STRIKES. Beginning as early as the middle of the 14th c., the opposition of combined labor to the efforts of employers to regulate the price and boors of labor, has been prominent in economic history; though, indeed, the earliest incident re corded in such history, had a peculiar origin, the reverse of what we have just indicated. The terrible plague of 1348 which continued during eight years, destroyed, it is believed, nearly two-thirds of the human race then existing. In Loado?,50,000 bodies were buried in one grave-yard; in Venice the number of deaths is said to have been 100,000; in Lubeck 90,000; in Spain the disease raged three years, and carried off two-thirds of the people; in the east 20,000,000 perished in one year. One result of this protracted " dance of death" was a scarcity of labor so great that it became a question as to the possibility of providing for the living. Such a condition, not unnaturally, encouraged the craftsmen to increase the price of their services, with the increase of the demand and of the scarcity. In England this assertion of a claim which could not but be obnoxious, was met by par liamentary enactments, "statutes of labor," and other exercise of the power of the gov erning class. It was the first "strike," and, as ever since, it was met by force. It was an attempt to take unfair advantage of disaster cold death. Subsequent strikes for a rise in wages have been occasioned mostly by a preceding act of cutting them down. The introduction of machinery and the factory system into British labor, wits the occasion of serious resistance on the part of skilled labor; as was the case also on the continent of Europe and in America. From this time strikes have been common, whenever laborers wished an increase of wages, or a lessening of the hours of labor. The organi zation of trades-unions made it possible to conduct these movements on a large and powerful scale; and in many instances—particularly in flush times, and when prices were high—th?y were successful. Not always conducted, however, with a due regard for existing co:1.11(111de conditions. they have frequently proved abortive for their pur pose, and powerful only iu creating added and permanent distress among the laboring classes. Little record has been kept of the strikes which have occured it America, but
we know that as early as 1830 they occurred in Boston to secure shorter hours of labor; the trades engaged being carpenters and masons. Strikes have occurred since in various manufacturing towns in Massachusetts about every year; sometimes for shorter hours, sometimes for more pay. In sonic instances these were accompanied by rioting, and sometimes the militia were ordered out to suppress this. In 1834 several hundred laborers employed in building the Providence railroad, struck for higher wages, anal became riotous. This was probably the first railroad strike. As a rule, all the early strikes were unsuccessful, though the continual effort after the "ten-hour" rule for daily labor was eventually In Lowell, Lawrence, Fall River, and other cotton manufacturing towns in Maisachusetts, strikes have been frequent; many of them being accompanied by much bitterness and ill-feeling; and all resulting in serious pecuniary loss to all concerned. In all the large cities strikes have formed a prominent femme of the history of labor. Type-setters, stage-drivers, railroad•bands, shoemakers, and nearly all trades and callings have at one time or another in the past half-century experienced these unfortunate aberrations. But the most important event of this nature, was the memorable railroad strike of 1877; when for two weeks, beginning July 14, 100,000 railroad men and 40.000 miners were "on strike" at once; 6,000 m. of railroad, covering several of the trunk lines, were in the hands of an infuriated mob; the state militia and the U. S. army were found necessary to put down the accompan)ing riotous conduct, murder, and ineendiariam ; and more than 2,000 freight cars in Pittsburg alone, with their contents, were destroyed, the destruction of railroad property being estimated at $10,000,00. while in Chicago, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Albany, and other cities, the amouht of loss has never been fully estimated. See COMBINATION, ante.