The Great Railroad Strike of 1877
Document 6A: Meeting at Capital Park

Albany Argus masthead
scanned newspaper article
scanned newspaper article, part 2

Transcription of
The Albany Argus:
Wednesday, July 25, 1877, Vol. LI., No. 18.988
(original spellings & punctuation maintained)
Excerpts from local pages

Scenes at West Albany.
Trains Interfered With.
Work Entirely Stopped
Two Meetings Held.
Valuable Property Removed
To a Place of Safety.


During the afternoon a large number of idle persons gathered in the Capital park and on the approach of 4 o'clock they assembled about and on the steps of the Capitol to the number of probably 1,000. There was little in the appearance of the men to indicate that they were railroad employees, and many of them evidently were not, nor skilled mechanics of any kind. Another fact was also observable to the most superficial notice, that the men were not respectable representatives of any one class. There was no general conversation among them, no indication of any recognition of each other, nor the slightest sign that they were united in the pursuit of any well defined or legitimate object. It was simply an aggregation of the idle and disaffected, very scantily sprinkled with railroad employees.

At twenty minutes past four, Mr. Tiernan (Matthew J. Tiernan, chairman of the meeting held in West Albany Monday, July 23, 1877) appeared, and calling the body to order, stated that the meeting was for the purpose of taking action on further proceedings. He advised the railroad men to reach a conclusion as soon as possible and get away from the crowd, so that they could do their business by themselves.

John Van Hoesen said that he was proud to see that the employes [sic] of the New York Central Railroad and the laboring men generally, were not ashamed to meet here. He deprecated violence, but declared that the next move must be the compelling of the train men to join in the strike. He said, "There are men on the road who have offered violence; we have not. Other men had offered violence for the purpose of having the military sent to West Albany that we might be driven away and they get our places. Who is this Vanderbilt that he should pay as much for his breakfast as he pays ten men for their day's work? We do wish to invite every man who has no capital but his two hands to join us." If a man was worth one dollar and fifty cents per day two years ago, Mr. Van Hoeson thought that according to the present cost of living he ought to be worth two dollars to-day. He understood that the Tenth and Twenty-fifth regiments had been ordered west, and that other troops are to be sent here. He said it would not be the first time in railroad war that the roughs of New York got all they wanted and went home satisfied. We ask for bread and they are going to give us bullets. It might be that they will get bullets back. The engineers had not assisted in resisting the reduction of ten per cent because they knew that they still would have good wages after it was taken off. They had never made friends with their firemen. There were enough laborers in the country, the speaker said, to cover up these capitalists and that is what they want.

Mr. Van Hoesen concluded by moving that there be a committee of conference of ten appointed. There were men about who did not know what to do, or where to go. He thought there should some one for these men to consult and tell them what to do...

The motion to proceed in a body to the freight houses was finally put and declared carried, and the greater portion of the body, which at once took the shape of a full blown mob, moved off down State street, to Broadway, to Maiden lane, and up the tracks to the Central and Hudson freight houses...

Last Updated: January 17, 2012