Black History:  Special Delivery!!

Isaac Myers


In 1866, Isaac Myers (1835-1891) formed the Colored Caulkers Trade Union Society.  The union was created when Myers and a group of African American ship caulkers was fired from their jobs when white workers protested their employment.  Myers and other union members pooled their resources and issued stock to raise money to purchase their own shipyard and railway, the Chesapeake Marine Railway and Dry Dock Company.  The company would eventually employ 300 black employees and be awarded several government contracts.  It would also employ some white workers as well.

In 1869 Isaac Myers and organized the Colored National Labor Union with 214 members after their attempts to merge with a white labor union were rejected because black workers refused to change their political party affiliation.   The CNLU was active in 21 states.  Myers was the first president of the CNLU.  The CNLU petitioned Congress to subdivide public lands and give portions of land to African Americans.  Their petition was unsuccessful.  Abolitionist and Civil Rights leader, Frederick Douglass was elected president of the CNLU in 1872.  Though seeking better pay and working conditions for their membership, the CNLU issued a written statement against the hiring and immigration of Chinese workers  feeling that Chinese laborers would threaten their employment opportunities. Anti-Chinese sentiment would continue to be codified by the U.S. government with further discriminatory legislation being enacted through the Anti-Coolie Act of 1862, and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.