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Samuel Gompers: Topics in Chronicling America

In the early 1900's Samuel Gompers assembled massive strikes and became the president of American Federation of Labor. This guide provides access to material related to "Samuel Gompers" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


"Samuel Gompers delivers brilliant speech on unionism and strikes at big mass-meeting at Alhambra theater." July 23, 1902. The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, CA), Image 3. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Samuel Gompers (1850-1924) is the founder of the American Federation of Labor (AFL). Gifted at orating and assembling strikes, Gompers used them as effective weapons to change the degrading conditions of the working men of America. A highly respected and influential leader, he often offered his polarizing opinions on various topics such as prohibition, socialism, political parties, etc. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


1877 As president of Cigar Makers’ International Union, Samuel Gompers advocates for better wages, hours, and conditions.
1902 Gompers delivers speech on unionism and strikes at Big Mass-Meeting at Alhambra Theater in San Francisco.
1908 Gompers is convicted and sentenced to one year in jail for refusing to heed to an injunction not to boycott the anti-labor Buck Stove and Range Company.
1911 The sentence is later appealed and Gompers only spends one day in jail. He strongly believes that strike is one of labor's most effective weapons.
1917 Gompers writes an open letter against the Prohibition movement detailing how it affects labor.
1919 Gompers comments on how prohibition helps the Reds.
1920 Gompers expresses his distaste for socialism and Bolshevism.