United States and American History: 1902

About the history of the United States in 1902, the United Mine Workers strike, Oregon restructures their government, the first muckrakers.


-Theodore Roosevelt created his trust-busting image when he had Attorney General Knox file suit against Northern Securities, a railroad holding company, and against the beef trust of Chicago. Both suits were upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

May 12 An anthracite coal strike was called by the United Mine Workers when mine owners declined to arbitrate their demands for union recognition, an increase in wages and an 8-hour day. Under pressure from President Roosevelt, who threatened to use the Army to run the mines as receivers, thus dispossessing the operators, the owners agreed to arbitrate. Roosevelt appointed a commission to mediate the settlement. The strike ended October 21, with a 10% wage increase promised in 1903. Union recognition did not come until 1916. The average annual wage of miners was $250 at this time.

June 2 Oregon adopted the general initiative and referendum, by which people can initiate legislation and override legislative rulings. Oregon was the 1st State to put through this reform in an attempt to control machine rule of State government.

Sept. 2 In Dahomey, the most successful black musical both artistically and financially up to this time, opened in Boston to fantastic reviews. The musical with lyrics and book by Paul Lawrence Dunbar and music by Will Marion Cook was to run for 3 years.

Oct. With the publication of "Tweed Days in St. Louis" by C. H. Wetmore and Lincoln Steffens in McClure's Magazine, the era of the muckrakers had begun. "Muckracker" was a term that Theodore Roosevelt would coin in 1906 to describe the literature of exposure.

Nov. The 1st part of Ida Tarbell's expose of the Standard Oil Company was published in McClure's. The writer spent 5 years investigating and researching her series, "The History of Standard Oil Company," which appeared in McClure's from 1902 to 1904. One reviewer called it, "a fearless unmasking of moral criminality masquerading under the robes of respectability and Christianity."

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