Coal Strike Of 1902 Essay

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The period in American history between 1900 and 1920 was a very turbulent one. Civil unrest was brewing as a result of many pressures placed upon the working class. Although wealth was accumulating at an astonishing rate in America, most people at the lower economic levels were not benefiting from any of it. Worst of all for them, the federal government seemed to be on the side of the corporations. Their helpless situation and limited options is why the coal strike of 1902 is so important. The Coal Strike of 1902 occurred as a result of many problems that were faced by miners. At the time of the coal strike there were 150,000 miners working in the mines (Grossman) Due to the depression of 1893, miners had their wages cut and were living in poverty (Grossman). Many miners were dissatisfied and looked to the United Mine Workers for support in raising their standard of living. This proved difficult since employers refused to recognize labor unions for fear of giving them significant control over the industry. In most instances of employee demands before 1902, employers would use government troops or hire immigrants to take the jobs of the strikers (David Kennedy). The important prelude to the Coal Strike of 1902 was the strike of 1990. This strike occurred just as the 1900 presidential elections were happening (Grossman). John Mitchell, president of the United Mine Workers called this strike into effect on September 17, 1900 (Grossman). It proved effective because he had the support of most miners. The election also helped the miners cause as it brought the strike to national attention. Political bosses took note and convinced mine owners that a strike was bad news for their party (Grossman). This allowed the strikers to get the 1... ... middle of paper ... would include 3 representatives from the workers and the mine owners (Grossman). The mine operators agreed to the deal due to increasing public and political pressure (Grossman). The deal worked because both sides could save face and the committee could resolve issues when an impasse was reached. In the end Theodore Roosevelt handled the Coal Strike of 1902 in a very intelligent manner. For the first time in American history, a president didn’t side with the business owners (David Kennedy). He also set a precedent for handling future strikes. Negotiation was now the preferred way to handle a strike (Grossman). Roosevelt said in a speech during the strike, “I speak for neither the operators nor the miners but for the general public (Grossman).” The federal government was now tasked with the responsibility of protecting the interests of the public during a strike.

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