1919 September 9

Boston Police Strike Stirs Fears of Anarchy, Revolution

 

Boston police officers, demanding higher wages in the face of post-World War I inflation, went out on strike on this day. The strike stirred fears of anarchy, lawlessness and revolution. City officials recruited volunteers, including businessmen and Harvard University students, to replace the striking police officers.  Violence erupted, and Governor Calvin Coolidge called out the National Guard to restore order.

Coolidge gained national fame for his statement that no one has the right to strike against the public at any time.

President Woodrow Wilson called the Boston strike “a crime against civilization.”

After four days, the mayor of Boston fired all the striking police officers and hired replacements.

The failure of the Boston police strike tarnished the idea of police unions, and other nascent local unions around the country collapsed and disappeared. Police unions did not return and establish themselves as recognized collective bargaining agents for officers until the 1960s.

Learn more: Francis Russell, A City in Terror: The Boston Police Strike (1975)

And more: Cameron McWhirter, Red Summer: The Summer of 1919 and the Awakening of Black America (2011)

 

Find a Day

Go
Abortion Rights ACLU african-americans Alice Paul anti-communism Anti-Communist Hysteria Birth Control Brown v. Board of Education Censorship CIA Civil Rights Civil Rights Act of 1964 Cold War Espionage Act FBI First Amendment Fourteenth Amendment freedom of speech Free Speech Gay Rights Hate Speech homosexuality Hoover, J. Edgar HUAC Japanese American Internment King, Dr. Martin Luther Ku Klux Klan Labor Unions Lesbian and Gay Rights Loyalty Oaths McCarthy, Sen. Joe New York Times Obscenity Police Misconduct Same-Sex Marriage Separation of Church and State Sex Discrimination Smith Act Spying Spying on Americans Vietnam War Voting Rights Voting Rights Act of 1965 War on Terror Watergate White House Women's Rights Women's Suffrage World War I World War II Relocation Camps

Topics

Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!