Assess the validity of the following statement:  

In the battle for power within the emerging industrial economy of the late 19c, the workers steadily lost ground as big business entrenched itself.



  Section 1: Every contract combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal.  Every person who shall make any contract or engage in any combination or conspiracy herby declared to be illegal shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished by fine not exceeding ten million dollars if a corporation, or, if any other person, Three hundred and fifty thousand dollars.  Or by imprisonment not exceeding three years, or by both said punishments, in the discretion of the court. 

Section 2: every person who shall monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any other person or persons, to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and, on conviction thereof…in the discretion of the court.

SOURCE: The Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890. 



  ‘In stating to this body our grievances it is hard to tell where to begin. You all must know that the proximate cause of our strike was the discharge of two members of our grievance committee…The most recent causes are still eminent. Five reductions in wages, in work, and in conditions of employment swept through the shops at Pullman between May and December 1892.  The last was the most severe, amounting to nearly 30 percent, and our rents had not fallen. We owed Pullman $70,000 when we struck May11, we owe him twice as much today…’ 

‘…What we pay $15 for in Pullman is leased for $8 in Roseland; and remember that just as no man or woman of our 4,000 toilers has ever felt the friendly pressure of George M. Pullman’s hand, and so no man or woman of us all has ever owned or can ever hope to own one inch of George Pullman’ land.’

 ‘…He is patiently seated beside his millions waiting for what? To see us starve…’

SOURCE:  United States Strike Commission:  Statement from the Pullman Strikers to the Convention of the American Railway Union (June 15, 1894).



 ‘ The case presented by the bill is this: The U.S, finding that the interstate traffic of persons and property as well as the carriage of mails is forcibly obstructed, and that a combination and conspiracy exists to subject the control of such transportation to the will of the conspirators, applied to one of their courts, sitting as a court of equity, for our injunction to restrain such obstruction and prevent carrying into effect such constricy…’

‘As under the Constitution, power over interstate commerce and the transportation of the mails is vested in the national government, and Congress, by virtue of such grant has reassured actual and direct control, it follows that the national government my prevent any unlawful and forcible interference therewith…’

 ‘We enter into no examination of the act of July 2,1890 (Sherman Anti-Trust Act) upon which the Court relied mainly to sustain its jurisdiction…’

SOURCE:  “ In Re Debs” 158 U.S. 564, 1894. 




 ‘ Year by year man’s liberties are trampled underfoot at the bidding of corporations and trusts, rights are invaded and the law perverted.  In all ages wherever a tyrant has shown himself he has always found some willing judge to clothe that tyrant in the robes of legality, and modern capitalism has proven no exception to the rule.’ 

‘You (a federal judge) may not know that the labor movements as represented by the trades unions, stand for right, for justice, for liberty.  You may not imagine that the issuance of an injunction depriving men of a legal as well as natural right to protect themselves, their wives and little ones, must fail of its purpose. Repression or oppression never yet succeeded in crushing the truth or redressing a wrong.’

SOURCE:  Samuel Gompers,  “Letters on Labor in Industrial Society,” Forum, 
September 1894.



                                        Twelve Are Dead


        How the locked-out Workmen fought the Pinkertons to Surrender 

The Pinkerton men were taken in barges from Pittsburgh to Homestead in the night- Their arrival at dawn the signal of war- The first shot fired by a workman- Then the Pinkertons fired a volley which was returned and a score fell- For twelve hours the fight was kept up between the men and the barges- Cannon were used by the workman-Finally the Pinkerton surrendered- They were forced to run a Gauntlet and were horribly beaten- Women and boys joined the brutal work- The barges were then burned- Gov. Pattison has refused militia until the sheriff attempts to restore order- The sheriff has taken the prisoners to Pittsburgh- There is talk of lynching them.

Source:  World Newspaper, NY, Thursday July 7,1892.



‘ …Looking at the matter from any point of consideration, no good thing can be seen in it, unless it may be judged a good thing to know that we have among us a pernicious communistic spirit which is demoralizing workingmen, continually creating a deeper and more intense antagonism between labor and capital, and so embittering naturally restless elements against the better elements of society, that it must be crushed out completely, or we shall be compelled to submit to greater excesses and more overwhelming disasters in the near future….’

‘Labor has gradually, but surely, been becoming cheaper, and its demand less. Workingmen have not economized in the proportion that economy became necessary…’

 ‘They have been taught steadily, as their needs increased, that they were being enslaved and robbed, and that all that was necessary for bettering their condition was a general uprising against capital…’

SOURCE: “ From Strikers, Communists, Tramps and Detectives” Allan Pinkerton.



   ‘There is no evidence that I or any of us killed or had anything to do wit the killing of, policemen at the Haymarket.  None at all.  But it was proven clearly that we were, all of us, anarchists, socialists, communists, Knights of Labor, unionists.  It was proven That three of us were editors of labor papers; That five of us were labor organizers and speakers at workingmen’s mss meetings.  They, this class court, jury, law and verdict, have decided that we must be put to death because, as they say, we were ‘leaders’ of men who denounce and battle against the oppression, slaveries, robbery and influences of the monopolists.  Of these crimes against the capitalist class they found us guilty beyond any reasonable doubt.’

SOURCE:  Albert Partsons, (convicted anarchist), 1886.



 To the Governor of Illinois:

      I have differed all my life with the principles and methods of the condemned, but know no reason why I should not ask the Governor to interpose and save condemned men from the gallows.  The execution would not be one of justice; not to the interest of the great state of Illinois; not to the interests of the country; or the workingmen.  I come as a representative of the New York Central Labor Union and as president of the American Federation of Labor, Organizations opposed to anarchy.

     If these men are executed it would simply be an impetus to this so-called revolutionary movement which no other thing on earth can give. These men would, apart from any consideration of mercy or humanity, be looked upon as martyrs.  Thousands and thousands of labor men all the world over would consider that these men had been executed because they were standing up for free speech and free press…

     The working people have long begged for justice and very frequently not in vain.  They arise now and ask in the name of mercy, in the name of humanity, in the name of progress, not to allow this execution to take place, but sir, to stand between these men and death, and as I in a letter and dispatch sent to you have said, you will not only be blessed by the country but the unborn thousands that come after us.

     I want to say to you, sir, I am not desirous of going into details of the question.  I don’t believe I am competent to do so; but I believe that in some measure, however remote, The police of Chicago have been somewhat responsible for this trouble.

SOURCE:  Samuel Gompers Urges Clemency for the Haymarket Anarchists, 1887.



It was early springtime that the strike was on
They moved us miners out of doors
Out from the houses that the company owned
We moved into tents at old Ludlow… 

That very night you soldier waited
Until us miners were asleep
You snuck around our little tent town
Soaked our tents with your kerosene… 

You struck a match and the blaze it started
You pulled the triggers of your gatling guns
I made a run for the children but the fire wall stopped me
Thirteen children died from your guns… 

W took some cement and walled that cave up
Where you killed those thirteen children inside
I said, “God bless the Mine Workers’ Union”
And then I hung my head and cried

SOURCE:  Ludlow Massacre, Woody Guthrie.



SOURCE:  “King Debs,” this cartoon by W.A. Rogers, Harpers Weekly 1894.  This cartoon was printed during the Pullman Strike. The bridge is labeled “Highway of Trade”.  







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DBQ Question created by:
Ms. Sabine Desir
Class of 2001
Maria Regina H. S.
Hartsdale, NY
created in:  April, 2000