A company town was a place of total control. It was industrial paternalism and
you had no control over your own household. The local magistrates were the coal
and iron police. They were hired by the company. They were a company malitia.
There was a sheriff maybe in a town 30 or 40 miles away, but he had no
influence at all over your life. So it was the the mine company's law, the
mine company's order. That was the law and order in the region. You generally
were required to buy everything at a company store, where prices were higher
than they were at stores in local towns that might surround the colliery, or
coal factory, as it was called. And you lived in company housing. Not many
miners were permitted to own their own homes. In the anthracite industrial,
over 90 percent of the miners rented and weren't permitted to buy homes. So
you had no concept of home ownership in these places, no concept of law and
order. The American Constitution wasn't a fact of life for you in those
places. And you were in total thrall to the company in every way. They even
controlled the choosing of ministers and priests in the local parish churches.
They controlled the water supply in the places. People lived there on
day-to-day leases. So if they were suspected of union agitation, they could be
evicted on 24-hour notice. And that happened again and again. It happened in
the 1900 strike. It happened again in the 1902 strike.
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