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Chronology of the Anthracite Coal Strike of 1902

1890 formation of the United Mine Workers of America
1894 unsuccessful UMW-led strike in the bituminous coal fields
1897 successful UMW-led coal strike in the bituminous coal fields

The 1897 bituminous coal strike had several results:

1 The strike resulted in an "interstate joint conference" in which the bituminous operators and the miners cooperated to stabilize labor costs, and to improve wages and working conditions.
2 The strike greatly enhanced the UMW. It grew from less than 10,000 members before the strike to become the nation's largest trade union, with over 100,000 members.
3 The bituminous coal operators in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois recognized the UMW as the representative of the miners and their bargaining agent.

1898 John Mitchell, a bituminous miner from Illinois, elected president of the UMW
1900 Mitchell tried to bargain with the anthracite coal operators of northeastern Pennsylvania for a similar settlement that would recognize the union and improve wages, hours, and working conditions for the anthracite miners
1900 The anthracite coal operators refused to negotiate, and on September 17 Mitchell called a strike of the anthracite miners. Those miners responded almost to a man. The strike was settled when representatives of Mark Hanna, the Chairman of the Republican Party and a bituminous operator from Ohio, urged representatives of J.P. Morgan, whose bank was reorganizing the railroads that owned most of the anthracite coal mines, to settle; and representatives of President William McKinley urged the anthracite operators themselves to settle. Neither Morgan, the operators, Hanna, nor McKinley wanted the strike to interfere with McKinley's reelection.
  The anthracite operators viewed the events as a defeat, and one that was dictated to them by political motivations.
The result was a settlement that granted the anthracite miners a wage increase of about ten per cent, but which did not recognize the UMW as their representative

Events of 1902

June 2 Anthracite coal strike officially began
July Newspapers began to report incidents of violence in the mining region
July 30 A storeowner was beaten to death by a mob while a deputy sheriff was escorting two miners who refused to join the strike. The Pennsylvania Governor began to call out militia to guarantee order.
August 21-30 Press commentary on letter by George F. Baer
October Growing fear of a "coal famine" as winter approached
October 3 Roosevelt invited UMW leaders and operators to a White House conference
October 6 Entire Pennsylvania militia ordered to duty; eventually 8,750 men served in the anthracite fields
October 8 Miners at mass meetings voted unanimously to continue the strike, belying the operators' assertions that, if given police protection, the majority of miners would go back to work
October 12 J.P. Morgan pressed George Baer to agree to arbitration of the strike
October 13 Roosevelt discussed with General John M. Schofield having he U.S. Army seize the coal mines and operate them until such time as the owners agreed to arbitration
October 14 J.P. Morgan met with Roosevelt regarding arbitration
October 16 Roosevelt announced the appointment of a commission to arbitrate the dispute
October 23 Miners returned to work
October 24 Arbitration commission met with Roosevelt

"The Anthracite Strike of 1902: A Record of Confusion" by Robert H. Wiebe, The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Vol. 48, No. 2(Sep.1961), pp. 229-251. This magazine is available on J-Stor through the University Library home page (do not try to access it with a modem, the graphics are too intensive) and it is available in the History Reading Room on the 2nd floor of the Main Library under the call number F351 M68.

William H. Harbaugh, The Life and Times of Theodore Roosevelt (New York: Oxford University Press, 1975): 165-79 is an account of the 1902 strike. This book and a copy of the chapter are on reserve in the Main Library for the Autumn 1999 quarter.
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