Pullman Strike

The Pullman Strike 1894

  • George Pullman, “robber baron/titan of industry,” manufacture of sleeping cars & other rolling stock for railroads
  • Workers lived in a company town, Pullman, outside of Chicago
    • paved streets, clean parks, decent houses for rent
    • banned liquor, punished workers who didn't behave
  • After Panic of 1893, Pullman laid off 1/3 of workers and cut wages by 30%, kept company house rents and store prices the same
  • Workers' union called a strike, asked American Railway Union for help
  • American Railroad Union
    • founded by Eugene V. Debs
    • includes all railroad workers under one union
    • won a strike against the Great Northern Railroad
  • Called a boycott where ARU members wouldn't run any trains with Pullman cars on them
    • turned into a strike when railroads tried to fire workers, stopped rail traffic
  • President Cleveland sent in federal troops, set off more violence
    • 34 people die in July, 1894
  • U.S. Attorney general got a federal injunction against Debs under Sherman Antitrust Act
    • said boycotts and strikes were a conspiracy to restrain trade
  • The strike is broken
  • Debs goes to jail
    • too powerful for government's liking
    • ran for president, got 1 million votes

For more information on this topic, you can read Broken Spirits: Letters on the Pullman Strike

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