The American Miners' Association: A Record of the Origin of Coal Miners' Unions in the United States


Within the trade-union movement coal miners have occupied a position of strategic importance. Their work supplies a raw material essential to the operation of the basic industries in the modern nation which is founded upon iron and steel. They are themselves a large group in the population, and the security of their livelihood and the stability of their purchasing power is a factor in the domestic market. Working as they do, in close association, conscious of common interests in all branches of mining, as well as with fellow workers in other industries, they have given direction and leadership to the labor movement. A contemporary illustration is the position of the United Mine Workers in the new labor movement which is writing an important chapter in American history. During long years the United Mine Workers of America has been one of the most powerful unions in the American Federation of Labor; and, along with the clothing workers' unions, it has given substantial support both in numbers and in money to the Congress of Industrial Organizations, known as the "C.I.O." In that movement miners have had marked influence in setting the pattern for the development of industrial unionism in the mass- production industries.

This role of leadership by the miners has a long history in the labor movement, both in Great Britain and in the United States. If, therefore, the role of the trade union is to be studied as an important aspect of American national life today, the historical record of the coal miners' organizations needs to be compiled. This study of the American Miners' Association, organized in 1861, calls attention to a significant episode in labor history.

Emerging at the opening of the decade when modern industrial development actually began in the United States, the miners' organization initiated a movement which appears to be inextricably associated with the growth of mass production and the organization of business in corporations. Viewed politically, the trade-union move-

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New York
Publication year:
  • 1940


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