Ohio History Journal

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Governor George Hoadly's Use of the

Ohio National Guard in the Hocking

Valley Coal Strike of 1884



During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the

United State experienced a large number of labor strikes that in-

volved outbreaks of violence. While the causes of this violence are

both numerous and varied, some students of labor history cite the

intervention of police forces as a major catalyst.1 Indeed, the list of

clashes between police and labor during this period is long. In many

studies of strikes and industrial violence, the police and military

forces called in to protect life and property are depicted as partisan

forces which worked to aid industry against labor. The extent to

which the police are viewed in this manner varies from author to

author. Some, such as H. M. Gitelman and John Fitch, argue that

while police forces often acted as adversaries of labor, they were also

at times neutral and completely non partisan. Others, such as

Samuel Yellen and Sidney Lens, tend to view government and its

police forces as having been actively allied with business against

labor. Lens goes so far as to make the accusation that


In reality, however, the lawlessness was usually created by the troops and

by the government's own denial of civil liberties. The real purpose, thinly

disguised in phrases of "impartiality," was to aid management in emascu-

lating unions.2





Andrew J. Birtle is a Ph.D. candidate in American Military History at The Ohio

State University.


1. Philip Taft and Philip Ross, "American Labor Violence: Its Causes, Character

and Outcome," The History of Violence in America, ed. by Hugh Davis Graham and

Ted Robert Gurr, (New York, 1969), 281 (hereafter cited as Taft and Ross. "American

Labor Violence"); H. M. Gitelman, "Perspectives in American Industrial Violence,"

Business History Review, 47 (Spring, 1973), 10, 17, 19, 20.

2. Sidney Lens, The Labor Wars, (Garden City, N.J., 1973), 6; See also Samuel

Yellen, American Labor Struggles, ((New York, 1936).