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Great Railroad Strike of 1877: July 27th (Series: Part 5)

The rising tensions of July 27, 1877 are reflected in the letters and telegrams found in Mayor McKune’s papers.

On July 27th, Mayor McKune met with the Brotherhood of Trainmen to discuss a potential return to work. Railway workers, firemen, brakemen, and mill workers accepted a return to work agreement for their wages before the most recent cut. The miners who worked for the coal companies refused these terms and continued to strike. Those still participating in the strike issued threats of violence against the railroad companies, coal companies, and those returning to work.

We hereby notify you that on account of the Strikes that exist here and the threats of disorderly and evil disposed persons, we apprehend that damage and destruction will be done to our property within your city. We are unable under the circumstances that exist here to protect our property in case and the threatened damage is attempted. We therefore ask you to take such lawful measures as will secure our property from destruction and protect us in its use. W. W. Scranton, Genl. Manager Lackawanna Iron & Coal Co.


The men employed by this Company to fire and operate the Engines used at our mines for pumping the water therefrom have by threats and intimidation been driven from their work and notice given to any person or persons who should attempt to perform such services would do so at the peril of their lives This action involves the flooding of the mines which would cause immeasurable loss and damage to the company. I therefore call upon you for such protection as these employees and the property of the Company are entitled to under the laws of the Commonwealth. W R Storrs


With these fears in mind, the Scranton Citizen’s Corps obtained permission from General Osborne to obtain arms. Minor acts by strikers, including turning off mine pumps to prevent flooding and threats, compounded these worries in the minds of those in charge of the companies and the city. Mayor McKune sent telegrams requesting assistance to Governor Hartranft, but he was not able to help at the time.

The DLW RR Co. have asked me for aid to prevent their mines form being flooded and otherwise destroyed. I am unable to render the assistance required. Can you have sent here a body of U.S. Troops. The militia are in sympathy with the strikers, and in the opinion of our advisory committee would be of no avail. The presence of U.S. Troops in my opinion would secure the desired purpose without a conflict. Robert H. McKune Mayor


Can do nothing for you at this moment. If you have patience for a few days I hope to be able to relieve you. J. F. Hartranft

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