The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 42, July 1938 - April, 1939 Page: 317
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The Capitol Boycott: A Study in Peaceful Labor Tactics 317
kindergarten stunts in business and statesmanship alongside
building a capitol for Texas. First they had to build a railroad
not quite a hundred miles long to the native granite; then they
discovered that it was impossible to get enough American Stone-
masons who were able to work in granite. Consequently, they
sent to Scotland for granite experts-and found themselves in
the United States Courts charged with importing labor under
contract, which was a little hard on a United States Senator.2
It was not the scarcity of American stonemasons, however, which
necessitated the importation of alien labor, but the conditions under
which the Capitol Syndicate required their stonemasons to work,
and thereby hangs one of the interesting tales of Texas history.
The original intention was to build the superstructure of lime-
stone upon a base of two courses of granite. Texas could not fur-
nish the needed amount of limestone and it was evident that sup-
plies must be brought from Indiana. Granite quarries at Burnet,
Texas, were just beginning to attract attention. The opportunity
to build a home industry gave additional reason for changing the
specifications to hard stone throughout. In view of the substitu-
tion, the Legislature made amendments to the appropriations.
But other problems arose because the depression of 1883-85 made
difficult, if not impossible, the speedy liquidation of the 3,000,000
acres of land. In view of these circumstances, the Capitol Syn-
dicate protested their inability to fulfill their contract even though
failure meant forfeiture of a quarter of a million dollars. Relief
was offered in the form of convict labor from the state prisons
which might be used to quarry the stone and build the railroad
necessary for transportation from Burnet to Austin.
Operations had scarcely begun when Mr. Gus Wilke, the sub-
contractor in charge of the work antagonized the stone cutters'
organization by his labor policies. In the Journal of the Inter-
national Association of Granite Cutters, appeared in August, 1884,
an advertisement for thirty granite cutters "on red granite, steady
work climate good and healthy. Union Wages." The following
month this journal carried a notice that "granite cutters were re-
quested to keep away from Austin State Capitol until further
notice." In the same issue Mr. H. Z. A. Laporte, secretary of the
local union in Austin, referring to the advertisement of August,
gave the information that no union man had .been employed, and
2Crissey, Forrest, "The Vanishing Range," in The Country Gentleman,
March 1, 1913.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 42, July 1938 - April, 1939, periodical, 1939; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101107/m1/345/: accessed December 12, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.