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American City

A Rank and File History of Minneapolis

2005
Author:

Charles Rumford Walker
Foreword by Mary Lethert Wingerd

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A “civic biography” that examines a critical event in the labor history of Minneapolis—and the United States

In the spring of 1934, a small group of union organizers led Minneapolis truckers on a series of strikes that sought to break the city's anti-union grip. Charles Walker recounts the interests, motives, and passions on both sides of the conflict in this vivid account of a period that transformed Minneapolis and forged the way for workers's rights nationwide.

A startling book that everyone who wishes to understand America should read.

New Republic

In the spring of 1934, a small group of militant union organizers led Minneapolis truckers on a series of strikes that sought to break the city’s anti-union grip. The striking truckers, in protest of scab workers, took to the streets of the city’s warehouse district where they faced violent opposition from the police and members of the Citizen’s Alliance, a group representing Minneapolis’s business community. The conflict exploded when police fired on the unarmed strikers, killing four and injuring countless others. The events surrounding Bloody Friday shifted the balance of power between labor and business in Minneapolis and proved to be a significant victory for the labor movement, contributing to the ratification of the landmark National Labor Relations Act.

When first published in 1937, Charles Rumford Walker’s American City was praised as an evenhanded portrayal of the truckers’s strike. Focusing on the personal experiences of the participants, Walker recounts the interests, motives, and passions on both sides of the conflict, capturing the heated emotions of those involved. He offers a vivid account of a period that transformed Minneapolis and forged the way for workers’s rights nationwide.

Fesler-Lampert Minnesota Heritage Series

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Charles Rumford Walker (1893–1974) was a journalist, editor, and labor activist. He is the author of numerous short stories, plays, articles, and books, including Steel: The Diary of a Furnace Worker.

Mary Lethert Wingerd is assistant professor of history at St. Cloud State University. She is the author of Claiming the City: Politics, Faith, and the Power of Place in St. Paul.

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A startling book that everyone who wishes to understand America should read.

New Republic

American City chronicles the most extraordinary and in some ways the most significant labor struggle of the postwar era.

The Nation

Mr. Walker has let each side have its say, has told his story well, and would appear to have told it fairly.

New York Times Book Review

A classic, fact-filled examination of a pivotal moment in labor history. Highly Recommended.

Midwest Book Review

American City makes for a lively read, and a glimpse of the possibilities many saw.

Industrial Worker