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Today in Labour History

30 July 1619
Ruins of Jamestown, Virginia
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Polish Craftsmen Strike in America

Polish craftsmen were hired by the British Virginia Company to settle in Jamestown, Virginia Colony (founded 1607) and manufacture high-quality glassware and pitch. In 1619 the first elections for the 'House of Burgesses' in the colony were held. The Virginia House of Burgesses was to become the first legislature in the British colonies in America.

The Governor forbade the Polish workers from voting. On July 30 they refused to work unless they were given the right to vote and by doing so they staged the first strike in the recorded history of America. Because of their economic value for the colony, the dispute was settled in favour of the Poles.

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