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 I now that Pittsburgh would be as good a field as any, and one morning seeing a sign outside a cut-rate ticket-broker’s window reading “Pittsburgh, $5.75,” I bought a ticket, returned to my small room to pack my bag, and departed. I arrived at Pittsburgh at six or seven that same evening.  
Of all the cities in which I ever worked or lived Pittsburgh was the most agreeable. Perhaps it was due to the fact that my stay included only spring, summer and fall, or that I found a peculiarly easy newspaper atmosphere, or that the city was so different from any I had thus far seen; but whether owing to one thing or another certainly no other newspaper work I ever did seemed so pleasant, no other city more interesting. What a city for a realist to work and dream in! The wonder to me is that it has not produced a score of writers, poets, painters and , instead of—well, how many? And who are they?
I came down to it through the brown-blue mountains of Western Pennsylvania, and all day long we had been at the base of one or another of them, following the bed of a stream or turning out into a broad smooth valley, crossing directly at the center of it, or climbing some low with a puff-puff-puff and then almost recklessly down the other slope. I had never before seen any mountains. The sight of sooty-faced miners at certain places, their little oil and tow tin lamps fastened to their hats, their tin dinner-pails on their arms, impressed me as something new and faintly reminiscent of the one or two small coal mines about Sullivan, Indiana, where I had lived when I was a boy of seven. Along the way I saw a heavy-faced and heavy-bodied type of peasant woman, with a black or brown or blue or green skirt and a waist of a contrasting color, a headcloth or neckerchief of still another, trailed by a few children of equally solid proportions, hanging up clothes or doing something else about their places. These were the much-maligned hunkies just then being imported by the large manufacturing and mining and steel-making industries of the country to take the place of the restless and less American working man and woman. I marveled at their appearance and number, and assumed, American-fashion, that in their far-off and unhappy lands they had heard of the wonderful American Constitution, its guaranty of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as well as of the opportunities afforded by this great land, and that they had their to come all this distance to enjoy these greater .
I did not then know of the manufacturers’ foreign agent with his lying propaganda among ignorant and often fairly peasants, painting America as a country rolling in wealth and opportunity, and then bringing them here to take the places of more restless and greatly underpaid foreigners who, having been brought over by the same gay pictures, were becoming irritated and demanded more pay. I did not then know of the padrone, the labor spy, the company store, five cents an hour for breaker children, the company , all in full operation at this time. All I knew was that there had been a great steel strike in Pittsburgh recently, that Andrew Carnegie, as well as other steel manufacturers (the Olivers, for one), had built fences and strung them with barbed wire in order to protect themselves against the “lawless” attacks of “lawless” workingmen.
I also knew that a large number of State or county or city paid deputy sheriffs and mounted police and city policemen had been sworn in and set to guarding the company’s property and that H. C. Frick, a leading steel manager for Mr. Carnegie, had been slightly wounded by a desperado named Alexander Berkman, who was these workingmen, all foreigners of course, lawless and unappreciative of the great and prosperous steel company which was paying them reasonable wages and against which they had no honest complaint.
Our mid-Western papers, up to the day of Cleveland’s election in 1892 and for some time after, had been full of the merits of this labor dispute, with long and didactic editorials, intended in the main to prove that the workingman was not so greatly underpaid, considering the type of labor he performed and the intelligence he brought to his task; that the public was not in the main vastly interested in labor disputes, both parties to the dispute being selfish; that it would be a severe blow to the prosperity of the country if labor disputes were too long continued; that unless labor was reasonable in its demands capital would become disheartened and leave the country. I had not made up my mind that the argument was all on one side, although I knew that the average man in America, despite its great and opportunities, was about as much put upon and kicked about and underpaid as any other. This growing labor problem or the general American dissatisfaction with poor returns upon efforts made crystallized three years later in the Free Silver campaign and the “gold parades.” The “full dinner-pail” was then invented as a slogan to the vast economic unrest, and the threat to close down and so bring to the entire country unless William McKinley was elected was also freely posted. Henry George, Father McGlynn, Herr Most, Emma Goldman, and a score of others were abroad voicing the of hundreds of thousands who were supposed to have no woes.
At that time, as I see it now, America was just entering upon the most phase of that vast, splendid, most lawless and most period in which the great financiers were plotting and at the enslavement of the people and each other. Those crude dynasties which now sit enthroned in our democracy, threatening its very life with their and assumptions, were then in their very beginning. John D. Rockefeller was still in Cleveland; Flagler, William Rockefeller, H. H. Rogers, were still comparatively young and secret agents; Carnegie was still in Pittsburgh, an iron master, and of all his brood of powerful children only Frick had appeared; William H. Vanderbilt and Jay Gould had only recently died; Cleveland was President, and Mark Hanna was an unknown business man in Cleveland. The great struggles of the railroads, the coal companies, the gas companies, to overawe and tax the people were still in , or just being born. The multi-millionaire had arrived, it is true, but not the billionaire. On every hand were giants plotting, fighting, dreaming; and yet in Pittsburgh there was still something of a singing spirit.
When I arrived here and came out of the railway station, which was directly across the Monongahela River from the business center, I was impressed by the huge walls of hills that arose on every hand, a great black sheer ridge rising to a height of five or six hundred feet to my right and enclosing this river, on the of which lay steamboats of good size. From the station a pleasingly designed bridge of fair size led to the city beyond, and across it trundled in unbroken lines street-cars and and buggies of all sizes and descriptions. The city itself was already smartly outlined by lights, a climbing the hills in every direction, and below me as I walked out upon this bridge was an stream reflecting the lights from either shore. Below this was another bridge, and upstream another. The whole river for a mile or more was suddenly lit to a glow, a glow which, as I saw upon turning, came from the tops of some forty or fifty stacks a deep orange-red flame. At the same time an enormous pounding and crackling came from somewhere, as though titans were at work upon . I stared and admired. I felt that I was truly adventuring into a new and strange world. I was glad now that I had not found work in Toledo or Cleveland or .
The city beyond the river proved as interesting as the river cliffs and forges about the station. As I walked along I discover............
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