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Two Cent Coal, song lyrics

Song: Two Cent Coal
Lyrics: unknown

Music: unknown
Year: c. 1876
Country: USA

Oh the bosses' tricks of '76(2)
They met with some success,
Until the hand of God came down
And made them do with less.
They robbed the honest miner lad
And drunk his flowin' bowl
Through poverty we were compelled
To dig them two cent coal.

But the river(3) it bein' frozen -
Of course, the poor might starve;
What did those tyrant bosses say?
"It's just what they deserve."
But God who always aids the just,
All things He does control,
He broke the ice and He sent it down
And sunk their two-cent coal.
This song was originally posted on
Their tipples(4), too, fled from our view,
And down the river went.
They seemed to cry as they passed by:
"You tyrants, now repent!
For while you rob the miner lad,
Remember, you've a soul,
For your soul is sinkin' deeper
Than the ice sunk your two-cent coal."

It's to conclude and finish,
Let us help our fellow man,
And if our brother's in distress
Assist him if you can,
To keep the wolf off from his door,
And shelter him from the cold,
That he never again shall commit the crime
Of diggin' two-cent coal.


1 - From Minstrels of the Mine Patch by George Gershon Korson, published by University of Pennsylvania Press, 1938, p. 403-404.

2 - 1876.

3 - Monongahela River, Pennsylvania.

4 - A "tipple" is structure for loading coal into a railroad car.

5 - The miners wages had been cut from three cents to 2 cents a bushel (about half a dollar a ton) which was far too little for the miners to live on. With thick ice, the mines on the river had been idle throughout January and February, when the ice broke the flood caused damage to those mines, which the workers saw as an act of God against the mine owners.