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1894: Business and industry; science; education; philosophy and religion.

The Gilded Age might well have been called the Age of the Railroad. Railroad building and operation was the single largest economic enterprise by far. On the New York Stock Exchange in 1898, 60% of the stocks listed were those of railroads. The pace of track-laying was never surpassed: in 1880 the mileage was 93,261; in 1890, 167,191; in 1900, 198,964. By 1900 the railroads employed 1,018,000 persons and were valued at a little more than $10,000,000,000. One reason for the affluence of the lines was the generous way in which states and the federal government gave them public land as subsidies for building: nearly 50,000,000 acres from the states and about 130,000,000 acres from federal grants, most of it west of the Mississippi R.

Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau, with the financial support of philanthropist George C. Cooper, opened his enlarged Adirondack Cottage Sanatorium for the treatment of tuberculosis; it was later renamed Trudeau Sanatorium. Himself a sufferer from tuberculosis, Dr. Trudeau founded the sanatorium a decade earlier, financing it from his own practice and solicitations. In his new laboratory Dr. Trudeau conducted the first large-scale experiments on the disease in the U.S.

The American Federation of Labor (AFL), under the leadership of Samuel Gompers, voted against adopting socialist reform programs. Gompers believed that U.S. labor should work with capitalism, not against it, and that the AFL's proper concerns were shorter hours, higher wages, and better working conditions. Gompers' victory set U.S. labor on a nonideological course quite different from that of labor in European countries.

The Southern Railroad Company was organized by J. P. Morgan. The first well-run railroad in the South, it connected major southern cities with the industrial Northeast, and the Gulf of Mexico with Ohio R. traffic. Morgan had earlier reorganized the Philadelphia & Ohio railroads. His businesslike approach to running railroads brought an end to the swashbuckling, manipulative methods used by Jay Gould, Jay Cooke, and other early railroad barons.

Apr. 20

A strike by 136,000 coal miners for higher wages began at Columbus, Ohio. This year, like the previous one, would be marked by widespread labor unrest.

May 11

The bitter Pullman strike began at the Pullman railroad car plant in south Chicago. The depression had induced the company to cut wages sharply without reducing the rents of the workers in company-owned housing. Considerable violence, pillaging, and burning of railroad cars ensued; mobs of nonworkers joined in.

June 26

A general railway strike followed the boycotting of the servicing of Pullman cars by the American Railway Union (ARU), an industrial union headed by Eugene V. Debs. Earlier this year Debs had led a successful strike against the Great Northern Railway. The ARU boycott tied up railroads across the nation.

July 2

An injunction was granted to the U.S. government in a federal court in Illinois forbidding the officers of the American Railway Union from interfering with interstate commerce and obstructing the mails. This marked the introduction of court injunctions as a counterblow to labor's chief weapons, the strike and the boycott.

July 3

Federal troops were ordered to Chicago by Pres. Grover Cleveland to enforce the injunction against the American Railway Union. Gov. John P. Altgeld of Illinois protested on constitutional grounds. He contended that the disorders were local and did not call for massive federal military intervention.

July 6

Violence in the railway strike continued. Two men were killed and several injured when U.S. deputy marshals fired on strikers at Kensington, near Chicago.

July 10

Eugene V. Debs, head of the American Railway Union, was cited for contempt when he failed to obey the court injunction handed down on July 2.

July 20

Federal troops were withdrawn from Chicago.

Aug. 3

The Pullman strike was declared over by the American Railway Union. Labor had been dealt a blow by being brought under the Sherman Antitrust Act and by the introduction of the court injunction as a weapon against it. The ARU specifically had been crushed. No further attempt to create an industrial union was made until the Depression of the 1930s. Only the AFL and the railroad brotherhoods survived. The AFL had 1,675,000 members by 1904.

Sept. 4

A garment workers' strike was launched by some 12,000 tailors in New York City. They were protesting sweatshop conditions and the piecework system of payment.

Dec. 14

Eugene V. Debs was found guilty of criminal contempt for violating the injunction issued on July 2. He was sentenced to six months in jail. Clarence Darrow came into national prominence as legal counsel for Debs. The entire proceedings, beginning with the use of a blanket injunction, caused concern among many Americans.
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Author:Carruth, Gorton
Publication:Encyclopedia of American Facts & Dates, 9th ed.
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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