The Elementary School of the Army: The Pennsylvania National Guard, 1877-1917
This study examines the role of the Pennsylvania National Guard during the years between the railroad strike of 1877 to its mobilization for the Great War in 1917. An analysis of the labor disputes and strikes that took place during these years indicates that the Guard was used sparingly and with great reluctance by state authorities. Out of the hundreds of strikes during those years following the 1877 railroad strike, the Guard was deployed only six times. The Guard was a tool of last resort that was dispatched by Pennsylvania governors only after all other means to suppress violence and restore order in affected areas were exhausted. During its rare use in industrial disturbances the Guard was not at the disposal of corporate interests and certainly did not take orders or direction from factory and mine owners. On the contrary, the Guard proved such an unreliable ally that corporations increasingly turned to, and relied upon, private police forces such as the Pinkerton Detective Agency and the Coal and Iron police to engage the forces of organized labor. The Commonwealth authorities finally relieved the Guard of strike-related duties by creating the cost-effective and efficient Pennsylvania State Constabulary in 1905.
Rather than serving as a policeman of labor during this period, the Pennsylvania National Guard had initiated significant reforms in structure, training, and discipline that brought it into greater conformity with the standards of the Regular Army. Years before the Root reforms and the Dick Act, the Pennsylvania National Guard had initiated its own program of reform that moved it toward higher standards of military efficiency and professionalism. The Pennsylvania National Guard had consciously fashioned itself to serve as a first-line reserve for the Regular Army, and its excellent performance in the Spanish-American War and the Mexican Border Campaign proved its value to the nation.
Advisor:Donald Goldstein; Robert Doherty; Peter Karsten; Van Beck Hall
School:University of Pittsburgh
School Location:USA - Pennsylvania
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:10/02/2006