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Chicago in the Age of CapitalClass, Politics, and Democracy during the Civil War and Reconstruction$
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John B. Jentz and Richard Schneirov

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036835

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036835.001.0001

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Combat in the Streets

Combat in the Streets

The Railroad Strike of 1877 and Its Consequences

(p.194) 6 Combat in the Streets
Chicago in the Age of Capital

John B. Jentz

Richard Schneirov

University of Illinois Press

This chapter discusses the great railroad strike of 1877. In the summer of 1877, the United States experienced its first national strike, an unorganized, spontaneous rebellion of working people in cities from Baltimore and Pittsburgh to St. Louis and Chicago. The Great Strike produced a fundamental change in public awareness. Beforehand, according to Socialist and labor leader George Schilling, “the labor question was of little or no importance to the average citizen.” After the strike, no one could deny that there was a “labor question” or a working class that did not feel on an “equal footing” with the rest of society. In the new climate of opinion, the Socialists prospered because they had answers to the new labor question, whereas others had denied its existence.

Keywords:   railroad strike, public awareness, labor question, working class, Socialists

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