In 1894, a breakthrough in American labor history was made. This innovation is commonly known as Pullman Strike, where an extensive raid was turned down by the federal government. The strikes impact was enormous and had wedged a great deal of our country resulting in dozens of people being killed in violent clashes. The Pullman Strike was a bitter dispute between workers and company management, it also had played a great part in the labor movement. The corruption began with George W. Pullman. Pullman was born in 1831, in upstate New York.
His father was a carpenter, which later lead to Pullman learning carpentry himself. In the 1850’s, Pullman moved to Chicago and during the Civil War, he began building a newer kind of passenger car that soon became popular on the railroads. George Pullman’s goal was to create an environment that was different compared to urban neighborhoods that he saw as a danger to America’s y industrializing society. For a long period of time, Pullman’s company flourished. People had come internationally to see his work. However, this era of success and popularity soon ended during the Panic of 1893.
During this time, a financial depression swept across the United States. Because of the bad economy, Pullman cut the wages of workers to on-third and then refused to cut down the rents in company housing. In response to Pullman’s decision, the A. R. U. (American Railway Union) called to for a strike at the Pullman Palace Car Company complex. Being the local branches of the union called for a total of 150,000 members, the strike spread nationwide. In response to the strikes, George Pullman decided to close the plant in an attempt to wait out his workers.
When he did this, the A. R. U. called the attention on the national membership. This then contributed to the union’s national convention to call for a vote. The vote was in the majority that they would refuse to work on any train in the country that contained a Pullman car. Because of this boycott, the nation’s passenger rail came to a standstill. Along with this, the Railway Union managed to gain 260,000 workers across the country to join in favor of the workers. As the controversy spread, the government decided it was time to take action.
One US attorney general in particular was determined to put an end to the nationwide dispute, Richard Olney. Finally on July 12, 1894, the federal government got court orders to end the strikes. At that time, President Grover Cleveland sent to enforce this ruling. Once the federal troops arrived in Chicago, riots broke out. The damages outcome came out to be a total of 26 civilians killed, 57 wounded, and the burning of a rail yard. One of the leading activists in favor of the strikes, Eugene V. Debs, was portrayed as one of the dangerous radical leading an insurrection against the “American way of life”.
Eventually, Debs was arrested and charged with violating court injunction and was sentenced to six months in federal prison. One of the things Debs did to pass time in prison would be reading the works of Karl Marx and becoming a committed radical. After the strikes had been put to an end, it was clear that Pullman’s unpopular labor clearly would have a negative effect on his future reputation. George Pullman died on October 18, of 1897 of a heart attack. In fact, because George Pullman had so many people who hated him, he was buried at night in Graceland Cemetery in a lead -lined coffin with a reinforced steel-and-cement vault.
On top of all this, more cement had to be poured over his body as well to prevent his body from being desecrated and exhumed by the many labor activists who wanted a form of revenge on Pullman. Overall, the Pullman strikes began small when wages were being cut and then spread nationwide rapidly and eventually played a vital role in the labor movement. This dispute between workers, company management, and George Pullman could be seen as a quarrel that leaned more towards the source of violence in the end but it has left a great deal of influence on our country today.