Students have read about the early unions and how they faced opposition in industry
and government. In this activity students will research the events of the violent
1892 Homestead Mill strikeóa strike that arose from a wage disagreement
between the nationís largest craft union and the nationís largest steelmaker.
Students will use information from The Richest Man In the World: Andrew Carnegie
Web site to learn about the violent 1892 Homestead Mill strike. Students will
read about the reasons that the union went on strike, the events that led to
violence, and the bloody battle that ensued. Students will also read about the
results of the strike and how Andrew Carnegie gained control over his workers.
Students will then answer four questions and apply this information by writing
an editorial that analyzes the causes and outcomes of the Homestead Mills strike.
- Students will describe the violent events that erupted during a union strike
in 1892 and summarize the results of the strike.
- Students will be able to use this knowledge to write an editorial that analyzes
the causes and outcomes of the Homestead Mills strike.
Student Web Activity Answers
- While union workers were willing to negotiate in an ongoing disagreement
over wages, Henry Clay Frick, a partner in Carnegie Steel, locked out 3,800
workers. The workers seized the mill and sealed off the town to prevent non-union
workers from entering the mill.
- The Pinkertons were workers for a private police force named the Pinkerton
Detective Agency. The Pinkertons served the needs of industrialists who wanted
to put down labor strikes. While their tactics were usually within the law,
they sometimes used violent means in order to restore order.
- As workers dug in at the mill, the Pinkertons tried to approach the mill
from the river. Workers fired guns, cannons, flaming oil sticks, and dynamite.
While the Pinkertons tried to fire back from rifle ports in their boats, they
did not deter the workersí efforts. Three workers and seven Pinkertons
died in the battle. Terrified and overwhelmed, the Pinkertons surrendered
to the workers. Citizens brutally clubbed the surrendering Pinkertons. The
Pennsylvania governor sent the National Guard to restore order and enable
the Carnegie Company to employ non-union workers.
- After months of deadlock, the union agreed to give up the strike. Three
hundred union workers were rehired, and many more were blacklisted. After
the workers returned to the mill, Carnegie cut wages, imposed twelve-hour
workdays, and eliminated 500 jobs. The Homestead Mill strike turned the public
against the Pinkertons, and in the years following the strike, 26 states passed
laws against the hiring of outside guards in labor disputes.
- Students' editorials will vary.
Go To Student Web Activity