The Homestead Strike
Labor, Violence, and American Industry
By Paul Kahan
Routledge – 2013 – 166 pages
On July 6, 1892, three hundred armed Pinkerton agents arrived in Homestead, Pennsylvania to retake the Carnegie Steelworks from the company's striking workers. As the agents tried to leave their boats, shots rang out and a violent skirmish began. The confrontation at Homestead was a turning point in the history of American unionism, beginning a rapid process of decline for America’s steel unions that lasted until the Great Depression.
Examining the strike’s origins, events, and legacy, The Homestead Strike illuminates the tense relationship between labor, capital, and government in the pivotal moment between Reconstruction and the Progressive Era. In a concise narrative, bolstered by statements from steelworkers, court testimony, and excerpts from Carnegie's writings, Paul Kahanintroduces students to one of the most dramatic and influential episodes in the history of American labor.
The events that occurred in Homestead, Pa. in 1892 shaped labor relations and impacted the experience of the next two generations who worked on the factory floors and walked the picket lines. This readable history provides the context for understanding the strike and gives voice to the individuals whose decisions determined its outcome.
– Anne P. Madarasz, Museum Division Director, Heinz History Center, Pittsburgh
The Homestead lockout and strike forever changed the landscape of American labor relations. While it is often the violence of the day that brings people to the story, the real narrative is one that was years, if not decades in the making. It is this vitally important "back story," the lead up to the battle and its aftermath, as well as the lessons of the day that are so well presented by Dr. Kahan. He allows the reader to wrap their arms around the facts and to grasp the true context of the events that, to this day, still have a lasting impact on our culture.
– Ron Baraff, Director of Museums and Archives, Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area
Introduction. 1. Carnegie and Frick 2. American Labor History, 1600-1892 3. Lead-Up to the Strike 4. The Lockout and Strike 5. Aftermath 6. Legacy and Conclusion. Documents.
Paul Kahan teaches history at Ohlone College in Fremont, California. For more information, visit his website at www.paulkahan.com.