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.

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Grafton, West Virginia,

Messrs. Editors of the American:

A false impression exists as to the conduct of the "strikers" on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad at Grafton, which I desire to correct. The causes of the strike are universally known. That the strikers have just cause of complaint at the action of the Company cannot be denied, and they have the sympathy of the people throughout the entire country. Their cause has not been such as represented by the telegrams sent from this place by the Railroad Company's officials, whose conduct has been such as to aggravate rather than allay the excitement. There has been no violent outbreak here, neither has any one been injured. The Company's property is in as perfect condition as before the strike and the men are quiet and orderly, and I just heard an official of the Company say that the strikers had fifteen of their number last night guarding the cars and property of the Company, and also stated that the men who were arrested at the first outbreak said if they had not been arrested they would not have allowed the bolt pins and couplings to have been taken, or any damage done whatever. The men are sober, quiet and orderly, contenting themselves with preventing their comrades, who express a willingness to do so, from going to work. This they have succeeded in doing without violations of the law. The Company no doubt desires to enlist the sympathy as well as the services of the country in its present trouble. That it cannot do here. The policy it has pursued in laying extortionate rates on local freight, oppressing shippers on its line as well as reducing the pay for increased labor that ten percent dividends might be paid its stockholders, has made it the enemy of the people as well as the employes. The people and men ask, why not reduce the dividend on its stock held by the capitalists as well as the pay of the employes, who toil honestly for their bread? Why not reduce the rate on local freights as well as on through traffic? We may be answered they cannot do so for the reason they must compete with other lines. That is not sufficient; the local freights should not alone keep up the road, pay its dividends and the loss on its through business. The people as well as the employes have complaints, in this they may learn why West Virginians will not go the Company's rescue in the present trouble.


About this Document

  • Source: Baltimore American
  • Author: Grafton strikers
  • Date: July 20, 1877