The depression of 1873 caused widespread suffering across the United States as wages plummeted. Even those who managed to keep their jobs often found their wages cut sharply. Between 1874 and 1877, for example, workers on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad suffered reductions in wages of 50% from what they had earned before the depression began. Wages for B & O firemen dropped from $55 per month to $30, brakemen from $70 to $30, and conductors from $90 to $50. In November 1876, B & O President John W. Garrett had cut wages 10% in order to keep paying investors stock dividends at the 10% level. Seven months later came the announcement reproduced below, and the stage was set for a strike.