Henry B. Stone letter, February 28, 1888

Henry B. Stone, Master Mechanic for the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy, reflects on the costs in personnel and goodwill that are inevitable with a strike; he believes circumstances make it "simply impossible for the Company to yield to the demands which have been made."

As an example of the spirit in which the CBRR management held toward the enginers, this letter may be quoted.

It shows a firm yet friendly disposition.

How thse overtures on the part of the DivSupts & MMs were recieved may be shown by the disposition made of the 15 letters written by Rice & Colville to Engineers. They were burned by order of the Brotherhood (see Rice's letter).

Personal & important

Chicago, Feb. 28th, 1888.

Dear Sir:-

The time is not far off when our men must necessarly decide whether they wish to permanently sever their connection with the Company, or not. We have purposely proceeded somewhat slowly in employing new men in any great numbers, in order to give the men who have been in our service time for reflection, but a considerable number of men from the Reading district, and other parts of the east, will be here within a day or two, and will go to work, and any new men employed, who are competent, and of good character, will not be discharged in order that we may take back the men who have left the service. We are extremely anxious that such of our old men as are competent, sober, and industrious, should come back to the service. We know perfectly that many of them, probably a majority, have entered into this strike at the instigation of hotheads and agitators, and that it is impossible that they should sincerely, and seriously desire to leave the service, where they know as well as we do, that they have always been well paid and well treated.

In a strike of this kind, and in the excitement of the moment, men are led to act hastily, and with a vague impression that they are going to force the company to yield to their demands. The time is at hand, therefore, if it has not arrived now, when a great deal can be done by personal talk, to induce good men to return to the service, and give up what must inevitably be a contest full of disaster to them, if it is proceeded in.

Many of our men have grown up in the service, and their homes are on the line of our Road; their property, if they have accumulated any, is here with us, and our interests are identical. Aside from the interest which the Company has as a matter of business, in having these men returned to the service, in preference to getting new men, we very much desire to save the men themselves from the consequences of fighting this matter to the end, forcing the Company to man the Road with new hands.

We realize fully the situation; we know the difficulties of filling the places of good men who know the Road, and we know the losses to the Road of a prolonged conflict.

All this has been fully considered, and is taken into account, but you can see, and any man who will stop to think, can see that it is simply impossible for the Company to yield to the demands which have been made. We must as a matter of self preservation fight it out, no matter at what expenditure of time and money. I hope, therefore, that you and others holding positions in the service, which enable them to do so, will use the utmost exertion to convince our men by personal persuasion by pointing out to them the inevitable consequences of a continued contest, to induce the men to come back into the service, satisfied to let the Company, and its officers manage its own property. It is obvious that men who are receiving $4.00 and $5.00 a day, cannot expect public sympathy in any demand for more, which is carried to the extent of a strike.

This contest can have but one end, and that end is just as easy to see now as it will be when perhaps it is too late to do the old men any good. I hope you will do everything in your power to make them appreciate the situation by talking to them singly, and impressing on their minds the truth of what I have said above.

Yours very truly, Henry B. Stone LBL

About this Document

  • Source: Letter from Henry B. Stone
  • Source: Letter to unknown
  • Extent: 2 pages
  • Collector:
  • Citation: Newberry Library, Newberry Library,
  • Date: February 28, 1888