Today in History, September 9, 1919:
The Boston Police Strike. By 1919, the cost of living had risen 76%, while Boston Police Officers pay had increased 18%. New hires were making $2 per day…the same as they made when the force was created in 1854. Elevator operators were making more than cops, and most city employees made at least twice what cops made, many of whom had just returned from serving in WWI. Conditions in the police stations were intolerable; on today’s date most of the force refused to show up for work.
Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge called out the National Guard to patrol the streets, and the Mayor refused to rehire the striking cops when the strike ended.
The events would propel Coolidge to the national stage; he would be elected Vice-President in 1920.
The cops eventually got higher pay, but it would be 20 years before they attempted to unionize again. Today it is illegal for police and other public safety personnel to strike, although there have been other incidents of “blue flu.”.
Through the efforts of the Fraternal Order of Police, salaries and work conditions are negotiated with municipalities.
Today in History, March 5: 1770 – The Boston Massacre. American colonists, and Bostonians in particular, had been up in arms over unfair taxation without representation by their British rulers. Britain sent a contingent of soldiers to enforce the taxation and rules in Boston. After brawling with the “continentals” a few days before, they were faced with a crowd of citizens protesting outside of the Customs House. Being pelted with snowballs from the citizenry, they fixed bayonets. Most accounts are that a British soldier either slipped or was pelted with snowballs and his musket fired…then the rest of the soldiers began firing into the crowd. When it was over, five civilians were dead or dieing. Crispus Attucks, Patrick Carr, Samuel Gray, Samuel Maverick and James Caldwell. These are considered the first casualties in the American Revolution. Paul Revere made an engraving of the incident which was widely published (went viral in today’s parlance).
Today in History, October 6: 1723 – A 17-year-old runaway arrives on the streets of Philadelphia, a fugitive for having fled an apprenticeship in Boston. After trying his hand at his apprenticeship vocation of printing, he accepted an offer to travel to London to get the equipment for a new printing shop to open in Philly. This failed, but after 4 years of adventure in England, young Benjamin Franklin returned to Philadelphia and began his career as a printer, statesman, scientist and activist for freedom. Franklin is the epitome of the theory that you only fail if you quit.