|Class Consciousness and Worker Solidarity in Urban Tennessee:|
|The Example of the Chattanooga
1899, 1911, 1916, and 1917
|by Dr. James B. Jones, Jr.
Every Day in Tennessee History
Conflict in the form of labor complications has rarely been the subject of
focus by historians in the Volunteer State. But, like the consciousness
labor/management difficulties reveal, worker unrest was not unknown in
Tennessee's late nineteenth and early twentieth century urban past.
Constantine G. Belissary, in his 1955 study of urban Tennessee union
activity for the twenty years preceding 1890, concluded that just as the
laissez-faire capitalist economic system created great opportunities for
upward mobility, it also worked against the conception of working-class
consciousness in Tennessee. "Worker solidarity was undermined by the social
fluidity of the [capitalist] system," he wrote. Yet by the late 1890s
worker solidarity was apparent in Chattanooga.
Chattanooga was by the early twentieth century known as the "Dynamo of Dixie," indicating its rapid growth. Along with this growth was the rise of a class of industrial workers in the city, and a parallel development of worker consciousness and solidarity. Such awareness developed with the growth of unions, the incidence of labor unrest and managerial intransigence. The chronicle of the Chattanooga street carmen's strikes of 1899, 1911, 1916 and 1917 exhibits important changes in the growth and presence of worker consciousness and solidarity within two decades.
After a decade of success and harmonious relations with its workers, the Chattanooga Light and Railway and Chattanooga Rapid Transit companies faced a disgruntled work force in July 1899. The conductors and railway motormen worked long hours, got low pay, faced demanding working conditions, and had no job security. In an effort to improve these conditions, four employees of the Chattanooga Electric Railway (CER) engaged in organizing a local carmen's union. They were summarily fired. Their reinstatement became an issue in the attempt to form a union. The kinds of difficulties that followed took place in the context of national urban electrical railway labor unrest.
Banding together, 68 per cent of the workers met on August 3, 1899. There, with the aid of an American Federation of Labor (AFL) organizer, they formed Local No. 115 of the Amalgamated Association of Street Railway Employees of America (AASREA).
Although management did not present a united front, President of the Chattanooga Electric Railway Percy Warner annunciated a policy that would become the standard management position toward organized labor in Chattanooga for at least the next ten years. Warner said unions existed only to foment strikes and so would not be tolerated.
Warner's railway kept its schedule for the time being. On August 7 some 15 workers refused to abandon the union and were summarily discharged, then replaced by 30 inexperienced scab carmen and conductors. There were no negotiations. Meeting for only the fourth time, class conscious members of Local No. 115 appointed a strike committee to distribute propaganda and posters throughout Chattanooga and an advisory board. The workers declared it was not a strike but a lock-out.
By August 11 it was reported that another four more men had joined the union, whose ranks had grown to thirty-two. Class solidarity was translated into a boycott. Empathetic "trades unionists...equipped a transfer wagon...transporting union working people who do not want to ride on the electric cars to and from the city, morning and evening." Campaigns by the union men to initiate arbitration were rebuffed. Mild acts of industrial sabotage by juveniles were reported, such the greasing of railroad tracks and the hurling of eggs and epithets at scab carmen.
The same day 400 representatives of local craftsmen and worker's unions met to protest the termination of the union carmen. The meeting was a genuine expression of worker solidarity and class consciousness and they "manifested their sympathy for the discharged employees....All the discharged employees were present...were vociferously applauded as they entered the building."
Regardless of the appeals for nonviolence a 3,000-strong crowd quickly gathered at Market Street and Ninth Avenue on August 12. Police managed to keep property damage and personal injury to strict limits. There was no violence in downtown Chattanooga. In other sections of the city, however, cars were derailed and pummeled with rocks by crowds displaying the carmen's union "I walk" buttons, yet another expression class solidarity and sympathy with the strikers. In one instance a scab car conductor was pelted with a dead cat, and one car was derailed in Alton Park. More serious was the activity the next day along the St. Elmo route, when cars were stoned and frightened scab private detectives fired revolvers into the crowds. Police had to be stationed at every half mile of track along the St. Elmo route. The Central Labor Union (CLU) distanced itself from the violence, as did Local No. 115.
Meanwhile the Chattanooga City Council hastily passed an ordinance on the 15th which made the hiring of unqualified nonprofessional motormen by the Chattanooga street car companies illegal. The law passed on a vote of 9 to 3, providing: "That...no motorman shall operate any street railway or electric car who has not served...for at least fifteen days under...an experienced motorman." The ordinance, in effect, worked in the union's favor and made many of the scabs hired by Warner illegal. It also affected a temporary truce, while continued derailings of trolley cars punctuated the urgency of the lock-out. Talk of a joint union-consumer boycott, still, failed to stimulate any company action, and by August 26, after two weeks, the strike had ended and the union had been asphyxiated.
The first effort at unionization was set back, yet it was plain that there was a robust class-conscious, pro-union constituency in Chattanooga as early as 1899. The City Council had also demonstrated it support of the working class constituency, if not the carmen's unionization efforts, having passed an anti-street car motorman-scab ordinance. Moreover, the carmen and local organized labor verified a willingness mutually to confront organized capital to win recognition.
For example, by 1906 all three streetcar railway enterprises in Chattanooga had merged as the CR&L. Inefficient duplicate routes created during the earlier era of free competition were eliminated, and city dwellers came to accept their monopolized system of transportation as a necessity for daily life. Workers went to their factory jobs, white collar workers to their offices, and housewives could shop downtown with ease. By 1909 the local monopoly was purchased by the eastern E.W. Clark & Company, and placed in the context of a nation-wide electrical-public utility service conglomerate based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with assets in Nashville, Tennessee, East St. Louis, Missouri, Columbus, Ohio, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and other cities. The newly capitalized entity modernized and standardized its facilities and expanded services throughout the inter-urban area of Chattanooga, to Lookout Mountain and to Rossville, Georgia. By 1911 the streetcar system in Chattanooga and environs was owned by a northeastern monopoly. Class consciousness among the trolley workers would again stimulate another attempt to form a union. That the attempt would fail did not mean that group consciousness did not exist, but only that it appeared in unaccustomed patterns.
In April, 1911, the General Manager of the CR&L, W.E. Boleau, discharged several trolley motormen allegedly for driving while intoxicated. They soon asked the AASREA to send a representative to help form a local and get them reinstated. Rumors that a mass strike by carmen would occur on the afternoon of April 12, resulted in a visit by a workers' delegation to the offices of the Chattanooga Daily Times the next day. The oldest employee of CR&L, the venerable E. L. Mallicoat, spokesman for the over 250 trolley workers, including the shop workers, stated: "We want to let the people of this town know that the employes [sic] of the Chattanooga Railway and Light company have no use at this time for a union ...the publications that there is [a union]...in progress of formation is all bosh."
General manager of CR&L, W.E. Boleau, ironically was at the same newspaper office when the workers' delegation arrived, a "remarkable coincidence" that "occasioned slight embarrassment, but...the men...stated the object of their visit." The senior Mallicoat explained that the union organizer in the city had convinced only a handful to join a union with misleading assurances that the older, more experienced hands approved of the formation of the union. Over ninety-eight per cent of the work force was opposed to the idea of unionization he said.
The company treated the workers well, said Mallicoat, and it would respond to workers' needs should they arise. Indicating his status as the workers' representative, he stated that if the workers wanted a union they did not need an organizer from Indiana, "nor any other town...to show us how. When we get ready for...anybody else to show us how to run our personal business we will send for him." The strike rumored to be set for April 15, was, as a newspaper headline announced, "ALL A JOKE." According to a comment in the Daily Times, the Yankee union organizer "will doubtless leave Chattanooga a sadder but wiser man, and when the men want a Moses to lead them out of the wilderness it is not likely that they will send for him." Indeed, they would.
By 1911, then, the idea of organizing troubled CR&L employees more than the notion of forming a union. This must be so inasmuch as the carmen followed their own counsel, indicating an independence of action that would characterize future disputes. It is also important to recall that worker representatives not once denied the validity of forming a union should occasion warrant. Nevertheless, the workers elected their own representatives at their own meeting. This ad hoc caucus was a half-step toward forming a union and served the same purpose without formally establishing a coalition. The "foreign" union organizers considered the endorsement of the eldermost workers essential for building union sentiment. That the local carmen followed their elders' advice is important because it points out an orientation toward and respect for native workers' local loyalties as manifest in Mallicoat's position as spokesman. Worker consciousness among CR&L employees already existed and carmen remained independent of any organized labor affiliation for the next half-decade.
At a hastily convened meeting of employees called by CR&L management in July, 1916, it was conspicuously announced that the company would raise pay up to 7%, depending on seniority. While the pay hike was announced as voluntary, there was more than transparent company altruism involved. Indeed, worker and management representatives had met months earlier to informally discuss the matter. Unusually harmonious worker/owner relations prevailed in Chattanooga and resulted in the wage increase despite the heavy costs the company had borne over the last two years.
The news of the furious trolley strike in Memphis, described as "a revolution of employes" may have weighed in the balance too. The strike in Memphis abated after the martyrdom of the carmen's leader, the subsequent recognition of the union and a higher wage scale. "Union labor leaders," it was reported by the Daily Times, "have been quietly conducting an agitation for formation of a conductors' and a motormen's union in Chattanooga." Most likely, then, the wage increase, already a matter of dialogue between a native employees' group and the CR&L, was more an attempt to head off any discontent and stifle the growth of a union, even in the face of two years of losses. It was anyone's guess if the carmen's union organizing drive - conducted by a coalition of local workers engaged in other trades - would prove successful after the company's offer.
Since the eldermost carmen, a minority, would most likely be anti-union and senior-most, they would receive the largest raises, keeping the company's cost of worker contentment at a minimum. With their loyalty to the company thus assured management may have assumed that the regard younger workers paid to their seniors during the 1911 unionization effort would be repeated in 1916 and the union would once again be frustrated.
Organization appeared to be moving consciously forward until mid-August when the company summarily fired twenty employees, as the CLU newspaper Labor World held, "for asserting their rights and making application for membership in a union organization." Chris Cline, international representative and professional organizer for AASREA, confidently explained to a Times reporter that over 150 employees had signed up with the union by the 18th of August and that a full 200 were expected to have joined by nightfall. A mass meeting at the CLU hall the night of the 19th would address CR&L workers so to protest what Cline called the coercive methods used by the company to thwart unionization. The company, on the other hand, claimed to have the signatures of 193 employees proclaiming satisfaction and impatience with union organizing efforts.
According to an editorial in the CLU newspaper, Labor World the employees realized the necessity for a union independent of company control, and the company had utilized "spotters," or labor spies, to root out pro-union workers. The resulting termination of twenty workers was "condemned by citizens of our city...[who] are assuring the street car men that they will assist them in securing their rights." The company also circulated an iron-clad loyalty petition among the men whereby workers would be fired should they refuse to sign. Propelled by their own class solidarity, some 150 CR&L workers had joined the union while "all our liberty-loving citizens...have assured them that they will assist them in securing a 'square deal.'"
The union organizing drive, company superintendent, E.D. Reed explained, was only in response to agitation developed as a result of the carmen's strike in New York City, and that there was no legitimate reason for such worker agitation in Chattanooga. Said another company spokesman, "the [company] resolution signed by 120 employes...that they were satisfied.. and did not want to organize, was drawn up and adopted by the men at a meeting held in the rooms of the benefit association without the knowledge of any of the officials of the company."
A closed meeting at the CLU hall on the evening of August 19 produced a joint statement denying any intent to strike. Moreover, when asked about the news that 193 men had signed the loyalty oath, Cline acknowledged that the men "did so in order to keep their jobs." Cline and his supporters wanted recognition of the union and reinstatement of the twenty former employes fired for joining a union. A public mass meeting was to be held at Central Labor Hall the evening of the 21st, and Mr. Reed was invited to attend. Cline stated to the press: "'We do not know just what action we will take, further than the mass meeting Monday evening. But you can state definitely that no strike is contemplated except as a last resort.'"
At the assembly at CLU hall on the 21st Cline claimed 55% of all CR&L employees had signed their union cards. He was also reported as saying to the crowd that "'the first man would leave his car at Sixth and Market Streets.'" A brass band led the crowd to Market and Sixth where motorman W.M. Eaves left his post and joined the crowd, and formally began the strike. Attempts by the company-loyal conductor to drive the car were discouraged by sympathetic members of the crowd who "pulled the trolley rope
Once the police had established a presence the crowd dissipated, pulling down trolley poles as it retreated further along Market Street. Segments of the crowd blocked the trolleys and soon the city's fire department cleared the streets by dousing the crowd. This only drew a larger crowd of "several thousand persons." Intermittent tumult followed in other parts of the city and in the end over thirty arrests were made. The Daily Times claimed most of the carmen stayed on the job, and CR&L Superintendent Reed "issued a statement that Chris Cline, leader of the organization movement, would be arrested for inciting a riot."
Still free three days later, Cline, claimed to have a total of 194 in the union, and the ranks of the street car strikers had swelled accordingly. Most of the carmen were now joining the strike; for example, an estimated fifty-five to sixty-five left their cars on the night of the 23rd, and as they entered the CLU Hall they received ovations from the crowd of nearly 200 striking CR&L employees. Speakers from other trades addressed the carmen, demonstrating class solidarity by pledging their unions' support for the striking carmen. One speaker exclaimed: "'With such men as these we can organize hell in tissue paper suits.'" In a solemn ceremony in the presence of the city's organized labor force, Cline administered the union's oath to the striking carmen, and it "appeared then as if in one bound the organization had leaped to larger proportions even than was anticipated by the strike leaders...their apparent enthusiasm indicated to strike leaders that...the future of the new organization was assured." Matt J. Robinson, the local Machinists' Union spokesman announced that Cline had been abducted two days earlier and spirited away some fifteen miles north of the city and was told to "get the hell away from here." He didn't run.
The meeting ended about 11 p.m., and the striking carmen paraded to the car barns. Equestrian officers flanked and led the block-long parade. The strikers, aside from their enthusiastic cheering, were orderly, having obeyed the admonitions of their leaders for calm. Several hundred sympathetic class-conscious residents, union men and their supporters, were now walking to work from their homes in the suburbs. Their boycott was a manifestation of class solidarity and it had cut the streetcar traffic an estimated twenty five per cent.
The strike continued while Superintendent Reed and General Manager and Vice President F.W. Hoover of the CL&R met Mayor Jesse M. Littleton about stopping service altogether as a safety measure. Expressing class consciousness and continuity with actions seventeen years earlier, citizens sympathetic with the strike operated family cars or light delivery trucks "fitted up with chairs and boxes for seats...to convey some of the commuters to...the suburbs."
Negotiations began on August 25, the union asking for recognition, reinstatement of twenty one fired motormen, and a wage increase. CR&L Vice President Hoover would agree to nothing but recognition of the union. By the 26th the issue had been settled, and it was announced that the street cars would run. Final settlement would take further negotiation, but the workers had won recognition for their union, AASREA Local 715. Thus, by 1916 the collective consciousness of the carmen had stimulated CR&L employees' belief that unionization was both possible and desirable. Chris Cline announced his departure and the matter appeared on the way toward final settlement. For example, on October 6, 1916, agreement was reached that promised the carmen a raise within six months.
Failure on the part of the company to live up to this promise would test the solidarity of the union in 1917. The company had by the first week of May, 1917, reneged on its promised wage increase. Talk of a strike was quelled until Chris Cline could return and direct the carmen's efforts. The company offered the men a one-cent raise by June 25, effective on August 1. Inconsistencies of opinion about the original agreement were ironed out by July 2, 1917, and the 300 members of AASREA Local 715 ratified a new settlement. Yet the harmony would not be sustained. Indeed, after American entry into the war, the Chattanooga Manufacturer's Association (CMA), of which CR&L was a member, had posted a set of seven principles which were an attempt to impose the tone for labor relations for the duration. Among them were the rights of employers to not recognize organizations "that inculcate the spirit of disloyalty," the "inalienable right" to expect and receive "the whole-hearted loyalty of every employee," and to determine wage scales and working conditions. "Duty," claimed the CMA in its arrant gender-based appeal to the workers' martial love of country, "demands a manly part of every man, and patriotism must not wait on greed."
All was on track until the introduction of a company device that agitated new labor difficulties. On August 20, 1917, the company furnished all its conductors with the Rooke Automatic Fare Register. The contraption would become a major motive for a ruinous strike in the fall of 1917.
Until the use of the Rooke Register, a commuter gave the conductor the five cent fare and the nickel was recorded on a large wall register. The company was apparently suspicious of some of its carmen, whom it insisted were "mistakenly" ringing up transfers instead of nickels and filching countless fares. With the Rooke Register, held in the conductor's hand, the customer was obliged to stuff the nickel into the machine itself, which mechanically entered the fare and virtually precluded any pilfering. The AASREA endorsed the use of the register as an efficiency measure, but the local carmen felt the company impugned their trustworthiness and that it tended publicly to humiliate them.
Immediately upon installation of these devices AASREA Local No. 715 members, believing the registers slowed operations, demanded their removal. Ironically their stand illustrates their class solidarity because the demand contradicted the view of their national organization. But it would require more than management accusations to cause a strike.
Three employees, all officers of AASREA Local 715, were fired by the company in late August. In a demonstration of class solidarity the members warned that if the company would not reinstate these men the local was determined to ask the international for permission to strike. Starting as early as August 10, a number of CR&L employees had been discharged for insubordination. On August 20 the carmen's union membership authorized a strike call whenever the committee had determined that the company was being recalcitrant in rehiring these furloughed employees. CR&L management felt the incidence of worker insubordination had increased ever since the 1916 settlement and the introduction of the union. They wanted control over their workers and destruction of the union was the path of least resistance to that goal.
At 1:30 am, September 4, the night and day shifts of the carmen's union met at the CLU hall. The situation was exacerbated because the company refused to deal with its employees on any but an individual basis, in effect going back on its earlier recognition of Local 715. The company took this tack, it was reported, because of the August 20 threat to strike. In a paternalistic statement posted in car barns on September 3, CR&L's management stated bluntly to union members "if you desire to continue as an employe of this company you will report to the superintendent of transportation at once and so advise him."
If anything the notice worsened the confusion the company blamed on the union. It likewise had a damaging effect on class consciousness as some workers interpreted it as a company demand to quit the union, or that it was a notice of discharge for being a union member. Some said it was the beginning of a lock out, still others charged the company had thrown down the gauntlet was challenging employees to strike. After all, there were reports that large numbers of professional strikebreakers arriving from out of town according to the Chattanooga News. The Chattanooga Times declared editorially that it was "preposterous...to precipitate a strike...because the company had disciplined one man....Public opinion would stand for no such outrage." The issues now included insubordination vs. worker freedom, efficiency, union busting, worker self-esteem, and higher profit vs. higher wages. Hinting that class solidarity among the workers was the real obstacle, a CR&L spokesman on the night of September 1 stated:
There has been an independence of action on their part that cannot be endured by any concern. We have to serve the public...[but we] cannot...so long as we have to deal with a large body of men collectively through committees... Consequently...we will deal with every employee as an individual. All...who desire to work under such conditions are welcome....The places of those who decide otherwise will be filled.
Taking this company statement at its word, the true feeling of management indicates that company esteem for the employees varied as a function of worker solidarity as expressed in union loyalty. Furthermore, the CR&L apparently regarded workers as corporate property, whose purpose in life was blindly to serve the company and its management. The union caused instability, management claimed, and it had to be eliminated.
CR&L management's goal was to create an open shop. F. W. Hoover explained that all CR&L employees must sign an iron-clad individual contract, containing a no-strike pledge, in order to keep their job. "'The men can belong to a union if they want to,'" Hoover stated, "'but we want to be in some way protected against strike rumors.'" The company had had to prepare for strikes three other times. Not only was this expensive, but there was also an aspect of psychological stress associated with the problem. According to Hoover management was "tired of having the men forever on the verge of walking out. We want the men to work and are willing to consider any grievance that they might bring before us, but they must not be unreasonable and...forever hold a strike over our heads." Significantly, as Hoover admitted, the union wanted only to reinstate the four discharged carmen, and had neither asked for higher wages nor threatened a strike, nor called for elimination of the Rook Register.
In the meantime, the company had called in some forty-five linemen from the Tennessee Power Company's line gangs to help repair any damage due to the anticipated strike. Moreover, some thirty conductors had "been borrowed Company of Philadelphia. These out-of-town strikebreakers were housed and fed at the CR&L car barns and would be employed only in case of a strike.
Some company officials believed that the new Rooke Automatic Fare Register was the real cause for the friction. The workers did not make an issue of it, however, fearing "it might reflect on their honesty." In fact the original August 20 strike vote was a direct result of installing the devices, the management spokesman said, and so the matter was more one of challenging the personal integrity of the carmen than an issue of wages, a matter of hurt feelings more than contract negotiations. Indeed, it is possible to interpret the Rooke Automatic Fare Register as a material culture device that helped build carmen class consciousness in Chattanooga. But, of more fundamental importance was a new attitude on the part of the workers. According to one puzzled company official unhappy with recent manifestations of worker solidarity:
A year ago they were glad to get on a run, now they are the most independent bunch I have seen....Something has happened to them, but I don't know what it is. They don't care whether they work or not.
The company was wrong, claimed C.P. Colbert, President of Local No. 715, who countered: "We deny absolutely that we have taken a strike vote....We merely asked in a resolution the reinstatement of three men...there is no strike proposition being considered." Colbert confessed that the union's international treasury was dangerously low due to the strike benefits paid d uring the street car strikes in 1916. In fact the international had served notice to all locals that it could not pay strike benefits until the treasury might be replenished. While the Local's treasury was not empty, few of the carmen or other CR&L employees were "well-fixed financially." It was a matter of economics, he said, and "the majority would be in dire straits if locked out and if they could get no assistance from other unions or the larger organization." Certainly the union was not ready for a strike and worker consciousness was not at levels high enough to sustain such an effort.
Colbert said that the men intended to report for work every day until they were fired, and they would "ignore the...order of the company that they sign contracts." No union action had been planned in case the company did fire those who refused to sign no-strike contracts. It had been reported, but denied by CR&L, that a number of replacements had been "imported" by the company to be used in case of a strike. Labor leaders in Chattanooga urged restraint. One local American Federation of Labor organizer declared in a meeting on the night of September 4th that "the company was trying to make the men strike." He cited as evidence the actions of the company, such as the importation of strikebreakers, fitting up the car barns to quarter the scabs, and the no-strike contract issue. He and other labor speakers urged the carmen not to strike, but to let the company carry out its intentions which would mean that "the men would be forced to stop work and that would constitute a lock out."
A union committee called upon vice president Hoover who summarily dismissed them, insisting on the execution of individual contracts but he "did not say that he would discharge any man for refusing to sign the contract." Rumors announced that a strike was to begin at 9pm September 7 and that Chris Cline, who had directed efforts in 1916, was nearing Chattanooga.
On September 6 the union carmen voted 243 to 1 to allow the executive committee to call a strike when appropriate. Still, such issues as the company's use of imported strikebreakers, the failure to discuss reinstating the four conductors, as well as the company's turnabout on union recognition and its unilateral abrogation of the contract of 1916 could all be resolved by negotiation. A strike could and should, therefore, be averted.
A Times editorial indicates the seriousness with which a trolley strike was viewed. A strike would threaten public order, prove a hardship on the working people and, most importantly it would "entail loss upon the merchants and deprive the soldiers [at Fort Oglethorpe] of the pastime and amusement they seek...." Even though there was no strike, soldiers from Fort Oglethorpe were forbidden by their commander to ride the trolley into Chattanooga. Soldiers' pay represented about one half million dollars, some of which would be spent in the establishments of the city's merchant bourgeoisie, but "if the strike materializes or if the present state of uncertainty continues they will forego that pleasure this time." There was even hysteria that the Industrial Workers of the World were involved, and were cagily duping the so-called witless car men.
A strike did begin, however, on September 7, at 6 p.m., after Chris Cline was in Chattanooga and had tried unsuccessfully to negotiate with CR&L. It was a raucous beginning, with newspaper headlines shouting: "VIOLENCE AND RIOTING FOLLOW STRIKE OF THE STREET RAILWAY EMPLOYES."
At 6:10 pm the rioting began at 9th Avenue and Market Street, when a crowd of "probably a thousand men" destroyed trolleys and pulled strike-breaking carmen off of the trolleys, while another crowd of a thousand witnessed the fracas. The riot lasted twenty minutes, resulting in the total loss of at least three, and partial destruction of a total of twenty street cars and ten injuries. Control was gained only after the city's fire department threatened to douse the mob. Deploying broken trolley furniture and home made blackjacks the workers attacked non-union car men and conductors and broke car windows. Electrical poles were pulled down and juveniles chased scab-driven trolleys as union "conductors...shouted encouragement." Trolley cars were chased by the pro-union crowd in "a race between an electrically-operated vehicle and a rapidly swelling crowd determined to prevent its operation." After one trolley was stopped, the crowd "spent the time in howling and shouting: 'Take them off! Pull him off! Take them both off! Take all of them off! Cut the rope! Break in the doors! Kill them!'"
Immediately after the riot the carmen met at the Central Labor Hall where Chris Cline was the principal speaker. He counseled the men to avoid crowds, and acknowledging the strength of empathetic class consciousness he said: "'If there is anything to be done, let it be done by sympathizers.'" He likewise declared that the strike-breakers hired by CR&L were "thugs and gunmen of national reputation. Nearly every man, woman, and child in the country knows them by reputation.'" Vice President Hoover, oddly, declared that he did not think many of the union men were involved in the riot. "'It is only fair,'" Hoover said, "'to all concerned that the public suspend judgement in the matter....'"
The next day the street cars were mostly idle, but an injunction effectively restraining the street car men's union from interfering with the "peaceful and orderly operation of street cars" was obtained by CR&L. According to Judge McReynolds, Chris Cline had in 1916 "enticed by coercion and otherwise all of complainant's employes to quit their jobs and walk out of its service." The problem was due to and outside agitators who, class-conscious reactionary CR&L managers charged, hoodwinked the workers, then gradually enticed away certain...employees, and with the men thus seduced as a nucleus began to hold secret and riotous meetings, at which were gathered the disaffected citizens of the city, and finally enticed by coercion and otherwise all of complainants employees to quit their jobs and walk out of its service.
In a gesture of class solidarity with the striking carmen, plumbers and plasterers working at the Hotel Patten struck the day before because CR&L housed scabs there and refused to return until the strikebreakers were removed. Chris Cline observed that the strikebreakers wore Davidson County, Tennessee, deputy and special sheriff badges. "He and John Thomas, textile [union] representative, were inquiring why Hamilton county badges were not worn." A visit to CR&L's strikebreakers' encampment by one reporter revealed the kind of thugs the company had hired as scabs. There were "eighty men of pugilistic type" in what appeared a plain fighter's camp. "Practically all of them had the fighting features of pugilists: stocky build, thick neck, broad shoulders and little eyes that had a wicked glint in them, were the most striking features. Some of them were talking in low voices, but immediately shut up tight when the reporter chanced their way....Several were sparring and were doing odd jobs...."
While the union called for the City Council to deport the strikebreakers, and so end violence, C. A. Lyerly, President of the First National Bank in Chattanooga, believed more sinister forces were at work. In a near panicked message to the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce and Manufactures' Association, the bank president defamed the strikers and tried to make them guilty by association. He stated that an "organized spirit of mobocracy" existed in Chattanooga, stimulated by agents of the Imperial German Government. By insinuation he portrayed the carmen as the dupes of these agents who fomented strikes whenever possible in an effort to cause "ill feeling and strife...in peaceful communities wherever there can be found pretexts for dividing the people and arraying class against class, and thus setting loose the demon of disorder, lawlessness and anarchy." Lyerly believed these ubiquitous but faceless pro-German agitators "must be suppressed or nobody's life or property will be safe." Such ravings, while they indicate upper class fears of worker class solidarity, seem not to have been given much credence in Chattanooga.
Perhaps the most visible manifestation of working class consciousness yet in Chattanooga occurred September 9, 1917 when the striking carmen and sympathizers cheered speakers at the filled-to-capacity courthouse assembly hall. Chris Cline, Mat Robinson, an AFL organizer, Rev. W.H. Briggs, pastor of the St. Elmo Methodist Church, and C.P. Colbert, Local No. 715 president spoke, all urging restraint from violence. Resolutions demanded the city council deport strikebreakers. The strikebreakers were the employees of the Brown Brothers' Agency, the Waddell-Mahon agency, and the Conn agency, all of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Cline told cheering workers that since mid-summer 1917 "[o]n all its properties in Philadelphia, Nashville, East St. Louis, and other cities, the corporation that operates the Chattanooga Railway and Light Company [E.W. Clark & Co. of Philadelphia] has been fighting our organization."
"Christ was a social democrat" declared Rev. Briggs, and he urged moderation in the matter. George W. Chamlee, a local labor attorney, likewise urged obedience to the law. Mayor Littleton declared later that he would protect property and maintain order, but even though he was a friend of labor he could not allow violence. Moreover, the city did not have the authority to deport anyone unless a law was broken. The mayor did not invoke the ordinance of 1899 that barred hiring inexperienced car men because the City Attorney interpreted it to mean that the scabs CR&L hired had enough experience and so there was no violation. Anxieties were heightened if the morning newspaper headlines on the 11th were an indication:
MOB VIOLENCE IS THREATENED
War Department Sends Two Troops of Cavalry To Aid in Preserving Order
Cavalrymen and Machine Gun Company in the City
On the 11th, after a meeting of union members at the Central Labor Union Hall citizens joined the crowd of workers and by 9 p.m. marched to the courthouse and stayed for several hours listening to speeches. There hundreds packed the auditorium and hundreds waited outside. A delegation was sent from the meeting to invite City Police Commissioner T.C. Betterton to speak, while Commissioners E.D. Bass and H.D. Huffaker were called by telephone. They came and made brief statements saying City Council might soon adopt a resolution that could have a positive effect on the troubles. Betterton, who had earlier authorized scabs to wear city-police badges and carry pistols, did not attend, heeding the advice of friends who warned him of violence should he speak to the workers. Moreover, it was said Betterton was in conference with city and county officials "who had met hurriedly to consider the dangerous situation."
U.S. troops had arrived at 2 a.m. and were quartered in the armory at Fourth and Market, and had been requested in a telegram to the Secretary of War, Newton D. Baker, from mayor-pro-temp of Chattanooga, T.C. Betterton. According to the frantic Betterton, keenly aware of this manifestation of worker class consciousness to Chattanooga:
Our city needs immediate protection. A huge mob, professing sympathy with strikers...tonight assume an attitude that menaces...our city. Our police...are worn...and must have immediate relief, otherwise the city will be at the mercy of the mob.
Meanwhile CR&L vice president F.W. Hoover, mendaciously stated "we have not nor do we intend to import any professional strikebreakers." These hired ruffians were "from other Clark properties and are regularly employed as street railway platform men. The men that we now are hiring are being obtained from other southern cities in the states of Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama, and Georgia." These men had answered advertisements in southern newspapers.
Typical of the hysteria of the time and in near panic the editors of the Chattanooga Daily Times pontificated that the real issue was neither the CR&L's abrogation of the contract with the union nor the grievances of the working men, but public order. This state of affairs was the direct responsibility of the unions, especially AASREA Local No. 715, which should submit the matter to arbitration. Unless and until the carmen disassociated themselves from the "mobocracy, the quicker will they be able to present their claims to public recognition intelligently." Yet instead of weakening the workers resolve with such fanciful allegories and with the presence of armed soldiers, their group consciousness only quickened.
The city fathers may have felt secure knowing that Company D of the Sixth U.S. Infantry, with fixed bayonets, was encamped on the City Hall lawn. CR&L vice president Hoover, who, emboldened by the presence of the martial guard, refused to talk with union officials. "'There is nothing to arbitrate,'" he said. The company took out under the caption "A Statement to the Public," which effectively spelled out its alarm and consternation about the newly expressed manifestations of worker solidarity. According to a full-page advertisement on the 12th, over Hoover's signature, CR&L repeated its position and blamed Cline for starting the strike just at the very time that "thousands of men at Fort Oglethorpe desired to come to Chattanooga over our [trolley] lines...." Indicating the company's anxiety and hysteria about worker solidarity, independence, and collective action, the advertisement paternalistically continued:
The first duty of a man who may be employed by a railway corporation...is to obey an order....it is the known duty of an employe [sic] to obey ....Disobedience of orders was followed by incivility on the part of these [union] employes….
This outbreak of lawlessness that shamed the entire city was the fruit of a conspiracy by outsiders to strike terror to the community in the incipiency of the strike. [sic]
A Federal mediator, John P. Colpoys, arrived on the 12th to settle differences. Soon he met with the Chattanooga Provost Marshall, Chris Cline, Police Commissioner T.C. Betterton and W.F. Hoover of the CR&L. The company adamantly refused to rehire any of those "vicious men...former employes [sic] of this company" who had damaged street cars or rails. Moreover, the current difficulties were entirely the fault of the workers. By so describing the situation the company hoped to smash the solidarity of the striking workers by drawing sympathetic public support from the work stoppage.
Colpoys continued gathering opinions and consulting with members of the CMA. The CMA, to no one's surprise, echoed the CR&L's near shrill call for an immediate return of law and order, that Mr. Hoover represented the CMA's point of view that absolute protection for property was essential, and that violence had abrogated any rights the union carmen may have once had to arbitration. The carmen's union representatives were not invited to this parley. The primary concern of most union members was the reinstatement question, a difficulty Colpoys was willing to submit to arbitration.
The union continued promoting worker solidarity and class consciousness by portraying the issue as a fight between local workers and an invading force of outside capital resources, a battle between the local working man David and then outside monopolistic corporate Goliath. It was an "organized fight of the railway and light company, backed up by the Manufacturers' Association with all of its capitol....We do not believe any citizen of Chattanooga can afford to see his fellow men so ridiculed by a foreign corporation, owned and controlled by foreign capitalists...."
A proposal presented to Hoover by Colpoys on the 17th called for reinstatement of all street railway strikers, recognition of the union, and "arbitration [of] the complaint of the company against some seventy four employees that involved integrity in connection with the handling the funds of the company as they came into the hands of car conductors." The carmen's union and the Chattanooga Pastor's Association approved of the proposition, but it was rejected summarily by CR&L. The lock-out/strike continued.
As negotiations proceeded incidents of violence continued. For example, scab carmen were arrested for carrying shotguns on some runs, a bystander was wounded by a shot from a scab's pistol as a pro-union band attacked a trolley car, and one replacement worker for the CR&L cursed and fired a pistol at one Chattanooga resident. In another example of class consciousness an organized group chased a scab carman off a trolley while another report told of a mob throwing rocks at passing trolleys resulting in broken windows, "smashed hands, bruised shoulders and heads and other more painful injuries." Some cars were even derailed and shots were fired at trolleys on other numerous occasions.
On September 20 Colpoys announced that unless Hoover and the CR&L would accept a final offer put together by Chris Cline it would most certainly mean the end of his negotiating work in Chattanooga. Local No. 715 leaders predicted a long strike, especially after yet another full-page advertisement in the Daily Times. Addressed "To The Public," it was another attack on worker solidarity which incredulously tried to shift responsibility for settling the strike to the public: "The attempt to tie up the street railroads of this city is your problem....the Amalgamated Association of Street and Electric Railway employes [is] an alien organization....with no responsibility whatever, to this community."
Notwithstanding such philippics the company softened its position and offered to let each man return after signing an individual contract in which both parties agreed to provide two weeks notice when terminating employment. A final settlement was predicated upon the union's acceptance of the individual contracts, "which, really, according to the union men, caused the strike."
The contract issue continued to delay an agreement, even though City Commissioners Ed Bass and Police Commissioner T.C. Betterton had been quietly working behind the scenes for several days. Chris Cline objected to the proposed individual contract because they were "too long. It contains too many technicalities. The former union contract was too long and this one is worse." He identified areas of contention such as the lack of worker redress, overtime regulations, and wage rates.
Tensions were editorially expressed about whether or not the city would be a closed or open city as a result of the streetcar strike. The streetcar strike had taken on added dimensions and was now a test case. In the wake of the Clayton Anti-Trust Act Chattanooga had"...become the focal point of the two conflicting interests, and it is well recognized locally and commented upon...that every labor difficulty of late here has been possessed of a significance almost nation wide."
Industrialists, upset at this latest union inroad in the control of local labor, entertained paranoid fantasies that the forces of organized labor determined "Chattanooga should be organized as a matter of prestige." In this way local employers had been the target of status-seeking unionist who led "a movement having almost national force behind it." Sixteen of the most prominent of the city's manufactures disclosed their anxieties about labor relations and worker solidarity by putting up signs in their factories reading: "Only HIGH-GRADE INDEPENDENT Men Employed Here."[sic] Other employers, also aware of growing worker consciousness, portrayed their operatives as "sullen and resentful, and are thinking of other things than the job in hand." The laissez-faire system obviously was not creating adequate opportunities for worker upward mobility.
On the 22nd Colpoys admonished to carmen to accept the CR&L offer "on patriotic grounds at least." Patriotism aside, however, the men demonstrated their solidarity, rejected the offer after a unanimous vote. While Hoover was "tired of mediation and mediators," he released an affidavit by one of the streetcar union workers which revealed "that the new hand cash registers were the predominating cause of the strike." Union leaders prepared a street demonstration and mass meeting on the courthouse lawn to bolster union solidarity and class consciousness.
The pro-union street demonstration Sunday the 23rd was troubled inasmuch as the CR&L had been running streetcars on all lines. As the rear of what the Chattanooga News called a "monster parade" of some 2,000 members of local unions turned onto Market Street it met two trolleys. While there were jeers there was no violence until one streetcar operator tried to push an automobile that was temporarily blocking his path. Two policemen jumped aboard to shield the scab driver, heated words were exchanged with the rear of the parade when a "crowd then...attacked the car, riddled windows, scattering the glass all about, cut its trolley rope and dismantled its doors." Faltering police attempts to protect the scab carmen were buttressed by the arrival of Hamilton County Sheriff Nick Bush. While Bush was cheered by the mob as he placed the strikebreaking carman in the police wagon, the carman was assailed with cries of: "Don't let him get out of here alive;" and "Kill him, kill him!" During the battle that followed one bystander, a brewery worker, William Massengale, had been killed by a blast by a stray shot.
Upon learning of the violence speeches at the courthouse turned into pleas to remain calm and to avoid the fracas. Captain J. P. Wilson of the Sixth Infantry sent four companies of armed infantry to the scene of the riot. They formed around three trolley cars; the trolley that broke through the circle of troops was the one attacked, and one soldier was wounded. To their credit the "troops injured no one, but apparently hurt a few feelings when it became necessary to clear a passage and rescue a wounded man." After an extended meeting of the City Commissioners following the riot it was clear to Police Chief William H. Hackett that worker solidarity was at such levels that "'if streetcars are sent to the suburbs even under the protection of soldiers they will be attacked.'" Commissioner Bass believed that "'it was very foolish for Hoover to have attempted to run his cars during the parade this afternoon.'"
Ironically, the union carmen themselves "were probably about the last of all the thousands in the immediate vicinity to hear of [the violence]." Expressing amplified worker solidarity and class consciousness, Chattanooga's union carmen, carpenters, glass blowers, machinists, paperhangers, "and many unionists from other trades," the vanguard of the labor parade, were tranquilly listening to speeches given to their gathering of nearly 1,500 on the courthouse lawn while the violence had ensued.
Speeches at that meeting are indicative of class struggle and consciousness in Chattanooga's working sector. For example, Rev. Dr. E.L. Grace of the Central Baptist Church equated strikers with "God's children" and that in "all questions of property vs. man the human spirit must be paramount." Chris Cline warned that the CR&L's campaign to thwart the union was a result of Imperial German intrigue, a company conspiracy "'conceived in Berlin, born in Amsterdam, and nurtured in Philadelphia.'" Indeed, the entire array war-time labor problems in America were attributable to the same source. A Congressional investigation of the Washington D.C. traction (i.e. trolley) company revealed the dominant role of German capitol in that business and sparked similar investigations. The management of German controlled traction companies had instigated labor difficulties. Moreover, poor treatment of workers was "particularly noticeable in cities in close proximation [sic] and army cantonments," such as Chattanooga. Other local labor leaders continued in a similar vein, some accusing CR&L Vice President Hoover of being "a German sympathizer."
In the interim, city commissioners continued to meet with Hoover as Colpoys formulated a new plan. Cline, still suspicious of the individual contracts, was inclined to approve of the conciliator's efforts, but would leave it to the membership to decide. In a related incident the Hamilton County Coroner's Jury indicted a scab carman, S.O Welch, from Athens, Tennessee, with murder in the death the bystander on the 23rd, and named Superintendent J.R. Anderson and Vice President F.W. Hoover as accessories to the crime.
The CR&L's Hoover had by the 24th made some contract concessions and it was expected that soon the strike might end, while guerilla-like gunplay continued along the trolley lines on the outskirts of the city. Calls for arbitration by the Board of City Commissioners were aired, should a settlement not be reached soon. Yet more gloomy news came on the 24th from Washington, D.C.
Colonel Pickering, in command of the regular army troops stationed at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, received orders from the War Department ordering him to send as many soldiers as necessary to protect life and property in Chattanooga and Hamilton County. Contrary to widespread rumors, the city was not under martial law yet, but if serious disturbances continued not doubt it would be. The troops had riot guns, loaned by the Chattanooga Police Department, apparently in a humanitarian effort to minimize the possible effects of the soldiers' steel jacketed bullets.
Worker class consciousness was evident when the following anonymously printed message, addressed to Chattanooga's working men, was circulated in the city:
Your employer has aligned with the street car company in their efforts to enslave the workers of Chattanooga. It is you duty to align yourself with your own class, the workers, to the end that the workmen of Chattanooga may retain their dignity and manhood.
The editor of the Daily Times, incensed at the very suggestion of class conflict, condemned the note as "revolutionary in its design, destructive in its motive...[and] out of harmony with the spirit that always prevailed here...."[emphasis added] Thankfully, responsible local labor leaders were not a part of this. The streetcar strike had gone on long enough and it was "time for every patriotic Chattanoogan to move together to put an end to the present intolerable conditions."
On the 25th thousands of cards appeared in the city advertising Massengale's funeral. The fliers made several statements indicative of class consciousness, the gist of which was that all since employers had joined and that workers ought to coalesce at once to support the carmen's strike. Apparently unable to believe in the notion of genuine class consciousness among Chattanooga's working people, the editor of the Daily Times exclaimed the difficulties had to be the result of "I.W.W.s...trying to stir up more rioting." The flier clearly explained: "Now is the time when all working people must stand together....Show your sympathy with your own class and join the procession....Labor has declared a suspension of work for one day to attend this funeral, and if you are with your own class you will be there."
The effect of the fliers on Chattanooga workers' consciousness was gauged on the 26th, when a vanguard of 1,200 unionists preceded Massengale's funeral. It was called "an unusual event," and every union was represented by a wreath, while the CLU had paid for the considerable funeral expenses. As the procession passed the spot where he had been killed all workers bared their heads, and at both corners of Fourth Street, near the armory soldiers with bayonets stood guard. The huge funeral procession was marked by silence, and there was no violence, showing that working-class consciousness did not necessarily result in destructiveness and turbulence.
In the interim the negotiations between workers and management of the CR&L seemed to be making real progress, no doubt to the increased awareness of class consciousness and worker solidarity in the city. Cline, for example, had his first meeting with F.W. Hoover on the 26th, but no agreement resulted. While Hoover went to Nashville the workers considered the issue of the employees' right to appeal to arbitration instead of to the Vice President of CR&L when grievances arose. Moreover, a large majority of Local 715 were "determined to hold out for an iron-clad closed shop." Adding to the general uneasiness was the apparently sudden realization by the press that even if "a proposed solution proved acceptable to...Cline it must be submitted to the union itself before it can go into operation, and the temper of the men is such that they may not adopt even the solution that proves satisfactory to their representatives."
Hoover stayed away from Chattanooga and negotiations halted. After payment of their strike benefits on the 26th the carmen renewed their commitment to strike, while rumors circulated hinting that Cline and the local membership were at odds concerning a closed shop. Nevertheless, after twenty days of the carmen's dispute in Chattanooga, Cline warned that the strike could continue indefinitely; after all, the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania union had recently won an eighteen-month strike. According to Cline the Wilkes-Barre company had acted no differently than the CR&L, and only after a city-wide union boycott took its toll did management meet the workers' demands.
Negotiations continued and showed enough promise for Colonel Pickering to rescind his order keeping soldiers on base. Arbitrators were appointed by both sides. Some of the local union membership didn't share Cline's sense of indefinite commitment, and by October 6, 1917 the CR&L announced it would in accordance with one of the CMA's seven principles, rehire "those workers who had remained peaceable" and summarily fired all nonunion scabs in accordance with an agreement with the workers. The strike was said to be over, but CR&L maintained an open shop.
The next day as the scabs left town and the trolleys began to run, the local carmen were greeted by cheers, especially in the working class neighborhoods in East Chattanooga. This suburban blue-collar area was a resolute source of aggressive working class support for the carmen's strike. During the strike, for example, East Chattanooga residents walked, or rode jitneys, "paying out every week as much as their wages amounted to, and joined in a protest against non-union service in the suburb, never complaining...of their hardships due to the strike." Victorious worker solidarity and class consciousness was expressed as the first trolley passed central stations, such as Glass street...the women were out in numbers, their hands full of flowers, fruit and delicacies. The motor man and conductor found their vestibules filled these with offerings, while the women who had ridden with them for four years laughed, cried and cheered.
Since the contract was assured, its execution was best left to Local No. 715 and the CR&L. Ironically, just as he left for organizing activities in Nashville, Chris Cline was faced with an issue that threatened worker cohesion and a new strike. The difficulty that threatened to renew the strike revolved around the contractual stipulation that all non-union carmen or electrical linemen be dismissed. Because the top CR&L and AASREA management leaders, Chris Cline and Vice President Hoover were in Nashville once again opposing one another, this crisis had to be handled by local authorities on the basis of advice from a number of quarters. The ten white union linemen for the CR&L wished to have the ten black linemen, who did not strike, and were never asked to join the union, dismissed. The AASREA international union headquarters advised the local members not to hold out on the issue, while R. B. Buckner, recording secretary for local Negro Barbers' Union No. 460, courageously appeared before the white union members of Local 715. His argument was "convincing and had great weight with the linemen, who...agreed to drop the complaint against the colored men as strikebreakers." In fact, Local No. 715 President C.P. Colbert was anxious to let the public know that the original complaint was not based upon race, but because the black linemen were thought to be strikebreakers. Colbert continued that since "there has never yet been any provision made for these colored men coming into our local, we decided to waive their point and withdraw our contention that they were strikebreakers." Thus at least one sector of Chattanooga's union labor force was capable of overcoming, but not eliminating, racial prejudice in their workplace.
While racial barriers may have been temporarily overcome, a remaining cadre of union members were not rehired. These interceded with the newly rehired carmen and by October 16 persuaded the members of Local 715 to once again, almost capriciously, strike until they were also rehired.
The Chancellery Court issued an injunction against the union and CR&L issued an ultimatum saying that all those not at their posts by October 22 would be fired. Only 12 men of nearly 200 returned to work that day, indicating the solidarity of feeling of solidarity among union members. The strike continued through October and by November 1917 150 former scabs were back at work. What little worker solidarity and public sentiment that remained in Chattanooga for the strikers evaporated when a streetcar was dynamited on December 2, 1917, although it was never proven that the strikers were guilty of the crime. By mid-December the strikers' ranks had atrophied to about fifty union members. By January 10, 1918, CR&L announced it would discontinue use of the Rooke Automatic Register, said to be the real cause of the strike in September, 1917. One week later on January 17, some 15 of the hard-line union men returned to work, while the remaining carmen returned on the 25th. While the union had been defeated the company would fold in 1922, falling into receivership, at least partially the result of the strike of 1917. The effects of the strike of 1917, along with the exigencies of the first world war, post-war inflation and the increasing use of other forms of urban public transportation, would hasten the decline of streetcar transportation and consequently the eventual demise of the AASREA and its local affiliate No. 715 in Chattanooga.
Genuine and growing class consciousness was expressed in the Chattanooga carmen's strikes of 1899, 1911, 1916, and 1917. These work stoppages precipitated a hastening of working class consciousness and unity of principle within the context of Chattanooga's urban working force. Ironically, rapid technological changes in modes of public and private transportation resulted in the demise of trolley lines and so the decline of workers manning them. Even so, worker solidarity sustained the carmen collectively to assert their demands for higher wages and better working conditions. Support for the trolley strikes from other local labor unions and labor leaders in Chattanooga, as well as large segments of a similarly status cognizant working-class public, extended the limits and nurtured the growth of mutual awareness and familiar interests.
If the rise of worker solidarity in urban Tennessee was frustrated as a function of the social fluidity created by the laissez-faire capitalist economic system, then it may possible to understand the example of Chattanooga's carmen as a turning point. That is, the existence of worker class consciousness suggests that upward mobility was inhibited by a decline of the system in the late 1890s in Chattanooga. The ultimate monopolistic results of laissez-faire attitudes and practices blunted upward social mobility and activated an environment fostering working-class consciousness and worker solidarity. This was especially true for the Chattanooga carmen after the formation of the local CR&L monopoly in 1906, accumulated by the E.W. Clark Co. of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1909. The rise of adversarial worker consciousness among traction railway carmen and their brother tradesmen in Chattanooga was one result of business concentration. If the lack of monopoly in a nominally competitive economy, that is, a laissez-faire economy was the main factor inhibiting working class cohesion in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, then the later lack of competition, ironically the result of the laissez-faire system, worked to coalesce workers and so foster working class consciousness among them. Impressionistic evidence appears to identify similar patterns of development in other Tennessee cities and would be excellent areas for critical historical assessment and narration.
© 1999 by Dr. James B. Jones, Jr., All rights in the above article are
No portion may be reproduced in any form without the express permission of the author.