San Francisco celebrated its Century of Commerce in 1935, based upon the appointment, by the Mexican governor, of William A. Richardson as the bays first harbor master.
The 1935 commemoration came at the depths of the Depression, which began in 1929, and followed the historic 1934 San Francisco maritime strike.
The October 14, 1935, edition of The San Francisco Examiner contained a special commemorative section which outlined one hundred years of San Francisco history, as well as a full-page advertisement pointing to the value of maritime trade to San Francisco, and to the dangers from radical unionism along The Embarcadero.
San Franciscos maritime strike began May 9, 1934, but tumbled out of control when the Industrial Association, made up of employers and business interests who wished to break the strike, and the power of San Francisco unions, began to use strikebreakers to move goods from the piers to warehouses.
The first running battles between unionists, strikebreakers and police began Tuesday, July 3, 1934. There was a lull during the July 4 holiday when no freight was moved, but disturbances picked up again Thursday, July 5, 1934 known as Bloody Thursday.
Authorship of 1935 full-page advertisment is not attributed, but says, at the bottom of the page, This page sponsored by public spirited citizens, who appreciate the true value of our waterfront and who are awakened to the dangers threatening it. It is believed it was sponsored, or paid for, by the Industrial Association, which continued to skirmish with the longshormens union through the 1930s. The upper half of the advertisement featured photographs of the San Francisco harbor, as appeared in 1856, and 1935. The lower half was filled with text. This is the complete text of the advertisement, which can be divided into three parts:
Part One: Describes European discovery of San Francisco Bay, and gives a brief outline of maritime history through the Gold Rush.
Part Two: Gives a description of maritime trade in the early 1930s, and points out that in 1933 goods worth more than a half billion dollars crossed San Francisco docks. It also stresses that San Francisco is the home port of twenty large American steamship lines. More than forty foreign lines maintain offices and agents here. More than five hundred ships call here every month of the year... .
Goes to the heart of the dispute between the Industrial Assocation, which
is not named, and the Longshoremens Union. Fully one-
This latter part also declares, Despite their protests that they desire peace, radical leaders of the I.L.A.the men who precipitated the costly strikes of 1934are playing their old game for the sole purpose of fomenting strife along Pacific Coast ports, in conformity with a general Communistic plan to Sovietize first the seaports of America and then the entire United States.
August day more than a century and a half ago, when the little two-
For a quarter of a century after Captain Juan de Ayala viewed the wooded hills about the Bay from the San Carlos deck, but few vessels found their way in through the Golden Gate. Then in April, 1806, the trading schooner Juno dropped anchor off the shore of Yerba Buena and San Franciscos first water borne commerce was under way. For years thereafter, the village of Yerba Buena and the rest of California depended entirely upon trading ships that scudded around Cape Horn and up the coast with goods from Europe and the Atlantic seaboard. Maritime trade in those days was both colorful and risky, for California was a province of Mexico and strict edicts against foreign merchant ships were in effect. Needless to say, the caballeros and ranch owners around San Francisco did not share Mexicos aversion to the American and English merchantmen, but eagerly trooped down to the shoreside to fondle the fineries and purchase necessities brought in by the hardy Yankee and English skippers.
By the time the Bear State had won her independence from Mexico, a thriving maritime trade with the eastern United States and Europe was under way. Tall ships from all the ports of the civilized world found their way in through Golden Gate to exchange their wares for hides, minerals and other products of California.
The discovery of gold in 1848 was a signal for one of the greatest maritime races in history. Ships of all descriptions turned their prows to the Golden Gate and scores of them left their barnacle encrusted hulls to sink into the mudflats of the bay while their crews dashed off into the brown hills in quest of gold.
Today San Francisco is linked by a myriad of steamship lines to every port around the globe. The vessels of every seafaring nation of the world are familiar sights along the Embarcadero. Not a business day passes but a score of heavily laden ships come through the Golden Gate to deposit the goods of the world on San Franciscos docks. Not a day passes but an equal number turn their prows to the sea, loaded to the plimsol marks with the produce of the western United States
Few of us, perhaps, realize just what this ever increasing parade of ships means to San Francisco. Few of us realize that in these ships are borne half of the citys business. In 1933 goods worth more than a half billion dollars crossed San Francisco docks. During the first eight months of this year the value of her water borne commerce is just short of the half billion dollar mark
It is virtually impossible to accurately determine the number of men and women who depend upon the waterfront. It is safe to say, however, that at least one hundred thousand owe their livelihood directly to San Franciscos maritime trade. Perhaps another one hundred thousand are more or less dependent upon the water borne commerce for their living.
San Francisco is the home port of twenty large American steamship lines. More than forty foreign lines maintain offices and agents here. More than five hundred ships call here every month of the year, and a large majority of those ships purchase a major portion of their supplies from San Francisco merchants.
It is only because of the unsurpassed maritime service San Francisco has enjoyed for so many years that California is able to compete in the markets of the world with her manufactured goods and her vast agricultural products. Fruits, cotton, hay and grain grown in the great inland valleys all find their way to wideflung markets of the world by way of The Embarcadero.
It is only because of the unexcelled maritime service that San Franciscans are able to enjoy the products of all the world at prices within their reach. Manufactured goods from the. east coast and produce from foreign climes are delivered to San Francisco merchants at minimum transportation costs every day in the year. In many cases, prices of ordinary commodities would be doubled if these commodities had to be sent by land transportation. Thus San Francisco owes not only her world markets but her world supplies her ocean commerce.
Close up the Golden Gate, and you would shut out half of the commercial life of all northern California. Yet today a handful of radically inspired agitators, some of them not even citizens of the United States, are doing all in their power to close the Golden Gate. And what is much more important, they are on the verge of succeeding.
The seriousness of the situation
cannot be over emphasized. Yet the vast majority of San Franciscans are
going blithely on their ways, little realizing that the benefits of water-
True, they may read that all is not serene along The Embarcadero, and, reading casually, they overlook the fact that their own economic welfare is vitally involved also. Because they may not be directly connected with the waterfront, they shrug off their responsibilities with the comment that it is up to the shipowners to cope with the situation.
This has been a popular conception for a good many years. Yet one would think that San Francisco had learned a part of her lesson, at least, during the protracted strikes of 1934.
For 84 days last year striking longshoremen held the commerce of this port virtually at a standstill. Docks were congested with both inbound and outbound cargo; factories were forced to close down; merchants were unable to get goods; thousands of persons not directly connected with. the shipping industry were thrown out of workall because a handful of radicals held violent control of the waterfront.
The same group of radicals still hold control on The Embarcadero, and the same threats to waterfront peace are as menacing as ever. Within the last three weeks an open break between employers and the International Longshoremens Association appeared imminent. Openly flouting their solemn pledge to the United States government and their written contract with the employers, the I.L.A. defied decisions of Federal Arbitrator Judge M. C. Sloss, and threatened a complete tieup of the port.
Realizing the vulnerability of the it position, however, the wily radicals managed to postpone the crisis by sidestepping the issue. Judge Sloss in his decision asserted that the I.L.A. and its members were obligated to work any and all cargo at the direction of employers, including so-called hot cargo.
Faced with a growing public demand that the union abide by the arbitrators ruling, the I.L.A. leaders evaded the issue by persuading their henchmen in other ports and industries to lift the hot cargo ban. First, striking bargemen of the River Lines and striking warehousemen of the Santa Cruz Fruit Picking Company, yielded to the demands of the I.L.A. and declared the cargo they had helped tieup as fair.
The question of handling British Columbia cargo, which the I.L.A. Pacific Coast District had officially declared hot, presented a more serious problem, however, and resulted in bitter factional fighting between District and Local officers of the I.L.A. Once again the wily radical leaders maneuvered themselves out of an embarrassing situation by persuading striking longshoremen of British Columbia to declare all British Columbia cargo fair once more.
At no time, however, has the I.L.A. officially, either as a District or as a San Francisco Local, agreed to comply with the rulings of the Federal Arbitrator, Judge Sloss. Thus the question of hot cargo still remains unsettleda direct threat to waterfront peace in San Francisco and other Pacific Coast ports. Within the next three weeks cargo loaded at Gulf of Mexico ports, where there is a longshore strike in progress, will arrive in San Francisco. Already. I.L.A. officials have informally announced that they will refuse to handle this hot cargo from the Gulf. Thus the impasse will have been reached again, with every indication that the waterfront will again be tied up.
There is only one question at issueWill the International Longshoremens Association and its members honestly abide by their government-given arbitration award and the decision of a government arbitrator made under that award? To date the answer has been No. Despite their protests that they desire peace, radical leaders of the I.L.A.the men who precipitated the costly strikes of 1934are playing their old game for the sole purpose of fomenting strife along Pacific Coast ports, in conformity with a general Communistic program to Sovietize first the seaports of America and then the entire United States.
These are the facts, plain
and unvarnished. Our harbor, from which half of our commercial life comes
and from which half of our people make their livings, faces the growing
menace of a handful of radicals bent on destroying San Franciscos water-
Make no mistake, Citizens of San Francisco. A strike on the waterfront will vitally affect every man, woman and child in the San Francisco Bay region, and the Golden Gate, which since the beginning of its history has been the broad highway of this communitys commercial prosperity, will be closed.
Peace on the waterfront depends upon one thing, and upon one thing onlya strict and honest compliance with their arbitration award and the decisions of the. Federal Arbitrator. by the International Longshoremens Association and its members. Is San Francisco going to permit a handful of radicals, who have openly scoffed at the sanctity of arbitration awards, and contracts, to throttle the commerce of this port and close the Golden Gate, through which half of our citys business comes?
This page sponsored by public spirited citizens, who appreciate the true value of our waterfront and who are awakened to the dangers threatening it.
San Francisco Examiner
Monday, October 14, 1935.