GALVESTON, Nov. 3.—A general strike of Knights of Labor in this city was inaugurated this afternoon, seriously affecting every branch of commerce and completely paralyzing the movement of cotton and other freight. The longshoremen, the screwmen, the freight handlers and switchmen, the cotton handlers in the presses, the printers, and other members of the Knights of Labor all quit work at 1:30 o’clock. It is estimated that 1,500 men went out, but they are so widely scattered from one end of the city to the other that it is impossible to enumerate the exact number by trades. The strike was planned and carried out so quietly and orderly, that not over a dozen people outside of the Knights themselves knew what was coming. So united are the labor organizations of Galveston that it may be truly said they have the city in their grasp, for there is no force here able to cope with them if they get ugly.
The present general strike is the outgrowth of a small strike inaugurated on Oct. 12 by the 150 longshoremen employed by the Mallory Steamship Company on their wharves here. These longshoremen were getting 40 cents an hour for daylight labor and 60 cents for night and Sunday work. But very little work is done at night, and they struck for 50 cents an hour all around, Sundays included. Capt. Sawyer, agent for the Mallory Line, resisted this demand, and employed colored laborers, allowing them 50 cents an hour night and day, the same rate demanded by the strikers. Very few of the original 150 striking longshoremen were members of the Knights of Labor organization at the time they struck, but all have since become members. Various attempts at arbitration were made between the white and colored longshoremens’ associations, the colored men even agreeing to divide the labor equally, but the Mallory folks would not be dictated to, and Sawyer stubbornly refused to reinstate the strikers, even on half time. At this juncture the Knights of Labor quietly stepped in, and attempted to arbitrate matters, but were also rebuffed by the Mallory Company. On Monday last, P. H. Golden, Chairman of the State Executive Board of the Knights of Labor, addressed a letter to J. N. Sawyer, stating that whereas it had been made known to the Executive Board of the Knights of Labor of Texas that the Mallory Line of Steamships was discriminating against members of their order by discharging and refusing to allow them to work upon the Mallory wharves, therefore this committee had adopted a resolution requesting the reinstatement of the strikers, and that the Mallory Line allow the Knights of Labor equal representation upon their wharves. Golden requested an answer at 12 o’clock to-day.
In his reply Agent Sawyer says that he was informed by a member of the Knights of Labor on Oct. 18 that “the striking longshoremen were not members of that order.” After reciting the fact that the men were not discharged, but voluntarily abandoned their positions, Sawyer concludes: “Compliance with your request would compel us to enact the injustice, of which you unwarrantably complain, of discharging laborers who are performing their duties faithfully. We therefore decline to disturb the present status of labor on the Mallory wharf.” This reply precipitated the strike of 1,500 Knights of Labor. Marine commerce suffers greatly by the strike. There are a dozen large foreign steamers in port loading with cotton, and not a bale can go aboard until the strike is ended. All freight handling at the Missouri Pacific and Santa Fe depots is at a standstill. Even the job printing offices are closed. Golden and other members of the State Executive Committee declare that unless the Mallory Company immediately yields the strike will be made general all over Texas and Louisiana in which it would be impossible to move even by train. If that don’t bring them to time, the strike will reach to New York. This is what high officials in the order declare.
The most serious feature of the strike is the race hatred which it engenders. Both races are strongly and nearly evenly represented in the laboring element of Galveston. Some trifling incidents may turn the issue into a race conflict with terrible and sanguinary results.
New York Times, November 4, 1885.
ABOUT FACE OR 2,000 LABORERS QUIT WORK IN GALVESTON—THE KNIGHTS OF LABOR MAKE AN ISSUE WITH THE MALLORY STEAMSHIP COMPANY, AND ORDER A GENERAL STRIKE OF THEIR ORDER—A SUSPENSION OF WORK.
The recent strike of white laborers on the New York wharf, and their substitution by colored laborers, is of too recent occurrence to require any recapitulation here, and is merely referred to as the cause which has resulted in one of the most general labor upheavings ever known in the history of Galveston. The Knights of Labor on Sunday held in this city an important meeting of their executive committee. This meeting was followed up by another held on Monday night, and rumors were then afloat that the result would be a general strike ordered by the association of Knights of Labor. These were merely rumors, but they culminated yesterday in a very serious reality when, at 1 p.m., a general strike was ordered throughout the city by which some 1,500 or 2,000 men employed in various capacities throughout the city quit work, creating a general excitement, as the facts in the case became known. The strike permeated every department of work where Knights of Labor are employed, including the men at the cotton presses, on railroads, along the docks, screwmen and longshoremen, printing offices and even the barber shops. A general stagnation of business was the result, but matters were in such a confused state during the afternoon, and the actual situation so little known, that it was difficult to ascertain accurately the extent of the movement. About 500 men employed in the four compresses quit work almost to a man, excepting probably the clerical force, all employed in the yards and at the freight depot of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway company, while the work along the docks was almost completely suspended.
THE CAUSE OF THE MOVEMENT.
The cause of the present movement is briefly stated by the following correspondence between the Knights of Labor and Captain Sawyer, representing the Mallory Line in this city:
GALVESTON, Tex., November 1, 1885.—J. N. Sawyer, Esq., Agent Mallory Line Steamships, — Dear Sir: At a meeting of the executive board of Knights of Labor of the state of Texas, held in this city on this day, the following resolution was adopted:
Whereas it has been made known to the executive board of the Knights of Labor of the state of Texas at the Mallory Line of steamships and its agents are discriminating against this order by discharging and refusing to allow them to work upon the Mallory or New York wharf, therefore be it
Resolved that we, as the executive board of the Knights of Labor do hereby request that you reinstate said men and also allow the Knights of Labor of the city of Galveston an equal representation upon said wharf. This board will be very much gratified to receive an answer from you by Tuesday, the 3d day of November, A.D. 1885, at 12 o’clock m. Very respectfully,
P. H. GOLDEN
D.M.W.D.A. No. 18, of the State of Texas, and Chairman of the Executive Board.
This communication was submitted yesterday morning, the committee stating that they would return at noon for an answer. Promptly at noon the executive committee returned and were handed the following reply:
Galveston, Tex.—Dear Sir: Your favor of the 1st ultimo, covering preamble and resolutions as adopted by your board on that date, as follows:
“Whereas it has been made known to the executive board of the Knights of Labor of the state of Texas that the Mallory line of steamships and the agents are discriminating against this order by discharging and refusing to allow them to work upon the Mallory or New York wharf; therefore be it
“Resolved that we, as the executive board of the Knights of Labor, do hereby request that you reinstate said men, and also allow the Knights of Labor of the city of Galveston an equal representation upon said wharf,” is received, and replying thereto we desire to say that the charges presented in the preamble to your resolution is without foundation, inasmuch as we have not, to our knowledge, discharged any member of your order, or any other well behaved laborer.
In a conference held in this office October 18, 1885, we were informed by Mr. Patrick Nugent, a representative of your order, acting in an advisory capacity, that the men who had been employed at discharging and loading the Mallory steamers were not members of the order of Knights of Labor.
These men were not discharged, but (excepting nine white men who did not leave, and who are now working on the wharf) they of their own volition abandoned their positions as laborers for the Mallory line. Compliance with your request would compel us to enact the injustice of which you unwarrantably complain, of discharging laborers who are performing their duties faithfully to employ others in their stead. So, conforming to our reply to the joint committee of October 27, 1885, we decline to disturb the present status of labor on the Mallory line wharf, and are, sir, yours very truly,
J. N. SAWYER & CO., Agents.
The committee, after considering the above, asked Captain Sawyer if this was his final answer, and he replied in the affirmative; when they informed him that they would be at their meeting-room until 1 p.m., where he could communicate with them if he had anything further to say upon the subject. No further conference took place, and at 1 p.m. sharp the strike was ordered.
Matters were thrown into such confusion for the time being, that no very intelligent opinions could be expressed, and but few seemed to know the cause or the extent of the movement. The corner of Market and Twenty-second streets in the Alvey building, where the Knights of Labor have their meeting-room, seemed to be the general rendezvous, and being the headquarters of the executive committee, it was here that large numbers of the striking laborers congregated causing quite an animated scene. The Knights of Labor generally were reticent as to the details of the movement and a reporter of THE NEWS, with a view of ascertaining the extent of the strike, called upon Captain Sawyer and the management of the different roads and compresses to ascertain to what extent they were affected. Captain Sawyer kindly furnished the above correspondence, which is unquestionably the basis of the strike. In recapitulating the recent trouble out of which the present one has grown he referred to his letter as published above defining his position in the matter. He referred to the recent tacit agreement between the white and colored laborers as to a division of the work, but the Mallory company was under moral obligations to continue the colored laborers so long as they gave satisfaction. He had been further advised subsequent to the recent strike that the Knights of Labor would take no definite steps in the matter, merely acting in an advisory capacity to secure, if possible, an amicable adjustment of the difficulties. He could not say at the time what effect the strike would have on the Mallory business. The colored laborers were still at work there, and while work had been stopped at the presses, the cotton already compressed there was being hauled to the wharf. At the four compresses work was at a standstill, and none of them were running in the afternoon, in all about 500 laborers had quit work here. Along the docks members of the Screwmen’s and Longshoremen’s associations who are members of the Knights of Labor had quit work, disabling the crews to that extent that work was virtually suspended. All the men in the yards and at the shops and freight depot of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe quit work, and until the matter is settled it is a matter of doubt whether any freights will be permitted to move. The forces of the Missouri Pacific railway had not quit, at least up to a later hour, the cause assigned for this being that these laborers are under a different jurisdiction, and were awaiting orders from their assembly. In all, it is estimated that about 1500 or 2000 laborers of this city have obeyed the mandate of the Knights of Labor. It applies to every interest where members of their order are employed, and the printing offices generally were deserted during the afternoon, and in one instance even a hand in a barber shop knocked off work. This instance is cited merely to show how general is the present movement.
THE TYPOGRAPHICAL UNION.
The movement, as applied to the printers, called off all who were employed either in job offices or the newspaper establishments of the city. The printers on THE NEWS, however, resumed work last night under the following resolution, passed by the local lodge of the Typographical union, of Galveston:
Believing the order of the Trades assembly in ordering all working people to quit work, as far as it affects the status of the Typographical union, unwise and inapplicable to the purpose for which it was promulgated (the boycotting of the Mallory Steamship line), inasmuch as the strike was not ordered by the Trades assembly, and that the strikers came under the jurisdiction of the Trades assembly subsequent to the strike, and not previously; therefore, it is hereby
Resolved, that on account of the short notice given and the above cited reasons, we do not concur as a body in the action of the Trades assembly as far as to quit work, but that we will boycott and aid and assist the said Trades assembly, financially and otherwise, as far as is in our power, further, that the calling of all workingmen from the different offices under the jurisdiction of the union is virtually boycotting the establishment in which they work, and that there exists at present a state of feeling between the union and the employers that will not justify such action.
Resolved, that the delegates from Galveston Typographical Union No. 28, to the Trades assembly, be instructed to use their best endeavors to avoid difficulty in labor organizations outside those interested in the Mallory wharf strike; that in case a strike is ordered in the printing offices under this jurisdiction, the proprietors first be notified of what is required of them to avoid a boycott, and replies be received from them to the demands made upon them.
THE ISSUES INVOLVED.
While the employment of the colored labor on the New York wharf is the main issue upon which the strike is based, some of the strikers claim that it is a movement of organized labor against unorganized labor and a protection of white labor as against a substitution of colored labor in this city. Besides citing the condition of affairs on the New York wharf, it was very generally rumored yesterday that two carloads of colored laborers had been brought in the night previous from Brasoria, and that a boat had brought in some forty or fifty more during the day from the mouth of the Brasoe. These rumors could not be verified, and in conversation with N. W. Cubey, last night, he informed a reporter of THE NEWS that such was not the case, and that there was no foundation for the statement very generally made that there was a movement on foot to substitute colored for white labor in the cotton presses and other positions now occupied by white labor, and in connection with which his name was mentioned. He says that if such an importation of colored labor had been made he would surely have known of it, and his denial of the charge was quite positive and emphatic.
Mr. Golden, the master workman of the Knights of Labor, and as such the leader of the present movement, stated to a reporter during the afternoon that it was a matter of self-preservation. A means of adjustment of the late strike on the New York wharf had been submitted to the Mallory company, but they had not accepted it and the white laborers at Galveston who had their families to support, and whose interests are here, could not afford to and their subsistence thus taken from them. The Knights of Labor had done all in their power to settle the differences today and without a resort to extreme measures they had notified Captain Sawyer, of the Mallory line; Captain Fowler, of the Morgan line; President Sealy, of the Santa Fe, and several prominent ship brokers that men of their order, who were not in the strike, were being discriminated against and would not be allowed to work. He had hoped that the present trouble might be averted, but unless the matter were settled the strike would be made general.
While public opinion has not yet had time to be thoroughly or definitely fixed as to the causes and the extent of the means used to accomplish results, the present trouble is very generally deprecated as a blow that Galveston can ill afford to sustain at this particular season. The means resorted to are also considered too general and violent to be justified in the accomplishment of the results expected to be brought about. This is the conservative view of the situation and the principle that seems to prevail in the present instance in calling upon every department of labor to redress a grievance where no interests in common exists is generally considered as illogical. The remedy seems to rest altogether with the Mallory people in submitting to a division of labor between the white and colored element in the handling of their business here, and the universality of the strike appears to have been determined upon for the purpose of bringing to bear every influence possible to the accomplishment of this end, however extraneous may be the interests that are made to suffer.
NO SETTLEMENT REACHED
A general meeting of the Knights of Labor, held at their hall last night, was attended by some 500 or 600 laborers, and the meeting was regarded with much interest, as it was thought that through it a settlement might be reached. While the details of this meeting could not be learned, it is generally regarded as a settled fact that the end is not yet reached. A reporter of THE NEWS sought Mr. Golden after the meeting, but was informed that it had been decided to give no information to the press. From this it may be inferred at least that no settlement has been reached.
The colored laborers engaged on the New York wharf were also in session last night considering the present situation, in which they are incidentally interested.
The present strike continuing will result in a general blockade of freight, as no trains can move out under the present circumstances except the passenger trains, which will not be interfered with. The strike as applied to the railroads is quite as general as the late strike against the Santa Fe, but as the railroads are not the direct cause of the trouble it is not thought that such extreme measures will be resorted to as were applied against the Santa Fe in that strike.
The Mallory ship was loaded yesterday by the colored laborers without any hindrance or interference.
It is learned that the result of last night’s meeting was to order the strike to be general throughout the State.
Galveston (Texas) Daily News, November 4, 1885.
THE GALVESTON COMMITTEE CONSIDERING THE TROUBLES IN THAT CITY
GALVESTON, Nov. 9.—The results of yesterday’s agreement between the Citizens Committee and the State Executive Committee of the Knights of Labor were manifest on all sides to-day. Every Knight being at his post, the wharves, railroad yards, and cotton presses presented scenes of the great activity.
The Arbitration Committee of Ten was announced this morning, and the first meeting held at 10 o’clock. W. L. Moody, President of the Cotton Exchange, was chosen Chairman by his associate arbitrators. Rules were adopted for the hearing of evidence on both sides, and George Sealy, President of the Santa Fe Railway, appeared before the committee and formally answered for Capt. Sawyer, agent of the Mallory Company, pledging that Sawyer would abide the result of the arbitration. The Knights submitted their grievances in writing. An afternoon session was held at which Capt. Sawyer gave the Mallory side of the case. The committee then adjourned until to-morrow morning.
The colored laborers are watching the outcome of arbitration with a great deal of interest. Prominent colored men, reviewing the situation today, declared that the colored longshoremen employed on the Mallory wharf would not tamely submit to being replaced by strikers, no matter what the outcome of arbitration might be. They hold that the Mallory Company made a contract to employ them so long as they gave satisfaction. The Mallorys admit that the negroes are giving good satisfaction, and indications point to further trouble, no matter how the arbitration results.
Adjt. Gen. King arrived in the city to-night from Austin. He has been ordered by Gov. Ireland to make personal inquiry into the situation both here and at Houston, and instructed to take such action in the premises as shall seem best to him. Under this authority the Adjutant General could call out the militia on short notice. His presence at this juncture is not calculated to improve the situation.
New York Times, November 10, 1885.
FEARS THAT AN AMICABLE ADJUSTMENT WILL NOT BE REACHED
GALVESTON, TEXAS. Nov. 10.—The situation to-night touching the settlement of the recent strike does not promise an amicable adjustment. Adjt. Gen. King arrived in the city last night from Austin to personally investigate the causes which led to the recent boycott. Gov. Ireland has ordered Gen. King to take such action in the premises as the result of his investigations may warrant. The feeling of hatred between the Knights of Labor and the colored workmen was greatly intensified to-day when it became known that the local Assembly of Knights of Labor had addressed a formal request to Mayor Fulton, asking him to dismiss Patrolmen Davis, De Bruhl, Warren, and Sparks, alleging that “They have been using their best endeavors to incite the colored people to violence. “The three last named policemen are colored men. The Mayor replied that he could not comply with their wishes, as an investigation proved the accused policemen were quiet and efficient officers. This incident has aroused the colored laborers to open and avowed hostility toward the Knights.
The Committee of Arbitration passed the day in secret session taking testimony. Their proceedings are invested with the air of an important court sitting in a momentous case. All evidence is reduced to writing. It is the general belief that the committee stand 5 to 5 on the final questions of settlement and that some outside civilian will be called in as an eleventh juror to cast the deciding vote as to whether the negroes shall be ejected from the Mallory wharf. Human lives hang on that vote. There is reason to believe that the military and city authorities are quietly preparing to suppress by force any outbreak that may follow the rendering of a decision unfavorable to the Knights of Labor. Adjt. Gen. King is privately inspecting the military companies to-night, and in his charge to the United States Grand Jury to-day Judge Sabin called their attention to the gravity of the situation, and bade them examine closely into any violation of the United States statutes. An impression is growing that the Mallory Company was forced against their wishes to recognize the arbitration court, and a good deal of doubt exists as to whether they will really abide its decision if their colored laborers are ordered to quit. Henry R. Mallory is quoted here as having said he would lay up his shins rather than submit to be dictated to in this matter.
New York Times, November 11, 1885.
GALVESTON, Texas, Nov. 11.—The Committee of Arbitration appointed to settle the differences between the Knights of Labor and the Mallory Steamship Company concluded its labors this evening by adopting, upon motion of Julius Runge, of the Citizens Committee, the following preamble and resolution:
Whereas, It is the sense of the Committee of Arbitration that in the employment of labor there should be no discrimination against any one on account of race, color, or organization, as is maintained by the Knights of Labor and recognized by Capt. Sawyer in his letter of this date; therefore,
Resolved, That in consideration of the fact that the strike originated in consequence of mutual misunderstandings, we recommend and request Capt. Sawyer, agent of the Mallory Company, that whenever he needs labor in addition to the number of men on his payroll this day, that he give the preference to the men who were at work on the wharf at the time of the strike on Oct. 15.
This resolution was passed by a vote of 8 to 2. Messrs. Moody and Miller of the Citizens Committee, voting against its adoption. It will be observed that the language of the resolution is merely recommendatory and not in any sense mandatory upon the Mallory Company. The result is unsatisfactory to all, and is looked upon as merely an excuse on the part of the Arbitration Committee to enable it to disband and thereby get rid of a bad job. They must make some report to the waiting public, so they adopt this watery resolution. Leading members of the Knights of Labor claim the result of the arbitration as a victory for the Knights. They claim that the journal of the arbitration court shows that the Mallorys are bound by the Citizens Committee to employ the late white strikers whenever they desire to increase their present force or supply vacancies. In other words, no colored men are to be discharged by the Mallory Company, but each side is furnished with a payroll of the present laborers and of the striking white longshoremen on Oct. 15, so that whenever Mallory’s agent wants a new man he must take him from that old payroll, and by this means the Kinghts claim they will again have possession of the wharf in a few months. Any violation of this understanding, say the Knights, will result in immediate trouble.
Agent Sawyer, on the other hand, it is reliably reported to-night, does not interpret the result of arbitration as being at all binding on his company. He says if the committee meant it to be binding, they would have said so, and not used the words “recommend and request.” Inasmuch as Agent Sawyer tacitly stood by George Sealy’s pledge in his name to abide the result of the arbitration, it would seem that the committee had full power to use stronger and binding language had they seen fit to do so. The result of the committee’s labor is not generally known on the streets to-night; therefore, the effect of the verdict upon the great body of the Knights and colored workmen cannot be given, but every indication points to intense dissatisfaction.
Under the auspices of the merchants of this city a committee of six prominent business men has been permanently organized and empowered to increase its membership to 100 for the prosecution of the commerce of the city, should occasion require, and this committee has been in close consultation with Adjt. Gen. King to-day, who posted them on the law, and apprised them at just what point the military could and would interfere.
New York Times, November 12, 1885.
GALVESTON, Texas, Jan. 28.—The general public was very much surprised to-day by the official announcement that the Knights of Labor had promulgated another boycotting mandate against the Mallory Steamship Company. The order came from Fort Worth by mail, the Executive Committee of District Assembly No. 78 having met there several days ago and secretly determined upon its issuance. District Master Workman P. H. Golden, who resides in this city, is absent in North Texas, and the promulgation of the order to boycott before his return to the city occasions a good deal of comment even among the Knights who say that some special reason exists for putting on the boycott at this particular time. The seriousness of this move will be appreciated when it is stated that the former boycott against the Mallory Company, which lasted only some 10 days, from Nov. 1 to 11, cost the commerce of the city of Galveston an even $500,000. The difficulties in the way of a settlement of the present differences are far more stubborn than at the outbreak of the November boycott, and every indication points to a prolonged and bitter struggle between the giant labor organization and the great corporations that supply the Mallory Line with freight.
The history of the difficulty dates from the middle of last October, when the 150 white longshoremen employed on the Mallory wharves demanded an increase of wages, from 40 cents per hour for daylight labor and 60 cents for night and Sunday work to 50 cents an hour all around. They made this demand under a claim that the Mallory Company had promised, on the revival of business, to increase wages. Capt. Sawyer, agent for the Mallory Line, refused their request, whereupon the longshoremen struck and Sawyer promptly filled their places with colored laborers, but paid them the very wages demanded by the striking whites. The Knights of Labor took up the cause of the white longshoremen, and from that day they have never ceased in their efforts to displace the negroes from the Mallory wharves. The November boycott failed to effect the desired expulsion of the negroes, and after its disastrous effect has paralyzed the trade of Galveston and a large portion of Texas, about a dozen business and railroad men of this city, including George Sealy, President of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railroad; W. L. Moody, President of the Cotton Exchange, Julius Runge, and a score of other very rich men, got together and effected a temporary compromise of the difficulty by agreeing to the following resolutions while sitting in joint conference with the labor delegates:
Resolved, That it is the sense of this Committee of Arbitration that in the employment of labor there should be no discrimination against any one on account of race, color, or organization.
Resolved, That in consideration of the fact that this strike originated in consequence of mutual misunderstandings, we recommend and request Capt. J. N. Sawyer that whenever he needs labor in addition to the number of men on the rolls this day he give the preference to the men who were on the wharf at the time of the strike.
The present boycott is simply the outgrowth of the open violation of this agreement, for such it was, as Mr. Sealy openly pledged the good faith of Capt. Sawyer in observance of whatever result the arbitration reached. Although three busy months have elapsed since that agreement and hundreds of men have been employed by the Mallorys, not a single Knight of Labor has ever been called. Mr. Sawyer, being interviewed to-day, denied any violation of the agreement, stating that the names of all men employed since the arbitration were taken from his rolls. He refers to old payrolls which contain the names of nearly every workingman in the city at some period in their order.22
New York Times, January 29, 1886.
32. CONGRESSIONAL REPORT ON THE LABOR TROUBLES IN MISSOURI23
JASPER WILLIAMS (colored) sworn and examined.
By the CHAIRMAN:
Question: Where were you born?
Answer: In Texas.
Q. What is your occupation?
Q. On what road?
A. On the Missouri Pacific.
Q. Are you working on that road now?
A. I was before the strike.
Q. Did you go out on the strike?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Are you a Knight of Labor?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Do you belong to a colored organization or a white organization?
A. To a colored organization.
Q. Were there other colored men working on the road besides you?
A. Yes, sir; there were.
Q. Did they all go out?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Have you been working for the road since the strike?
A. No, sir.
Q. How long had you been working for the road before the strike took place?
A. About four years.
Q. How old are you?
A. I allow I am twenty-eight passed.
Q. Did you ever work in the water?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. For the road?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Did you receive extra pay for it?
A. No, sir.
Q. Did you demand pay for it?
A. Of course, I spoke to the section foreman about it, and he said he did not know, but guessed they would give us some extra pay. He told us to go to the road-master about it, and, of course, we could get no understanding about it from the road-master.
Q. Did you go to the road master?
A. Yes, sir, we did go to him.
Q. Whom did the foreman send you to?
A. He said go to the road-master. He said, of course, he couldn’t do anything about it.
Q. So you failed to get your extra pay. Is that what you mean to say?
A. No, sir; we did not get it.
Q. (By Mr. BUCHANAN.) What is the name of this road-master?
A. Mr. Courtney.
Q. What is the name of the foreman?
A. Peter John.
Q. What is this “working in the water,” and what did you do?
A. There was a big overflow that washed the track off the dump, and we section men had to go and get it on the dump.
Q. Where did this happen?
A. Down in the Nation.
Q. When was that?
A. I do not know. I guess it was some time in the latter part of last year. Along about the last of the year; but I do not know exactly.
Q. How many days were you at that kind of work?
A. I believe it was about two or three days, as near as I remember.
Q. How much extra pay did you think you ought to have for that extra work?
A. I thought we ought to have had time and a half. It was the understanding that we were to have that time.
Q. You said that was your understanding. Had you that understanding with the road-master or the foreman?
A. The foreman told us after the strike of last year we were to get time and a half for all overtime we worked.
Q. Was this work in the water “overtime?”
A. Why, yes; in cases of that kind, when the track was washed off the dump, you have to be there all the time. We scarcely got anything to eat.
A. No, sir. we did not.
Q. You are certain that you did not get time and a half for the overtime?
A. Yes, sir; I am certain of it. Back last winter, I believe last December, we were taken down in the Nation to shovel snow. They tried to get men down there for $1.10 a day, and men would not agree to go. well, then the road-master he went around and told the section men to go around and see if they could not get men to go and they would give them time and a half to go and shovel snow. Well, we got several men, and went down, and the agreement was that we were to get time and a half for all the time we were out, and we were out three days, I believe—if anything, a little more—and we scarcely got anything to eat at all. We got two meals during the whole time we were out.
Q. Did you get time and a half for the time you were out?
A. No, sir.
Q. Did you present any of these grievances to your assembly?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Do you know whether they presented them to the managers of the road or not?
A. I do not know; they said they did.
Q. Do you know whether these grievances were among those which led to the strike?
A. I suppose so, they said they were.
Q. (By the CHAIRMAN.) Who paid your board while working in the water and snow?
A. The road-master; he got what was bought; I guess the company paid for it. I did not.
Q. They paid you ordinary wages and paid the board?
A. They paid us $1.10 a day.
Q. And boarded you?
A. I did not consider that board.
Q. You all ate together?
A. No, sir; we did not. Of course I was not with the boss all the time. I did not get but one meal a day, and of course I did not get half enough.
Q. Was it customary to furnish board while off with your gang?
A. No, sir.
WYATT OWENS (colored) sworn and examined.
By the CHAIRMAN:
Question: How long have you lived in Denison?
Answer. Ever since 1875.
Q. Have you worked for the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. How long?
A. About seven or eight or nine years.
Q. In what capacity?
A. The first work I did was on the work train.
Q. Were you at work for the railroad company on the 6th of March?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. What were you doing?
A. I was a laborer up in the car department.
Q. Were you a Knight of Labor?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Are you one now?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Do you belong to the colored organization of the Knights of Labor?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Did you go out on the strike?
A. Yes, sir; I went out on the strike.
A. For the rates of wages. I cannot live on what I was getting—$1.25 a day.
A. No, sir; it was not the only question; because in 1885 they promised to restore our wages to the September, 1884, rate. To the best of my knowledge, they promised to give us $1.45 a day. When the pay-car came around they did not pay us $1.40, and the question was raised; and they said they could not pay that, and that the rate was $1.25 in September, 1884. I told them that I was getting $1.40 for the same work, and other men were getting $1.25. Mr. Bailey cut us down to the same as they paid these other men.
Q. When was this cut-down in the wages?
A. It was in 1885.
Q. What time in 1885?
A. I cannot remember exactly what time.
Q. Was it not in the spring?
A. Yes, sir; it was in the spring.
Q. Did you work from that time until the 6th of March, 1886, for $1.25?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Why did you not strike during that period of time if you could not live on $1.25 a day?
A. I thought they would restore our wages according to the agreement. They said they were working on it.
Q. Who said?
A. Some of the members; I do not know exactly who said so.
Q. Working on what?
A. Working to get our wages restored.
Q. You mean that you were living in hope?
A. I was living in hope.
Q. Did you return to work?
A. Yes, sir.
A. I do not exactly know when it was.
Q. Did you go back when Mr. Powderly issued his order?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Ordering, or directing Mr. Irons to order, the men back to work?24
A. Yes, sir.
Q. How long did you work?
A. I worked five days.
Q. When did you stop work?
A. Well, they arrested me.
Q. Who arrested you?
A. Mr. Whiteside; I believe that is his name.
Q. What position did he hold?
A. He is Mr. Douglass’s deputy.
Q. Deputy sheriff?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Upon what charge did he arrest you?
A. For being in the raid upon the shop that night.
Q. What night do you mean?
A. That night that the raid was made upon the roundhouse. They took me to jail, and they put me in irons and forced me to tell something, and to say something to the jailer.
Q. What did he question you about?
A. They tried to make me say I was down there. They went out and staid about fifteen minutes and the jailer was out in the yard talking, and Whiteside told the jailer to chain me down. He chained me down with irons all night, and kept me that way all night.
Q. Who told the jailer to do that?
A. I understood the deputy sheriff to do that.
Q. Did you resist the jailer?
A. No, sir; I never resisted any at all; I told him “all right.”
Q. How did he chain you?
A. He chained both legs, and by a chain right around me, and I could not do anything but lie down on my right side all night.
Q. Did you rest?
Q. What kind of a jail was it; was it a safe jail?
A. It was a safe jail; built of rock.
Q. What reason did he assign for that treatment?
A. I do not know, sir, except to make me tell something I did not know anything about.
Q. You were not a convict?
A. No, sir, I am not a convict.
Q. Have you been tried?
A. No, sir, I have not been tried.
Q. Are you out on bond?
A. I am out on bond now.
Q. Did Mr. Whiteside come back and converse with you after you were chained?
A. He came back the next morning and cursed me around a little.
Q. State what he said.
A. He said that he wanted to get any evidence that I could give. He said, “I am not after you colored men; I am after those white sons of bitches.” I told him I did not know anything about it; but that I would tell him the truth, and directly he kept pumping around, and I told him something, and he took me out of there and took the chain off one leg. He would not allow me bond before my trial. He took me from the roundhouse and took me to jail.
Q. (By Mr. BUCHANAN.) How long did you stay in that jail with a chain on?
A. From half past 6 to half past 10; and from Thursday to Saturday night I staid in jail and had chain around one leg all the time.
Q. You say that you could not live on $1.25 a day; how much family have you?
A. A wife and one child.
Q. What rent have you to pay?
A. I have no rent to pay now.
Q. Were you in the employ of the company in September, 1884?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And you got how much then?
A. I don’t remember, but about $1.40.
Q. They cut that pay when?
A. In the spring of 1885, some time.
Q. Did you agree to have it reduced from $1.40 to $1.25, or was it done without your consent?
A. It was done without my consent.
Q. Were you in the strike of 1885?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Did you strike against that reduction then?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And after the strike was over did you get your $1.40 back again?
A. No, sir.
Q. You never did get it?
A. No, sir; I never got it.
Q. (By Mr. PARKER.) What was the name of the jailer that chained you?
A. I do not know his name.
Q. Do you know whether he is in town now?
A. He is jailer now.
Q. (By the CHAIRMAN.) Have you made any complaint against him for it?
A. No, sir; I have made no complaint against him.
Q. (By Mr. OUTHWAITE.) I am requested to ask you whether you were ever arrested before?
A. I was never arrested before, and was never in the court-house as a witness.
Q. Are you certain that you were paid $1.40 in 1884?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. You signed the pay-roll?
A. I do not know about signing the pay-roll.
Q. In September, 1884, you signed the pay-roll for some amount?
Q. Did you ever sign any papers when you got your money?
A. I touched the pen.
Q. You signed the pay-roll for the amount of wages which were coming to you?
A. I do not remember.
Q. Well, did you make your mark, or do you write your own name when you get your pay at any time?
A. I always touch the pen; that is all I can do.
Q. And you afterward got all the money that was coming to you?
A. All that was promised me.
Q. Did you ever work without getting your time and a half?
A. I never have got time and a half.
Q. Where were you working?
A. Round about the round-house and car shops.
Q. Didyou ever go to your boss and complain about not having received the amount of wages that you ought to get?
A. No, sir; not as I remember of; I cannot remember now.
Q. Had you any talk with any officers of the road about not getting the pay that was coming to you?
A. I told Mr. Bailey that I was not getting the pay that I was paid before; that is, I was not getting $1.40 a day.
Q. After that you went to the local assembly of the Knights and complained to them?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. (By the CHAIRMAN.) Were you not working on the road on work trains in September, 1884 when you were getting $1.40 a day?
A. I was working down at the round-house in 1884.
Q. Were you not working out on the road in September, 1884, and getting $1.40 a day; was that not the regular pay for that work?
A. I got $1.40 a day all the time I worked on the work train.
OBADIAH ORGAN (colored) sworn and examined.
By Mr. BUCHANAN:
Question: Where do you reside?
Answer. I live out here east of town, about the Fourth ward.
Q. How long have you lived there?
A. About two and a half years.
Q. Have you been in the employ of the Missouri Pacific road?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. For how long?
A. Ever since I have been here.
Q. What did you do?
A. I am a laborer in the car shop and handle lumber.
Q. When you first went to work what were your wages?
A. One dollar and forty cents a day.
Q. Do you remember the strike of 1885?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. What were your wages up to that time?
A. Along about September $1.40, and I think it was October $1.25, and running down to January some time when they were cut down to $1.25.
Q. And January of what year?
A. January a year ago.
Q. They were then cut down to $1.25?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. What were your wages at the time of the strike in March, 1885?
A. I got $1.25. I believe the strike was in March. In January, I think, they cut us to $1.25.
Q. And in March there was a still further reduction?
A. I think it was. There were four or five of them and they cut down to $1.10.
Q. And then you struck?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. After you went to work after the strike of 1885, what wages did you get?
Q. How long have you been receiving $1.25?
A. I have been receiving it ever since.
Q. Up to the time of the last strike?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Did you go out on the last strike?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Are you a member of the Knights of Labor?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Are you now working for the company?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. When did you begin to work for them again?
A. Three or four weeks ago.
Q. About the time Mr. Powderly’s letter came out?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Have you been at work for them ever since?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. At what rate?
A. One dollar and twenty-five cents a day.
Q. Did you ever work Sunday work?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. How often?
A. About every Sunday. Some Sundays I have got a lay-off.
Q. How many hours do you work on Sunday.
A. Ten hours a day.
Q. What do you get for that?
A. One dollar and twenty-five cents.
Q. Do you only get $1.25 for Sunday work?
A. I never received any more.
Q. Are you certain that is all you get?
A. When I work thirty days I get $37.50.
Q. Who is your foreman?
A. Mr. Tuley.
Q. Who pays you?
A. I get my pay from the pay-car.
House Document No. 4174, “Report of the House Select Committee on Labor Troubles in Missouri, Arkansas, & Texas,” 49th Congress, 2d Session, 1886-7, pp. 62–63, 115–17, 123–24.
It is apparent to the most hearty sympathizer of the labor organization known as the Knights of Labor, that in their conflict with the Gould system of railroads they were all wrong in the question at issue, and that the outcome of the strike has been a deplorable failure all along the line. It is plainly apparent that the organization was seduced into ordering the strike by short-sighted leaders of a local organization, and that those persistently refused to listen to the wiser and maturer counsels of better informed men of the National organization. . . .
Early in the progress of the strike last spring upon the Texas and Pacific Railroad, the Knights of Labor in the southwest discovered that many Negroes were obtained without much difficulty to do the work which they had supposed must be done by themselves if at all. Soon afterward a dispatch from some point on the Gould system [Union Pacific] Texarkana, we think it was, stated that the colored men of Western Arkansas were being organized as Knights of Labor. It was added that the movement was exciting “grave apprehension.” Now it appears that the landowning class of whites are in a painful state of excitement in that region, owing to the turbulent strike of certain colored Knights working on two or three plantations. In the end, this strike may amount to much or little, probably the latter judging by yesterday’s dispatches, but it is still an extremely interesting suggestion. It needs only a passing glance at the possibilities of the organization of the colored laborers of the South as Knights of Labor to convince any intelligent person that the most tempestuous industrial disturbances of the last 6 months in the North may be totally cast in the shade before long by greater disturbances in the former slave states. First of all, the grievances of the colored laborers of the south, especially those who work on plantations, are much greater than any of which northern working men complain. The truck system of payment, the renting out of convicts, and the ingenious devices whereby the tiller of the soil is kept always in debt to its owner, make the condition of a large part of the southern Negroes, little better than slavery, and their social and political oppression adds its weight to their crushing burdens. Desperate diseases are often met by a resort to desperate remedies, and in that fact lies one reason why the Knights of Labor movement among the colored laborers of the South may cause startling results. Another very significant point is the intolerance with which any organized effort on the part of the Negroes to coerce or resist the employing class will surely be met. The guilty conscience of the South told its dominant class before slavery fell, and tells them still, that there are crimes against the colored race which the wildest carnival of rapine and slaughter will hardly avenge. This alone is enough to make the white capitalists recoil in terror and rage from any organization which may embolden and strengthen the Negro race. The authors of political, social and industrial oppression are never inclined to deal quietly and reasonably with anything which seems likely to make an end to that oppression and possibly punish it besides. And it must be admitted, on the other hand, that the Negro laborers of the South are possibly very unfit as yet to use the power of an organization like the Knights of Labor prudently, wisely and justly. During the existence of slavery they were without any semblance of organization, a fact which was largely the cause of their quiet submission to great wrongs. . . . If the Southern Negroes, finding themselves for the first time in a powerful organization which promised them the pecuniary support of hundreds of thousands of white men, besides that of their own race, and should be intoxicated to the point of serious mistakes and wrongs, it would not be at all surprising, and herein lies another highly significant feature of the situation in Arkansas. At every turn the natural friction between employers and labor organizations is sure to be so complicated and intensified by race feelings, old fears and hates and by the differences both social and political which do not exist in the North, that the Southern whites may well look with apprehension upon the spread of the Order of the Knights of Labor among the colored people of the section, and yet it may prove in the end the long-sought wedge which shall split the solid South industrially, socially, and politically.
Cleveland Gazette, July 17, 1886.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark., July 6.—Thursday last colored laborers on the Tate plantation, nine miles below here, on the Arkansas River, struck for an advance in the wages generally paid in the neighborhood. They then, by intimidation, prevented others from taking their places. Sheriff Worthen was called on by the planters for protection, and went down early yesterday morning. About 150 colored men assembled from neighboring places, and began making threats that nobody should go to work or be arrested. The Sheriff attempted to arrest Gill, a ringleader, who resisted and was shot by a Deputy in both arms. During the afternoon a posse went down from Little Rock heavily armed, when the Sheriff succeeded in dispersing the mob and averted what threatened to prove a general uprising. Gill, who was taken to jail, says he is a Knight of Labor, and it is understood that all the strikers are Knights, there being three assemblies in that portion of the country.
New York Times, July 7, 1886.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark., July 8,—It was supposed that the trouble at the Tate plantation had ended, and that the striking negro Knights of Labor had become pacified and would return to work, their Master Workman having so advised. Just the reverse, however, seems now to be the condition of affairs, and many believe that this county is on the verge of one of the bloodiest race conflicts that has occurred since the war. Intelligence has arrived from the neighborhood of the late trouble that the striking negroes, reinforced by many sympathizers from the surrounding farms and plantations, numbering fully 1,000 in all, have made complete preparations for a general uprising; that, fully armed, they will attempt to redress their wrongs and grievances, directing their attention first to Sheriff Worthen, who recently subdued the striker. They will next advance upon the farms of Morey and Fox, with the intention of burning their crops, barns, and houses. Others who have incurred their enmity will be visited and treated in a like manner. The negroes have been openly buying arms and ammunition within the past few days, and they state that if they are opposed in their campaign of revenge they will be freely used. Sheriff Worthen called a public meeting last night and stated these facts, at the same time requesting those who were willing to join his posse to hand him their names. About 100 men responded to his call and were sworn in a special deputies. At the first intimation of an outbreak among the blacks the posse will proceed to the scene of trouble and attempt to quell the disturbance, and bloodshed will doubtless follow. The Governor has been called upon to order out the militia, but he refuses to do so until some actual trouble shall have occurred. Some of the farmers in the vicinity of the Tate plantation have prepared to resist the negroes, while others have removed their families and valuables to places of safety.
New York Times, July 9, 1886.
Last week there was an uprising of colored men (who are Knights of Labor) on a large plantation in Arkansas, and for sometime very serious trouble was feared. These colored farm laborers struck for higher wages.
There were only a few hundred of these colored men, and yet they threw the entire county into a state of nervous excitement. A large number of planters immediately removed their families without the vicinity of the trouble; and frantic appeals were made to the county and State authorities to put down the strikers, before any violence was shown, and to protect the lives of innocent planters and their vested rights, when it does not appear that these were in any great danger.
It is truly remarkable, how a Southern white grows blue in the face, in the presence of a real or expected Negro uprising, and how frantically he appeals to the lawful authorities for protection! And he usually get all the protection he wants. But when these same white rascals arm themselves with rifles and shoot down unoffending blacks by the score in the very temple of justice, as at Carrollton, the Negro appeals in vain to lawful authority, of country or of State. His cries are unheard!
In its treatment of this matter—deploring the threatened danger to the amicable relations of the blacks and whites of Arkansas—the able New York Evening Post failed to note this propensity of the Southern whites to rise above the law when they feel in a mobocratic humor, and their reliance upon and frantic appeal to the protection of the law whenever the Negro feels like taking the law in his hands. What is sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander in the South. The Negro must abide by the law; the white man consults his lordly pleasure about obeying or breaking the law.
In the book, “Black and White,” published last year by the editor of this paper, the position was there taken that all the future trouble in the South would arise out of industrial complications, not out of political complications, as in the past. Everything tends towards a confirmation of that view. Indeed, the industrial condition is more vital at all times than the political, since the former hinges upon the latter. And we may henceforth expect to hear of more trouble arising out of the industrial than out of the political relations of the whites and blacks of the South; for we assert, without fear of successful contradiction, that nowhere else in the world can there be found a more odious, unjust and tyrannical landlord system than that which obtains in the South. It is a virtual continuation of the slave system, with the landlord relieved of the obligations and responsiblities to the laborer imposed upon him by the laws of the slave system and his right in the person as well as the labor of the slave.
All the land laws in the South are made in favor of the planters, and it is notorious that the wages paid by them to their employees are simply pauper wages; and this is aggravated by the store account and order system by which the laborer seldom ever sees a dime of cash and is frequently allowed to overdraw his account, or is overcharged, for the purpose of being held at the pleasure of the planter. There is more direct and indirect robbery of the colored laborers of the South than is practiced anywhere else on earth. The thing is simply infamous, and will cause infinite trouble in the future.
New York Freeman, July 17, 1886.
The restlessness of all the labor elements of the country becomes more and more evident and embarrassing to all industrial interests. Never before in the history of the country was the antagonism between labor and capital more decided and determined. In times past organized capital has had things all its own way; the conflict has come which must settle one way or the other these questions or interest on capital and wages of superintendence on the one hand and the wages of labor on the other. The whole land is convulsed with the conflict and every species of business is more or less affected.
One of the most important demands made by the labor forces, and which now characterizes the contest, is that eight hours shall constitutes a day’s work. From the universality of the demand the gravest consequences may be expected to result, especially in such branches of industry as have already entered into large and important contracts, at estimates based upon the marketable rate of labor at the time the contracts were made. In such cases, to concede the eight hour demand when the estimate was made upon a basis of ten hours’ labor cannot but eventuate in great loss in some instances and bankruptcy in others. The only possible way by which the eight hour demands could be reasonably acceded to would be a proportionate reduction in the rate of wages. This would be equitable to all sides, and would give employers an opportunity to make estimates upon future work by anticipating a demand for an increase in the rate of wages.
This being true, who will suffer most from an increase in the rate of wages, or, what is the same, a reduction in the hours of labor. The manufacturer will insure himself against loss by increasing the cost of his products; the rich can afford to stand this increase in the cost of the necessaries and the luxuries of life; but can the great army of wage working consumers stand it, and reap any substantial advantage over the old rate of wages and hours of labor? Or will not the increased cost of living absorb as before the increased rate of wages? It seems so to us. The iron law of supply and demand, which regulates the cost of consumption, based logically upon the cost of production, will admit of no other interpretation.
From this statement of the case it would seem that nothing could be more absurd as a remedy for the evils which afflict wage workers than the demand so universally made for higher wages and shorter hours of labor. They gain nothing in the last resort, but lose millions by ceasing to utilize the power to produce, which is their stock in trade. When the present conflict adjusts itself on the demands now made, the philosophers of the labor movement will still have to seek the power remedy through the intricate and tortuous machinery of legislation and effect a re-adjustment in the rate of taxation on real and personal property, the interest on invested capital, and by fixing a reasonable but iron-clad rate of interest on incomes above, say $5,000. This re-adjustment would be materially remedied, since it necessarily reduces the rate of taxation and curtails to some extent the enormous and pernicious aggregation of capital in the hands of a limited number of men, to the danger and disadvantages of the masses of society.
New York Freeman, May 8, 1886.
A FORCE ORGANIZED FOR SERVICE IN YOUNG TOWNSHIP IF CALLED UPON—COL. ANDERSON MILLS CHARGES THE MEETING TO BE FOR POLITICAL PURPOSES—SHERIFF WORTHEN’S REPLY
Last night the circuit court-room was crowded with citizens in response to the call by Sheriff Worthen for men who would be willing to serve as deputies if necessary, to quell any more trouble with the colored men at the Tate plantation and vicinity. The men who assembled were of all political parties and there were a number of colored men present.
Sheriff Worthen was called to the chair and stated that the object of the meeting was to adopt precautionary measures to prevent any disturbance or violation of the laws. He said he had been informed in the morning that the colored men had held meetings, at which they had arranged to start a systematic destruction of property, beginning at his plantation and coming on to the plantations adjoining until they reached the Fox plantation, where the trouble of last week occurred. That they then expected him to arrive with men and would be ready to begin the destruction of life. . . . He therefore wanted to have all present who would do so to give their names and addresses, so that, if necessary, he could get a posse speedily in case of emergency.
A CHARGE BY COL. ANDERSON MILLS
Mr. Anderson Mills arose and addressed the meeting. He said he had come from the neighborhood mentioned late in the evening and that he did not believe there was any truth in the reports. He thought the meeting was entirely out of place and uncalled for. He said he believed it was simply a political scheme, and had objects hidden and beyond what had been stated. In regard to the trouble at the Tate place, he said the Fox brothers who ran it were to blame. They said they paid their laborers 75 cents a day, but this was not so. They gave their hands tickets, and when they gave for provisions, charged them 100 or 200 percent profit on the provisions so that when it was figured out the hands got nothing, and could not live on such wages. He did not have any such trouble with his “niggers,” and paid them their wages in money. He denounced the meeting and said it was a great mistake to take such a step.
Dr. F. M. Chrisman said he had been in the neighborhood during the afternoon and there was not a scintilla of truth in the reports. He agreed with Anderson Mills.
E. A. Fulton, colored, said that there were some things which Mr. Mills had said that he agreed to, and was going to say that he believed that there was politics in the trouble that had taken place on the Tate plantation, when Sheriff Worthen stopped him and made a little speech.
NOT A CANDIDATE
He said he would say right there that there was no foundation for the statements that there was any politics in the meeting. He created a decided sensation by saying that there could be no politics in it, because he was not a candidate for sheriff. He had had as much work as he wanted. If there were other men who wanted to be sheriff he was glad of it. The only thing he had to consider was his duty. He had received these reports and he would be a fine officer if he did not prepare for an emergency that might arise.
Merriman, a colored organizer of these Knights of Labor and D. F. Thomson, the state organizer, had promised to go down to the scene of the trouble and had gone. They said they could control the colored men. Consequently he had not sent an armed force there. He believed that there would be no trouble. But it was a condition in which he as the peace officer of the county would fail in his duty if he did not prepare for duty in case these men could not control the colored people.
After this there was an informal registration of names of those who would be willing to serve if there should be need of their services, and seventy-five men, several of them colored men, put their names down. After this the meeting gradually broke.
Arkansas Gazette, July 8, 1886.
THE RUMOR OF REPUBLICAN RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE TATE PLANTATION RIOT BRINGS OUT A CARD
To the Editor of The Gazette:
In your article headed “War in Young”, published in your paper the following appears:
“Behind the whole trouble it was freely stated by those with whom The Gazette man talked, that this trouble was incited just at this time by politicians who hoped to benefit by the unfortunate prejudices that would be engendered by it. It was openly asserted by men whose integrity cannot be questioned, that republican politicians were at the bottom of the whole matter.
We desire, as this statement is made so broadly by you, to learn through your paper what “republican politicians” have instigated this matter. We ask you to give the names of the Republican politicians who incite not, and, if you are unable to do so, to give the names of the men whose integrity cannot be questioned, who assert that the alleged riot was incited by “republican politicians.”
The undersigned are republicans, and, as we think, law-abiding citizens of Pulaski county. We are of opinion that republicans are, as a rule, law-abiding citizens. We object to any wholesale denunciation of republicans as violators of law, and ask for the names of “republican politicians” who incite riot, to the end that we may take steps to cause their expulsion from the party.
W. S. OLIVER,
CHAS. C. WATERS,
A. S. FOWLER
The report that politicans were mixed up in the Tate plantation trouble was stated as a report by THE GAZETTE and was made by a number of gentlemen with whom THE GAZETTE representative talked at the plantation. It was the general impression that such was the case. It is natural that the republicans should desire to disclaim the responsibility for inciting such a deplorable riot.—[City Editor.]
Arkansas Gazette, July 8, 1886.
DECLARES THAT HE DOES NOT DESIRE TO BECOME A CANDIDATE FOR SHERIFF
To the Editor of The Gazette:
You were mistaken Sunday morning in announcing me a candidate for sheriff. It is true, I have allowed myself to say to a few friends that I would run, it being understood there would be no opposition to me.
That I do not want to run is well known to many of my personal friends, and it was a long time before I would say to a number of them who thought there would not or should not be any opposition for the nomination. I am glad to see men now announced and unannounced as wanting to be sheriff. I have had an office for many years, and will be glad to give way to other democrats wanting to try political life.
I don’t feel any doubt about either the nomination or election. Of course the usual “kick” against Worthen being nominated is on hand and were I a candidate, would result as heretofore in my nomination. I have been very highly complimented by the democrats of this county, having received practically unanimous nominations except for sheriff in 1884, when I was not a candidate until thirty-six hours before the convention made the nomination. But I think I can use the same amount of brains and energy that I have given to the politics of this county and make more money. What I make in some other business may be less, but it certainly will be mine and not belong to everybody asking it, as has been the case for the past ten years.
I desire to say that I shall not “sulk in my tent” as I have known men who didn’t get a nomination to do. I shall be on hand during the election as heretofore, and do my duty. Thanking the people for past favors, I am very respectfully,
ROBT. W. WORTHEN.
Arkansas Gazette, July 8, 1886.
EXAMINATION BEFORE MAGISTRATE J. G. YEISER OF HUGH GILL, WOUNDED LAST WEEK ON THE TATE PLANTATION
Yesterday morning before Magistrate Yeiser, the examination was begun of Hugh Gill, colored, who was wounded last week on the Tate plantation by Deputy Sheriff Kinkaid. The examination of the prisoner was on the charge of assault with intent to kill Worthen, who called at Gill’s estate last Saturday morning to talk with him about the plantation troubles, having heard that Gill was one of the leaders of the colored hands. The shooting was done by the deputy, when he saw Gill reaching up for his gun, thinking that the colored man was trying to get the drop on the sheriff.
The state was represented by T. C. Trimble and the defendant by Mr. Thomas, one of the few colored lawyers of the city.
Sheriff Worthen was the first witness called, and he related the story of the shooting. He had been called to the Tate plantation, which was run by the Fox brothers, to assist in preservation of the peace. He went there for the purpose of quieting any disorder that might arise. When he arrived at the Fox house, he was told that Hugh Gill had threatened that he should not come on the plantation. He inquired where Gill lived, and went at once to his house to talk with him and explain the law to him. It was just daylight, and nearly everybody was asleep. He dismounted at Gill’s house, and knocked on the door, asking Gill to get up. The latter replied from the inside of the cabin who it was that wanted him. The sheriff replied that it was Worthen, sheriff of Pulaski county. The sheriff asked him why he could not come on the place and why other men could not work.
Gill replied, excusing himself from any hand in any trouble and wanted to shut the door. The sheriff objected and got in the doorway. Gill went towards the bed and Worthen told him to keep away from the bed. Gill then started diagonally across the room and raising his hands jumped up for his gun, which was across the joists. He jumped twice and just then Kinkaid, whom he thought was at the gate, shot. The shot struck Gill in the arms and disabled them. He shouted, “I’ll quit, I’ll give up,” and came out of the house on being requested to do so, saying, “I am sorry I did it.” He was then taken to the Fox house. Mr. Worthen was cross-examined but no additional facts were developed.
Deputy Kinkaid was next examined. He said: “I went to the Gill house as a deputy sheriff. Mr. Worthen got off his horse and knocked at the door. Some one answered; I walked to the door. The first conversation I heard was Worthen asking Gill not to go near the bed. I understood from that the man was aiming to make some resistance arid I watched him very closely. I was a little to the rear and nearly opposite Worthen. I could see in the house. Very soon after he made a spring for his gun. I saw his hands on his gun, which was on the joists of the house, and I fired on him. I could not see the gun. I fired one barrel of the double barreled shot gun. The first remark he made after I fired was: “I will quit, I will give up.” The very language he used as I recollect. I then said to him: “Throw up your hands and back out.” He did so. I then said: “You fool you, what did you undertake to get your gun for?” He answered: “I am sorry I did it. I wish I hadn’t done it.” I then marched up to Mr. Fox’s house in company with the sheriff and Mr. Carmichael, a deputy sheriff.”
Mr. Kinkaid was closely cross-examined. In his cross-examination he explained the situation more in detail, but no new facts were elicited. He saw Gill jumping for his gun, heard it rattle and he had no doubt but that he was trying to get it.
There were several witnesses examined, one by the state, Osborne Austin, and Henry Hill and Walker Evans by the defense in regard to a conversation which was said to have been held Saturday morning, in which the threats against Worthen were said to have been made. Austin swore he did say that the sheriff should not come on the place while the other two swore that no such conversation took place.
Then Hugh Gill was placed on the stand. His arms were bandaged, and since he could not use them freely, he was continually moving them about to keep the flies away from him. His testimony was as follows:
“I never had expressed any ill-will toward Mr. Worthen. I didn’t know Worthen was on the place. My wife woke me up. I heard some one say, ‘Wake up, there.’ It wasn’t good light. The man said it was Wat Worthen, sheriff of Pulaski county.”
“I said all right, sir. I gets up and gets my pants. I opened the door, but he had done knocked in the door until it was nearly open. I pulled the keg away and opened the door, “how is it you don’t let these people go to work down here?” I says how do you know that I am the cause of this? He vowed ‘by God, I know you are the cause of it.’ I says I guess not. He said ‘oh yes you are. Come on out here. You’re the very man we want.’ I says wait til I get my hat on and I’ll be right out. When I went to reach up to get my hat, it hung right again the gun, it slipped; I reached up the other hand, and before I knowed anything I was shot. I don’t know Wat Worthen. After I was shot he jumped in and threw the doors open and some one says, ‘throw up your hands.’ I says yes, sir, I will come; I’m coming. I had no intention of even defending myself against Worthen.”
The facts as related above are the principal points in the examination. These were all the witnesses examined. The counsel made an argument before the magistrate, at the conclusion of which he discharged the prisoner from the charge of assault with intent to kill.
Arkansas Gazette, July 10, 1886.
A Pleasant Note Found On a Gatepost
Tuesday morning a planter named Roberts, living six miles below Little Rock, found the following note on the gatepost in front of his house:
Mr. Roberts as you think it is Best for the Knights to keep off ov your Place and Let youre Hands alone We think you had Better take your Place and go Whare your Wife is our men wil go Where they want to go and if you Dont want us to talk to hands you had Better turn them of, if we take you in han it will Bee to Late for Wat Worthen to Come to help you and we wont Bee Long about it.
Arkansas Gazette, July 10, 1886.
To the Editor of The Gazette:
We have seen in your report of the proceedings of a meeting held in Little Rock last night, that Mr. Anderson Mills, in speaking of the trouble on the Tate plantation, between us and our colored hands, said that we cheated our hands by charging them an exorbitant price for supplies. Also, that while we agreed to give the 75₵ per day for their services, we paid them off in chips and forced them to trade them out for supplies at this exorbitant profit so that nothing was left to them. Also, that we were responsible for the trouble on the plantation, owing to these facts.
We desire to say that we buy a good quality of supplies from Messrs. McCarthy & Joyce of Little Rock, which can be ascertained by any one who applys to them. These supplies are purchased at cash prices, and are sold as reasonably to the hands as by any planter in the state.
We pay our hands in time checks for every day’s work, and the checks are good to buy anything at the store during the week if they wish to buy of us. But we do not force them to buy of us, and as a matter of fact, a number of our hands buy their supplies from different stores in the country. These time checks are cashed by us every Saturday evening without fail.
The reason we adopted this plan was to save bookkeeping, and because it was better for the hands, as they saw each day what they had. We believe we are justified in saying that we treat our hands as fairly and honorably as any planters in the county, and that the statements of Mr. Mills are without foundation. We do not understand why Mr. Mills should try to injure us in the estimation of the public by statements that are not true.
D. H. FOX,
C. G. FOX,
J. C. FOX.
Arkansas Gazette, July 11, 1886.
Some weeks ago Organizer Tomson decided to undertake the organization of the colored people on the plantations below Little Rock. This was a new departure for the Order, but the work was not undertaken without deliberation and a careful survey of the field. Opposition was met within the very beginning. The landlords and planters were so bitterly opposed to the project that they refused the poor fellows their rations and circulated threats of violence. The Organizer proceeded with his work, calling to his assistance a very intelligent and honorable colored brother, Mr. G. W. Merriman, for two terms Master Workman of L. A. 4225, at Argenta. This colored brother not only proved himself as an apt student and competent for the work, but far above the average in the exercise of proper judgment where the souls of men are put to the test, for, when a few men upon a single plantation below Little Rock asked for a little more to be added to their meagre pay, temporarily, because of an unusually tough piece of work in the cotton fields, and quit work because they were refused it, and the Sheriff notified of the fact that such was the case, and appearing upon the ground with armed deputies, went to an innocent negro’s house about daylight, called him out of bed and to the door, where one of his deputies shot the poor fellow, when the news was narrated throughout the neighborhood and a thousand excited and armed colored men were upon the ground, and the Sheriff and his deputies after having shot down one of them at their mercy, the excellent judgment and generalship of this colored Knight prevented the slightest violence to any one. Not a hair on the head of the Sheriff nor of his deputies was harmed; not a particle of the property of any one in the least molested but the men promptly dispersed, and, being fired upon by a posse sent out from the city to the relief of the Sheriff and his deputies, while peaceably and quietly returning to their homes, they refused to return the fire, under the direction of their instructor, preferring death rather than to violate the law or resort to violence, under the teachings of their preceptor.
State Assembly of Arkansas, Pine Bluff, Ark., Sept. 15, 1886
E. M. Ritchie, S.M.W.
Journal of United Labor, October 10–25, 1886.
45. WAR IN YOUNG
COLORED KNIGHTS OF LABOR ON THE TATE PLANTATION STRIKE FOR HIGHER WAGES AND PREVENT OTHERS FROM WORKING
A messenger from the Tate plantation, nine miles below Little Rock arrived in the city yesterday at 1 o’clock, stating that Sheriff Worthen was hemmed in by colored people, and needed assistance. The sheriff asked for twenty-five men, and a posse of twenty-seven were soon ready, and started. Some were on horseback, and the others in two canvass-back omnibusses. THE GAZETTE’S war correspondent was one of the posse, and as the warlike detachment clattered through the streets people stared and wondered what was the matter. It took the posse two hours to reach the plantation, and while that sandy journey took place, the reason for its being taken may be set forth.
Last Thursday about thirty of the forty hands at work on the Tate plantation struck for higher wages. The plantation is run by D. H. Fox & Bros. The brothers C. G. Fox and J. C. Fox. The strikers came to Mr. C. G. Fox and presented a paper to him asking for an increase from 75 cents a day to $1 a day until the crop was out of the grass.
Mr. Fox told the men, the spokesman being Harrison Goble, that their demand was unreasonable. That there was no more grass in his crop than on any plantation in the township. That there was no demand for higher wages on any of the surrounding plantations. That they were paying the usual price, and more, because they were paying the women who worked just as much as the men, while on many adjoining plantations the wages of the latter were cut down to 60 and 65 cents a day. He told them that he was willing to pay them $1 a day when the neighboring planters would do so. But with 75 cents a day for labor and 75 cents a hundred pounds for picking he could not afford to increase the wages at the prices cotton brought. He told them he would let the cotton stand as it was and not increase the wages for the reasons given, and if they did not wish to work, they could quit and give up their houses.
On Friday the men would not go to work, and tried threats to keep the ten men who had refused to quit from working. Strikers went to them in the field and told them they had better quit, but they refused to be intimidated and continued their work. This state of affairs continued until Saturday evening. Late in the evening some men came down from Little Rock with supplies for the strikers. The supplies consisted of meat, flour and meal. This put courage into the hearts of the disaffected men, and they became rampant. The threats grew more frequent and the ringleaders became dictatorial and swore that no one should work and that if Sheriff Worthen came down he would never leave there alive. The ringleaders were three colored men named Hugh Gill, Tom Auberry and John Larkin. Henry Hill was also one of the leading men in the matter, though not so rampant as the others.
This was the state of affairs yesterday morning. The men who were willing to work were terrified, and the strikers and their friends were congregating from all parts of the surrounding country.
THE RINGLEADER SHOT
Sheriff Worthen had been notified, and with several deputies arrived at the Tate plantation early in the morning, about 5 o’clock. He was told at the Fox house that Hugh Gill had said he should never set foot in the neighborhood and inquiring the way to Gill’s house, rode there immediately with some of the deputies. On arriving at the house he knocked. Gill opened the door and the sheriff told him who he was. Gill reached up for something and Worthen told him to drop his hands. He did so, but made another motion, and Worthen repeated the admonition. Again he dropped his hands, but almost immediately jerked his hands up to get his gun, which was hanging above.
At this moment Deputy Ewing Kinkaid shot at his arms and they dropped helpless. A buck-shot penetrated one arm, and several squirrel shot the other. The man was taken up to the Fox house, and afterwards John Larkin was arrested.
A COURIER FOR HELP
There were in all ten men who assembled at the plantation house. The colored men continued to assemble, and by 10 o’clock there were fully 250, all armed, around in the fields surrounding the house.
It was then that the sheriff, seeing the overpowering numbers that surrounded him, dispatched a horseman to Little Rock with the request for a posse to be sent immediately. The house was turned into a fort, and sentinels stationed at convenient points, while developments were awaited.
Capt. Scruggs rode down and seeing the large crowds of colored people, went among them and asked them what they wanted. They told him they wanted the men who were arrested and tried without going to Little Rock.
They asked for a parley with the sheriff and he went out to them. They stated their request to him, and he said that he did not care how it was settled if the men were tried fairly and legally. Hd did not care whether they went to Little Rock or any other place. This seemed to satisfy the men. John Larkin was taken to Squire Vagine’s office, not far from the Tate place, and put under bond, while the wounded man remained at the Tate place. The sheriff then awaited the arrival of the posse from the city.
A FIGHT ALONG THE ROAD
The posse of twenty-seven which started from the city, arrived just above Gov. Churchill’s plantation, which is the adjoining plantation to the Tate plantation, about 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon. All along the route few men were seen at work, and the nearer the army approached the scene of conflict the less men were observed following their legitimate occupations.
About half a mile above the Churchill place a gang of colored men were seen along the road by the cavalry in front of the posse. They were all armed.
Capt. Ham Williams ordered them to lay down their guns. Some of them did and others jumped into a cornfield and a shot was fired at Williams, which he returned. Another shot was fired by one of the posse, and that closed the engagement. Three men were captured, and their guns were bundled into the commissary wagons. Ex-Gov. Churchill and Miss Mattie Churchill, who were close to the encounter, stood fire like veterans.
The posse proceeded to the Tate plantation and found that information of its approach had preceded it. The armed men had nearly all dispersed and squads could be seen disappearing in the corn fields. Two more men were disarmed, and the posse was directed by the sheriff to return, as all danger had disappeared. But before the cavalcade had gone far on their homeward way, reports of fresh shooting on the Tate place arrived, and all returned post-haste.
Armed men could still be seen in the fields, but no violence was attempted. It was decided best to leave the posse at the plantation, and they proceeded to make themselves as comfortable as the circumstances would allow while the war correspondent of THE GAZETTE, J. J. Johnson and Gabe Jones bestrode fiery steeds and rode back to Little Rock.
KNIGHTS OF LABOR
It was learned that the cause of this outbreak was the Knights of Labor. The colored people have been organized into assemblies of Knights of Labor, and in Young township, where this trouble occurred, there are nearly a hundred in the order. Their brethren in adjoining assemblies were reported arming, and many of them did come armed with shot-guns, squirrel guns, and all the implements of warfare they could rake up.
PROVISIONED BY KNIGHTS
It was also stated to the GAZETTE representative that there was no doubt that a courier from Little Rock notified the colored people of the approach of a law and order posse, and that they were supplied with provisions from Little Rock to continue the fight on their employers of not working themselves or allowing anyone else to work.
POLITICS IN IT
Behind the whole trouble, it was freely stated by those with whom THE GAZETTE man talked, that this trouble was incited just at this time by politicians who hoped to benefit by the unfortunate prejudices that would be engendered by it. It was openly asserted by men whose integrity cannot be questioned that republican politicians are at the bottom of the whole matter.
VISITORS FROM THE CITY
In the evening about dark, Angelo Marre and Billy Flynn, in a spanking double team, arrived at the Tate place, to see what was going on.
Arkansas Gazette, July 6, 1886.