The Nation's First National Labor Strike Has Roots In Baltimore

Jul 16, 2014

"Sixth Regiment Fighting its way through Baltimore", an engraving done for "Harper's Weekly, Journal of Civilization", August 1877
Credit Public Domain

It was just about this time on this date in 1877 that the first national strike started, and it started in Baltimore. Two dozen locomotive firemen employed by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, refused to man the trains at Camden Yard, Mount Clare and Riverside Stations. Within hours the work stoppage had spread to Martinsburg, West Virginia, then to other states. Within a week, almost half the U.S. Army was deployed against more than 100,000 strikers. Before the strike collapsed two weeks later, ten citizens had been killed in Baltimore alone.

Bill Barry, retired director of Labor Studies at the Community College of Baltimore County, Dundalk has just published a book about it, The 1877 Railroad Strike in Baltimore. He joins Sheilah in the studio to talk about it.

He will be speaking about the book tomorrow evening at 7:30 at Red Emma’s in Baltimore. More information here.

Audio for this segment will be available by the end of the day.