February 22, 1860

Lynn Shoeworkers Strike

Region:
Northeast

On this day in 1860, thousands of striking shoeworkers filled Lyceum Hall in Lynn. By choosing to begin their protest on Washington's birthday, the strikers were invoking the memory of their revolutionary forefathers. Lynn had been a shoemaking town since the early 1800s. Hard times had now caused management to cut wages and speed up production. Declaring they would "live by honest toil, but never consent to be slaves," over 20,000 workers — more than had participated in any previous strike — joined the walkout. The size of the protest did not insure its success, however. With the owners refusing to negotiate and growing numbers of workers returning to their jobs, the strike collapsed after six weeks.

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