Today in History
16 July 2011
July 16, 1877 - The "Great Upheaval" of 1877 began in the little railroad town of Martinsburg, West Virginia. Most of the citizens worked for the Baltimore and Ohio, and they refused to take another paycut. Their strike spread, first to Baltimore, then Pittsburgh, Chicago and St. Louis, where workers actually took over control of city government for several days. The conflict was fueled by the difficult conditions workers had experienced since the terrible depression of 1873 and by management attitudes. One Massachusetts businessman exemplified the attitude of many when he said, "I regard my employees the same as I would an old machine, which, when it becomes rusty, I thrust into the street." On July 16, 1934, San Francisco was at a virtual standstill, as 130,000 workers -- including trolley drivers, construction workers, teamsters, bartenders, even entertainers -- participated in a general strike.