Dear More Fortunate Sir

The following letter is from John Sadosky of Shenandoah, penned in 1878 to Mr. Franklin B. Gowen, the president of the Philadelphia Coal and Iron Company and the Reading Railroad. Gowen is the coal baron who sent the Molly Maguires to their demise. May Mr. Sadosky’s pleas echo in the current era, where so many of us are likewise destitute, as robber barons hoard wealth and immigrants face continued mistreatment.


Shenandoah, Feb. 9th 1878

Mr. F. B. Gowen

Dear Sir:

I have written to you several times in regard to my being denied the right to earn a livelihood in any of the works over which your jurisdiction extends. I know these epistles are a source of annoyance to you yet did you perceive the motives that prompt me to trouble you so frequent, your nature could not withhold for a moment the granting of my request.

More fortunate sir:

Place yourself in my position a stranger in a strange land, willing to work but cannot find work to do, the appeals of a loving family for the necessities of a life yet unable to satisfy the just cravings of nature. Hoping you will answer this immediately as my circumstances are of the most destitute character, and bring hope and cheerfulness back again to a family so long destitute.

Yours truly,

John Sadosky

Shenandoah Pa.

One comment

  1. Wow! This is haunting, given the parallels to today’s situation. History should inspire and impel us to begin address the root of this problem – the inequity between people and a government that is not working on behalf of it’s people – especially it’s most vulnerable.


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