Unionization, Political Revolt and Panic
As the decade of the 1890's opened, Alabama miners had few material gains to show for over ten years of labor agitation. A state miners' organization had been created in 1888, but it had failed to prove itself an effective agent of the miners' interests. Wages had not greatly improved, and convict labor still toiled in the mines.
In the new decade the old problems and antagonisms were to be sharpened and intensified by depression and unemployment. Hard times increased labor militancy, while farmer-labor political revolt shook the foundations of the ruling order. Feeding on the reform movements of the agrarians, the miners of Alabama became more organized and far more active than they had even been before. The recognition and outright avowal of economic and class interests, stifled in Alabama by the rationalizations of the Bourbon order, were slow in developing but the more devastating on their final arrival.