New York: Pinkerton National Detective Agency, 1898. Complete report by Pinkerton agent "W.A.W.," assigned to gather information on a strike conducted by the workers at the Brainerd, Shaler & Hall Quarry Co. in Portland, Connecticut, outside of Middletown. The Pinkertons were hired by Frederick De Peyster, manager of the Quarry, presumably in the hopes of unearthing a violent conspiracy amongst the strikers. The strikers, led by one Andrew Hanson, had organized the Portland Brown Stone Quarry Men's Union in the wake of the strike, though "According to rumors the Union, if any exists, is very weak and lacking in cohesion," according to the spy's first report. However, despite the Union's embryonic state, the agent, passing off as a New York reporter, judges that "Their resolutions were drawn up in English and gave evidence of having been framed by some person of superior intelligence to the strikers." The rest of the report details the agent's ten days amongst the strikers, beginning with an exceedingly subdued meeting of the laborers (consisting "of Sweedish [sic], Irish and English members. The Sweeds [sic] are in the majority and evidently the leaders"). The strike, as described by W.A.W., was galvanized by an abrupt lay-off earlier that summer, followed by wage cuts, and broken promises made by the universally hated De Peyster, though the agent writes "It would be useless to report here the lamentations of the men...It was their side of the story." Throughout the ten days spent in Portland and Middletown, from July 29 to August 9, 1898, the agent's attempts to befriend the leader Andrew Hanson begin to falter, as strike members begin to suspect his true identity. Having introduced himself as a reporter from New York, the men quickly begin to wonder why no news reports have been printed during his time in their community.
In typical Pinkerton style, the agent clearly wishes to deliver some kind of plot against De Peyster: "[The strikers] disavow any intention of violence but I notice that there is a strong current of ill-feeling and bitterness and am inclined to think that if other men are 'imported' there will be trouble." This claim seems overblown and misleading, scabs having already been "imported" from Canada, only to be sent home with very little ado. The reports come to an end when the agent realizes that his cover is nearly blown. Whether the strikers were successful or not remains undetermined, as we find no contemporary accounts of the event in the press or subsequent literature. Complete report consisting of nine pieces: one (1) Quarry Co. printed envelope labelled in manuscript "Pinkerton Reports + Bill!"; one (1) two-paged typescript bill "For Services and Expenses in the case of Striking Employees" (totalling $95.35); and seven (7) typescript reports of varying length (1.5 - 7 pp. printed on rectos only), totalling 24 leaves of text, occasional holograph corrections throughout; all reports signed in facsimile by Robert A. Pinkerton, Principal of the New York office. Previous mail folds, some light wear to reports, envelope rather ragged and toned with losses at both ends, else a Very Good or better collection.