On October 3, 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt met with miners and coalfield operators from the anthracite coalfields in Pennsylvania in an attempt to settle the strike, then in its fifth month. The country relied on coal to power commerce and industry and anthracite or "hard coal" was essential for domestic heating. The miners had left the anthracite fields on May 12, demanding wage increases, union recognition, and a shorter workday. As winter approached, public anxiety about fuel shortages and the rising cost of all coal pushed Roosevelt to take unprecedented action.
When he met with miners and coalfield operators in Washington, Roosevelt became the first president to personally intervene in a labor dispute. Presenting himself as a representative of the millions of people affected by the strike, he urged both parties to resolve their differences and the miners to return to work.