St. Louis Labor History

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The General Strike of 1877

Perhaps the best-known event in the history of radical labor action in St. Louis is the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, during which, for a few days, workers in East St. Louis and elsewhere in the city brought industry to a halt, organized themselves into workers’ committees, and effectively rendered East St. Louis an autonomous commune, before being suppressed by military, police, and vigilante violence. While the gains made in the general strike of 1877 were largely reversed in the reactionary aftermath, working people- Anglo-American, African-American, and recent immigrants from Europe- in St. Louis and elsewhere discovered in the events of that year the power and potency of a self-organizing, united working class.

To learn more about the strike of 1877, see the following article from Libcom: 1877: The Great Railroad Strike. For a book-length treatment, see the somewhat dated but still workable book by David T. Burbank, Reign of the Rabble: The St. Louis General Strike of 1877 (A.M. Kelley, 1966).

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