In the Merrimack Valley: Bread and Roses Strike – Lawrence 1912

MassMoments reminds us that on this day – January 12, 1912 -the so-called Bread and Roses Strike of workers in our sister city of Lawrence Massachusetts began.

On January 12, 1912, workers in the American Woolen Company Mills in Lawrence, Massachusetts, opened their pay envelopes to find that their wages had been cut. They took to the streets in protest, beginning a history-making confrontation between labor and capital…

 Massachusetts militiamen with fixed bayonets surround a group of  textile strikers in Lawrence.

Newspapers reported this ugly scene, and people all around the country were outraged. A congressional investigation began. As witnesses described working conditions in the mills and the events of the strike, President William Howard Taft ordered an investigation into industrial conditions in Lawrence and throughout the nation.

By March, the hearings had caused so much negative publicity that the American Woolen Company decided to settle. On March 12, 1912, management agreed to the strikers’ demands for a 15% pay raise, double pay for overtime, and amnesty for strikers. The striking workers had demonstrated a powerful lesson: even traditionally powerless groups such as women and recent immigrants could prevail if they worked together.


Read the full MassMoments article here at

2 Responses to In the Merrimack Valley: Bread and Roses Strike – Lawrence 1912

  1. Bob Forrant says:

    A year from today there will be a series of events in Lawrence to kick-off a Centennial Year of activities devoted to this important event and to consider what the strike and strikers’ aspirations mean for our contemporary situation. Events will include a new historical exhibit on Lawrence and the strike, an academic symposium and book on the strike and its meaning for today, an art exhibit containing a good deal of the artists’ rendering of the strike, a gigantic Labor Day 2012 event on the Lawrence Common, a community reads event where folks will read and discuss one of the many wonderful historical accounts of the strike, and a labor film festival.

    The centennial planning committee, of which I am a part, is having an event this coming Saturday at 1:00 at the Lawrence Heritage State Park to discuss these events and enlist more folks in helping us get all of the work done over 2011 to be ready for 2012. Join us if you can!

    Regards and happy snow day. Quick book recommendation: The Sherlockian by Graham Moore. Reading it today. If you like mysteries and Sherlock Holmes, you’ll want to read this book.

  2. Dean says:

    This is when the Harvard students in the militia were sent supress the new legal immigrants and the working class. Book recommendation : Extreme New England Weather by Josh Judge.