There were riots in the streets of Corinth. A railroad trestle had been destroyed with dynamite. Attempts were made to blow two bridges on the roads leading into the village. National Guard units from adjoining counties were brought in to restore order. All of this upheaval occurred during the 1910 Corinth Paper Mill Strike.
The management of IP had been reneging on several promises made following a short-lived strike in 1908. Men were made to work every evening including Sundays, wages had been cut, and workers were discharged without cause. Discrimination against former employees was rampant.
The final straw for workers at International Paper Company’s Hudson River Mill (located at Palmer Falls in Corinth) had been the firing of Cornelius O’Leary without cause on March 6, 1910. As word spread of O’Leary’s firing, IP mills throughout the Northeast struck; eventually more than 5,000 men would walk off the job.
Saratoga County Sheriff John Washburn could not control the violence in Corinth when IP brought in strike breakers – called scabs by the men whose jobs were at stake – to keep the mill in operation. The dynamite had been used to slow the transport of these replacement workers. The Sheriff telegraphed Governor Charles Evans Hughes to call up National Guard. Each soldier carried 50 rounds of ammunition. The Guard camped at the outskirts of town and escorted the strike breakers from the train station to the mill. A group of boys about the age of twelve formed their own junior militia. According to the Troy Daily Times they carried tin sabers and wooden guns and some carried revolvers. One Leon Hickok was accidentally shot in the hand.
Meetings of the striking workers were held in Corinth’s Catholic Church Parish Hall and at the Opera House. With negotiations between the strikers and the management at a standstill, town leaders and clergy requested help from the Bureau of Mediation and Arbitration and New York State held formal inquires at Corinth, Glens Falls, and New York City.
Seventy-six days after the strike began it was ended with a settlement accepted on May 21, 1910. It included the following provisions: “all men on strike will return to work as soon as possible, a three tour system with overtime and Sunday work will remain in effect, IP will recognize committees on all grievances within the various departments, an approximate 5% pay raise will take effect on August 1, 1910, grievances that cannot be settled locally will be handled by New York managers, paper machines will operate six days a week -24 hours a day, and pulp mills will operate 6 ½ days when necessary.”
This strike cost International Paper Company a total of 140,498 works days in all of their New York mills combined. Unfortunately, this strike was just a precursor to the next big strike in Corinth in 1921. That one lasted five years, and had a lasting impact on the community in Corinth.
Rachel Clothier is the historian for the Town of Corinth. She has been active with the Corinth Museum, 609 Palmer Ave, for over 38 years. She is always on the lookout for stories about Corinth’s past. More photos of the Corinth area can be found at Facebook/Corinth Museum. Rachel can be reached at email@example.com.
Photo: State Guard on Main Street during the 1910 Corinth Strike, March 1910.