On this day in Alabama history: First blood shed in miners’ strike

On this day in Alabama history: First blood shed in miners’ strike
During the coal strike of 1894, the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad company employed private enforcement officers, known as the Erskine Ramsay Guards (named for the company's innovative chief engineer), to police its Pratt Mines and threaten striking miners. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of Birmingham Public Library Archives)

May 20, 1894

The first bloodshed of the 1894 miners’ strike occurred when a strike breaker was killed May 20 by striking miners near Birmingham. In a show of strength and discontent, 8,000 miners left the job in April, demanding better wages. The strike followed similar walkouts across the country. The strikes were peaceful until mine operators began trying to reopen with strikebreakers. Powerful coal companies prevailed and the strikes were over by August, as mines resumed operation with the help of state militias and leased convicts.

Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

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