The Great Anthracite Coal Strike of 1902 and the Birth of Police as We Know

David Correia

Haymarket Books (June 9, 2024)

Trade paper • ISBN-13: 9798888900901 • US $19.95 • 5 in x 8 in • 288 pgs.


An eye-opening narrative of the Great Anthracite Coal Strike of 1902, showing how the strike—and the violent backlash that ensued—reveal the genesis of modern policing.

In the early years of the 20th century, in the coalfields of eastern Pennsylvania, nearly 150,000 miners took part in one of the most critical events in the history of US labor organizing. The brutal response by the state of Pennsylvania–as well as the federal government–inaugurated the structure and power of policing that we know today.

In this gripping account of the Great Anthracite Coal Strike of 1902, scholar and activist David Correia takes readers through the story of the United Mine Workers of America, their struggle against systems of private policing—which were present in practically every industry in the US—and the development of public, professionalized, state-sanctioned and state-serving police.

The demands of their strike included shorter work days, higher wages, and safer conditions in the deadly mines. However, their labor was crucial to westward expansion, colonial occupations in the Caribbean and the Philippines, and many burgeoning industries in the US. To keep the fires of capitalism burning, industrialists prodded the state and federal governments to intervene. Together, they established the first uniformed police force of its kind, a model soon emulated in other states.


“David Correia has excavated a trove of forgotten or little-known history from the hard coal of Pennsylvania, culminating in the question that remains with us today— just who are the police meant to protect and serve?”

John Sayles

“A breath of fresh air in writing the history of working people. Correia dramatically captures the drama of class warfare in the coal fields and convincingly connects attacks on labor organizing with important questions regarding the history of public and private policing in the United States.”

David Roediger, author of The Sinking Middle Class


David Correia is a Professor of American Studies at the University of New Mexico. He is the author of Properties of Violence (University of Georgia Press, 2013), co-author with Tyler Wall of Police: A Field Guide (Verso, 2018), and co-author with Nick Estes, Melanie Yazzie, and Jennifer Denetdale of Red Nation Rising Nation: From Bordertown Violence to Native Liberation (PM Press, 2021). He is a co-founder of AbolishAPD, a research and mutual aid collective in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


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