U.S. History Graybill
THE HOMESTEAD LOCKOUT AND STRIKE OF 1892
A Documentary Source Problem
On July 1, 1892, Andrew Carnegie, America's leading steel baron, combined the vast holdings of his
steel empire to form one vast company: The Carnegie Steel Company Co., Limited. It provided over one
quarter of the United States’ steel output each year, and the company’s combined stock was valued at
the then fabulous sum of approximately 25 million dollars (though its real value was much, much more).
The man at the head of this mammoth company was one of America's most amazing success stories.
Born in Scotland in 1835, Andrew Carnegie came to America in poverty at the age of 13. Within 30
years, however, his yearly income totaled almost $2 million. For much of his professional life (until
1892, that is), Carnegie maintained the image of a philanthropist, a friend of the workingman, and one of
the most “enlightened” business leaders of the era; “enlightened” because, in this era, businessmen
frequently resorted to violence and brutality to control their employees, and Carnegie often denounced
such methods by other businessmen. Yet it was not good will toward his employees that made the
Carnegie Company the richest steel company in America and enabled Carnegie to consume his
competitors. The steel industry, like most other major industries, was highly competitive during most of
the late 19th century. To a large degree, Carnegie succeeded in this environment by ruthlessly cutting his
production costs in order to undersell his competitors.
19th century businessmen increasingly learned two iron lessons: profitability required relentless effort to
control costs; and concentration of financial and market power was an effective method for controlling
costs. Such efforts by businessmen, however, frequently led to bloody conflict with their employees,
who resented the power of massive corporations and business efforts to reduce working peoples’
autonomy. The fledgling trade union movement emerged to protect working peoples’ interests against
encroachments by business, and, consequently, the growth of massive capitalist business organizations
such as Carnegie Steel, led to the growth of large labor unions. The organized labor movement in the
late 19th century eventually coalesced around the American Federation of Labor (AFL) - a national
coalition of trade unions. The AFL was basically conservative in its goals. It excluded unskilled
workers, women, and non-whites, it shunned leftist ideologies that sought to challenge the capitalist
system, and thus it was conciliatory in its dealings with management, mainly seeking limited
improvements in wages, hours, and working conditions. Yet despite its moderate approach, organized
labor in the latter half of the 19th century often found itself engaged in bitter (often violent) disputes with
managers and owners of America's industrial corporations.
Many Americans, especially those who owned property, often considered the union movement
synonymous with various socialist and radical movements that developed along with industrial
capitalism. Socialist organizations were generally hostile to capitalism and advocated confiscation of
private property by the state or by "the people" collectively. Some of the most radical socialists in the
late 19th century maintained that the oppressed working class would inevitably rise up in a violent,
bloody revolution against the capitalist class. Many Americans rather thoughtlessly associated all unions
with socialist radicalism (despite the AFL’s opposition to socialism), and violent confrontations between
working people and capitalists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were increasingly common. Some
Americans saw these conflicts between employees and owners as a terrifying prelude to a cataclysmic
The largest and most potent trade union within the AFL was the Amalgamated Association of Iron and
Steel Workers, which boasted 24,000 members in 1892. A large number of Amalgamated members were
concentrated in Western Pennsylvania, particularly in steel mills concentrated in the area surrounding
Pittsburgh. The one mill which contained the largest concentration of Amalgamated members was the
Carnegie works in Homestead, Pennsylvania, 13 miles southeast of Pittsburgh on the Monongahela
River. Out of a total work force of 3,800 men, over 800 skilled workmen belonged to the Amalgamated.
In 1892 this mill was the scene of a violent and sensational confrontation between labor and
management, one that played a pivotal role in labor-management relations in the United States for the
next half-century. The Homestead Lockout and Strike alarmed many Americans, for it provided graphic
evidence of a steadily mounting wave of industrial violence in America that appeared to be tearing the
INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE ASSIGNMENT -- PAY CAREFUL ATTENTION!!!!!
Prepare to write the paper by reading (and then rereading) the individual documents until you have a
knowledgeable command of them. You should also consult the textbook for insight into the causes and
consequences of the events at Homestead.
In an essay of at least 3-4 typed pages, double spaced, 1" margins, write an interpretive account of the
Homestead Lockout and Strike of 1892 based on your analysis and interpretation of the documents in
USE ONLY THE FOLLOWING DOCUMENTS AS SOURCES TO WRITE YOUR ACCOUNT (You
may also use the introduction to this document collection, and the textbook - but no other sources are
Since there are many more issues and facts in these documents than you can possibly include in a 3-4
page paper, do not attempt to discuss all of them. Concentrate on writing a coherent interpretation of the
major events, supporting your conclusions with relevant facts and examples from the documents.
Begin by reading through the documents several times. After you begin to get the feeling that you have a
good general command of the documents, make an annotated timeline of the events. Then consider how
to reconstruct the crucial sequence of events in a way that makes sense of the diversity of sources and in
a way that makes chronological sense. Above all, your paper should demonstrate a clear understanding
of the major sequence of events leading to and from the Homestead Lockout and Strike. When you
understand the sequence of events well, you’ll begin to understand the objectives of the players
involved. Above all, you’ll be able to make more intelligent estimates of responsibility for the
consequences of these events.
Consider the documents in this packet as kind of puzzle. In the broadest sense, your task in this paper
assignment is to arrange the pieces of the puzzle so that they make sense - that is, so that they help you
explain WHAT happened, WHY it happened, WHO were the important figures in this event, WHERE
the events took places, and WHEN the most significant events occurred. Above all, be sure to make the
SEQUENCE OF MAJOR EVENTS in this incident clear!
Your essay should include numerous examples and evidence drawn directly from documents provided in
this package. ESSAYS MUST CONTAIN EVIDENCE DRAWN FROM THE DOCUMENTS,
THOUGHTFULLY COMPOSED AND ORGANIZED, IN ORDER TO SUCCESSFULLY
COMPLETE THIS ASSIGNMENT! In short, construct an account that makes the most sense to you
based on the available evidence.
Rules of Composition
Each essay should possess an introductory paragraph, a body, and a conclusion.
The introduction should provide just that - an introduction to the topic you're going to examine. A good
introduction provides a thesis statement (a sentence or sentences that decisively state an argument or
position that you will develop and demonstrate in your essay) and a brief statement of the main points
you intend to develop in your essay.
The body should be composed of several paragraphs that support your thesis and main points of your
essay. Above all, the body provides the EVIDENCE that proves your thesis. More than any other single
criteria, your work will be judged on the quantity and quality of the evidence you provide and your
analysis of it. So you should devote most of your time to assembling and intelligently examining
Good essays will provide numerous pieces of evidence from the documents to support the argument.
Poor essays will provide little or no evidence drawn from the documents. For the purposes of the essays
you will be writing, the term "evidence" includes examples and major ideas drawn from the documents.
Thus your essays should contain numerous quotations drawn specifically from the documents.
The conclusion can be constructed in a variety of ways: it may be a brief summary of the main points of
your essay; it may also be a restatement of your thesis; but the best conclusion is one that demonstrates
the historical significance of the issue at hand and your analysis of it.
Papers will be evaluated according to the following criteria:
1. Organization, logic, coherence (that is, introduction, thesis, body, conclusion, etc.).
2. Content (quantity and quality of evidence, level of analysis, level of command of subject matter).
3. Grammar, syntax, spelling.
FINALLY, YOUR ACCOUNT SHOULD BE AS FLAWLESSLY AND GRACEFULLY WRITTEN
AS YOU CAN MAKE IT!
A Warning on Sources
These documents should be the only source upon which you base your paper. Do not write a paper based
on sources other than those that are provided for you here! There are numerous other accounts on
Homestead available in the library and on the web. But they are based on other - or additional evidence,
and they would be more likely to confuse you than to help you in working with this specific, limited set
of documents. In any case, your grade on this assignment will depend on how well you analyze and
interpret the documents in this collection!
A Warning on Plagiarism
What is plagiarism? Plagiarism is literary thievery. It is the use of somebody else’s material (as if it
were your own) in a paper or an essay without giving credit to the author. Plagiarism is a serious offense
(and I treat it seriously). It can lead to dismissal from the college and severe long-term consequences for
completing a college or university education in the United States.
Questions to Consider Before Writing:
One method you might try to understand the documents is to imagine that you were a reporter in 1892
writing for a newspaper, and you were assigned to write an article about the Homestead Lockout and
Strike. As you do your research for the article you come to have strong feelings about the ethical issues
involved in the incident and the basic concepts of justice in American history that it involves. Therefore,
you want to explain Homestead as intelligently as possible to the newspaper's readers. But your boss, the
editor, will only give you a small space in the newspaper to explain the incident (because he wants to
save more space for advertising - which is how newspapers make money). You have lots of evidence
before you, too much to include in the article you're going to write. So you have to decide which pieces
of evidence are MOST IMPORTANT to explain what happened at Homestead.
While preparing to write your essay, you may consider the following issues in order to help you
organize your thoughts before writing your essay (you are not, however, required to answer each and
every one of them in your essay):
1) What was the sequence of events? What were the major issues involved in the dispute? That is, when
did things happen? What events caused other events to occur?
2) To what extent were these issues merely manifestations of deeper philosophical disputes between the
Amalgamated and the Carnegie Company? That is, were the goals of workers and owners inherently
incompatible, or did they have essentially similar interests?
3) Did the strike result from the "bungling" of some individuals, as Carnegie himself thought, or could it
have been resolved without conflict?
4) What do you think accounts for the disparity between Carnegie's pro-labor rhetoric and his behavior
during the strike? Did Carnegie's desire to cut production costs affect his behavior toward his workers?
5) What tactics did the company use to win the strike? How did the company use the issue of industrial
violence to defeat the strikers? Did Henry Clay Frick's actions help to foster violence?
6) How did the government assist the company?
7) How did the concept of property rights favor of the company in its dispute with its employees?
8) To what extent do you think the Homestead Lockout and Strike symbolized inevitable conflict
between labor unions and business leaders? Did it arise from the logic of the capitalist system?
9) What did the company's victory suggest about the relationship between labor and capital in the United
States during this period?
10) How should we interpret the attitudes and actions of Carnegie and Frick?
Leon Wolff, Lockout, 1965. (Like some of the sources in this set, Lockout is a secondary source - that is,
it was written by an historian more than seventy years after the Homestead incident)
A "slip" meant disaster. When liquid stock [that is, molten steel] hung at the top of a furnace it might
suddenly fall, bursting the bottom and killing the crew. Often metal streaming into a converter struck the
edge of a mold, throwing a shower in all directions and burning nearby workers. Every "hot-job" man
experienced this one time or another ... Or a crane lifting several tons out of the pit might fail, dropping
the load from a height, whereupon it would lethally explode....
A member of the British Iron and Steel Institute, when visiting Pennsylvania, noted the speed of
operations and the high pressure placed upon the workers. "The men, I dare say, are paid well, but it was
hot weather when I was there, and they were certainly selling their lives...."
Pressure in the rolling, blooming, and plate mills (as contrasted to hot jobs) was cooler but equally
nerve-racking, due to incessant vibration of the machinery and the maddening screech of cold saws
ripping through steel. In time the men became hard of hearing ... they complained about respiratory
ailments and drank liquor after work, as one man said, "to take the dust out of my throat." Chronic
irritation of the mucous membranes, it was thought, induced catarrh and tuberculosis. There was no meal
period. Dirty-handed, the men ate fruits and leftovers from their lunch pails whenever they had a
By modern standards, the danger of working in the pressure divisions is hard to believe. A brief period
of about a month at Homestead [soon after the strike] entailed sixty-five accidents, seven of which were
Arthur Burgoyne, (Contemporary observer of the Homestead Strike), Homestead, 1893
The Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers is, with the possible exception of the
Association of Window Glass Workers, the best generaled and most substantially organized labor
organization in the United States. One of the fundamental principles in the doctrine of the association is
to avoid and discourage strikes; and so closely has this article of faith been observed that the number of
strikes officially ordered in the iron and steel industries has been small in comparison with the record of
most other labor unions ... The president of the Amalgamated Association is always chosen with special
reference to his capacity for cool, stable, conservative leadership.
Constitution of the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers, adopted June 1890. [Preamble]
In all countries and at all times capital has been used by some possessing it to monopolize particular
branches of business until the vast and various industrial pursuits of the world are centralizing under the
immediate control of a comparatively small portion of mankind. Although an unequal distribution of the
world's wealth, it is perhaps necessary that it should be so ... concentration of wealth and business tact
conduces to the most perfect working of the vast business machinery of the world. And there is perhaps
no other organization of society so well-calculated to benefit the laborer and advance the moral and
social condition of the mechanic of the country, if those possessed of wealth were all actuated by those
pure and philanthropic principles so necessary to the happiness of all. But, alas, for the poor of
humanity, such is not the case. "Wealth is power," and practical experience teaches us that it is power
too often used to depress and degrade the daily laborer.
Andrew Carnegie, The Forum, April 1886 (throughout the 1880s, Carnegie contributed numerous
articles to The Forum, a magazine of literature and opinion).
Eight men, some unionists and some anarchists, were eventually arrested for the bombings. Four of them
were hanged, three imprisoned, and one committed suicide. Although it was clear that none of the men
had anything to do with the bombing, the court convicted them on the grounds that language they had
used in the past had incited the type of violence that led to the Haymarket affair.
The Right of the workingman to combine and to form trade-unions is no less sacred than the right of the
manufacturer to enter into associations and conferences with his fellows, and it must be sooner or later
conceded. Indeed, it gives one but a poor opinion of the American workman if he permits himself to be
deprived of a right which his fellow in England has conquered for himself long since. My experience has
been that trade-unions upon the whole are beneficial both to labor and to capital. They certainly educate
the workingmen, and give them a truer conception of the relations of capital and labor than they could
otherwise form. The ablest and best workmen eventually come to the front in these organizations; and it
may be laid down as a rule that the more intelligent the workman the fewer the contests with employers.
It is not the intelligent workman, who knows that labor without his brother capital is helpless, but the
blatant ignorant man, who regards capital as the natural enemy of labor, who does so much to embitter
the relations between employer and employed; and the power of this ignorant demagogue arises chiefly
from the lack of proper organization among the men through which their real voice can be expressed.
This voice will always be found in favor of the judicious and intelligent representative. Of course, as
men become intelligent more deference must be paid to them personally and to their rights, and even to
their opinions and prejudices; and upon the whole a greater share of profits must be paid in the day of
prosperity to the intelligent than to the ignorant workman. He cannot be imposed upon so readily. On the
other hand, he will be found much readier to accept reduced compensation when business is depressed;
and it is better in the long run for capital to be served by the highest intelligence, and to be made well
aware of the fact that it is dealing with men who know what is due to them, both as to treatment and
compensation ... I can, of course, picture in my mind a state of civilization in which the most talented
businessmen shall find their most cherished work in carrying on immense concerns, not primarily for
their own personal aggrandizement, but for the good of the masses of workers engaged therein, and their
families; but this is only a foreshadowing of a dim and distant future. When a class of such men has
been evolved, the problem of capital and labor will be permanently solved to the entire satisfaction of
Editor's Note: - On May 1, 1886, more than 400,000 workers in Chicago walked off their jobs to
demonstrate for an eight hour workday. Two days later a policeman killed one of the strikers at the
McCormick Reaper Works, and a group of anarchists responded by calling a protest meeting for the next
evening to be held at Haymarket Square. The meeting was peaceful until an unknown assailant threw a
bomb at a group of policemen who were attempting to disperse the crowd. Seven policemen were killed.
The Haymarket affair was widely interpreted by a fearful public as but another (albeit the most ominous)
example of the terrorism and anarchism of labor unions, and the perils of industrial conflict. Documents
#4 and #5, excerpts from two Carnegie articles on labor in a national publication, reflect his views both
before and immediately after the Haymarket Riot.
Andrew Carnegie, The Forum, August 1886.
While public sentiment has rightly and unmistakably condemned violence, even in the form for which
there is the most excuse, I would have the public give due consideration to the terrible temptation to
which the working-man on a strike is sometimes subjected. To expect that one dependent upon his daily
wage for the necessaries of life will stand by peaceably and see a new man employed in his stead is to
expect much. This poor man may have a wife and children dependent upon his labor. Whether medicine
for a sick child, or even nourishing food for a delicate wife, is procurable, depends upon his steady
employment. In all but a very few departments of labor it is unnecessary, and, I think, improper, to
subject men to such an ordeal. In the case of railways and a few other employments it is, of course,
essential for the public wants that no interruption occur, and in such case substitutes must be employed;
but the employer of labor will find it much more to his interest, wherever possible, to allow his works to
remain idle and await the result of a dispute, than to employ the class of men that can be induced to take
the place of other men who have stopped work. Neither the best men as men, nor the best men as
workers, are thus to be obtained. There is an unwritten law among the best workmen: 'Thou shalt not
take thy neighbor's job.'
Description of Carnegie during a strike at his Edgar Thomson steel works in 1888, in Harold Livesay,
Andrew Carnegie and the Rise of Big Business, 1975. (Secondary source)
Finally, after a shutdown of nearly five months, Carnegie appeared at a mass meeting of ET's employees
.... Carnegie never feared his workers ("There can never be any hopeless troubles ... as long as they call
me 'Andy'"). He clambered up on the platform and asked for individual grievances. One worker rose.
"Mr. Carnegie, you take my job--". He got no farther. "Mr. Carnegie takes no man's job." The tension
broke; the battle was won. The men voted to go back to work.
Andrew Carnegie, comment in Engineering and Mining Journal, April 1892.
The making of pig iron has developed faster than the demand for it, resulting in large stocks in hand and
low prices ... There must be a check on production ... or prices will go lower yet.
"Charlie Schwab's view of Andrew Carnegie," Literary Digest, February 1920 (Schwab was a partner in
the Carnegie Steel Co.).
Carnegie would say: "Show me your cost sheets. It is more interesting to know how cheaply ... you have
done this thing than how much money you have made, because the one is a temporary result, due
possibly to special conditions of trade, but the other means a permanency that will go on with the works
as long as they last."
Julian Kennedy, manager for Carnegie Steel, testimony before Congress regarding Carnegie Steel Co.
management practices, Hearings of the U.S. House Committee on the Investigation of U.S. Steel, 1911.
A careful record was kept of costs. You were expected to get [them] always ten cents cheaper the next
year or the next month.
James Bridge, The Inside History of the Carnegie Steel Company, 1903 (Secondary source).
Every department and sub-department had its workmen's "committee," with a "chairman" and full corps
of officers ... Hardly a day passed that a "committee" did not come forward with some demand or
grievance. If a man with a desirable job died or left the works, his position could not be filled without
the consent and approval of an Amalgamated committee. Usually this committee had a man in waiting
for it; and the firm dared not give it to anyone else. The method of apportioning the work, of regulating
the turns, of altering the machinery, in short, every detail of working the great plant, was subject to the
interference of some busybody representing the Amalgamated Association.
Excerpt from correspondence, H. C. Frick, Chairman of the Carnegie Steel Co., to Andrew Carnegie,
October 31, 1892.
The mills have never been able to turn out the product they should, owing to being held back by the
A. C. Buell, Inspector, materials purchasing, U.S. Government, correspondence with an official in the
Navy Department, January 1892. Buell reported a conversation he had with J. W. Allen, a union
organizer at Homestead for The Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers.
He [Allen] made one remark that seemed particularly forcible. It was this: "The mill-owners," he said
"are constantly improving their plant. With automatic tables and hydraulic jacks and furnace-jacks and
all that sort of thing they say that because they have invested so much capital in labor saving plant, the
few men who are still necessary to run the plant should accept lower 'scales'* on account of the
increased output capacity. This matter," he continued, "has been under advisement for some time, and
the Associations have decided that they will not accept the principle that is involved; that is, the doctrine
that because one man, with these improved plants, can do the work that four or five used to do, he must
at the same time accept a lower scale than used to be allowed in the days of handwork."
Editor's Note: "Scales" here refers to the amount of money paid to employers per ton of steel produced.
Joseph G. Butler, Jr., "Fifty Years-of Iron and Steel," address to the Iron and Steel Institute, 1917.
As production mounted during the years between 1870 and 1890, conditions became exceedingly bad.
Ruthless competition was the order of the day. Price-cutting, unfair methods of business, and all the
evils attendant on the desire to secure markets became so prevalent that an effort was made to reach
some sort of stability by the famous "pools" which many of you will remember with amusement,
because their only effect was to show that agreements of this kind without the proper spirit behind them
are even less than "scraps of paper."
Harold Livesay, Andrew Carnegie and the Rise of Big Business, 1975 (secondary source). Livesay’s
assessment of Carnegie business skills.
He made sales when there were supposedly none to be found, and he made them yield a profit. To
Carnegie, only one way could guarantee this - holding down costs.
Carnegie and his managers ... drove output up, thereby cutting unit costs across the board .... They tried
to reduce labor costs by holding down wages and substituting machines....
Carnegie's watch on costs never let up in the twenty-five years in the steel business. He grew more
fanatical as years passed and competition stiffened .... Carnegie demanded equal dedication from his
managers. "Carnegie never wanted to know the profits," Charles Schwab related, "He always wanted to
know the cost."
An anonymous partner in the Carnegie Steel Co., quoted in, The Homestead Strike of 1892, J. B. Hogg,
1943 (secondary source).
"The Amalgamated placed a tax on improvements, therefore the Amalgamated had to go."
David Brody, Steelworkers in America, 1960 (secondary source)
Once, skilled steelworkers had been strong, even arrogant, in their indispensability. Then, steel men
observed, "the roller could be an autocrat." Such a man counted himself free, beholden to no one ... That
sharp sense of independence disappeared in the later years. The modern steel mill developed a clear line
of promotion. Each man was training for the next higher job, and usually capable of filling it. No
workman was irreplaceable....
U. S. Immigration Commission, "Immigrants in Industries, Part 2; Iron and Steel Manufacturing" Vol. 1,
p. 241, 1911.
The history of the first employees of this plant is almost identical with the history of those of all other
plants in this section in that Americans, English, Germans, Irish, and Welsh were chiefly employed. It
was not long, however, after the erection of this plant that trouble arose between employer and certain
employees, resulting in the departure of a number of old employees from the plant. Vacancies thereby
caused led to the employment of the more recent immigrants, the first of whom, employed in 1892, were
the Magyars. Other races were employed in the following order: Slovaks 1886-67, Poles 1895,
Lithuanians 1897, Russians 1899. Croatians 1899-1900 and the Roumanians (sic) in 1903.
Editor's Note: The Immigration Commission identified specific factories in its report only by number
(Plant No. 1; Plant No. 2, etc.), but the identification of the plant described below as "built in 1880-81"
and as located "on one of the principal tributaries of the Ohio River 5 to 10 miles southeast" of
Pittsburgh indicate that this factory might have been the Homestead works.
Andrew Carnegie, letter to his employees at the Homestead Works, April 4, 1892. (Carnegie instructed
H.C. Frick to post the letter below for employees to read, but Frick did not post it, and it remained
confidential throughout the strike).
These works, having been consolidated with the Edgar Thompson and Duquesne, and other mills, has
forced upon this Firm the question whether its Works are to be run 'Union' or 'Non-Union.' As the vast
majority of our employees are non-union, the Firm has decided that the minority must give place to the
majority. These works, therefore, will be necessarily Non-Union after the expiration of the present
agreement [the contract which expired on July 1].
This does not imply that the men will make lower wages. On the contrary, most of the men at Edgar
Thompson and Duquesne Works, both Non-Union, have made and are making higher wages than those
at Homestead, which has hitherto been Union. A scale will be arranged which will compare favorably
with that at the other works named; that is to say, the Firm intends that the men of Homestead shall
make as much as the men at either Duquesne or Edgar Thompson. Owing to the great changes and
improvements made in the Converting Works, Beam Mills, Open Hearth Furnaces, etc. ... the products
of the works will be greatly increased-While the number of men required will, of course, be reduced, the
extensions at Duquesne and Edgar Thompson as well as at Homestead will, it is hoped, enable the Firm
to give profitable employment to such of its desirable employees as may temporarily be displaced.
This action is not taken in any spirit of hostility to labor organizations, but every man will see that the
firm cannot run Union and Non-Union. It must be one or the other.
Editor's Note: When he sent the above letter to Frick to post for workers, Carnegie also included the
following note in handwriting. Carnegie wrote, "[s]hould this be determined upon [that is, that the
workers should be informed that the company would no longer negotiate with the union], Mr. Potter
[John A. Potter, Superintendent of the Homestead Works] should roll a large lot of plate ahead, which
can be finished should the works be stopped for a time."
Joseph F. Wall, Andrew Carnegie, 1970 (biography of Carnegie - secondary source)
In late spring  the workmen at Homestead were startled to see a stout stockade of planks, pierced
with holes suitable for rifle barrels and topped with barbed wire, erected around the entire plant and
running down to the river bank on each side of the piers where barges came for deliveries.
...Frick has also entered into negotiations with the Pinkerton Detective Agency, asking that he be
furnished with 300 guards for his property sometime during the first week in July ... Frick had made use
of this agency on two earlier occasions during labor trouble in the coal fields: in 1884 to protect
Hungarians and Slavs whom he had brought in as strikebreakers, and more recently, in 1891, to protect
Italian strikebreakers, brought in against the Hungarians and Slavs, who were themselves on strike.
Carnegie to Frick, from Sunningdale, England, May 4, 1892.
One thing we are all sure of: No contest will be entered in that will fail .... your reputation will shorten it,
so that I really do not believe it will be much of a struggle. We all approve of anything you do, not
stopping short of approval of a contest. We are with you to the end.
Editor's Note: the "we" in the message above refers also to Carnegie's business associates, Henry
Phipps and George Lauder, whom Frick had sent over to England to confer with Carnegie.
H. C. Frick to John A. Potter, Superintendent of the Homestead Works, May 30, 1892.
You can say to the committee [on wages] that these scales are in all respects the most liberal that can be
offered. We do not care whether a man belongs to a union or not, nor do we wish to interfere. He may
belong to as many unions or organizations as he chooses, but we think our employees at Homestead
Steel Works would fare much better working under [a non-union system].
Henry Clay Frick, testimony before the House Judiciary Committee’s Investigation into the Homestead
Strike, 52nd U.S. Congress, July 1892.
Editor's Note: During the third week of July 1892, a special subcommittee of the House Judiciary
Committee came to Homestead to investigate the strike. The document below is an excerpt from the
testimony given by H. C. Frick before that committee.
H. C. Frick: A committee, said to be from our Homestead Steel Works, about 25 in number, with Mr.
Weihe at their head, called at our office at 10 o'clock on the 23rd of June .... They argued that there
should be no reduction in the minimum.* They could not agree to accept anything below $25. I told
them I did not see why there should be any minimum, as there was no maximum. We were willing to
pay as they went up; they ought to be willing to accept a reduction as they declined, for the reason that
when billets got down to 21 and 22 there was no money in it to us, and we would only be operating the
mill in order to keep up our organization and give employment to our workmen.
After considerable discussion we left that point and went to the change in the termination of the scale.
For some time past the arrangement has been to terminate all agreements on the 30th of June each year.
We desired to have that changed to the 31st of December of each year, for the reason that we desired to
know on what to base our calculations for materials which we have to sell for the whole year, and also
for the reason that as we are largely engaged at Homestead in the manufacture of beams and material
that enters into the construction of fire-proof buildings, July and August and the summer months are the
times when the building season is most active, and it is very much against our interest to have our
operations interrupted in those months. In the latter part of December and the first of January business
operations are not so brisk, and it suits us, and I think it would suit the workmen very much better in
case we had to have a stoppage, to have it then, when there would be less business doing. We could not
agree on that point. And we, of course, have to make repairs yearly and that suits us very much better to
make the repairs when business is slack. That was another reason why we desired the scale to terminate
at the end of the year...
They were willing to reduce the minimum price of billets from twenty-five to twenty-four per ton. They
were willing that any scale we might make should extend until the first of July, 1895 .... I told them that
that was not satisfactory to us and we could not agree to it.
I left the room. Mr. Potter, our general superintendent, remained behind, and, as I learned afterwards,
invited Mr. Weihe and, some of the committee to remain and discussed the matter with them for awhile,
and said that he would endeavor to persuade us to increase the minimum that we had offered $1 per ton,
making 23. They agreed to let him come and see me and see what we would agree too, which he did,
and I told him that we did not want to be arbitrary; we wanted to be liberal and we would agree to that --
to increase the minimum to 23, asking only a reduction of $2 from the minimum of the previous scale.
Those of the committee who had remained left Mr. Potter and said they would go and see their men and
call at a later hour and give their report. They called at a later hour and said their men would not agree to
it. That is the only conference we have had.
Editor's Note: The Carnegie Co. paid some of its employees according to the amount of steel they
produced "tonnage workers". The amount paid to these employees fluctuated according to the price of 4
by 4 inch steel billets: when the price of billets rose, the wages of these workers rose proportionally.
However, in accordance with the firm's contract with Amalgamated, wages were not allowed to fall
indefinitely; even if the price of billets fell below $25 per ton, workers would still be paid as if the price
of billet's equaled $25 per ton. This feature was known as the "minimum" of the wage scale.
William Weihe, National President of the Amalgamated Association of Steel and Iron Workers,
testimony before Senate Committee on Labor Troubles, 52nd Congress, February, 1893.
Weihe: The company's proposition was to have the scale expire on January 1 instead of July 1 .... The
object of having the scales expire in the summer time is a great advantage to the iron and steel workers.
It is laborious work, and during the summer months, when the heat is so great ... then is the time they
would rather be out of the mills than in the mills. On the other hand, if the scale expires in winter the
employers have a great advantage, especially in the iron and steel trade. In the winter the trade is not as
brisk as during the summer months and very often they can take the advantage when snow is on the
ground and cold is on the men. Idleness in the winter time is more serious to the ironworkers than a
great many understand it, and therefore they believe by having the scale expire in the winter time they
are at a disadvantage, and consequently they have agreed during the last twelve years to have the scales
expire the 1st of July.
After these discussions had taken place, and we saw that the Carnegie Steel Company was somewhat
determined in maintaining their position, the men believed it would be judicious on their part to make
some concessions, in order to avoid any difficulty, if they could. The company and the men then agreed
to adjourn for a few hours, and the men discussed the matter of making further propositions. They
agreed to change the basis of the scale from $25 to 24, reducing the minimum. On the other hand, to
overcome the company's arguments that the men took their ease in the winter, the men agreed to sign the
scale for three or five years if necessary, with the clause inserted that either party not being satisfied at
the expiration the scale should continue for another year, thereby the company would not have any
difficulty for at least three or five years again. The men believed by doing that they would overcome the
objection of the company in regard to raising wages every year. When that proposition was made to Mr.
Frick [he] stated [he] had gone over their scales very carefully and didn't see any reason for changing
[his] proposition, and Mr. Frick left the room after the men had submitted the compromise proposition.
While the men were leaving the room, Mr. Potter, who was the only one of the firm that remained,
stopped a few of us, and we talked the matter over again. He said that he believed he could induce the
company to raise the minimum from $22 to $23. Finally the men said they had already made a
concession, and didn't see why they should make another. At last it was finally stated by him that the
company would agree to the $23 minimum. There was only $1 difference between the two propositions;
the vital point was the termination of the scale. If the Carnegie Company was permitted to get that, every
other employer in the United States would want the same privilege, and consequently you can easily see
what an advantage the Carnegie Company would have, and what position it would place the workers in
by doing that. That was the last conference held, and they never met afterwards.
Senator Gallinger: Not only did the Carnegie Company undertake to secure a large reduction in wages,
but they also, in their negotiations with the workmen, undertook to make the contracts for such periods
of the year as would militate against the interests of the workmen and to their own interests?
Weihe: Yes, sir; it would be against the interests of workmen to have it expire in the winter time --
against the iron and steel workers.
William Weihe, National President of the Amalgamated Association of Steel and Iron Workers,
testimony before Senate Committee on Labor Troubles, 52nd Congress, February, 1893.
Senator Gallinger: You speak of the proposed reduction of wages* by the Carnegie Steel Company.
Have you any knowledge as to whether the trade conditions at that time rendered such reduction
necessary to duly protect the interests of the company?
Weihe: I believe that that company could have well paid those wages that the men finally proposed...
Senator Gallinger: How large a per cent of the men engaged in the Carnegie company works were
affected by this proposed reduction in the rate paid to tonnage workers?
Weihe: In the four departments, as I have seen by the papers, somewhere between 325 and 330.
Senator Gallinger: And how large a number of men were employed in all departments?
Weihe: In the neighborhood of 3,800.
Senator Gallinger: Then it affected less than 10 per cent of the entire number?
Weihe: At that time.
Senator Gallinger: Was the action of the other men who were not affected due to an apprehension on
their part that in time their wages would be reduced or did they take that action out of sympathy with the
men whose wages had been reduced?
Weihe: All tonnage workers knew, if the departments it did affect would have consented to the
reduction, that their wages after July 1 would have been in the same position.
Senator Gallinger: So that, as a matter of fact, the action taken by them was in the line of self-defense
rather than sympathy for the men whose wages had been directly reduced?
Weihe: That the company intended to reduce; yes, sir.
Editor's Note: Senator Gallinger referred to the third aspect of the Company's proposal: a reduction in
the rate of pay of about 330 tonnage workers. These workers were to receive about 18% less money per
ton of steel produced. Thus, wages were affected by both the reduction in the minimum and by the
reduction in the rate of pay of tonnage workers.
Carnegie Company statement before the U. S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee during the
Homestead Investigation, 1892, regarding the wage cuts it had demanded for 325 skilled men.
We had put in new improvements in some departments which increased the output and reduced the
work, and we thought we were entitled to some of the benefits ... We were paying more money than our
competitors in the same class of work and we had also invested more money in the machinery to do that
work than our competitors.
Report on Investigation of the Homestead Strike, House Judiciary Committee, July, 1892.
The skilled workmen employed at Homestead seem to be very intelligent and of the highest skill, and
the products of the mill indicate that they are excellent workmen whose services should command many
times over those paid the common laborer. It was also stated by some witnesses that the work of the
character done by them very much abbreviates the natural period of life, which is an additional reason
why such labor should be well paid. The Carnegie Company, up to the time of the trouble, paid them
satisfactory wages. The average reduction of 18 per cent which they claimed the new scale would
produce was of sufficient importance to warrant very close scrutiny, and to produce discontent unless
satisfactory explanation was made to them. If such reduction was necessary in order for the company to
realize a reasonable profit upon its investment the same should have been made known to these laborers.
Mr. Frick, the president of the company, declined to state the total cost or the labor cost of the
production of a ton of Bessemer steel billets at the Homestead works .... In its absence the committee
can not presume that sufficient reason existed for the reductions proposed...
William Roberts, member of the Amalgamated and an employee at the Homestead works, testimony
before Senate Committee on Labor Troubles, 52nd Congress, February, 1893.
The people employed in Homestead thought [the contract offer] was simply a proposition made by the
firm that they knew we would not accept.
John McLuckie, Burgess of the town of Homestead and a worker at the Homestead steel works,
testimony before House Judiciary Committee, Investigation of the Homestead Strike, U.S. Congress,
July 13, 1892.
Representative Taylor: Now, it appeared to me, that those houses [in Hornestead] as I looked at them
yesterday, were very comfortable, and rather more so than I ordinarily find in towns taking them as a
class; they were well painted and looked as if they were large; that is true, is it not?
McLuckie: Let me ask you a question -- but you are not on the stand.
Rep. Taylor: Well, I will go on the stand.
McLuckie: Do you think they are too comfortable?
Rep. Taylor: I do not; not half comfortable enough for any workman.
McLuckie: Thank you.
James Bridge, The Inside Story of the Carnegie Steel Company 1903 (secondary source).
Net Profits of the Carnegie Associations: Carnegie Brothers and Co., Carnegie, Phipps and Co., and the
Carnegie Steel Co. (Carnegie Brothers and Co. and Carnegie, Phipps and Co. merged to form the
Carnegie Steel Co. on July 1, 1892)
1889 -- $3,540,000
1890 -- $5,350,000
1891 -- $4,300,000
1892 -- $4,000,000
1893 -- $3,000,000
1894 -- $4,000,000
1895 -- $5,000,000
1896 -- $6,000,000
1897 -- $7,000,000
1898 -- $11,500,000
1899 -- $21,000,000
Editor's Note: Henry Frick had set a deadline of June 24, 1892 for the acceptance of a new contract by
the Association. When his offer was not accepted, he ordered that a notice be posted on June 25th in the
Homestead works declaring that thereafter the manager of the company would deal only with individual
workmen, not with the association. The next day Frick and Potter were hanged in effigy in the plant. On
June 28th the company began closing down the departments that employed tonnage men under contract.
In response, on July 1, 3,500 Homestead workers walked off the job. By this combination of lockout and
strike the plant was closed.
Meanwhile, Andrew Carnegie had left in late April 1892 for his annual summer visit to Scotland and
was living at Rannoch Lodge in a remote and isolated region of Scotland during the time of the
Homestead strike. Communications with him, even by cable, were often delayed for a week or more.
Editorial, Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, July 1892 (A British journal of literature, politics, and
Much has been made of the fact that [Mr. Frick], besides employing Pinkerton policemen, has taken
extraordinary precautions to defend his works against the possible -- and events would seem to show the
probable -- attacks of infuriated trade-unionists. These precautions are certainly of an unparalleled
character. A stout board fence, twelve feet high and three miles long, has been built on a foundation of
slag three feet high, and completely surrounds the steel works.... Port-holes, four inches in diameter,
have been bored all along this fence at the height of a man's eye ... and along the fence and on the
buildings searchlights have been placed.
Henry Clay Frick, testimony before Senate Committee on Labor Troubles, February 1893.
Chairman Gallinger questioned H. C. Frick.
Senator Gallinger: Did you have it in your mind, Mr. Frick, that [the Pinkerton] men could be landed
and placed secretly inside your works without bloodshed?
Frick: Yes, sir; for the reason that to that end we took every precaution. That is why we brought them in
by river so they could be landed from the boats right onto our property; so we would not cross over any
property or any highway in getting to our property.
Senator Gallinger: What seemed to be the necessity for placing so large a number of watchmen within
your works at that time?
Frick: To protect the property, which covers a great deal of ground, and the lives of the men who had
agreed to work for us.
Representative William Oates, Chairman of the House Committee Investigating the Homestead Strike,
North American Review, September, 1892.
After the breaking off of negotiations on the 24th of June a feeling of estrangement rapidly developed
between the employees at Homestead and the officers of the Carnegie company. Messrs. Frick and
Potter were hanged in effigy within the works. On the 30th of June the works were closed [by the
company]. On July 1st the striking workmen congregated about the gates and stopped and persuaded the
foremen and employees who came to enter to go away. An advisory committee of fifty was raised from
the Amalgamated Association. The watchmen of the company were turned away from the works; guards
were placed at all the entrances thereto, the river, streets and roads entering the town were patrolled by
guards, and a rigid surveillance exercised over those who entered the town or approached the works.
When the sheriff came on the 4th of July and demanded to put deputies of his own selection in
possession of the works, to guard them for the company, his request was declined, the striking workmen
proposing to place guards of their own and give indemnity for the safety of the property, but this the
sheriff declined because it would enable them to keep non-union men whom the company might employ
from taking the places lately held by the strikers. On the 5th of July, when the sheriff sent twelve
deputies to take possession of the works, they were not allowed to do so and were driven away.
As early as about the 20th of June Mr. Frick began negotiations with Robert A. Pinkerton, of New York,
for the employment of 300 watchmen to be placed in the works at Homestead. On the 25th he wrote a
letter to Pinkerton giving instructions as to the movements of the guards, who were to rendezvous at
Ashtabula, Ohio, and from thence to be transported by rail to Youngstown, and from thence to be
transported by boat up the river and landed in the works at Homestead.
Arms and ammunition for the men were sent in goods boxes from Chicago by William A. Pinkerton,
according to the direction of Mr. Frick, and placed on Captain Rodgers' boat at Allegheny. On the
evening of the 5th of July Captain Rodgers' boats, with Deputy Sheriff Gray, Superintendent Potter and
some of his assistants on board, dropped down the river with two barges in tow, until they met the
Pinkerton men, who were embarked on the barges. The boats took the barges in tow, and on the way up
one of the steamers became disabled, while the other took both barges, endeavoring to land at
Homestead before day, when the people would be asleep and the strikers would likely know nothing of
it until after the Pinkerton men were safely within the picket fence surrounding the works. They did not
violate any 12W of Pennsylvania; but they knew that the hostility to the Pinkerton men upon the part of
all labor organizations was calculated to produce a breach of the peace...
When Captain Rodgers' boat with the barges in tow was approaching Homestead, just as day was
breaking, a small steamer used by the strikers for patrol purposes set up a whistle, which was responded
to by all the engines in town under their control. This caused a crowd to at once assemble along the bank
of the river, where it kept pace with the boat, discharging firearms. When the crowd on shore reached
the fence around the works they were temporarily halted, but tearing down a part of it they rushed
through. A part of the crowd on the shore came down near to the boat when the gang-plank was pushed
out. A short war of words was followed by firing on each side, which resulted ultimately in the death of
three of the Pinkerton men and seven of the workmen, and the wounding of many on each side. After a
brief fusillade those on shore fled in various directions, and the Pinkerton men retreated into their
barges. An hour or two later, after having made the barges fast to the wharf, Captain Rodgers took the
wounded upon his boat, and with Superintendent Potter and deputy Sheriff Gray steamed up the river to
take the wounded to a hospital. About 11 o'clock the boat returned, the deputy sheriff still on board. He
said that it was his intention to tow the barges and the Pinkerton men away, but the boat received a
heavy fire from the striking workmen with small arms and artillery from both sides of the river. One or
two of her crew were either killed or severely wounded, and at one time the pilot for safety abandoned
his post and let the steamer drift, so that it became impossible for her to take the barges in tow, and with
great difficulty it ran the gauntlet of the fire and escaped to Pittsburgh.
At this time the strikers on shore were endeavoring to use a piece of artillery upon the barges, but they
could not depress it sufficiently and consequently fired over them. They also poured oil into the river
above the barges and set it on fire, but this failed of its purpose, because the water in the river is slack at
this point and the wind was blowing up instead of down the river. About five o'clock in the afternoon the
Pinkertons displayed a white flag, and negotiated terms of surrender, by which they were allowed to take
out their clothing, but their arms and everything else fell into the possession of the Homestead people.
The barges were immediately set on fire and burned, and in their burning the pumphouse belonging to
the Carnegie company was also destroyed. The Pinkerton men now being practically prisoners of war,
were marched up town to the skating rink for temporary imprisonment, and on the way, instead of
receiving that protection which Mr. Hugh O'Donnell, the chairman of the Advisory Committee, in
negotiating the terms of surrender had promised, they were brutally and outrageously maltreated. The
injuries inflicted upon them, in some cases, were indecent as well as brutal. Whether these men were of
good or bad character, the offence which they had committed against the feelings of the people of
Homestead could in no degree justify the indignities with which they were treated.
DOCUMENT # 33
Editorial, The Forum, (a journal of opinion and literature) September 1892.
The question raised by the bloody encounter between the organized workingmen and the embattled
Pinkertons on the Monongahela River is one which cannot be put aside until there shall be found a
satisfactory answer to it. It is but a single incident of a long and terrible warfare, whose persistent
barbarity is the darkest reproach of the otherwise peaceful age in which we live. For the settlement of all
private disputes, legal and effectual procedures are duly provided .... Only in the controversies between
large employers and great masses of workingmen, in those controversies which in the last quarter Of a
century have reddened the streets of every great European city with blood, and which have shamed this
country in Many instances, the state stands practically aloof, permitting each separate difference to
degenerate, it may be, into a cruel and unequal combat between the capitalist and the workingman...
Editorial, New York Tribune, July 7, 1892.
The officials [of the Carnegie Co.] asked the sheriff to appoint deputies to protect their property. The
sheriff sent a small squad of men up to the works, but the strikers assembled in force and warned them
to get out of town, as no disorder was intended and no damage would be done to any property. They
even offered to be sworn in as deputies and to give bonds for the faithful performance of their duties as
conservators of the peace. The developments today showed that the applications made for the assistance
of the sheriff were merely for the purpose of covering what was intended to be a sudden move on the
part of the Carnegie Company, in clandestinely introducing a body of Pinkerton detectives into the mill
Hugh O'Donnell, Chairman of the Strike Advisory Committee, testimony before House Judiciary
Committee, Investigation of the Homestead Strike, July, 1892.
Chairman William Oates questioning Hugh O'Donnell.
Chairman Oates: Why is it the working people generally are so much opposed to [the Pinkertons]?
Hugh O'Donnell: In this particular instance ... it might be owing to the fact that in the town, there were
then lying dead five men who had been shot to death, and more wounded.
Chairman Oates: And that is one reason of the maltreatment after they surrendered?
Hugh O'Donnell: Yes, sir.
Chairman Oates: What was the motive that you gathered, from mixing with the crowd, as to their
resisting the landing of [the Pinkertons]?
Hugh O'Donnell: Well, we looked upon the Pinkertons as armed invaders -- men who are thoroughly
antagonistic to all laboring interests and allies of the capitalists.
Chairman Oates: Did the people on shore, as you gathered, have an apprehension that if the Pinkertons
got possession of the property of the company that the company would employ non-union men to run
Hugh O'Donnell: Yes, that was the impression.
H. C. Frick, interview with Pittsburgh Post, July 8, 1892 (Interview conducted by George McCain,
Correspondent, Philadelphia Press).
Frick: The question at issue is a very grave one. It is whether the Carnegie Company or the
Amalgamated Association shall have absolute control of our plant and business at Homestead. We have
decided, after numerous fruitless conferences with the Amalgamated officials in the attempt to amicably
adjust the existing difficulties, to operate the plant ourselves. I can say with the greatest emphasis that
under no circumstances will we have any further dealings with the Amalgamated Association as an
organization. This is final....
McCain: Have the men made overtures for a settlement of the difficulties since this trouble commenced?
Frick: Yes, sir. A leading ex-official in the Amalgamated Association yesterday, when this rioting was
going on, called on the sheriff and I am informed asked him to come down to see me, stating that if he
could get a promise that we would confer with the representatives of the Amalgamated Association
looking toward an adjustment of this trouble, that he would go to Homestead and try and stop the
McCain: Did you consider his proposal?
Frick: No, sir. I told the gentleman who called that we could not confer with the Amalgamated officials.
That it was their followers who were rioting and destroying our property, and we would not accept his
McCain: What of the future of this difficulty?
Frick: It is in the hands of the authorities of Allegheny County. If they are unable to cope with it, it is
certainly the duty of the governor of the State to see that we are permitted to operate our establishment
Henry Phipps, a partner in Carnegie Steel, quoted in the New York Herald, January 31, 1904.
When Mr. Carnegie heard of the trouble at Homestead he immediately wired that he would take the first
ship for America, but his partners urged him not to appear, as they were of the opinion that the welfare
of the company required that he should not be in the country at that time. They knew his extreme
disposition always to grant the demands of labor, however unreasonable.
Carnegie to Frick, telegram, June 28, 1892.
Cables do not seem favorable to a settlement at Homestead. If those be correct, this is your chance to
reorganize the whole affair, and someone over Potter should exact good reasons for employing every
man. Far too many men required by Amalgamated rules.
Carnegie to Frick, telegram, July 8, 1892.
Cable received. All anxiety gone since you stand firm. Never employ one of these rioters. Let grass
grow over works. Must not fail now. You will win easily next trial only stand firm law and order wish I
could support you in any form.
Andrew Carnegie, interview, New York World, Rannoch Lodge, July 12, 1892.
Asked if he had anything to say concerning the troubles at his mills, Mr. Carnegie replied:
"I have nothing whatever to say. I have given up all active control of the business and I do not care to
interfere in any way with the present management's conduct of this affair."
But do you not still exercise a supervision of the affairs of the company?
"I have nothing whatever to say on that point, the business management is in the hands of those who are
fully competent to deal with every question that may arise ... The handling of the case on the part of the
company has my full approval and sanction. Further than this I have no disposition to say anything."
Andrew Carnegie to Dod Lauder (a minor partner in Carnegie Steel), telegram, July 17, 1892.
Matters at home bad - such a fiasco trying to send guards by boat and then leaving space between River
& fences for the men to get opposite landing and fire. Still we must keep quiet & do all we can to
support Frick & those at Seat of War ... Silence is best. We shall win, of course, but may have to shut
down for months.
Advisory Board of the Strikers Association, quoted in New York Tribune, July 23, 1892.
The most evident characteristic of our time and country is the phenomenon of industrial centralization,
which is putting the control of each of our great National industries into the hands of one or a few men,
and giving these men an enormous despotic power over the lives and the fortunes of their employees and
subordinates ... a power which, though expressed in terms of current speech as "the right of employers to
manage their business to suit themselves" is coming to mean in effect nothing less than a right to
manage the country to suit themselves. The employees in the Carnegie Mill-have built the town with its
homes, its schools, and its churches; have for many years been faithful co-workers with the company in
the business of the mill, have invested thousands of dollars of their savings in said mill in the
expectation of spending their lives in Homestead ... The employees have a right to continuous
employment in the said mill ... Workers should not be denied employment on account of membership ...
in a trade union.
Hugh O'Donnell to Whitelaw Reid (editor and publisher of the New York Tribune and
Republican nominee for Vice-President in 1892 election), July 17, 1892.
... further trouble can be prevented. How shall it be done? Simply let the Carnegie Company recognize
the Amalgamated Association by re-opening the conference doors, and I have no hesitation in saying
that there is no disposition on the part of the employees to stand upon a question of scale or wages, or
hours, or anything else. The spirit that dominates them is conciliatory in the extreme, for they deplore
the recent sad occurrence as much as any other class of people in the whole country...
Editorial, The Nation, Thursday, July 14, 1892 (a prominent American journal of politics and opinion).
Governor Pattison of Pennsylvania has done well to call out the entire division of the national guard of
that State to restore order at Homestead. There has been some disposition to criticize him for not having
taken such a step sooner, but fair-minded people will generally feel disposed to the conclusion that
deliberate action was quite as wise a policy. The strikers have now had every opportunity they could ask
to put their side of the case before the public and to make their disposition clear. The stand which they
have taken is fully understood, and their contention is universally recognized as untenable and
intolerable. Everybody who believes in the reign of law sees that there is only one thing to be done, and
that is to end the anarchy of the present situation at Homestead, to restore the works to the owners of the
property, and to protect them in their right to operate them.
Editorial, New York Tribune, July 12, 1892.
The [strikers] this afternoon accepted the suggestion of their leaders and decided that the troops should
be received as friends and not foes. The militia will be welcomed by the blast of trumpets and the music
Whitelaw Reid to Carnegie (in Scotland), telegram, July 20, 1892. (Reid was the publisher and editor of
the N.Y. Tribune and a personal friend of Carnegie)
Have received appeal from Hugh O'Donnell [Chairman of the Strike Advisory Committee] for aid with
you in reaching settlement Homestead difficulty ... He assures me that if your people will merely
consent to reopen a conference with their representatives, thus recognizing this organization, they will
waive every other thing in the dispute, and submit to whatever you think it right to require, whether as to
scale or wages or anything else ... These assurances have been given to me in writing, over his signature,
and have been repeated and emphasized in conversation, in presence of witnesses ... he makes appeal to
me because he thinks me, in consequence of our personal relations, in position to render efficient aid.
Carnegie to Frick, Telegram, July 29, 1892.
After due consideration we have concluded [that Reid's proposal is] too old. Probably the proposition is
not worthy of consideration. Useful showing distress of Amalgamated Association. Use your own
discretion about terms and starting....H. C. Frick forever!
Editorial, New York Tribune, July 22, 1892.
Tonight the strikers were claiming, and apparently with good reason ... that the ranks of the Homestead
men were unbroken. Not a single desertion, they asserted ... amounted to a triumph which they had
scarcely ventured to expect. On the other hand, there seems no doubt but that the force [of
strikebreakers] inside the mills was materially increased today, the arrivals amounting, according to one
conservative estimate, to 150 men.
Editorial, New York Tribune, July 24, 1892.
Henry Clay Frick, chairman of the Carnegie Steel Co., was shot twice and stabbed in his private office at
1:45 o'clock yesterday afternoon by Alexander Berkman, a Russian Jew from New York....
As Berkman entered Frick's office, Mr. Frick was examining a bundle of papers. The e man sprang
within about five feet of Mr. Frick, and, quickly drawing his revolver, pulled the trigger. The first
cartridge did not explode; the second shot entered the back of Mr. Frick's neck. The assailant passed
nearly in front of the desk, and approaching close to Mr. Frick, fired again ... Berkman then plunged a
dagger into Frick's right side, making an ugly wound three inches long...
In five minutes a half-dozen surgeons were at hand. The wounds were washed and the bleeding stopped.
During all this time the wounded man was calm, and was apparently less excited than any other person
in the room. After the removal of the bullets Frick sent for his stenographers, dictated letters, and asked
his chiefs about the condition of affairs at Homestead....
"The people who will regret this the most are the strikers," a prominent Democratic Senator said this
afternoon. He expressed what was in everybody's mind at the time ... although it was speedily made
known that the assault was not committed by any of the Homestead people, it was nevertheless apparent
that the friends of the strikers were apprehensive that blame would be attached to them on the grounds
that the anarchist Berkman was led to his rash act by sympathy with their cause.
H. C. Frick, public statement, July 23, 1892, following A. Berkman's attempt to assassinate Frick.
This incident will not change the attitude of the Carnegie Steel Company toward the Amalgamated
Association. I do not think I shall die, but whether I do or not, the company will pursue the same policy,
and it will win.
Editorial, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, early August 1892.
Count no man happy until he is dead. Three months ago Andrew Carnegie was a man to be envied.
Today he is an object of mingled pity and contempt. In the estimation of nine-tenths of the thinking
people on both sides of the ocean he has not only given the lie to all his antecedents, but confessed
himself a moral coward...
A single word from him might have saved the bloodshed -- but the word was never spoken. Nor has he,
from that bloody day until this, said anything except that he had "implicit confidence in the managers of
the mills." The correspondent who finally obtained this valuable information, expresses the opinion that
"Mr. Carnegie has no intention of returning to America at present." He might have added that America
can well spare Mr. Carnegie. Ten thousand "Carnegie Public Libraries" would not compensate the
country for the direct and indirect evils resulting from the Homestead lockout. Say what you will of
Frick, he is a brave man. Say what you will of Carnegie, he is a coward. And gods and men hate
Editorial, Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, July 1892 (A British journal of literature, politics, and
Mr. Carnegie is neither so good nor so bad as he is painted by his friends and his enemies. He is simply
a product of the political and industrial conditions which prevail in the United States. He is a typical
American employer -- neither greatly better nor seriously worse than the average member of the class.
He is probably as fair a representative of the American employer as could be found....
The American employer looks upon his work-people as being literally "hands"; he cares little about their
bodies and still less about their souls. Every human being that he employs is simply a machine, which
contracts to do so much work for so much money, and woe betide the luckless individual who fails to act
up to his bargain, -- he need expect neither ruth nor pity. If he cannot do the amount of work which he
has engaged to do, then he must get out without further ado, and make room for somebody else...
Mr. Carnegie is, we repeat, a type of American employer: if we may judge him by the professions which
he makes in his book and in his Review articles, and also upon the platform when he is in this country,
he may be taken as a type of the American employer at his best.
Editorial, New York Tribune, August 8, 1892.
Outwardly the strikers are as firm as ever, but many privately express a desire to return to work, and say
they are only deterred by the influence of the majority. The company now has fully 1,200 men in the
Editorial, New York Tribune, August 9, 1892.
The Carnegie Company continues the prosecution of the Homestead strikers ... The record of 53
informations for murder or aggravated riot, and 18 arrests for these charges, is to be increased three-fold.
Editor's Note: All the working men indicted for crimes committed during the strike were eventually
acquitted by juries.
Editorial, New York Tribune, October 2, 1892.
Nothing done since the first trouble at Homestead, except possibly the attempt on the life of H. C. Frick,
has caused more talk than the act of Chief Justice Paxson [of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania] in
issuing warrants for the arrest of thirty-three Homestead men charged with treason. This is the first time
that a charge of treason has been brought in any state for acts arising from a strike ... Judge Paxson
decided that the accused should give bail in the sum of $10,000 each ... The thought of the state of
Pennsylvania interfering in the struggle is frightening the workers. They would regard with derision
murder, riot, or conspiracy suits brought by the Carnegie Steel Company, but to be arrested by the state,
and on a charge of treason, is different ... The strikers bitterly denounce the arrests, claiming that the
sole object of the constant prosecutions is to terrify them into going to work.
H.C. Frick to Carnegie, telegram, November 21, 1892.
Strike officially declared off yesterday. Our victory is now complete and most gratifying. Do not think
we will ever have any serious labor trouble again ... Let the Amalgamated still exist and hold sway at
other people's mills. That is no concern of ours...We had to teach our employees a lesson, and we have
taught them one that they will never forget ...
Editorial, New York Tribune, November 23, 1892.
Each man employed is required to sign an agreement in which he pledges himself to refrain from
belonging to any labor organization ... The strikers continue to keep up the rush for their old places at
the steel works.
Official statement, Carnegie Co., announcing wage cut, Spring 1893
With this new [wage] scale in force the firm will be in a position to compete more successfully than
even before, and will probably have 2 material advantage over many of its competitors in cost sheets.
David Brody, Steelworkers in America, 1960 (secondary source).
Many prospering mills "have thought it unnecessary to economize," observed a Carnegie partner. "That
has never been our history. When we have gone out of a pool, we have always been in good shape to
follow the business." So they were in 1893.
The ensuring business collapse put an end to the complacency of the steel manufacturers. A period of
unmatched rivalry was inaugurated ... Carnegie saw in 1893 the opening that led to domination of the
market. He directed the Board to leave the rail pool. "I do not think any one can stand in our way ... and
I do know that the way to make even money is to lead." Surveying his cost sheets, Carnegie concluded
"we needn't hesitate, take orders and run full, there's a margin."
"Unionism in the Iron and Steel Industry," John Fitch, Political Science Quarterly, March 1909
In 1891 the Amalgamated was at the height of its power and influence, with a total membership of
24,068. In 1908, at the Youngstown convention, the secretary reported 7,472 members in good standing.
This downward movement was started by the disastrous outcome of the Homestead strike...
John A. Fitch, The Steel Workers, 1907 (secondary source).
The men at the top, the "aristocrats" of labor, have had their earnings reduced since 1892. This is an
admitted fact. There are many of them who have had more taken from their daily earnings in the last
fifteen years than the total daily wage of an unskilled man. The earnings of the intermediate men may
have advanced in certain cases, but ... if compared with the increased cost of living, a downward
John A. Fitch, The Steel Workers, 1907 (secondary source).
Wages in Homestead's 119-inch plate mill:
Job Feb. 1892 Feb. 1894
Roller $12.15 $6.00
Heater $9.55 $5.25
Tableman $6.94 $3.20
Heater's helper $4.85 $2.22
Shearman $9.85 $4.09
Editor's Note: 1894 was a depression year in America. The 1894 figures should be increased by about
5% to obtain their values in 1892 dollars.
Margaret F. Byington, Homestead: the Households of a Mill Town, 1910.
Editor's Note: In 1907 and 1908, as part of a massive social survey of living conditions carried out by
the Russell Sage Foundation, social workers, under the direction of Margaret Byington, made a survey
of the company town of Homestead. Their brief historical introduction included the following
By 1892, 8,000 people had gathered at Homestead, though the town still kept many of its village
characteristics. The population was composed of a fairly homogeneous group, most of them speaking
the same language and mingling freely in school, church and neighborhood life, as well as within the
Among the families visited for this study, half of the American and about half of the foreign born, who
came from Great Britain and Western Europe, had been 15 years in Homestead; of 264 Slavs, however,
only 31 were living here before the strike of 1892.
Andrew Carnegie to William E. Gladstone, Former Prime Minister of Great Britain, September 24,
1893, Rannoch Lodge, Pertshire, Scotland.
My Dear Mr. Gladstone,
It was just like your noble self to write such a kind sympathetic note.
This is the trial of my life (death's hand excepted). Such a foolish step - contrary to my ideas, repugnant
to every feeling of my nature. Our firm offered all it could offer, even generous terms. Our other men
had gratefully accepted them. They went as far as I could have wished, but the false step was made in
trying to run the works with new men.
It is a test to which workingmen should not be subjected. It is expecting too much of poor men to stand
by and see their work taken by others...
All this time I heard nothing until days had elapsed and, as the way easiest to peace, going on was then
best -- returning being impossible, for the State of Pennsylvania could not retire troops until they had
established and vindicated Law. The pain I suffer increases daily. The Works are not worth one drop of
human blood. I wish they had sunk.
I write this to you freely; to no one else have I written so. I must be silent and suffer, but after a time I
hope to be able to do something to restore good feeling between my young and rather too rash partner
and the men over at Homestead..."