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  • | Book

    The Reason Why the Colored American is not in the World's Columbian Exposition

    Ida B. Wells, Frederick Douglass, Irvine Garland Penn, Ferdinand L. Barnett, and Frederick Loudin published The Reason Why in response to the exclusion of Afircan Americans and their contributions to American life from the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. The excerpt included here is part of Wells' contribution and includes the Tennessee separate coach law.

  • | Broadsides

    Broadside Offering a $200 Reward for Information Regarding an Attempt to Derail a Union Pacific Train, October 4, 1890

    In this October 4, 1890 broadside, the Union Pacific Railroad offers a $200 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individuals who attempted to derail a train.

  • | Broadsides

    Broadside Offering a $500 Reward for the Arrest of Train Robbers, August 21, 1895

    In this 1895 broadside, the Pacific Express Company offers a $500 reward for the arrest and conviction of those who robbed Union Pacific train Number 8 on August 21.

  • | Contract

    Contract Between the Illinois Central Railroad Company and Pinkerton & Company, February 1, 1855

    In this February 1, 1855 contract between the Illinois Central Railroad and Allan Pinkerton's Detective Agency, Pinkerton & Company agree to establish a "Police Agency" in Chicago to assist the Railroad in the "prompt and efficient performance of their business."

  • | Illustration

    Digging Their Own Graves

    This image from the front page of the July 25, 1877 issue of PUCK Magazine mockingly depicts two strikers "digging their own graves."

  • | Law

    The Louisiana Railway Accommodations Act

    The Louisiana Railway Accommodations Act mandates "equal but separate" rail travel in the state.

  • | Legal decision

    Railroad Company v. Brown, 84 U.S. 17 Wall. 445 445 (1873)

    In 1868, Catherine Brown, an African American woman, was ejected from the "ladies car" on the Washington, Alexandria, and Georgetown Railroad Company when traveling from Alexandria, Virginia, to the District of Columbia. Brown sued the rail company and the case was appealed to the United States Supreme Court - the first case addressing race and public transportation to appear before the Court. Although the legal status of the railroad under Congressional rulings that had applied to earlier iterations of the company became a basis for appeal, the rights of African Americans became the most notable outcome of the Supreme Court's decision for Brown in 1873.

  • | Legal decision

    Excerpts from Plessy v. Ferguson dissent

    These excerpts from Justice John Harlan's dissent from the Supreme Court's Plessy v Ferguson decision include scathing counter-arguments to the majority decision that asserted the legality of "separate but equal" facilities.

  • | Legal decision

    Excerpts from Plessy v. Ferguson decision

    These excerpts from the Supreme Court's Plessy v Ferguson decision outline primary points of the seven-man decision that asserted the constitutionality of "separate but equal" facilities.

  • | Letter

    Attorney General W.P. Bocark's Opinion Regarding the Bureau of Public Works' Liability for Slaves Killed on Blue Ridge Railroad, November 1, 1854

    When two slaves were killed on the Blue Ridge Tunnel project, slaveholders held the Virginia Board of Public Works, which had hired slaves through contractors, liable for the losses. Affidavits were taken on the value of the slaves, their character and history. The Attorney General of Virginia, W. P. Bocock, ruled that whether the slaves were killed on the Virginia Central Rail Road Co. or the Blue Ridge project was immaterial, and that the Board of Public Works was liable for reasonable compensation to the slaveholders.

  • | Newspaper

    Untitled [Grand Jury of the United States District Court Harrisonburg, Va., has found a bill of indictment]

    The United States District Court at Harrisionburg, Virginia, hands down an indictment against the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad for the ejection of Annie Smith.

  • | Newspaper

    The Strikers at Grafton

    This letter to the editor from the July 20, 1877 Baltimore American supports the strikers as having "just cause" and criticizes the government officials for overreacting and creating the crisis.

  • | Newspaper

    Police Commissioner's Announcement

    On July 21, 1877, two Baltimore Police Commissioners, the Maryland Governor, and the President of the Board of Police ask residents to abstain from gathering in crowds.

  • | Newspaper

    Hayes' July 21 Proclamation: A Manifesto Against Domestic Violence

    On July 21, 1877, President Rutherford B. Hayes issued a proclamation ordering all strikers to disperse and return home. He noted that a state of "domestic violence" existed in Cumberland, Maryland, and "along the line" of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

  • | Newspaper

    The Labor Agitation

    This selection of articles from the July 24, 1877 issue of the Pittsburgh Daily Post looks at the events surrounding railroad strikes in cities around the United States and notes the crime and violence taking place.

  • | Newspaper

    The Situation

    These selections from the July 27, 1877 issue of the Pittsburgh Daily Post note the expectation that all strikers will soon return to work. They also describe the arrival of General Hancock's troops and detail the legislation enacted in response to the strikes.

  • | Newspaper

    The West Penn Calamity

    This article from the July 27, 1877 issue of the Pittsburgh Daily Post briefly accounts a court proceeding concerning a collision on the West Penn Railroad in which five men were killed.

  • | Newspaper


    This article from the July 27, 1877 issue of the Pittsburgh Daily Post notes the debate in Washington on how to settle the problems with the railroads.

  • | Newspaper

    The Railroad Strike

    This article from the July 28, 1877 issue of the Pittsburgh Daily Post notes a misunderstanding between the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Colonel Thomas A. Scott regarding whether or not Scott could have prevented the outbreak of violence.

  • | Newspaper

    General Sherman

    This article from the July 28, 1877 issue of the Pittsburgh Daily Post presents a series of opinions and responses concerning the reasons for the strike.