H.W.B. – "The Man who can't Live on Bread and Water is not fit to Live!"
During the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, workers across the U.S.
protested starvation-level wage reductions imposed by railroad
conglomerates. When strikers attacked railroad property, state and federal
troops were dispatched to protect the railways. More than 100 people died.
This caricature depicts reknowned clergyman and public speaker Henry Ward
Beecher who condemned the strikers and said that one dollar a day was not
enough to support a family if a man "would insist on smoking and drinking
beer." He went on to add, "the man who cannot live on bread and
water is not fit to live."
Beecher was attacked in the press which contrasted
his insensitive words with his annual earnings of $40,000 (equivalent
to more than $750,000 today).
Beecher was also accused of having an adulterous affair with Elizabeth
a member of this congregation. For years the scandal fascinated
the press and the American public. A church committee exonerated Beecher
but he was subsequently sued by the woman's husband.