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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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CITIZENS' ALLIANCE. The Citizens' Alliance movement began in Dayton, Ohio around 1900 as a secret society called the "Modern Order of Bees," also known colloquially as the "Hooly-Goolies." (1) The group was related of a local employers' association, with membership open not only to the narrow circle of employers, but also to any citizen who was not a member of a trade union. (2)

The term "Citizens' Alliance" was adopted from the name of a political organization established more than a decade earlier. The populist National Citizens' Industrial Alliance of 1891 worked to strength the rights of working people; the employers' Citizens' Alliance of 1903 attempted to end union power. (3) As the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) represented large industrialists, the Citizens' Alliance groups' membership was smaller local associations united in the belief that organized labor was "evil and un-American." (4)

Within three years it was perceived that the "educational campaigns" of the NAM and the CIA had reversed public opinion and ended the growth of unionism. At the 1906 CIA convention Charles W. Post, the breakfast cereal manufacturer, declared that,

             Two years ago the press and pulpit were delivering 
             platitudes about the oppression of the working man. 
             Now this has all been changed since it has been 
             discovered that the enormous Labor Trust is the 
             heaviest oppressor of the independent workingman 
             as well as the common American Citizen." (5)

Citizens' Alliance groups sometimes carried out boycotts to isolate and influence employers who worked for labor peace through the recognition of unions and collective bargaining. Deadlines were issued and boycotts were threatened on businesses which failed to accept Citizens' Alliance's warnings. (6) Boycotts by local Citizens' Alliance groups including both organized refusals to sell components to and buy finished products from firms not in compliance. (7)

The formation of a Citizens' Alliance in Dubuque began on June 29, 1903 during a strike of motormen and coachmen against the UNION ELECTRIC COMPANY. The inefficiency of government's response was blamed on Mayor Berg and Chief of Police Morgan. A large crowd meeting in the Stout Auditorium heard the mayor being blamed as a "product of conditions" while the police were seen as "a harmless body of men...dependent for the livelihood on the generosity of the city of Dubuque." The reporter for the Telegraph-Herald was so moved as to say

              If the attendance and the enthusiasm of the first 
              is any criterion...there is no doubt that a new era 
              is dawning for Dubuque--an era wherein this city will 
              be the leader in law and order...and the "State of 
              Dubuque" were never be heard. (8)

A special committee of five appointed by the chair chose an executive board of fifty which included Charles H. EIGHMEY, Franc W. ALTMAN, Christian LOETSCHER, Louis H. BREDE, William Harrison DAY, Sr., Judson Keith DEMING, Frederick C. ROBINSON, Robert BONSON, Patrick J. QUIGLEY, Peter J. SEIPPEL, Peter KLAUER, William S. MOLO, James Currie COLLIER and Andrew Young MCDONALD. The organization unanimously passed resolutions calling for the authorities to arrest those responsible and for those citizens equally concerned for law and order to join the organization. (9)

On July 15, 1903 the Citizens' Alliance announced its intention to investigate the DUBUQUE POLICE DEPARTMENT. There was also interest in the appointment of the chief of police. According to the Alliance, in 1902 Mayor Berg had appointed Edward Morgan to be the first chief of police in Dubuque but the council had never confirmed the appointment. (10)

While the early activities of the local Citizens' Alliance might have seemed more like a better government campaign, labor issues soon took center stage. Representatives from Citizens' Alliances in other parts of the country visited Dubuque. In 1907 a Denver representative of Citizens' Alliance was in town looking for strikebreakers. He was offering 37.5 cents per hour for nine hours work while the local union was demanding eight hours for forty cents. (11)

In 1911 the "take no prisoners" attitude of both the DUBUQUE TRADES AND LABOR CONGRESS and the Citizens' Alliance over hiring workers to construct a new school led to backlash. In an editorial written for the Telegraph-Herald in November, a plea was made to leave differences between the two organizations out of public education. The newspaper went so far as to suggest that "the character of the board could not suffer by putting some thinking laboring men on it, though we would deprecate making unionism as issue in a school election." The editorial, however, appealed to the patriotism of the laboring class not to hold up the construction of a new school. (12)

In 1911 the resignation of representatives of the Employers' Association from a committee established to discuss labor unrest, led Mayor Daniel J. HAAS to write a letter to the Citizens' Alliance. In response to his request for the Alliance to join an arbitration committee, W. B. Martin representing the Alliance stated its goals:

                The purposes of the Citizens' Alliance are the 
                up building of business interests of the city; 
                the securing for everyone their constitutional 
                rights of peace, liberty and security; the aiding 
                of the authorities in maintaining law and order; 
                the discouraging of boycotts, sympathetic strikes, 
                etc; and the furthering of the so called "Open Shop" 
                policy. (13)

Martin, the secretary of the local Alliance, went on to state:

                 So far as is known, the "Open Shop" employers are 
                 operating in accord with these principles, and it 
                 will be impossible for this organization to ask the
                 employers to enter into any negotiations involving 
                 the correctness of its purposes. (14)

If the Citizens' Alliance used boycotts against businesses, the same action was used by labor. In 1911 during a labor dispute at the Telegraph-Herald, rumors were started that the daily newspapers were "subsidized by the Citizens' Alliance." These rumors were followed by personal requests of union men to drop their subscriptions to the paper. (15)



1. Philip S. Foner, History of the Labor Movement in the United States: Volume 3: The Policies and Practices of the American Federation of Labor, 1900-1909. New York: International Publishers, 1964; pg. 26. (As cited by Wikipedia "Citizens' Alliance: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens%27_Alliance#cite_ref-Foner3-36_1-0)

2. Foner, pp. 35-36. (As cited by Wikipedia "Citizens' Alliance: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens%27_Alliance#cite_ref-Foner3-36_1-0)

3. Rosemary Feurer, Radical Unionism in the Midwest, 1900-1950. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2006; pg. 8. (As cited by Wikipedia "Citizens' Alliance: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens%27_Alliance#cite_ref-Foner3-36_1-0)

4. William Millikan, A Union Against Unions: The Minneapolis Citizens Alliance and Its Fight Against Organized Labor. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2001; pg. 31. (As cited by Wikipedia "Citizens' Alliance: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens%27_Alliance#cite_ref-Foner3-36_1-0)

5. Millikan, pg. 33. (As cited by Wikipedia "Citizens' Alliance: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens%27_Alliance#cite_ref-Foner3-36_1-0)

6. Foner, pg. 47. (As cited by Wikipedia "Citizens' Alliance: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens%27_Alliance#cite_ref-Foner3-36_1-0)

7. Foner, pg. 48. (As cited by Wikipedia "Citizens' Alliance: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens%27_Alliance#cite_ref-Foner3-36_1-0)

8. "Mayor Berg Responsible," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, June 30, 1903, p. 6

9. Ibid.

10. "Chief of Police," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, July 15, 1903, p. 3

11. "Man Here Seeks Strike Breakers," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, May 16, 1907, p. 7

12. "Labor's Ill-Advised Course," Telegraph-Herald, October 25, 1911, p. 4

13. "Answer to Mayor in Labor Matters," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, October 22, 1911, p. 17

14. Ibid.

15. "The Press and the Lockout," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, July 30, 1911, p. 4 Section II