Explore Debs' story, from his early years in Terre Haute, Indiana, to the nationwide Pullman Strike in 1894, to his five runs for President of the United States. But the rise of Pullman-style welfare capitalism obscured a number of significant strains and tensions that quickly came to the surface in the economic depression of 1893-98. Many of the Pullman factory workers joined the American Railway Union (ARU), led by Eugene V. Debs, which supported their strike by launching a boycott in which ARU members refused to run trains containing Pullman cars. This strike was the first national strike in the country’s history. The Pullman Company attempted to call Debs’ bluff, and by late June, at least 125,000 ARU members had walked off the job in support of the Pullman workers. Although In the short term, the fear of more violence limited union activity, and the courts acted to suppress strikes. The stage was set for the largest strike in the nation's history. During the first week of the boycott he sent some 4,000 telegrams, hundreds every day, urging the ARU locals to stay calm and not to overreact. Rogers, Elliott, Keliher, Hogan, Burns, Goodwin and Debs, the seven ARU officers jailed following the loss of the 1894 Pullman Strike. Before joining VCU as chair of the History Department in 1974, he... A shantytown on the lakefront in Chicago during the Pullman Strike and general economic downturn of 1893–94. The commission formed to look into the events causing the Pullman strike found Pullman the one to be blamed for everything and his company town regarded as being un-American. Property damage across the nation reached over 80 million dollars. Rioting quickly followed and by July 7, a number of fires raged throughout the city, over 700 railroad cars had been destroyed, and hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of damage had been done to the South Chicago rail yards. Many of the Pullman factory workers joined the American Railway Union (ARU), led by Eugene V. Debs, which supported their strike by launching a boycott in which ARU members refused to run trains containing Pullman cars. The Debs-led strike, known as the Pullman Boycott, turned violent when workers began pillaging, rioting, and burning railway cars. In May 1894, the workers struck the Pullman Company. One plan was to refuse to hitch Pullman cars to trains and to unhitch those that were already attached. Both pieces of legislation were designed to be used to limit the powers of monopolies, so their use against striking workers was questionable in the eyes of many. Influenced by his attorney general, Richard Olney, and convinced that the Pullman strike of June–July 1894 was interfering with interstate commerce and the delivery of mails, President Grover Cleveland ordered troops into Chicago. However, in precipitating the use of an injunction to break the strike, it opened the door to greater court involvement in limiting the effectiveness of strikes. At the time of the strike approximately 35% of Pullman workers were members of the ARU. In the depths of an economic depression, government attorneys seek court orders to halt a strike, and labor leaders defend the right of unions to organize and represent the interests of workers. Although the ARU was not technically involved in the Pullman workers’ decision to strike, union officials had been in Pullman and at the meeting at which the strike vote was taken, and Pullman workers undoubtedly believed that the ARU would back them. The injunction, known as the Omnibus Indictment, was based on powers given to the government by the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and the Interstate Commerce Act. The 1894 strike by the American Railway Union, eventually broken by federal troops and the courts, set an important precident for judicial involvement in labor disputes. • In 1894, Eugene Debs’ American Railway Union boycotted Pullman railway cars in solidarity with striking workers at the Pullman Palace Car Co. • Debs was sentenced to six months in prison for violating a federal court’s injunction prohibiting him from most for ms of involvement in the strike. The In Re Debs decision legitimized the use of federal injunctions to break up strikes and would remain in place until it was rescinded by the Wagner Act in 1935. Claiming that the strike violated the Sherman Antitrust Act, Edwin Walker, a special attorney acting for U.S. Attorney General Richard Olney, obtained an injunction that U.S. Pres. D. The government had the authority to imprison strike breakers. Often regarded as the most influential political strike in the history of the United States, the Pullman Strike led to the growth of sympathy towards the unionist, labor, and socialist movements that eventually led to the creation of the People's Republic of America. Since it was illegal to interfere with the delivery of the mail, Pullman workers now broke federal law when they obeyed their leader Eugene Debs and refused to return to work. In response to financial reverses related to the economic depression that began in 1893, the Pullman Palace Car Company, a manufacturer of railroad cars, cut the already low wages of its workers by about 25 percent but did not introduce corresponding reductions in rents and other charges at Pullman, its company town near Chicago, where most Pullman workers lived. Debs went to prison for six months. d. other companies handling strikes themselves instead of going to court. A. The federal government’s response to the unrest marked the first time that an injunction was used to break a strike. The Pullman Strike was a nationwide railway strike that occurred from May through July, 1894, causing to the disruption of rail traffic throughout the nation, riots and property damage in and around the city of Chicago, the arrest of strike leaders, and 30 deaths. The Supreme Court decision in re Debs O c. The Pullman Strike O D. The Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire The Pullman Strike resulted in a. Eugene Debs receiving a pardon for his involvement. Ring in the new year with a Britannica Membership, https://www.britannica.com/event/Pullman-Strike, Pullman Strike - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). Despite Debs’ efforts at negotiation, violence began to break out by the end of June as frustrated strikers in Chicago set fire to several buildings and damaged a locomotive. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. The Legacies of the Pullman Strike • Attorney General Richard Olney issued a sweeping injunction against Debs and the ARU, effectively outlawing the strike. The Union successfully struck the Great Northern Railway in April 1894, winning most of […] Certainly Debs continued to urge restraint, but it was no use. Pullman grève ; Grève des cheminots affrontent la Garde nationale de l' Illinois troupes à Chicago pendant la grève. Debs was defended by Clarence Darrow, who argued the case all the way to the Supreme Court. July 20, 1894), in U.S. history, widespread railroad strike and boycott that severely disrupted rail traffic in the Midwest of the United States in June–July 1894. A great deal of sympathy existed in Chicago and elsewhere for the Pullman workers, who were seen as common men and women tyrannized by an abusive employer and landlord. The events of the strike led other Americans to begin a quest for achieving more harmonious relations between capital and labor while protecting the public interest. Debs led this group for decades, making five presidential runs as a Socialist candidate. Eugene V. Debs, president of the American Railway Union, had been involved in the Pullman Strike earlier in 1894 and challenged the federal injunction ordering the strikers back to work where they would face being fired. Debs led this group for decades, making five presidential runs as a Socialist candidate. Updates? The May 11 “wildcat” strike wasn’t directly organized by the ARU, but Debs and the union quickly became involved in the strike as it escalated. The event also established a greater role for federal government intervention in strikes and introduced the use of the federal military in addressing strikes. Responding to falling revenue during the economic depression that began in 1893, the Pullman Palace Car Company cut more than 2,000 workers and reduced wages by 25 percent. The country was divided about the strike. The workers, many of whom were already members of the American Railway Union, appealed to the Union at its convention in Chicago, Illinois for support. The scenario played out as Debs had predicted. Eugene V. Debs : biography November 5, 1855 – October 20, 1926 After stepping down as Brotherhood Grand Secretary in 1893, Debs organized one of the first industrial unions in the United States, the American Railway Union (ARU), for unskilled workers. Though he faced dissension within union ranks, Debs refused to back down and federal troops were sent into Chicago, over the objections of Illinois Governor John P. Altgeld. c. the company rehiring workers that withdrew from the union. The Pullman Strike of 1894 was a milestone in American labor history, as the widespread strike by railroad workers brought business to a standstill across large parts of the nation until the federal government took unprecedented action to end the strike. Debs led a successful strike against the Great Northern Railway that achieved national prominence during the Pullman Strike in the summer of 1894. In an effort to soothe relations with workers throughout the nation, President Cleveland asked Congress to authorize the celebration of. The Pullman Company refused to recognize the union. His family took the precaution of covering his grave in a Chicago cemetery with tons of concrete, to prevent any desecration of the site by disgruntled former employees. The May 11 “wildcat” strike wasn’t directly organized by the ARU, but Debs and the union quickly became involved in the strike as it escalated. Case Summary. the company rehiring workers that withdrew from the union. After many months of boycotting; the strike was broken up by the federal forces. Government intervention led to violent confrontations, and the strike was broken. https://goo.gl/efDRTw JUSTICE BREWER1, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court. In the late spring of 1894, over four thousand workers at the Pullman Palace Car Company went out on strike. The railway owners began to hire strikebreakers, among them many African-Americans who felt the ARU discriminated against minorities. Violence related to the strikes became an issue, as did U.S. mail delivery system’s inability to operate in strike-affected regions. July 20, 1894), in U.S. history, widespread railroad strike and boycott that severely disrupted rail traffic in the Midwest of the United States in June–July 1894. By “encouraging” mail cars to be hitched to Pullman cars, the strike was now interrupting the delivery of the U.S. mail, giving the federal government the ability to act as strikebreakers. Melvin I. Urofsky is Professor of Law & Public Policy and Professor Emeritus of History at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). At issue was labor leader Eugene V. Debs's violation of a federal court injunction against the 1894 Pullman [Train] Car Company plant strike. Although at first reluctant to get involved, he eventually seized on the Pullman strike as an opportunity to organize Pullman workers and add them to the ARU’s members. 1-2. State militia and federal troops were used to break the strike. as a national holiday to honor the country’s working classes. Available online from Justia. Another idea was a boycott: ARU members would refuse to handle Pullman cars or any trains with Pullman cars until the railroads severed their ties with the Pullman Company. Biology, 21.06.2019 14:00. The delegation then voted to strike, and Pullman workers walked off the job on May 11, 1894. Omissions? During the summer of 1894 members of the Am… Despite Darrow’s efforts, the industrialists and federal government were vindicated and Debs was found guilty and sentenced to six months in prison with the landmark decision, . In re Debs, Latin: “In the matter of Debs”, legal case in which the U.S. Supreme Court, on May 27, 1895, unanimously (9–0) upheld the government’s use of the injunction against a labour strike, specifically the Pullman Strike (May 11–July 20, 1894). Eugene V. Debs, leader of the American Railway Union at the time of the 1894 Pullman factory strike, makes a speech later in life during one of his five … When the ARU voted to support the Pullman workers, the Pullman Strike became a national action, and Debs became its de facto leader. The Pullman strike occurred when around four thousand workers from the Pullman Company were protesting against a reduction in wages.Debs organized the people of the factory and called in the union members of the American Railway Union to negotiate with the workers of the factory. , a group that evolved into the Socialist Party of America. The Pullman Strike was a nationwide railway strike that occurred from May through July, 1894, causing to the disruption of rail traffic throughout the nation, riots and property damage in and around the city of Chicago, the arrest of strike leaders, and 30 deaths. The Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago, Illinois, was no exception. Trains started moving with regularity, and the strike dwindled. Former railroad worker Eugene V. Debs and his American Railway Union, which had won a strike earlier in 1894, became involved in the Pullman situation. Debs directed the strike and widened its scope, asking other train workers outside Chicago to refuse to work on trains that included Pullman cars. The national press focused on the violence and fanned nativist reactions by describing the ranks of strikers as filled with immigrants and anarchists. Disillusioned with his experiences in the strike, Debs emerged from jail to found Social Democracy of America, a group that evolved into the Socialist Party of America. The Pullman Strike resulted in Eugene Debs receiving a pardon for his involvement. As a result, the workers went on strike May 11, 1894. While there was some sympathy for the workers, many others feared the violence and resented the railway disruption. Debs was then arrested for continuing the strike when authorities told him to end it. The federal government’s response to the unrest marked the first time that an injunction was used to break a strike. The impacts of the Pullman Strike were national in scope. The Revolutionist: Eugene V. Debs By June 30, 125,000 workers on 29 railroads had quit work rather than handle Pullman cars. Labor leaders were divided themselves, with some prominent figures like Samuel Gompers speaking out against the national strike. On the third day, the number of strikers had climbed to 100,000, and at least 20 lines were either tied up or completely stopped. Comment; Complaint; Link; Know the Answer? Even so the ARU under the leadership of Eugene Debs decided to stop handling Pullman cars on June 26, if the Pullman Union would not agree to arbitration. The massive disruption of rail traffic and the violent confrontations between strikers and demonstrators on one side and strikebreakers, law enforcement, and troops on the other during the Pullman Strike convinced many Americans that class conflict between capital and labour in the United States had reached a crisis stage that needed a solution in the public interest. While the workers did agree to permit trains carrying the U.S. mail to operate as long as they did not contain Pullman cars, the railroads refused to compromise. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. This strike was the first national strike in the country’s history. IN RE DEBS, IN RE DEBS, 158 U.S. 564 (1895). Socialist leader. On June 26, the ARU switchmen started to refuse to switch trains with Pullman cars. The 1894 strike by the American Railway Union, eventually broken by federal troops and the courts, set an important precident for judicial involvement in labor disputes. Later, Debs thought this might have had a crucial effect on the outcome of the Pullman strike, for black workers were in no mood to cooperate with the strikers. In desperation, many workers joined the newly established American Railway Union (ARU) that claimed a membership of 465 local unions and 150,000 workers. When it reduced wages, it did not reduce rents in the company housing it supplied its workers. Pullman Strike - Pullman Strike - The injunction: Given that most members of the ARU were either on strike or actively helping the strikers, that other unions had joined the cause, and that wildcat strikes were breaking out against individual lines, violence may have been inevitable. The Pullman strike brought Eugene Debs national attention, and it led directly to his conversion to socialism. The ARU had few locals in the East or the Deep South, but the boycott seemed remarkably effective everywhere else. In response to the violence, Debs tried to call off the strike, asking that all workers except those convicted of crimes be rehired. d. other companies handling strikes themselves instead of going to court. ARU organizer and president eugene v. debs had become nationally prominent when he led a short but successful strike against the Great Northern Railway in early 1894. Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. By involving as many as 250,000 railroad workers on some 20 railroads, the Pullman Strike demonstrated the power of the labour movement. The injunction had been issued because of the violent nature of the strike. The Pullman Strike resulted in a. Eugene Debs receiving a pardon for his involvement. While the workers did agree to permit trains carrying the U.S. mail to operate as long as they did not contain Pullman cars, the railroads refused to compromise. The sympathetic strike and growing sentiment for general strike in June and July 1894 was partly influenced by a miners' strike that developed during the same period (1). Despite Darrow’s efforts, the industrialists and federal government were vindicated and Debs was found guilty and sentenced to six months in prison with the landmark decision In Re Debs. While never expecting to win, he ran for the Presidency five times on the Socialist ticket. When it did not also reduce rents and other expenses at Pullman, the company town near Chicago where most Pullman workers lived, many workers and their families faced starvation. However, Debs did not accept any terms of negotiations and the American Railway Union, who called a strike and obstructed the railway and transport communication of the Pullman Factory. Debs wanted to include everyone, but blacks were kept out: at a convention in 1894, the provision in the constitution barring blacks was affirmed by a vote of 112 to 100. The injunction, known as the Omnibus Indictment, was based on powers given to the government by the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and the Interstate Commerce Act. In the late spring of 1894, over four thousand workers at the Pullman Palace Car Company went out on strike. Their leader, Eugene V. Debs, fought Pullman Co. for the sake of laborers in Pullman, Chicago. Pullman Strike - Pullman Strike. Responding to layoffs, wage cuts, and firings, workers at Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago went on strike, and, eventually, some 125,000–250,000 railroad workers in 27 states joined their cause, stifling the national rail network west of Chicago. President Cleveland authorized a study of the Pullman Strike the following year and ultimately determined that the Pullman Company did bear some of the responsibility for the chaos. The Pullman Company, due to falling revenue caused by the economic Panic of 1893, had cut the wages of its employees by 28 percent. Debs went to prison for six months. In the political arena, after serving his sentence, Debs came out as a leading socialist in America and eventually ran for Presidency in 1900.     The Pullman Strike of 1894 was organized by the American Railway Union. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. Pullman leaders were able to break the strike by attaching their cars to U.S. Mail trains. C. The government had the authority to suspend railroad traffic. State militia and federal troops were used to break the strike. Grover Cleveland used to dispatch federal troops to address the strike. In an effort to soothe relations with workers throughout the nation, President Cleveland asked Congress to authorize the celebration of Labor Day as a national holiday to honor the country’s working classes. In re Debs Supreme Court of the United States Argued March 25–26, 1895 Decided May 27, 1895 Full case nameIn re Eugene V. Debs, Petitioner Citations158 U.S. 564 15 S. Ct. 900; 39 L. Ed. On Friday, May 11th, 1894, at 9:00 a.m. Pullman workers orderly "walked out" of Pullman, with the American Railway Union and its President Eugene V. Debs fully behind them. The American Railway Union subscription and gain access to exclusive content some sympathy for the of. 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