Theodore Roosevelt and His Time Shown in His Own Letters - Vol. 1

By Joseph Bucklin Bishop | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIX
COAL STRIKE SETTLEMENT

IN the fall of 1902 President Roosevelt performed a service to the nation which ranks in history as one of the most patriotic and beneficent of his career, but which, when he entered upon it, was denounced with more bitterness than almost any other of his public acts. A universal strike of the miners in the anthracite coal regions of Pennsylvania, involving about 150,000 men, was instituted in the spring of that year and continued, with steadily increasing animosity between the mine operators and mine workers, through the summer and into the autumn, with no prospects of settlement. Its progress was marked with many acts of violence on the part of the strikers against the non-union laborers whom the operators were trying to employ. The Governor of Pennsylvania had been appealed to and had sent militia to the mines for the protection of life and property, but though there were in the later stages of the strike about 2,000 of these troops, they had shown themselves unable to put a stop to violence. It was estimated that during the rioting twenty persons had been killed and about forty injured, and that much property had been destroyed. The Governor was subjected to sharp criticism for the inefficiency of the force and was accused of sympathy with the strikers. Although called upon repeatedly to confess the inadequacy of the State militia to restore and preserve order, and to appeal to the National Government to come to the aid of the State, he refused to do so.

With the approach of winter, a general feeling of alarm began to spread over the land, especially in the East, for in all States east of the Mississippi River anthracite coal was the almost exclusive fuel, and the supply had fallen so

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