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The first Lowell “turn-out”, or strike, took place in 1834, when owners announced a 15% wage cut. Lowell women were angered not only by the loss of income, but also by the threat to their vision of increased independence. Eight hundred women walked out in protest and held a march through the center of Lowell. When Lowell women "turned out" in…

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Item Type: Pamphlet/Petition
Date: 1834

This 1873 promotional poster for the Grangers features an idealized portrait of the yeoman farmer, with accompanying scenes of social, civic, and domestic life. The Grange (also known as the Patrons of Husbandry) was a coalition of independent farmers that spread through the midwest in the decades after the Civil War. Grange members fought for…

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Item Type: Poster/Print
Date: 1873

A nationwide rebellion brought the United States to a standstill in the summer of 1877. Eighty thousand railroad workers walked off the job, joined by hundreds of thousands of Americans outraged by the excesses of the railroad companies and the misery of a four-year economic depression. Peter H. Clark, an African-American school principal and…

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Item Type: Speech
Date: 1877

After the Panic of 1873 plunged the U.S. economy into a severe and lasting depression, corporations such as the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company found themselves cutting costs, usually by reducing employees' wages, as this letter from the company's president dictates. In an era when most workers had yet to be organized into trade unions, they…

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Item Type: Diary/Letter
Date: 1877

A massive labor strike in 1877 shook the very foundations of American politics and society. Starting with a spontaneous railroad strike in West Virginia, the “Great Uprising” spread rapidly across the country. In many cities, entire working populations went out on strike. When state and federal troops fired on workers in several cities,…
In this "Workingmen's Address," published in 1878, Dennis Kearney of the Workingman's Party of California appeals to racist arguments against Chinese immigrants. After excoriating the fraud, corruption, and monopolization of land by the "moneyed men" of the Gilded Age, Kearney claims that the Chinese are being "imported" as a source cheap labor,…
In July 1881, African-American laundry women in Atlanta formed the Washing Society and organized a strike to gain higher wages and respect for their labor. Utilizing door-to-door canvassing and with the support of black churches, the Society quickly increased its membership from twenty to three thousand. Aside from the "Letter to Mr. James…

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Item Type: Newspaper/Magazine
Date: 1881

This 1883 cartoon from the satirical magazine Puck imagines a medieval-style joust between working people and the industrialists and railroad owners who largely controlled the U.S. economy in the late nineteenth century. The spectators in the section of the audience marked "Reserved for Capitalists" include railroad company owners Jay Gould and…

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Item Type: Cartoon
Date: 1883

This New York Times article from September 1885 makes reference to the tensions that existed between organized labor and Chinese immigrant workers on the Union Pacific and other railroad lines. According to the article, the Knights of Labor, the foremost labor organization of the time, were threatening to strike if Chinese laborers, whom white…

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Item Type: Newspaper/Magazine
Date: 1885

Even in the late nineteenth-century American West, a notably violent region, the violence directed against Chinese immigrants was shocking. The Union Pacific Railroad employed 331 Chinese and 150 whites in their coal mine in Rock Springs, Wyoming. On September 2, 1885, Chinese and white miners, who were paid by the ton, had a dispute over who had…

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Item Type: Government Document
Date: 1885