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US Labor History

1800s

 

1800
Gabriel Prosser leads a slave revolt in Virginia
 
1805
A journeymen cordwainers' union in New York City includes a closed-shop clause in its
constitution
 
1806
Philadelphia showmakers found guilty of criminal conspiracy after striking for higher wages
 
1819
Depression begins
 
1822
Denmark Vesey leads a slave rebellion in South Carolina
 
1824
Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Textile Strike
 
1825
The United Tailoresses of New York, a trade union organization for women, organized in New
York City.
 
1827
The Mechanics Union of Trade Associations, made up of skilled craftsmen in different trades,
formed in Philadelphia - first city central federation.
Philadelphia Carpenters' Strike
 
1828
Depression begins
The Workingmen's Party formed in Philadelphia
Paterson, New Jersey, Textile Strike
 
1829
The Workingmen's Party of New York formed
Carpenter Ebenezer Ford becomes the first trade unionist elected to public office in New York
 
1831
New England Association of Farmers, Mechanics and other Workingmen formed
Nat Turner leads a slave rebellion in Virginia
Lynn, Massachusetts, Shoebinders' Protest
 
1832
Boston Ship Carpenters' Ten Hour Strike
 
1833
Lynn, Massachusetts, Shoebinders' Protest begins.
Manayunk, Pennsylvania, Textile Strike
New York City Carpenters' Strike
 
1834
National Trades Union, first attempt at a national labor federation, formed in New York
Lowell, Massachusetts, Mill Women's Strike
Manayunk, Pennsylvania, Textile Strike
 
1835
Ten-Hour Movement among skilled workers
 
1835
Paterson, New Jersey, Textile Strike.
 
1836
National Cooperative Association of Cordwainers, the first national union of a specific craft, formed
in New York City
Lowell, Massachusetts, Mill Women's Strike
New York City Tailors' Strike
Philadelphia Bookbinders' Strike
 
1837
Depression begins
 
1840
President Martin Van Buren establishes the ten-hour day for employees on federal public works
projects.
 
1842
Massachusetts Supreme Court, in Commonwealth v. Hunt, rules that labor unions, as such, are not
illegal conspiracies.
Anthracite Coal Strike
 
1844
Lowell Female Labor Reform Association formed.
 
1847
New Hampshire passes first state law fixing ten hours as the legal workday.
 
1848
Pennsylvania's child labor law makes twelve the minimum age for workers in commercial
occupations.
 
1850
New York City Tailors' Strike.
 
1852
Typographical Union founded - first national union of workers to endure to present day
 
1855
Eugene V. Debs , US labor leader, is born
 
1859
Iron Molders' International Union founded
 
1860
New England Shoemakers' Strike
 
1861
Civil War Begins
American Miners' Association , the first national coal miners' union, is formed in St. Louis, Mo.
 
1862
Congress Passes the Homestead Act
 
1863
Emancipation Proclamation frees the slaves
Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers founded
 
1864
Cigar Makers' Union founded
 
1865
Sixteenth Amendment ratified, abolishing slavery in the United States
 
1866
National Labor Union founded - an attempt at creating a national federation of unions
Molders' Lockout
 
1867
Knights of St. Crispin founded - a union of factory workers in the shoe industry
 
1868
First federal eight-hour law passed - applied only to laborers, workmen, and mechanics employed
by the government
Anthracite Coal Strike
 
1869
Colored National Labor Union founded
Knights of Labor organized in Philadelphia
Troy, New York, Collar Laundresses' Strike
 
1870
First written contract between coal operators and coal miners signed
 
1872
National Labor Reform Party formed
 
1873
Depression begins
Miners' National Association formed
 
1874
Tompkins Square Riot in New York City
 
1875
Conviction of Molly Maguires for anthracite coalfield murders - twenty are eventually hanged
Anthracite Coal Strike
 
1876
Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel, and Tin Workers founded
Workingmen's Party founded - first Marxist party in the United States. Later becomes Socialist
Labor Party
Greenback Party formed
 
1877
Federal and state troops are called out to crush the first nationwide strike in US history when
railroad workers walk off their jobs
Cigarmakers' Strike
San Francisco Anti-Chinese Riots
Members of the militant Molly Maguires, a rank and file anthracite coal miners' organization, are
hanged after being framed by a Pinkerton spy
 
1878
Socialist Labor Party founded
 
1878
Greenback Labor Party organized
International Labor Union founded
 
1879
Miners in Springhill, Nova Scotia, form Canada's first labor union - the Provincial Workingmen's
Association
Joe Hill, IWW organizer, songwriter and poet, born in Gavle, Sweden
 
1881
Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions of the United States and Canada founded -
predecessor of the American Federation of Labor
Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners founded
Revolutionary Socialist Labor Party formed
 
1882
First Labor Day celebration held in New York City
Congress passes Chinese Exclusion Act
Cohoes, New York, Cotton Mill Strike
 
1883
International Working People's Association (anarchist) formed
Cowboy Strike
Lynchburg, Virginia, Tobacco Workers' Strike
Molders' Lockout begins
 
1884
Federal Bureau of Labor established in the Department of the Interior
Fall River, Massachusettsm Textile Strike
Union Pacific Railroad Strike
 
1885
Congress passes Foran Acti to forbid immigration of laborers on contract
Anti-Chinese Riots in the West
Cloakmakers' General Strike
McCormick Harvesting Machine Company Strike
Southwest Railroad Strike
Yonkers, New York, Carpet Weavers' Strike
 
1886
In Chicago, 350,000 workers demonstrate for the eight-hour workday, founding May Day as an
international workers' holiday
Eight-hour-day movement fails
"Haymarket Massacre" Police attack Haymarket Square labor rally in Chicago, sparking violence
and the frame up of eight labor leaders
American Federation of Labor founded with Samuel Gompers as first president
Anti-Chinese riots
Augusta, Georgia, Textile Strike.
Cowboy Strike
Eight-Hour Day Strikes
McCormick Harvesting Machine Company Strike
Southwest Railroad Strike
Troy, New York, Collar Laundresses' Strike
 
1887
Seven anarchists sentenced to death for the Haymarket bombing (five eventually executed).
Port of New York Longshoremen's Strike
 
1888
First federal labor relations law enacted - applied only to railroads
International Association of Machinists founded
Burlington Railroad Strike
Cincinnati Shoemakers' Lockout
 
1889
Baseball Players' Revolt begins
Fall River, Massachusetts, Textile Strike
A. Philip Randolph, labor and civil rights leader, born
 
1890
United Mine Workers of America founded in Columbus, Ohio
Carpenters' Strike for the Eight-Hour Day
 
1891
People's (Populist) Party formed
Savannah, Georgia, Black Laborers' Strike
Tennessee Miners' Strike
 
1892
International Longshoremen's Association founded
Seamen's Union founded
President Grover Cleveland elected
Strike in Homestead, Pennsylvania, by iron and steel workers gains national attention
Coeur d'Alene Miners' Strike
New Orleans General Strike
 
1893
Depression begins
American Railway Union founded
Western Federation of Miners founded
Federal court in Louisiana applies the Sherman Antitrust Act to unions for the first time in finding a
sympathy strike to be in restraint of trade
National Civic Federation formed
 
1894
Nationwide Rail Strike led by the American Railway Union in Pullman, Illinois paralyzes nation's
transportation
Coxey's Army of the unemployed marches on Washington, DC
Cripple Creek, Colorado, Miners' Strike
Great Northern Railroad Strike
Labor Day becomes an official US holiday
 
1895
U.S. Supreme Court, in In re Debs, upholds an injunction restraining the Pullman strikers based on
the power of the government to regulate interstate commerce.
Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance founded
Haverhill, Massachusetts, Shoe Strike
 
1896
President William McKinley elected
Leadville, Colorado, Miners' Strike begins
 
1897
Lattimer, Pennsylvania, Massacre, a sheriff and deputies gun down 19 striking miners and wound
40 others during a peaceful protest
 
1898
Spanish-American War begins
 
1898
Congress passes the Erdman Act providing for mediation and arbitration of railroad labor disputes.
American Labor Union founded
Marlboro, Massachusetts, Shoe Workers' Strike begins
 
1899
Brotherhood of Teamsters founded
Buffalo, New York, Grain Shovelers' Strike
Cleveland, Ohio, Street Railway Workers' Strike
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, Miners' Strike
New York City Newsboys' Strike
 
 1800  1950
 1900  1960
 1910  1970
 1920  1980
 1930  1990
 1940  

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