The immediate cause of the Pullman strike was the firing of three workers who lived in the town of Pullman. The town of Pullman was built and operated by Mr. Pullman to house and service the many workers of his Pullman Palace Train Car Company. A committee of residents had come to Mr. Pullman to discuss the possibility of lowering the rents within the town due to his recent layoffs and salary reductions at the factory. In response to a depressed economy and poor business profits, Pullman had laid off more than fifty percent of the factory workers and cut the pay of the remaining workers by 25%. Pullman told the residents that paying their rents had nothing to do with the conditions at the factory. He refused to negotiate or discuss the issue and ended the meeting by firing three of the members of the renter’s committee. The three men who were fired were members of the newly established American Railway Union. A thirty-eight year old ex-railroad fireman by the name of Eugene V. Debs had established the union in 1893. The A.R.U. was an “industrial” union established in opposition to the idea of the “craft” union. The A.R.U. was a union operating for all the workers of “white” parentage and not just “white craftsmen”. The A.R.U. called for a strike of the Pullman factory. Pullman who wasn’t making much money at the factory at that moment anyway, simply closed down the factory entirely. The A.R.U. then called on its 150,000 members to boycott Pullman cars throughout the system. This did not improve Mr. Pullman’s attitude or temperament. He demanded that troops be brought in. Many local militias were called out, but many of the members of these groups were friends and relatives of the strikers. They felt that they were there to keep the peace, not take a side in a business dispute. In Winnemucca, Nevada the militia stood by idly as many Pullman cars were relieved of some of their oranges and coal by the ranks of the unemployed. Pullman then contacted his friends at the General Managers Association. This was a semi-secret organization of about twenty-four railroad owners operating in or through Chicago. They called Richard Olney, the Attorney General to President Grover Cleveland. Olney asked Cleveland to send in Federal troops. Cleveland demurred on the grounds that nothing of a Federal nature was going on. Olney was a railroad attorney before he became attorney General and he was on the board of several railroads. He protested the president’s charge. He argued that the railroads were, in effect, interstate highways. Disrupting service on an interstate highway was a “public nuisance”. He further charged that 150,000 workers acting jointly in several different states to obstruct a man’s business was against the Sherman Anti-trust Act. It was a “conspiracy” acting in restraint of trade. Considering that the Sherman Anti-trust Act was established in 1890 to act as a brake on big business and its tendencies to monopolization, this was a daring, new twist on the interpretation of the law. So far this Sherman Anti-trust Act had not dared to be used against a single big business. He further charged that since railroads carried federal mail, to obstruct a railroad was to interfere in the operations of the federal government, and a misdemeanor. Olney got Pullman an “injunction” against the obstruction of the federal mail. A Federal Marshal went to a disturbance site and read the injunction to the strikers. The strikers didn’t take the news well. In fact, they ignored the injunction and Marshal Arnold and others. This slight to Marshal Arnold’s authority encouraged him to exaggerate his report. He dispatched back to Olney the notion that chaos had ensued, trains were being shoved off the track and mail was being destroyed. Observers at the scene and the results of an investigation after the Pullman strike had ended, substantiated Marshal Arnold’s fabrication and his exaggeration of the conditions at the time. President Cleveland ordered troops from Fort Sheridan to the area. In the mean time Pullman added 2600 to 3000 emergency Deputy Marshals to the ranks. Chicago Superintendent of police said when questioned by the after-the-fact federal investigating committee, that these new “deputies” were nothing more than thieves, thugs and ex-convicts. Governor Altgeld was extremely upset with the arrival of federal troops in his state. He challenged the constitutionality of President Cleveland’s decision. The Federal troop’s presence alone had caused several disturbances. Governor Altgeld dispatched 5000 state militia to quell the riots and keep the peace that had been upset by the Federal troops. The strikers attacked one of the Illinois regiments and a battle ensued. Twenty to thirty were killed that first day and the fighting went on with similar results for a few more days. Hundred of trains and buildings were burnt. Many people were killed and injured. More and more troops were sent in by both the State and the Federal Government. Very shortly there were a minimum of fourteen thousand troops in the area. Olney had seven hundred union leaders arrested. Debs was arrested twice; once on conspiracy, and the second time for contempt of court. The conspiracy charge was eventually dropped, but the contempt trial became famous. In effect, when the union did not comply with the injunction, it was in contempt of the court order. Clarence Darrow defended Debs on the contempt charge. He lost. Debs went to prison. The case went all the way to the supreme court, “in re Debs”. It was decided by the supreme court that an injunction could be used against a union; that a union could be held responsible as conspirators acting in restraint of trade; that the Federal Government could use troops in protecting interstate trade and obstruction of U. S. mail. Mark Hanna, famous power broker, presidential advisor to McKinley, and wealthy businessman, called George Pullman “a damned idiot”. To folks who were sympathetic to Pullman and suggested that his goals at the town of Pullman were philanthropic, Hanna suggested that they should go and live in Pullman and compare how the rent, gas, water and grocery bills compared to everywhere else. After the violence had erupted and all the federal and state troops had arrived, Debs called on Samuel Gompers to intercede on behalf of the strikers with the General Managers Association. Gompers refused and made a blanket statement criticizing all parties involved. This put the final nail in the Pullman strike coffin.*
*Works used in this essay: “Attorney for the Damned”, Clarence Darrow in the courtroom, Arthur Weinberg; “The Rise of Industrial America”, Page Smith; “American Economic History” Harold Underwood Faulkner; “A History of American Labor”, Joseph G. Rayback; “Leading Cases on the Constitution”, Bartholomew; “Roughneck”, The Life and Times of Big Bill Haywood, Peter Carlson.
Books by Richard Edward Noble. Click on covers below for more info and purchasing instructions.
Classic Tragic Novel
Don't Laugh - This Could Have Been Your Life
Funny stories and some strange characters.
Monkey Dishes and Cocktail Fawks
My Harrowing days in the restaurant business. Great Read.
It's a Long Story
Long Short Fiction - Great stories!
Bloggin' Be My Life
"Bloggin' be My Life" contains a selection of some of my more popular Hobo Philosopher blogs.If you enjoy reading this blog, you should love Bloggin' Be My Life.
It's All About Love
It's All About Love is ... all about love. This is the 2nd book of poetry from The Bard From Chelmsford off Arlington. Every poem in this book comes with a prose introduction. If you enjoy poetry this is a simple choice. Have fun!
A Little Something
Traditional poetry from The Bard From Chelmsford Off Arlington with some poignant prose introductions. If you enjoy any type of poetry, you will enjoy this volume. Thanks.
Talking To Myself
This is my third book of poetry.
Bits and Pieces
The Hobo Philosopher - My first book using the Hobo Philosopher brand. Featuring a variety of writing styles and ideas. Look for the Thoughtful Hobo on the cover.
A Baker's Dozen
The Hobo Philosopher: My Second book of Fiction, Creative Non-Fiction and Short Stories. All varieties of short stories - lots of laughs!
Cat Point - and Them Dang Oyster People
Cat Point is the sequel to "The Eastpointer." Both books contain humorous tales about life in a fishing community on the Florida Panhandle. Lots of laughs.
Won 1st Place award for humor in 2007 from Florida Press Association. More wit, wisdom and humor from the yet to be world famous author, R.E. Noble
A Summer with Charlie - Lawrence
Fiction - Salisbury Beach, Lawrence, Mass. Featured in Merrimack Valley Magazine July /Aug. issue 2010
Travel, Humor, Commentary on migrant farm work and illegal immigration still very pertinent today.
"Just Hangin' Out Ma"
Thank God for the Street Corners of Lawrence, Mass. Anecdotes and humorous escapades about growing up in an industrial mill town in the 40s,50s and 60s.
This is the sequel to "Just Hangin' Out, Ma"
That Old Gang of Mine
This is # 3 in my Lawrence Hometown series. The series is about growing up in the 40's, 50's and 60's in an industrial mill town. Sorta like a Huck Finn goes to vist Uncle Ralph, the bus driver, who lives in a big, rundown city. Lots of fun.
Come On-A My House
This is # 4 in my Lawrence Hometown series.The old homested at 32 Chelmsford ST is pictured on the cover..
Down By The Old Mill Stream
# 5 in the Lawrence My Hometown series.
Standing on the Corner is # 6 in the lawrence My Hometown series.
The old Howard Playstead on Lawrence St.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry
# 7 in the Lawrence my Hometown series.
Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother
Classic tragic novel written from child's perspective. Deals with abuse, poverty, unemployment. Pulls no punches.
Noble Notes on Famous Folks
Humorous, satirical notes on everybody from Constantine to Bill Clinton. Inspiration: Willy Cuppy.
America on Strike
History - documented survey of labor strikes in America
Mein Kampf - An Analysis of Book One
Who are the American Nazis - the Liberals or the Conservatives?
MY NAME IS RICHARD EDWARD NOBLE. I AM A FREELANCE WRITER AND I HAVE PUBLISHED 12 BOOKS:"THE EASTPOINTER" - SELECTIONS FROM AWARD WINNING NEWSPAPER COLUMN - "A LITTLE SOMETHING" - POETRY WITH PROSE -"HONOR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER" - A NOVEL ABOUT GROWING UP IN THE NEW ENGLAND MILL TOWN OF LAWRENCE, MASS, "HOBO-ING AMERICA" - A WORKINGMAN'S TOUR OF THE U.S.A. - "A SUMMER WITH CHARLIE" - THE STORY OF A YOUNG SAILOR'S LAST DAYS AT SALISBURY BEACH, "NOBLE NOTES ON FAMOUS FOLKS" - HUMOROUS ANECDOTES ON FAMOUS FOLKS IN HISTORY,
"AMERICA ON STRIKE" HISTORY BOOK - A SURVEY OF LABOR STRIKES IN AMERICA; "A BAKER'S DOZEN" A BOOK OF HUMOROUS SHORT STORIES; "JUST HANGIN' OUT, MA" - GROWING UP IN THE 40'S, 50'S AND 60'S IN LAWRENCE, MY HOMETOWN, "TENEMENT DWELLERS" - SEQUEL TO JUST HANGIN OUT, MA; MEIN KAMPF - ANALYSIS OF BOOK ONE - HISTORY. CAT POINT - AND THEM DANG OYSTER PEOPLE - SEQUEL TO THE EASTPOINTER
All 12 BOOKS ARE AVAILABLE ON AMAZON.COM, BARNES AND NOBLE AND OTHER INTERNET SOURCES OR FROM NOBLE PUBLISHING. ALL 12 OF MY BOOKS ARE NOW ON KINDLE AT BARGAIN PRICES TOO. IF YOU WOULD LIKE MORE INFORMATION ABOUT DISCOUNTS AND SPECIAL OFFERS E-MAIL ME. MY EMAIL IS ON MY PROFILE PAGE.