Gunfire and Brickbats

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Gunfire and Brickbats: The Great Railway Strikes of 1877 by Gerald G. Eggert

1-Introduction
In the article Gunfire and Brickbats: The Great Railway Strikes of 1877 Gerald G. Eggert analyzes the types of conditions that started the strikes of 1877, the understanding the workers that went on strike had of their situation, what the works expected to get out of the strike and what roles both the government and workers played in the strike. Eggert’s choice in analyzing the great railway strikes of 1877 was one of curiosity as much as education because the railway strikes are not as famous and well taught as others such as the homestead strike of the 1890’s. Eggert analyzed everything from the spark that started the initial strike to the spread of multiple strikes like wildfire across the rest of the country. This lack of popularity in the subject makes this article even more rare and educational because of its analyzation of the events that occurred. 2-Critical Summary

Eggert’s thesis is that with out the strikers knowing, it was their defeat that cause the true change in people’s views of the labor question and would cause the fundamental rights to change. For example toward the conclusion of the article Eggert says, “The men from Martinsburg who first rebelled at having their wages cut, thereby touching off the strikes of 1877, would have no difficulty in understanding either the reasons for the later strikes…What they had no way of knowing… all the subsequent defeats of strikers helped to bring about fundamental change in the public’s perception of the labor question” (44). Eggert is saying that the original railroad strikers understood why the strikes that followed theirs started and continued and why they were eventually defeated. But what they had no way of knowing was that it was through their loss that they achieved what they set out to do with their strike; to change the public’s view of the fundamental rights of the rail road workers. Another...
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