than one nor more than five years, and the wage scale thus agreed upon to date back
to the day on which work was resumed. The operators rejected this proposal for the

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“The Anthracite Coal Strike Editorials” in Public Opinion    October 9 to December 25, 1902

reasons stated, and upon the further ground that the miners were not competent to make
and could not be depended upon to keep a contract.
    For calling this fruitless conference President Roosevelt is unanimously praised by
the press, public men, and the representatives of labor. Or as this aspect of the matter is
summed up by the St. Louis Republic (Dem.): “Optimists will say that the moral effect of
his interference will appear later; critics will say that he showed poor judgment in putting
the presidential office where it was sure of failure. To be just, Mr. Roosevelt did the best
he could, and the public will credit him with trying to remedy a lamentable situation.”
    The New York Tribune (Rep.) thinks that “there can be little doubt that Mr.
Mitchell’s offer will be generally regarded as fair, and the position of the operators
condemned.” The Herald (Ind.) says that “the attitude of the operators shows that they do
not realize the duty they owe to the public.” The Journal (Dem.) compares the attitude of
the coal trust, “shaking its fist in the face of the president of the United States and defying
him,” with the “respectful, placable, and patriotic spirit” shown by Mr. Mitchell, and
asks, “Who now can doubt where the full responsibility for the strike lies?” The World
(Dem.) says that heavy as is the responsibility which rests upon the operators on account
of the position they assumed “if the facts are as they state them, there is a much heavier
responsibility resting on Governor Stone for permitting the mining of coal to be stopped
by lawlessness, violence, and crime.” The Evening Post (Ind.) agrees with the operators
that “when the fundamental rights of property and labor are put at the mercy of torch and
dynamite, it is better to freeze or to starve than to abdicate government at the behest of
the rioters.”
    The Philadelphia North American (Ind.) characterizes Mr. Mitchell’s plan as
“perfectly fair,” and it condemns the operators who, “instead of meeting the president in
the spirit of his invitation, lectured him arrogantly on the subject of his duty and
demanded that federal troops be sent to ‘squelch’ Mitchell and his ‘outlaws.’ The meeting
was a lamentable failure, but it clears away all possible doubt as to where the impending
public calamity lies.” The Philadelphia Ledger and Record think that Mitchell would
have done well to accept the operators’ offer to submit local differences to the decision of
the county judges. The Baltimore American (Rep.) condemned both operators and
miners, declaring that the public can no longer have any patience with either party. The
Boston Advertiser (Rep.) says that since the mine owners either can not or will not mine
coal, temporary receivers should be appointed to operate the mines until the public’s
needs are satisfied. The Boston Post (Dem.) says that the operators have declared
themselves to be public enemies, and “the indignant people will somehow find a way to
deal with their enemies.”
    The Columbus Dispatch (Ind.) declares that as a result of the conference the
operators’ fight is lost, an that action by congress is now imperative. “The coal monopoly
assumes its own right to exist and presumes to deny the right of the miners’ union to
exist,” the Chicago Inter Ocean (Rep.) says. “It scouts the union of the miners, refuses to
deal with it, and yet insists that the miners and the whole American people and their
president shall deal with the coal monopoly as if its own legal status were absolutely
unquestionable. What impudence! What nonsense!” The Cleveland Plain Dealer (Dem.)
says that “now a way will be found to mine coal which will not be to the liking of those
who regard themselves as the only persons interested in the coal industry. The welfare of

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“The Anthracite Coal Strike Editorials” in Public Opinion   October 9 to December 25, 1902

the whole people is the supreme consideration, and that may demand the cutting of the
anthracite knot, if it can not be untied by ordinary processes.”
    In the opinion of the Detroit Free Press (Ind. Dem.) “Mr. Baer and his associates are
the anarchists of capital, as the reckless elements of the union are the anarchists of labor.
But of the two the moral responsibility of the former is the greater.” This division of
responsibility is common among western papers, the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Rep.) saying
the neither the miners nor the operators come before bar of public opinion with clean
                                        October 16, 1902
                                   “The Coal Strike Situation”
                  Failure of the President’s Second Step Toward a Settlement
    THE president’s second move toward a settlement of the anthracite coal strike was
taken on Monday, the 6th. Through Commissioner of Labor Wright, Mr. Roosevelt
offered, if the miners would return to work, to appoint a commission to investigate the
matters at issue between them and their employers and to do all in his power to obtain a
settlement of those matters in accordance with the report of the commission. Mr.
Mitchell’s reply to this proposal was made public on Thursday. He declined to advise the
miners to return to work “simply upon the hope that the coal operators might be induced
or forced to comply with the recommendations of your (the president’s) commission.”
Mr. Mitchell’s position was supported by votes of the numerous local unions.
    Governor Stone on the 6th ordered out the entire national guard of the state, about
9,000 men, for duty in the coal fields. This action is commended on all sides, partly
because it is believed that it will end the lawlessness that has reigned there, but mainly
because it will put to the test the claim of the operators that they could mine coal if given
proper protection for themselves and for miners willing to return to work if they and their
homes were secure from molestation. No visible effect has as yet followed the presence
of the increased militia force in the field, and some of the operators are quoted as saying
that a still larger force is needed.
    Friday the newspapers contained the text of two letters written to President Roosevelt
by the attorney for the Delaware and Hudson railroad, requesting that federal proceedings
be taken against the United mine workers’ association as an organization existing in
conflict with the Sherman anti-trust law. The argument of the attorney was that the
association operated not only to restrict but to prevent trade, and that it should be
restrained by such an injunction as issued in the Debs case. “Impudent,” is the
characterization made by almost every newspaper commenting on this demand.
    The New York papers express no surprise that Mr. Mitchell should have refused to
surrender the fruits of the miners’ long-fought battle and only the Sun and the Times
blame the miners for taking this stand. The Philadelphia North American (Ind.) thinks
that Governor Stone’s action in ordering out the national guard made it impossible for
Mr. Mitchell’s to accede to the president’s wishes without confessing defeat—something
that the miners could not be expected to do.
    “Of course” says the Boston Traveler (Dem.), “Mitchell will not be caught with such
chaff even to help the Republican party out of the straits into which it has fallen.” The
Boston Herald (Ind.) is almost alone in the opinion that “the miners have forfeited
popular sympathy” by declining the president’s request. The Boston Post (Dem.)
describes Mr. Mitchell’s position as “sound and reasonable,” while the Pittsburg Gazette

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“The Anthracite Coal Strike Editorials” in Public Opinion   October 9 to December 25, 1902

(Rep.) thinks it “quite natural.” The Baltimore News (Dem.) adopts the wording of many
other editorials when it says that “it is difficult to blame the miners for their refusal.”
“Why should the miners surrender,” the Omaha Bee (Rep.) asks, “and thus practically
concede that they are in the wrong, besides putting themselves at the mercy of the coal
combine ? They certainly owe no more to the public than the operators owe, and in the
general opinion not nearly so much.”
    While a careful examination of the newspaper comment representing every state in
the union does not altogether confirm the statement of the Savannah News (Dem.) that in
his actions with regard to the strike “the president has the approval of the entire country,”
the volume of public opinion does approve the president’s successive steps toward a
settlement. The Springfield Republican (Ind.) points out that the president has
“recognized a union which the operators will not recognize,” and while it does not blame
the miners for rejecting his good offices, it thinks that the miners can not do better than
accept them. The Philadelphia Ledger (Ind.) declares with vehemence that “it is a burning
shame that formal government should feel obliged to treat with the upholders of the mob,
of riot, of murder, and anarchy.” The Philadelphia Press (Rep.) admits that the president
has taken a long step, but defends it as a “safe step.” The Chicago Record-Herald (Rep.)
thinks Mr. Roosevelt has made a huge mistake; “his reputation for common sense almost
forbids the thought that he could have imagined that the miners would consent to such a
lame termination of the struggle as he proposed.” The Portland Oregonian (Ind.) admits
that the operators “have put the president in a hole. But they will rue their course bitterly
and in tears. There is such a thing as sowing the wind to reap the whirlwind.” The
Richmond Times (Dem.) gives the president full credit for good intention, but asserts that
he “has made a sorry mess of it, as he always will do when he interferes in matters
outside the sphere of government control.” The Louisville Courier-Journal (Dem.) prints
a long editorial on Mr. Roosevelt’s “usurpation of power,” claiming that he has been
acting “wholly without his authority.” The Atlanta Constitution (Dem.) declares that the
president has establish a new standard of federal duty.
    Discussing the relative “lawlessness” of miners and operators, the Pittsburg Post
(Dem.) asks, “should the latter go unwhipt of justice by the force of public opinion or the
potency of the criminal law? Pass by their contemptuous and insulting rejection of the
president’s arbitration proposals, they are arrayed and have been for years in defiance of
the constitution and laws of Pennsylvania and the anti-trust law passed by congress years
ago, and which it is the duty of President Roosevelt to enforce. Under that law President
Baer and his five or six associates have as clear a right behind the grating of a prison as
any of the hungry and reckless miners.”
                                October 23, 1902
                            The Coal Strike Settlement
          A Commision Proposed by the Operators and Accepted by the Miners
    As we go to press this week a convention of the United mine workers of America is
holding a session to act formally upon the offer of the coal mine operators to submit the
issues in the strike to a board of commissioners, to be appointed by the president. This
offer was made in the early hours of October 13, following a conference between the
president and Mr. J. P. Morgan. Owing to restrictions placed by the operators upon the
president in the appointment of this commission, it was at first thought that their proposal

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“The Anthracite Coal Strike Editorials” in Public Opinion    October 9 to December 25, 1902

would be rejected. These restrictions consisted of the specification that the commission
proposed by the operators should consist of an officer of the engineer corps of the army
or navy, an expert mining engineer, a judge of the United States courts of the eastern
district of Pennsylvania, an eminent sociologist, and a man familiar with the physical and
commercial features of the hard coal business.
     On the 16th, following a conference with Mr. Mitchell, the president announced the
appointment of a commission to be composed of General John M. Wilson, E. W. Parker,
an expert mining engineer; Judge George Gray, of the third United States circuit court, E.
E. Clark, chief of the order of railway conductors; T. H. Watkins, of Scranton, Pa., a man
practically acquainted with the mining of coal; Bishop Spalding, Catholic bishop of
Peoria, with Commissioner of Labor Wright as recorder. On the 17th Mr. Mitchell made
public a long reply to the president’s letter advising the mine leader of the appointment
of. the commission. Mr. Mitchell thanks the president for his efforts to end the strike, and
announces the calling of the convention referred to, to which will be recommended the
acceptance of the plan to leave all matters in dispute to the commission named. Thus
ended the strike began on May 15.
     The Pittsburg Post (Dem.) estimates the cost of the strike at $145,000,000, and
declares that “it has been the most esciting and dangerous labor trouble we have ever had
in this country.” The Dispatch (Ind. Rep.) reproaches the operators for refusing to do five
months ago what they have now done, accept arbitration. The Press (Rep.) says it is idle
to suppose that all the issues raised by the strike will now subside. “The anthracite
monopoly is an example of odious special privilege. And thanks to its greed, it can be
depended on that the pathway of special privilege in this country from now on is going to
be harder.”
     The strike was not endend by politicians nor by strategy, the Philadelphia Ledger
(Ind.) points out. “It was won by popular sentiment, controlled by the people’s chief.
Being so won, it is among the greatest, most important triumphs ever achieved by any
means by the American people.” “It was the steady pressure of public opinion,” the
Philadelphia North American (Ind.) says, “that enabled the miners to win the greatest
battle for fair play ever fought by labor in this country. John Mitchell is the ablest leader
organized labor has ever followed in this country.” The New York World (Dem.) looks
upon the operators’ proposition as “an unconditional surrender.” So does the Boston
Traveler (Dem.) and the Chicago News (Ind.). The Detroit Today (Dem.) says that “the
coal operators, after defying and insulting the president, have been compelled to hang
their heads and put their toes to the line drawn by Mitchell at the first conference with the
president,” and the Chicago Chronicle (Dem.) asserts that the public is indebted to the
moderation of the miners and the president’s reputation for fairness very much more than
to the “concessions” of the operators. Indeed, a great majority of the newspapers credit
the miners with having won a complete victory.
     With this opinion, however, should be contrasted that of the New York Sun (Rep.),
which says that the course adopted by the operators “is in no sense a submission of the
issue with the union to a board of arbitrators There is no arbitration in it. There is nothing
to arbitrate with Mr. Mitchell and the union. The question is and will remain, shall the
men who want to work be permitted to do so, and are the conditions under which they
work fair and honest ?” The Baltimore Herald (Ind.) also points out that “what the
operators suggest is a commission ‘to which shall be referred questions at issue between

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“The Anthracite Coal Strike Editorials” in Public Opinion   October 9 to December 25, 1902

the respective companies and their own employees, whether they belong to a union or
not.’ They furthermore insist that the union miners go to work and ‘cease all interference
with and persecution of any non-union men who are working or who shall hereafter
work.’ The arbitration is not between the employers and the union. It is between the
employers and all their employees union and non-union. This is an important
     The Mobile Register (Dem.) thinks that the operators’ first affront to the president
was “almost insignificant” compared to their attempt to dictate to him just how the
commission they suggested should be composed. However this may be, the commission
as it stands gives satisfaction to everyone. “Its character,” the Hartford Times (Dem.)
says, “is such as to justify the hope for a righteous and satisfactory solution of the
problem presented by the situation.” The Providence Journal thinks the commission
“admirably constituted to command the confidedence of the public.” “Neither side,” the
Detroit News (Ind.) says, “Can claim that the commission is packed in either interest. It is
a strictly impartial body.” The Indianapolis News ( Ind. ) thinks that “better selections,
considering the work to be done and all the circumstances of the case, could hardly have
been made,’’ and the News, in common with almost every paper in the country, expects
from the commission a decision equitable alike to the public, the miners, and the
     Now that the president’s efforts have finally brought about a truce between the miners
and their employers, we note an entire absence of criticism of his course and motives,
such as we have heretofore reproduced in these columns. Instead there is manifested a
universal disposition to divide the credit for the ending of the strike between the pressure
of public opinion and the initiative of Mr. Roosevelt. The Philadelphia Press (Rep.), says
Mr. Roosevelt has “gained a great personal triumph ;” the Boston Journal (Rep.) says
that the president is now rewarded by the result of his efforts for so patiently bearing with
the slights and misrepresentations put upon him by the operators and political opponents.
The Baltimore Sun, in common with many other Democratic papers, gives to the
president full credit for bringing the struggle to a close. “The American people,” the
Washington Post (Ind.) says, “will not soon forget their debt to Mr. Roosevelt on this
score. More glorious than winning a battle is this triumph of peace and order snatched by
the strong, brave hand of a fearless president from the very jaws of chaos.”
                                      October 30, 1902
                          AFTER THE ANTHRACITE STRIKE
    THE convention of the coal miners’ union was unanimous in its acceptance of the
president’s commission to pass upon the questions at issue in the strike. Mr. Mitchell said
after the convention had adopted the resolution providing for the resumption of work last
Thursday: “I am well pleased with the action of the anthracite mine workers in deciding
to submit the issues which culminated in the strike to the commission selected by the
president of the United States. The strike itself has demonstrated the power and dignity of
labor. Conservative, intelligent trades unionism has received an impetus, the effect of
which can not be measured. I earnestly hope and firmly believe that both labor and
capital have learned a lesson from the miners’ strike which will enable them to adopt
peaceful, humane, and business methods of adjusting wage differences in the future.” His

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“The Anthracite Coal Strike Editorials” in Public Opinion   October 9 to December 25, 1902

speech to the convention followed the same lines. There was some little opposition to
ending the strike without an assurance that the men should be restored to their old places,
but this was soon overcome.
     The Pittsburg Dispatch (Rep.) thinks that “The feature for which this strike will be
memorable is the concrete recognition of the public interest in such disputes contained in
the manner of its ending. The coal operators, in their statement, explicitly asserted that
they were moved from their demand of unconditional surrender by the greater interest of
the people as a whole who were threatened with a famine in fuel if the struggle was
prolonged. President Mitchell, in his address to the convention acknowledged the same
compulsion of the public interest. In no other strike have the rights of the community
been so palpably involved. Practical demonstration in this case showed that they were
paramount and so convincingly as to force a settlement. The doctrine of individualism,
that each party to the dispute had an undoubted right to do as he pleased, has received a
severe shock. With this as a basis there should be less difficulty in evolving a system of
adjusting labor difficulties which will protect the public and at the same time promote
justice between the disputants.”
     “The triumph of arbitration,” the Springfield Republican (Ind.) says, “is the great
factor of the memorable strike. No union of capital hereafter will venture to refuse
arbitration in a contest likely to gain general public attention. No union of labor in like
manner will risk a strike which identifies it with opposition to this method of peaceful
settlement. It has been, however, a triumph for compulsory arbitration rather than
voluntary arbitration. There is nothing voluntary about the action of the coal corporations.
It is an enforced concession on their part, and the power which compelled it has been that
of an unorganized body of public opinion. The lesson of it all is obvious—compulsory
arbitration.” The Baltimore News (Inc. Dem.) admits this, but adds that “What degree of
influence it will have upon the future of the relations between capital and labor will
depend in a vital measure upon the success with which President Roosevelt’s commission
shall find itself able to grapple with and to settle the many complex and difficult
questions that will come before it for consideration.” The Portland Oregonian (Rep.)
thinks that the public may be moved to demand compulsory arbitration, whether or not
labor and capital want it. “Suppose,’’ the Oregonian says, “some day there is another
strike followed by equal public distress, and the president does not happen to be a
Roosevelt, and is not disposed to imitate his example. Why, then the public welfare
would suffer greatly for lack of compulsory arbitration. Suppose there was another
Roosevelt; there might not be another Mitchell. Suppose there were another Mitchell and
another Roosevelt; there might be difficulty in persuading the operators to arbitrate, and
matters might proceed to a grim extremity we have escaped. Labor and its employer may
not want compulsory arbitration, but it looks as if the general public needed it.”
     The Brooklyn Citizen (Dem.) calls attention to the fact that “The termination of the
coal strike not involve any change in the relation of the coal monopoly to the public. This
is the fact, above all other which the political allies of the trust wish to hide, and which
can not be hidden from intelligent eyes. Were the trust subject to competition it would not
be able. to divert to the shoulders of the public the burden an increased cost of
production, consequent upon to granting of better terms to the miners. It would in that
event have to meet the situation, as similar situations are met in the common circles of
business by reducing dividends, contenting itself with a profit of, say a dollar and eighty

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“The Anthracite Coal Strike Editorials” in Public Opinion   October 9 to December 25, 1902

cents per ton, where it is now exacting two dollars. Had it been the design of the men on
strike to bring sharply to the public attention the difference between trusts and ordinary
business enterprises, rather than to improve their own condition, they could not have
proceeded more effectively, and this is perhaps the one service they have rendered to the
country by their prolonged conflict.”
                          December 4, 1902
     The prospect of a settlement between the anthracite operators and miners “out of
court” was suddenly ended by the decision of the former not to grant any further
interviews to President Mitchell with a view to reaching a private agreement. The
decision of the coal roads’ presidents is said to be due to a conference here at which the
individual operators prevailed them to break off negotiations with the miners. President
Baer, during the conference, sent word of the decision to Washington, where the miners’
representatives and Wayne MacVeagh, of counsel for the operators, were also in
conference. Mr. Baer said that “the conditions are such that no substantial progress can be
made by the suggested meeting. The general judgment of the operators is that it will be
best for the present, to go on with the public hearings.”
     There seems to be little regret that the hearings before the commission are to
continue. “Had the parties in interest reached a satisfactory settlement the public would
have been denied much interesting and authentic information concerning conditions in
the anthracite region, which will now be revealed in sufficient detail by the commission’s
investigations,” the Philadelphia Ledger says. “Conflicting statements have been made
respecting the mining industry, and the public are naturally curious to have precise
information.” The New York American ( formerly the Journal) thinks it is “just as well”
that the hearings should proceed. For “if the commission does its work thoroughly these
facts will be laid before the public. That the coal-carrying railroads form a trust which
possesses an absolute monopoly of the market for anthracite coal; that this trust exists in
defiance of law, both national and state; that the men who compose this trust are
amenable not only to civil penalties but to criminal prosecution whenever the president of
the United States chooses to order his attorney-general to proceed against them. Baer and
his partners by retreating from the proposed settlement have given the strike commission
a first-rate opportunity to enlighten the president, if he needs enlightenment, as to what he
can do to the coal trust whenever he shall find courage to command Attorney-General
Knox to perform his duty.”
     The New York Times explains the failure of the plans for a private settlement:
“Concerning what has ‘leaked out’ as to the basis proposed for a permanent settlement,
the information at hand is not sufficient to permit any censure of the operators for their
alleged change of front. Their announcement declaring the negotiation off and referring
the questions at issue back to the commission makes certain things very plain, and these
are of more immediate concern than speculations as to motives on either side. The most
important is that under no conditions will the operators deal with the union as an
organization nor accept a peace by grace of its president. Another is that they are
unwilling to put themselves in a position suggesting surrender of what they have for half

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“The Anthracite Coal Strike Editorials” in Public Opinion   October 9 to December 25, 1902

a year contended for. It has been believed and frequently asserted that the independent
operators could and would settle their own differences with their men and resume work if
the presidents of the coal roads would permit them to do so. Their vigorous and
apparently unanimous protest against a settlement before all the facts had been heard and
the judgment of the commission recorded shows that they are even more strenuously
opposed to peace through surrender to the union than are the great mining and carrying
corporations. This means that they have evidence to produce which they want to have
spread upon the record. This evidence Mitchell and his associates have every reason to
fear. What it may show in the matter of personal responsibility for crime is conjectural;
what it will show as to the utter irresponsibility of the union, its inability to enforce
discipline or to carry out the contracts into which it enters, can be accurately forecasted.”
                                    December 18, 1902
                                The Coal Strike Hearings
              Miners Testify as to the Hardships of Their Employment, Etc.
    Since the anthracite coal strike commission resumed its sessions, on December 3,
some very interesting testimony has been given by mine-workers relative to the
conditions of their employment. The operators have already announced that they will
rebut many of the statements made, and, if this is done, their side of the case will be
given a hearing at a later date.
    James Gallagher, who has worked for Markle & Co. for twenty-one years, stated that
in all the time he worked for the company he only once had received any money, and that
was $50. “We traded at the company store and got credit,” he explained. “We had to buy
provisions there, though the prices are from 10to 12 per cent higher than at other stores;
but clothing, which is 20 per cent higher, we could buy elsewhere. I made an average of
$1.25 a day every day of the years I’ve been working, I guess, but I was never out of
debt. Sometimes I’ve owed the company a big amount—as high as $211 once. Every
time I worked hard and reduced the debt until I was nearly clear, the company would take
me out of the place where I was making $60 or $70 a month and put me in a place where
I could not make $25, and then back into debt I’d be again.”
    Andrew Chippa, a breaker boy, employed by the same company, started to work last
spring to wipe out a debt of $54 owed the company by his father when he was killed in
the company’s mines. The lad has not received any money for his work, but his earnings
have been credited against the company’s bill. As he has a mother and three brothers and
sisters, his earnings have not been enough to reduce the bill. Instead it has grown to
    The first description of the work of a fireman was given when Jacob Ansbach, a Coxe
employee, took the stand. He said that he worked one week from 6 A. M. to 4:30 P. M.,
and the next reversed these hours. His pay was $1.57 a day. Every other Sunday he
worked twenty-four hours at a stretch. In the six years he had had his place, he paid
between $700 and $800 on a house which he had bought for $900.
    The most pathetic story yet told to the commission was that of Henry Call, a Markle
employee. The old miner, decrepit from many injuries, told under the examination how
the evictions were carried on. The wife was sick and her 100-year-old mother was blind
and unable to walk. The day on which they were “thrown out” was rainy. He took them
the best way he could to Hazelton, seven miles away, and placed them in a cold, damp,

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“The Anthracite Coal Strike Editorials” in Public Opinion   October 9 to December 25, 1902

empty house. This was last month, when the atmosphere on the Hazelton mountain was
quite cold. His wife became worse. Medical aid was kindly furnished free by a Hazelton
doctor, but it did not help her much. “We were greatly worried because of our having
been turned out of our house, and, one night,” the witness said, between sobs, “she died.”
     W. H. Dettry, president of a local union, employed as a miner by Coxe Bros., said
that company men are paid an average of $7.20 a week, and all contracters are required to
stay in the mines from 7 A.M. until 3 P. M., regardless of whether they have enough cars
to fill with coal they had mined. He said a black-list exists at the Coxe mines, and that he
was on it for nine months, because he refused to work a breast which netted him only
three dollars a week. He also complained of the docking system.
     James McMonigle, a miner formerly employed by Markle & Co., said the breast he
was working in was so dangerous that he complained to the company officials that he
might be killed. He was told if he worked any other breast he would not be given any
cars. He went out on strike, and after the suspension he was refused work and evicted
from his house.
     John Early, a check weighman, employed at the Gypsy Grove colliery of the Erie
company, who was president of the Gypsy Grove “local,” told, on stand, of an alleged
attempt made by a former mine foreman named Grimes to bribe two presidents of local
unions of the miners to have ten men in each local use their influence to have a resolution
passed sending the men to work, thus making a serious break in solid ranks of the
strikers. Each of the president was to receive $2,500 and a good position as mine
foreman, and each of the ten men was to get from $100 to $200 each. Early refused the
money and told Grimes he would see him later. Early reported the matter to District
President Nichols, of the union, who gave out a public statement, in which he intimated
bribery was being resorted to in order break the strike, and the whole thing fell through.
     The Delaware and Hudson company presented figures to the commission December
10, they being the first certified statistics to be handed in. They show the average
earnings of the miner in 1901 to have been $622.63, and his laborer $449.47. Mr.
Mitchell, on the stand, said that $600 should be the minimum wage.
     Father J. V. Hussie, pastor of St. Gabriel’s church of Hazelton who has been a close
friend of the miners, said, of the living conditions: “There has een much change in the
last six years. The condition in and about Hazelton is deplorable. I say it without any
coloring. The people are barely able to exist. The deplorable condition is most strikingly
evident in cases of sickness, the sick being unable to secure bare necessities. Markle &
Co. have a burial fund, because their people can not save enough money to insure them
burial. The foreigners have burial societies. It is impossible to keep families together. The
children have to leave their homes and get work. The average age when the miners’
children leave school is little over eleven years.”
                                   December 25, 1902
                                   The Operator’s Side
                   Presented to the Coal Strike Commision at Scranton
    THE presentation of the operators’ side of the coal strike controversy was opened
December 17 before the commission sitting at Scranton. In the statement made on behalf
of all the large operators, the respondents concede the right of labor to organize for its
protection and to benefit the conditions of the laborer, but they feel that to be subject to

                                       Page 10 of 12
“The Anthracite Coal Strike Editorials” in Public Opinion      October 9 to December 25, 1902

any control of a bituminous coal organization would end in the ruin of the anthracite coal
business in Pennsylvania.
    As to wages it was claimed that contract miners in the anthracite field earn $600 per
annum or more, and that many of them earn upward of $1,000 a year, and that all laborers
are paid higher wages than those employed in other occupations of equal skill and
training. Comparative figures were given showing the truth of this assertion.
    As to the adoption of a system by which coal shall be weighed, and fixing a minimum
rate per ton, it was claimed that in the larger part of the anthracite coal field, owing to the
pitch of the veins and other conditions, it is not only impracticable but almost impossible
to adopt such a system.
    As to the claim for the reduction of the hours of labor, without any reduction of
earnings, it was asserted that miners and laborers do not now work eight hours, and that
as to the miners, in a majority of cases, they work less than six.
    The alleged unfairness of the wage statements came to the notice of the commission
as a result of its inquiry into the child labor question. Several little girls testified that they
worked all night in a silk mill in order to help their fathers along, who were employed in
the mines and received poor pay. The Erie company, in whose mines some of these
fathers worked, handed to the commission a memorandum showing that one father last
year received about $1,400 for himself and laborer, and that the other father received
$1,600 for himself and laborer. The miners placed the two parents on the stand, and they
swore that the earnings mentioned were divided among from four to six men. Testimony
was also introduced showing that in many cases, how many the companies’
representatives could not say, the wage of a gang of two to six men was put down as the
wage of the one man to whom the collective wage was paid.
    Later in the week much testimony was introduced relative to boycotting and violence
in the mine regions. One witness said a member of the miners’ union threatened to kill
him if he did not stop working, and finally did shoot him. The offender was sent to
    John Hoffman, and his son, and the son’s wife, said a crowd of strikers visited their
home at midnight to harm the son, who was putting in a boiler in the Upper Lehigh
colliery. He fled five miles to another town, and the crowd smashed the furniture and
attempted to burn the house.
    Another witness said he and his wife were hung in effigy in the streets of Nanticoke,
the effigy of the wife being of a most offensive character.
    Mrs. Kate McNamara of Parsons, the mother of four small children, whose husband
was in the mines, and could not come home for fear of bodily harm, testified that their
house was destroyed by fire at night and she and her children were rescued with
    August Scheuch of Hazleton, who worked for the Lehigh Valley company, testified
that he was attacked by a mob while he and his sons were going to work. He was severely
injured by stones, was stabbed three times, and had five ribs broken.
    John Doran, manager of the Wilkesbarre lace mills, testified that because he would
not discharge two girls who had relatives working in the mines the 1,100 employees went
on strike and stayed out eight weeks.
    These witnesses and others who were called, testified that their wives were insulted
on the streets, the children were beaten by other children, and could not be safely sent to

                                         Page 11 of 12
“The Anthracite Coal Strike Editorials” in Public Opinion   October 9 to December 25, 1902

school, that local unions requested storekeepers to refrain from selling to any one related
to a man working in the mines; that their houses were stoned, that they were stoned, shot
at, and hung in effigy, and that life generally was made miserable for them and their
families. Most of the witnesses connected strikers with the offenses alleged.

                                       Page 12 of 12

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