‘The Works Are Not Worth One Drop Of Human Blood’

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The truth was that had Carnegie been on the ground when the strike broke, trouble might never have started, for the men worshipped him. During the dispute he received a cable from the union’s officers which said: “Kind master, tell us what you wish us to do and we shall do it for you.”

It was that simple: Andrew Carnegie represented a style in industrial relations that was passing, an era of the master who knew his men, who looked out for them in good times and bad, and who could expect in return an unbending loyalty. Frick was the impersonal wave of the future, the inflexible representative of absentee owners.

When Carnegie returned to Homestead that fall, he went through the mills, shaking hands with the old employees he recognized and trying to reconcile them to Frick’s management. One of the rollers said to him: “Oh, Mr. Carnegie, it wasn’t a question of dollars. The boys would have let you kick ‘em, but they wouldn’t let that other man stroke their hair.”

—Robert L. Reynolds