1834 – Transportation & a Dark Time for Labor

January 1834

Major transportation projects require enormous amounts of laborers of various skills.  Current day public works transportation construction projects are regulated to assure that workers are paid prevailing wages and are not taken advantage of, this current state was not reached without a cost.  The exploitation of workers while not solely encountered on transportation projects reached a high point in late January 1834, when then President Andrew Jackson sent Federal troops to put down an uprising by unhappy workers of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal company.  The construction workers who were engaged in the construction of a canal to provide a safe inland waterway to the Ohio River from the Eastern seaboard.  Construction teams were forced to work long hours for low wages in dangerous working conditions.   When a riot ensued in response to the mistreatment of these employees federal troops were dispatched by President Jackson to restore order.  Thus a dangerous precedent was set as labor uprisings continued to increase in ensuing decades business leaders defaulted to elected leaders at the state, local or federal level to use their enforcement powers to restore order.

For more information about this dark moment in transportation history see this History Channel post.

 ~ Thanks to Craig Copelan for this post.

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