WE NEVER FORGET: The Youngstown Massacre of January 7, 1916
WE NEVER FORGET
THE YOUNGSTOWN MASSACRE
On the evening of Friday January 7, 1916, private gunthugs of the Youngstown Sheet and Tube company at East Youngstown left company property and lined themselves up on a public bridge. They then opened fire upon a crowd of striking workers and their supporters as they marched towards the bridge. This led to rioting in which much of East Youngstown was set on fire.
By the next day, most news accounts were stating that three had been killed in what came to be known as the Youngstown Massacre. I have, thus far, been able to find only the names of two of these workers. None of the guards who fired on the striking workers were killed during the rioting.
George Get was 23 years old, he was shot through the head and died on January 7th.
Robert Davis was wounded in the chest by a stray bullet while at work as a brakeman on the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad. He died at City Hospital on January 8th. He was 24 years old. He was survived by his wife, Irene Davis, who later filed a lawsuit against the county.
William H. Cunningham, Mayor of East Youngstown blamed the the company guards for the death and destruction in his city:
I am completely dazed over the horrible occurrence here and the desolation wrought...From what I have been told I fear it was caused by the armed guards on the bridge. Had the guards been kept within the limits of the mill property I doubt if there would have been any trouble.
Eye-witnesses have told me it was the guards on the bridge that fired the first shots. That aroused the fury of the mob.
George P West, in his report for the Committee on Industrial Relations put the blame for the riots on "rank" living conditions of the workers and their families. The Chicago Day Book of January 18th reported:
The living conditions among the steel workers at Youngstown, O., have been so rank that the mothers there couldn't even raise babies. Sanitary, conditions have been putrid. Putrid is a nasty sounding word, but it is the only word that just fits the condition. Families have been packed together like cattle or pigs in a pen. The workers have been toiling around the molten steel for $500 a year. In the meantime, it is asserted, that during the past two and a half years the Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co. has paid 12 per cent dividend.
That is the answer to the reason for the recent riots at Youngstown, when a man was killed and property was burned and looted. That explains why East Youngstown went suddenly mad to such an extent that the Ohio state militia had to be called out.
Many personal and phone calls have come into The Day Book for the real cause of all the trouble down there in the steel district. The claim was made that the real blame was just resting on the fence and had not really been placed.
A committee on industrial relations came through today from Washington with a report that places the blame as shown in the first paragraph.
[Says the report:]
Low wages and excessive hours of labor so brutalized the foreigners employed in the steel plants of East Youngstown that the recent rioting and wholesale destruction of property was but the natural ending of an intolerable situation.
The revolt in Ohio, said George P. West, author of the committee report, so alarmed the United States Steel Corporation that as a direct result Judge Gary immediately ordered a 10 per cent increase of the 230,000 employes of his corporation, so as to prevent the strike from spreading.
Guards of the Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. are charged in the report with being hasty in opening fire on the crowd of strikers around the gates of the company bridge.
The steel industry of the country is scored for its opposition to unions.
[Said the report:]
So long as the steel employers could maintain, with the aid of charity, two men for every job, discontent was smothered.
Forty-one per cent of all deaths in Youngstown during 1913 were of children under five years.
Pittsburgh Daily Post
Jan 9, 1916
The Day Book
-Jan 18, 1916
New Castle News
(New Castle, Pennsylvania)
Jan 20, 1916
Youngstown Steel Strike of 1915-16, Capitalist Violence, ISR Feb 1916
Youngstown Steel Strike, Massacre Victims, Pittsburgh Sunday Post, Jan 9, 1916
C99 Tag: Youngstown Steel Strike of 1915-16
C99 Tag: Youngstown Massacre of 1916
Homestead Strike Song - Performed by Pete Seeger
Now the man that fights for honor,
none can blame him.
May luck attend wherever he may roam.
And no son of his will ever live
to shame him.
Whilst Liberty and Honor rule our Home.