Punishing Pittsburgh

This article from the July 27, 1877 issue of the Pittsburgh Daily Post notes Philadelphia's frustration with Pittsburgh over the railroad strike and mentions that city's suggestion that the Pennsylvania Central Railroad be routed around Pittsburgh to ensure future rail service to Philadelphia.


There is no political or social fact in any State, of equal importance to the railroad embarrassments, it dwarfs all other questions and claims to-day almost the exclusive attention of the Chief Executive officers of New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. If it be not physically impossible, the Governors of these States should immediately assemble at some central point, and in behalf of their people, take steps to have adjusted in some satisfactory manner the present troubles. There are but four great trunk lines which control the chief arteries of railway trade; they are represented by four men, who have a right to assemble and hear what the representatives of the people have to say in this matter. The country cannot endure the stain for any great length of time. The interruption caused by the strike, differs in character and extent from all other strikes-in being general, in preventing intercommunication of people, of supplies, whether of food or the thousand articles which enters into manufactures and business. Its ramifications are beyond calculation, and the demand for instant settlement is imperative and supreme.


It is utterly out of the question to suppose the present antagonism between the men and management of Railroads can ever be settled upon the basis of unconditional surrender of either, except in the matter of physical force. Mobs can be put down, but the real question remains. We think Mr. SCOTT is mistaken in his estimate of the number of "loyal" men in the employ of his company who would, if force was removed, immediately return to their duty. It was the engineers and hands that first obstructed and finally closed the avenues of trade and travel. So far as mobs are concerned in the city every employe of the Railroad could at once take his place and open up communication. At Altoona where there are no other workingmen than those employed by the Railroad, the fiercest opposition exists there does not appear to be any loyalty there to suggest a compromise must not be construed to mean that men who violated law and struck at the pace of society, in any manner, shall escape punishment. The law must be vindicated and order restored whether the wheels of the locomotive shall ever turn or not. Constitutions are compromises, and he is the wisest statesman who successfully adjusts the conflicting interests indelibly fixed in society, made up of every avocation and grade of intelligence. Compromises are the law of daily life and business. To compromise with peaceful men on the question of wages is not to be confounded with crime; to sympathize with labor is not to approve of the acts of mobs; and if railroad employes or puddlers, or any other class of workmen, force other men from their work benches and oblige them to walk in idleness and their families to want for bread, and expect the approval of any decent law abiding citizen, they had better get rid of such fancies as soon as possible. If thousands of poor are without flour to-day let them remember who it is that prevents it from coming into the city. It is not the managers of railroads, but its employes. They alone are responsible and are now visiting their vengeance upon their own class, with whom they affect to sympathize. Ten thousand barrels of flour are within six hours of this city and less than one hundred men say it shall not be brought here. Working men had better turn their attention to these men before it is too late.


The Philadelphia papers are advocating a terrible vengeance on Pittsburgh. It is that the Pennsylvania Railroad shall "go around the city," so as "to avoid this turbulent centre in the future." Pittsburgh, according to the Inquirer, "should be only accessible, by a branch route!" We never realized before that it was pure philanthrophy and a desire to accommodate our citizens that brought the Railroad to our doors. This threatened punishment would leave one to infer as much. Our idea is the Railroad came here to make money, and every inch of track it has laid, every brick put on top of another, every workshop constructed, every dollar of wages paid out, and every train run, was to put money in its treasury, and swell its dividends. If it charged less to carry a barrel of flour from Chicago to Philadelphia than it did from Chicago to Pittsburgh, the discrimination was to give Philadelphia cheap flour at the expense of Pittsburgh. If it charged less to carry manufactures from Philadelphia to Chicago than from Pittsburgh to Chicago, it was to build up manufactures in Philadelphia at the expense of Pittsburgh. We were compelled to pay Philadelphia's freight charges. That was the result of exhorbitant local rates and losing through charges. There are other railroad lines in the United States—trunk lines too—in close proximity to Pittsburgh, that would only be too happy to hold the same relations to the trade of Pittsburgh that the Pennsylvania Railroad has hitherto held. The Railroad is not the creator of our wealth; it is merely the transporter of it, after our artizans have extracted it from the iron and coal mine, the oil well, and the forge, and by their skill and industry made it a legal tender in the trade of the nation. If Philadelphia's pet Railroad don't want to carry our products to market and bring hither the products of other States and cities—charging therefor unjust rates discriminating against the business interests of Pittsburgh—terrible as the calamity may be, our merchants and manufacturers will call in other Railroads only too happy to do the work, and at more reasonable and just rates.

Philadelphia newspapers, with the chivalry of the jackal, seem to have a fancy for lingering over the recent unfortunate events to insult, and slander Pittsburgh and its citizens. That it was saved itself from a hundred fold more terrific uprising is very possibly due to the fact that the terrible events in Pittsburgh sounded the note of alarm, and gave its citizens time and opportunity to prepare for the worst. They profited by our experience, and now turn about with their silly taunts and still more absurd threats. Our people care for neither. We do not believe, however, that the Philadelphia press represents the wishes or policy of the Railroad. Its managers are too shrewd business men to sacrifice a healthy and profitable traffic in a fit of spleen.

About this Document

  • Source: The Daily Post
  • Date: July 27, 1877