by Earl W. Mayo
This article was scanned from Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly, November, 1900.
To the thoughtful observer the armies of peaceful toil are
more impressive than the panoplied hosts of war. Such an army,
a hundred and fifty thousand strong and mighty in deeds of
labor, springs into view every afternoon when the sun is slanting
across the rugged Pennsylvania hills. Black with the soil
of a hundred cycles past, they emerge from the thousand yawning
pit-mouths that scar a thousand mountain sides, rising out
of the very earth like the growth of the dragon's teeth that
Jason sowed. With soot-grimed hands and faces they seem part
and parcel of the soot-grimed landscape. Broad-backed Slavs
and Lithuanians are there; burly Welsh and Cornishmen, nimble
Irish, sturdy Poles, lithe Italians and stolid Huns: strangers
in tongue and manners, but bowed with the same weight of heavy
toil, blackened by the sooty touch of a common occupation,
united in the performance of the same body-crushing labor.
These are the fuel-finders of the world, the motive power
behind the dashing express locomotive, the warming power in
our cosy winter hearths, the driving power of the whirring
mills that turn out the silken fabric of my lady's gown and
the coarse weave of the workman's blouse.
It is an instructive lesson to stand upon some vantage point
of the carbon hills of an afternoon and watch this army moving
homeward with heavy-footed tread from its daily battle for
the reluctant treasure of old Mother Earth. At four o'clock
the scene is deserted and desolate, save for the spurts of
steam that rise from the gaunt, spectre-like breakers scattered
here and there about the hills, or the friendly smoke of the
little houses clustering under their black shadows. At five
o'clock the scene is alive with men moving silently in little
groups of two or three toward these same houses. It gives
one a better understanding of what each blazing fuel lump
means in the muscle and sweat of human toilers to watch the
progress of a single regiment in this vast army of mine workers—the
army that laid down its weapons of attack on the seventeenth
of September last and instituted the greatest strike, in point
of numbers at least, that the country has ever seen. It gives
one a better understanding of the extent of the anthracite
coal industry in the Pennsylvania fields—the most extensive
deposits of their kind that are being worked anywhere in the
world—and it enables one to judge more clearly of the great
difference in the daily sum total of the world's work that
has been caused by the action of these miners.
Comprehension of the subject is scarcely helped by the statement
that the amount of coal taken out of these hills during the
year 1899 was more than 54,000,000 tons. A better grasp of
the immensity of the industry may be gained perhaps by computing
that the 4,500 fifty-ton cars of coal mined during each working
day would form a solid train more than thirty miles in length.
A million dollars for every five days of idleness is the price
paid by the miners in wages for laying down their tools. What
the industrial loss has amounted to in other ways has been
told with graphic effect in the newspapers from day to day.
It has been written in inexorable form on the careworn brows
of anxious wives, on the pinched faces of hungry children,
in shops deserted of customers, in the records of crime and
pauperism in a dozen counties, in all the score or more of
ways in which an industrial war —the most costly of all kinds
of organized conflicts—makes itself felt.
The causes. real and alleged which brought about the conflict
at this time have been explained in the daily prints until
they are thoroughly familiar. In a general way it may be said
that the strike was precipitated by the leaders of the mine
workers' union because they saw a chance in the face of a
rising market and an enormous demand for coal to win the battle,
and, if successful, greatly to strengthen their union. This
is the explanation advanced by the operators of the mines,
and it is undoubtedly true. But granting its truth, it shows
that the strike leaders did no more than to take a fair business
advantage as the laws of business are generally interpreted.
It merely goes to prove their tactical shrewdness.
The assertion that the miners or the families of miners were
starving upon the wages that they received is not true. In
the face of multiplied misstatements, personal observation
compels this admission. That they were paid enough nobody
who knows the work they do will be prepared to say. Their
toil is the most severe that the hands of man perform anywhere
in the earth. Two-thirds of their waking life is spent down
in the dungeons of the soil, where the air is always vitiated
and where the danger of sudden death, from which the devout
pray to be delivered, is always present. It kills ambition
early, and bows the frame beyond the power of muscles to straighten
Almost every third man one meets in the mines bears on his
arms or face the peculiar blue marks which are the imprint
of falling coal. Nearly all the older men have experienced
the horrors of mine imprisonment at one time or another, and
there is seldom a day in the coal fields that some woman is
not widowed by the mines.
Down in the depths of the Coleraine shaft a miner told me
of the Hazleton horror of half a dozen years ago, when the
water came into the mine and shut him off along with sixteen
of his comrades; of how they crept up on the "pigeon
breast" for safety and lay there gasping for breath,
killing mine rats for food, and dying, one by one through
nineteen long days, until at length four unconscious survivors
were drawn out by the rescuers. He told it simply and without
emotion; for it was only an incident of mine work, an accident
the like of which any old miner can recall from his own remembrance,
but it afforded a vivid picture of the burden and horror of
mine work, the daily playing with death which makes up the
The old men know it and bend every energy to keep their sons
from being condemned to the life in the mines. The young men
know it but are drawn into it by stern necessity. A brawny
young miner at Milnesville voiced the penalties of his occupation
with truth that was pathetic when one viewed his physical
"It's killing work,'' he said, "and I know the
end of it as well as you or anybody. I'll die from the gas
or get caught in a fall some day when there is an accident.
If I don't I'll be a broken man at thirty-five. The mine dust
and the damp get into a man's blood and bones in time. It's
killing work but it's the only work we know."
Unfortunately these are not the considerations that regulate
the rate of wages. The unchangeable law of demand and supply
decides that, and has settled it on a basis which the miners
may improve someway, but which they cannot greatly alter.
Judged by a standard of comparison with other classes of
labor, the coal workers are not poorly paid. Their earnings
vary from $1.15 to $4 per day. according to the kind of work
performed. An examination of scores of pay checks before the
beginning of the strike showed that the men holding them had
received from thirty to one hundred dollars for their month
of work. The average rate for all classes of mine workmen
probably is not far from two dollars per clay. The apprentice
millers, during the first six months of their employment while
they are learning the occupation, are paid from $1.15 to $1.38.
Some of the boys employed by the mines receive as little as
fifty cents a day, but this is for very light work and the
average wage of the "breaker" boys is from $1 to
$1.25 per day. The clerks in the big city shops and the mill
operatives in the manufacturing towns of New England and the
South earn very much less than do the men who work in the
mines. Were the rate of wages the only question involved it
is not likely that the strike of the coal workers would have
The question of monthly or bi-weekly payments resolves itself
into a question of convenience in book-keeping and making
up accounts on the part doctor and for some other items which
figure frequently in their bills. They demanded payment at
the end of every fortnight instead of at the end of the month,
a change that would go far toward relieving them of their
dependence upon the company store. They urged the appointment
of inspectors from their own number to pass upon the coal
that they mined and to fix the deductions for impurities in
it. On general principles, they demanded an advance in wages,
but these were their chief grievances.
In regard to the question of powder, many of the mine operators
acknowledged that they charged the men $2.75 for powder which
costs at wholesale from ninety cents to $1. Their defence
was that the price was agreed upon to offset a previous advance
in wages granted to the men. This, if true, was a subterfuge
on the part of the operators, a subterfuge not likely to be
understood by the men who compose the major class of miners.
Wages are certain sooner or later to seek their proper economic
level without regard to such charges, and there seems to be
no reason why the miners should not receive their powder at
cost from the company or else be permitted to purchase it
in the open market.
The question of monthly or bi-weekly payments resolves itself
into a question of convenience in bookkeeping and making up
accounts on the part of the mining companies. There is no
good reason why the request of the men should not be granted,
and it would have the good effect of freeing them from their
dependence upon the credit system and the company store.
In the question of "docking" and inspecting a more
important point is involved. It is not likely that the mine
owners desire to be unfair to their men, but it is equally
certain that there are frequent abuses on the part of these
officials. It was proposed by the striking miners that the
"docker," the official who passes upon the amount
of slate and rock in each car of coal and who fixes the fines
therefor, should be selected by them from their own ranks,
and that the fines imposed should go to the treasury of the
labor union, instead of passing into that of the company.
To grant this contention would be no great hardship upon the
companies, but it would involve a recognition of the labor
unions. That was one of the vital points of the strike, and
one upon which the companies never have been disposed to yield.
The attitude of the mining companies toward the miners throughout
the larger portion of the coal region is one of complete paternalism.
The mine worker ordinarily lives in a house belonging to the
company. He buys his goods at a company store. His family's
ills are treated by the company doctor. This result is brought
about, not by a policy of coercion, but by the far more dangerous
one of convenience. The miner rents a house from the company
because he can rent it cheaply and because it is conveniently
located. He buys his supplies at a company store because it
is convenienent to buy there, not because he is compelled
to do so.
The company store, against which so much that is iniquitous
has been charged, is simply a general store, situated, usually,
near the group of houses which surrounds each colliery and
owned and operated by the company vhich owns the houses and
operates the mine. Any miner employed by the company is permitted
to buy goods on credit from the store. The amount of his purchases
is figured up at the end of each month and deducted from the
month's earnings. In this way the company runs no risk and
a miner's family need not go hungry so long as he is employed.
Moreover, the company gets back, in profit on the goods sold
to its employees, a large part of the money paid to them in
wages. Superficially viewed, this is a convenient arrangement
for both parties concerned.
It is an easy thing to say, and it has been glibly asserted,
that these company stores charge exorbinant prices for everything
that passes over their counters, and that the miners are compelled
to deal with them by fear of dismissal from the company's
employ if they do not. Careful investigation fails to support
this charge. Apparently none of the mining companies pay any
attention to the question whether its employees patronize
the company or not. A comparison of the prices charged in
these establishments with those demanded in other stores similarly
located shows that they do not overcharge their customers.
The ill effect of the company store comes from quite another
cause—its intimate relation to the company and the fact that
it can take money from the workman without directly touching
his pocketbook. The testimony of universal experience is that
when men buy on credit they are not so careful in their purchases
as when they must go into their pockets and produce spot cash
for every article obtained. Miners are not usually of that
frugal class which practices thoughtful foresight. When once
immersed in the credit system they rarely get far enough ahead
to have a month's leeway between their cupboards and the storekeeper.
Here is the real iniquity of the company store system, and
it is inherent in the system, not in the store.
Medical care is provided for the miner on a somewhat different
plan but one that is open to the same objection- it takes
away from the miner the necessity for fore-thought. From the
monthly pay of each unmarried miner fifty cents is deducted
for the doctor, and from the pay of the married man seventy-five
cents is taken. The men and their families may then command
the services of the physician whenever they are required.
It is cheap medical insurance but its advantage in this respect
is not appreciated by those for whom it is intended. The single
men complain that they have no occasion to employ a doctor
even once a year on the average while the married men aver
that they wish to exercise the privilege of choice in the
selection of a physician. In some cases an amount similar
to that taken out for the doctor is charged for the priest,
and the material side of the miner's spiritual welfare is
looked after by the paternal company.
The demand for a uniform rate of payment for mining work
has been a specious argument in inducing the men to strike.
It was used with telling effect by the labor agitators, but
it is not likely ever to be granted, for the reason that it
is impossible and would be unfair in effect.
To understand this fact it is necessary to understand the
peculiar features of coal mining as an industry. It differs
from most other occupations in the fact that there is no uniformity
in the work. Two shafts which are located close together may
vary greatly in the amount of labor involved in getting out
the coal. It may be that in one the coal is mixed with a much
larger amount of slate or other refuse, or that the work of
mining in one is much harder than in the other. Thus, of two
miners working only a few yards apart, it is quite possible
that one may easily get out four cars of coal each day while
the other, working as hard and as skilfully is scarcely able
to get out two.
These differences have resulted in many different modes of
payment for mining work. Some miners are paid by the car,
and the rate in different mines varies from ninety-five cents
to $1.15, according to conditions. Each car holds presumably
two and a half tons, although the miners claim that in order
to pass the inspector the cars must be heaped so high that
the weight in reality is between three and four tons. Some
miners are paid by the day and others still by the yard—so
much for each square yard taken from the face of the "breast,''
as the cross passage in which each individual miner works
Most of the miners—those whose earnings are based on piece-work—employ
assistants, whom they pay out of their own receipts. In many
cases these "buddies"—in the lingo of the mines
a miner's assistant is known as his "buddy" —are
raw immigrants who are learning the work, and are paid very
little during the period of their apprenticeship.
To each miner is assigned a certain "breast" leading
off from one of the gangways and marked off for him by the
mine surveyor. Ordinarily the breast is ten yards wide, but
frequently it is narrower, depending upon the nature and slant
of the vein. Into the vein the miner works his way, drilling
holes into the face of the coal, blasting it down with charges
of powder, breaking it up with his pick and shoveling it into
a car. The particular breast in which he works is his domain,
and no other miner is permitted to work it without his consent
until he leaves the employment of the mine.
Behind the miner, as he works his way into the wall of coal,
comes the "timber gang," putting up props to keep
the roof of the passageways from caving in, building doors
and ventilating shafts to conduct fresh air into the portions
of the mine where the men are at work. It is not always necessary
to timber a mine, but in most cases it is the part of safety
to do so and in most of the mines that have been worked for
a long time from twenty to thirty men are constantly employed
in this work.
If the vein of coal is a deep one the breast is taken away
to a height of about six feet, so that the miner is able to
stand erect at his work. But if it is narrow or slants away
at an abrupt angle, he may find it necessary to work in extremely
narrow quarters, perhaps upon his knees, which of course adds
greatly both to his labor and discomfort. Whatever the course
of the vein, it is followed until it gives out or until the
distance or the amount of slate makes it unprofitable. Then
it is cleaned up—a process known as "robbing the breast"—and
the miner betakes himself to a new section.
From the foot of the shaft or slope the cars of rough coal
are hoisted to the surface by means of cables operated by
engines on the surface. From the mouth of the mine they pass
up the long incline to the breaker, where they are dumped.
It is at this point that the "docker" stands beside
a blackboard bearing the number of each miner, and as the
coal is passed from the car upon the big slides the "docker"
watches it closely and charges against each man the amount
he considers fair in accordance with the impurities in the
coal. This must be in large measure, of course, the result
of pure guesswork.
From the slide at the top of the breaker the coal slips down
upon a big sieve-like "shaker," which sifts out
the coarse impurities. Thence it falls upon revolving cylinders
with apertures of different sizes. These "sorters"
separate the coal according to size, and drop it into smaller
chutes, down which it passes to fall into the grinders, which
crush it to uniform sizes, from "star lump" to "chestnut"
or "pea." From the grinders the coal slips down
smaller chutes along which water is running to carry off the
lighter impurities and passes between the lines of "breaker
boys " who pick out the slate, sticks or stones that
may have escaped the sorter, and throw them aside.
The boys sit in rows in narrow boxlike compartments and pick
out the slate with their fingers from the black stream that
is continually rolling past them. It is rough work, this apprenticeship
to King Coal. The air is full of flying dust, the sharp edges
of the coal lumps callous and cut the fingers, and the crash
of the breaker machinery makes it almost impossible for one
to hear himself shout. When the boys leave the breaker after
a day's work they look like sooty little imps; but dirt has
no power to dampen their spirits, and they are quite as jolly
and full of mischief as any other class of working boys.
The contrast between these boys and their foreign-bred fathers
is remarkable The stolid look of the elder generation is replaced
by a bright, shrewd expression that is characteristically
American. Half a dozen nationalities may be represented side
by side on the benches in the breaker, but they all are approximating
to one type, and that type is the American.
When the coal has passed the slate pickers it has been assorted
into market sizes, and has been washed clean. It is then ready
for market, and all that remains to be done is to load it
into the railway cars that are run up to the different breakers
over the many little branch lines of track that grid-iron
the coal country. The loading ordinarily is an easy process,
and is accomplished simply by lowering a chute above the ear
and letting the coal run down.
From the depths of the mine to the railway car the coal has
passed through a dozen different pairs of hands representing
as many classes of workmen. The miners proper do not comprise
more than one-quarter of the employees of a colliery. Although
much handling is required to prepare coal for market, it is
done on so great a scale and so largely by the aid of machinery
that beyond the initial expense of mining the process is not
Taking the mine of average productivity, it is a fair estimate
that each ton of coal prepared for the market costs the mine
operator $2. This includes the wages of miners, timber-men,
engineers inspectors and slate-pickers. To it must be added
the cost of transportation in estimating the operator's final
return. This item of transportation is one of considerable
importance because of the great bulk of coal in proportion
to its cost: but even allowing all advance of twenty per cent
for this expense, it will be seen that with coal selling for
$4.20 per ton at tidewater, there is money in the business.
As a matter of fact the coal trade has been very prosperous
for several months past. The vast requirements of thriving
domestic manufacture have been supplemented by a newly-arisen
European demand for American coal. It is fair to say, however,
that this prosperity was as preceded by a long period of depression,
low prices and frequent enforced periods of idleness.
It must be acknowledged by any careful observer that conditions
among the mine workers as a class are far from being satisfactory
or encouraging to their development as American citizens.
It is not so much a matter of wages as of the social and economic
conditions by which their lives are ordered. These are not
calculated to encourage independence, ambition or thrift—the
very qualities which form the basis of intelligent citizenship.
It should be borne in mind that the anthracite coal region
contains the most mixed population to be found anywhere in
the world. Twenty-seven separate dialects and tongues are
spoken in and about Hazleton. There are half a dozen Hungarian
dialects, Magyar, Bohemian and the like, Polish, Lithuanian,
Russian, Arabic and German, Welsh, Italian, Greek and Syrian
and others that only the philologist can name. These peoples
have been clumped upon our shores by the shipload. Inevitably
they have clung to their own customs and modes of life. By
driving through the little clusters of houses that lie within
a radius of three or four miles of any one of the big mining
towns one may visit half a dozen European countries. As Father
Phillips, the good Catholic priest who lives and works among
these people, pointed out to me, they are in a transition
state. They have not yet cast off the garments and habits
of their old life nor taken on those of the new. They have
entered upon a process which will require at least a generation
for its completion. By the end of that time the children of
these close-herded foreigners may be living in comfortable
houses, decently kept, as are the descendants of the Welsh
and German miners who came to this same district a generation
or more ago.
It would be a mistake to assume that even the most dilapidated
homes are always the abodes of misery. One may see happy faces
there as often as not, and of a Sunday one may watch crowds
of well-dressed men and women going from these same houses
to the church. They have their own pleasures which they enjoy
in their own way: the daily gossip of the women round the
butcher's cart or at the iron pipe which does duty as a town
pump; the music of concertina or flute or violin, some one
of which is to be found in almost every house; an occasional
dance, and the great events such as weddings and christenings,
which are celebrated with much elaboration.
There is much of the picturesque in the lives of these European-Americans—the
brick ovens in which all the housewives of a street bake their
loaves, the brilliant colors of the women's gowns and headgear,
the chatter and music that fill the air at evening time. There
is much, too, that is sordid and appaling. But the conditions
as they exist are not to be changed in a day or by an increase
of wages. They can be altered only by the slow processes of
time. Meanwhile it is a fact that some of the very Huns and
Italians who have figured as starving miners have snug bank
accounts accumulating to take them back to their European
homes, and the postmaster at Hazleton says that from $30,000
to $75,000 is sent abroad every month through his office by
these same men.
There are two great evils to be dreaded by the miner's family:
one is lack of work, the other is drink. For several years
past the production of coal has had a tendency continually
to overrun the demand. This has meant the frequent closing
down of collieries and enforced idleness on the part of hundreds
of men. There have been seasons in which the miners who earn
good wages have been hard put to it to live, because of the
lack of employment. Lack of employment means scant paychecks
at the end of the month, and it means also the quick disappearance
of credit at the company store.
The second evil is by no means confined to the mines, but
it is one that is particularly in evidence there whenever
a strike or shutdown occurs. It would be unfair to accuse
miners as a class of being addicted to drink. Many of the
men, particularly the English-speaking ones and those who
have been long at the work, are exceptionally temperate. Most
of the heavy drinking is among the recruits, the foreign-speaking
workmen and those who have not been long at the occupation.
For this it is easy to find a psychological explanation in
the reaction which follows work that endangers life and limb.
The same tendency is found in men employed in other dangerous
As may readily be imagined, it is no easy task to organize
the discordant elements representing a dozen different nationalities
into a labor union. In practice it has been found necessary
to form the unions on the lines of language. Among the employees
of a single company there will be found an English-speaking
union, an Italian union, a Magyar union, and perhaps half
a dozen others. Their meetings are separate, unless the proposal
for a strike calls for united action and obliges them to meet
It is difficult to imagine any scene more picturesque and
dramatic than one of these union meetings, where different
and ordinarily discordant races are gathered under a single
roof and for a single purpose. The day before the big strike
was ordered I attended such a meeting a few miles outside
of Hazleton. Six different organizations were represented
and all the proceedings were carried on in six different tongues—English,
Magyar, Bohemian, Polish, Lithuanian and Italian. The district
president of the United Mine Workers—an Irishman, by the way—was
present, and was the controlling spirit of the assembly. His
active part in the proceedings, however, was confined to giving
his instructions to the heads of the different unions, all
of whom spoke English.
When the meeting had been called to order, the proposal to
join the strike came up for discussion. First of all a few
of the English-speaking men gave their opinions pro and con
in awkward and ungrammatical, but terse and common-sense speeches.
When they had finished, and before the question was put to
vote, the Magyar and Bohemian leaders rose and explained,
each in his own tongue, the object of the meeting. Workmen
from the nationalities which they represented then addressed
the meeting, some advocating and some opposing the strike.
They were in strong contrast to the previous speakers. Heavily
built and slow of utterance, they spoke deliberately, in the
harsh, consonant accents of their native tongue, punctuating
their remarks with heavy-handed gestures, while their compatriots
leaned forward listening intently, but with unmoved expressions.
The same process was followed with the Poles and Lithuanians,
stalwart, coarse-haired men, who spoke rapidly with a jangle
of accents that sounded unintelligible to the spectator, but
which had the effect of causing an eager, though subdued,
buzz of comment among their fellow-countrymen.
Then came the turn of the Italians, and before their chairman
had finished his explanatory remarks a dozen ardent and gesticulating
men were on their feet all talking at once in the swift-flowing
speech of the sunny fatherland, pouring out a torrent of words
which the chairman was utterly unable to stem.
Into the circle of space left in the center of the room suddenly
bounded a man who quickly silenced the others and claimed
the attention of the whole assemblage by his impassioned harangue.
He was a man of thirty, dressed in the rough jeans of the
miner and wearing a pair of dark-colored glasses over his
eyes, but with a face that showed intelligence and education.
It was impossible even for those of us who could not understand
his words not to feel the force of the fiery stream of invective
and appeal which poured faster and ever faster from his lips.
Whatever one might think of his sentiments, it could not be
denied that he was an orator of no mean ability. I learned
afterward that he was a man of university education, and that
he was telling his fellows of the glorious days when their
forefathers were the strongest nation in the world, urging
them to be worthy of the grand traditions of their race. As
he wells on he threw his hat upon the floor and unconsciously
reached toward his boot, where the Italian carries his ever-ready
weapon. Not for an instant did he falter in his speech, which
flowed like the rushing of a mountain torrent, and I have
never seen a finer example of frenzied eloquence.
The effect of his oration was remarkable. Not only did it
bring the audience to their feet with cries of approval and
excited gestures, but it held every man in the room spellbound,
so evident was the tenor, if not the exact wording of his
At the conclusion of the discussion the motion was put, each
of the chairmen rising and voicing it in his own language.
The men all voted together, and when hands were raised four-fifths
of all in the meeting were shown to be in favor of the strike.
It was an impressive exhibition and an interesting study in
national traits and characteristics.
It is one thing to vote for a strike when the exciting words
of a labor leader arc being poured into one's ears, and it
is frequently a very difterent thing to stick to the resolution
such action means that the family larder must go unfilled.
It has been said, and is undoubtedly true, that at least a
very large minority of the men involved in the coal strike
was against such action. To persons not on the spot and not
familiar with the conditions prevailing there it seems strange
that men outside the union, and therefore not bound by its
action, should refrain from work if they desire to work. The
explanation is simple. It is due to the force of public opinion.
Let each man apply the test to himself. Where is there one
who would have the courage deliberately to go against the
conventional opinion of his class? So it is with these men.
The only public opinion that they know is the opinion of their
neighbors and their fellow-workmen. This opinion may be expressed
in sullen silence, in shouts of "scab" and "blackleg"
or in actual personal violence. However it is expressed, few
dare to disregard it.
Even the women, who are always the heaviest sufferers from
the privations that attend a strike, will encourage the men
to persevere, though they may fear the result, and though
their faces wear a strained look—the look that is caused by
foreboding as to how their children shall be fed, a look that
soon becomes familiar to the observer in the coal region when
a strike is on.
To bring about the strike is less than half the battle for
the labor leaders. To make it successful it becomes necessary
to keep up the spirits of the men, and this is no light task.
Frequent meetings must be held: those who persist in remaining
at work must be induced by some means, peaceful or violent,
to join the movement. No man works harder than a labor leader
while a strike is on. He is up for eighteen or twenty hours
out of the twenty-four. He is compelled to travel continually
making speeches, learning the sentiment of the men, encouraging
them by brass hands and processions, if necessary, or perhaps
restraining the hot-headed from the violence which is fatal
to his cause. The leader of a strike is like the leader of
an army. He must have the whole situation constantly in hand,
and must be ready to meet every attack with a suitable defence.
In the case of the coal miner, the greatest grievance is
the one that has received least attention. This is the system
of paternalism which keeps him dependent upon his employer
and hinders his development as a man and a citizen—the company
store, the company doctor, the company house and the company
It is easy to see the tendency of this arrangement. Relieved
of all necessity for taking the measure of each day's needs,
the miner need only ply his drill and swing his pick to make
certain that he will not go hungry. At the same time he is
in perpetual serfdom to his employers, who are his heaviest
creditors as well as his only debtor. He becomes a mere working
automaton. Such a system can never develop good citizens.