Patronizing the Peasants

The workmen Carnegie so effusively complimented in Triumphant Democracy were not quite as pleased with their progress as their Little Boss was, and in the mid-1880s they began to agitate more vigorously for higher wages and better conditions. The capitalists were not going to be so forthcoming, however; after the economy had peaked in March 1882, a prolonged business contraction had begun and money was tight. Then, in April 1884, a financial panic was set off by a rogue Wall Street speculator, Ferdinand Ward, who had fleeced the prominent Marine Bank, as well as General Ulysses S. Grant. When Marine Bank failed, others followed and visions of the 1873 panic and subsequent depression rattled Wall Street. To survive the volatile market, Carnegie was desperate to cut costs and to solve the wage-related labor troubles that were now plaguing the iron and steel industry.

Prior to 1882, iron and steel industry strikes had been short affairs, a tolerated necessity, almost a game; but with the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers' rise in power the stakes had been raised and the conflicts escalated. Certain departments at Edgar Thomson were now union— with men joining the Amalgamated or the Knights of Labor—despite Captain Jones's best efforts to thwart them, and, as David Stewart reported to Carnegie, they were not above using violence: “There was a meeting at Braddock last night and a man by the name of J Arnold from Homestead claimed they could get their advance by Clubs—when they could not by peace.” 1 Homestead, despite now being under the Carnegie regime, remained a boiling pot, a source of wider trouble. Jones was so distressed over the Amalgamated lodges now established at Edgar Thomson that he resigned. As individuals, Jones protected his men, but not as members of a union; the union disgusted him because he felt it robbed men of their individuality. To Carnegie, the loss of a genius was far more menacing than the union, and he refused to accept the resignation. It wouldn't be the last time.


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Table of contents

Table of contents



Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 612

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?