Pictures and Illustrations.
Eugene V. Debs, Presidents of the American Railway Union.
In presenting this work to the public, I beg leave to say that I lay no claim whatever to literary ability, and will ask the reader to kindly overlook the crudeness of this my first effort.
My line of work since boyhood has been confined principally to railway service; in short I am a switchman, and in that branch of the service, have been frequently confronted with the differences that arise between the management of the various railroad corporations and their employees.
While I disclaim any credit for ability as a writer, by years of experience and careful study of the condition of affairs as they have in the past and do in the present exist, I profess to be able to fairly present the facts of the Pullman strike. This strike was a matter of unusual interest to me, not alone because my individual interests were involved, but because the independence of every man in America who earns his bread by the sweat of his brow, was in the balance.
The right to organize for mutual protection was questioned, nay more, the right to be heard, a right granted to the greatest criminal in any part of the civilized world, was refused by the power representing the capital of this country. This power fortified by the Federal troops, by the mandate of the Federal courts, instigated by the chief executive, the president of the United States, the account of this strike as presented to the public by the Associated Press, was George M. Pullman's and the General Managers' side of the question, distorted and colored to suit their purposes.
My aim in presenting this book, is to disabuse the minds of the people as far as possible, from the misleading statements given out by the General Managers' Association through their mouth piece, the Associated Press.
To this end I have carefully collected facts from the best and most reliable sources, aside from what personal knowledge I had of this strike.
I obtained information from telegrams received in our Central Committee rooms, from all parts of the country, also from committees appointed to investigate the authenticity of reports received from different parts of the country where the Strike extended.
The general accounts I quote largely from the "Chicago Times," a paper whose honorable and manly stand throughout that great struggle, gained for it a world wide reputation for honesty and fairness.
The accounts herein contained are truths pure and simple, and upon these truths I base the merits of this book.
W. F. BURNS.
Chapter I. The American Railway Union.
IN order to give a clear conception of the greatest strike in the history of railroad organizations, it will be necessary to go back to the birth of the American Railway Union.
This organization was instituted on the 17th day of August, 1893, in the city of Chicago, and owes its existence to its present leader Eugene V. Debs.
Mr. Debs' connection with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen dates back to the early seventies, and be the credit due to that organization for introducing to the laboring people of America, a leader who stands absolutely without a peer in the labor world to-day, possessed of the collective traits of some of the greatest men of the past.
I know no better description of Debs than that of Wm. C. Pomeroy in the Eight Hour Herald, as follows: I am sitting on the stage of a great meeting of people, my eyes are closed
8in dreamy reverie, I hear a voice whose resonant tones are familiar to my ears, the voice, the words bear me in imagination back to the days of Rome, and Caius Crachus is proclaiming the coming liberty of the people. The words of naming eloquence suddenly change into the rugged tones of Cola di Rienzi, crying: ‘Arouse, ye Romans; arouse, ye slaves.’ The words are sweet to the ears, and stir my soul to extacy. Soft, I am no longer in the Eternal City, but wander among the hills and dales of Judca, and the voice has changed again. This time tis the compassionate tones of Him of Galilee, beseeching to ‘love ye one another,’ now swift changing in its mellifluous harmony, I hear Pandora whisper ‘the dawn approaches, take heart of hope,’ and Pometheus answers with the echoed groans of the suffering, sighing souls. The air is now filled with stirring martial music, and above its changing cadences pours forth in passionate appeal the stentor voice of Peter, the Hermit, raising in the bosom of men, the lethergic love of duty. Aye; on the German hilltops, pulpited he speaks, and Hermanic in deep-toned thunder hurdles back, ‘I come.’ Now there is a silence for a space, and the changing draperies
9of imagination disclose a newer scene. I am in the meeting of the Virginian Burgesses, and the voice has taken on the tones of Patrick Henry. It says: ‘Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,’ and, ‘he who would be free himself must strike the blow.’ Now tis Thomas Jefferson giving utterance to, ‘we hold these truths to be self evident that all men are born free and equal.’ And lo! even as the soft tones of the ‘chosen son’ die into the distance, the voice of Andrew Jackson hurls forth the edict ‘each man and every man in this country, by the eternal, must and shall be free.’
The echoing ages take up the dictum and it becomes mingled with the tones of him who at Gettysburg spoke the immortal naming words: ‘This nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and the government of the people, by the people and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.’ Scarce had the utterance of the martyr ceased to fill the air when Lowell softly says:
To the humblest and the weakest of all the beholding sun;
Whose love of right is for themselves, and not for all the race.
My brain is puzzled. How comes it, I ask myself, that these heroes dead and gone are near me here to-day?
"What power permits them to quit their abiding places within the crusty bosom of mother earth, and visiting again the haunts of mortal-man, pour forth their immortal utterances? My rumaging mind takes on a newer consciousnes. Reverie lifts her leaden hand from off my brow, my eyes open and gaze upon a vast multitude of people — men, women and children. Men are standing on the seats and hurling their hats in the air; women are weeping in joy and waving handkerchiefs, all, all shout in clamorous accord. Their eyes are riveted upon the stage, and upon a man who is gracefully bowing acknowledgement to the thunders of applause. I am near him, I gaze in his face. Tis the face of Eugene V. Debs."
To my mind the above beautiful comparisons are not overdrawn.
In 1874 he was admitted to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen, and in 1877 his brother
11members of the local lodge, recognizing his superior ability, sent him to the Indianapolis convention to represent them. The next year he was a delegate to the Buffalo convention. Here he was chosen associate editor of the Locomotive Firemen's Magazine, and three years later he was elected editor, and assumed full control.
In September, 1880, he was elected Grand Secretary and Treasurer in Chicago, and to prove the confidence placed in him by this organization, he was unanimously elected to that office for thirteen consecutive years without a dissenting vote, and at the last convention, held in San Francisco, he was again nominated after making a speech, courteously but firmly declining, and was finally forced to refuse the nomination before his declinature would be accepted.
When Mr. Debs assumed control of this office, the Brotherhood was on the verge of disruption.
From this condition he, by his untiring devotion and wonderful executive abilities, elevated the Brotherhood to one of the most powerful organizations of the age, and thus it was through the instrumentality of the Brotherhood of Locomotive
12Firemen he was brought before the laboring people. Some few years ago he saw that class organization would not be successful, owing to the petty jealousy existing between the different orders, and that in every instance where one organization had a grievance with a railroad corporation, the management would use one or all the others to crush the one having the grievance.
In order to remedy this, he promulgated a plan of federation whereby all the different organizations, engineers, firemen, conductors, trainmen and switchmen would stand as a unit in case of a grievance.
This federation was accomplished, but owing to the treachery of some of the chiefs, proved unsatisfactory and was finally dissolved.
But this did not discourage Mr. Debs, on the contrary, it made him more determined than ever to save the employees from the grinding power of railroad corporations, and to that end he instituted the American Railway Union, embracing all classes in the railway service from the trackmen to the engineers. This infant organization that so recently became such a power, was by
13no means the offspring of a premature conception. President Debs deliberated long and well, carefully considering all the points, and conscientiously weighing the advantages and disadvantages that would arise from the formation of such a union, before taking active steps to organize.
He finally decided that in the American Railway Union were the only true principles of organization, and in conjunction with a few of his associates, men true as steel, such men as Howard, Rodgers, Burns and, Kelleher, this union was founded.
The first strike that was authorized by the American Railway Union was that on the Great Northern Railway Line, against a sweeping reduction in wages in all departments on that system.
This strike commenced on April 13, and after a stubborn fight of eighteen days (where one of the shrewdest and ablest railroad presidents in the United States was met in his every stronghold and defeated by the grandest labor leader in the world, the matchless Debs) the strike was settled, and victory perched on the banner of the American Railway Union.
Then it was that the true principles of this organization were recognized by railroad employees, and applications for charters came pouring in from all parts of the country.
Chapter II. The Boycott.
The American Railway Union is in every sense an American Institution, whose aims and objects as previously stated are to protect and shield its members from the grinding power of railroad corporations. Its motto is unity: "One for all and all for one."
The Pullman employees were admitted to this organization and consequently entitled to the protection guaranteed to all members, therefore when they walked out, after every honorable means to avert a strike was exhausted, the American Railway Union was in duty bound to sustain them.
The strike was ordered on the 11th day of May, after an all night session by a committee of forty-six members representing every department in the Pullman works. When the word was given four thousand employees responded to the call, and this proved to be the beginning of the most gigantic strike in the history of organized labor.
The wrongs of the Pullman people were not generally known to the public, the cruel and inhuman treatment they were subjected to, was kept strictly from the public ears.
They were reduced to a condition of slavery beneath that of the black slave of the South prior to the civil war, for while the black slave was clothed, housed and fed, the white slave of Pullman was forced to work for wages entirely inadequate to furnish a sufficient amount of food to keep body and soul together. In this condition, on the verge of starvation, with all hope of justice from the hands of George M. Pullman gone, they revolted. Whether the grievance of these men was a just one, or their resistence to further encroachments on their rights was right or wrong, after reading the report of the committee appointed to investigate and report to the American Railway Union Annual Convention, at that time in session in the city of Chicago, it will be for the reader to decide.
The report, as condensed, in one of the Chicago daily papers, copied and commented on by the St. Paul Branch of the American Railway Union, was as follows:
After showing by way of contrast, that
17$30,000,000 worth of Pullman stock paid its holders 9 1/2 per cent in dividends last year, the report goes statistically into a comparison of wages in the past year, with the wages received by the Pullman employees when the strike was inaugurated. A fair example of the general reduction is given in a comparison in the price of labor involved in the construction of a freight car in 1888 and 1893.
|Lot 1525.||Oct. 1888.||Nov.1893.|
|Delivering, forging and casting|
Other comparisons in the same department show that the wages of men employed in building freight cars, have been reduced 49, 57 1/2 and 47 per cent on contract work since 1888 and 89, and a long list of figures from the account
18of men ill the upholstering department, show that cuts have been made in the prices paid for piece work during the last twelve months ranging from 33 1/3 to 50 per cent. The painters, according to the figures given, have been cut 20 per cent since 1893 and were receiving, when the strike went into effect, only 23 cents per hour, while the union men employed by the boss painters in Chicago were all busy under the scale, whereby they are paid 35 cents per hour until June 15th, and 32 1/2 cents during the summer months.
The machinists, sheet iron and tin workers, foundrymen and blacksmiths had all been reduced from 30 to 50 per cent during the last year, and even heavier reductions, according to the report, have been made in other departments. Although wages had been previously reduced, the greatest cut went into effect last fall in the higher grades of labor.
The reduction then made was from 80 to 120 per cent and in the lower grades 30 per cent. For example, the price paid for the decorating finish on the outside of a Pullman sleeper before the reduction, was $40.00, and now it is $18.00.
By working hard for ten hours a decorator may earn $1.90.
This sweeping reduction included all classes, and the laborers were compelled to work for from 70 cents to $1.00 per day, all this in the face of the fact that when a reduction was made three years ago, the men were told that as long as the shops stood there would never be another cut in the wages of those who worked upon the Pullman sleepers.
A committee of girls, from those who were barely keeping body and soul together by working piece work for $2.50 and $3.00 per week, asked the foreman for an increase to enable them to live, and his answer was: If you cannot live upon the pay you are getting, go out and hustle for more. Why should we wonder that houses of prostitution find no difficulty in procuring inmates?
Think of young women having to board and clothe themselves, and in many instances supporting an invalid mother or young brothers and sisters on such meager wages.
The cold blooded averice of the Pullman company is not even satisfied in requiring its employees to work for starvation wages, for in
20what he exacts from his tenant employees he is even more grasping.
That model town of Pullman is owned by the Pullman company and everything about it is made to pay toll to this grasping monopoly.
All employees must rent their houses from this slave driving corporation. There is now in the city of St. Paul a gentleman who formerly worked in Pullman, and growing tired of paying so much rent for such poor accomodations, moved to the adjoining hamlet, and rented a better house for $8.00 per month. He was at once informed that if he wished to retain his situation he would have to move back, and he did so. The house was of the average kind and was called a cottage, consisting of two rooms down stairs, each 10x14 feet, and three rooms up stairs, one of which, the front room, was 10x12 and the two rear rooms each 8x10 feet, lighted front and back, with no bath room or other convenience, and the whole, a part of a solid row or block. For this abode there was exacted a monthly rental of $17.00 although the cost would not exceed $1,000. A four room flat rents for $14.50 per month, and if you should want one of these cheap cottages with inside
21blinds for the front window, you must pay 50 cents per month for that much style. Some tenants have paid 50 cents per month for this luxury for more than thirteen years, which is pretty good interest on the cost of those blinds.
About 100 acres of land is covered with dwellings and the rent derived is about $500,000 annually, which is over 8 per cent per annum on the investment.
In many of these houses families are crowded into attics in order to reduce expenses to enable them to procure the necessaries of life.
Recently a new church was erected in Pullman, known as the Green church and parsonage, for which is demanded a monthly rental of $60.00 and for a good sized audience room, and two smaller ones attached Mr. Pullman charges the Methodist Episcopal society $500 per year. These rents must be paid in advance and are deducted from the wages of the men, and notwithstanding that the wages have been reduced no reductions have as yet been made in the rent.
The manner in which these men have been bled in the matter of rent, is fully equaled in the manner in which money for water and gas has been extorted from them. When the town was
22built a contract was made with the Village of Hyde Park, to furnish water at the rate of four cents per thousand gallons, and incredible as it may appear, this water was furnished to the Pullman tenants at ten cents per thousand gallons. In other words he charged $3,000 per month for the water which cost him but $1,200. This represents an annual profit on this one item of $21,000.
Could cold blooded heartless averice go further? Yes; in the matter of gas which was manufactured and furnished to the people by the Pullman company itself, and although the cost is but 33 cents per thousand cubic feet, the tenants pay $2.25 per thousand while the same gas is furnished the residents of Hyde Park for 75 cents per thousand.
This adds from three to four dollars per month to living expenses in the average house at Pullman.
Another source of income which is wrung from the unfortunate victim is for heat, for which the company charges for six months in the year $10.80 per month.
It might be well to state also, that no person is allowed to keep a horse, unless the animal
23is kept at the company stables for which $3.00 per week is charged.
Such were the conditions of affairs discovered by the investigating committee in this model town, nor was this all. Miss Curtis, a delegate to the convention representing a ladies' lodge of the American Railway Union at Pullman, and whose father died in September, 93, was obliged to work fourteen hours per day in order to earn fifty cents at the same work for which she received prior to the first reduction $2.25 per day, and not satisfied with reducing her wages to this starvation point, the company insisted on the payment of a debt of $60.00 contracted during her fathers illness. This is but a sample of the devilish cruelties perpetrated on the employees by the Pullman Company to satisfy their hellish greed for gold.
This corporation cannot plead poverty for thus treating its employees, as its capital stock is $30,000,000 and carries an enormous surplus of $18,000,000 which is termed a reserve fund. Mr. Pullman's personal wealth is estimated at about $25,000,000. Quarterly dividends of not less than two per cent have been paid regularly
24on the capital stock, and the stockholders receive every three months $600,000 as their share of the earnings. It is to enable them to pay this immense sum every three months, that the wages of its employes have been reduced. Can it be wondered that the American Railway Union took the matter in hand and declared a boycott on Pullman cars. When the report was received every brother present was deeply moved, and it was the unanimous sentiment of the convention to declare a boycott, but before taking action, apprised the various local unions of the state of affairs then existing, and received the sanction of the local bodies. They then decided that if the Pullman Company would not submit the difficulty to arbitration on or before the 26th day of June, to cut off the Pullman cars and refuse to handle them until the matter was settled. This action was taken June 22, and decided action held off until June 26, in hope that committees appointed to wait on Mr. Pullman would be successful in gaining sonic concessions whereby a peaceable settlement could be arrived at before resorting to the boycott, and, although several committees were sent to the management
25and every honorable means resorted to in order to bring about an amicable settlement, it was of no avail and there was nothing for the American Railway Union to do but enforce the boycott.
Chapter III. First Day Of The Strike.
The 26th day of June was awaited with more than ordinary interest by the people of Chicago on account of the proposed boycott.
The first train to leave Chicago handling Pullman cars was the Chicago and Erie Buffalo Express, and hundreds of men gathered to witness the departure at 2:55 P. M.
It started out on time with several Pullmans attached and several Pinkerton detectives on board. This was owing to the fact that it had been made up before the time set for the boycott to go into effect, but drawbars had been chained together and fastened with padlocks as a safeguard against cutting out the Pullman cars. Everyone was anxious to see if the engineer would pull it out. All doubt was soon set at rest however, as the engine backed onto the train and started out on time as usual. The crowd then waited to see if the next train, the Limited Express, on the Grand Trunk, due
27to leave at 3:10 P. M. would meet with the same success, and after seeing this train also pull out on time, the crowd dispersed.
The trains on the Monon Route, Santa Fe, and Eastern Illinois also departed with their accustomed regularity and without interference, and at 6:00 o'clock, as every train was running on time, Mr. Pullman and the railway officials were quite jubilant at what they considered a complete failure of the American Railway Union to perform the task it had undertaken. But inside of three hours they were doomed to disappointment, for at that time not a wheel was turning on the Illinois Central with the exception of express trains that had been started before the strike was ordered.
The strikers might have stopped the Diamond Special which leaves at 9:00 P. M., but through consideration for the passengers who had already purchased berth tickets, and adhering strictly to the instructions of their leaders to do nothing to discommode the travelers who in all probability were not acquainted with the existing state of affairs, this train was allowed to proceed. The strike that paralyzed the traffic of the entire country was started in this manner. Early in
28the afternoon a committee of five switchmen, employed on the Illinois Central, made their appearance at the headquarters of the American Railway Union in the Ashland block, to learn authoritively the nature and purpose of the order issued requiring them to refuse to switch the cars of the Pullman Company, as the instructions received by them through Organizer Meyers of the union, were not sufficiently definite, so they claimed, to warrant their resisting the railroad company, and forfeiting their positions by such action. The switchmen, they said were willing to help the Pullman strikers, but they wished to know to a certainty what was expected of them. The directors of the union immediately held a conference with the delegates the result of which was an order to strike if the company insisted on them switching the Pullman cars. Those who were not members of the American Railway Union were guaranteed equal protection if they joined the strike, and the result was a complete tie up of the Illinois Central R. R.
The Chicago Times, in an article next morning, said that for rapidity of conception and execution this strike which probably involves five
29thousand men, beats anything of the kind on record, and in the same article says: the efforts to sidetrack the cars of the Pullman company yesterday was carried on with strict conformity to law and order.
With the exception of a crowd attracted out of a curiosity to see what might happen, there was nothing unusual about the depot, there was no boisterous talking, no threats were made, and the few squads of police officers sent there to preserve order, had nothing to do.
Train No. 7, due to leave at 9 o'clock, hauling two Pullman coaches filled with passengers, did not leave on time there being a delay of 30 minutes before it finally pulled out of the depot. After running within one hundred yards of Grand Crossing it stopped, there being a crowd of about five thousand people at this point of whom there was not to exceed one hundred and twenty-five railroad men. The engineer refused to start, and although Supt. Collins expostulated with him it was of no avail, and any further attempt to move the train was abandoned for the time being.
At 11:30 P. M. tower man Cable, who controls the switches at Fourty-third street, left
30his post, and two south-bound suburban trains were whistling for the switches. They were soon joined by three north-bound trains, a freight train, Michigan Central Fast Mail, and Illinois Central Limited, and all were tied up until one o'clock in the morning when the superintendent of terminals threw the switches. The Chicago Great Western, Baltimore & Ohio, Chicago and Northern Pacific and Wisconsin Central were next to fall in line and refuse to handle Pullman cars.
President Debs, after reviewing the situation, asked the men as individuals to consider the problem involved, saying, that if the Pullman Company was right, then the strikers must be wrong, but if you feel assured that those men are only striking to gain that which is every man's right — living wages, then we ask your moral support. There is but one hope for the laborer. Labor must stand by labor. The corporations have now forced a fight upon us by combining to help the Pullman company; they have forced us to combine and use the only weapon which the workingman possesses, the strike and the boycott. The railroads have never done anything for labor that the latter should hesitate to use these weapons.
It is a battle between allied monopoly against the rights of working people, it is a matter of broad humanity. I want to see the switchmen, the car inspectors and other employees wait upon the officials in a manly way, and refuse to handle these boycotted cars.
I want to appeal only to your reason, and not to influence your passion, but I ask you to take a manly stand in the aid of men, women and children who have been ground down by the iron heel of the oppressor.
I would rather be a manly pauper than an unmanly millionaire.
I ask every man, as an individual to think for himself and to do what he thinks to be right.
President Debs appealed to the men to commit no acts of violence but act in strict accordance with the law.
The strike had now reached St. Paul, Omaha, Denver, Trinidad, Cal.; Raton, N. M.; Cincinnati, St. Louis and Duluth, and no intimidation, no threats, no violence of any kind whatever was resorted to. When the men were asked to handle the Pullman cars, they simply stepped down and out.
Chapter IV. An Appeal From Debs.
As the light of dawn proclaimed the birth of a new day so the events that this day would bring forth was the all absorbing thought and theme of a great number of the American people.
All were anxious to learn the situation, whether interested in the boycott or otherwise, as by this time the whole western part of the United States had begun to feel the heavy hand of the American Railway Union boycott, and every railroad from the Missouri to the Pacific coast, from Manitoba to Mexico, and all centers of importance in the West, Southwest and Northwest were tied up, because the American Railway Union men, in the cause of humanity and right, would not operate them with Pullman sleepers attached, and the railroad managers, in the cause of oppression, would not allow them to run otherwise.
Thirteen roads centering in Chicago were now completely tied up, the Santa Fe, Chicago &
33Northern Pacific, Southern Pacific, Chicago & Western Indiana, Pan Handle, Monon Route, Chicago & Grand Trunk, Chicago & Erie, Illinois Central, Baltimore & Ohio, Chicago & Great Western, Wisconsin Central and Cincinnati Southern, and the General Managers had begun to realize the futility of carrying on the fight, and if they had not received encouragement and aid from outside sources, would have in all probability ended the strike at once by dropping the Pullman cars.
As a prominent railroad man said when asked about the strike situation: "It is my opinion that the railroads will drop the fight just as soon as the American Railway Union can demonstrate the fact that Pullman cars can not be hauled without a long and expensive fight with their own employees. I know that this view or the case was taken by some of the managers at a meeting to-day, and Mr. Pullman will be notified that he must make a settlement with his men at once, otherwise the effected roads will drop his cars and resume business."
The Union now felt confident of success. President Debs said: "We are sure to win as our cause is just, there will be no disturbances as the men
34have orders that there must be no rioting and no interference whatever with the roads, other than to refuse to assist to operate them."
"Whatever the officials can do for themselves with the few men at their command let them do; we propose to be fair and square in this fight, and if within my power to prevent, not one spike belonging to any road will be damaged."
And thus the second day of the great strike came to an end.
June 28th added nine more roads to those already tied up.
The Chicago & Northwestern; Chicago & Alton; Union Pacific; Denver & Rio Grande; Chicago & Eastern Illinois; Pittsburg, Ft. Wayne & Chicago; Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul; Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, and the Stock Yard Terminals, making in all twenty-two roads out and twenty thousand men on strike in the city of Chicago, and not one act of violence committed that could be charged to a striker.
The Mobile & Ohio at this time succumbed to the boycott and side-tracked its Pullman cars promising not to haul them again until the strike was settled. This rail road is a large corporation,
35and its surrender to the American Railway Union was considered a great victory, and the directors at once ordered the boycott raised as far as this line was concerned.
Minneapolis and St. Paul was now beginning to feel the effect of the boycott.
The Northern Pacific was the first in the fight, and the same plan of action outlined at Chicago was followed at these points when the time came to make up passenger trains. The switchmen refused to couple on the Pullman's and were discharged.
The mediation committee at once took up the matter with the manager, asking him to reinstate the discharged men, which he refused to do, and as a result the entire system from the Pacific coast to Minneapolis and St. Paul was called out.
This plan was adopted and carried out on all the rail roads entering the Twin cities.
The boycott was no longer a fight in the interest of the Pullman employees alone but had resolved itself into a gigantic contest between organized labor on the one side, and organized capital on the other, and although up to this time there had been no violence, no loud
36demostrations, no threats of any kind, the Illinois Central demanded troops to protect their property, and the militia was ordered out. On the Pan Handle the Cincinnati Express had the cars of Mr. Pullman detached, and the officials cried "riot" and asked from Sheriff Gilbert of Chicago a posse to protect the U. S. mail. This was furnished, and although the mail cars were not molested in any way, the officials refused to allow the mail to go forward without the Pullman sleepers attached.
Seven more railroads had now come under the ban of the boycott making in all twenty-nine at the close of the fourth day.
On June 29th President Debs issued the following appeal to railway employees of the country.
The struggle with the Pullman company has developed into a contest between the producing classes and the money power of the country.
This is what Lincoln predicted at the close of the civil war, and it was this reflection that gave the great emancipator his gloomiest forebodings. We stand upon the ground that the workingmen are entitled to a just proportion of the proceeds of their labor. This the Pullman
company denied them. Reductions have been made from time to time until the employees earned barely sufficient wages to live, not enough to prevent them from sinking deeper and deeper into Pullman's debt, thereby mortgaging their bodies and souls, as well as their children's, to that heartless corporation.
Up to this point the fight was between the American Railway Union and the Pullman company. The American Railway Union resolved that its members would refuse to handle Pullman cars and equipment. Then the railway corporations through the General Manager's association, came to the rescue, and in a series of whereases declared to the world that they would go into partnership with Pullman, so to speak, and stand by him in his devilish work of starving his employees to death. The American Railway Union accepted his gauge of war, and thus the contest is now on between the railway corporations arrayed solidly on the one hand, and the labor forces upon the other. Every railroad employee of the country should take his stand against the corporations in this fight, for if it should be lost corporations will have despotic sway and all employees will be reduced to a
condition scarcely removed above chattle slavery; but the fight will not be lost. The great principle of American manhood and independence is involved. Corporate power, drunk with its own excesses, has presumed to far upon the forbearance of the American people, and, notwithstanding a subsidized press (to which there are many notable and noble exceptions), public sympathy is with the striking employees, who are merely contending for the right of their fellow toilers to receive living wages for their work.
I appeal to strikers everywhere to refrain from any act of violence. Let there be no interference with the affairs of the companies involved and above all let there be no act of depredation. A man who will destroy property or violate law is an enemy, not a friend to the cause of labor. The great public is with us and we need only to maintain a dignified, honest, straight forward policy to achieve victory. Let it be understood that this strike is not ordered by myself nor by any other individual; nor is the strike inaugurated anywhere except by consent and authority from a majority of the employees themselves.
Neither is this a fight simply of the American Railway Union. The question of organization
ought not be raised, but every man who believes in organized railroad labor should take his stand on the side of labor, and its battles for his rights and those of his fellowmen. I have faith in the great body of railroad employees of the country and am confident they will maintain an unbroken front in spite of any opposition that may be brought to bear against them.
I am perfectly confident of success. We cannot fail.
E. V. DEBS
Chapter V. The Federal Goverment Sides With The Managers.
The fifth day of the great stride showed no cessation of hostilities, the entire Northwestern and Southwestern portion of the United States was practically at a standstill. Every road entering Chicago was partially, if not completely tied up, and the General Managers Association, under the leadership of John M. Egan was at sea.
They now realized that they had taken a contract that it would be difficult to fulfill, and without the co-operation of some greater power they would be defeated. A lack of confidence in their ability to subdue the strikers and compel them to work, was well illustrated in a meeting between Sir George Pullman and Vice-President Harahan of the Illinois Central. W. M. Daley, of New Orleans, was the only witness to the meeting and his presence undoubtedly saved Sir George from a masterly drubbing at the hands
41of Mr. Harahan. Mr. Pullman entered the office of Vice-President Harahan, and in the course of time his conversation turned to the strike and its effect on the Illinois Central.
This was the opening round.
It aroused all the ire in the portly form of Mr. Harahan, and with blazing eyes he turned on Sir George.
"You are not fit to govern men," he said; "instead of visiting your own works, you have a number of superintendents who furnish you with reports, and when they are colored to suit you take them as facts, and a result is business is embargoed, poverty stalks all over your grounds, you are alone responsible for the present condition of affairs on the railroads. Why don't you go among your employees and see things for yourself? If you did there would be no such trouble." Then followed a number of epethets such as thick head, incompetent, overrated, and the official shook his fist under the stubby nose of Sir George in a very threatening manner. Mr. Pullman tried to speak, but the Vice-President broke in on him again. "You think you have a contract with this road that you can rub it in on us, but you can't, never
42will we submit to it, the railroads are losing $250,000 a day owing to your obstinacy. You are unfit to act as president of any company, and if you were to visit your much boasted town to-day, the chances are that you would be dealt with severely. Why, you are nothing but a figure head, you are not the actual president of the company, for if you were you would know something about it. You know nothing in regard to the actual state of affairs." It did not take long for the story to reach the different railroad centers about the city.
It came to the knowledge of the American Railway Union that J. M. Egan and Manager St. John of the Rock Island road had employed two thousand men in Canada to fill the places of the strikers, and steps were taken immediately to stop their importation, but with what success it was impossible to determine.
All this time the strike was spreading and the membership of the American Railway Union was increasing rapidly. The sensational reports of rioting and bloodshed in various yards proved upon investigation to be false, and beyond doubt circulated by the General Managers and eagerly seized by the subsidized press to win the
43sympathy of the public in the interest of the corporations.
The police when questioned positively denied the stories saying there were no grounds for the reports.
Marching orders were received at the headquarters of the Missouri U. S. troops, for the 15th infantry and though it was not known at the time the orders were received from Washington, it was soon learned that they were to go to Chicago and assist the General Managers to run their trains.
At this time occured the tieup at Minnesota Transfer, which was the most complete and effectual blockade of any in the strike district. The Minnesota Transfer represents nine different roads. The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul; Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha; Great Northern; Northern Pacific; Minneapolis & St. Louis; Chicago Great Western; Wisconsin Central; Chicago, Burlington & Northern and Belt Line Ry.
All freight through the Twin Cities handled by these roads, is interchanged at this point. It is situated midway between St. Paul and Minneapolis and employees from three hundred to
44five hundred men according to the volume of business. This is a freight yard exclusively, and therefore had nothing to do with the handling of Pullman equipment. But this little technicality did not prevent this body of men from coming to the assistance of their brothers, and as each road was brought under the ban of the boycott they refused to handle cars or in any way assist them to operate their line.
On the night of the 1st day of July, the Milwaukee road now under boycott brought in five cars of beer for delivery to the Great Northern.
The men including the yardmaster refused to deliver the cars, and were sent home. A meeting was called for the night of July 2nd, and a committee appointed to wait upon the superintendent, Mr. D. M. Sullivan, and ascertain if the men were discharged. Mr. Sullivan answered in the affirmative, and an unanimous vote to strike was then taken, over three hundred men, the entire force with three exceptions quit work, and not a wheel was turned except by the superintendent himself, for ten days.
The general Managers now got in their fine work by utilizing the government. A Washington special to the Chicago Times says:
Our wretched administration is in the hands of the railroads, there is no doubt about it, Cleveland, Lamont, Olney and Bissel are at the beck and call of the corporations, from the While House down it has been determined to put forth every effort even to Gattling guns, to employ every arm of the government even to its Supreme Judges to destroy this strike and the laboring people concerned in it. The case is decided against the strikers in advance, the wired words of the General Managers are accepted as settled facts; what they ask for they will get, what they suggest will be adopted the workingmen are to be ground beneath the heel of the military, and if necessary, to force them into submission they are to be sabered, bayoneted, shot down or taken prisoner's or whatever is deemed sternly necessary to compel them to submit to such terms as their money-crat owner sees fit to impose.
This is a railway administration. So promptly loyal has Cleveland proven himself to be that it is to be believed that should the companies desire it, they could have the Executive Mansion for a round house and the White House grounds for switching purposes.
The managers wired Olney to name Edwin Walker, who is attorney for the Milwaukee road as special solicitor for the government, to take measures against the strikers as they had no confidence in Milchrist.
He seemed weak, his term was soon to expire and he seemed inclined to avoid harsh measures ablest with the men. They wanted Walker, he was the corporation attorney in the country; he had been cradled by, and grown up at the knee of corporations; he was their body and soul in the life and death struggle with their employees.
They urged Olney to clothe Walker with the special United States authority to better protect them and overthrow the strike. By thus making the railway attorney Walker solicitor for the United States, the control of government power could be placed in the hands of the corporations to wield against the men. Walker was appointed by Olney and placed in control over Milchrist in the affairs of the strike. Mr. Walker was known personally by Olney, and Olney is at the present time one of the counsles of the Santa Fe and Chicago, Burlington and Quincy, and said to be a director of the latter road. He has been for years intimate with Mr. Walker,
47who, by the way, is a hot favorite of Fuller of the supreme bench. There was, therefore a dozen good reasons for this selection, which addressed themselves to Mr. Olney, who is in this not as a cabinet officer, but as a friend and director of railway corporations, and he therefore precipitately granted the request of the general managers. Bissel, also a railroad director, shows Olney's anxiety to come to the back of the roads. (The truth of the above correspondence could not be denied). In this way the entire available force of troops at Ft. Sheriden, including infantry, cavalry and artillery was ordered out by the President of the United States to assist the railroad managers against the people. Such was the attitute of this government "of the people, by the people, and for the people" against the people. The railway managers having now secured the federal troops, proceeds to issue injunctions restraining the strikers from using the power of persuation on those men still in the service, to induce them to quit. This order drawn up by Judges Wood and Grosscup was a lengthy one, and peculiarly in harmony with the corporation interest.
The Chicago Times, in an editorial says: In this Federal injunction, which is in the main eminently just and equally unnecessary, appears a claim in which certain persons named, and all other persons whatsoever are ordered to refrain from compelling or inducing, or attempting to compel or induce, by threats, intimitation, force or violence any of the employees of any of the said railroads, to refuse or fail to perform any of their duties, as employees of said railroads, in connection with the inter-state business or commerce of such railroads, or the transportation of passenger or property between or among the states; or from compelling or inducing or attempting to compel or induce by threads, intimidation, persuation, force or violence, any of the employees of any of said railroads, who are employed by said railroads and engaged in its service, in the conduct of interstate business or in the operation of any of its trains carrying mail of the United States or doing interstate business or transportation of passengers or freight, between and among the states, to leave the service of such railroad. The Times emphatically does not believe that any court whatever has a right to order men to refrain from attempting by persuation
49to induce others to leave the employment they are engaged in. There is a natural law that in the end will prevail over the formal law built up by lawyers and courts. If as Judge Gary says, the law is common sense, this injunction will not stand, for common sense will certainly pronounce an orderly and respectful request to a railroad employee to give up his position and join the organized strikers, no crime. It is idle to plead that a discreet and just court will only enforce this injuction against actual law breakers, for there is in it an opportunity for injustice and oppression which makes it wholly bad. The injunction is becoming a menace to liberty, it is a weapon ever ready for the capitalist, and there should be more careful federal legislation limiting its use.
Certainly if the restraining order of Judges Wood and Grosscup be good law there is no sense in maintaining organized labor. Childlike trust in the benevolence and fairness of the employer must be the workingman's future policy if this injunction be made a precedent.
In the meantime the General Manager's association and the subsidized press were endeavoring to impress the public with the belief that the
50strikers were a lot of disorderly and riotous law breakers of the worst description. To show how much truth there was in these tales, I will give the statement of Capt. J. Hartnett as made after dispersing a mob. He said: There wasn't a railroad man in the whole outfit, but a lot of bums who thought they would have a lot of sport at the expense of the railroads. But we soon gave them a hustling, and I want to say this for the strikers, and by that I mean the real railroad men, they are orderly here and as quiet as possible, I have had no disturbance in any district that can be traced to railroad men. It is well know than on occasions like these every loafer turns loose and takes advantage of the strike to start a row, but the genuine railroad men are too sensible to cause any disturbance.
This was true also of all other cities engaged in the strike.
Chapter VI. Troops At Blue Island.
THE Fourth of July dawned upon a scene that would start the blood of the signers of the Declaration of Independence leaping in flames of fire through their veins, if they could but reappear upon this land in the vigorous manhood of their youth; those heroes whose blood baptized the battlefields of Yorktown and Bunker Hill for the glorious cause of liberty and equal rights; and behold the spectical of this day, they would think that they had fought, bled and died in vain, that victory after all was but defeat.
Military depotism reigned supreme. The great masses of the liberty loving people who were want to celebrate this National holiday of Independence in a manner befitting the occasion, began to think. Their thoughts took them back to the days of English tyranny, and they ask themselves, must this fight be fought again? The thoughts were contagous, and when the American people began to think, their thoughts
52are dangerous. The battle must and will be fought again, but not with the weapons of 76, but with the weapon the old man can wield as well as the young; the bullet.
Wholesale arrests followed the arrival of the federal troops at Blue Island, free speech was eliminated, any man who passed along, who had the appearance of striker or sympathizer was promptly arrested, and that too without a warrant. The remark "that fellow is a scab," was sufficient to send a man to the guard house. A fireman was asked by his landlord, "where have you been lately?" That was enough he was placed with other shackled prisoners in the guard house, but was released later on. In the morning there was a parade, but the old time patriotism was noticeably wanting, a fireman arrested for refusing to go to work, having a depressing effect. Patriotic speeches were prominent by their absence, and people began to wonder what day was being celebrated.
The bloodcurdling lawlessness and rioting by the strikers at Blue Island, as depicted by the corporation press; when simmered down to facts proved to be as false as other similar reports sent out by the plutocratic press. The so-called
53rioting amounted to nothing more or less than expression of thought, and I believe if the General Managers, corporation courts, Cleveland & Co., could conceive and put into execution some plan whereby they could put a restraining order on the minds of the striker and deny him the right to think, it would be done. The gist of the rioting as I said before was simply expression of thought. A man as he watched a train pass by remarked: "There are d — d few Pullmans anyway." He was promptly arrested. Another remarked that some fellow was a scab, and was also taken in. This and other like remarks were samples of the Blue Island rioting at Chicago.
Upon the arrival of the federal troops, the General Managers Association shifted the responsibility from their own shoulders to those of Uncle Sam, and the eager willingness that the representatives of the people exhibited to assist Sir Duke Pullman and the railroad corporation to subjugate and reduce the working people to a condition of serfdom, was sufficient evidence that the managers knew what they were about. They felt secure in the knowledge that their interest would be well taken care of by the administration, and
54sought the much needed rest that these weary sessions of plotting and scheming had earned for them.
Chapter VII. A Protest From Gov. Altgeld.
It was plain to be seen that the presence of U. S. troops in Chicago had a bad effect. The people felt disposed to resent this uncalled for interference of the President. His unwarranted and illegal action in sending federal troops into the state of Illinois uncalled for by the civil authorities (waving all question of courtesy), was a reflection on the efficiency of the civil authorities to maintain order, and a direct insult to the intelligence and loyalty to the citizens of the state. The governor protested against tills highhanded proceeding, and in no mild terms insisted that he was amply able and willing to preserve order if called upon to do so.
He assured the President that it was not troops the railroads needed but men to run their trains, and this was the exact truth, as the strikers were not interfering with the running of trains but refused to run them, and the companies could not operate their roads without the aid of the men who left the service.
56But they needed a shield to hide their helplessness, and this they found in the federal troops, therefore it requires but little reasoning to understand the bad effect on the people, made by the presence of United States troops, equipped for war in time of peace. This ill feeling, mingled with curiosity produced excitement. Excitement invited the presence of the tough and lawless element, which was exactly what the railroad magnates where striving for, as the strikers had no intention of interfering with their trains, and they knew that it was necessary to incite rioting in order to have an excuse for not operating their roads.
Their devilish schemes succeeded only too well. A mob composed of the tough and hoodlum element congregated at the Rock Island yards and from Nineteenth to Fortieth Street, overturned box cars and destroyed everything that came in their way. The mob increased until not less than ten thousand people participated in the work of destruction, but be it said to the credit of the impartial press of that city, they announced that no strikers had taken part in the lawlessness. Mayor Hopkins, who went in person to the scene, said that from what he had beard, and what he
57could see for himself, that no railroad men were implicated in the depredations, and business men whose veracity could not be questioned coroborated his statement.
This occurrance was much to be feared by the strikers, as it was not the first time that such means had been employed to turn public sentiment from the side of the workingmen.
Realizing this the men did their utmost to prevent it, and by threats and entreaties tried to persuade the mob to desist from the work of destruction, but were successful only for a short time. One of the strikers remarked to an officer at the time: "By Heavens! this won't do, there is not a striker in that crowd; this is done to injure us, and those fellows are not trying to stop it," meaning the troops.
The strike had now reached Toledo, Cleveland and Buffalo, and was rapidly spreading east, the entire country was in a whirlpool of excitement, and the strikers were jubilant. The general managers with the combined forces of the federal troops, state militia, and Cleveland and his cabinet could not operate the roads. One simple word from the general managers to Pullman would have been more effective in starting the trains
58than all the armies and courts in the United States or all the scabs from Canada, but rather than speak that one word, "arbitration," they would bankrupt every system of railroads in the country.
On July 5, President Cleveland received by wire the following protest from Gov. Altgeld of Illinois:
Dear Sir:— I am advised that you have ordered federal troops to go into service in the state of Illinois. Surely the facts have not been correctly presented to you in this case or you would not have taken this step, for it is entirely unnecessary and as it seems to me unjustifiable. Waving all question of courtesy I will say that the state of Illinois is not only able to take care of itself, but it stands ready to-day to furnish the federal government any assistance it may need elsewhere.
Our military force is ample and consists of as good soldiers as can be found in the country. They have been ordered promptly, whenever and wherever they were needed. We have stationed in Chicago alone three regiments of infantry, one battery and one troop of cavalry, and no better soldiers can be found. They have been
ready every moment to go on duty and have been and are now eager to go into service.
But they have not been ordered out because nobody in Cook county, whether official or private citizen, asked to have their assistance or even intimated in anyway that their assistance was desired or necessary.
So far as I have been advised the local officials have been able to handle the situation, but if any assistance were needed the state stood ready to furnish 100 men for every one man required, and stood ready to do so at a moment's notice. Notwithstanding these facts the federal government has been applied to by men who had political and selfish motives for wanting to ignor the state government.
We have just gone through a long coal strike more extensive here than in any other state because our soft coal fields are larger than that of any other state. We have now had ten days of the rail road strike, and we have promptly furnished military aid wherever the local officials needed it. In two instances the United States marshall for the southern district of Illinois applied for assistence to enable him to enforce the processes of the United States court and troops
were promptly furnished him, and he was assisted in every way he desired. The law has been thoroughly executed and every man guilty of violating it during the strike has been brought to justice.
If the marshall of the northern district of Illinois or the authorities of Cook county needed military assistance they had but to ask for it in order to get it from the state.
At present some of our railroads are paralyzed, not by reason of obstruction but because they cannot get men to operate their trains. For some reason they are anxious to keep this fact from the public and for this purpose are making an outcry about obstructions in order to avert attention. Now, I will cite to you two examples which illustrate the situation: Some days ago I was advised that the business of one of our railroads was obstructed at two railroad centers, that there was a condition bordering on anarchy there — and I was asked to furnish protection so as to enable the employees of the road to operate the trains. Troops were promptly ordered to both points. Then it transpired that the company had not sufficient men on its line to operate one train. All the old hands
were orderly but refused to go. The company had large shops in which worked a number of men who did not belong to the railway union and who could run an engine. They were appealed to to run the train but flatly refused to do so. We were obliged to hunt up soldiers who could run an engine and operate a train.
Again two days ago appeals which were almost frantic came from officials of another road stating that at an important point on their line trains were forcibly obstructed and that there was a reign of anarchy at that place and they asked for protection so that they could move their trains. Troops were put on the ground in a few hour's time, when the officer in command telegraphed me that there was no trouble and had been none at that point, but the road seemed to have no men to run the trains and the sheriff wired that he did not need troops, but would himself move every train if the company would only furnish an engineer. The result was that the troops were there over twelve hours before a single train was moved although there was no attempt at interferance by anyone. It is true that in several instances a road made an effort to work a few green men and a crowd
standing around insulted them and tried to drive them away, and in a few other instances they cut off Pullman sleepers from trains. But all these troubles were local in character and could easily be handled by the state authorities. Illinois has more railroad men than any state in the Union, but as a rule they are orderly and well behaved. This is shown by the fact that so very little actual violence has been committed. Only a very small per cent of these men have been guilty of any infractions of the law. The newspaper accounts have in many cases been pure fabrications and in others wild exaggerations.
I have gone thus into details to show that it is not soldiers that the railroads need so much as it is men to operate trains, and that the conditions do not exist here which bring the cause within the federal statutes, a statute that was passed in 1881, and was in reality a war measure. This statute authorizes the use of federal troops in a state where ever it is impracticable to enforce the laws of the United States within such states by the ordinary judicial proceedings. Such a condition does not exist in the state of Illinois. There have been a
few local disturbances but nothing that seriously interfered with the administration of justice or that could not easily be controlled by the local or state authorities for the federal troops can do nothing that the state troops cannot do.
I repeat that you have been imposed upon in this matter, but even if by a forced construction it were held that the condition here came within the letter of the statute, then I submit that local self government is a fundamental principle of our constitution. Each community shall govern itself so long as it can and is ready and able to enforce the law, and it is in harmony with this fundamental principle that the statute authorizing the president to send troops into states must be construed. Especially is this so in matters relating to the exercise of the police power and the preservation of law and order. To absolutely ignore a local government in matters of this kind, when the local government is ready to furnish assistance needed and is amply able to enforce the law, not only insults the people of this state by imputing to them an inability to govern themselves or an unwillingness to enforce the law, but is in violation of a basic principle of our institutions.
The question of federal supremacy is in no way involved; no one disputes it for a moment but under our constitution federal supremacy and local self government must go hand in hand and to ignore the latter is to do violence to the constitution.
As governor of the state of Illinois I protest against this and ask the immediate withdrawal of the federal troops from active duty in this state.
Should the situation at any time get so serious that we cannot control it with the state troops we will promptly and freely ask for federal assistance, but until such time I protest with all due deference against this uncalled for reflection upon our people and again ask the immediate withdrawal of the troops. I have the honor to be,
JOHN P. ALTGELD,
Governor of Illinois.
To the above communication President Cleveland answered as follows:
To the Hon. John P. Altgeld, governor of Illinois. Federal troops were sent to Chicago in strict accordance with the constitutions and laws of the United States upon the demand of
the post office department that obstructions of the mails should be removed, and upon the representations of the judicial officers of the United States that process of law federal courts could not be executed through the ordinary means, and upon abundant proof that conspiracies existed against commerce between the states. To meet these conditions, which are clearely within the province of federal authority, the presence of federal troops in Chicago was deemed not only proper but necessary, and there has been no intention of thereby interfering with the plain duty of the local authorities to preserve the peace of the city.
Chapter VIII. Incendiarism And Bloodshed.
THE 6th day of July was one long to be remembered, as the first act of incendiarism was committed. A conflagration was started along the tracks of the Pan Handle, Baltimore & Ohio; Chicago & Northern Pacific, and Belt Line R. R., which terminated in the burning of whole trains of cars, switch houses and tool houses belonging to these companies. A splendid tower house belonging to the Pan Handle was saved through the supreme efforts of the strikers, who tore away the burning sidewalks which connected the tool-house with the tower-house. This fine structure was recently built and cost the company $40,000. Upon the authority of the city police and firemen, I can state that the fires were started by a crowd of young hoodlums and toughs living in the vicinity, and the strikers were in no way responsible for them.
There was only a small crowd of these young-toughs around the yards, they scattered in different directions and simultaneously fire broke out
67in different places. One boy was seen to set fire to a bunch of waste, and throw it into the empty cars as he ran, and the dry woodwork was soon a mass of flames. Between eight hundred and sixteen hundred cars were destroyed by this conflagration and the loss aggregated over $200,000, besides three men killed outright and seven wounded.
The peaceable and law abiding city of Chicago was feeling the effects of a reign of terror. Innocent men, women and children were being shot down or bayoneted by the tools of railroad corporations in a most cold blooded and heartless manner. According to the statements of eye witnesses some young fellows under the age of sixteen years, and therefore not strikers, threw stones at the soldiers who at once began to shoot indiscriminately into a crowd composed of men, women and children who had no connection whatever with the affair, then with fixed bayonets charged upon the people, and those who were unfortunate enough to be caught were severely dealt with. One old man, a Pole, who was standing in his own door yard, and seeing the people run took fright and started into his house, was pursued by a soldier who saw him run and stabbed
68in the back. The old man fell shrieking to the ground, begging for mercy, when the brutal fiend plunged the bayonet twice more into the helpless form and left him in a dying condition.
One young lady was shot while standing on the roof of her own house, and fell a corpse in her brother's arm.
Still another victim was a man who was shot while standing in the doorway of his home and a rioter by the name of Burke was shot and killed in the charge.
In an editorial the Chicago Times says: "Let us examine the net results of the activity of the troops on Saturday;" results of which the amateur soldier Brigadier General Wheeler remarked: "I am glad that the troops made a stand and that blood was shed." There is some conflict in the reports of the day's carnage, but the salient facts seem to be these:
"Three persons in all were shot dead, one of these, an eighteen year old girl, was standing on a distant house top watching the fray, when a bullet pierced her heart. Of course she was not a striker nor was her continued life a menace to American institutions.
"John Burke, identified by the police as a
professional crook, was another victim and his presence in the mob adds evidence to the claim of the Times that the rioting was the work of chronic toughs and criminals and not of workingmen. Joseph Warzouski, the third to fall before a military bullet, was sitting smoking before his house door when wantonly shot down by a regular. He was not a striker, and not within one hundred yards of railroad property when murdered.
"Of the wounded five were women, one of whom looses an arm and another a leg. Six were boys under nineteen years of age, and one was a baby.
"The points which these facts demonstrate, is that the rioting is not the work of members of the American Railway Union; or in fact of workingmen of any organization, but the acts of toughs and pluguglies and boisterous boys, with whom this city like other large cities, abound. Though the crowd looks large and dangerous, the actual number of combatants is comparatively small, and the clubs of the police instead of the bullets and bayonets of the soldiers, would have been the proper weapons to use. Then Chicago would not have been disgraced by shedding the blood of women and children and taking innocent lives."
On July 6, Mr. Debs issued the following clear and succinct statement of the causes and status of the present condition of affairs:
"To the public: — So many misleading reports have been given currency in reference to the great railroad strike now in progress that I am prompted, in the interest of justice and fair play, to give the public an honest, impartial statement of the issues involved and the facts as they actually exist. My purpose in this is to have the great American public — the plain people — in every avenue of life conversant with the situation as it really is, that they who constitute the highest tribunal we know, may pass judgment upon our acts, condemn us if we are wrong, and uphold us if we art right.
"First of all let it be said that the Pullman employees who struck May 6th, last, did so entirely of their own accord.
"Their action in so doing was spontaneous and unanimous. They simply revolted against a series of deepscated wrongs of long standing, and no power could stay them. It has been charged, and the charge has been widely accepted, that they were induced to strike by their "leaders" and labor agitators; that if left alone
they would have remained at work. The charge is wholly untrue.
"The fact is that the officers of the American Railway Union used all their influence to pacify the employees and advised them repeatedly not to strike, but to bear patiently their grievances until a peaceable settlement could be effected. To the truth of this statement the employees themselves will bear willing testimony.
"But the grievances of the employees, men and women, had become so aggravated, so galling, that patience deserted them, and they abandoned their employment rather than to submit longer to conditions against which their very souls revolted. Whether they were right or not, let only those judge who comprehend the conditions under which these faithful employees toiled and groaned. Let us avoid sentiment. The bare facts will suffice, and they are haggard enough to excite the sympathy of every good citizen, rich or poor, employer or employed.
"The Pullman company, be it understood owns the town of Pullman, owns the houses, the homes of employees, controls the light and water, and other necessaries of life, and wages are so adjusted to living expenses that in a
large majority of cases the employees are barely able to support their families. Proof overwhelming can be furnished. One instance will suffice. At the time they struck the employees were in arrears to the Pullman company $70,000 for rent alone. Wages had been repeatedly reduced but rent and other expenses had remained the same.
"At this rate it would be a question of a short time only until the employees would have been hopelessly involved in debt, mortgaged soul and body to the Pullman company.
"The employees from the beginning, have been willing to arbitrate their differences with the company. That is their position to-day. The company arrogantly declares that there is nothing to arbitrate. If this be true why not allow a board of fair and impartial arbitrators to determine the fact?
"At this point we appeal to the public as to whether the position of the employees is entitled to the sanction of the public conscience. If the employees were to assume the position of the Pullman company and defiantly declare they had nothing to arbitrate, and arbitrarily demand unconditional surrender as the only basis
of settlement they would merit the condemnation of the public and it would certainly and swiftly fall upon them with crushing severity. Committee after committee waited upon the officials of the Pullman company with the vain hope of effecting a settlement. They were willing to make concessions, to compromise in the interest of peace. All their advances were repelled.
"The company was, and is, unyielding as adamant. Finally, June 12th, the delegates of the American Railway Union, representing 425 local unions of railway employees located on the principal lines of American railways, met in convention at Chicago. The Pullman trouble had been discussed at their local meetings. Many of the delegates came instructed. The grievences of the Pullman employees were taken under consideration, and two separate committees were sent to the officials.
"Not the slightest satisfaction could be obtained. As a last resort the delegates by a unanimous vote determined that unless the Pullman company would agree to do justice to their employees within five days, the members of the order would refuse to haul Pullman cars.
This action be it remembered, was not taken until the strike had been on six weeks, and every conceivable effort to obtain redress had failed because of the obstinacy of the company.
"Up to this time the trouble had been confined to the Pullman company and its employees. How, then, did the strike extend to the railways? Let the answer be given in accordance with the facts. The day before the order of the delegates declining to haul Pullman cars, went into effect, the General Managers' association, representing the principal Western railways, met and passed a series of resolutions, declaring in substance that they would uphold the Pullman company in its fight upon the employees, that they would haul Pullman cars and that they would stand together in crushing out the American Railway Union. The resolutions in question were published in the city papers and can be referred to in substantiation of this averment. It will thus be seen that the railway companies virtually joined forces with the Pullman company, went into partnership with them so to speak, to reduce and defeat their half starved employees. In this way the trouble was extended from line to
line, and from system to system until a crisis has been reached. he business of the country is demoralized to an extent that defies exaggeration.
"To say that the situation is alarming is entirely within the bounds of prudent statement. Every good citizen must view the outlook with grave concern.
"Something should, something must be done. The American people are a peace-loving people — they want neither anarchy or revolution. They have faith in their institutions, they believe in law and order, they believe in good government, but they also believe in fair play. Once aroused they will not tolerate arbitrary and dictatorial defiance, even on the part of an alliance of rich and powerful corporations.
"What can be done to dispel the apprehension that now prevails, and restore peace and confidence? The American Railway Union on whose authority and in whose behalf this statement is made, stands ready, has from the beginning stood ready, to do anything in its power, provided it is honorable to end this trouble.
"This, briefly stated, is the position the organization occupies. It simply insists that the
Pullman Company shall meet its employees and do them justice. We guarantee that the latter will accept any reasonable proposition.
"The company may act through its officials or otherwise, and the employees through their chosen representatives. Let them agree as far as they can, and where they fail to agree, let the points in dispute be subjected to arbitration. The question of the recognition of the American Railway Union or any other organization is waived. We do not ask, nor have we ever asked for a recognition as an organization. We care nothing about that, and so far as we are concerned it has no part in the controversy. Let the officials deal with the employees without reference to organizations. Let the spirit of conciliation, mutual concession, and compromise animate and govern both sides, and there will be no trouble in reaching a settlement that will be satisfactory to all concerned.
This done let the railway companies agree to restore all their employees to their situations without prejudice and the trouble will be ended. The crisis will thus be averted, traffic will resume and peace will reign. The railways are not required to recognize the American Railway Union. This has never been asked nor is it asked now.
"If there are those who discover in this statement a ‘weakening’ on the part of the employees, as has been so often charged when an exposition of the true attitude of our order was attempted, we have only to any that they are welcome to such solace as such a perverted conclusion affords them. We have been deliberately and maliciously misrepresented, but we have borne it all with an unwavering faith that the truth will finally and powerfully prevail. We firmly believe our cause is just, and while we hold that belief, we will not recede. If we are wrong we are ready to to be convinced. We are open to reason and to conviction, but we will not be cowed or intimitated. Were we to sacrifice the multiplied thousands of wageworkers who have committed their interests to our hands and yield to the pressure of corporate power, we would be totally unworthy of American citizenship.
"It may be asked what sense is there in sympathetic strikes. Let the corporations answer. When one is assailed all go to the rescue. They stand together; they support each other with men, money and equipments. Labor, in unifying its forces, simply follows their example.
The corporations established a precedent. If the proceeding is vicious and indefensible let them first abolish it.
"In this contest labor will stand by labor. Other organizations of workingmen have themselves felt the oppressive hand of corporate capital. They will not be called out, but will go out. And the spectacle of Mr. Pullman, fanned by the breezes of the seashore while his employees are starving, is not calculated to prevent their fellow wageworkers from going to their rescue by their only means at their command.
"A few words in reference to myself, although ordinarily I pay no attention to misrepresentation or vituperation, may not be out of place, not because of myself personally, but on account of the cause I have the honor to in part represent, which may suffer if silence is maintained while it is assailed with falsehood and malignant detraction. I shirk no responsibility, neither do I want credit to which I am not entitled. This strike was not ‘ordered’ by myself nor by any other individual. I have never ‘ordered’ nor ‘called’ anybody out. Under the rules of the American Railway Union members can only strike when a majority of the members go decide.
The votes of the delegates in this instance was unanimous, and where ever men have struck they did so of their own accord. I have simply served the notice after the men themselves had determined to go out.
"This is the extent of my authority and I have never exceeded it. My alleged authority to ‘call’ or ‘order’ out has been made the pretext on which to assail me with every slander that malignity could conceive. So far as I am personally concerned, detraction cannot harm me, nor does it matter if it could. I do not amount to more than the humblest member of our order — perhaps not as much. Fate or fortune has assigned me a duty, and, no matter how trying the ordeal or severe the penalties I propose to perform it. The reflection that an honest man has nothing to fear sustains and comforts me in every hour of trial.
"In closing let me repeat that we stand ready to do our part toward averting the impending crisis. We have no false pride to stand in the way of a statement. We do not want official recognition. All we ask is fair play for the men who have chosen us to represent them.
"If the corporations refuse to yield and
stubbornly maintain that there is ‘nothing to arbitrate,’ the responsibility of what may ensue will be upon their heads, and they cannot escape its penalties.
EUGENE V. DEBS.
Chapter IX. Sluaghter Of Citizens
THE situation at Hammond, Ind., would compare favorably with Chicago in so far as the wanton shooting of innocent citizens was concerned. The town had become infested with a gang of toughs from Chicago, who overturned a number of box cars and blocked the passage of trains. About noon of July 8th, the U. S. troops arrived, and their appearance attracted large crowds of citizens on the streets, in the vicinity of the railroad tracks. The troops who were ensconsed in passenger cars were being hauled up and down the track, when a gang of toughs attempted to overturn a Pullman coach. The soldiers, who could easily have left the coaches and placed the lawbreakers under arrest opened fire, but strange to say these sharpshooters, under instructions to shoot to kill, did not wound even one of the lawless rioters. Not so, however, with the citizens who were walking along the street and had no connection
82whatever with the mob. Charles Fleischer, who lived near with his wife and five children, walked down the street in search of his little son, when without a moment's warning he fell to the ground a corpse pierced with a law and order bullet. This man had no connection whatever with the riot nor even with the strike.
Miss Flemming, of Chicago, who was visiting friends in Hammond was on the street when the shooting occured and was seriously injured by a shot in the knee. Wm. Campbell, Victor Dizuttner and an unknown man were also shot and seriously injured by the regulars without the slightest provocation.
These people had no connection with the rioters, were citizens of Hammond, and not on railroad property.
Bullets crashed through frame walls, and I was told by a man whose head was grazed by a bullet while in his room, that nothing short of a miracle saved many persons from being shot down in their own dwellings.
Mayor Reily whose anger knew no bounds, after the killing rushed to the telegraph office and wired Governor Matthews, asking if martial law had been proclaimed. I should like to
83know, he said, by what authority the U. S. troops come to our city and shoot down our citizens without the slightest warning.
Immediately after the fatal occurance, A. Shields and Dr. F. E. Bell, representing the citizens of Hammond, wired Governor Matthews the following message: "Federal troops shooting down citizens promisciously and without provocation. Cannot something be done to protect citizens? Act quickly."
The governor replied that he had sent troops to restore order, enforce law, and protect lives of law abiding citizens. Lawlessness and rioting must be suppressed. Citizens obeying law had nothing to fear.
Was ever military despotism more thoroughly demonstrated? What further proof was necessary than the reply of the chief executive of the state, to the citizens, that they were at the mercy of, and subject to the arrogant brutality of military despotism. The governor in his reply said: "Citizens obeying law have nothing to fear, that lawlessness must be surpressed." According to that we can only arrive at one conclusion; that the persons overturning cars and destroying property were obeying the law, as they were
84not shot down nor were they arrested, but on the other hand peaceable citizens who were in no way connected with the rioting, were shot and maimed by the troops.
The people were beginning to regard the law with suspicion, they no longer felt that sense of security, the implicit confidence, they were wont to place in the constitution. The law of to-day, if the interests of the railroad corporations so required, would be reversed tomorrow. Under those circumstances could it be wondered that the people were beginning to lose the respect that had been accorded the law, and to which it was entitled? Could it be wondered that they became restless and exhibited signs of revolting against such damnable brutality, and the indignities to which they were subjected under the guise of the law?
Cleveland was now beginning to fear, that in his eagerness to assist the railroads in crushing the strikers he had overreached himself and the wonton murder of citizens, he feared, might have a damaging effect on his future political plans. His uneasiness was quite apparent, while on the other hand his co-conspirator, Olney, was in a happy state of mind. He claimed to be
85able with the anti-trust bill, to break up every labor union in America.
The general managers, finding out that the city would not be held responsible for the loss of and damage to railroad property, were now in favor of removing the troops from the city of Chicago — but knowing the effect of such action after making an appeal for their assistance — did not ask for their removal.
The situation throughout the country had not materially changed, and the prospects for a final victory for the strikers looked very favorably.
General Miles circulated a story that ninety per cent of the citizens of Chicago were in sympathy with the Pullman company and the railroads.
The railway managers took advantage of this report and spread and distorted it in order to discourage the strikers.
Now for facts: The trades unions of Chicago alone represent 750,000 people, adding to this the membership of the railway unions you have a total of 900,000 or ninety per cent of the citizens, who were in direct sympathy with the strikers. And it was not confined to
86members of Unions alone; such men as Bishop Fallaws, Rev. Dr. Henson, Prof. E. W. Bennis, Rev. G. P. Brushingham, Rev. W. H. Carvardine, Mayor Hopkins and hosts of other men prominent in the affairs of the city endorsed the men and denounced the railroad corporations.
Resolutions by the score were passed by business men, by the Typographical Unions and other organizations endorsing the American Railway Union, and denouncing Pullman and the railroads, also condemning the action of Grover Cleveland in upholding the corporations against the workingmen.
Resolutions were passed requesting all sympathizers to wear a white ribbon, the badge adopted by the American Railway Union, and the sea of white ribbons to be seen in Chicago would not bear out the statement of Gen. Miles.
The labor unions now signified their willingness to strike in support of the movement if called upon by the American Railway Union.
Grover Cleveland at this time issued a proclamation which — to all intents and purposes — declared martial law in the city of Chicago. This was what Gen Miles desired, as it
87virtually gave him full power to rule with despotic sway over the citizens and civil authorities.
The following protest was wired the President of the United States by President Debs, of the American Railway Union and Grand Master Sovereign of the Knights of Labor.
To the Hon. Grover Cleveland, President of the United States, Executive Mansion, Washington. D. C.
Dear Sir: — Through along period of depression, enforced idleness and low wages, resulting in wide spread poverty, and in many cases actual starvation, the working people have been patient, patriotic and law abiding, and not until the iron heel of corporate tyranny was applied with the intention to subjugate the working people to the will of arrogant monopolies, did they make any effort to stay their oppressors.
The Pullman strike was not declared until the employees of the Pullman company were driven to the verge of starvation, their entreaties spurned with contempt, and their grievances denied a hearing. No refusal to handle Pullman cars was declared by any railway employee until all propositions looking towards arbitration and conciliation were rejected by the Pullman
company. Notwithstanding the truths set forth above were known to the public and the national authorities, you have seen fit under guise of protecting the mails and federal property to invoke the services of the United States army, whose very presence is used to coerce and intimidate peaceable working people into a humiliating obedience to the will of their oppressors.
By your acts, insofar as you have supplanted civil and state authorities with the federal military power, the spirit of unrest and distrust has so far been augmented that a deep seated conviction is fast becoming prevalent that this government is soon to become a military despotism. The transmission of the United States mails is not interupted by the striking employees of any railway company, but by the railway companies themselves, who refused to haul the mail on trains to which Pullman cars were not attached. If it is a criminal interference with the United States mails for the employees of a railway company to detach from a mail train a Pullman palace car, contrary to the will of the company then it holds true that it is the same criminal interference whenever a Pullman palace car is detached from a mail train in accordance with the
will of a railroad company while said mail train is in transit. The line of criminalty in such a case should not be drawn at the willingness or unwillingness of railway employees, but at the act itself, and inasmuch as it has been the common practice of railway corporations to attach and detach from mail trains Pullman palace cars at will while said trains are in transit and carrying the mails of the United States, it would seem an act of discrimation against the employees of the railway corporations to declare such acts unlawful interference with the transmission of the mails when done by employees with or without the consent of their employers.
In view of these facts we look upon the far-fetched decision of Attorney General Olney, the sweeping un-American injunctions against railway employees, and the movements of the regular army as employing the powers of the general government for the support and protection of the railway corporations in their determination to degrade and oppress their employees.
The present railway strike was precipitated by the uneasy desire of the railway corporations to destroy the organizations of their employees and make the working people more subservent
to the will of their employers; and as all students of government agree that free institutions depend for their perpetuity upon the freedom and prosperity of the common people, it would seem more in consonance with the spirit of democratic government if federal authority was exercised in deference of the rights of the toiling masses to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But on the contrary there is not an instance on record where in any conflict between corporations and the people the strong arm of the military power has been employed to protect the working people and the industrial masses from the ravage and persecution of corporate greed. But the measure of character has been in the line of declaring the corporations always good and in the right, and the working people always bad and in the wrong.
Now, sir, we pledge to you the power of our respective organizations, individually and collectively, for the maintenance of peace and good order and the preservation of life and property, and will aid in the arrest and punishment of all violators of the civil and criminal laws of the state or nation. In the present contest between labor and railway corporations we shall use
every peaceable and honorable means at our command consistent with the law and our constitutional rights, to secure for the working people just compensation for labor done and respectable consideration in accordance with the inherent rights of all men and the spirit of republican government. In doing so we appeal to all the liberty loving people of the nation to aid and support us in this most just and righteous cause.
By EUGENE V. DEBS,
Order of Knights of Labor, President.
By J. R. SOVEREIGN,
Chapter X. Business Men's Protest.
THE town of Danville, Ill., was now visited by martial law with the result that two women were killed and two men fatally wounded. A non-union brakeman fired three shots into a crowd that was jeering him, whereupon some one in the crowd returned the fire hitting him in the neck. The militia then opened fire, killing a Mrs. Glennon who was standing in her own yard and Miss James seated at the organ in her own house. This was the effect of federal troops in Danville, and so it was in every town and city where Grover's minions were stationed. The damnable outrages perpetrated on the people of the commonweal by the federal troops under the guize of law and order was goading the citizens to a state of open rebellion. The business men of Chicago fearing a general outbreak determined on sending a committee to the Pullman company with a view to reaching a settlement whereby this dire calamity would be
93averted. A committee was formed composed of representative businessmen, members of the city council, and members of the various trades of the city. The committee met with no success.
Mr. Wicks, who represented the Pullman company, informed them that the company had nothing to arbitrate and wished to see no committee. The proposition they wished to submit to Mr. Wickes as the representative of the Pullman company was this: That Mr. Pullman had said there was nothing to arbitrate while the men contented that there was. Let the Pullman company appoint two men and the circuit court two men. Let these four select a fifth, it necessary, to determine if there was anything to arbitrate and in case there was, that would take care of itself later. If not, the strike would end just as soon as the decision was reached. Surely this proposition was fair and manly but speaking for the Pullman company Mr. Wickes flatly refused to entertain it for an instant. Alderman McGillen, who acted as spokesman, then made an eloquent plea for the Pullman company to take steps, which he considered would go far toward settling the strike. He
94said: "Mr. Wickes we received a request from the trades-unions — their representatives who are now here you have already met — to see if some means to settle this strike peaceably could not be found."
"It has been demonstrated that your company had no subject for arbitration, that the request of the employees for arbitration could not be acceeded to?"
Mr. Wickes: "Yes, sir."
Ald. McGillen: "We are here to suggest that it might be possible to obviate all differences between the company and the men — strikers, ex-employees, or whatever you wish to call them. We would suggest a committee to ascertain whether there is any matter needing arbitration as you are a quasi public."
Mr. Wickes, interupting: "Do you come as representatives of the city instructed by the mayor? We have nothing to arbitrate, the Pullman company cannot recede from its position."
Ald. O'Brien: "There must be some trouble?"
Mr. Wickes: "Our men made complaint, we promised to investigate, but before we had time to do so they struck."
Ald. O'Brien: "But that will not settle the matter."
Mr. Wickes: "Unfortunately not."
Ald. McGillen: "We suggest that this committee be made up of representative men, the best men in Chicago, men who occupy positions of honor."
Here attorney John S. Runnell appeared and was closeted with Mr. Wickes for a quarter of an hour.
On his return to the room Mr. Wickes said that neither the Pullman company or the railway manager's association created the situation of to-day. When our men went out we told them that we could not do the work at the scale of wages we were paying. We had contracts to fill then, some of them we let out and some we retained. No men can arbitrate this, you, as businessmen would let no man say how that business should be conducted.
Ald. McGillen then said: "You require protection from us. You call on the police, on the county, on the state, and on the nation for protection. Your only valued assets are the patents which the nation gives you in recognition of the genius which built the Pullman car.
96Remove that asset and you are ruined. You utterly ignor our request. It is not dishonorable men we ask to investigate your affairs. Think of the sickness, starvation, want, disaster and bloodshed which is coming if the strike assumes larger proportions. The climax is fast approaching and who will be to blame. I am hear for the common weal, and I hope and beg of you not to refuse."
Mr. Wickes: "There is a principle involved. Every business should have the right to dictate to its own labor, we will brook no interference, national, state, county or municipal."
Ald. McGillen: "Compulsory arbitration is not a law but it will be if this strike does not stop."
Mr. Wickes: "We have nothing to arbitrate."
Ald. Warreinner: "We are not asking for arbitration we want a committee appointed to see if there is need of it. Will you consent to that?"
Mr. Wickes: "No."
Ald. McGillen: "In the name of humanity let me beseech you to reconsider your negation."
Mr. Wickes: "Gentlemen, the Pullman company has nothing to arbitrate we want to see
97no committee, the Pullman company cannot recede from its position. This is final."
When the committee met again at 4:30 to make its final report, it was completely discouraged. Mr. Elderkin stated the proposition that had been made to the Pullman company and its direct refusal. The alderman begged the labor representatives not to strike and cause widespread suffering.
The general manager's and Pullman's position was so clearly defined that it would be impossible for the public to fail to see it in any but its true light.
The companies were losing millions of dollars but the general managers had determined if necessary to bankrupt every system in the United States in order to crush labor organizations out of existence. The Pullman matter was something of the past with them they were after the labor organizations, and they were after them with a vengence.
The government was backing them. The attorney general of the United States, — a corporation attorney as well, — had pledged himself to disrupt every labor organization in the country. President Cleveland another railroad
98attorney had encouraged and abetted them to the same end.
With the subsidized press, the bankers unions, the moneycrat manufacturers and the federal courts arrayed against them, what in the name of Justice could they expect?
Surely the martyred president and savior of mankind, the immortal Lincoln, must have anticipated the present deplorable condition when in his message to the second session of the thirty-seventh congress, — to be fund in the appendix to the Congressional Globe of the thirty-seventh congress, second section, page 4 — when he said: "Monarchy itself is sometimes hinted at as a possible refuge from the power of the people. In my present position I could scarcely be justified were I to omit raising a warning voice against this approach of returning despotism. It is not needed nor fitting here that a general argument should be made in favor of popular institutions, but there is one point with its connections not so hackneyed as most others to which I ask a brief attention. It is the effort to place capital on an equal footing with, if not above, labor in the structure of government. It is assumed that labor is available only in connection with
99capital, that nobody labors unless somebody else owning capital somehow by the use of it induces him to labor. * * * Labor is prior to and independant of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital and deserves much the higher consideration. * * * No men living are more worthy to be trusted than those who toil up from poverty; none less inclined to take or touch aught which they have not earned. Let them beware of surrendering a political power which they already possess and which, if surrendered, will surely be used to close the door of advancement against such as they, and to fix new disabilities and burdens upon them till all of liberty shall be lost."
Chapter XI. Indictment Of President Debs.
The railroad managers and federal courts were leaving no stone unturned to secure the indictment and incareeration of Eugene V. Debs. If successful, it was their intention to dispose of all the officers and directors of the American Railway Union in the same manner.
Attorney General Olney, acting for the railroads, was hatching a scheme to incareerate the officers of the union and refuse them hail. Attorneys Walker and Milchrist were ready to prove that Debs ordered the boycott, that he conspired against the lives and liberty of the people, that he conspired to overthrow the government, in short, they were ready to prove anything that would further the ends of the corporations which they represented.
These diabolical plotters never doubted for one instant that the officers of the American Railway Union were innocent of the charges preferred against them. They knew very well that
101they (the officers) had no authority to order a boycott or strike, and that it was ordered by a majority vote of the men employed on each system. They also knew that from the inauguration of the strike, not one word or act of Eugene V. Debs could be construed into an offense and make him amenable to the law.
That he counciled moderation and appealed to the men to refrain from acts of violence from the start, was a well known fact. This was very clear to them, but the powerful magnetism of his presence in restraining the men from acts of violence would also have a tendency to keep their ranks firm and intact. This was also known to them and they must device some scheme to shackle him or get him out of the way. With consummate skill they proceeded with the avowed effort to accomplish this end.
At 3:00 P. M., July 10, the special grand jury summoned by Judges Wood and Grosscup set the machinery of federal law in motion, and after one hour and seven minutes — most of which time was occupied in waiting for advice from the Western Union Telegraph Co., in New York, to its manager in Chicago — returned indictments against E. V. Debs, G. W. Howard, L. W. Rogers
102and Sylvester Kelleher. No sooner were the four officers of the American Railway Union indicted than they were arrested and the private papers as well as the documents of the union were seized.
The four men were admitted to bail and the joint bond of $10,000 was signed by J. W. Fitzgerald and Wm. Skakel.
The special grand jurors selected by the court for the express purpose of indicting the officers of the American Railway Union were well chosen. An elaborate charge from his honor, the judge, a pretense of examining a lone witness, just a fareial formality, and Debs, Howard, Rogers and Kelleher were indicted These men were virtually indicted before the grand jury went into session, this is a fact that defies contradiction, Z. E. Holbrook, one of the jurors, was a man who two years ago went to Homestead, Pa., at the request of H. C. Prick, manager of the Carnegie Company, and after obtaining a supply of alleged facts from Mr. Prick, returned to Chicago and made a speech before the Sunset Club, in which he charged the Homestead strikers with being conspirators, anarehists and murderers, and he denounced and abused in no
103measured terms all labor unions and sympathizers. So bitterly did he attack labor that he was roundly hissed by members of his own club.
The city directory sets him down as a capitalist, and he is known throughout the city as a bitter enemy to labor unions. Such is the character of one of the men who was chosen to indict Eugene V. Debs. Was ever court of justice so utterly debauched?
What has become of our boasted liberty? Are we freemen? No! in the burning words of Rienzi, the Roman, we are slaves, the bright sun rises to its course and sets on a race of slaves. Slaves, not such as conqueror led to crimson glory and undying fame, but base, ignoble slaves, slaves to a horde of petty tyrants, feudal despots.
The same conditions that emulated these immortal utterances from the ancient Roman is absolutely the condition of the working people of America to-day.
The federal courts had now accomplished a master stroke; they had indicted the president of the American Railway Union for conspiracy.
When the wires flashed the news to the various local unions throughout the country, the
104excitement was intense. The illegal proceeding was condemned by every good citizen, regardless of vocation or station in life. Millions of men in every branch of labor threatened to strike, but were held in check by the assurance of their leaders that all would be well in the end.
Mr. Debs, fearing the bad effect his arrest would have on the working people, sent out the following appeal for order:
To all striking employes and sympathizers:
In view of the serious phases which the strike has assumed, I deem it my duty to again admonish you to not only refrain from acts of violence but to aid in every way in your power to maintain law and order. We have everything to lose and nothing to gain by participating, even by our presence in demonstrative gatherings. Almost universal unrest prevails. Men are excitable and inflamable. The distance from anger to vengeance is not great. Every precaution against still further aggrivating conditions should be taken. In this supreme hour let workingmen show themselves to be orderly and law abiding by freely co-operating with the authorities in surpressing turbulence and preserving the peace. Our position is secure and
the people are with us. We have made every effort that reason and justice could suggest to obtain redress for our grievances.
Our advances have been repelled. The responsibility for the grave situation that confronts the country is not with us. The indications now are that that stoppage of work will become general. This in itself will be a calamity, but if order be maintained it may yet prove to be a blessing to the country. I appeal to every workingman to entirely keep away from places where trouble would be likely to occur. What, under normal conditions, would probably be a peacable gathering may now become a demonstrative mob. All good citizens deprecate the loss of life and the destruction of property. Grave as these complications are, our civilization is far enough advanced to find and apply a remedy without resort to violence. We are merely contenting for justice for our fellow workingmen, who have been reduced to want by a power that now defies public opinion. Strong in the faith that our position is correct, that our grievances are just, we can afford to await the final verdict, with patience. The great public may be slow to act, but in the fullness of time it will act. Then the
wrong, wherever found will be rebuked and cloven down, and the right will be enthroned. However serious the situation, may become, let it not be intensified by lawlessness or violence.
Eugene V. Debs.
If there is anything tending to conspiracy, any anarchistic sentiment in the above appeal then it is certain that Debs was guilty as indicted, but if there is not, then the railroad managers and federal court were guilty of a greater conspiracy and should be dealt with accordingly. In all the appeals, instructions or advice given verbally or otherwise by E. V. Debs, not a solitary one was of a more inflamatory nature than this, and yet this man was accused of this serious crime.
The Chicago Times in an editorial on the indictment of Debs says in part: "We can perhaps leave to the lawyers who are so eager to indict Mr. Debs, determination of the legal position of this rebel Wickes, declaring that his tottering corporation will brook no interference national, state, county, or municipal. The times has learned many things of late showing the power of coporations over the national government but we still cling to the belief that Uncle Sam is bigger than Duke George, and if either the national,
107state, county or municipal government determines to interfere with the affairs of the Pullman corporation, Mr. Wickes will have to brook it or take refuge in Canada with his titled chiefs, embezzlers, boodlers, forgers and other harpies of society, who from time to time have fled thither."
Chapter XII. A Protest By The Peoples Party.
The newsboys of Chicago now decided to join the boycott by dropping the papers unfavorable to the American Railway Union, and after a noisy session in which parlimentary rules were freely discussed, and several amusing unities were indulged in, they voted to boycott the Tribune, Herald, Mail, Inter-Ocean, Post and Journal. When the Times was mentioned, they yelled themselves hoarse, and declared that it was the only paper they would sell. Hill, the circulator of the Post, caused the arrest of five of the little fellows and they were locked up.
L. W. Rogers, editor of the Railway Times, the official organ of the American Railway Union finally succeeded in getting the attention of the boys and informed them that the union could not accept any sacrifice from the newsboys of Chicago. He assured them that the men were strong enough to do their own boycotting and requested them to continue the sale of the papers.
109He said: "We do not want to take one red cent out of your earnings, if things were as they should be, you lads would be at school in the day time and in comfortable homes at night instead of selling papers on the street."
At the conclusion of Mr. Roger's remarks they all sped away to the Times office, where cheer after cheer was given for the peoples paper. Notwithstanding the remarks of Mr. Rogers, the Times, Record, Dispatch and News were the only papers to be had on the streets.
The Knights of Labor and Trades Unions as well as business men's unions were holding meetings all over the country, denouncing the action of Cleveland and the courts and endorsing the American Railway Union in its manly fight for rights. The strike situation had not changed to any great extent with the exception of passenger service. Passenger trains were beginning to run with more regularity, but the freight business was to all practical purposes dead. The men whom the companies had succeeded in getting so far to fill the places of strikers were green men, entirely unused to that kind of work, and incompetent men who had previously been discharged for drunkenss and other causes. The
110yard service was a failure, and as an illustration — to show the kind of men the different roads had secured to make tip trains — I was passing a certain yard and stopped to watch a switching crew, and carefully noted how they performed their work. An engine with one car backed up to couple unto some cars on a lumber track. Two of the would-be switchmen with a long stick were holding up the link, one men on either side of the coupling, but just as the link was about to enter the drawbar one of them jumped away, at the same time stumbling over a pile of lumber, and the way that fellow scrambled about in his frantic endeaver to get out of the way, would lead a person to believe he had fallen upon a hornet's nest.
After several such attempts they finally succeeded in making the coupling. This is the kind of men with which the company proposed to fill the places of the strikers.
The Grand Trunk engineers, who up to this time had refused to work with other than brotherhood firemen decided to work with scabs, and their decision was hailed with delight by the officials, They said that the strike was now
111settled and they could run their trains without difficulty.
The engineers and firemen on the Chicago & Alton road also decided to stand by the company. The firemen, switchmen and other employees of the Grand Trunk called a meeting, and after denouncing the action of the engineers, voted to stand by the American Railway Union to the end.
One amusing incident that occured about this time, was the refusal of the Washington National Guards to ride on a train that was run by scabs. The entire company of sixty men refused to ride on a Northern Pacific train for this reason, and they were promptly placed under arrest, put into box cars and taken to Sprague.
General Master Workman Sovereign had at this time an order drawn up for a general walk out of members of the Knights of Labor, but it was withdrawn after a consultation with other labor leaders. Many comments were made by newspapers throughout the country on this order, of which a copy was furnished the papers under the impression that it would go into effect at once.
People who had remained passive up to this
112time were now aroused to the gravity of the situation. The pending crisis was near at hand, and a general uprisal of the laboring people to assert their rights was imminent. The tyranical and dogged persistency of plutocratic capital to dominate over the laboring classes with utter disregard for their constitutional rights, was nothing more or less than an open declaration of despotic supremacy, and the outcome was looked forward to with the gravest apprehension.
The following communication addressed to the chairman of the National Committee of the Peoples Party was sent to Washington, D. C.
To the Hon. H. E. Taubeneck, chairman National Committee, Peoples Party:
Through the gloom of civil war the enemies of human liberty laid the foundation upon which the giant monopolies of to-day have been built. On public lands, with public funds they built the railroads which they now use to plunder the producers of this nation, and with the wealth and power thus obtained they now usurp the power and functions of government to reduce the people of this country to a condition of serfdom. The workmen in the cities, the miners in
their isolated communities, and the railroad men throughout the land have risen in manful protest against a threatened military government of the railroads and their associate monopolies.
In this hour of need the duty of the Peoples Party is clear and plain.
Quick as the lightning's flash will bear the message, must go forth that the Peoples Party recognize the gravity of the situation, and by common impulse alligns itself to the side of the toiler in the shop and mine, and on the railroads; their battle is our battle, because it is a struggle for liberty and the right to exist — a peaceable contest on the part of toil against the combined armies of greed and force.
The farmer knows the means best calculated to help his brother in this conflict. The railroads intend to run their trains under military guard and expect American citizen to patronize public means of traffic, operated under military despotism. The Peoples Party of Cook county, in common with organized labor demand immediate arbitration, and urges immediate action on the part of our national committee to the end that all organizations in sympathy with
labor be united in common cause against a common enemy.
Signed: T. O'Brien, Chairman, I. H. Hawley, Sec'y. H. S. Taylor, Henry Vincent, John Bagley, D. M. Pielwiler, John Schwartz, C. G. Dixon, J. P. Grimes, Committee.
Chapter XIII. An Offer Of Settlement.
Senator Pfeffer, of Kansas, arraigned congress for its defence of monopolies, and its stand against the people. Senator Kyle, of Dakota, also charged congress with being in collusion with the railroads, but Senator Davis, of Minnesota, on the other hand, denounced Debs and the strikers. He said the strike grew from a strike to a boycott, from boycott to riot, from riot to insurrection, that the nets, if committed on the high seas, would be piracy and punishable by death. He spoke of the injustice being done the farmers of the United States, and how they were effected by the strike in Chicago. He urged that it was time some action should be taken to put down the rising tide of anarchy. He held that a nuisance should be abated and that Debs was a nuisance.
Senator Gordon, of Georgia, and Senator Daniels, of Virginia, followed in the same kind of demagraphy as Davis.
A great meeting was held in Dubuque, and prominent among the speakers was County Attorney Mathews who insisted on obedience to law, but denounced Judge Grosscup for issuing an injunction which denied the constitutional right of free speech and trial by Jury.
Mayor Hopkins, of Chicago, Mayor Pingree, of Detroit, Michigan, and Erskine M. Phelps conferred with Mr. Wicks, and Mrs. Brown and Runnell of the Pullman Company at the request of some fifty mayors, representing about one-third of the population of the United States — and urged arbitration as a means of settling the strike. The efforts of these gentlemen were in vain. The imperious Pullman company through its representative, though not saying so in as many words, intimated that the company would not establish a precedent whereby workmen could interfere in its business. Mayor Pingree, of Detroit, corresponded with almost every mayor of the larger cities of the United States, and received answers favorable to arbitration from all with one exception, that of Mayor Gilroy, of New York City, whose answer to the telegram of Mayor Pingree was an emphatic no.
The wildest excitement now prevailed at Sacramento. The United States troops commanded by Col. Graham and consisting of infantry, cavalry, artillery, and gatling and Hotchkiss guns, presented a most war like aspect. The strikers on learning of this movement on the part of [the government armed themselves, and it was feared that a desperate conflict would take place.
The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers in this district called upon Supt. Filmore of the Southern Pacific and stated that they were ready to resume work at once. This weakened the cause of the strikers to some extent and caused a smile of satisfaction on the faces of the railroad managers.
After much persuasion due to the untiring efforts of Congressman McGann, President Cleveland consented to appoint a committee of three to investigate the strike, under section 6 of the arbitration act, prepared some years ago under the eyes of Powderly, McGuire and Hays of the Knights of Labor, offered by Representative Quail, of St. Louis, and made a law on Oct. 1, 1888. This determination on the part of Cleveland was received with satisfaction throughout
118the country. This was just what the American Railway Union wanted. This was what the Trades and Labor Unions of the United States had appealed for, and what the business men and city representatives had so long demanded, begged and entreated of the Pullman company, but without avail.
It looked at this time as if an investigation would be forced on Duke Pullman, and the people were looking forward to a speedy settlement of the trouble. The American Railway Union, having no fear of the final decision of the investigating committee, and viewing the vast amount of destruction of property, loss of life and extreme hardship to which the people were subjected on account of the strike — decided to take the necessary steps to call off the strike, they drew up the following proposition which was given to Mr. Hopkins, mayor of Chicago, to present to the general managers.
To the Railway Managers:
Gentlemen: — The existing trouble growing out of the Pullman strike having assumed continental proportions, and there being no indications of relief from the wide spread business demoralization and distress, incident thereto, the
railway employees, through the board of directors of the American Railway Union respectfully make the following proposition as a basis of settlement:
They agree to return to work in a body at once, provided they shall be restored to their former positions without prejudice, except incases, if any there be, where they have been convicted of crime. This proposition looking to an immediate settlement of the existing strike on all lines of railway is inspired by a purpose to subserve public good. The strike, small and comparatively unimportant in its inception, has extented in every direction until now it involves or threatens not only every public interest, but the peace, security and prosperity of our common country. The contest has waged fiercely, it has extented far beyond the limits of interest originally involved, and has laid hold of a vast number of industries and enterprises in nowise responsible for the difference and disagreements that led to the trouble.
Factory, mill, mine and shop have been silenced. Widespread demoralization has sway. The interests of multiplied thousands of people are suffering, and the common welfare is seriously
menaced, The public peace and tranquility are imperiled, and grave apprehension for the future prevails. This being true, and the statement will not be controverted, we conceive it to be our duty as citizens and as men, to make extraordinary efforts to end the existing strife and approaching calamaties whose shadows are even now upon us. If ended now, the contest, however serious in some respects, will not have been in vain.
Sacrifices have been made, but they will have their compensations. Indeed, if lessons shall be taught by experience, the troubles now so widely deplored will prove a blessing of inestimable value in the years to come. The difference that led up to the present complications need not now be discussed, every consideration of duty and patriotism demands that a remedy for existing troubles be found and applied. The employees purpose to do their part by meeting their employers half way. Let it be stated that they do not impose any condition of settlement except that they be returned to their former positions; they do not ask recognition of their organization or any organization.
Believing this proposition to be fair, reasonable
and just it is respectfully submitted with the belief that its acceptance will result in the prompt resumption of traffic, the revival of industry, and the restoration of peace and order. Respectfully,
E. V. DEBS, Pres.
G. W. HOWARD, V. Pres.
S. KELLIHER, Secy.
American Railway Union.
The proposition was rejected and spurned by the General Managers Association.
Is there a man so utterly lost to the sense of justice, that would conscientiously dispute the manly fairness of this communication?
The object of the general managers was too apparent, their position was clearly defined. Their determination to wipe out of existence all railroad organizations was as fixed and unmoveable as the Rock of Gibralter and why should they recede from their position?
The federal courts and federal government (owned and controlled by the corporations) decided that the constitutional rights of free speech and trial by jury, equal rights to all and special privileges to none, was a farce. In their narrow money-loving minds there could be no rights for
122honest labor, and determined there should be no rights for a working man. After this decision of the general managers the American Railway Union could do nothing but fight out the battle to the bitter end.
Eugene V. Debs, — representing a body of honest toilers with no other motive than to obtain for them living wages, his heart overflowing with generous impulses and humane kindness, his noble nature revolting against the tyranical oppression of his fellow man by the soulless corporations, a man who loves his country with patriotic devotion, — for these reasons and no other, was indicted and arrested on the charge of criminal conspiracy, while John M. Egan — representing the General Managers Association, a giant monopoly and powerful money grasping trust, built on the peoples land and with the peoples money, a combination foreign to American institutions, usurping the functions of the government with avowed intent and purpose to take away the rights of organization from the working man and reduce him to a condition of absolute slavery, — was allowed to continue his nefarious work without interuption. Surely this partial, one-sided distribution
123of justice, openly and defiantly administered, deserves the severest condemnation of every loyal American citizen.
The Pullman boycott had now ceased to be the point at issue in the strike. It was now the life or death of railroad organizations.
Chapter XIV. Debs In Jail.
THE strike situation still looked very bright for the men.
At St. Paul and Minneapolis the business of the railroads, with the exception of the Soo Line, St. Paul & Duluth and the Great Northern, was practically at a standstill.
On the St. Paul & Duluth the men as a whole refused to strike, a few firemen and switchmen left their positions at the call but did not seriously effect the operation of trains. This was also true of the Soo Line. The Great Northern so far was not implicated as they used no Pullman cars and positively refused boycotted freight, that is, freight offered by railroads whose employees were on a strike. The Minnesota Transfer, which was the key to the coast lines, was completely blocked, and this condition was duplicated in almost every railroad center throughout the country.
Encouraging telegrams were being received from all points contradicting the reports circulated by a subsidized press that everything was running as usual. So far the men in the Twin Cities were conducting themselves in such an orderly manner that even the press could not rake up one charge against them. They strictly adhered to the advice of President Debs to keep out of saloons and away from railroad property. The only action taken by the strikers was to induce other men by moral persuation not to take their places and assist the managers to operate the roads.
For this Charles J. Luth was foully murdered by one Leonard, chief clerk in the office of James McCabe, superintendent of the C., St. P., M. & O. Ry.
On the evening of July 14, Leonard; in company with Bert Nash, also an employee of the same railroad, brought a lot of non-union men to a boarding place in St. Paul, known as the Minnesota Home. Luth followed them into the house and requested the proprietress of the Home not to board them as they were in the city to take the place of strikers, and while explaining the situation, became involved in an
126altercation with Nash. Leonard interfered and was told by Luth that he was little better than a scab, whereupon Leonard drew a revolver and fired five times, all of the shots taking effect in the body of Luth. Two of the shots were fired after Luth had fallen to the floor.
These facts were given by an eye witness who afterwards took the revolver from Leonard.
This dastardly, cold blooded murder worked the strikers into a frenzy of excitement, and had it not been for a herculean effort on the part of older and cooler heads, a lynching would surely have occurred.
This foul deed was absolutely unwarranted as Luth was unarmed and alone, and if he had harmed or threatened to harm any one, an officer could have been called and he would have been promptly arrested.
Luth left a wife and two small children to mourn his loss and grieve over his tragic end.
The funeral procession that followed the remains to the grave headed by the Knights of Pythias and Foresters, was the largest ever seen in St. Paul.
President Debs felt confident of victory. Addressing a meeting at Ulrich Hall, he said:
"We have just finished reading 160 telegrams in not one of which there is any sign of weakening." He dwelled on the action of the general managers refusing to entertain the proposition made to them, and the necessity of the men remaining loyal to one another. "The law seems to be against us as it is read by some, but if the law makes it a crime to advise you men against the encroachments of capital, by all the Gods united I will rot in jail." Referring to the attitude of other railroad organizations, he said:
"Men in such positions as myself and Mr. Howard cannot afford to be on good terms with general managers. If we are we cannot be your friends. It is true, however, that certain officers of certain other organizations ride on annual passes and spend months on fishing excursions at the expense of the railroad managers, but it comes out of your wages in the end."
Members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers present, informed the officers of the American Railway Union that Chief Arthur had issued orders for men to work with scabs, and that he was supplying scabs to take the
128places of men on strike. In other words, he was running an employment agency for the benefit of the railroads.
The general managers defeat on the fifth day of the strike was beyond all question of a doubt. They had summoned to their support the federal government with the result previously mentioned, but the government aid was not sufficient to operate their roads. They must have a number of the old men to educate and aid the scabs in the performance of their duties. At this critical time the services of their faithful allies were badly wanted. In this, their time of need they knew that those men who had feted, dined and wined at their expense would prove faithful to them and trailers to the orders they represented.
The damnable spirit of treachery that evoked Benedict Arnold to betray his country predominated in the hearts of these double-dyed scoundrels. They were not only ready and willing but feverishly anxious to assist the corporations to enslave the men that they were oath-bound as well as duty bound to protect. Grand Chief Arthur, representing the engineers, who had grown old in the service of the
129corporations, and whose wealth was estimated at half a million dollars, in direct violation of the constitution of his order, ordered his men to work with scab firemen. Not only this, he ordered all those who were on strike to return at once to their engines and in case of their refusal he would supply men to take their places. This was also true of Grand Chief Sargent of the Firemen and Wilkinson of the Trainmen. Clark of the Conductors, and Barrett of the Switchmen advised their men to return to work as they had no grievance. But only a part of these men would be taken back by the companies, and what under the sun did these chiefs intent to do with the others? Positively nothing. But the result was exactly what they intended it should be, and the men were applying to the companies — in lots of ten and twenty in the different cities — for their positions.
The dark deeds of treachery were now rife in many places especially in the Twin Cities. At this point the blocade, which was on since the strike began, and which was the key to the situation in the Northwest was raised.
The Great Northern was the only line in operation to the coast, and under instructions from J.
130J. Hill, the president, refused to accept any freight from roads included in the boycott. The men were instructed to decline even to throw a switch or assist in any manner any road on strike, as the Great Northern company did not wish to be drawn into the difficulty. In fact the men on this line were, almost to a man, members of the American Railway Union, and could not even if asked to do any act that might prove a detriment to their brothers. At this time there happened to be sixty car loads of twine in St. Paul, a greater portion of which was at Minnesota Transfer. This freight was consigned to points on the Great Northern Line and a committee headed by Harry Gray, chairman of the general board of mediation of the American Railway Union on that system, appeared at the rooms of the central strike committee and asked permission to switch out the twine, giving as an excuse that the farmers were in need of it.
This permission the committee was 10th to grant as any move toward raising this blockade in the Twin Cities might prove detrimental to their cause, and further action on the matter was deferred until it would be submitted to the different unions interested.
That night at a meeting held at Plummer Post Hall in Minneapolis, the American Railway Union headquarters, a committee of farmers, from the peoples party convention in session there at that time, were admitted.
When appraised of the nature of the trouble they stated that they had contracts with the twine companies to deliver their twine and on failure to do so the farmers would suffer no loss. They further stated that the farmers would bind their grain by hand before they would ask the men to do anything detrimental to the success of the strike. This settled it as far as the twine was concerned. However, the next day, the officials of the Great Northern took an engine and switched the twine out themselves without any objection being made by the men who stood by while the work was being done.
This was the beginning only.
The next move was a positive assurance of treachery.
The Burlington road had about thirty cars of water pipe for the Great Northern, and this same man Gray again waited on the central committee for permission to move the freight, saying, that he had the assurance of the
132company that no more concessions would be asked. His request was promptly refused. Later a committee of switchmen called on the central committee for instructions and were told not to move the freight under any conditions.
They left apparently satisfied, but never-the-less the cars were moved; no one seemed to know how but it became apparent to the strikers that a traitor was in their ranks, and took immediate steps to ferret him out, and have the embargo once more placed on business at this point.
Gray of St. Paul, and Foster of St. Cloud, were openly accused of being the traitors to the cause, although others were thought to be implicated. Charges were preferred against Gray in the Union, but nothing ever came of it. Every concievable means was used to again cause a blockade at this point but to no avail.
The switchmen promised to refuse to handle boycotted freight if the road would support them in case of discharge, which they well knew was inevitable. It would be simply a sacrifice to strike in the yards of St. Paul and Minneapolis without the support of the whole system, although after a canvas of the road, when it was found that the majority of the men voted against
133a strike, the switchmen of these cities sent word that they were ready to ask for their time and quit the service of the company if the Union so desired. This proposition the strikers would not accept, not caring to sacrifice a few loyal switchmen whose places could be easily filled if the rest of the employees remained at work.
This result was wired to Chicago, and Director Goodwill was sent out to see what could be done. His efforts were fruitless. The road was again canvassed with the same result, and Goodwin returning to Chicago, Mr. Burns, another director of the Union, was sent to take his place, but with no better success.
They positively refused to strike. The traitors with the price of their treachery in their pockets had been there first and accomplished their purpose.
The damnable traitors responsible for the raising of the blockade were also responsible for the suffering and untold misery of the noble men whose sympathetic hearts went out to their brothers in Pullman, and who without money were obliged to leave their homes (in many cases only partly paid for) and seek employment elsewhere in order to provide for their families.
The switchmen in the employ of the Milwaukee road at Minneapolis, now — fearing that the treachery of the men on the Great Northern Line would lose the strike in the Northwest — applied for their positions, and all who were wanted were taken back. The men who were employed by the Omaha Railway at East St. Paul, took the same course, but all others declared there intention of standing out until the American Railway Union called off the strike.
Disasters seemed to follow one another in rapid succession at this time. In many places the weak-kneed men were applying for work and circulating false stories to induce others to do the same. The news went flashing over the wires that Debs, Howard, Rogers and Kelliher were in jail. But this news did not have the depressing effect on the men that was expected, in fact it only caused a feeling of indignation and the strikers were now more determined than ever to stand up for their rights and fight out the battle with renewed energy.
In making this statement I do not refer to the poltroons who were continually raising the cry: We are lost, but I refer to the noble men who spoke from their manly hearts, and with words of
135no uncertain sound declared their intention to go down to defeat if need be with those grand, noble, generous hearted men, who signified their willingness to rot in jail, or even mount the scaffold in defence of the just and righteous cause they had wrapped their lives in.
Could it be charged that they were actuated by selfish motives in the cause in which they had enlisted? No! A thousand times no! If Eugene V. Debs could be induced to turn his magnificent executive abilities over to the railroads instead of the poor enslaved workingmen, these corporations would place him upon the highest pinacle of plutocratic fame, and no one can dispute George W. Howard's title to being a workingman's friend, for by his actions on more than one occasion he has proven himself to be a friend indeed, and actions speak louder than words.
Yes; the four officers of the American Railway Union were in jail. United States Attorney Milchrist appeared before Judge Seaman in the United States district court on the morning of July 17, and on behalf of the government filed information presented by George R. Peck, who represented the general managers and receivers of the Santa Fe system.
In response to the prayer of the district attorney, Judge Seaman issued writs of attachment for the appearance of Debs, Howard, Rogers and Kelliher, directing them to be present at the afternoon session of the court and show causes why they should not be punished for contempt in continuing to disregard the injunction of the court. W. W. Erwin, of St. Paul, W. A. Shoemaker and S. S. Gregory, of Chicago, were retained to defend the men on behalf of the American Railway Union. The voluminous information made up of telegrams, copies of injunctions, etc., was read by Attorney Milchrist, after which the court ruled that two seperate attachments be issued and seperate records be kept.
Mr. Gregory stated that he failed to see why the government should interfere to protect property rights of railroads, and this called forth a retort from Mr. Walker that Uncle Sam was seeking to protect only the intestate commerce and the mails and not the railroad property.
The information embodied almost everything pertaining to the strike, and over an hour was consumed in its reading. Telegrams sent out to strike leaders by President Debs were submitted but contained no startling facts.
One of these addressed to H. E. Sarion, Garrett, Ind., read as follows: "Have all classes of employes withdrawn from service at once." Another to Charles Fink, Oakland, Cal, says: "Commit no violence." Mr. Debs communication to the railway managers suggesting a settlement of the strike was incorporated in the information as was also the question of Chicago public health in the matter of removing dead animals from the city. Several newspaper interviews and a copy of the original injunction issued by Judges Wood and Grosscup was also contained therein, and after Peck of the Santa Fe had sought to bolster up the information with an argument, Mr. Gregory urged that the defendants had not been charged with violence, and declared that it was his belief that the testimony should be taken by a master. Mr. Walker opposed this in favor of a hearing in open court and was sustained. This led up to a long legal wrangle participated in by both sides, and a firey speech by Mr. Irwin of the defence, in which he denied the jurisdiction of the court, and hinted at monarchy and dictatorial methods. Mr. Walker pressed his motion that the defendents be placed under bonds to appear
138before the court and Judge Seaman fixed the bail in each case at $3,000. Mr. Debs, declining a score of offers from prominent men to furnish the necessary security, decided to go to jail. In reply to a question Mr. Delia said: "This is the first time in my life that I have been incarcerated in a jail, but with us it is a matter of principle. We have had many offers of bail but have refused them all. The poor striker if arrested would be thrown into jail and we are certainly no better than he, we will eat regularly, prison fare, and expect to be treated as any other prisoners would be."
Their trial was set for the following Monday.
Chapter XV. Blacklisting Begins.
THE strike situation was now in the balance. The managers and their faithful allies the press, had given it out that the strike was off. One fact that could not be denied, was that P. M. Arthur, of the General Managers Association, — though still representing the engineers — was doing great work for the companies, as the engineers were returning to work pretty generally throughout the country. Sargent of the firemen was also playing his cards well, but not meeting with the same success as the "grand old chief." Wilkenson of the trainmen was sending out his orders and ultimatums, thick and fast and his men were now fast returning to their old positions.
It was now a question of whether the men would prove loyal to themselves and their best interests, or loyal to the companies who were putting forth their best efforts to trample them to earth, and it is a painful fact that many of
140them were so blinded to their own interests, — through their craven cowardice — that they returned to work, and, to what will be in the near future beyond a question of a doubt, longer hours, less wages, and the complete anihilation of all semblance of rights.
The strike was fast resolving itself into a switchmen's fight against the railroads. The yards were in the worst immaginable shape, and the engines were sadly in need of repairs. Shopmen, freight handlers, trackmen, and car-repairers were still out. Office men were now back at work with the exception of a few. The majority of the strikers were still loyal to the cause and the American Railway Union was sure of winning. The Knights of Labor did not respond to the call of Grand Master Workman Sovereign as generally as was expected, and the Federation of Labor had decided not to strike at present, perhaps this may be accounted for by the reports given out by the general managers that the strike was off and trains running as usual.
The United States troops in the pay of the government were still doing service for the railroad corporations.
Authenticated reports — given out by the
141striking committees — from different parts of the country would not seem to bear out the statements of the general managers.
These committees had reports in regards to the operation of the roads, as complete as the officials of the roads themselves. They were thoroughly posted on the number of cars moved each day by each company, the number and character of switch crews at work and the number of strikers who had gone back to work. In short, everything that had a bearing on the result. This was part of the duties imposed upon them and they were faithfully carried out.
Thirteen Pan Handle switchmen brought to Chicago from Pittsburg through misrepresentation, when informed of the true state of affairs, refused to go to work, and demanded transportation back to Pittsburg. They were given orders for the necessary transportation, but on presentation the companies refused to honor them. This was also true in the case of half a dozen men brought in by the Ft. Wayne road.
The scabs on the Chicago & Eastern Illinois, through ignorance and incompetency burned up five engines and wrecked as many more. One splendid new engine was blown up twenty miles
142from Terre Haute, while en route to Chicago. Yard service was of the worst possible kind.
The Illinois Central was doing no freight business to speak of, in fact the condition of this road was still worse than the Chicago & Eastern Illinois.
The Northwestern shops at Fortieth street, employing over 2300 men, were idle, only about twelve men signifying their willingness to work. The Galena division of this road, while making quite a bluff at handling freight, was not accomplishing very much, as it took them two days to unload a stock train.
The Milwaukee road was doing better, having at work fifteen engines days and fourteen nights, but being manned mostly by green and incompetent men, were not making great headway. In all some 350 cars were gotten out and about 300 received in one day which is very small business for this line.
The Wabash had only one engine at work nights, and this was guarded by a company of troops and about twenty deputy police. They succeeded in breaking down two posts, one at Polk street and another at Taylor street station, causing a damage of some $300 which was all
143accomplished in one night. The Chicago and Blue Island were now working two engines (this company generally worked ten), manned by scabs, one of whom was a nigger.
A committee man from the Grand Trunk reported that only three men had returned to work.
He said a personal friend of mine, a business man from Valpraiso, and whom I know, is in touch with the Grand Trunk, informed me that a Grand Trunk official had said in his presence that his company could not do business unless they made some kind of a settlement with the switchmen.
Through John Downey and Miles Barrett, of the Switchmen's Mutual Aid Association, a meeting of switchmen was called in a hall at Eden to induce the switchmen to return to work. This meeting was "packed" in order to secure a majority vote in favor of returning but the scheme did not work.
All the officials on the Pan Handle admitted that they could do nothing without the assistance of the old men. They had a few "stake" men whom they were paying $5.00 per day, but not enough to do any business.
At Union Stock Yards all switchmen and
144assistant yard masters were out, and at the yard of the Street Stable Car Co. out of 300 men only three were at work.
All men at the Burton Stock Car Co., the Canada Cattle Car Co. and the American Life Stock Co.'s yards were out, and refused to work under police protection. At Armour's car shops only nine men returned out of sixty who went on strike, and at Swifts only five out of forty-two. The yard track-men were all out, as were also the Illinois Central switchmen and the Rock Island machinists and boiler makers.
This was the condition of the strike in Chicago and the same existed in all parts of the strike district. Messages were received from many points saying that only those men who were subservient to the orders of their chiefs had returned to work, and from some points came the news that the strike had gained strength owing to the arrest of President Debs.
The enemies of the American Railway Union had now began a systematic course — as dark and devilish as it was designing — of poisoning the public mind against Debs, who was, so to speak, a gagged prisoner and unable to defend himself.
Such reports as: Mrs. Highenbotham was dying in Montana and Mr. Highenbotham appealed to Mr. Debs to allow her to be brought home by special train and see her friends, and Mr. Debs' brutal answer that not a wheel would turn.
Whole columns of such falsehoods were published and circulated broadcast throughout the land, but not one word was written of the generous acts of this noble hearted man. When he was seen to pause in the most trying moment of his life to listen to the tale of distress and suffering related by a poor widow woman, and going down into his pocket, hand her a five dollar bill, all he had with him, this great and just public press was silent.
Then the blacklisting of ex-employees began, the Missouri Pacific taking the initiatory step. The following certificate given to a yard clerk will speak for itself.
This is to certify that — has been employed in the capacity of yard clerk of the Missouri Pacific system from April, 1893 to June, 1894, at which time it was necessary to lay him off on account of a strike in the yards. He applied for work on July 18th, but in the
146meantime it was learned that he was a member of the American Railway Union and was in sympathy with the strike movement, so we could not re-employ him. His work and conduct up to the time of the strike was perfectly satisfactory.
J. S. JONES,
Chapter XVI. Trial Of Debs.
ON the 23d day of July, the day set for the trial of the officers of the American Railway Union, — Debs, Howard, Rodgers and Kelliher were on hand to answer to the charge of contempt.
The court room was densely packed, when Judges Wood of Indianapolis and Grosscup of Chicago entered and Judge Wood raised a serious objection to the crowded condition, saying that only those finding seats should be allowed to remain, — lawyers, and possibly reporters.
After signing and swearing to the answers, the defendants filed in at 11:40 and Judge Wood asked if the Santa Fe road was represented. Attorney Miller stepped forward and was asked if both proceedings could not be heard at the same time. Judge Wood favored this to save time, and it was finally agreed that if the Santa Fe cases be heard later the government testimony on this bearing be admitted. Attorney Gregory thereupon submitted the answers to the information
148filed before Judge Seaman in the contempt proceedings, and suggested that the trial for which the defendents had given bail be immediate and have precedence over the contempt proceedings. Judge Woods said that the court could decide upon a motion for delay, much more intelligently could they have the government information and the answers filed by the defendants. Attorney Milchrist then read the court the information.
As Attorney Gregory had previously moved that the information be dismissed and the defendents discharged on their sworn answers, Attorney Erwin followed by reading the answers.
At the conclusion of the reading he said that the defendents had made and filed a motion to quash, holding that the information was not sufficient. They now asked that the defendents be discharged, and also that the district attorney and government counsel to elect whether they should proceed under the indictment or under the contempt cases. No man could be tried twice for the same offense. Judge Wood said that the counsel for the government could proceed with either case. Attorney Walker elected to go ahead with the contempt proceedings.
Attorney Gregory in the opening made an
149eloquent appeal for a trial by jury instead of a criminal proceeding in a contempt case, as he held the present proceeding to be. He cited a number of authorities in support of his position. He argued that it was the rule that there could be no appeal from the decision of a federal court in a contempt case, and that consequently, where the question of a crime was involved, a sentence from the court would practically be a conviction on the original criminal charge without a trial by jury which is guaranteed by the constitution.
Mr. Gregory then took up the question of the motion to dismiss the bill on the grounds that the information did not set out in specific forms any violation of the specifications in the injunction granted by the United States court.
He held that the men had a right to combine, choose leaders to advise, and quit work if they wished to do so and persuade others to quit work, that the injunctions did not prohibit them from doing so. Judge Wood asked if he considered that the defendents had a right to ask men to tumble goods out of cars that were ready for transportation. Mr. Gregory replied that he did not consider that they had any such right, and claimed that there was nowhere in the information
150a distinct allegation that the defendants had counselled violence or infractions of the orders in the injunction. While he was willing to admit that violence had been done during the present strike, nothing was charged in the information that the violence was due to the acts of the defendents.
Attorney Walker for the government followed. He held that the defendants had no right to go into other states and persuade men to quit work for the purpose of paralyzing railroads, and that the issuance of these orders was a willful and vicious violation of the order of the court.
Mr. Walker said the telegrams were the strongest evidence in the hands of the state to show that this had been done. He spoke for three quarters of an hour and directed his remarks more to the general charge against the defendents for violation of the injunction, than to the legal points raised by Mr. Gregory.
It will be remembered that the answers filed by the attorneys for the defense, was a complete denial of the charges.
After hearing all the arguments, Judges Wood and Grosscup decided that the contempt proceedings against Mr. Debs and the others, were in the
151nature of proceedings in equity, and therefore the defendants could not be discharged on their denial of the charges under oath.
Mr. Walker gave as an excuse for wanting the case heard at once, that the defendants were liable to continue calling out the men unless they were restrained from so doing by the court.
"Then," said Mr. Gregory, "you wish the court to practically call the strike off."
Mr. Walker smiled and said that such an order would suit him all right.
Judge Wood then added that it was within the bounds of the injunction called, for him to insist that the strike be declared off.
Attorney Greeting, reviewing the information, raised the insufficiency of the allegations, he also raised the question of the bearing of the statutes under which the defendants were enjoined.
The following are the sections of acts under which the United States courts issued injunctions restraining the American Railway Union, its officers or agents, from interfering in any way with the interstate traffic on railroads.
SECTION 1. Every contract combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy in restraint of trade or commerce among the several
152states or with foreign nations, is hereby declared to be illegal. Every person who shall make any such contract or engage in any such combination or conspiracy, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $5,000 or by imprisonment not exceeding one year, or by both; said punishments at the discretion of the court.
SECTION 2. Any person who shall monopolize or attempt to monopolize or combine or conspire with any other person or persons to monopolize, any part of the trade or commerce among the several states or foreign powers shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be punished etc.
SECTION 3. Every contract combination in form of trust or otherwise or conspiracy in restraint of commerce or trade in any territory of the United States or of the District of Columbia, or in restraint of trade or commerce between any such territory and another, or between any such territory or territories and any state or states or the District of Columbia or with foreign nations, or between the District of Columbia and any other state or states or foreign nations, is here-by
153declared illegal. Every person who shall make any such contract or engage in any such combination or conspiracy shall be declared guilty of a misdemeanor and punished as in the case of Sections 1 and 2.
SECTION 8. The word person or persons wherever used shall be deemed to include corporations and associations existing under, or authorized by, the laws of either the United States, the laws of any of the territories, the laws of any state or the laws of any foreign country.
"This law was never intended to cover the case of these defendants," said Mr. Greeting. "It is clearly directed at the trusts and combinations which conspire to rob such people as the defendants. It seems to me that the district attorney would have been acting more within the spirit of the law if he had charged the railroads and the Pullman Palace Car Co., with conspiracy to monopolize interstate commerce, as it is a well known fact that the railroads have contracted with Pullman to haul none but his cars."
A sickly smile spread over the features of the railroad attorneys present. It was evident that the words of Mr. Greeting sunk deeper than some of them would care to acknowledge.
District Attorney Milchrist argued that the court had perfect jurisdiction in these cases, he held that the government derived revenue from postal service and interstate commerce. It had suffered in a pecuniary way hence the bill of information filed, had a proper place in court.
In regard to the information and answers, Mr. Milchrist said: "Either the counsel for the government deserved to be disbarred for willful misconduct for filing it, or the defendants in their sworn answer embodying a sweeping denial of the charge in the information had been guilty of rank perjury."
Attorney Erwin then proceeded, prefacing his remarks with the statement that this was a court of equity. When these defendants denied under oath before the court, the allegations made in the bill, equity shut its doors. There was a remedy at law. The men could be punished for perjury in swearing falsely in their answers. No court of equity could hear such a case. Mr. Erwin held that the information was filed in equity and that the answer filed by the defendants was final and the remedy then was at law in a charge of perjury.
"Is it any indication of the power of a
155court," interupted Judge Wood, "to hold a man convicted on a charge of perjury?"
Attorney Erwin said that the perjury charge could purge the defendants in the case of contempt.
"You say in your answer," said Judge Wood, "that the defendants deny ordering strikes because it was not in their power to do so. Is it not enough to deny that you ordered the men out without going further and denying that you advised them in this matter."
"We say," answered Mr. Erwin "that every strike was voted, or by a majority of the American Railway Union men upon each road upon which there had been a strike. The defendants deny the power to order or coerce the members of the American Railway Union."
When questioned as to the answers denying the telegrams Mr. Erwin said the denials were sweeping. They had covered every point and purged themselves of any desire to disregard the orders of the court and the proceedings should be dismissed. He said: "Had Special Counsel Walker who set before the grand jury made his charges more specific, and not sought to prejudice the minds of the court by holding his
156averments for the attachment proceedings, and making them in vague and declamatory charges."
Judge Wood said if the defendants had asked for more specific charges he thought the court would have granted it.
Attorney Erwin here remarked that they would prefer to make a motion to quash, which Judge Wood announced could not be done in this case unless the bill was wholly defective.
Mr. Erwin said that Attorney Walker had drawn the bill up hastily, and it was signed only by himself and the district attorney, who verified it merely by belief. He urged that the court should not aid the information by continuing the consideration of the imperfectly drawn and inadequate bill. The court should not be a detective to ferret out the alleged truths of certain charges the evidence of which should have been collected by the government of officers before a rule against the defendants was issued.
Mr. Bancroft for the Santa Fe followed Mr. Erwin. He vigorously defended the information filed, and proceeded to color the telegrams admitted by the defendants, to suit the purposes of the government.
After a legal tilt between the counsel on both
157sides, Judge Wood overruled the motion of defendant's counsel to quash the information, and postponed the case until September 5.
In conclusion he said that from what he had heard, he thought it necessary for the court to have its hand on the matter. It was evident, he said, that the defense intended to attempt to put forward a quantity of irrelevant matter as to the allegations regarding a combination on the part of the railroads. He said that while it was irrevelant he would hear it as a matter of curiosity and for public disclosure.
The above synopsis of the proceedings of the trial, will give a fair idea of the course the government — on behalf of the railroads — persued in conducting the prosecution of the officers of the American Railway Union.
After a conference with their counsel — although opposed to it on principle — the officers of the American Railway Union decided to give bail.
This decision was due to the fact that matters of an important nature demanded their immediate attention. They were placed under $7,000 bonds each, signed by Wm.. Skakel and Wm.. Fitzgerald,
158these gentlemen qualifying to the extent of $50,000 and $250,000 respectively.
For the time being the officers of the American Railway Union were free men.
Chapter XVII. A Convention Of The Railway Union Called To Take Action On The Strike.
In an editorial on the trial, headed: The Press against Justice, the Chicago Times had this to say: When it became evident that the rights and actions of E. V. Debs and his associates in the American Railway Union strike were to be reviewed in court this paper said editorially: "The Times appeals to its contemporaries and to the people to join with it in avoiding all clamor which may in the least degree influence the findings of the court or bring its proceedings into contempt." It appears that the appeal fell upon deaf ears.
"Such papers as the Tribune and the Evening Journal seized upon the very first utterance of Mr. Debs' counsel as an opportunity for insidious effort to prejudice the court and the people against the cause of the labor leaders.
"Two of the editorials and two of what it
calls editorialettes were necessary to the Tribune yesterday in order to give its advice to the prosecuting lawyers and the court proper expression. The other organs of plutocracy though less lavish of editorial space, employed their news columns to the same end. The first strike of the allied newspapers is to pronunce the opening plea of the counsel for the defense, Mr. Erwin, in effect an assertion of the gospel of anarchy.
"Overworked as it is by the biggotted press the word anarchy still serves as a more or less affective bogyman to frighten timid and ill-informed people, but no one who will read the reports of Mr. Erwin's address will find any anarchistic doctrines lurking therein.
"He charged that Pullman and the railroad managers had conspired together against the interest of workingmen, that the manner of the conspiracy made resort to the law hopeless, that lawmakers could not or would not act, and under these conditions the men were justified in combining, resisting and refusing to work longer for Mr. Pullman or the roads allied with him.
"The Times is unable to discern the savory of anarchy in that. It is in effect only a declaration that when employees combine to resist them,
neither by direct statement or by inuendoes did the attorney suggest or excuse violence or the destruction of property. He erred, the Times thinks, in describing Pullman's course of procedure as illegal, for unhappily, law as it stands, protects Pullman in his most despotic and oppressive acts. If Pullman's course had been illegal, action at law instead of a strike and boycott would have been the remedy for it, but with the exception of this over-statement which may have been due to inadvertence, Mr. Erwin said nothing that men of fair and judicial minds can denounce as false, and nothing at all incendiary. The clamor of the conspiracy is raised to defeat justice."
After the release of the officers a meeting was called at the Revere House, of the directors of the American Railway Union. They concluded to call a convention of the delegates from the different local unions, to meet in Chicago, August 2d, and take some action on the strike. Each local union was notified of this action and instructed to send a delegate with full power to act.
After this meeting of the officers, they at once repaired to Ulrich Hall, where an enormous crowd greeted Mr. Debs with the greatest enthusiasm.
Mr. Debs, — after being introduced by the chariman of the meeting, Mr. Adams, — was given three cheers with such a vim that the building fairly shook. He then advanced to the platform and said:
"I see you have changed your quarters since I saw you before, and I am glad to say we have changed ours also.
"When Judge Wood delivered his ruling yesterday he declared it to be illegal for men to combine and strike.
"If that is the law, labor organizations had better disband at once. If we have no right to strike, no right to combine, no right to exercise the functions which are delegated to us, then we might as well give up and acknowledge that we are slaves.
"If that is the law we have no right to resist or defend ourselves against the injustice of employers.
"No matter how much has been said about the stars and stripes and the freedom of the workingman, if that is the final tribunal, corporate capital has the right to suck the life blood from the toiler who must make no sign. But I am not prepared to believe that this is in harmony with the constitution. If this is the constitution, then
our liberty is gone. Mr. Erwin sounded the slogan yesterday when he declared that there is a higher power than the courts, a power greater than the aggregated combinations of capital and railroads. That is the inherent rights of workingmen to strike at the polls.
"What we want then, is to rid ourselves of the old party shackles.
"We want to change the constitution so that even federal judges will be elected by the people. Then no judge will render a decision defying all law and justice. It is wonderful how sensitive the machinery of justice is, to any complaint directed against the workingman.
"But how is it when corporations combine? Is it of record that any officials of any one of them has ever been in prison for violating the law?
"It is a notorious fact that the Santa Fe has robbed the people of $7,000,000 in the face of the inter-state commerce law. Why not bring these colossal scoundrels to justice too? They say we must obey the law. I say we are law-abiding, and I defy any man to show a single instance where the heads of the labor organization have advocated violence. If the authorities want the
law respected let them enforce it against the rich and poor alike.
"In July, 1892, when the switchmen struck, the soldiers were called out to suppress them. Deputy marshalls set fire to a lot of box cars in Buffalo, N. Y., and this furnished the railroads an excuse to call on the government for soldiers. The railroads are still violating the eight hour law for which the men struck. They arrested the switchmen while the corporations are still allowed to trample the law under foot.
"Is not that enough to bring disrespect of the law? As it is now, the whole thing is a roaring farce. Has anybody ever heard of soldiers being called out to guard the rights of workingmen? Whatever else I have suffered myself, I have not lost the right of free speech. If Judge Wood expounds the law I would rather rot in jail than be an alleged freeman. There it no man in the country who can directly charge me with violating the law of this country. Did any one of you ever hear me advocate violence? (A mighty no went up in response.) On the other hand did anyone here ever hear me counsel the men to be frank and straight forward, and honest and law-abiding in all they did?"
The audience shouted yes to this and President Debs continued:
"Before we get through with this trial it will be shown that the real conspirators are the railroad managers. Then if I go to the penitentiary Mr. Egan will have the destinction of accompanying me. We will produce the proof that the real purpose of the General Managers Association was to reduce wages, and that until we stopped them on the Great Northern, they were going around the circle with that end in view.
"When it comes to striking at the polls we know the people will be with us, it will be a contest against the money power by which this country has been absolutely ruled for so many years. Havemeyer goes into the United States Senate and dictates what the duty on sugar shall be, and all the people combined can't stop him. Let a poor man go to Washington to protest and he is arrested for treading on the grass.
"I am a populist and favor wiping out both old parties, so they will never come into power again. I have been a democrat all my life and I am ashamed to admit it. I want everyone of you to go to the polls and vote the peoples' ticket."
At the conclusion of his address, Mr. Debs
166announced his intention of going to his home for a few days.
On hearing this, the members of the American Railway Union determined to escort him to the depot, and, although they had but two hours to make arrangements, a procession a couple of miles in length was formed.
On arrival at his home in Terre Haute, President Debs was tendered a great reception. Thousands of his fellow citizens in all stations of life welcomed him with outstretched arms. Early in the evening the Naylor Opera House was packed to completion, and hundreds of people were denied admission owing to the dense throng of people who wished to do honor to this great leader. When President Debs appeared upon the stage he was greeted by a roar of applause that shook the building to its very foundation. His eloquent address on the strike situation and the causes that led up to it, was received with thunders of applause.
This was the man whom the corporate courts had indicted for criminal conspiracy.
Chapter XVIII. The Strike Lost.
Through the machination of the general managers, the courts and the press and the Benedict Arnolds of labor, the cause of the railroad corporations was beginning to triumph. Discouraged and disheartened by the treachery in their own ranks, a great many strikers had lost confidence in the success of their undertaking and were now silently awaiting the result of the convention called at Chicago. This was made known on the return of the delegates.
The action taken was to decide by a majority vote of each system whether the strike would continue in force or be declared off.
After thoroughly discussing the matter, it was decided to call off the strike owing to the fact that they were forced to fight against overwhelming odds and rank treachery, and the men were instructed to make application for their positions at once, in view of getting as many as possible reinstated.
This action was taken on all roads with the exception of the Chicago and Eastern Illinois, the Santa Fe and the Northern Pacific.
Very few of the men were successful in securing positions, for instance at Minnesota Transfer the switchmen waited on the superintendent in a body (all who were still in the city) and made applications to be reinstated.
Mr. Dudgeon the superintendent, who, by the way, was appointed during the strike to fill the vacancy made by the resignation of Mr. Sullivan, informed the men that he had more applications already than would fill all vacancies for the next two years. He said: "I will not mislead you boys for one minute, not one of you will be taken back."
I was not present at this interview, but being informed that Mr. Hastings, president of the company, had signified his willingness to hear us, we consulted together and decided to call on him at his office.
John F. Keenan and myself were appointed as a committee to confer with him, and, after introducing ourselves, stated our mission.
He received us in a gentlemanly manner, said that he was always ready to listen to the switchmen
169as he had been a switchmen himself at one time, and while he assured us that he knew we had not interfered with the company property during the strike and conducted ourselves in a creditable manner, he could do nothing for us. He also said that he had more respect for us than he had for those who were hanging on the fence, but he had nothing to do with the employees of the Minnesota Transfer, as he had left that matter entirely in the hands of the superintendent. We told him that we were informed that Mr. Dudgeon would take some of the men back if the president of the company was satisfied.
"Whatever arrangements you boys make with Mr. Dudgeon will be satisfactory to me," answered Mr. Hastings.
He then referred us to Mr. Dudgeon who was present and who then said that he had already given us our answer which was final. He said that he had promised steady work to the men he had already employed if they proved themselves competent, and as they were doing the work satisfactorily, he would not consider any more applications.
This statement regarding the work we knew to be a bluff, as it would take an old switchman, if
170unacquainted with this yard, at least three months under the most favorable circumstances to learn, if unaided, enough to enable him to give efficient service, as the yard is very complicated. And again in contradiction of this statement it is known that freight was refused from different roads for four days at a time to enable them to get the yard in shape, and after the freight of twenty-four hours was received, the same operation would be necessary, although they had the services of competent switchmen from the Omaha and other railroads.
So speaking for the Minnesota Transfer the general managers were winners so to speak, in the game of freeze out waged against the switch-men. The men in all other departments were taken back with but few exceptions, but it was now a settled fact that the switchmen must look elsewhere for employment. The officials were credited with saying that they would permanently close the transfer, rather than reinstate a single switchman.
It would be nothing more than justice at this time to say that the former superintendent, Mr. D. M. Sullivan, had resigned his position during the strike for the reason that the management would not allow him to take back the old men.
171Mr. Sullivan contended that it would be impossible to operate the yard without the assistence of a goodly portion of the old employees.
In a newspaper article he denied that his resignation was handed in on that account, but it is nevertheless credited by those who know him well, and by the employees themselves.
We then applied at all the yards in the Twin Cities but with like result, and although not told in so many words, we were given to understand that we were blacklisted, and this was the case not only with us, but with men all over the country.
The Soo Line had now put in force an ironclad agreement that all employees were obliged to sign if they wished to remain in the service of the company. This debarred the men from belonging to any labor organization for five years. Another rule put in force at this time was that engineers would hire their own firemen. This would appear to be a blow at the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen.
The railroad corporations exulting in their victory, determined to boycott every striker and sympathizer throughout the country, as far as it was in their power.
The weapon, that it was made a criminal offense for a striker to use, and for which the officers of the American Railway Union were sent to jail, was now in the hands of the railroad corporations to use at will.
What was decided by the courts unlawful in the hands of the American Railway Union was legal in the hands of the General Managers Association. This the federal judges made no effort to investigate. Judge Wood said regarding the charge of a combination on the part of the railroads, that while it was irrelevant he would hear it as a matter of curiosity.
Expressions like this emanating from a judge of the United States court, immediately following his ruling against the strikers, are too plain to be misunderstood. While he might condescend to hear the charges against the general managers, it is very evident that a motion to quash any proceeding against the corporation would be granted.
The greatest pressure of evidence brought to bear by the American Railway Union against this illegal combination would have no weight with the judge, therefore it could not be wondered that when the General Managers Association
173started a systematic course of bycotting the American Railway Union by blacklisting its members, there was no action taken to prosecute them.
The Union Pacific, now in the hands of the government, not only discharged every striker and sympathizer but blacklisted them also.
This is a sample of justice. Some of the men had worked for the company for twenty years, and the only charge against them was that of being members of the American Railway Union and struck in sympathy with the starving Pullman employees.
Their system of blacklisting is so perfect that every avenue of escape is closed against an employee.
They have what is known as the blacklist book. The names of the strikers are entered in the book of which a copy is held by all railroads. When a man makes application his name is taken and the book is then consulted. If his name is registered he is told that no more men are wanted, if not, he is told to call the next day, by which time, if he is a striker, it is known, and he will have to travel.
An assumed name will do no good, as he will
174be asked to give reference signed by his last employer, so you will see very plainly that the strikers lot is not a bed of roses.
President Debs has been accused of being responsible for this condition of affairs. There is absolutely no truth in that accusation, as in the first place it was directly against his wishes and advice that the Pullman employees struck, and only after a personal investigation of the case — and realizing that the causes which led to it would admit of no denial that the men were justified in their action — did he approve of it.
The boycott that followed the Pullman strike, as has been previously stated, was not ordered by Mr. Debs. He did not have the power to order it, therefore he could not be held responsible for the result.
The men who were the victims of this unfortunate boycott, were themselves responsible for its beginning, as by an almost unanimous vote they ordered it. Perhaps they may have acted hastily, it has been stated many times that this was the case, but when the brutal inhuman treatment of the Pullman employees came to light through the investigation of the delegates to the convention, they would be less than human if they
175had refused to come to the assistance of these men who were being ground down by a merciless corporation.
After reading the facts brought to light by the witnesses before the strike commission appointed by President Cleveland, and also Gov. Altgeld's personal investigation I do not believe that any one with a spark of humanity in his heart will condemn them for their actions.
Chapter XIX. The Commision.
The commission appointed by President Cleveland to investigate the strike began its work Aug. 15, at 10 o'clock in Judge Grosscup's court room. Most of those present were members of the American Railway Union. Prof. Bemis, of the Chicago University, was in attendance. Neither the Pullman Company or the railroad companies were represented. The witnesses examined were Geo. W. Howard, vice-president of the American Railway Union, and James R. Sovereign, grand master workman of the Knights of Labor. Acting with the commission were B. J. Hastings, of Utica, N. Y., and Deputy United States Marshall Bartlett. Chairman Wright announced that they were in session pursuant to the President's call which the clerk read. This document directed an inquiry into the causes and the conditions of the controversy between the Illinois Central and the Rock Island roads and their employees. After the reading chairman Wright made the following statement:
"By the act recited in the commission of the President that has just been read, this commission is directed to examine into the causes, controversies and difficulties existing between the roads named and their employees at the time the commission of the President was issued. The board is constituted as a temporary body for this purpose and not for the purpose of arbitrating the difficulties that existed. It is practically a court of inquiry and its proceedings will be in accordance with the usages of such courts. It will proceed first to hear all witnesses in behalf of the employees and then those of the corporations named. All such witnesses are requested to hand their names to the clerk. Under the law parties may be represented by counsel or appear in person as they see fit, and examine and cross-examine the witnesses. After all the witnesses have given their testimony the commission will then consider arguments or suggestions to be made upon the questions before it. All suggestions and arguments presented in writing will be filed and considered by the commission, but the question as to how far the commission will listen to parties who desire to be heard orally will depend upon the time left to the disposal of the commission and
178will be determined after the testimony is concluded. By the act creating it this commission possesses all the power and authority of the United States Commissioners appointed by the Circuit Courts of the United States. The hours of sitting will be from 10:00 A. M. to 4:00 P. M. Parties and their counsel and witnesses attending will find seats within the rail."
Vice President Howard was the first witness sworn. In answer to questions as to his age, residence and occupation, Mr. Howard replied that he was 46 years old, resided in Chicago, and was vice president of the American Railway Union. For nearly 30 years he had been identified with the railroad service filling positions from trackman to general superintendent. He had been a member of the Yard Masters' Association, the B. of L. E. and O. R. C. By request of Mr. Wright he gave the following connection of the American Railway Union with the strike.
"We began organizing the Pullman employees in March of this year. Early in May they struck. The strike was voted by themselves not by the American Railway Union, indeed we advised, against the strike.
"Immediately after the strike was called I
179accompanied a committee of forty-three representing every branch of the Pullman service to a conference with Mr. Wickes at Pullman. Mr. Pullman refused to arbitrate but promised to give their grievances immediate attention if they would return to work. I inquired of Mr. Wickes if there would be any prejudice against the members of the committee and was assured by him that there would not be. After receiving this assurance from Mr. Wickes, I advised the men to go back to their work, which they did. Next day three of the committee were discharged, not on order or with the knowledge of Mr. Wickes or Mr. Pullman, but by some under boss in the shops. This so incensed the rest of the employees who considered it a breach of promise that they unanimously struck again.
"June 12, the convention of the American Railway Union met in Chicago. The Pullman strikers were represented by seven or eight delegates. The situation at Pullman received consideration. A joint committee representing the convention and the Pullman strikers was appointed to wait on the Pullman company. The committee was informed that the Pullman company would confer with only its employees,
180consequently this body was discharged and a committee consisting of Pullman employees appointed. The action of the Pullman company was reported to the American Railway Union convention whereupon each delegate wired his local union for instructions. The result of this was that the members of the American Railway Union all over the country voted to discontinue handling Pullman cars if at the end of five days from that date the Pullman company refused to arbitrate with its employees.
"In this connection I wish to say that Mr. Pullman stated to the committee of forty-three, in my hearing, that his employees at that time owed him $70,000 for rent and that he had not pushed them for payment which fact clearly shows that his men were not making enough to pay rent."
Mr. Wright: "That was the boycott order, was it?"
Mr. Howard: "I do not use the word boycott. The action taken was simply that members of the American Railway Union would not handle Pullman cars."
"Two days before the limit of five days — the dates I do not now recall — but I will furnish
181them — the General Managers' Association took action declaring that they would share the expense of whipping the American Railway Union.
"Pullman would not arbitrate and first the men on one road then on another refused to handle Pullman cars. They did not decline to handle other cars, but switchmen, you understand, would not attach Pullmans to trains. Engineers, conductors, firemen and trainmen would not take out trains which Pullman cars were attached to. There was no attempt to interfere with the mails but on the contrary every effort in our power was made to help the roads carry them. The companies held the mails in their determination to attach Pullman cars to trains.
"Of my personal knowledge I know of a road that abandoned a mail train to take out an excursion train, not having crews to take out both. In another instance I know of a mail train going out on the order of the railway officials after the Pullmans had been cut off by the employees. Things went on in this way for several days. No violence was committed by the employees and the police were in full control of the situation to prevent violence from outsiders.
"The first pistol was drawn by one Miller, an employee of the Tribune at Blue Island, wholly without cause, and after the troops were on the ground. The violence that was afterward committed was not as was believed by members of the American Railway Union but by outsiders — some acting in passion, because they saw in the presence of the soldiers an instrument of tyranny. Others in a spirit of mischief and love of destruction and others still — hired by the General Managers in order to create public sentiment against us. Yesterday I gave the mayor of Chicago the name of a man who claimed, while under the influence of liquor to have received $400 for burning cars. The Committee of safety, at Springfield, sent us the names of three men who quarreled about the division of $500 received for burning cars. $200 of which was paid in advance by John M. Eagan, of the General Managers' Association."
Regarding the motives actuating the organization of the American Railway Union Mr. Howard denied that it was to destroy the old organizations but because they no longer fulfilled the necessities of the situation. If the old brotherhoods could get together amicably there would be
183no need of the American Railway Union, but they never can. There are two many causes for jealousy, for instance: There are 10,000 locomotive engineers who are not in the B. of L. E. but are members of the B. of L. F. In case of a grievance the engineers are divided and are represented by two organizations. The Brotherhood of Trainmen contains men who have been promoted to conductors causing a friction between these two orders.
Mr. Wright: "Then the sole purpose of the American Railway Union in taking the action it did was to oppose the Pullman company and it was not actuated by any desire to injure the other railway organizations?"
Mr. Howard: "That is it exactly. After the action taken by the General Managers' Association we had to act as we did or lie down."
Mr. Wright: "Did the officers of the American Railway Union advise the men on roads other than those using Pullmans to go on strike?"
Mr. Howard: "The men on all roads represented by the General Managers' Association were advised to go out on strike."
Mr. Kernan: "Was this order extented to
184roads not using Pullman cars or which were not represented in the General Managers' Association?"
Mr. Howard: "No, sir."
Mr. Kernan: "Were there any such road?"
Mr. Howard: "Yes. General Manager Clark, of the Mobile & Ohio, sent us word that his road would drop the Pullman service if the men would continue at work. We advised the men to return to work under those conditions, but the men at St. Louis argued that such action would weaken their cause and refused to take our advice in the matter."
Mr. Worthingford; "How did you advise all other organisations to go on a sympathetic strike?"
Mr. Howard: "We did not advise nor even request other organizations to declare a strike. We invited the heads of all labor organizations to come here and aid us by their advice or in any way they saw fit to help us. I think Mr. Debs sent the invitation. When the representatives of the other labor organizations met here, we went before the body and explained the entire situation. They asked Mr. Debs what he wished them to do. He replied that he did not ask
185anything of them but left it to their best judgment and conscience to take such measures as would help bring the trouble to an end. Mr. Debs read a communication which he had prepared to present to the general managers, and asked the representatives at the conference if they would act as a board of arbitration or assume the role of peacemakers. President Gompers of the American Federation of Labor, seemed afraid that such action would involve the other organizations in some way and hesitated to accept our request to take the communication to the general managers. We then concluded to ask Mayor Hopkins to present our communication. The may or willingly granted our request."
Mr. Kernan: "Was any written record kept of that conference of the heads of the labor organizations which was held at the Briggs House?"
Mr. Howard: "I do not know."
Commissioner Kernan: "What records have you of the proceedings of your convention as to who invited the heads of other labor organizations to meet here in conference, and what they were expected to do?"
Mr. Howard: "I think it was decided at the convention of the American Railway Union, which
186met here June 12, to extent such an invitation. I know it was talked over then."
Commissioner Wright: "Then the American Railway Union did not advise a sympathetic strike of all organizations."
Mr. Howard: "No, sir. Mr. Debs left that question to the judgment and conscience of the men themselves."
Commissioner Wright: "Was the action of the convention of June 12 a strike?"
Mr. Howard: "Well, it was called a strike."
Commissioner Worthington: "Was the communication you referred to presented to the general managers?"
Mr. Howard: "Yes, sir, and returned without an answer further than a statement that the General Managers' Association had no business to transact with the American Railway Union or its representatives."
Mr. Kernan: "It is charged that your organization, like others, encouraged its members to persistently interfere with and prevent unorganized labor from taking positions given up by their striking members. Is that charge true?"
Mr. Howard: "It cannot be shown in one instance that anything of the kind has been done."
Commissioner Kernan: "You won't go so far as to say that no interference of the sort alluded to has ever been engaged in?"
Mr. Howard: "Certainly not. I mean that such interference was not authorized or countenanced by the union."
Commissioner Kernan: "Did you take any steps to prevent such interference?"
Mr. Howard: "We have taken the ground that when we go out on strike not to interfere with any of the new men the companies may employ."
Commissioner Kernan: "You do countenance advice to such men not to take the places of strikers?"
Mr. Howard: "Oh, yes. We claim the right to ask new men not to take our places."
Mr. Kernan: "Is it not a fact that such interviews usually result in violence?"
Mr. Howard: "No. I think the rule is to the contrary. We go no further than to request the men to quit work and to commit no violence."
Commissioner Kernan: "Is there any punishment for violation of that rule?"
Mr. Howard: "No. No organization has
188any power to punish a member for violation of such rule except by expulsion. We leave the punishment of such cases to the civil authorities."
Commissioner Kernan: "Don't you think some steps should be taken by labor unions to punish their members who violate the rules in that respect?"
Mr. Howard: "Yes, sir, I do, and we started out to do so here during the strike but the trouble assumed such vast proportions that it was impossible to do anything in that direction. In the case of the Great Northern strike we appointed committees to guard the company's property, and the men were instructed to shoot anyone found in the act of destroying same."
Commissioner Kernan: "What, as a rule has been your experience in strikes where violence was restored to?"
Mr. Howard: "The men have always been defeated."
Commissioner Kernan: "Then a resort to violence is rather detrimental to the cause of the strikers?"
Mr. Howard: "Decidedly so. We want public opinion with us in a strike."
Commissioner Kernan: "Do you know of
189any organization that disciplines its members for restoring to violence?"
Mr. Howard: "None, excepting the American Railway Union. Our argument is that the only weapons labor has to fight its battles with are the strike and the boycott. There is some talk about the ballot but some questions cannot be settled by the ballot. Only the array of labor in one solid phalanx will give it the power that will make strikes unnecessary."
Commissioner Kernan: "Does not history show that on account of jealousies in your own ranks a complete organization of labor cannot be effected?"
Mr. Howard: "Yes. That is history up to the present, but the workingman is doing more thinking to-day than ever before."
Commissioner Kernan: "You regard such a strike as would be possible under the conditions you outline as a desirable thing for organized labor?"
Mr. Howard: "No, sir. If employers would be a little more considerate of their men there would soon be no labor organizations in existence."
Commissioner Kernan: "You do not say that all grievances are just, do you?"
Mr. Howard: "No. Many of them are frivilous."
Commissioner Kernan: "It is charged that there is a minority in all labor organizations who are practically enslaved by the will of the majority and that a man for that reason loses his independence when he joins a union?"
Mr. Howard: "Well, I think the reverse is the rule. The hot heads and agitators in the labor movement are in the minority; the quiet, thinking men are always in the majority. It often happens that the man who is really most anxious to strike assumes an air of indifference or positive objection to such a move. He is merely waiting for a good excuse to stop and let the blame lie with some one else. He wants some one to order him to quit work so he can say to the superintendent that he is afraid to remain at work for fear of personal violence."
Commissioner Kernan: "Was any other motive behind the strike other than to force a settlement with Mr. Pullman?"
Mr. Howard: "No."
Commissioner Kernan: "Was there any
191object in breaking the older unions so that the American Railway Union might profit thereby?"
Mr. Howard: "While the increase in membership in the American Railway Union meant a decrease in the strength of the older organizations it was not the object of the strike to break down the older unions."
In answer to a question by Commissioner Kernan as to what he would suggest to prevent railroad strikes in the future, Mr. Howard replied that the government ownership and control of railroads was the only practical solution of the question. He argued that about one third of the railroads of the country are practically under control of the government, and thought the balance could easily be taken. He claimed the Santa Fe was from two to four months behind in payment of wages; that it would seem only fair that the government should see that the men were paid. The government had gone to the extent of forcing the employees of that and other roads to work whether they wished to or not and he thought the other step might as well be taken at once.
Mr. Sovereign, grand master workman of the Knights of Labor, was the next witness. He testified that he was a member of the American Railway
192way Union. Said the only official connection the Knights of Labor had with the strike was the adoption of a resolution that they would not ride in Pullman cars. He also stated that a general tie-up of all the industries in the country to force public sentiment on Pullman and bring to bear on the Pullman company the greatest possible pressure was contemplated, but it was found the tie-up could not be made sufficiently general to bring about the desired results, so it was not attempted.
Commissioner Kernan: "Then you do not consider the American Railway Union responsible for the rioting that occurred?"
Mr. Sovereign: "No, sir. In fact I do not think there was any rioting."
Commissioner Kernan: "Do you consider burning cars a species of rioting?"
Mr. Sovereign: "Not when it was done by U. S. marshalls."
Commissioner Kernan: "Was it so done?"
Mr. Sovereign: "I read reports in Mayor Hopkins' office to-day to that effect — reports that seem conclusive on that point. Moreover I don't think there was as much rioting as is generally believed. I came from Des Moines on what was
193supposed to be the last train to Chicago. We arrived without incident at Blue Island on July 6. There the train was side tracked and we were told by the officials that it could go no further because of the mobs between there and the city. I saw a west bound mail train on another track and was told it had been there for twenty-six hours and could not proceed on account of the mob and violence beyond, though it would go on the very same track on which we had just arrived. I bought a ticket from Blue Island to Chicago on the Wisconsin Central. After coming a short distance the train stopped and the conductor told us we could go no further on account of mobs ahead of us. I picked up my grip with the intention of walking to the city, but the conductor cautioned me against risking my life. However I walked in, was not molested, saw no disorder and did not see more then ten men at any one place."
Mr. Kernan inquired what views the Knights of Labor held about letting non-union men take the places of strikers.
Mr. Sovereign: "That depends on circumstances. In the case of mine owners, for instance, who have sold houses to their employees who have partly paid for same, the unjust discharge of these
194men means a forfeiture to the mine owners of all money paid on the property. We hold that we must by all honorable means prevent others from taking their places."
Commissioner Kernan: "But suppose honorable means are not effective?"
Mr. Sovereign: "Well, if it's necessary to prevent them from passing a given line we clasp hands and keep them out."
Commissioner Kernan: "You do not assault them?"
Mr. Sovereign: "No. If they break through they assault us."
Mr. Sovereign did not think that strikes or compulsory arbitration was the remedy for labor troubles. He believed that the government ownership of railroads would settle the trouble for employees. He also believed the employees of corporotions had an equity in their positions and for unjust discharge should have a remedy in a court of equity.
Mr. Kernan: "Why cannot the contract between employer and employee provide for all you want the law to cover?"
Mr. Sovereign: "Because labor is always dependent, always has been at least and is forced by
195the duress of circumstances to accept employment without insisting on protecting conditions."
George W. Lovejoy was the next witness to take the stand. In answer to a question by Commissioner Wright, he said: "I am familiar with the history of the strike on the Rock Island road. Beside the order passed by the convention to refuse to handle Pullman cars, the men at La Salle had a special grievance that consisted of unjust treatment of the members of the American Railway Union which had a local lodge at that point. I for one was dismissed without any cause being assigned. Complaint was made to Supt. Dunlap and an explanation asked as to why the men were discharged. He refused to consider the grievance submitted to him so the men concluded to strike."
Commissioner Wright: "Was the grievance submitted in writing?"
Mr. Lovejoy: "It was. I have not a copy, but think I can get one from the local union."
Commissioner Wright: "What part did your local union take in the Pullman strike?"
Mr. Lovejoy: "It decided to sustain it."
Mr. Worthington: "Was there any violence at La Salle?"
Mr. Lovejoy: "No, sir. None whatever."
Commissioner Kernan: " Have any of the old men been taken back?"
Mr. Lovejoy: "No, sir. And never will."
Mr. Worthington: "Is it on account of the strike that they cannot get back?"
Mr. Lovejoy: "I suppose it is."
Commissioner Kernan: "How general was the strike at La Salle?"
Mr. Lovejoy: "It extended to every branch of the service. Switchmen, firemen, engineers, conductors, brakemen, telegraph operators, clerks, round-housemen and trackmen."
Commissioner Kernan: "Now tell us about the cause that led to your discharge as you understand it?"
Mr. Lovejoy: "Six months previous to the convention of the American Railway Union which met in Chicago, June 12, I had an understanding with the superintendent that I would get a leave of absence and was to put a man in my place while absent. When I got ready to come to Chicago, I sent a note asking for such leave of absence and transportation. The transportation was sent me, but no answer to my note was given. When I came to Chicago I called at
197the office of the superintendent to have an understanding about my leave and he told me that a written notice was not necessary. Whenever I wanted to go anywhere all I had to do was to put a good man in my place and go. The Tuesday following the opening of the convention the assistant superintendent went to La Salle and put another man in my place permanently. No reason has ever been given me why such action was taken."
Commissioner Wright: "Mr. Lovejoy, I suppose you have give the subjects of labor troubles and strikes some study. I wish to ask if you can suggest any solution of these troubles."
Mr. Lovejoy: "Yes, sir, I have and I consider the only way to solve the question is for the government to own the railroads."
Commissioner Kernan: "What is your reason?"
Mr. Lovejoy: "I think the employees would receive better treatment and be better satisfied. I think they would get the same kind of treatment as the postal employees and would be no strikes under these conditions."
Commissioner Kernan: "What do you think of arbitration as a remedy?"
Mr. Lovejoy: "I have never seen arbitration tried to any great extent and while I believe in the principle I am not prepared to say that I am in favor of compulsory arbitration."
Commissioner Wright: "If the government owned the railroads how would you avoid the changes incident to a change in administration?"
Mr. Lovejoy: "I consider that railroad employees would be in practically the same position as postal clerks. They would be under civil service rules to the extent of being pensioned after a term of years of faithful service."
Commissioner Kernan: "Would it not cause jealousy among other branches of workingmen if such a system should be adopted toward railroad men?"
Mr. Lovejoy: "I do not think so. I am not jealous of postal clerks."
Commissioner Wright: "What would you suggest as the next best thing if government ownership proved impracticable?"
Mr. Lovejoy: "That the government keep hands off altogether; let the roads and their men fight put their troubles free from outside interference. It is the knowledge that the government can be called to their aid that makes many
199of the railroad officials so arbitrary with their men."
Commissioner Kernan: "Don't you think that disputes ought to be settled by some other method than open warfare?"
Mr. Lovejoy: "There would be none if the authorities would keep away. The employees would settle their grievances by arbitration."
Mr. Worthington: "What would you think of a law providing that upon application of a certain number of employees the railroads should be compelled to come before a board of arbitration and make answer to the grievances of the men or vice versa before a strike could be declared? I mean by that a law which would compel a hearing of disputes by a constituted tribunal even though that tribunal had not the power to force a decision in the matter?"
Mr. Lovejoy: "I would be in favor of such a court and believe that the railroad men would abide by its decision voluntarily if they had some choice in the selection of the arbitrators."
Commissioner Kernan: "Is it not one of the greatest troubles the railroad men have to content with that they cannot get a hearing of their grievances?"
Mr. Lovejoy: "Yes, sir. It is. And if the men could always be sure of getting a fair and impartial hearing I do not believe there would be any strikes. As a rule the men are opposed to strikes and resort to them only when every means of settling grievances has failed."
Commissioner Kernan: "Is it not true that strikes usually end disastrously to the men?"
Mr. Lovejoy: "Strikes often fail to accomplish the particular end in view, but I believe on the whole their tendency is toward a betterment of the conditions of the men. The strike we have just passed through has demonstrated to the working people of this country that they must get together as one solid body before they can win. They have found out that when they undertake to assert their rights they have no friends but themselves. The press, the judiciary, the ministers and office holders are all against them."
Secretary Kelliher of the American Railway Union was next to testify. He promised to furnish the commissioners with certified copies of any of the proceedings of the convention, and the correspondence which occurred during the strike. In answer to questions by the commissioners he considered government ownership of railways
201the only solution to strikes. While he favored arbitration, he did not think compulsary arbitration would be satisfactory to the men.
Thomas J. Heathcoat, a resident of Pullman, and one of the strikers, was the next witness examined. He testified to the condition of Pullman prior to and at the time of the strike and gave a full account of the strike and the causes that brought it about. He gave in detail the scale of wages paid prior to June, 93, and the constant reductions since.
Mr. Heathcoat, in answer to Commissioner Kernan asking him to explain the mode adopted by the Pullman Company in cutting wages for piece work, said:
"Take, for instance, that desk behind which you sit. Suppose it were given to me to make. I figured that I could do the work for $20.00, and took it at that price. As a good mechanic I could make $4.00 per day at it. For the next one the foreman would allow me $18.00. Being anxious to make good wages, and being a good mechanic, I would use extra effort and still make $4.00 per day. The next one the foreman would allow me only $16.00 for. Yet, by extraordinary effort I could still make $4.00 daily. The next one the
202foreman would allow me $12.00 for, and with my utmost endeavors I could make only $3.00 per day. As a good mechanic I would refuse to take any more at that price and the work would be given to an inferior workman who could make only $1.25 per day. This is the way the Pullman Company has worked its piece work system."
Commissioner Wright: "Did the cuts in other departments average as much as in yours?"
Mr. Heathcoat: "They averaged the same though they were not alike. The new men in the freight car department suffered more than we did and there were others in some of the departments that were making pretty good wages at the time of the strike."
Commissioner Wright: "You have spoken of asking the company for a reduction in rent. What rent do you pay, and what did you get for it?"
Mr. Heathcoat: "Up to the beginning of the strike I paid $17 a month rent and 71 cents per month for water. Gas I did not use. Could not afford it. The company charged $2.25 per 1,000 feet. My house had five rooms, cellar and back yard."
Commissioner Wright: "What would similar houses rent for elsewhere?"
Mr. Heathcoat: "I know of eight and nine room cottages with front and back yards, in every way more desirable than the house I live in, that can be rented for $8.00 and $9.00 per month."
Commissioner Worthington: "What, in your opinion, would it cost to build houses such as you live in?"
Mr. Heathcoat: "I should like to take the contract for building them at $600 apiece."
Commissioner Kernan: "What other accomodations do you get for the rent you pay, say in the way of paved streets?"
Mr. Heathcoat: "There are cheap wooden sidewalks in front of the house and the company keeps a force of men on the street picking up paper and hauling away garbage. That's all I know."
Commissioner Wright: "Have you applied to the Pullman company for work since the strike?"
Mr. Heathcoat: "No, sir. I understand that I am blacklisted. They have a blacklist, you know. I have one in my pocket now."
Commissioner Wright: "Will you let me see it?"
Mr. Heathcoat: "Yes, sir. Here it is."
Commissioner Wright: "Have you any objection to telling us where you got this?"
Mr. Heathcoat: "Yes, sir. I got it from a friend of one of the clerks in the Pullman office and I would not like to tell the name of either, as it would cost the clerk his position."
Commissioner Wright: "Have you any other evidence of the existence of a blacklist?"
Mr. Heathcoat: "Yes, sir. One of the men who applied to Mr. Childs at the Rock Island shops for work. He was asked his name and the same being found on one of their lists he was told that he was a Pullman striker, consequently could not get work. I understand the Pullman company's blacklist was sent to all the railroads so that others besides myself can never get work in the railroad shop again."
Commissioner Wright: "Do labor unions ever blacklist non-union men?"
Mr. Heathcoat: "The American Railway Union does not. That is the only labor union I ever belonged to."
Commissioner Wright: "What was the
205feeling of the employees toward Mr. Pullman previous to the strike?"
Mr. Heathcoat: "As a rule I think the employees had a high regard for Mr. Pullman until Harry Middleton took charge two and a half years ago. He is not a practical car builder. He wastes material for which we are charged. He displaces men who have earned their positions by good work and promotes his favorites. He makes arbitrary and tyranical shop rules which deprive us of part of our pay. For instance, suppose a car carpenter be given a lot of cars, the work to be finished in a certain time. Within a day of the time limit it is seen that there is still six days work for one man. He will put on five extra men, regardless whether that many can work to advantage, and pay them by the hour charging the same to the man who took the job as piece work."
Commissioner Kernan: "Is not time enough allowed to finish the work so that such instances would be due to the neglect of the man who took the job?"
Mr. Heathcoat: "No, sir. It is not, except in rare cases. It is misjudgment on the part of the manager, Mr. Middleton, as I said before, who
206is not a practical car builder. As an instance of a waste of material — There was a set of car sashes, made of mahogany. Care was not taken to see that the mahogany picked out was all of the same color. Instead of picking out those of the set that were alike in color and completing the set with new ones and using the off color ones in another set with wood picked out to match, Middleton had the whole set smashed and charged the men with the cost of the material and refused to pay them for their time when it was not their fault at all."
Mr. Wright: "Referring now to the committee appointed to wait on Mr. Pullman — tell us what you said and what was said to you."
Mr. Heathcoat: "We asked Mr. Wickes and Mr. Pullman to adjust our wages so that we could support our families. We wanted either the wages of June, 1893, or a reduction in rent and some increase in wages. Mr. Pullman said he could not reduce rents as he was making only 3 1/2 or 2 1/2 per cent, I don't know which now, on his investment. He said he could not increase wages because he was losing money on his contract work. But he did not say what was a fact that nine
207tenths of the work that had been done since the cut began was Pullman and not contract work."
Commissioner Kernan: "What do mean by Pullman work?"
Mr. Heathcoat: Work on cars owned and operated by the Pullman Company and not work on cars sold to railroads. One result of this was that the company was getting work from us for $1.90 for which it paid the railroads when they did this work $2.50 and $2.70. Two days after he told us the company was losing money on its contract work, a quarterly divident of 2 per cent was declared.
Commissioner Kernan: "That might have been paid from accumulations and not from earnings."
Mr. Heathcoat: "Mr. Pullman did not make any such explanation to us when we spoke to him afterward. If he had, perhaps we would not have felt so badly about it. But it did seem hard that when men were working and not getting enough from the company to buy enough to eat that it should pay out $600,000.00 in dividends."
Commissioner Wright: "Were there those not getting enough to eat?"
Mr. Heathcoat; "I have seen men faint by
208the side of cars on which they were working because they had not had enough to eat. After the cuts, while working as hard as I could to earn enough to support my family, have been obliged to sit down in the middle of the forenoon to rest because I had not had enough food to enable me to do such hard work and there were hundreds worse off than I. If rents had been reduced I believe there would have been no strike. We wanted to submit the question of rent and wages to a board of arbitration, we to choose one, the Pullman company one, and the two a third. We would have abided by any decision the arbitrators made."
Commissioner Wright: "Did not Mr. Pullman offer to let you look over the company's books to convince you that what he said was true?"
Mr. Heathcoat: "Yes. But what would we know about them? Besides, we did not believe that the books would show the real facts. I have been told that there is only one accountant in the city who understands the company's books and we did not have money enough to buy bread let alone to hire an accountant. I have seen men crying at the paymaster's window when their
209pay checks for two weeks would be eight cents or 35 cents, or one dollar or two dollars over their rent and the company expected them to support their families on that till next pay day. You see the men got two pay checks, one for just the amount of rent owed and the other for the balance of their two weeks pay. The rent checks they are expected to indorse and turn over at once to the town agent in payment of rent. The law will not allow the company to deduct the rent from the pay and retain it, but the check must be turned over just the same for you cannot cash it unless you can persuade the agent that you cannot possibly live unless you are allowed to retain it. Then perhaps you will be allowed to retain a part or all of it. I have been insulted by the clerks in the agent's office because I told them I could not get along without the money for my rent check. Yet such was the case for there was one time when my pay after the rent was deducted left only eight cents a day for each member of my family to live on until the next pay day."
Mr. Worthington: "Are the Pullman employees required to live in Pullman?"
Mr. Heathcoat: "Yes, sir. As long as there
210are any houses in Pullman vacant the men must live there, unless they own houses somewhere else or are favorites of the shop bosses. In fact during last winter I knew of people who owned houses in Roseland leaving them unrented and moving to Pullman so they could get work. When you apply for work you are required to make application if you are a man of family."
Mr. Worthington: "Are their any lots in Pullman bought and sold so that you could form an idea of the value, for instance, of the lot on which the house you live in stands?"
Mr. Heathcoat: "No, sir. No lots are sold but I know of a house and lot over in Roseland on the boulevard near One hundred and eleventh street which were bought two years ago for $2,500 and can be rented for $12 a month. The house is better than the one I live in, is bigger and in a good location while mine is on a back street and I would not pay more than $1,000 for the house and lot."
Mr. Worthington: "If your house could be built for $600 and only yields 3 1/2 per cent the lot must be worth more than $5,000. Is it?"
Mr. Heathcoat: "No, sir. It is not, but there are some frame houses in Pullman which the
211company charges eight dollars a month for that could be built for $100."
Mr. Wright: "It was said at the beginning of this strike that the Pullman people owed $70,000 for rent. How far back did that accumulation begin?"
Mr. Heathcoat: "I should say about Nov. 1, 1893."
Mr. Wright: "Tell us if you know what the cuts in wages were in departments other than your own."
Mr. Heathcoat: "The freight car builders suffered more than others, but the commission can find out best by having some one from each department come before it."
Commissioner Kernan: "Don't the people of Pullman know that we want to hear from every one that can throw any light on this subject?"
Mr. Heathcoat: "Yes, sir. They understand it but there are lots of them who have not money to get down here."
Mr. Wright: "Tell us if you can what was the average pay of the employees, say in April last?"
Mr. Heathcoat: "On a lot of elevated cars on which I worked I made 16 cents per hour, on
212one car and 15 cents per hour on another, but there were men working along side of me who made only four and five cents per hour. I would say that in January, February and March the mechanic's pay averaged $1.50 and the laborers pay $1.30 per day. Some times the laborers' checks were bigger than the mechanics."
Commissioner Wright: "Have you any suggestion of a remedy for labor troubles?"
Mr. Heathcoat: "Yes, sir. The ownership of railroads and banks by the government would do it. I never heard of a strike in the post-office department or the navy yard."
Miss Curtis next took the stand. She was an employee of Pullman and president of the Girls Union of the American Railway Union at Pullman. Beginning her testimony she said: "In June, 1893, the wages in my department were 22 1/2 cents per hour, $2.25 a day. In April, 1894, they were 70 to 80 cents a day. There were two cuts in one week in November and another in January. In April the best wages any of us could make was eighty cents a day, while some could not make more than from 40 to 50 cents a day. Last June they could make at least $1.50 per day."
Commissioner Wright: "Do you pay rent?"
Miss Curtis: "Not now. My father worked for the Pullman company thirteen years, during which time he paid rent. He died last September and as there was some expense connected with his sickness he owed $60 back rent. Then I went to work in the repair shop and boarded out. The company made me pay $3 per week on account of the back rent. I still owed $15 on the day of the strike and owe it yet. Some weeks I did not earn enough to pay my board and rent too and then I paid only part of the $3."
Commissioner Wright: "Were you on any of the committees that waited on Mr. Pullman and Mr. Wickes?"
Miss Curtis: "Yes, sir. I represented the girls on that committee. We wanted our wages raised as the men did theirs. Mr. Wickes said it was impossible to raise wages as they were losing money on their contracts and it was utterly impossible to reduce rents. An appointment was made to meet Mr. Pullman on another day. When we saw him he said the same that Mr. Wickes told us."
Commissioner Kernan: "What work was done in your department?"
Miss Curtis: "We made the silk, satin and
214velvet drapings; the carpets, tapestries and mattresses for the sleeping coaches, the linen for the dining cars, sewed the fringe on cushions and all that sort of things."
Theodore Rhode was the next to testify. He said: "Four years ago I had a good joB. Then they wanted me to do a kind of work that no one else could made a living at. Four or five of us were to work together. I was to have charge of the work and we were to divide whatever we made. I said I would try it, but if I didn't like it wanted my old job back. This was agreed to. When I became satisfied that I could make nothing at the new work I asked for my old place, but they would not give it to me and told me that if I didn't like what I was doing I could quit working for the company. After a while we got so we could make from $2.60 to $2.85 for 10 3/4 hours work. Then the cuts came, and work for which we had received $9.00 paid only $4.25. It was impossible to make $1.25 per day, and we were told by the foreman to quit if not satisfied. I paid $15.00 a month for rent and 71 cents for water. I could rent as good a house in Kensington or Roseland for $7.00 a month. On the day of the strike I owed $2.50 for rent. Have not
215paid it since, although the collector has been around two or three times lately. Low wages and high rents are not all the trouble. It is the abuse. They talk to men as they would to dogs. They are constantly experimenting with new materials. If it don't prove satisfactory we get no pay for our work. Take English varnish, for instance. The atmosphere must be just right or it won't work. Oftentimes, owing to a dampness in the air, we were obliged to do our work over two or three times for which we get no extra pay. In April my wages every two weeks were from $12.00 to $15.00. I understand they pay the men who took our places from $2.50 to $3.00 and $3.00 to $5.00 per day. I have not applied for work again."
R. W. Combes. For 30 years a car carpenter and for 10 years employed at Pullman, was next called before the commission.
"A year ago," he said, "wages in his department was $2.25 at piece work, and 17 1/2 cents per hour. In March, piece work was cut so that they could not make more than 68 cents a day."
Commissioner Kernan: "How much would you have gotten at the rate of wages in force in March or April?"
216Mr. Combes: "We did not limit the same kind of cars in 1894, but had we, we would not have received anything for them. In February I had $3.50 to support my wife and two children after paying rent. Had the men received fair treatment there would have been no strike. John Pearson, superintendent of the freight car department, is the whole cause of the strike. He is abusive and tyrannical. I was inspector in April and Pearson told me if the men did not do what I told them to take a club and knock their damned heads off. That's the kind of a man he is. I have not applied for work. Middleton told me I never could work there again."
H. F. Griswold, a switchman, testified that he had last been employed by the C. M. & St. P. Ry. — that he lost his position through the strike — had tried to get work within the last few weeks on the Penn. R. R., at Pittsburg, Altona and Columbus and at each of these places had been shown a blacklist with his name on it as a member of the American Railway Union.
Several other witnesses testified as to being blacklisted on account of being in the strike.
Charles Naylor, a fireman on the Ft. Wayne road up to the time of the strike, was next
217examined. In answer to questions as to what he thought of arbitration he said: "From my knowledge of railroad men I do not believe they would have much confidence in arbitrators elected in the same way public officials are. My idea is that they should be appointed when their services are required and a new set of arbitrators selected for each case. The board should be composed of one man selected by the employees one by the roads, and a third by these two."
Commissioner Wright: "That is the law now."
Mr. Naylor: "Yes, but it is not enforced. It seems to me that if Mr. Cleveland had followed in the line of action pursued by Mr. Gladstone, during the coal miners' strike in England, there would have been no trouble here. If he had told the railroads when they called on him for troops that they must submit to arbitration or they would get no support from the government, the men would have thought a good deal more of his honesty and fairness, but when they see the whole power of the government thrown on the side of the railroads they lose confidence in the justice of the government."
Commissioner Wright: "There was no law
218under which the president could have told the roads to arbitrate the trouble with their men."
Mr. Naylor: "From all that I can learn there was as much law for him to do so as for him to send troops here without the request of the governor of the state."
Mr. Worthington: "In your suggestion of board of arbitrators there would be but one of them unprejudiced?"
Mr. Naylor: "I think such a board would always be able to effect a compromise between the parties. I have acted in the capacity of arbitrator between the company and the men in adjusting grievances and have always found that a spirit of compromise was met in a like spirit and that is the principle, after all, upon which such questions must be settled."
Vice President Howard of the American Railway Union, was recalled to make an explanation regarding some testimony which Mr. Heathcoat had given the day before. He said: "Mr. Heathcoat told you that Mr. Pullman had promised to allow a committee to examine his books, to prove the correctness of his statements to the effect that his company was losing money on its contracts. The next day, Wallace Rice, a
219reporter on the Herald, called on Mr. Pullman and asked him if he would allow an expert to examine his books on behalf of the union. Mr. Pullman replied that what he meant by allowing an examination of his books was that he would have his own book-keeper prepare a statement to be submitted to the committee. He said he never had any idea of allowing the committee to actually examine his books. Mr. Howard then asked if he might make a statement of a couple of matters of importance to the employees. The commissioners looked doubtful about this, but finally Mr. Wright said he might go ahead if the matter had anything to do with the subject under consideration."
Mr. Howard then said: "The United States government is blacklisting 3,000 employees of the Union Pacific Railroad now."
Mr. Wright: "We have no authority to go into that question."
Mr. Howard: "And the other matter is that all the other roads are making a threat against the M. K. & T. to boycott its business if the road persists in making a certain rate to Washington."
Mr. Wright: "Has that anything to do with the American Railway Union?"
Mr. Howard: "Yes, sir. If the government allows the railroads to violate the laws it ought to keep hands off in disputes between the roads and the men."
Rev. Mr. Cawardine was called and related what he knew about the matter. Mr. Cawardine is pastor of the M. E. church in Pullman. His testimony was directed chiefly to the exorbitant rents. In answer to Mr. Wright, saying that he had been charged with being an anarchist, and a socialist, Mr. Cawardine said: "I have considered the charge so contemptible in the bitterness and prejudice of its origin as to be beneath answer. That I, an American born citizen and the son of a soldier who died for his country, should be charged with being anarchist, seems to me incomprehensible. It is simply an evidence of what has been made very apparent that a good many people are violently prejudiced against working men and will not listen to what may be said on their side or read what may be written. I find this feeling even among many of my brethren in the ministry. I regret it too, because the labor problem can only be solved by a consideration of it from all sides."
Andrew W. Pearson, a real estate agent who formerly worked in Pullman, was called on the
221stand and in answer to a question put by Mr. Wright, said:
"Houses which rent for $17.00 in Pullman, can be rented in Kensington and Roseland for $10.00. Pullman houses which rent for $25.00 can be rented elsewhere for $15.00, and $10.00 Pullman houses for $5.00. In Grand Crossing, a manufacturing town, $8.00 a month will rent a five-room brick cottage. The rents I am giving now are the present rents. There has been a decline since two years ago everywhere but in Pullman."
Commissioner Kernan: "How much higher are rents in Pullman than elsewhere?"
Mr. Pearson: "I should say fully one-third."
Frank P. McDonald, a locomotive engineer and author of the Great scab route circular, testified that he was a member of the American Railway Union and a delegate to their convention. He said he was opposed to the strike, but voted for it as it was the unanimous sentiment of his local union. His reason for opposing it was because he did not think the union was strong enough to win.
President Debs, of the American Railway
222Union, was the next important witness to testify. Mr. Debs outlined the trouble from its inception down to the special convention in Chicago on Aug. 3. In answer to questions by Commissioner Wright, Mr. Debs said he was 38 years old a resident of Terry Haute, Ind., and had been president of the American Railway Union since June 20, 1893. He was a practical railroad man, had been employed four and a half years in the capacity of locomotive fireman and was at present editor of the Fireman's Magazine. Mr. Wright told him to go ahead and give a history of the late strike so far as he knew from his own experience.
Mr. Debs said: "In the early part of May, while at home in Indiana, I received a telegram from Mr. Howard notifying me of the probability of a strike at the Pullman shops, the employees of which were members of our union. I authorized Mr. Howard to take full charge of the matter, but to do all in his power to prevent a strike. My reason for this was that the American Railway Union had just been involved in a strike on the Great Northern railway. At a meeting of the general officers of the union we had discussed the possibility of other strikes arising on account of the victory the union had won on
223the Great Northern railway, and we decided that it would be good policy to be very cautious in encouraging the men to go into strikes whenever there was a possibility of avoiding them May 11th, I heard that the Pullman employees had struck. A few days after, I came here and made a personal investigation of the trouble. After a trip to St. Paul I again went down there and the result of my investigation was that the conditions at Pullman justified the men in the course they had taken. I found that wages and expenses were so adjusted that every dollar the men made found its way back to Pullman coffers. The men were not only not getting enough wages to live on but were getting deeper and deeper in debt every day. They had not money enough as a rule to get away. There seemed to be no escape for them. Wages had been reduced, but expenses remained the same. After I had satisfied myself of the truth of the men's statements regarding their conditions, I made up my mind to do every thing possible in law and justice to right the wrongs of our members who had gone out on strike. We first tried to get the company to arbitrate. We were confident that any fair and Impartial board would decide in favor of the
224employees. The company, however, refused every proposition of that sort saying that it had nothing to arbitrate. I then suggested that the Pullman company select two men to act with two judges of the circuit court and a fifth person whom they should select to act as a board to investigate the question whether there was anything to arbitrate. This proposition was refused."
"June 12, delegates representing 425 local unions of the American Railway Union met here in the first quadrennial convention of the organization. The Pullman question came up for consideration before the convention sitting as a committee of the whole to hear reports etc. I wish to say in this connection that all of our deliberations were held with open doors, except one executive session at which the question of finances was considered, in which we felt the general public had no interest, but at all the other meetings the entire press of the city was represented. I mention this in refutation of the statements which have been made as to the American Railway Union forming a conspiracy against the railroads and committing offenses against the United States. If a conspiracy were
225intended it seems improbable that we should have sat with open doors. The first steps taken toward securing a settlement of the trouble, was the appointment of a committee composed partly of Pullman employees and in part of other delegates present, with authority to call on Mr. Wickes to find out if anything could be done toward effecting a settlement of the strike."
Here Mr. Debs related how Mr. Wickes refused to confer with a committee composed of any but his former employees, and finally refused to confer with them, stating that he had nothing to arbitrate.
He then continued: "The matter was then referred to a special committee with authority to act in the matter. This committee reported that if the Pullman Company refused to concede anything after five days time to consider the question, it was the sense of the convenion that the members of the union would refuse to handle Pullman cars. Under the constitution of the American Railway Union the majority rules in all questions under consideration. No strike can be declared except by a majority of the men involved. In order to conform to this rule, the delegates were instructed to communicate by wire with
226their respective unions to ascertain the sentiment of the members on the question before the convention. After reports had been received from all the local unions, the convention by a unanimous vote decided to adopt the report of the special committee."
Since the railroad employees have been criticized for engaging in a sympathetic strike, I wish to make some statement regarding the general situation. In many instances they had local grievances themselves, and besides, there was this general condition which aggravated the whole situation.
"In the spring of 1893, just before the opening of the World's Fair, the general managers of the various roads centering in Chicago, were very apprehensive lest there should be a general strike among all classes of railroad employees for an increase of wages. The officers of the organizations appealed to the men not to strike, arguing that it was their patriotic duty to bear with patience their grievances until the fair was over. The result was there was no strike anywhere. The men all worked in harmony throughout the country. Some of the managers promised, by implication at least, that there would be an increase of wages to reward the
227patriotic action of their men. Instead of doing as they promised, the general managers during this time equipped their organization to protect their mutual interests."
Mr. Debs then read an article from a Chicago paper which told how the general managers had formed an air tight association which would be able to deal with any strikes that might arise in the future, and suggested that the association rather courted than feared trouble with employees of the railroads.
Continuing, Mr. Debs said: "Shortly after the new association had completed its organization it became apparent what course it intended to pursue. About Sept. 1, the Louisville & Nashville road made a sweeping reduction of 10 per cent in the pay of all its employees — the section men getting 67 1/2 cents a day under this reduction. Then in succession followed the East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia, the Richmond & Danville, the Mobile & Ohio, Nashville & Chatanooga, Big Four, New York & New England, New York, New Haven & Hartford, Wabash, Union Pacific, Northern Pacific, Monon, Great Northern and the Great Western was just on the point of declaring a reduction when the strike was declared."
"It was significant that no two roads declared a reduction at the same time, and in most instances the reductions began with the unorganized and poorest paid men in the service. The men viewed these reductions with apprehension and unreal. This was particularly the case after Judge Caldwell had declared upon investigation that the cut on the Union Pacific was unwarrantable. In two cases the reductions annulled and the original pay of the men restored. On the Union Pacific — on the order of Judge Caldwell and on the Great Northern through the efforts of the American Railway Union. In the later case the matter was decided by a board of arbitration, composed of leading capitalists and business men of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
"These conditions confronted the American Railway Union, when its delegates met here in convention. The employees felt that other systems in sound financial conditions had taken advantage of the unfortunate condition of the country to reduce wages. The men had lost confidence in their old unions which had failed utterly to protect them against these reductions and they came in the hope that the American Railway Union would take some steps to resist them and
229protect its members against the rapacity of the railroad companies. This was the reason they were ripe to take up the cause of the Pullman strikers. They were wrought lip to a point where they were willing to jeopardize their positions to protect both themselves and the Pullman employees. The primary purpose was to cut off Pullman's revenues by cutting off his cars and thereby force him to a settlement."
Mr.Wright: "I understand you to say you advised against the Pullman strike. Why did you do so?"
Mr. Debs: "We had just gone through a strike on the Great Northern and I did not think it advisable to go into another at that time."
Mr. Wright: "What would have been the action of the convention if there had been no strike at Pullman? Did not that strike force the issue?"
Mr. Debs: "There would have been no trouble with the railroads, I think, but for the Pullman strike. That and the depressed condition of the country aggravated the situation so as to bring about a general strike."
Mr. Wright: "Was the general strike precipitated by the Pullman troubles?"
Mr. Debs: "Yes sir, it was."
Mr. Wright: "Was a notice of the action of the convention served on the different companies?"
Mr. Debs: "Not by the convention. That matter was left to the men on the various systems. From the action of the managers toward the American Railway Union generally, the matter of serving a formal notice of our action on them was not looked upon as necessary, as we were very sure it would be ignored."
Mr. Wright: "Was notice served on the Illinois Central and Rock Island roads?"
Mr. Debs: "I think so, but am not sure."
Mr. Worthington: "Did they have notice through the press?"
Mr. Debs: "Yes, sir."
Mr. Wright: "Do you know the date on which the general managers adopted their resolution to resist the strike?"
Mr. Debs: "I think it was June 24, four days after our action. It was currently reported at that time, though I have no written or other evidence of the fact that the general managers resolved among themselves to exterminate the union."
Mr. Wright: "If the American Railway
231Union had had its own way in regard to its policy would a general strike have been postponed?"
Mr. Debs: "Yes, sir. The conditions were not altogether propitious and we were fully aware of the fact."
Mr. Wright: "What was the number of your membership at that time?"
Mr. Debs: "About 150,000."
Mr. Wright: "Did you consider that strong enough for a general strike?"
Mr. Debs: "Yes, sir. But it was not a question of membership altogether. There were other reasons." Mr. Debs said there was one other point to which he wished to call the attention of the commission. One great reason the men had in resisting a reduction of wages was the fact that the companies never restored them voluntarily. The tendency had therefore been for the employees to get closer together to resist the combined efforts of the managers. That was the principle, he said, which had inspired the idea of the American Railway Union. Then resuming the history of the strike Mr. Debs said:
"Pursuant to the order of the convention, which was practically the order of 100,000 men
232composing the American Railway Union, the members refused to handle Pullman cars. It has been claimed that the president of the union was a self appointed leader who had ordered the strike, etc. In this connection I wish to say that while such is not the case, when the report came in I gave it my approval as president. I do not wish to avoid any of the responsibility. If I had had the authority I would have ordered it under the same circumstances. June 26, the men began to refuse to haul Pullman cars. They had been advised not to handle the cars on any system where they could not get the sanction of a sufficient number of men to make such a refusal effective. The officers of the union opened headquarters at Uhlics Hall and as committees came in from various roads and made their reports they were advised how to act, and above all else to avoid trouble and violence and to maintain order. We advised them of their right to quit in a body and told them their rights ended there, and that the railroad companies had a right to hire new men and their right began there."
Commissioner Kernan: "What steps if any did you take to prevent violence?"
Mr. Debs: "When we saw there was to be
233trouble we issued an appeal to the men not to commit any acts of violence. Fourteen years of experience taught me that violence was the worst thing that could happen for any strike."
Commissioner Kernan: "How about the telegrams sent by you?"
Mr. Debs: "None of them were inflamatory."
Commissioner Kernan: "How about that ‘save your money and buy a gun’ telegram?"
Mr. Debs: "I can explain that telegram very easily. Among those who were employed at headquarters to take charge of our correspondence and telegraphing was a young man named Benedict. He had authority to sign my name to telegrams in answer to questions, etc. The telegram was sent to a man whom Mr. Benedict had worked under as a telegraph operator in Montana. The allusion to the gun was a playful expression which they had been accustomed to use in joking each other, and was understood in that way by the man who received the telegram. I have his letter in explanation of the matter which I will be glad to turn over to the commissioners. I never saw many of the telegrams sent out and did not see the one you refer to. The employees,
234obedient to the order of the convention, began as I have said, to refuse to handle cars. The refusal usually came from the switchmen who refused to make up trains with the Pullman equipment. As they refused they were discharged — when the others would quit."
"July 1st. After five days of strike the general managers were completely defeated and their immediate resources exhausted. Up to that time there had been no signs of violence anywhere. Our men were intact and confident. Then the intervention of the courts was called into play.
"July 2d. I was served with a sweeping injunction restraining me from sending out telegrams or issuing orders having the effect of persuading the men to quit work. This injunction was issued wherever the trouble existed. The result was to reduce our influence to nothing. This was the point from which the strike was conducted by telegrams and otherwise. Then a special grand jury was called to inquire into my conduct with the result that I was indicted with other officials of the union and warrants issued for our arrest. We were held under a joint bond of $10,000. Then followed an attachment issued for contempt of the injunction of July 2d,
235and our incarceration in the county jail. As soon as our men found we were under arrest they quit. The U. S. courts ended the strike, not the soldiers." Mr. Debs told of the seizure of his mail and personal effects. He said he merely cited the fact to show to what extent the U. S. authorities were willing to go to defeat the strikers. He also commented on Gen. Miles who was reported to have gone directly to the General Managers head-quarters on his arrival with the U. S. troops. He said Gen. Miles was quoted next day as having said he had broken the back bone of the strike. Mr. Debs thought Gen. Miles had mistaken his mission which was to preserve order and not to help the railroads run their trains. He said:
"I think Gen. Miles was vulgarly out of place, both when he went to the General Managers and when he made the remark credited to him." He said he thought if the General Managers were compelled to bring into court copies of their telegrams sent to the attorney general as the American Railway Union had done he could substantiate the charge that it was the object to annihilate the American Railway Union.
Mr. Worthington: "Did I understand you this morning to charge the General Managers
236Association with the responsibility of the strike?"
Mr. Debs: "Not in that broad and general way. The American Railway Union ordered the strike and is responsible for it, but there were aggravating circumstances which ought to go in mitigation under any view of the situation. But the attitude taken by the General Managers' Association, their expressed determination to crush the American Railway Union, in that respect and in refusing to arbitrate they were responsible. We felt if they could combine we could and each was culpable."
Mr. Worthington: "You believe in enforcing the law, do you not, and in the proper authorities using suffcient force to do it, do you not?" Mr. Debs: "Most certainly I do." Mr. Worthington: "You have doubtless given considerable thought to the matter. How do you think strikes can be avoided?"
Mr. Debs: "There are two ways. First. By submitting to reduction in wages and other grievances as the old organizations have done for years. When the general manager determines to reduce wages he proposes a cut of 20 per cent when he only intends to make a 10 per cent
237reduction. Then there is a conference when they finally agree on 10 per cent. This avoids strikes but it reduces wages. The second way is a unification of all, or practically all the railroad men of the country in a prudently managed organization. That would prevent strikes on railroads, for even if the railroads could unite to beat such an organization, it would be expensive."
Mr. Worthington: "Do you believe that such an organization would be so strong as to compel the adoption of all reasonable demands?"
Mr. Debs: "We did believe it, or the American Railway Union would never have been organized. We see now that it cannot because all the organized forces of society and of the government are arrayed against it. When a strike inconveniences no one, no one is particularly interested in it and it gradually dwindles down to the little end of nothing. But when a strike does inconvenience the public, as railroad strikes must of necessity do, the organized forces of society and the government, a practically impregnable force, and properly so, is arrayed against it. Take, for instance, the Ann Arbor strike. It inconvenienced the public and immediately the roads applied to the courts, and Judge Taft issued an injunction
238against the men. The first of the injunctions that have been so much questioned both by lawyers and laborers."
Mr. Worthington: "Is it justifiable to incommode the public as such strikes do?"
Mr. Debs: "It depends on circumstances. I believe with Admiral Porter, that a pin is worth fighting for if a principle is involved. To resist degredation is justifiable no matter what the result. If there were no resistance, things would be, if possible, worse than they are and without resistance degredation is inevitable. If the railroads treated their men fairly there would be no labor organizations. Every organization of railroad men is traceable to oppression. The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers was born of the tyranny of the Michigan Central road. I have that from the lips of Mr. Robinson, the founder of that organization. The first meetings were held in secret because the men would have been discharged if the management knew they were organizing. Everywhere organization originated from similar causes. No legislation can reconcile railroad employers and employees while human nature is in it. Confidence has been destroyed. The men have been so treated that they
239have grown suspicious, and when general managers, who are themselves employees, order a reduction of wages on instructions from those above them, that it is necessary because of hard times or slack business, the men are not at all assured that such are the reasons. They may accept the reduction, but they are not satisfied. In many instances the general managers obey orders to reduce wages with regret for they are humane men, many of them. Soon after the Great Northern strike, the president of a railroad told me that I now had the opportunity to make myself a most enviable reputation, both among railroad employers and employees by advising the men. themselves to propose a reduction of say 10 per cent in their wages during these dull times, thus putting the road under obligation to increase wages when business improved. I said to him, only a few months ago your road was doing a phenominally heavy business. Did you propose an increase of even 5 per cent in your employees wages because you were making money? Everytime a decrease in wages has been prevented or an increase secured, it has been the result of weeks of labor and pleading and the expenditures of thousands of dollars by the men. Every schedule ever adopted is
240evidence of that. Now that the strike is practically over the usual persecutions will be indulged in against those who took part in it. Some people are felicitating themselves that the strike has been suppressed, but the safety valve has been screwed down, that's all. The men are no more satisfied than they were. Some of them will get back their old positions; others will get work on other roads; still others will find work elsewhere, while some will be forced to remain idle for a long time. None of them are satisfied with the conditions and sooner or later strikes will break out again, I fear. You might as well try to stop Niagara with a feather as crush the spirit of organization."
Commissioner Kernan: "If it should be shown that government ownership of railroads resulted in poorer service and more expensive management, do you think it would be a good thing?"
Mr. Debs; "Government ownership of railroads is decidedly better than railroad ownership of government. The time is coming when there must be government ownership of railroads. Strikes cannot be averted otherwise."
Commissioner Worthington: "Will government supervision answer the purpose?"
Mr. Debs: "I don't think so."
Mr. Worthington: "Will arbitration answer?"
Mr. Debs: "I fear not. No good can come from compulsory arbitration, that is a contradicture of terms, even if some means of enforcing the decree could be devised. Those against whom the decree was rendered would not be satisfied. The basis must be friendship and confidence."
Commissioner Worthington: "Admitting that there is some contradiction in the term compulsory arbitration, it expresses what we mean though compulsory attempts at concilliation would express it better. Would it be of no avail in any case?"
Mr. Debs: "It would undoubtedly in many cases where trouble is local and the conditions homogeneous, so that all of them could be considered as for instance in the Pullman troubles. It could be put in force if there was a trial by jury or something of that sort, as other courts are constituted, but in interstate matters on railroads extending over thousands of miles where conditions vary, no decree could be made to fit
242the case. It is easy to compass local matters but not wide spread matters because the conditions are not homogeneous. It would be impossible to force the decree."
An extract from the Chicago Times.
People who read an Editorial from the Chicago Times of Eugene V. Debs before the strike commission, as printed in the Times yesterday, cannot, if they be fairminded, fail to be convinced of the justice of the cause in which he is working and of the sincerity and ability of the man himself.
"In a struggle for the rights of humanity individuals are nothing. He will be but a poor champion of the cause of the people who will pause to eulogize certain champions when he should be fighting for principles. But when a leader like Debs is attacked, as he has been attacked, and all the agencies and all the influence of capitalism are set in motion to ‘make an example of him’ — i. e., to so persecute him that no other man will be willing to encounter like danger in the wageworkers' cause — then must every spokesman of the working classes speak out in defense of the leader so attacked.
"The slanders that have been directed against
Debs during this struggle simply baffled recountal because of their number. He has been called crazy, drunken, revolutionary, criminal, incompetent. Newspapers have at once declared his conduct of the strike impotent and denounced him for having made it so effective. Labor has been entreated to throw him over as a puerile leader and capital has been warned that he is a dangerous man because of his surpassing ability. ‘Anything to beat Debs’ has been the one policy which has animated the organs of capital for the last four months.
"Well, Debs is beaten — in a certain sense. His effort in behalf of the Pullman strikers has failed and the very journals which most strenuously opposed his work are now printing the story of the dreadful destitution bred of the Pullman despotism which Debs did his best to break down.
"It is too late now to fight over again the issues of the American Railway Union strike and boycott. Debs and his associates now stand in the shadow of the penitentiary for trying to avert by entirely proper and lawful means the conditions which now engage the attention of the governor of the state, and which must awaken the sympathy of all humane people. The privileged
corporations flocked to the aid of the Pullman concern — no on conversant with the facts in the case can gainsay that. The railroads stood by Pullman; every morning newspaper in Chicago except the Times stood by the railroads; the government joined in with the combination. Mr. Debs' testimony is to the effect that governtal action, by hastily issued injunctions, killed the strike — a statement which everybody cognizant of the course of that movement will indorse.
"There has been much evidence adduced before the investigation commission, but none so exact or none more clear than that of Mr. Debs. His explanation of the causes of the strike and boycott is perspicuous and logical, his outline of the causes of its failure coherent and convincing, his suggestion of means for avoiding its recurrence absolutely right. He sees, as all clear-sighted and fair-minded men must see, that under the private ownership of railroads there is no possibility of justice for railroad employees. The public interest in the smooth and uninterrupted course of frame over the roads enables the managers to call upon public opinion and even upon state forces to aid them against the employees in any serious controversy. The government ownership of railroads
is indeed, as Mr. Debs has said, the one effective remedy for strikes among railroad hands. Asked for a solution of the general railroad problem, he suggested the co-operative commonwealth — a solution, doubtless, but one so difficult of accomplishment as to seem almost, if not quite, Utopian. Mr. Debs might have proceeded logically from his declaration for government ownership of railroads to government ownership and management of all other industries which tend naturally and inevitably to become monopolies. This accomplished, the repeal of all laws giving private persons the benefit of artificial law-created monopolies would follow. Then the abolition of all taxes upon industry. Finally, the throwing open to all men on equal conditions of all natural opportunities so that every man starting in life should have, so far as human power could accomplish it, an equal chance with every other man. Under such an organization and with such laws the co-operative commonwealth which Mr. Debs suggests would probably prove unnecessary. Competition, which is essential to the progress of civilization, would still continue, but it would be free competition, not the calm triumph of man plus monopoly over the man without it."
Following President Debs' testimony the matter of rioting was taken up by the commissioners. Chief Duputy U. S. Marshall John C. Donnelly, testified that there were between 1,400 and 1,500 deputies sworn in, armed and paid by the government, concerning whose character and fitness practically no inquiries were made, and that there were between 3,000 and 4,000 men sworn in as deputies at the request of the railroads, armed and paid by them, and that no inquiries concerning their characters were made at all. That this army of 3,000 or 4,000 armed men clothed with the authority of the United States was not at all under the control of the U. S. marshall and was not responsible and reported to no one unless to the chiefs of detectives of the several roads. Most of the reports of drunkeness and violence of deputies were from among those hired by the railroads.
Malcolm McDonald, a reporter for the Record, was next to testify. In answer to questions by the commissioners he said, he thought as a rule the turbulent element was not composed of railroad men. He spoke to some of the American Railway Union men about upsetting cars and they denied having had any hand in it. He also
247said that the conduct of the U. S. marshalls had not been such as to prevent trouble and they seemed to be hunting opportunities to get into conflict with the men.
M. L. Wickman, pastor of the Swedish Methodist Church, testified that many members of his church who worked for the Pullman Company, had to be taken care of during the fall and winter of 1893 and 1894. He told of one man who had his hand injured by a piece of flying steel. After a great deal of expense at the hospital he finally recovered the partial use of his hand and was taken back to work at reduced pay. Mr.Wickman took the case before Manager Brown, and that officer confronted him with a written statement by the injured man to the effect that the accident was one for which the company was in no way responsible. It was subsequently proved that the man's signature to the paper was forged.
Ray Baker, a reporter for the Record, said he was at Hammond during the rioting there and thought the rioters were not railroad men.
H. J. Cleveland, a reporter for the Herald, testified that he was to work along the Rock Island and Lake Shore tracks where considerable rioting occured between July 4 and 15. From an
248extensive acquaintance among railroad men, he felt sure that there were few, if any railroad men among the rioters. Criticising the deputy marshals, Mr. Cleveland said that he saw many acts on their part which were calculated to cause trouble unnecessary, and thought, as a rule, they were men not fit to be in authority. He characterized the whole lot as a contemptible set of men. The men who were doing the rioting, had the appearance of those who had never done an honest day's work in their lives.
N. D. Hutton, reporter for the Tribune, was the next witness called. He said that he was at Blue Island and about the stock yards district. Thought some of the rioting was done by railroad men, but could not say so from personal knowledge of the fact.
Mr. Miller, a reporter for the Tribune was next examined. He testified that he was sworn in as a deputy marshall and detailed to go to Blue Island. After relating his experience as to rioting, Commissioner Kernan asked him if he had an extensive acquaintance among railroad men.
Mr. Miller: "In the course of my work I
249have learned to know a great many of them by sight at least."
Commissioner Kernan: "Did you see anyone whom you know to be a railroad man engaged in violence or encouraging others who were so engaged?"
Mr. Miller: "Never, except once. That was when a meat train had been cut in two and switches were being turned. He was not doing any of it but the general tenor of his talk was in the nature of advice to what was being done. Most of the trouble was caused by hoodlums and toughs. In my reports I characterized them as hoodlums. Many were boys."
Commissioner Kernan: "What was your observation as to the sobriety or otherwise of the strikers at the meetings?"
Mr. Miller: "I scarcely remember of seeing one under the influence of liquor. Sobriety was the rule and drunkeness the exception."
Commissioner Kernan: "Did the speakers at the meetings advice against violence or did they encourage it?"
Mr. Miller: "They advised against it."
Commissioner Kernan: "Did you think them sincere in this advice or was it simply a cloak."
Mr. Miller: "I believed them sincere particularly the brainier men."
Victor M. Harding, a reporter for the Times, was the next witness, he testified to being present during the rioting on the Rock Island road, and saw boys throwing burning waste into ears within a hundred yards of a cavalry camp.
Commissioner Kernan: "Did you ever see anyone you knew to be a railroad man engaged in any violence?"
Mr. Harding: "I never did. The stock yards furnish the most glaring examples of the false and exaggerated reports of riot and disorder made by the newspapers. This district has been for years made to bear the burden of the crimes committed in this part of the city. There was comparatively little disorder at the stock yards during the strike, but the newspaper reports contained accounts of fights, shooting affrays and riots almost every night. Capt. O'Neil, of the stock yards police told me that the reporters and the militia were both responsible for this. Volleys of shot fired by the soldiers or militia were to be heard every day and night, which on investigation proved to have no cause other than a desire to create excitement. The militia men, he
251said, were in the habit of firing merely for the sake of making a sensation. A crowd would naturally gather, reporters would flock around and then there would be something to tell and brag about. I know this is so from talk with the men themselves. They intimated that they were getting tired of doing nothing and were desirous of creating some excitement. One night Capt. O'Neil said he heard a volley of shots, went to the spot and found that the shooting had been done by a lot of sentries. They said they had fired at a Polak — the common name for a Pole — who was seen crawling under a car. The soldiers claimed it was dark, the man was at a distance and was not hit. Yet they knew he was a Polak. Equally absurd stories in explanation of shooting were given the police captain on other occasions."
Assistant Fire Marshall John Fitzgerald testified that he had been on duty at all fires of any importance and had witnessed many acts of incendiarism. In all instances he stated that these acts had been committed by boys or youths belonging to the hoodlum element. He said the eldest could not have been over nineteen years old. The fire department had never been
252obstructed in any way in reaching fires. On one occasion railroad men, whom he knew to be strikers, aided in placing an engine in position, though he had never solicited aid of any kind during the period when the fires were most numerous.
The Pullman side was now taken up by the commissioners.
Frank W. Glover was the first witness. He described himself as a real estate dealer who owned a sub-division in Kensington, besides acre property there, owned and sold houses and lots, and had tenants. In reply to Commissioner Worthington as to what he knew of the rents in Pullman, Kensington, Roseland and other similar suburbs, how they would compare, Mr. Glover said: "I should say a six-room house in Pullman for $17.00 is better than one of my six-room houses in Kensington which rents for $10.00 to $12.00. The Pullman houses are connected with sewers. The land on which they stand is better drained and from what I should judge from outside appearances they have more of what are called modern conveniences. My houses have no sewer connections, the land is low, and in spring and fall is liable to have water on it; besides I
253understand the Pullman Company keeps their houses in repair, while I do not."
Paul E. Hearns, stationer and newsdealer at Pullman, was the next witness. In his opinion there would have been less suffering if some of the men had let beer and whiskey alone.
L. H. Johnson, a hardware and furniture dealer, testified next. He expressed the belief that the Pullman employees were as thrifty, economical and temperate a class of people as others of a similar class.
Wm. R. McKay, a reporter for the Mail, was next heard. He said that he had been detailed to look after the American Railway Union headquarters and the meetings at Uhlic's Hall. The speeches at all these meetings were against violence and in favor of observing the law as the only means of winning the strike.
B. H. Atwell, a reporter for the Daily News, was the next witness. He testified that he was at Blue Island during the trouble. He said the deputy marshalls had drawn revolvers without any reason. Most of the men who made trouble there were not railroad men. Railroad officials had said to him that the strikers were not making the trouble. At the stock yards also, such
254violence as was done was not by railroad strikers but by toughs.
The next witness called was Alex Lungren, a wood-carver. In answer to Commissioner Kernan's question if foremen had absolute power over the men in their departments, Mr. Lungren replied that he did not know.
Commissioner Kernan: "Are the working-men compelled to obey the orders given by the foremen?"
Mr. Lungren: "Yes. They must obey orders?"
Commissioner Kernan: "Is there any appeal from these orders?"
Mr. Lungren: "No."
Commissioner Kernan: "Then there is no way of getting the matter to the officials or superintendent?"
Mr. Lungren: "No."
Commissioner Kernan: "Then there is no system of obtaining a hearing from the officials concerning any grievence?"
Mr. Lungren: "No there is no system and it is very difficult to see any of the officials to obtain redress."
Commissioner Kernan: "What were the
255conditions of your re-employment with the company?"
Mr. Lungren: "I had to leave the American Railway Union."
Commissioner Kernan: "Were you obliged to sign any contract relating to your membership in any labor organization?"
Mr. Lungren: "Yes. There was a written contract which I signed. It stated that I would have nothing to do with the American Railway Union." Mr. Lungren also testified that he did not vote to strike. He did not attend the meetings; said he quit work in accordance with the notice posted by the company that the works would be closed down.
Dr. John W. McLean was the next witness. He said he had been a practicing physician since 1863, and had been in the employ of the Pullman company since 1894. He thought the strike had been brought about by the general depression in business throughout the country. Did not think the rents exorbitant in Pullman. Said he attended the Pullman employees who were injured, free of charge. When asked by Commissioner Kernan if he thought intemperance one cause of the Pullman strike, he said:
"Yes, I think all labor troubles are directly due to this cause."
General Manager E. St. John of the Rock Island road was the next witness examined. His testimony, which would fill several pages, was in brief a general contradiction of all evidence offered by the reporters, and American Railway Union witnesses. He charged the rioting to the strikers. He was opposed to the government ownership of railroads and also thought arbitration impracticable. He admitted that a greater reduction of wages was liable to follow unless the present depressed condition of business was soon remedied. Regarding the losses incurred by his road on account of the strike he said it was his impression that they would be somewhere between $800,000 and $1,000,000. When the question of communications from the officers of the American Railway Union came up Commissioner Kernan asked why the General Managers Association declined to receive it.
Mr. St. John: "Because we considered such an organization unworthy of consideration."
Commissioner Kernan: "Were you determined not to recognize any union?"
Mr. St. John: "Not exactly, but the American Railway Union least of all."
Commissioner Kernan: "Were not the roads united sympathetically? Now what had the Lake Shore road to do with the Rock Island road?"
Mr. St. John: "What had the Rock Island to do with the Lake Shore?"
Commissioner Kernan: "Is it not true that the roads were united sympathetically?"
Mr. St. John: "Let me ask you a question."
Commissioner Kernan: "No, I am not on the stand. I may be some day and then you can question me."
Mr. St. John: "When a neighbor's house burns we all unite to fight the blaze. When an assault is made on all the roads, they unite to resist it."
When General Manager St. John resumed the witness stand, he had with him one of the twenty-six sets of books mentioned by Mr. Howard, containing the scale of wages and rules of employment of all classes of railway employees on the roads represented in the General Managers' Association. When questioned by Commissioner Kernan he admitted that a committee had been appointed
258to formulate from these a schedule of what was a fair rate of wages for all classes of employees and uniform rules of employment. That committee reported, but the report was never acted on. This committee was appointed under a resolution passed February 15, 1894. Its report was made in March, and if adopted would have affected 125,000 men at least. One or two roads, he admitted, might have reduced wages about this time, but there was no agreement with the other roads concerning it. It became known that Mr. Wright, chairman of the commission, had an annual Pullman pass. He said concerning it that he and Mr. Pullman had been personal friends for several years, and it was to him as a personal friend that the pass was given several years ago and had been renewed annually since. He deemed that it was for the glowing reports of Pullman, made by Mr. Wright and others in 1884, for he did not know Mr. Pullman then. He said that he had not used it since the appointment of the commission.
Following Mr. St. John, John M. Eagan took the stand.
Mr. Eagan admitted that as the manager of the General Managers' Association he was authorized to incur any expense to secure force to crush
259the strike, but was not authorized to do anything to settle it peaceably. Of his connection with the General Managers' Association he said that he was requested to take charge of the association during the strike.
Commissioner Worthington: "Did you have anything done in relation to the appointment of deputy marshals?"
Mr. Eagan: "Each road appointed an official to select the men they wanted to act as deputy marshalls and turned em over to me. I sent them to Arnold to be sworn."
Commissioner Worthington: "Did those men serve as employees of the road while acting as marshals?"
Mr. Eagan: "My judgment is that they were to take care of the interests of the roads."
Commissioner Worthington: "Did they act in the double capacity as marshals and as railroad employees? That is, would an engineer, for instance, while wearing a star showing his authority, run an engine for the road?"
Mr. Eagan: "I believe they did that. They were sworn in as deputy marshals to give them a chance to protect themselves."
Commissioner Worthington: "By whom
260were the deputy marshals to be paid or by whom will they be paid?"
Mr. Eagan: "Each road is supposed to pay its own men."
Commissioner Worthington: "What do you know of any efforts made by the officers of the American Railway Union or the city officials to settle the strike amicably?"
Mr. Egan: "A party named McGillen, Alderman McGillen, I think, told me that Howard and Debs wanted a conference with me about settling the strike. I told him I had no authority to confer with them."
Commissioner Worthington: "Did you not have authority to talk with them and find out what they wanted or could do, without making any agreement with them?"
Mr. Eagan: "Not with those parties—I did not think I had. A few days later I found the mayor and Mr. McGillen in the office of the General Managers' Association. They said they had come with a letter from Dehs, Howard and Kelliher. I told the mayor he ought not to make a messenger boy of himself for these parties of the American Railway Union. Later I was given the document to give to the mayor. He was at Kensington, so I left it
261with the chief of police, and wrote a letter telling him I could not receive the letter he had brought."
Commissioner Worthington: "Were any other overtures of settlement made to you?"
Mr. Eagan: "That's all I know of any overtures."
Commissioner Worthington: "Was there anything insulting or offensive in the language of the letter the mayor brought you that made you refuse to receive it?"
Mr. Eagan: "The letter was published that evening and next morning and speaks for itself."
Commissioner Worthington: "I am asking you how you regarded it. Did you consider that there was any tiling insulting or offensive in the letter?"
Mr. Eagan: "I considered that any parties that had fought railroads as they had and been beaten as I believe they have been had lots of cheek to dictate the terms of their surrender."
Commissioner Worthington: "You do not answer my question. Were there not soldiers, U. S. marshals, deputy sheriffs and policemen engaged in guarding the railroads, and were you not hindered in thee operation of the roads?"
Mr. Egan: "Yes."
Commissioner Worthington: "Now was not the letter courteously composed and looking to a settlement of the difficulty?"
Mr. Eagan: "We didn't need a settlement — we had em already."
Commissioner Worthington: "The soldiers, marshals, sheriffs and police remained on duty sometime after that — didn't they?"
Mr. Eagan: "Yes, we needed the soldiers to protect our property."
Commissioner Worthington: "If a settlement could have been reached at that time between the railroads and the strikers, couldn't the soldiers and marshals have been dismissed. They wouldn't have been needed after an amicable settlement had been reached, would they?"
Mr. Eagan: "It was their intention not to recognize the American Railway Union."
Commissioner Worthington: "Then it is true is it that the reason this communication was not received was not because it was not courteously worded or because it was discourteous or insulting but because the General Managers would not recognize the American Railway Union?"
Mr. Eagan: "Well, that's as I understood it."
Commissioner Worthington: "What would have been out of the way in your talking with Debs and Howard when they asked a conference with you?"
Mr. Eagan: "I didn't have any authority to talk to them."
Commissioner Worthington: "Then your authority extended to this. You had authority to contract at the expense of the railroad for all the force necessary to crush the strike but had no authority to settle it by peaceful means?"
Mr. Eagan, "Well, yes. I suppose so."
Commissioner Worthington: "When you rebuked the mayor did you think it derogatory to bear a respectful message looking to a peaceful settlement of the difficulty?"
Mr. Eagan: "I believed the American Railway Union was whipped at that time."
Commissioner Worthington: "It was then the condition and not the character of the men that signed the document that made you refuse to receive it?"
Mr. Eagan: "We believed we had the strike won."
Commissioner Worthington: "Did you ever
264try to use anything but force to settle the difficulty?"
Mr. Eagan: "None, except to the different parties that came to see me, men that I knew personally had quit work. I told them to go back to work." In regard to violence Mr. Eagan knew nothing about it personally, but assumed that the strikers did it.
Superintendent Dunlap, of the Rock Island, was asked if he recognized any of the exemployes among the rioters, and said that he did not know many of the men but was sure that they were present. He was also asked by Mr. Wright if he knew one John T. Norton to which he answered no.
Superintendent of Police, Michael Brennan, was next examined. He testified that but a small per cent of the rioting was done by strikers.
John T. Norton, a locomotive engineer, was next called to the stand and testified that he was employed on the Illinois Central road prior to the strike, and had since obtained a position on the Calumet & Blue Island.
This line uses the Rock Island track to Joliet. He said that he passed an examination on the C. & B. I. and also on the Rock Island. He
265had made one trip when informed that the Rock Island road had barred him and would not allow him to run over any part of their line. He consulted a lawyer and was told to see Superintendent Dunlap. He called on him in company with a friend named Eraser. He asked Mr. Dunlap if he was barred off the Rock Island, who said yes, and he then saw that he was blacklisted.
Mr. Kernan: "Do you call that evidence of a blacklist?"
Mr. Norton: "I do. After getting a letter from Superintendent Conlin I was barred out by Superintendent Dunlap who has just sworn he did not know me."
Mr. Kernan: "Can you produce Mr. Fraser. We would like to hear his testimony?"
Mr. Norton: "I will."
Mr. Kernan: "Were you concerned n any violence during the strike?"
Mr. Norton: "No.,"
Mr. Kernan: "Are you an officer of the American Railway Union?"
Mr. Norton: "Yes. I am president of local union No. 193."
Mr. Gompers of the American Federation of
266Labor was next examined but refused to be sworn. Mr. Gompers went into the labor question in a general way. In reference to strikes, he said that so long as the present industrial and commercial systems last, so long will strikes continue.
George M. Pullman, president of the Pullman company, was now before the commissioners. He submitted a lenghty statement in relation to the town of Pullman, and under examination he told of the increase of the Palace Car company from $1,000,000 to $36,000,000 and the accumulation of a cash surplus of $25,000,000. When questioned concerning the grievance of the employees, he was not so well posted. When asked by Mr. Wright if it was the practice of the company to reduce wages from time to time, he said:
"I am not familiar with the details of the manufacturing department and must refer you to the second vice-president."
Mr. Worthington: "Did you ever express any unwillingness to arbitrate?"
Mr. Pullman: "I did express unwillingness and refer you to my published statements. I was aware of the losses of the company in paying the
267wages it did when contract prices were so low, and I knew it was impossible for the company to pay a higher scale. It was a question whether the shops should be dosed, or secure work at a low figure. It was the principle involved in letting a third party determine how the company should transact its business."
Mr. Worthington: "But you paid the usual dividend of eight per cent last year?"
Mr. Pullman: "Yes. But the profit during the World's Fair helped out the amount."
Mr. Worthington: "Now don't you think that the Pullman corporation which paid a dividend of $2,800,000 for the year just ended should have borne with the employees and shared its profits to some extent?"
Mr. Pullman: "I don't see why we should take the money from the stockholders to pay a set of men higher wages because the manufacturing business paid well, to pay this money to men working at Pullman when the employees at Ludlow, Wilmington and St. Louis had no complaint to make. The efforts of the American Railway Union to call a strike there was a failure."
Mr. Worthington: "Has the Pullman Company ever voluntarily raised wages?"
Mr. Pullman: "No; but it always has paid fair wages."
Mr. Worthington: "Now, Mr. Pullman, when you see the present unrest of labor, and the possible consequences, what objection had you to distributing a portion of the profits or increasing wages a little?"
Mr. Pullman: "The reason is embodied in my statement, it is a matter of opinion, and then there is the principle involved. It is simpossible under the circumstances."
Mr. Worthington: "Impossible, what is impossible? Could not arbitration determine the principle involved?"
Mr. Pullman: "As president of the company I do not care to give any other."
Mr. Worthington then introduced a lease used between the company and its tenants. This provided that the tenants should make all repairs to plumbing, water pipes, gas, etc., and to surrender premises in good repair. When such repairs were made by the company, the amount was deducted from their salaries.
Mr. Worthington: "Now, the company does not make any repairs, does it?"
Mr. Pullman: "The company repairs the roofs or outside of the houses, I am not familiar with the details."
Mr. Worthington: "But by the lease the tenants are bound to make all the repairs, it is stipulated that the tenant shall repay the company for all repairs made."
Mr. Pullman: "I will have to refer you to some official of the company." (Laughter.)
Mr. Worthington: "The rent is deducted monthly, is it not?"
Mr. Pullman: "I am unable myself to identify that lease you handed me."
Mr. Pullman concluded with the statement that the company declined to employ any member of the American Railway Union.
Mr. Worthington again asked if the company could not afford to pay an increased scale of wages and this Mr. Pullman refused.
Mr. Kernan: "When the general cut in salaries was made, was your salary reduced?"
Mr. Pullman: "No." (Laughter.)
Mr. Kernan: "That of officials, superintendents or foremen?"
Mr. Pullman: "No."
Mr. Wickes then took the stand. His evidence — which in main was documentary — embraced every detail of the strike. He admitted having promised members of the grievance committee that they would not be discharged, and said the agreement had not been broken by him. From statistics presented by Mr. Wickes, he claimed that the average rate of wages paid for the year ending in April, 1893, was $2.63 per day and for the same succeeding period $2.03, which fact, he said, disproved of statements made by strikers.
In the case of Miss Jennie Curtis the books showed that her father had owed but $17.00 at the time of his death, which sum had never been repaid the company.
Blacklisting, he said, had never been practiced by the Pullman Company, although the foreman kept a list of discharged men. He also said that the company had been losing $500 per month by furnishing water. He said that the men were advised by Mr. Howard not to strike.
Referring to rent and wages, he did not consider that there was any connection between them. He said; "We paid the market price for
271labor and we asked the market price for houses." He contended that wages were regulated by the law of supply and demand. We go into the market to buy labor, as we go into the market to buy other things. If a manufacturer by reason of improved machinery, of special facilities, or greater ability in securing supplies or disposing of products, or by more effective handling of men, should be making larger profits than his competitors and should increase wages, he would deprive himself of all the benefits of these advantages which are his and to which his employees do not contribute, and would make no more than the manufacturer who conducted his business in a shiftless manner or without ability, energy or enterprise.
Mr. Wickes concluded his testimony, and Inspector Nicholas Hunt was called.
He testified that from June 27th, or the time his force was first called to protect railroad property at various points, up to July 3d, there had been no serious difficulty. When asked by Mr. Worthington if he had seen railroad men take part in the destruction of property. He replied;
"I have not seen one railroad man interfere in any way."
A. J. Sullivan, general manager of the Illinois Central, was next to testify.
He went into details concerning the trouble on his road. He was certain that the acts of violence were committed by the strikers although he did not witness it personally.
H. R. Saunders, general yard-master for the Rock Island, testified for the company in relation to the way the strike was ordered on the Rock Island. He charged that Mr. Howard, vice-president of the American Railway Union, with using abusive and violent language. Epethets applied to Pullman and the expression, "if scabs take your places kill them with a coupling pin," was declared to have been used.
W. D. Fuller, agent for the Rock Island road at Blue Island, testified that he was present, and thought Mr. Howard's speech was very violent, he applied epethets to Pullman, thought he ought to be hanged, and that he (Howard) would like to head a crowd to do it.
L. A. Camp, a yardmaster for the Rock
273Island, was also at the meeting and heard no violent language used.
G. D. Cruelly also a yardmaster for the same road, thought the strike at Blue Island was due to Mr. Howard and Mr. Debs. Mr. Howard in particular and Mr. Debs incidentally. Mr. Howard was violent and abusive in his language. The witness is a member of the Order of Railway conductors but not of the American Railway Union.
Fred Baumbach testified to hearing both Debs and Howard speak, but did not remember of hearing either one of them using violent language.
Otto Moriling, a taylor, testified to being present. He did not hear any violent language used except that Mr. Howard applied an epithet to Pullman.
James Simmons also heard Howard speak, but did not hear him counsel violence.
Alexander Quasso said he was present when Howard spoke but heard no violence counseled except some reference by Mr. Howard to the justice of hanging Pullman.
Vice President Howard now took the stand
274and testified regarding his speech at Blue Island. He said:
"I want to begin by saying that among railroad men particularly trainmen, it has been a constant habit and practice and has been for years, to use a certain class of expressions which literally are very offensive in the lightest and most ordinary way, and without meaning anything in particular about them. Every old railroad man can bear me out in this. A railroad man will address his best friend with a most offensive epithet uttered in a most cordial way and intended to express cordiality, so that the term I applied to Pullman, has among railroad men a technical meaning, very broad it is true and expressing according to the circumstances very different sentiments. But its use is so common and I may say usual, that it has altogether lost the meaning it has, among others than railroad men.
"I was telling them the condition of things at Pullman. I told them of incidents that have been testified to before this commission. I was trying to array them against Pullman. I used the language of railroad men and I applied to Mr. Pullman the epithet I am charged with
275using. But I used it in the railroad sense. I said he ought to be hung, that is another railroad expression.
"I did not say that I would like to take part in the hanging or lead a party to hang him. As to the coupling pin expression, what I said at Blue Island, I have said at hundreds of other places, it was this I told them, it was often said that capital would always defeat labor. I denied this. I said that capital could only whip labor when it could divide it, and make labor defeat itself. That in the last few years a wave of religious intolerence had swept over this country, and the representatives of the railroads had taken advantage of it as a means of dividing labor. I gave instances where some emissary of the railroads would come in, and going to the protestant members, instill distrust in their minds of the Roman Catholic members, and then going to the Roman Catholics and creating distrust of the Protestants. I urged them not to allow themselves to be divided in the labor movement by questions of religious differences, and I said that if any of those sleuths, and I may have said sleuths of hell, come into this movement to array you against each other in a question of
276religion, I hope some one will have the nerve to hit him on the head with a round end coupling pin and send him to his last long sleep.
"I said nothing about injuring men who came to take their places. I told them if they struck, to put on their good clothes and keep away from the railroad property. If the railroads could get men to run their roads, let them, but if the men stood together, were united, the roads couldn't get men and would have to yield.
"Far from advising violence, I have always advised against it. I have some questions I would like the commission to put to the general managers, either here, or in Washington. They are these:
"1st. Were not the general managers whipped on July 5, before there had been any violence to array public opinion against the strikers, and before the troops were here and by their presence provoked violence?
"2d. Did your company have a contract with the government to carry the mails?
"3d. Was the contract dependent upon your ability to carry Pullmans?
"4th. Did your contract with the Pullman
277Company require you to refuse to transport mail if you left the Pullmans off?
"5th. Did the strikers interfere to prevent carrying of the mails if you left the Pullmans off?
6th. Could you not have carried mails, if you did not insist in hauling Pullmans?
7th. Was your contract with the government less binding on you than your contract with the Pulman Company, or was cither dependent on the other?"
Mr. Kernan had no objection to the questions being put to the general managers, but did not think, under the circumstances, the commission could prolong its sitting in order to ask them.
Mayor John P. Hopkins was then called and cordially shook hands with the commissioners before taking the witness chair. His examination was conducted by Judge Worthington as follows:
Mr. Worthington: "As mayor of thee city and the actual head of the police department, please state the general conduct of the police force during the strike and the conditions attending the strike."
Mr. Hopkins: "The evening of June 25, Mr.
278Ellsworth, who claimed to represent the different railroads, called on me and said he understood a boycott was to be enforced on all roads hauling Pullman cars. He said he understood I was going to Springfield that night and wished me to give instructions to the chief of police and arrange for the protection of the roads. So far as I know, the police did all the work required of them, and I have ample assurance of that fact from railway officials."
"This condition existed until July 5. That morning Mr. Wright of the Rock Island called at my office and claimed that riotous mobs were interfering with the operation of trains, overturning cars, etc. I went with him to the office of Mr. Cable of the Rock Island road, where we discussed the matter. Mr. Cable said he thought the police were not doing their duty, but from the information I had received, I was confident that such was not the case. I then suggested that Mr. Cable go with me to the scene of the alleged trouble, but he said that he did not think it safe to do so. I proposed the same plan to Mr. Wright, but he made the same objection. I then saw the corporation counsel and suggested the same plan, which he accepted. A
279switch engine was secured and we went. A crowd of probably 3,000 or 3,500 persons, mostly women and children, had assembled at that point. On the tracks at Thirty-seventh street four trains were standing, and just north of them an empty freight car was lying across the tracks. Half an hour after we arrived, a wrecking crew, accompanied by young Newell, Attorney Wright, and other officials came up, and they started to take the car off the track. On going down we had found the tracks entirely unobstructed, but on going back found ten or fifteen overturned cars. I thought the police did all they could to prevent such an occurrence. I stayed about two hours, when I came back and issued the proclamation to the people which was published. I also instructed the chief of police to suspend all officers who had been stationed at the crossings where the cars were overturned."
"That night I wired the governor at Springfield, that the militia, which had been preparing to go into camp there, had better be retained in the city, as it might be advisable to call out the troops within twenty-four hours. The same night about 10:30, I was at the Hyde Park
280police station when I heard that the "Diamond Special" had been stopped at Kensington and that large crowds had congregated there. Inspector Hunt sent re-inforcements to that point, and when I retired everything seemed quiet. Friday morning, July 6, which was the first time the railroads had intimated that the protection afforded them was inadequate, I heard from Kensington that there was trouble in the Rock Island and Chicago & Eastern Illinois roads. I then called on the governor for five regiments of the slate militia. Saturday, at 3:30 P. M., some trouble occurred at Forty-seventh and Loomis streets, where a mob had collected. The state troops fired and killed one man, two others dying afterward. There was no trouble after that, so far as I know."
Mayor Hopkins then read a number of communications from railway officials expressing satisfaction in regard to the perfect protection afforded by the police during the strike. Among these were letters from President Marvin Hughitt of the Northwestern, General Superintendent Sullivan of the Illinois Central, President Thomas of the Chicago & Western Indiana, and others. Several officers who were deemed worthy of
281promotion for their good services at critical times were mentioned in a letter from a Santa Fe official. The mayor then continued his testimony as follows:
"So far as the management of the police was concerned I think it was excellent. I wish to state that the Blue Island police are governed by the officials of that town. The word police has been referred to indiscriminately in the testimony, leaving the impression that Blue Island was under the jurisdiction of the city."
"There was very little resistance to the police. The strikers treated me all right, and the crowds seemed good-natured. There was some resistance to the police, I believe, on the night of July 7, at Ashland avenue and the Northwestern tracks. The police fired and killed a woman on the roof of a house in the neighborhood."
Mr. Worthington: "How many were killed in all or who have since died in consequence of injuries received?"
Mr. Hopkins: "About seven, I think in Chicago. Three at Forty-seventh and Loomis streets, one at Kensington, the woman just mentioned, and I think two others."
Mr. Worthington: "Please state about the militia engaged during the strike."
Mr. Hopkins: "I will read my copy of the telegram to the governor to which I referred. The next day I again telegraphed the governor suggesting that five regiments be placed at the disposal of the city. In one half hour I received an answer stating that the militia had been ordered to report. There was virtually the entire militia of the state in service, probably 2,000 men. The last detachment went home August 6."
Mr. Worthington: "You have stated that you gave orders to suspend officers at certain crossings. Why was that?"
Mr. Hopkins: "The officers complained that people jumped over the fences and that they could not prevent them. The Rock Island road is protected on each side of the right-of-way by low fences, and empty freight cars were standing for many blocks on the side track next the fence. The people who lived near the tracks could easily jump the fence unseen and tip the cars over. I ordered the men suspended for the general effect it would have on the force."
Mr. Worthington: "I would like to ask a
283general question. As mayor of the city, do you think the police, or a portion of them, either directly or indirectly, took a part in promoting the strike in any way?"
Mr. Hopkins: "I would not deny that some of the men had sympathy with the strikers. I am in sympathy myself with the Pullman strikers."
Mr. Worthington: "But do you think the police did their duty?"
Mr. Hopkins: "Yes, sir. Several times Mr. Eagan telephoned that trouble was occurring at some point. When officers would investigate they would find no trouble at all. There are 2,100 miles of railway in the city limits; there are 1,360 trains daily, 160 railroad crossings, and 3,000 surface railroad crossings. The police force for this year is scheduled at 1,928 patrolmen. There are 186 square miles of territory in the city and you can readily see that every point could not be covered at once. The amount of violence was not very great. In Pullman not one pane of glass was broken in the three months of the strike. I live in Pullman myself."
Mr. Worthington: "You may state whether
284at any time you advised the American Railway Union or its members to strike?"
Mr.Hopkins: "No, sir."
Mr. Worthington: "Did the General Manager's Association either during or since the strike request the city to arrest any individual strikers or suggest such arrest?"
Mr. Hopkins: "No, sir; I think that President Newell swore out a warrant for a man named Hall, but the information was furnished by the city."
Mr. Worthington: "Has the American Railway Union brought in any information of this character?"
Mr. Hopkins: "Yes, sir; in the case of Hall, who was charged with turning over cars; also in other cases, which upon investigation we concluded not to take up."
Mr. Worthington: "Then the disposition of the American Railway Union appears to have been to assist the city?"
Mr. Hopkins: "Yes, sir."
Mr. Worthington: "During or before the strike were there any overtures made in regard to arbitration?"
Mr. Hopkins: "I met Mr. Pullman at lunch
285in the Chicago club one day and he told me of a meeting his employees had held. Then July 3, there was a further talk about protecting the works on the following day when trouble might be expected. There was some talk about a settlement, but the company seemed to regard the strikers as law breakers. Then a committee of the council was appointed, and word sent to Mr. Eagan, but he said he couldn't come. Then the committee called at Mr. Pullman's office to discuss the question of arbitration — or if there was anything to arbitrate. The answer received there was that the company refused to arbitrate. July 11, I received a telegram from Mayor Pingree of Detroit, asking if I would act with him in endeavoring to settle the strike. He had communications from fifty other mayors giving their views on the question. We saw Mr. Wickes, Mr. Runnels and Mr. Brown, and had a long interview. Mayor Pingree took the point that arbitration should be tested, and made a strong argument. He is a member of a shoe manufacturing firm and related his own experience in a strike of nine months' duration. Mr. Wickes, Mr. Runnels and Mr. Brown withdrew and prepared a statement giving the position of the company and declining
286the proposition. On July 13, Mr. Debs, Mr. Howard, and Mr. Kelliher prepared a communication to the railway managers offering to settle the strike if the railroads would re-instate the men as individuals or such men as had committed no overt acts. With Mr. McGillen I went over with the document to Mr. St. John. What occurred there has been published. Now, while I think of it, I want to say that the statement published in some papers that Mr. St. John told me I should not act as a messenger boy for the American Railway Union is false. I deny most emphatically that Mr. St. John used those words I should not have allowed it. This was the last action on my part to bring about a settlement."
"It has been said that I protested against the presence of the federal troops in the city. I do say that the railways had never complained that the civil authorities were unable to protect the roads. I have never protested against the federal troops and think they did some good."
Mr. Worthington: "It has been stated in the press that you applied to Mr. Debs to move trains."
Mr. Hopkins: "That is not true. A man named Brenock has a contract with the city to
287remove dead animals, the place where they are rendered being over the Indiana state line. He called upon me and said that there was a train load of dead animals at the stock yards which could not be pulled out; the men had quit work. I said I thought a voltneer crew of trainmen could be procured which would do the work. I sent my secretary to the American Railway Union with that request. A crew went down to the yards and manned the train. When it proceeded some distance it was discovered that a train load of dressed beef had been substituted and the train crew abandoned the cars. The dead animals then remained where they were for several days."
Mr. Kernan: "Then this action was simply a plan to guard the public health?"
Mr. Hopkins: "Yes, sir; simply to remove the dead animals from the city limits."
At the conclusion of Mayor Hopkins' testimony, President Carroll D. Wright arose and declared the commission formally adjourned until Wednesday, Sept. 26, at Washington, D. C.
Chapter XX. Altgeld Investigates Pullman.
IN response to a piteous appeal for help from a committee of Pullman strikers, John P. Altgeld, governor of Illinois, came in person to the town of Pullman and made an investigation of the condition of the people in order to satisfy himself regarding their complaints of suffering and destitution. After only a partial investigation the governor returned to his hotel satisfied with the correctness of the reports.
He said the starvation at Pullman was as bad if not worse than had been reported by the Times that 1,600 families in Pullman and vicinity were starving.
"Not only starving," said the governor, "but they are without fuel and in rags. They must not starve and I will remain in Pullman until some means can be devised for their relief.
"I went to Pullman in response to an invitation by the strikers' committee, and found matters even worse than represented. I visited
289their homes and went through every room in some of their houses. Two representatives of the Pullman company who accompanied me, admitted that the houses visited were a fair representation of every house occupied by the strikers' families. Their condition is pitiful, there are families numbering from two to eight members and I tell you they are slowly starving to death. The little ones are crying with hunger and there is nothing in the house to eat. Something for their relief must be done immediately. I have thought of several measures, but as yet have arrived at no conclusion. For several months the people may have to be cared for, and it is well to go slow when one is treading in deep water. I suppose I will be abused no matter what steps I take, but I don't care a blank, as these people will not starve if I can prevent it, and I shall see that I do prevent it."
The governor declined to say anything in relation to the cause which created the present condition at Pullman. Hie said it was enough to know that women and children were crying with hunger, it was time enough to talk about the causes later.
Upon the governor's arrival at Pullman, a
290big man with gray whiskers and a lordly air rushed forward and presented his card to his excellency. He was August Rapp, chief designer of the company and formerly superintendant of the works. With him was Chief Wilde, Pullman's head accountant, whom he presented. It was evident that the governor did not wish to see the Pullman official.
"Where are the members of the committee that sent for me?" he demanded. "I want to see the men." Somewhat abashed Messrs. Wilde and Rapp stepped backward and three or four mechanics came forward. There was Thos. W. Heathcoat, G. A. Kreamer, Theo. Rhode and two or three members of the relief committee. "I want to see what you men have to show me," said the governor.
They repaired at once to the tenements on Fulton street, where the first stop was made at No. 124, occupied by Mrs. O'Halleron. A blind widow was found occupying four small rooms on the first floor. She told the governor that she had two sons aged nineteen and fourteen respectively and a daughter aged twenty. All three had worked for Pullman but were now idle. They had applied for work but were told there was
291no work for them. One of the boys had been a brass polisher and the younger son and the daughter had worked in the laundry. They had lived in the town seven years. There was no coal in the house, they had a little food, given them by the relief committee, but they could not support themselves and said there was no one to look after their condition.
"Have the Pullman people sent any one to see you?"
"They have not," replied the blind woman.
She said they paid $12.60 for the four rooms. One of her sons had drawn $1.60 and the other 96 cents per day.
"Good luck to you, sir," she said as the governor walked away with his teeth set firmly together.
F. H. Taylor, superintendent of the Pullman company, had now joined the party taking the place of Accountant Wilde. Mr. Rapp pressed his way in everywhere though paying no attention to the audible slurs of the people about him.
Block B, across the way on Fulton street was next visited. The manner of Gov. Altgeld was kindly and he introduced himself in a pleasant
292way, asking questions in a manner calculated to inspire confidence.
There were six families in Block B, some of the tenants had gone back to work. A poor woman in No. 3 said her husband was not working, he had been in Pullman for six years and had asked to return to work, but was told there was nothing for him to do, the shop was full. She had three little children but little to eat, only a bit of flour, coffee and tea from the relief store left.
In Block 8, room 7, was John Carlson, a cabinet maker who had worked in Pullman for seven years and could not get his position back. He had nothing in the house to eat.
"Have you eaten to-day?" asked the governor.
"I had some bread and coffee from a neighbor," said the man. "My wife is sick and I divided with her, we havn't a thing in the house now."
Theo. Ericson, of 301 Fulton street, had six in family. He said he could not get work and the money he had saved before the strike was all gone. The relief committee had given a little food.
"How many in Pullman," said the governor, "are in the same fix, whom you know of?"
"Lots of men, sir, I know of half a dozen in my neighborhood," answered the man.
Olaf Olson had worked in the street car shops and was now idle. He had six children and his wife to care for, they have nothing to eat, and he could get nothing from the relief committee as their supplies were exhausted.
Otto Wullf, of room 22, Block F, also had a wife and six children. He said that all he had in the house to eat was two pounds of oat meal from the relief store. As he told his story tears rolled down the cheeks of the big bearded fellow and the governor was visibly affected. His wife was sick abed he said and a newspaper reporter dropped a quarter into his hand while he used a handkerchief to remove the moisture from his eyes.
The man stated that his wages had been $1.30 per day, and his rent $9.60 per month for four small rooms.
Peter Anderson, of Kensington, said he had worked in the repair shop but could not get work now as the shop was filled, or at least so he was told when he applied.
He had five children and not enough to eat. He had borrowed a dollar with which to buy a sack of flour. This was all he had.
Mr. Vanderwein had a wife and four children and could not get a position. He had no money and only two pounds of oat meal, two pounds of corn meal and a little flour left.
Here someone whispered to the governor and the latter turned to Mr. Rapp and said:
"They tell me you are taking the names of those who complain, with a view of keeping them out of work?"
"That is not so, sir," said Rapp, coloring deeply.
"And," said the governor, "they tell me you are largely responsible for the reduction of the wages?"
"That is not so, sir," persisted Mr. Rapp.
"Well, men," said the governor, "let him come with us, this must not be a star chamber affair."
A boy named Koopka spoke for his father who did not understand English.
He was one of three children he said, and they hadn't enough to eat. No relief could he
295obtained now and every thing was gone but a few potatoes.
Mrs. Nathan Booth stepped forward. She said she had six children, all barefooted, the oldest eleven years, and the youngest six months. They had been two years in Pullman and her husband had earned $1.30 per day. He had no work now, and the only food was that given them by the wife of the Methodist minister.
Andrew Schelly said he had worked for the Pullman company twelve years but could get no work now, and his family had nothing to eat. He had borrowed a pair of shoes in which he could seek work.
A. Bergstrom for seven years in Pullman said he could not get his old position. He had five children, the eldest ten years, and they had no money, no food, no trust.
Frank Mass had been three years in Pullman, had three children and nothing to eat.
The wife of Pat Mullen, of Block E, room 1, appeared with a child in her arms and a toddler at her skirts.
They had been in Pullman twelve years and and had four other children. Her husband could not get back to work because he was on the
296strike committee. She did not know where the next meal was to come from.
Though wretchedly poor these people were clean and neat. They are all of the better class of laboring people.
John Cedarland sat at a table and stared stolidly at the visitors, while his wife with a baby at her breast and two at her heels stood by. A neighbor who had given them of her scanty store, said the man was sick and the family destitute. On Sunday she had given them a piece of meat, and wood with which to cook it.
A reporter slipped a quarter into her hand and received a look worth $8.00.
Two of John Smith's collectors, out with furniture bills as a matter of form, told the governor that two-thirds of the old men were still idle, and that the condition of these men was deplorable. They had called at one place where one of the children was celebrating its birthday and all there was for the feast was bread and onions. The collectors chipped in for a few luxuries.
Mrs. Peter Camp appeared with two children and reported five more, and there were
297scores of similar cases, all destitute and absolutely without food.
On his way back to the city the governor would say but little.
Mr. Wickes, vice president of the Pullman company called and was presented to his excellency in due form. The object of his visit was to tended his services as guide and escort.
This was declined.
Mr. Wickes expressed his regret that the governor saw fit not to accept the offer.
As a result of Gov. Altgeld's investigation he issued the following proclamation:
"TO THE PEOPLE OF ILLINOIS, AND ESPESCIALLY THOSE OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO: There is great distress growing out of the want of food in and around the town of Pullman. More than a thousand families in the neighborhood of 6,000 people, are utterly destitute. Nearly four-fifths of them are women and children. The men have endeavored to get work but were unable to do so. I have made a personal examination of the case and learn from the officials of the Pullman company that prior to the strike they had 3,260 names on the pay roll; yesterday they had 2,220 people at work, but
over 600 of these were new men, so that they have only about 1,600 of their old employees at work, leaving about 1,660 that have not been taken back. Several hundreds of these have left, but the remainder are unable to go away and have nothing to eat. I find that immediately after the beginning of the strike a relief association was formed to provide for the needy, and the books of this association show that 2,463 applications were made by the Pullman employees, mostly heads of families, to this association for aid. In fact, nearly all of the employees, except the few hundred who left, have been supported by charity for nearly three months.
"As a rule they are a superior class of laboring people, industrious, capable, and steady and some of them have worked for the Pullman company for more than ten years. Those who have been given work can get food, but are still in such an impoverished condition that they cannot help their neighbors if they would. The relief society is unable to get more supplies. Last Saturday it gave to each family two pounds of oat meal and two pounds of corn meal, and having nothing left it suspended operations, leaving the people in an absolutely helpless
condition. The county commissioners of Cook county, as overseers of the poor, have rendered some assistance, but owing to limited appropriation they can furnish relief but for a short time.
"We cannot now stop to inquire into the cause of this distress. The good people of this state cannot allow women and children by the hundred to perish of hunger. I therefore call upon all humane and charitably disposed citizens to contribute what they can toward giving relief to these people. I am satisfied that any contribution sent to the Pullman relief committee at Kensington, Ill., will be judiciously distributed. I find their treasurer has given a bond to properly account for all moneys received.
JOHN P. ALTGELD.
Aug. 21, 1894.
TO THE HONORABLE, THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISIONERS OF COOK COUNTY — Gentlemen: Your attention has already been called to the great destitution that exists in and around the town of Pullman and you have furnished some relief there. I have made a personal investigation of the conditions there and find the suffering is very great for want of food. I
respectiully appeal to you as the officers upon whom devolves the duty of providing for cases of this kind, that you do the uttermost in your power to furnish immediate assistance to those people.
JOHN P. ALTGELD.
Aug. 21, 1894.
Before leaving Springfield to investigate the condition at Pullman, Gov. Altgeld sent the following telegram to Mr. Pullman:
Aug. 19, 1894.
George M. Pullman, President of the Pullman's Palace Car Company, Chicago, Ill.:
I have received numerous reports to the effect that there is great distress at Pullman. To-day I received a formal appeal as governor from a committee of the Pullman people for aid. They state that 1,600 families, including women and children, are starving; that they cannot get work and have not the means to go elsewhere; that your company has brought men from all over the United States to fill their places. Now, these people live in your town and were your employees. Some of them worked for your company for many years. They must be people of industry and character or you would not have
kept them. Many of them have practically given their lives to you. It is claimed that they struck because after years of toil their wages were so reduced that their children went hungry. Assuming that they were wrong and foolish, they had yet served you long and well and you must feel some interest in them. They do not stand on the same footing with you, so that much must be overlooked. The state of Illinois has not the least desire to meddle in the affairs of your company, but it cannot allow a whole community within its borders to perish of hunger. The local overseer of the poor has been appealed to, but there is a limit to what he can do. I cannot help them very much at present, so unless relief comes from some other source I shall either have to call an extra session of the legislature to make special appropriation or else issue an appeal to the humane people of the state to give bread to your recent employees. It seems to me that you would prefer to relieve the situation yourself, especially as it has just cost the state upward of $50,000 to protect your property and as both the state and the public have suffered enormous loss and expense on account of disturbances that grew out of the
trouble between your company and its workmen. I am going to Chicago to-night to make a personal investigation before taking any official action. I will be in my office in the Unity block at 10 A. Mdot; to-morrow and shall be glad to hear from you if you care to make any reply.
"JOHN Pdot; ALTGELD."
The following letter was addressed to Mrdot; Pullman by Govdot; Altgeld.
CHICAGO, Ill., Augdot; 21.
George Mdot; Pullman, President of the Pullman's Palace Car Company, Chicago.
"SIR: I examined the conditions at Pullman yesterday, visited even the kitchens and bedrooms of many of the people. Two representatives of your company were with me and we found the distress as great as it was represented. The men are hungry and the women and children are actually suffering. They have been living on charity for a number of months and it is exhausted. Men who have worked for your company for more than ten years had to apply to the relief society in two weeks after the work stopped. I learn from your manager that last spring there were 3,260 people on the pay roll; yesterday there were 2,220 at work, but over
600 of these are new men, so that only about 1,600 of the old employes have been taken back, thus leaving over 1,000 of the old employes who have not been taken back. A few hundred have left. The remainder have nearly all applied for work, but were told that they were not needed. These are utterly destitute. The relief committee last Saturday gave out two pounds of oatmeal and two pounds of cornmeal to each family, but even the relief committee has exhausted its resources. Something must be done at once. The case differs from instances of destitution found elsewhere, for generally there is somebody in the neighborhood able to give relief. This is not the case at Pullman. Even those who have gone to work are so exhausted that they cannot help their neighbors if they would. I repeat now that it seems so me your company cannot afford to have me appeal to the charity and humanity of the state to save the lives of your old employes. Four-fifths of those people are women and children. No matter what caused this distress it must be met."
"If you will allow me I will make this suggestion: If you had shut down your works last fall when you say business was poor you
would not have expected to get any rent from your tenants. Now, while a dollar is a large sum to each of these people all the rent now due you is a comparatively small matter to you. If you will cancel all rent to Oct. 1, you will be as well off as if you had shut down. This would enable those at work to meet their most pressing wants. Then if you cannot give work to all, work some half time so that all can at least get something to eat for their families. This will give immediate relief to the whole situation and then by degrees assist as many to go elsewhere as desire to do so and all to whom you cannot give work. In this way something like a normal condition could be re-established at Pullman before winter and you would not be out any more than you would have been had you shut down a year ago. I will be at the Unity block for several hours and will be glad to see you if you care to make any reply.
Yours respectfully, JOHN P. ALTGELD."
Mr. Pullman replied as follows:
THE PULLMAN'S PALACE CAR COMPANY, OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
Aug. 21, 1894.
SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of this date, giving your impressions derived from your visit to the town of Pullman yesterday. In pursuance of the invitation contained in your telegram of the 19th inst. I caused Mr. Wickes, a vice president of this company, who is thoroughly acquainted with its affairs at Pullman, to call upon you and offer you every assistance in his power or which could be offered by any officer of the company in making your proposed personal investigation. Mr. Wickes offered to accompany you to Pullman for this purpose, and I regret that you did not appear to consider that he could be of service to you. As an indication of the importance of the aid of local knowledge in making essential discriminations I may say to you that I have the best reason for believing that the husband of a wife who is published as representing her family to you yesterday as in need of help, drew more than $1,300 of his savings from
a bank July 2 last for the purpose as he said of buying lots.
While it has not been represented to the officers of this company by any persons concerned that there was any such extended distress at Pullman, as was represented for the first time by the extraordinary method of a published telegram to you in your official capacity, I do not doubt that there are many cases of need caused by the refusal of the employee as for more than two and one-half months to earn offered wages of more than $300,000; and that such cases have been increased and made more severe by the persistence of more than 650 of our employees, of whom about 350 live in Pullman, in refusing to apply for their old places after the strike was practically over and after they were publicly invited, July 16, to resume their work, until by the gradual coming in of new men during the whole month their places have been filled and the full force engaged for all work in hand. In addition to this there is, no doubt, need among the old employees living in Pullman, a considerable number of whom have persistently refused to apply for work at all, many of them
it is understood, considering themselves to be still engaged in a strike.
I mention these things so that the responsibility for the existing situation, whatever it is may not be improperly placed. The situation, however, is one which must be dealt without regard to what has caused it, and I shall give it the consideration which is due from the company. I do not, however, anticipate, as you appear to do, that those employees who have resumed their work will be limited to the satisfaction of their most pressing wants, and as to those who are not at work the cancelling of their rents is not, I venture to suggest, a question to which attention should first be given at the present juncture if their pressing needs are as you suppose them to be. The company will continue in its efforts to secure work in order to employ as many men as possible, and in that way relieve the situation as far as practicable.
Your suggestion that the work should be divided so that a sufficient number of our present employees should be put on half time in order to give at least half time work for all was tried last winter. The result has been that the gross earnings of various individual employees were
last winter so small as to give an erroneous impression with reference to the sufficiency of the rate of wages. The policy of the company is now to employ only as many men as it is possible to furnish work for on full time.
Very respectfully yours,
GEORGE M. PULLMAN,
The Hon. John P. Altgeld, Governor.
CHICAGO, Aug. 21.
George M. Pullman, Esq., President the Pullman's Palace Car Company, City.
SIR: I have your answer to my communication this morning. I see by it that your company refuses to do anything toward relieving the situation at Pullman. It is true that Mr. Wickes offered to take me to Pullman and show me around. I told him that I had no objection to his going, but that I doubted the wisdom of my going under anybody's wing. I was, however, met by two of your representatives, both able men, who accompanied me everywhere. I took pains to have them present in each case. I also called at your office and got what information they could give there, so that your company was represented and heard, and no man there
questioned either the condition or the extent of their suffering. If you will make the round I made, go into the houses of these people, meet them face to face, and talk with them you will be convinced that none of them had $1,300 or any other sum of money a few weeks ago.
I cannot enter into a discussion with you as to the merits of the controversy between you and your former workmen. It is not my business to fix the moral responsibility in this case. There are nearly 6,000 people suffering for the want of food — they were your employees — four-fifths of them are women and children — some of these people have worked for you more than twelve years. I assume that even if they were wrong and had been foolish you would not be willing to see them perish. I also assume that as the state has just been to a large expense to protect your property you would not want to have the public shoulder the burden of relieving distress in your town.
As you refuse to do anything to relieve the suffering in this case I am compelled to appeal to the humanity of the people of Illinois to do so.
JOHN P. ALTGELD.
Chapter XXI. Conclusion.
The condition of the Pullman strikers elicited by the commission appointed by President Cleveland for that purpose as shown by the proceeding extracts from the investigation, was known to the delegates to the convention of the American Railway Union held in Chicago in June. In turn they made known to the various local unions these deplorable conditions. Hence the boycott, or as it has been designated by the general managers, a sympathetic strike.
They have been charged with striking without a cause other than a fanciful grievance of the Pullman employee, and roundly censured for their actions. That too by men of kind hearts and liberal views who were not aware of the true situation. Had this commission been appointed previous to the boycott, it is my honest conviction, there would have been no trouble. The broad inherent spirit of humanity in American hearts would assert itself, and the
311powerful voice of public sentiment would terrorize this inhuman corporation into doing justice to their employees.
The defeat of the strikers was attributed to a great many causes, but the real cause can be laid to the federal government or the administration thereof.
President Cleveland, it is said, was and is a partner in a law firm who are employed by four of the largest railroad systems in the United States. The cabinet, with a few exceptions, are also connected with railroad corporations either directly or indirectly.
The federal courts are absolutely owned by the railroads, and consequently the whole federal government was arrayed against the strikers.
The federal judges prostituted the courts to the use of the railroads in granting injunctions to restrain the officers of the American Railway Union from acting in any form for or with that organization. From the time that Mr. Debs was successfully shackled by the courts, the strikers were like some great beheaded mastodon, staggering about, vainly endeavoring to retain the dying spark of life.
In order to be more explicit, just as soon as the officers of the American Railway Union were incarcerated, reports were circulated by the general managers at one point, that men at some distant point had returned to work. The men, where these reports would be received, would at once wire to the officers at Chicago, asking if it be true. The officers of the union were prohibited from sending telegrams, and on receiving no reply they would take it for granted that these reports were authentic, and apply for work. In short, when they lost the guidance of Debs, their ranks became demoralized. This was the real cause of the defeat of the American Railway Union. Its first defeat after twelve decisive victories, eleven of which were accomplished without a strike.
The prostitution of the government — founded on the blood of our forefathers — by the organized capital of this country, of which the greater part is foreign gold, is something of the most vital importance to every workingman in America today. This is a matter that demands the gravest thought of every American citizen who is loyal to himself, to his family and to his country.
The flagrant abuse of the constitution by
313the plutocratic money power, if not checked by the people, will reduce them to a condition, beneath that of any nation in the known world.
This strike has clearly demonstrated the truth of this assertion. In not one instance during the whole course of the trouble, have the representatives of the corporations and the representatives of the government failed to unite in destroying the constitutional rights of the American workingman.
The devilish ingenuity of this corporate power goes still further to retain the power they hold over the government. They have conceived a plan to disfranchise in a manner all members of the American Railway Union and deprive them of the right to vote. In this they have actually accomplished their purpose by forcing its members out of employment, and driving them from their homes to seek employment in foreign parts of the country on the eve of election, where they would not be elligible to vote.
The inherent cunning of this blood sucking money power would pale to insignificance the most diabolical deeds of the prince of darkness.
Blinded by their victory over the American Railway Union-through the assistance of the
314federal courts — they will stop at nothing to complete the work of subjugation and annihilation. They have tested their power over the courts and find them so completely subservient to their will that they know they would be secure in carrying out any high-handed proceeding which they may deem necessary to complete their work of demoralization and hounding to death, if need be, the members of this order.
This was the very condition of affairs that President Debs anticipated, and tried to guard against. This was the impending danger against which he warned the men, and for this he filled a felon's cell in Cook county jail.
Against these conditions the people must unite and co-operate. We must no longer close our eyes to the glaring fact that we are being made parties to our own destruction by the corporations and trusts of this country, and their allies the Democratic and Republican parties.
These two great political parties are so completely controlled by the corporations, that anything asked of them is immediatedly granted, the only difference between the two being their views as to the best method by which they can serve these corporations.
The railroads combine and trusts of all kinds furnish the funds for campaign purposes, and also incidentally furnish the votes to elect their friends. They have in every precinct, ward, town, city, county and state, their hirelings who beguile the people into voting as they dictate.
The child like confidence of the people could not be shaken in the old parties. They were ever ready to place implicit faith in these designing politicians, believing that the laws made by them were just what was wanted for the people's salvation.
This delusion cannot last, the time is now ripe for action. The masses must protect their interests if they would be free to enjoy the rights awarded them by the constitution.
The American Railway Union has proven the greatest blessing to the working people of this country. It has torn the mask of hypocracy from these plutocratic professional politicians and revealed them in their true character.
The working people can no longer afford to be deluded by these old parties. They must unite and arise in one grand body and assert their independence as freemen and intelligent American citizens, and by their ballot take
316possession of this government of the capitalist, by the capitalist, and for the capitalist, and again make it a government of the people, by the people and for the people.
President Debs struck the keynote when he said that it was better for the government to own the railroads than for the railroads to own the government. Our only chance to succeed in obtaining our constitutional rights is by legislation and this we must create ourselves. We never can obtain it through either of the old parties and therefore must ally ourselves to a new party.
It is time that every intelligent workingman would think and act for himself. All semblance to aristocracy in labor must be eliminated, the skillful artesan has no more guarantee of just treatment than has the common laborer.
Every workingman should endorse the Peoples party. They must unite as one, in one common cause and strike for their rights with the only effective weapon left to them "the ballot."
This strike has proven beyond doubt that the protective features in railroad organizations, and other organizations as well, is a dead letter as long as the federal courts are controlled by
317capital. Unless this is remedied, all labor organizations might just as well send in their charters and cease to exist.
I cannot believe that the American people will allow this state of affairs to continue. There are many men in public life to-day whose motives are pure and unselfish. Such men as Governors Altgeld, Waite, Penoyer; Congressmen Kyle, Peffer, McGann, Pence, Goldgier; Mayor Hopkins of Chicago, Sydney M. Owens, Clarence S. Darrow, Judge Tully, Gen. Weaver, W. W. Erwin and hosts of others, who publicly espoused the cause; of the strikers.
The subsidized press, the most dangerous enemy of labor, and next to the courts, the most effective weapon in the hands of the railroad corporations in destroying the rights of labor and defeating the strikers, has again fallen in line as the champions of the laboring classes. With hypocritical pretentions to sympathy for the workingman, the organs of the two great political parties have begun to knife each other, and unite in denouncing the People's party, all for the benefit of the poor farmer, railroader, mechanic and laborer. They are loud in their denunciation of trusts, combines and corporations of
318all kinds that have a tendency to crush the poor working people. Their great and generous hearts are overflowing with sympathy for the poor oppressed toiler.
The question is, can the American workingman be again deluded by these organs of organized capital?
The laboring people do not want sympathy, neither do they want charity, all they want is simple justice, and this they must and will have.
There are exceptions among the press and these should be remembered by the people. Papers that were champions of right and justice and whom the general managers could not buy.
And now, kind reader, in conclusion I will quote the words of him, whose noble life is devoted to the cause of humanity:
"The strike was not a failure. It will pass into history as a noble struggle for a righteous cause, and those who participated in it, whatever their immediate sacrifices may be, will in the end feel amply compensated for all their losses."