A Howling Mob Approach to History
Looking out over the burning Strip District from the safety of his office in Pittsburgh's Union Station, Thomas Alexander Scott must have been humbled. Only days before, as president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, Scott famously suggested that impoverished and striking railroad workers be given “a rifle diet for a few days and see how they like that kind of bread.” Now, with the local Pittsburgh militia all but mutinied and the State Militia rapidly retreating, he must have wondered if his hard-line stance had backfired…
We're imagining here what the events of July 21st and 22nd, 1877 must have looked like to one of that era's most prominent robber barons. This approach follows a tradition of reporting history from the point of view of a powerful, moneyed elite. It is the last you'll see of that perspective here. While the mainstream media—both past and present—frame events in terms of their effect on national economic interests, the Howling Mob investigates history through the experiences of common, working people.
The Howling Mob Society (HMS) is a collaboration of artists, activists and historians committed to unearthing stories neglected by mainstream history. HMS brings increased visibility to the radical history of Pittsburgh, PA through grassroots artistic practice. We chose to focus on The Great Railroad Strike of 1877, a national uprising that saw some of its most dramatic moments in Pittsburgh.