What Was the Great Railroad Strike of 1877?

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The Great Railroad Strike of 1877 was the response of outraged railroad workers to pay cuts, layoffs and the general profiteering of the large railroad companies during times of economic distress. The strike began on July 16, 1877 and lasted nearly two weeks.

An economic crisis that began in 1873 led railroad companies to lay off hundreds of workers and cut salaries of remaining employees drastically. In May 1877, Pennsylvania Railroads imposed a 10 percent wage reduction on their workers. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad company had imposed two 10 percent wage reductions the same year. These events caused a strike that spread throughout the United States along with angry riots. The government sent soldiers to control the crowds, and many people were shot and killed.