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The Rise of the Chicago Police DepartmentClass and Conflict, 1850-1894$
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Sam Mitrani

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252038068

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252038068.001.0001

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The Police and the First May Day Strike for the Eight-Hour Day

The Police and the First May Day Strike for the Eight-Hour Day

(p.57) Chapter 3 The Police and the First May Day Strike for the Eight-Hour Day
The Rise of the Chicago Police Department

Sam Mitrani

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines how the Chicago Police Department dealt with the first May Day Strike of 1867 demanding employers to adopt the eight-hour day. In the period after the Civil War, a new working class emerged in the United States. By the 1860s, this working class was coalescing both because an increasing number of people worked for wages and because those wage workers were increasingly coming together in a variety of collective ways to address their common problems. Chicago was a key center of both aspects of working-class formation; workers both formed unions and pushed for legislative reform. The division between skilled and unskilled workers was the central dividing line in the Chicago labor movement throughout this period, and it largely correlated with ethnicity. This chapter first considers labor's reaction to the growth of a wage labor economy that stripped even skilled workers of their independence before providing an overview of the May Day March that saw the Chicago Police Department confront large crowds of angry workers calling for the implementation of the eight-hour law.

Keywords:   working class, wage workers, unskilled workers, Chicago, labor movement, Chicago Police Department, wage labor economy, skilled workers, May Day March, eight-hour law

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