On July 6, 1892, violence erupted at the Carnegie Steel mill in Homestead, Pennsylvania, when striking employees and Pinkerton detectives hired to break the strike exchanged gunfire along the shore of the Monongahela River. The skirmish left some dozen dead, led to a congressional investigation, sparked a nearly successful assassination attempt on Carnegie Steel executive Henry Clay Frick, and altered the course of the American labor movement. The River Ran Red recreates the events of that summer using firsthand accounts and archival material, including excerpts from newspapers and magazines, reproductions of pen-and-ink sketches and photographs made on the scene, passages from the congressional investigation, and poems, songs, and sermons from across the country. Contributions by outstanding scholars provide the background for understanding the social and cultural aspects of the strike, as well as its violence and repercussions. Written to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the strike, The River Ran Red records and contextualizes public and personal reactions to one of the most important events in labor history, the reverberations of which are still felt today.
The River Ran Red. . . will help readers understand the past, present, and future of labor relations from a different point of view.
Readable, as well as richly illustrated.
Along with being a clear and absorbing narrative of the events of 1982, [The River Ran Red] is an excellent casebook on the historical process: on how events occur in the context of the values and attitudes of a time, and how the recording of those events shapes how they are understood, then and in the future.
David P. Demarest (1931–2011) was professor emeritus of English at Carnegie Mellon University and a pioneering scholar of labor history and working-class literature of western Pennsylvania. His research led to the republication of Thomas Bell’s seminal novel of the American steel industry, Out of This Furnace. He was a founding member of the Battle of Homestead Foundation and a staunch advocate for the preservation of important local historical and cultural landmarks such as the Braddock Carnegie Library in Braddock, Pennsylvania, and the Maxo Vanka murals in Saint Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church in Millvale, Pennsylvania.