United States and American History: 1885

About the history of the United States in 1885, the Knights of Labor strikes, unions, and labor organizations, Ulysses S. Grant is laid in Grant's tomb, Geronimo fights the U.S.


May 14 Apaches on the San Carlos, Ariz., Reservation protested U.S. Government regulations against wife-beating and making tiswin (corn liquor). Fearing reprisals, Geronimo convinced 38 warriors, 8 boys old enough to fight, and 100 women and children to escape with him to the Sierra Madres in Mexico. In March, 1886, they negotiated an agreement whereby they would be sent to Florida for 2 years. That night, a Swiss-American gunrunner smuggled liquor to the Apaches and convinced many of them that they would be killed if they surrendered. Eighteen warriors and 19 women and children fled.

For 5 months, Geronimo and the Chiricahuas eluded 5,000 U.S. Army troops and 500 Indian scouts under the command of the ambitious Gen. Nelson A. Miles, who ordered the construction of an elaborate network of heliograph stations to track the Indians with morse code. Summer Sitting Bull toured with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. He gave away most of his money to hungry boys who followed the show. He said to Annie Oakley: "The white man knows how to make everything, but he does not know how to distribute it."

Summer The Knights of Labor won a strike against Jay Gould. It was Gould who used illegal Erie Railroad stock to defraud Com. Cornelius Vanderbilt, and who then escaped with $6 million to New Jersey. Later, Gould bribed the New York legislature to legalize the Erie stock. With $23 million profit, Gould bought New York City's elevated railroad, Union Pacific Railroad, and Western Union. It was also Gould who bribed the brother-in-law of President Grant to serve as his White House spy. When Gould got inside information that the nation's gold reserve would be frozen, he bought up $47 million of free gold, drove the greenback price up from $132 to $162.50 for $100 worth of gold, and thus made himself a tidy profit. But in the strike against him, he was defeated by the Knights of Labor, whose prestige and membership promptly soared:

1884 71,326 members

1885 111,395 members

1886 729,677 members

The leaders of the Knights of Labor opposed strikes and revolution; they favored voting and the creation of producers' cooperatives. However, the Chicago Central Labor Union recommended to its locals that "the workers arm in answer to the employment of Pinkertons, police, and militia by their employers."

July 23 Ulysses S. Grant died of cancer at 63. Lying in state in New York City Hall, his body was viewed by a seemingly endless line of mourners who field past for 96 consecutive hours. He was laid to rest in the landmark now known as Grant's Tomb on Riverside Drive. A vine plucked from Napoleon's tomb at St. Helena was planted beside the ex-President's grave.

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