First Rail National Strike


The first national strike against the railroads began after the 12th day of a strike at the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, initiated when brakeman's wages were reduced. The national strike which was unorganized marked the beginning of labor-management confrontations that would last for the rest of the century.


On July 16, most railroads east of the Mississippi cut wages by 10% without warning. The next day, workers on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad went on strike. Workers on other railroads followed suit, and soon most of the eastern railroads were on strike. Within a short period, the strike had spread beyond the east to railroads throughout the country.

Attempts were made locally to break the strike, but the local state militias were incapable of accomplishing the task. In Pittsburgh, the state militia killed 26 strikers.

President Hayes called in regular Army troops, who promptly established order, breaking the strike.