Blood on the Tracks (Cecelia Holland)

In 1877, the United States was just recovering from the Civil War. The railroad industry was booming, which meant the men who owned the railroads were fantastically rich. And greedy. In a meeting the men decided they weren't as rich as they wanted to be, so they agreed to kick it up a notch by cutting the railroad workers' wages by 10% and increase their workloads. The result was overwhelmingly catastrophic.

The workers began a strike, which snowballed into an all-out war between the remaining local militia and a mob of railroad workers driven crazy by anger. The railroad business owners completely underestimated the mob, and in the span of one night (July 20, 1877), the entire town of Pittsburgh was thrown into complete chaos. Innocent people were shot and killed by stray bullets, buildings were set on fire, and firefighters were held at gunpoint to prevent them from putting the fires out. After the massacre, the number of people who died resulting from wounds inflicted during the chaos is still unknown to this day. That which was documented is completely harrowing. One 4 year old girl was shot in the knee and her leg had to be sawed off. Another Irish immigrant who had only been in the country for a few days was killed without ever even realizing what the fight was even about. Because of the damage inflicted to the cities and to the railroad businesses, the "bosses" learned a lesson that has impacted the way workers have been treated ever since. The workers learned the very same lesson. There is great power, and great responsibility, in mass revolt.

Maybe I just never paid attention in history class, but I must shamefully admit, I didn't even know there was a "Great Railroad Strike of 1877." Did you?