Throughout the Great Railroad Strike of 1877.

Throughout the years from 1875 to 1900, many fought to improve labor conditions. People did this by forming labor unions, such as the Knights of Labor, and taking part in strikes, like the Great Railroad Strike of 1877. During this period, numerous strikes took place where eight hour workdays, higher wages, and better conditions were demanded. However, organized labor was unsuccessful in acquiring those demands, and in the span of 16 years, the average working hours hardly decreased and wages increased scarcely. The year 1877 was both the year Reconstruction came to an end and the year of the first national labor walkout?the Great Railroad Strike. The strike began on July 14 in Martinsburg, West Virginia, after the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad cut wages for the third time in a year. While protesting the pay cut, workers stopped rail traffic throughout the country and caused militia units to report to the scene and force them back to work. Then, when troops fired into the crowd of strikers in Pittsburgh, workers responded by burning the city’s railroad. Newspaper and magazine editors immediately began voicing their opinions. Most times, articles were written against labor unions and strikers. In Document B, the writer for the New York Times report on the Great Railroad Strike called the strike “hopeless” and wrote that it was nothing more than bitterness from men “too ignorant” and “too reckless” to understand their own interests. Another piece from The New York Times stated that, “The days are over in which this country could rejoice in its freedom from the elements of social strife which have long abounded in the old countries.” Both articles made the strikers look bad, exaggerating the headache they caused. In Document C, Thomas Nast’s cartoon in Harper’s Weekly also referred to the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, though published a year later. Like with the other articles and propaganda about the strike, this newspaper was against the labor unions and presented the strikers as ignorant and reckless. In this cartoon, the goose represented the employers and the one who killed the goose portrayed the laborers. The artist showed that laborers were so reckless, it was comparable to the killing of “the goose the lay the golden eggs.”