Today in Labor History December 29



Today in Labor History December 29, 1835: The U.S signed the Treaty of New Echota with a minority Cherokee faction. The treaty gave all the Cherokee lands east of the Mississippi River to the U.S. The treaty was never approved by the Cherokee National Council nor signed by Principal Chief John Ross. Nevertheless, it was ratified in March 1836 and became the legal basis for the forcible removal known as the Trail of Tears, which killed 4000-6000 indigenous men, women and children.


Today in Labor History December 29, 1876: The Ashtabula River railroad disaster occurred in Ashtabula, Ohio. A train of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway with 160 passengers was on the bridge when it failed. Every car except the lead locomotive plunged into the river. The train’s oil lanterns and coal-fired heating stoves set the cars on fire. Firefighters refused to extinguish the flames, leaving survivors and onlookers to pull survivors from the wreck. The accident killed 92 people. Poor design and construction were major contributors to the disaster.


Today in Labor History December 29, 1890: U.S. Army troops slaughtered 300 Sioux men, women and children in the Wounded Knee Massacre on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota. Two weeks earlier, they had killed Sitting Bull for failing to stop the Ghost Dance. The people living in Sitting Bull’s camp fled to the Pine Ridge Reservation, where the U.S. Army caught up to them on December 29. They began disarming the Lakota warriors. However, a deaf tribesman named Black Coyote didn’t want to give up his rifle, because he had paid a lot for it. When his rifle went off in the struggle, the U.S. Army began shooting indiscriminately at the mostly unarmed Lakota. In addition to the 300 Lakota who died, 25 U.S. soldiers also died. And 20 soldiers were given the Medal of Honor.

L. Frank Baum, author of “Wizard of Oz,” was a newspaper editor at the time. He wrote, “Having wronged them for centuries, we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up by one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth. In this lies future safety for our settlers and the soldiers who are under incompetent commands.”


Today in Writing History December 29, 1916: James Joyce published his first novel, “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.”

Today in Labor History December 29, 1937: The Irish Free State adopted a new constitution making it the modern independent Republic of Ireland. The Irish Free State was created on December 6, 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty after the Irish War of Independence. It was a nominally autonomous part of the British Commonwealth. However, its representatives still had to swear an oath to the king of England. Consequently, many of its elected leaders never took their seats in office.


Today in Labor History December 29, 1970: President Nixon signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act into law. Ever since, successive administrations have whittled away at the efficacy of this agency, which was designed to protect workers. Nevertheless, a study in 2012, published in the journal “Science,” found a 9.4% reduction in workplace injuries and a 26% reduction in the cost of workplace injuries since 1970. They also found that these reductions came at no additional cost to business or consumers. A 2020 study by the “American Economic Review” found that President Obama’s press releases that named and shamed companies that were violating OSHA had the same effect on improving compliance by other companies as having 210 inspections.

Today in Labor History December 29, 1975: A bomb exploded at LaGuardia Airport in New York City, killing 11 and injuring 74. The attack occurred during a period of heightened terrorism, with bombings in New York City and Washington, D.C. that year, as well as two assassination attempts on President Ford. The authorities blamed numerous groups, like the PLO, Mafia, FALN (Puerto Rican Liberation Army) and the Jewish Defense League. However, no perpetrators were ever identified.

1 thought on “<strong>Today in Labor History December 29</strong>”

  1. Pingback: Today in Labor History January 27 - Michael Dunn

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