“The Homestead Strike”


"We are asking one another as we pass the time of day Why men must have recourse to arms to get their proper pay." The union workers go on strike; the company hires Pinkertons to break it. The result is bloodshed

Historical references

  • July 1, 1892 - Declaration of the Homestead Strike (one of many strikes taking place about this time). The Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers strikes Carnegie's Homestead Steel Works in Pennsylvania, trying to win the right to collective bargaining.
  • Relations between the Union and management has, until this time, been fairly good, but manager Henry Clay Frick decided the expiration of the current contract was a good opportunity to break the union. He cut wages and refused to negotiate.
  • July 6, 1892 - Frick brings in 300 Pinkertons (the "paid detectives" of the song) to battle the strikers and relatives (who number about 5000). Twenty people were killed in the ensuing battle, in which the Pinkertons were repelled (and, without exception, injured)
  • July 9, 1892 - Frick convinces Pennsylvania Governor Pattison to send in 7000 militia to break the strike
  • July 15, 1892 - Despite appeals from all over the world (including President Cleveland), the Homestead Mill is re-opened by scabs
  • Nov 14, 1892 - The Homestead workers give up their strike. They have made no real gains (except in public opinion), and many have lost their jobs to scabs

Cross references


  • Pete Seeger, "Homestead Strike Song" (on PeteSeeger47)


  1. Gilbert, pp. 198-199, "A Fight for Home and Honor " (1 text)
  3. Roud #7744
  4. BI, Gil198


Author: J. W. Kelly?
Earliest date: 1942
Found in: US