THE PULLMAN STRIKE OF 1894 by tyndale

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									                THE PULLMAN STRIKE OF 1894
                                  A Documentary Problem
In 1880 George M. Pullman, manufacturer of the fabulously successful Pullman Palace Sleeping and
Dining Cars, announced his intention to build a model industrial community on the shores of Lake
Calumet just south of Chicago, Illinois. This was an era of increasingly bitter conflicts between owners
and managers of business on the one hand, and working people, frequently organized in unions, on the
other. Many Americans, especially those who owned property, often considered the union movement
synonymous with various socialist and radical movements that developed along with industrial
capitalism. These socialist groups, generally hostile to capitalism, advocated confiscation of private
property by the state or by "the people" collectively. Some of these groups in the late 19th century
maintained that the oppressed working class would inevitably rise up in a violent, bloody revolution
against the capitalist class. For those comfortable Americans who associated the union movement with
this variety of radicalism, violent confrontations between working people and capitalists in the late 19th
and early 20th centuries seemed to be a terrifying prelude to a horrific class war.

In an age anxiously concerned about the increasingly violent conflict between capital and labor and
alarmed by the social ills and degraded conditions appearing in the slums of the expanding cities,
Pullman's experiment initially seemed to indicate to many Americans that a solution to the problems of
modern life had been identified. Visions of utopia - a pragmatic, efficient, productive, and harmonious
community - dominated many popular perceptions of Pullman's model industrial town.

By the early 1880s, George Pullman had made his mark in the business world through superb organizing
skill, competitive business practices, and a clever capacity for identifying and satisfying the customer’s
desires. He outdistanced his competitors by building luxurious, expensive railway cars that were
particularly attractive to affluent customers willing to "pay a premium" for extraordinary luxury.
Passengers rarely defaced or damaged his cars, Pullman argued, because the cars’ beauty and luxury
inspired awe in travelers and consequently encouraged passengers to behave in an orderly manner.
Pullman also prospered by employing ingenious measures to publicize his cars, thereby creating a strong
"corporate image" that encouraged customer preference (today, it would be called “brand loyalty” – i.e.
many people buy Crest toothpaste, not because it’s the best, or because it’s the cheapest, but because
they’re most familiar with it). Because demand for his cars was so high, he was able to force railroads
operating his cars to adopt uniform standards for employing his cars on their roads. For example, the
service on Pullman cars themselves was widely noted for its conformance to absolute order and
uniformity, qualities highly prized by affluent customers.

In the late 19th century, Chicago was one of the most rapidly growing cities in the nation. It was second
only to New York City as a leading commercial, industrial, and economic center of the country. It was
also the undisputed railroad hub for the Midwestern United States, and numerous railroads lines
converged on the city. During the first four months of 1880, the Pullman Palace Car Company quietly
bought up over nearly four thousand acres of land south of Chicago near Lake Calumet and close to a
number of major national railroad lines. Pullman selected the site for its strategic location close to (but
not in) booming Chicago. There he planned to expand his operations by manufacturing freight-cars in
addition to his highly successful dining and sleeping cars. He wanted a large, efficient plant near the
growing metropolis of Chicago, but in an area where land was cheap and where his workers could be
protected from what he regarded as the evil influences of city life.
George M. Pullman, then, was not simply a businessman. He was also an amateur moral philosopher,
and “order” was his philosophy. He hoped to attract a large number of skilled, reliable workers, of
upright moral character to work in his factory. He also hoped to cultivate, maintain, and even improve
their moral character by creating housing, businesses, and other community institutions immediately
adjacent to the plant; a community that he believed would be conducive to self-respect, orderly living,
and individual contentment.

Such an orderly community, he hoped, would not encourage violent labor/capital strife that was
increasingly common in late 19th century American life. Pullman hoped to inculcate what he labeled,
“habits of respectability,” and he believed that housing workers in his town would initiate “a new era for
labor,” free from strikes and unrest. Crucial to his sense of order, however, was an emphasis on
hierarchy. He was the owner, and in his view, that made him the boss at the top of an economic pyramid,
and his employees were his subordinates below him. Or, to put it another way, Pullman saw himself as
a father figure, and his employees were his children. He would take care of their fundamental needs, and
his employees would reciprocate with respectful deference and obedience to his authority. Industrial
harmony in this “utopia” on the plains south of Chicago, then, depended on employees’ willingness to
share George M. Pullman’s ideals and to subordinate themselves to Pullman’s paternal authority.

For many Americans disturbed by the growing class divisions in the United States, the town of Pullman
soon became a model of enlightened industrial and civic leadership. Visitors to the 1893 Chicago
World's Fair often made a special trip to nearby Pullman to visit what had, in just a little over a decade,
become a great American landmark indicating the possibility of harmonious labor-management relations
away from the evil atmosphere of the festering cities - of which nearby Chicago offered a glaring

1893, however, brought not only the World's Fair and its temporary economic stimulus to the Chicago
area; it also brought the most severe economic depression in American history up to that time - an
economic crisis that soon had a calamitous impact in the Chicago area. This was an era before the social
welfare state. Social Security, unemployment insurance, disability insurance, food stamps, welfare, and
a host of other government programs did not yet exist. Prolonged unemployment could be life
threatening, and in depressions in the 19th century, one could starve to death in the United States simply
because one was poor. George Pullman's actions in meeting the crisis of the depression brought about a
confrontation with his workers. Pullman drastically reduced wage rates in his factories, but he did not
reduce the rents his workers paid to live in his company town. Pullman’s employees were enraged by
what they regarded as extravagant greed on the part of the owner. This act, and other long-standing
grievances about conditions in Pullman produced bitter, violent conflict between employees and
ownership, just the thing George Pullman had hoped to avoid.

Pullman’s employees never completely shared their owner’s values or objectives. They had always
attempted to organize collectively to offset the owner’s immense economic power over their lives. They
had affiliated with the American Railway Union (ARU), which represented thousands of railroad
workers across the country. When workers in Pullman decided to strike on May 11, 1894, the ARU
called on its members who worked on railroads across the country to boycott handling Pullman Cars.
ARU members refused to attach Pullman Cars to trains or to serve on trains to which Pullman Cars were
attached. Soon, class warfare engulfed first Pullman, then nearby Chicago, and finally spread across the
United States.

The General Managers Association, an organization representing ownership and management of the
major railroads centering or terminating in Chicago, vigorously supported George Pullman in what they
regarded as a climactic struggle to determine absolute dominance over the economy and the workplace.
The General Managers Association retaliated against the ARU with all the instruments of corporate
power at its disposal - on a national scale. All over the country they locked out workers, employed
private guards (the hated Pinkerton Detectives, renowned for their brutality) and state militias to
intimidate employees, and they prevailed on sympathetic (or corrupt) jurists to issue court injunctions
against the American Railway Union. Mass violence erupted all across the country (including a major
incident in Sacramento). In Chicago, private police, employed the General Managers Association,
assaulted workers and provoked violent incidents. When embittered working people torched hundreds of
railroad cars and destroyed the property of several railroads, private guards and city police opened fire,
killing several persons. Soon thereafter, the President of the United States, Grover Cleveland, dispatched
federal troops to numerous cities to crush the strike. By the time the violence had ended in late July,
thirty-four people were dead. Eugene Debs, the president of the American Railway Union, was arrested,
prosecuted, convicted, and imprisoned for contempt of court and interference with the U.S. mails. The
American Railway Union and the union movement had suffered a bloody defeat, and ownership and
management had won.

This "Great Strike" of 1894, a direct outgrowth and expansion of the Pullman strike, became one of the
major labor/capital conflicts of the late 19th century, and it had far reaching consequences for the nation,
including: middle class fears of a rising tide of labor radicalism; the radicalization of Eugene Debs and
the American Railway Union (Debs emerged from prison as a Socialist and later ran five times for
President of the United States - on the Socialist Party ticket); the eclipse of the image of George Pullman
as an enlightened industrialist with pragmatic, effective solutions to the class conflicts produced by
industrial society. The strike demonstrated how class divisions produced fundamental conflicts over
moral values and worldviews.

Perhaps above all, these events were part of a struggle to determine whose definitions of freedom and
liberty would govern the country and whose definitions of those concepts would be treated as
subordinate, or even heretical, and thus liable to subordination or even total suppression.

Prepare for writing the paper by reading (and then rereading) the documents until you have a
knowledgeable command of them. You should also consult the textbook for insight into the causes and
consequences of the events at Pullman.

In an essay of at least 3-4 typed pages, double spaced, 1" margins, write an interpretive account of the
Pullman Strike of 1894 based on your analysis and interpretation of the documents in this collection.
may also use the introduction to this document collection, and the textbook - but no other sources are
allowed). Since there are many more issues and facts in these documents than you can possibly include
in a 3-4 page paper, do not attempt to discuss all of them. Concentrate on writing a coherent
interpretation of the major events, supporting your conclusions with relevant facts and examples from
the documents.

Begin by reading through the documents several times. After you begin to get the feeling that you have a
good general command of the documents, make an annotated timeline of the events. Then consider how
to reconstruct the crucial sequence of events in a way that makes sense of the diversity of sources and in
a way that makes chronological sense. Above all, your paper should demonstrate a clear understanding
of the major sequence of events leading to and from the Pullman Strike.

Consider the documents in this packet as kind of puzzle. In the broadest sense, your task in this paper
assignment is to arrange the pieces of the puzzle so that they make sense - that is, so that they help you
explain WHAT happened, WHY it happened, WHO were the important figures in this event, WHERE
the events took places, and WHEN the most significant events occurred. Above all, be sure to make the
SEQUENCE OF MAJOR EVENTS in this incident clear!

Your essay should include numerous examples and evidence drawn directly from documents provided in
this package.


In short, construct an account that makes the most sense to you based on the available evidence.

Rules of Composition

Each essay should also possess an introductory paragraph, a body, and a conclusion.

The introduction should provide just that - an introduction to the topic you're going to examine. A good
introduction provides a thesis statement (a sentence or sentences that decisively state an argument or
position that you will develop and demonstrate in your essay) and a brief statement of the main points
you intend to develop in your essay.

The body should be composed of several paragraphs that support your thesis and main points of your
essay. Above all, the body provides the EVIDENCE that proves your thesis. More than any other single
criteria, your work will be judged on the quantity and quality of the evidence you provide and your
analysis of it. So you should devote most of your time to assembling and intelligently examining

   Good essays will provide numerous pieces of evidence from the documents to support the argument.
   Poor essays will provide little or no evidence drawn from the documents.

   For the purposes of the essays you will be writing, the term "evidence" includes examples and major
   ideas drawn from the documents. Thus your essays should contain numerous quotations drawn
   specifically from the documents.

The conclusion can be constructed in a variety of ways: it may be a brief summary of the main points of
your essay; it may also be a restatement of your thesis; but the best conclusion is one that demonstrates
the historical significance of the issue at hand and your analysis of it.
Papers will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

   1. Organization, logic, coherence (that is, introduction, thesis, body, conclusion, etc.).
   2. Content (quantity and quality of evidence, level of analysis, level of command of subject matter).
   3. Grammar, syntax, spelling.


A Warning on Sources

These documents should be the only source upon which you base your paper. Do not write a paper based
on sources other than those that are provided for you here! There are numerous other accounts on
Pullman available in the library and on the web. But they are based on other - or additional evidence,
and they would be more likely to confuse you than to help you in working with this specific, limited set
of documents. In any case, your grade on this assignment will depend on how well you analyze and
interpret the documents in this collection!

A Warning on Plagiarism

What is plagiarism? Plagiarism is literary thievery. It is the use of somebody else’s material (as if it
were your own) in a paper or an essay without giving credit to the author. The following are examples of
the criteria that will be used in this class to identify plagiarism:

Plagiarism is a serious offense (and I treat it seriously). It can lead to dismissal from the college and
severe long-term consequences for completing a college or university education in the United States.
Questions to Consider Before Writing:

One method you might employ to understand the documents is to imagine that you are a reporter in 1892
writing for a newspaper, and you are assigned to write an article about the Pullman Strike. As you
conduct research for the article, you come to have strong feelings about the ethical issues involved in the
incident and the basic concepts of justice that it involves. Therefore, you want to explain Pullman as
intelligently as possible to the newspaper's readers. But your boss, the editor, will only give you a small
space in the newspaper to explain the incident (because he wants to save more space for advertising -
which is how newspapers make money). You have lots of evidence before you, too much to include in
the article you're going to write. So you have to decide which pieces of evidence are MOST
IMPORTANT to explain what happened at Pullman.

While preparing to write your essay, consider the following issues in order to help you organize your
thoughts before writing your essay (you are not, however, required to answer each and every one of
them in your essay):

1) In what ways was the town of Pullman a "success" or a "failure" even before the labor conflict of
1894? Was there unrest in the town because Pullman's original vision was not carried out - or because it

2) How would you assess the merits of Pullman's and Wickes' arguments for handling rents separate
from manufacturing finances, for declining to lay off or reduce salaries of management personnel, or for
refusing all forms of arbitration? Was Pullman's position internally consistent?

3) Is it possible to object to Pullman's basic statement of his position without denying fundamental rights
of-property ownership?

4) What various interpretations are possible of Pullman's decision to bid for contracts at a loss?

5) What, do you surmise, did the Pullman Company find so obnoxious about the American Railway

6) How were issues of piece-work rates, total working hours, the conduct of foremen, union recognition,
and rents involved in the grievances of, and negotiations by, the workers?

7) Was there a "flaw" in the Pullman experiment? If so, was the flaw related to on-the-job practices and
employer bungling, to the ingratitude of workers and their unwillingness to recognize good conditions,
or to some other flaw in the basic conception or in the practical administration of the Pullman

Do not attempt merely to answer some of the questions above, but write an integrated account that is
systematically organized. Let your reader know what happened, as well as why it happened and what we
should make of it. Assume that only the documents included here are available to you as a result of your
research into materials surviving from the era of the strike.

William H. Carwardine, pastor of the first M.E.Church, Pullman, Ill., The Pullman Strike, 1894.

The Pullman strike is the greatest and most far-reaching of any strike on record in this country. It is the
most unique strike ever known. When we take into account the intelligence of the employees, always the
boast of the Pullman Company; the wide-spread advertisement of the town as a "model town.” It was
established as a solution of the industrial problem upon the basis of "mutual recognition;" it is no
wonder that the world was amazed, when, under such apparently favorable conditions, in the midst of a
season of great financial depression, the employees laid down their tools, and, on the llth of May,
walked out of the great shops to face an unequal and apparently hopeless conflict.

(Editor’s note - William Carwardine was a Methodist minister and Pastor of the First Methodist
Episcopal Church in Pullman for over two years. During the strike he was active in coordinating relief
for the strikers and their families.' He published his book, The Pullman Strike in August 1894 in the
hope of presenting to the public the strikers' side of the dispute.)


Richard T. Ely, "Pullman - A Social Study," Harpers' New Monthly Magazine, February, 1885.

The conviction has become general that the divine order never contemplated a social and economic
world left to itself. Material is furnished out of which man must construct a social fabric according to his
lights. This is what modern socialism means....This is what cooperation means... This is what is meant
by the many attempts of "captains of industry" to step in between those they lead and the unrestrained
action of existing economic forces. The variety of methods... is great. Insurance of one kind or another...
amusements, reading rooms,... rewards for special merit.... Several employers have attempted more far-
reaching establishments which would embrace the home life of laborers.... Interesting examples are the
"Social Palace" of M. Godin at Guise, France and the town of Saltaire, founded by Sir Titus Salt.... But
the most extensive experiment of this character is that now in progress at Pullman, Illinois...."


George M. Pullman, founder and president of the Pullman Corporation, statement before the U.S. Strike
Commission, August 1894.

The object in building [the town of] Pullman was the establishment of a great manufacturing business on
the most substantial basis possible, recognizing as we did, and do now, that the working people are the
most important element which enters into the successful operation of any manufacturing enterprise.

We decided to build, in close-proximity to the shops, homes for workingmen, of such character and
surroundings as would prove, so attractive as to cause the best class of mechanics to seek that place for
employment in preference to others. We also desired to establish the place on such a basis as would
exclude all baneful influences believing that such a policy would result in the greatest measure of
success, both from a commercial point of view, and also, what was equally important, or perhaps of
greater importance, in a tendency toward continued elevation and improvement of the condition not only
of the working people themselves, but of their children growing up about them.
(Editor’s Note: On July 26, 1894, President Grover Cleveland appointed an investigative body titled,
The United States Strike Commission, to inquire into the causes of the recently concluded Pullman
strike and the subsequent strike of the American Railway Union. Its members were Carroll P. Wright,
John D. Kernan, and Nicholas E. Worthington. Beginning on August 15, 1894, the commissioners began
hearing testimony in the U.S. Post Office Building in Chicago, Illinois. The commissioners concluded
their work and issued their report to the President on November 14, 1894.)


Andrew Carnegie, Triumphant Democracy, 1886.

I soon saw that we had a genius to deal with, and advised the old concern to capture Mr. Pullman. There
was a capture, but it did not quite take that form. They found themselves swallowed by this ogre, and
Pullman monopolized everything. It was well that it should be so. The man had arisen who could
manage, and the tools belonged to him. To-day his company has a paid-up capital of about thirty
millions of dollars, and its ramifications extend everywhere. Mr. Pullman is a remarkable man, for he
not only manages this business, he has created it.... I prophesy that [he] ... will leave a monument for
himself in his new industrial town of Pullman which will place his name with those of Salt of Saltaire
and Godin of Guise. A short roll of honor this, which contains the list of those who, springing from
honest poverty, have made fortunes through honest toil, and then - ah, here comes the secret of the
shortness of the list - and then turning back to look upon the poor workers where they started, have
thereafter devoted their fortune and abilities so to improve the industrial system as to give to that class a
better chance in life than it was possible for themselves to obtain.


Interview with George Pullman, The Chicago Tribune, August 16, 1881.

"What amount of land is owned by the Pullman Association," asked the reporter. "Very nearly 4,000
acres." "Is any of it for sale?" "No sir, we will not sell an acre under any circumstances, and we will only
lease to parties whom we are well satisfied will conform with our ideas in developing the place. We will
not allow any saloons or drinking resorts in the town. We shall do all we can to cultivate the better
natures of our workmen. .. My idea has always been that it was to the employers' interest to see that his
men are clean, contented, sober, educated and happy. They make better workmen, and they develop the
employers' industries more. I shall try to benefit humanity where it is in my power to do so. Here we
shall have every attribute of a town exemplified, and I hope to be able to provide each and every
attraction that can be desired - churches, schools, gymnasiums, reading rooms, etc."


Correspondence, Charles E. Perkins, head of the Burlington RR, to an unnamed friend, May 10, 1886`.

Pullman's experience turns out to be just what I have always prophesied. He thought he was doing a
great deal for his employees and would never have strikes, but the fact is, the more you do for your
men... the more they want.

(Editor’s Note: Perkins wrote this letter after a brief strike at the Pullman works in Pullman, Illinois in

Anonymous (a correspondent of The Times), "A Visit to the States," The Times (London), October 21 &
24, 1887 reprinted in Bessie Pierce, As Others See Chicago.

Riding down the line of the Illinois Central, over the flat land and among the succession of villages
which have grown up between Chicago and Pullman, the visitor alights at one of the best station
buildings seen on the line, and finds the new settlement is in front of him.... There is a fine hotel, which
is a model of artistic design and worthy of the largest city; and across the park, with its ornamental
grounds and lake, are seen the extensive shops, with their clock spire and huge water tower rising above.
The Pullman town, like the Pullman coach, is a model of neatness and elegance....

No place in the United States has attracted more attention or been more closely watched than Pullman.
Like the sleeping coach, the town is the development of an idea, worked out to harmonious and
successful results by its inventor. It is the extension of the broadest philanthropy to the working man,
based on the strictest business principles. There has been over l,500,000 pounds [about $3 million in
1894 dollars, or approximately $300 million in 2005 dollars] invested in carrying out this idea, and
every penny is at the same time made to return an income....

Competent architects and landscape gardeners skillfully (sic) laid out the town and built the houses, so
that it is a gem of artistic attractiveness, with lawns and shade trees upon its well-paved streets, all kept
in the best order by the company....

Nothing is free, however, it being recognized as a lamentable fact that benefits got for nothing are not
much prized. ...There is no compulsion exercised about anything, and the people may live in the town or
elsewhere as they see fit, so that in practice the town contains about 3,500 operatives who work for the
company and about 1,000 who labour for other industries in the town or elsewhere, while some 500 of
the company's operatives live outside....

There are no saloons in the town, for no one is permitted to sell liquor, and as an additional protection
sufficient land is controlled around the outskirts of the town to complete man who must have spirits or
beer to go nearly a mile over the border to get it. This carefulness, combined with the excellent sanitary
arrangements and the vigour of a working population largely composed of people in the prime of life,
make the town an abnormally healthy place....

There is throughout Pullman an air of artistic harmony and neatness that is very attractive; while the
operatives and their families appear in a far better condition, and look as if they were of an improved
class compared with those usually seen in factory towns. ...If the content of the working men can be
secured by good treatment and pleasant surroundings, then the inhabitants of this model town ought to
be supremely happy."

Richard Ely, "Pullman - A Social Study" Harpers' New Monthly Magazine, Feb. 1885.

[Pullman] is one of the few men who have thought it a paying investment to expend millions for the
purpose of surrounding laborers with objects of beauty and comfort.... It is maintained that Pullman is
truly a philanthropic undertaking, although it is intended that it should be a profitable investment, and
this is the argument used: If it can be shown that it does pay to provide beautiful homes for laborers,
accompanied with all the conditions requisite for wholesome living both for the body and the mind, the
example set by Mr. Pullman will find wide imitation.... certainly it is a great thing to have demonstrated
the commercial value of beauty in a city of laborers.


William Carwardine, The Pullman Strike, 1894.

As seen from the railway by the passing tourist, it [Pullman] presents a beautiful picture. In fact it
appears to be a veritable paradise. Beautiful trees and flowers, pretty fountains, glimpses here and there
of artistic sweeps of landscape, gardens, rows of pretty little brick houses, church in the distance... all
present a beautiful picture to the passing traveler.

Mr. Pullman and his lieutenants love to s how this beautiful picture to the world. Pullman, the town, is
Mr. Pullman's idol, and in many respects he may well be proud of it....


Jane Addams (Chicago Settlement House Leader), "A Modern Lear," 1894.

The president of the Pullman Company doubtless began to build his town from an honest desire to give
his employees the best surroundings. As it developed it became a source of pride and an exponent of
power that he cared most for when it gave him a glow of benevolence. Gradually, what the outside
world thought of it became of importance to him and he ceased to measure its usefulness by the standard
of the men's needs.


Report, New York Sun, December, 1883.

A stranger arriving at Pullman puts tip at a hotel managed by one of Mr. Pullman's employees, visits a
theater where all the attendants are in Mr. Pullman's service, drinks water and burns gas which Mr.
Pullman's water and gas works supply, hires one of his [horse and carriages] from the manager of Mr.
Pullman's livery stable, visits a school in which the children of Mr. Pullman's employees are taught by
other employees, gets a bill charged at Mr. Pullman's bank, is unable to make a purchase of any kind
save from some tenant of Mr. Pullman's, and at night is guarded by a fire department, every member of
which from the chief down is in Mr. Pullman's service.

Richard T. Ely, "Pullman A Social Study," Harpers' New Monthly Magazine, February, 1885.

Rents are probably about three-fifths what they are in Chicago .... The wages paid at Pullman are equal
to those paid for similar services elsewhere in the vicinity.... Unskilled laborers - and they are perhaps
one-fourth of the population - receive only $1.30 a day: but there are other corporations about Chicago
which pay no more, and Pullman claims to pay only ordinary wages. Many of the mechanics earn $2.50
or $2.75 a day, some $3 and $4.... Those who receive but $1.30 have a hard struggle to live, after the
rent and water tax are paid. On this point there is unanimity of sentiment, and Pullman does
comparatively little for them.... They are crowded together in the cheap flats, which are put as much out
of sight as possible, and present a rather dreary appearance, although vastly better than the poorer class
of New York tenements.

The great majority at Pullman are skilled artisans and nearly all with whom the writer conversed
expressed themselves as fairly well satisfied with their earnings....


Report, New York Sun, October 11, 1885.

The people of Pullman are not happy and grumble at their situation even more than the inhabitants of
towns not model are accustomed to do. They say that all this perfection of order costs them too much
money and imposes upon them an intolerable constraint...They want to run the municipal government
themselves, according to the ordinary American fashion. They secretly rebel because the Pullman
Company continues its watch and authority over them after working hours. They declare they are bound
hand and foot by a philanthropic monopoly.


Richard T, Ely, "Pullman A Social Study," Harpers' New Monthly Magazine, February 1885.

Change is constant in men and officers and each new superior appears to have his own friends, whom he
appoints to desirable positions....

The resulting evil is very naturally dissatisfaction, a painful prevalence of petty jealousies,... frequent
change in residents, and an all-pervading feeling of insecurity. Nobody regards Pullman as a real home,
and, in fact, it can scarcely be said that there are more than temporary residents at Pullman.

The nature of the leases aggravates this evil.... all the property in Pullman is owned by the Pullman
Association, and every tenant holds his house on a lease that can be terminated on ten days notice.... It is
not necessary that any reason be assigned for the notice....

William Carwardine, The Pullman Strike, 1894.

Note for a few moments the library. It is a gem. It is one of the most complete of its kind in the United
States. it is small and cozy, but very convenient for those who have the privilege of using it. It was the
gift of Mr. Pullman to his town....

Still it is not producing the practical results demanded of such an institution. The complaint of
employees is that they are expected to pay 25 cents a month or three dollars a year for the use of books,
and one dollar per year for every child. This is all right, but with the immense wealth of the Pullman
Company they feel that they ought to have an absolutely free library and reading room. The reading
room is an adjunct of the library, is very small, and very few of the men... use it. It is too luxurious for
the average working man....


Stanley Buder, Pullman, 1967.

The Florence Hotel .... was a two-story red brick building skirted by a broad white veranda and with a
roof elaborately laced with gables and dormers. It had the appearance of a "large gingerbread country
villa." The ground floor consisted of a lobby, public parlor, restaurant and bar. Above were seventy
rooms renting for three to four dollars a day, twice the daily pay of an unskilled worker;

The building cost $100,000, and furniture totaled another $30,000. During its first year, there were 8,875
transient guests who, with the small number of permanent residents, turned a profit for the hotel. A
professional manager was hired to maintain service at a high level. However, as the town lost its
novelty, the number of visitors declined and the hotel began operating at a loss. This was patiently borne
by the company, which insisted on maintaining top quality and high prices. The hotel had simply been
built on too large and elegant a scale for the town's needs.

By deliberate design the hotel's bar was the single place in town where liquor could be purchased.

...A working man wrote in 1893 that he frequently walked by and "looked at but dared not enter
Pullman's hotel with its private bar." As far as can be determined, the hotel was open to all. Yet, men
lived in the town who could count their visits to the Florence on a single hand.... It's public facilities
were apparently used primarily by the town's shopkeepers and professionals and the company's officers
and clerks."

William H. Cawardine, The Pullman Strike, 1894.

When Mr. Pullman built the church, it was his idea that there should be one church in the town and that
all should worship there, but that was impossible. The Roman Catholics received the right by a lease of
ninety-nine years to build a church across the tracks on a large open prairie, the property of the Pullman
Company. The Swedish Lutherans were permitted to do the same. The Green Store Church [which in the
early history of the town had stood idle because of the enormous ($300 a month) rent] was finally rented
to the Presbyterians for $100.00 per month... Next to the church and a part of it is a handsome
parsonage, but no minister has ever been able to live in it, on account of the high rent of $65 per
month.... It was in this church that the Doctor Oggel, then supplying the church, delivered a sermon
eulogistic of Mr. Pullman's great service to his age, his country and his town, from the text: "Thou hast
made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor;" concluding with a
quotation from a St. Louis paper that Mr. Pullman is worthy of the nomination to the Presidency of the
United States. Dr. Oggel delivered his last sermon on the Sunday after the strike, in which, he declared
to the men that "a half loaf was better than no loaf," and that in his judgment they were receiving "two-
thirds of a loaf."


Excerpt from “Rules Governing Pullman Tenants,” Chicago Herald, February 7, 1886.

Tenants should always enter or leave the building quietly; always avoid entering the halls with muddy
feet; never permit hammering, pounding or splitting of wood upon the floors or in the cellars, or
anything which disturbs and annoys those occupying neighboring rooms; avoid the use of musical
instruments after bed time; avoid all loud noises or boisterous conduct that might annoy others or disturb
the sick and weary....


Nick Salvatore, Eugene Debs, 1982

[Pullman] provided modern housing for his work force, churches for them to attend, water for them to
drink, and cemeteries for their dead. In turn, Pullman deducted from their weekly wages rent and water
charges, library fees, and grocery bills – the cost of these basic necessities unilaterally established by the
corporation. During periods of economic prosperity . . . high wages provided workers with an improved
standard of living. Even during these times, however, many Pullman workers resented their employer’s
autocratic control.


Anonymous employee, Pullman Company, quoted in Richard O. Boyer, Labor’s Untold Story, 1955.

We are born in a Pullman house, fed from the Pullman shop, taught in the Pullman school, catechized in
the Pullman church, and when we die we shall be buried in the Pullman cemetery and go to the Pullman
DOCUMENT #21               William S. Cawardine, The Pullman Strike, 1894.

During the winter of 1892/1893 the magnificent train of Pullman cars exhibited at the World's Fair was
built, work was abundant, wages fair, and the force of employees increased to between five and six
thousand. Then came the reaction and depression of trade. The force was gradually reduced until late in
the summer not over 900 men were employed. About November of 1893, Mr. Pullman began to secure
contracts for new work, and the cars, which had been out on the road in the World's Fair traffic were
rapidly brought into the shops for repairs. The force was enlarged until, during the winter, from three to
four thousand employees were on the pay roll. Then commenced the cutting of wages, and consequent
abuse on the part of the local administration complained of so bitterly by the men.... Want and suffering
was no uncommon picture.... Repeated cutting of the wages with no corresponding reduction of rent
exasperated the employees. It was aware that the men were being organized into local unions. Hearing
of the success of the American Railway Union, and casting about for some one to champion their cause,
these unions appealed to Messrs. Debs and Howard of the American Railway Union.

Meetings were held at Kensington. Messrs. Debs and Howard repeatedly counseled the men not to
strike, but to wait until the American Railway Union had acquired strength, and agreed in due season to
assist the men in their effort to obtain redress from their wrongs. At this juncture a committee waited on
Manager Middleton [an executive of the Pullman Company]. Meeting with no favorable response they
appointed a committee and waited on Vice-President Wickes [an executive of the Pullman Company,
superior to Middleton].... Mr. Wickes received the committee very kindly, listened to their grievances
and promised that Mr. Pullman would give them a final answer the following week. On the day
appointed, the committee again appeared at the city office, where Mr. Pullman.... refused to, accede to
the demand of the employees for a restoration of the scale of wages for 1893 on the grounds that he had
taken contracts for new work at a loss. As proof thereof he agreed to permit an inspection of his books.
He stated further that he could not reduce the rents of his houses. He agreed that none of the committee
waiting on him should be discharged, and also stated that their grievances should be investigated. So far,
so good. But the employees were disappointed and chagrined .... What caused the disappointment and
chagrin.... ? It was this. Mr. Pullman had given out that he had taken contracts for new work at a loss,
because out of love for his employees he desired to keep the shops open. Unfortunately, the men had
never seen any evidences of paternal love on the part of Mr. Pullman in his previous dealings with them,
and they could not disabuse their minds of the thought that perhaps he was keeping the shops open, and
taking work at a loss in order to get his returns in rent.... I am sure Mr. Pullman had no idea of.... how
unjustly his employees had been dealt with, and the magnitude of the petty annoyances to which they
had been subjected.

On the morrow, three men who were members of the committee were "laid off." While it was no
uncommon thing in the shops for men to be "laid off," still it had come to be looked upon as amounting
in many cases to a virtual discharge. ...What made the matter worse in this case was that the men laid off
discovered that it was the direct action of the acting superintendent's retaliations upon them for
complaints uttered by them against him the day previous at the city meeting. The discharge of these men
was resented by the whole committee as a violation of Mr. Pullman's agreement with them.

Furthermore, the grievances were investigated during the day, but were investigated on an ex parte
basis[meaning, the investigation was performed by those alleged to have given cause for the grievance
in the first place]. The committee of investigation was composed, among others, of Vice-President,
Wickes, General Manager Brown, Manager Middleton, Chief Accountant Wilde, Mr. Campbell of the
Repair department, and Mr. Runnells, leading counsel for the company. No one appeared as a committee
of defense of the men, to see that their side was duly represented.

Thomas Wickes, second-vice president, Pullman Company, statement before the U.S., Strike
Commission, August 1894.

Testimony has been given before the commission that the immediate cause of the strike was the
discharge of three employees contrary to the assurance I had given to the committee of workmen that
none of them should be affected by their serving on the committee. I gave such an assurance upon
request, and with entire willingness, and it was not violated, and no such complaint was ever made, I
think, to any official of the company.

There were forty-three members of the committee at the conference on May 9, and on May 10 it
happened that in temporarily "laying off" men for whom there was no immediate work, three men were
included who were said to have been on the committee, as to each of whom the subordinate of officials
concerned deny that they at the time knew he was on the committee and say that the laying off was
caused by nothing but the ordinary course of business.


U. S. Strike Commission Report, November 14, 1894.


        T.W. Heathcoate, inside finisher    R.W. Coombs, car builder      Jennie Curtis, seamstress

               Hours-Amount Paid            Hours-Amount Paid             Hours-Amount Paid

May            252 ¾ - $78.00               196 ½ - $47.42                235 ½ - $39.85
June           280 ½ - $96.85               92 - $21.00                   212 ¼ - $31.24
July           233 ¼ - $69.12               170 - $38.75                  181 - $27.72
August         244 ½ - $62.75               173 - $36.91                  197 ¾ - $30.18
September      167 ¼ - $44.77               94 - $21.50                   147 ¾ - $23.90
October        114 - $26.92                 42 ¼ - $7.39                  230 ¼ - $34.62
November       119 - $29.05                 91 - $20.54                   151 - $24.39
December       229 ¾ - $43.85               140 ¼ - $18.37                180 ¼ - $28.18


January        261 - $49.30                 192 ¾ - $34.00                216 - $34.21
February       238 ½ - $44.95               240 - $60.00                  184 - $25.47
March          262 ½ - $51.53               125 - $30.80                  212 - $24.92
April          185 ¼ - $37.77               60 - $9.00                    197 ½ - $22.14

Total          2,588 ¼ - $634.86            1,616 ¾ - $345.68             2,345 ¼ - $346.82

Thomas W. Heathcoate, inside finisher, Pullman Car Works, testimony before U. S. Strike Commission,
August 1894.

....a man has to do about four times as much work at piecework as he has to do at day work, because the
pieces are cut down so low it is almost impossible for a man, unless he is an expert , to make $1.90 a day
at the work. For instance, take the desk behind which you sit. I take the making of that desk today for
$20; I go to work on it, and, being an expert, make $4 a day at it; then the foreman says to me "the next
time I will not give you but $18 for making it. " Well, I take another desk at that and by hard work still
make $4 per day at it. The next time he cuts the price down to $16. I still by using more effort, working
hard, make $4 per day at it. He then cuts the price down to $12 and I can only make $3 per day at it.
...He then gives the desk to some other man who is not as expert in doing the work, and that man cannot
make $1.25 per day at it.


Thomas Wickes, second vice-president, Pullman Company, testimony before the U.S. Strike
Commission, 1894.

In establishing the rate of wages for piece work over so large a force of workmen, the principle adopted
is that the day's wage is to be a reasonable wage for 10 hours at that particular work for a competent
workman, not an expert; and by experience it is ascertained what a faithful, competent workman can do
on a given kind of work, as to quantity in a given time; the piece price is thereupon based on that
performance. The competent, faithful workman will earn the reasonable day's wage at it; the less
competent, or less industrious workman will necessarily make less than a reasonable day's wage.... If by
experience in operation, it is discovered that at the piece price fixed, the known less competent and less
industrious workmen are regularly making an unreasonable day's wage, it becomes apparent that the
piece price allotted is too large.


Nell Irvin Painter, Standing at Armageddon, 1987.

At the outset of the Panic of 1893 the Pullman Company cut wages an average of 28 percent, without
cutting rents in Pullman village [by the spring of 1894, the Pullman Company reduced wages by an
average of 33 to 50 percent]. As rents were ordinarily deducted from pay, workers sometimes received
pay envelopes containing $1 or $2 for two weeks’ work, even less than $1 on occasion.

Thomas H. Wickes, second vice-president, Pullman Company, responses to questions posed by the
commissioners of the U.S. Strike Commission, August 1894.

Commissioner Kernan: after having taken a contract at an estimated basis of wages, [was] a cut made in
the wages during the construction of such cars.

Answer: I know of no such instance. The only cut that was made that I know anything about was last
November the day scale was agreed upon at that time. I know of no cut since that. There might have
been an adjustment of piecework prices since that

Commissioner Kernan: It has been claimed here that you not only cut the wages in the way you have
suggested, but that subsequently during the course of construction of cars, by a readjustment of the
prices paid for piecework, a further substantial reduction was made in the cost.

Answer: I know of no such instance, but there are always two parties to a contract in piecework; one
party is the workmen themselves, and the other is the foreman, or whoever is in charge. It is a contract
made between our company and the workmen.

Commissioner Kernan: Do you mean that the foreman was in a position where he might have himself,
by a readjustment of piece prices, reduced the cost of these cars?'

Answer: Possibly.

Commissioner Kernan: Well, is his action in that respect taken of his own motion and without
consultation directly with the officers?

Answer: The foreman of a shop is supposed to be competent to fix the piecework prices; to make all
piecework prices.

Commissioner Kernan: Well, now, is it not possible under a system permitting him to do that, that his
arbitrary action might result in some injustices being done?

Answer: There is a possibility of that; yes sir; that is one of the matters that would have been

Commissioner Kernan: That was one of the matters complained of, was it not?

Answer: Yes sir.

Commissioner Kernan: You did not carry your investigation to the point of ascertaining what proof there
was in that because the strike came?

Answer: We were not allowed to.... There was no work going on at all in our shops since this strike. We
have been very busily engaged in other matters. These men went out on the llth of May and severed their
connection with the company; therefore there was no further investigation as far as they were

Statement by the Pullman strikers to the convention of the American Railway Union. in Chicago, June
15, 1894.

We struck at Pullman because we were without hope. We joined the American Railway Union because
it gave us a glimmer of hope....

You all must know that, the proximate cause of our strike was the discharge of two members of our
grievance committee the day after George M. Pullman, himself, and Thomas H. Wickes, his second
vice-president, had guaranteed them absolute immunity. The more remote causes are still imminent.
Five reductions in wages, in work, and in conditions of employment swept through the shops at Pullman
between May and December, 1893. The last was the most severe, amounting to nearly 30 per cent, and
our rents had not fallen. We owed Pullman $70,000 when we struck May 11. We owe him twice that
much today. He does not evict us for two reasons: One, the force of popular sentiment and public
opinion; the other because he hopes to starve us out, to break ... the back of the American Railway
Union, and to deduct from our miserable wages when we are forced to return to him the last dollar we
owe him for the occupancy of his houses.

Rents all over the city [of Chicago] in every quarter of its vast extent have fallen, in some cases to one-
half. Residences, I compared with which ours are hovels, can be had a few miles away at the prices we
have been contributing to make a millionaire a billionaire.... What we pay $15 for in Pullman is leased
for $8 in [neighboring] Roseland....

Water which Pullman buys from the city at 8 cents a thousand gallons, he retails to us at 500 per cent
advance and he claims he is losing $400 a month on it. Gas which sells at 75 cents per thousand feet in
Hyde Park, just north of us, sells - for $2.25 [in Pullman]. When we went to tell him our grievances, he
said we were all his "children."

...the wages he pays out with one hand -- The Pullman Palace Car Company, he takes back with the
other --The Pullman Land Association. He is able by this to bid under any contract car shop in this
country. His competitors in business, to meet this, must reduce the wages of their men. This gives him
the excuse to reduce ours to conform to the market. His business rivals must in turn scale down; so must
he. And thus the merry war... goes on, and it will go on, brothers, forever, unless you, The American
Railway Union, stop it....

George M. Pullman, you know, has cut our wages from 30 to 70 per cent. George M. Pullman has
caused to be paid in the last year, the regular quarterly dividend of 2 per cent on his stock and an-extra
slice of 1 1/2 per cent, making 9 1/2 per cent on $30,000,000 of capital. George M. Pullman took three
contracts on which he lost less than $5,000. Because he loved us? No. Because it was cheaper to lose a
little money in his freight-car and his coach shops than to let his workingmen go; but that petty loss,
more than made up by us from the money needed to clothe our wives and little ones, was his excuse for
effecting a gigantic reduction of wages in every department of his great works, of cutting men and boys
and girls with equal zeal, including everyone on the repair shops of the Pullman Palace cars on which
such preposterous profits have been made....
(Editor’s Note: The American Railway Union – ARU - was founded in 1893 as a broad "industrial"
union in contrast to the previous pattern of union organizations among railroad workers on narrow
craft lines. Its president, Eugene V. Debs, had been active in the trade union movement for several
years. He had founded the Brotherhood of Railroad Brakemen, had been grand secretary of the
Brotherhood of Locomotive Fireman and had helped push the Switchmen's Mutual Aid Association
toward national scope. But he had become disgusted with the degree of destructive inter-union rivalry
among the railroad Brotherhoods and had formed the ARU as an organization that would include
common laborers as well as skilled workers, although it excluded non-whites from membership. After a
year of organizing in the Midwest, its membership had reached 150,000 by 1894 and it had won a
successful protest against an attempt to reduce wages on the Great Northern Railroad. Between March
1894 and the beginning of the Pullman strike in May 1894, the American Railway Union had enrolled
approximately 4,000 Pullman employees. In June, at the first national convention of the ARU in
Chicago, the Pullman members came before the ARU to present the appeal above.)


From a statement of the Pullman Company published in the Chicago Herald, June 26, 1894, in response
to the strikers' charges.

In the first week of May last there were employed in the car manufacturing department at Pullman,
Illinois, about 3,000 persons. On May 7, a committee of the workmen had an interview by arrangement
with Mr. Wickes, vice-president, at which the principal subject of discussion related to wages, but minor
grievances as to shop administration were also presented, and it was agreed that another meeting should
be held on the 9th of May, at which all grievances should be presented in writing. The second meeting
was held. As to the complaints on all matters except wages it was arranged that a formal and thorough
investigation should be made by Mr. Wickes, to be begun the next day, and full redress was assured to
the committee as to all complaints that proved to be well founded.

The absolute necessity of the last reduction in wages, under the existing condition of the business of
[railroad] car manufacturing, had been explained to the committee, and they were insisting upon a
restoration of the wage scale of the first half of 1893, [then] Mr. Pullman entered the room and
addressed the committee, speaking in substance as follows:

"At the commencement of the very serious depression last year, we were employing at Pullman 5,816
men.... Negotiations with intending purchasers of railway equipment that were pending for new work
were stopped by them, orders already given by others were cancelled, and we were obliged to lay off, as
you are aware, a large number of men in every department, so that by November 1, 1893, there were
only about 2,000 men in all departments, or about one-third of the normal number. I realized the
necessity for the most strenuous exertions to procure work immediately....

I canvassed the matter thoroughly with the manager of the works and instructed him to cause the men to
be assured that the company would do everything in its power to meet the competition.... I knew that if
there was any work to be let, bids for it would be made upon a much lower basis than ever before.... By
making lower bids than other manufacturers, I secured enough work to gradually increase our
This result has not been accomplished merely by reduction in wages, but the company has borne its full
share by eliminating from its estimates the use of capital and machinery, and in many cases going even
below that and taking work at considerable loss....

I can only assure you that if this company now restores the wages of the first half of 1893, as you have
asked, it would be a most unfortunate thing for the men, because there is less than sixty days of contract
work in sight in the shops under all orders and there is absolutely no-possibility, in the present condition
of affairs throughout the country, of getting any more orders for work at prices measured by the wages
of May 1893. Under-such a scale the works would necessarily close down and the great majority of the
employees be put in idleness, a contingency I am using my best efforts to avoid.

There has been some complaint made about rents.... they make a manifestly inadequate return upon the
investment, so that it is clear they are not, in fact, at an arbitrary high figure; it may be added that it
would not be possible in a business sense so to deal with them.


George M. Pullman, statement to U.S. Strike Commission, August 27, 1894.

The relations of those employed in the shops are, as to the shops, the relations of employees to
employer, and as to those of them and others living in the homes, the relations are simply and only the
relation of tenant to landlord. The company has not now and never has had any interest whatever in the
business of any of the stores and shops in the town; they are rented to and managed by outside parties,
free of any control by the company.

...The basis on which rents were fixed was to make a return of 6 per cent on the actual investment, which
at the time (1881) [of the founding of the town] was a reasonable return to be expected....

The actual operations have never shown a net return of 6 per cent.... The investment for several years
returned a net revenue of about 4 1/2 per cent, but during the last two years additional taxes and heavier
repairs have brought the net revenue down to 3.82 per cent.


Thomas Wickes, second vice-president, Pullman Company, statement before the U.S. Strike
Commission, August 1894.

...In the matter of rents, comparisons have been made before the commission between the rent of houses
in Pullman and the rent of houses in the adjacent towns of Kensington and Roseland, it being made to
appear that the rents at Pullman are slightly higher than they are in those adjacent towns.

As to this it is to be said that the Pullman houses are built of brick with a thorough system of drainage,
with modern improvements such as gas, water closets, faucets and sinks in every house; and that these
houses are situated on broad, paved and shaded streets, with sidewalks, parks and lawns, all of which are
cared for by the company, the whole town being kept in thorough cleanliness....
I may call the attention of the commission to the fact that at the time of the strike less than one-third of
the shop employees were tenants of the company.

There were 3,284 shop employees on April 30, 1894, and of these 563 owned their own houses and 560
others lived outside of the town of Pullman; 1,026 were tenants in the town and 1,135 were lodgers in
the town.

These facts serve ... to make sufficient answer to the statement ...that living in the town of Pullman has
now or at any time been made a condition of getting employment....


Excerpt, U.S. Strike Commission Report, November 14, 1894.

If we exclude the aesthetic and sanitary features at Pullman, the rents there are from 20 to 25 per cent
higher than rents in Chicago or surrounding towns for similar accommodations. . The aesthetic features
are admired by visitors, but have little money value to employees, especially when they lack bread....

The company's claim that the workmen need not hire its tenements and can live elsewhere if they choose
is not entirely tenable. The fear of losing work keeps them in Pullman as long as there are tenements
unoccupied, because the company is supposed, as a matter of business, to give a preference to its tenants
when work is slack. The employees, believing that a tenant at Pullman has this advantage, naturally feel
some compulsion to rent at Pullman, and thus to stand well with the management. Exceptional and
necessary expert workmen do not share this feeling to the same extent and are more free to hire or own
homes elsewhere. While reducing wages the company made no reduction in rents. Its position is that the
two matters are distinct....


Thomas H. Wickes, second vice-president, Pullman Company, questioning before the Strike
Commission, August 1894.

Question: Has the company had any policy with reference to labor unions among its help?

Wickes: No, we never objected to unions except in one instance. I presume that there are quite a number
of unions in our shops now.

Question: What are they?

Wickes: I couldn't tell you, but I have heard of some of them. I suppose the cabinetmakers have a union,
and I suppose the car builders have a union....

Question: The only objection you ever made was to the American Railway Union, wasn't it?

Wickes: Yes, sir.

Question: What was the basis of your objection to that union?
Wickes: Our objection to that was that we would not treat with our men as members of 'the American
Railway Union, and we would not treat with them as members of any union. We treat with them as
individuals and as men....

Question: Don't you think, Mr. Wickes, that would give the corporation a very great advantage over
those men if it could take them up one at a time and discuss the question with them. With the ability that
you have got, for instance, where do you think the man would stand in each discussion?

Wickes: The man has got probably more ability than I have.

Question: You think that it would be fair to your men for each one of them to come before you and take
up the question of his grievances and attempt to maintain his end of the discussion, do you?

Wickes: I think so, yes. If he is not able to do that, that is his misfortune.

Question: Don't you think that the fact that you represent a vast concentration of capital, and are selected
for that because of your ability to represent it, entitles him if he pleases to unite with all of the men of
his craft and select the ablest one they have got to represent the cause?

Wickes: As a union?

Question: As a union.

Wickes: They have the right, yes sir. We have the right to say whether we will receive them or not.

Question: Do you think you have any right to refuse to recognize that right in treating with the men?

Wickes: Yes, sir; if we choose to.

Question: Then you think you have the right to refuse to recognize a union of men designed for the
purpose of presenting... to your company the grievances which all complain of or which any complain

Wickes: That is the policy of the company; yes, sir. If we were to receive these men as representatives of
the unions they could probably force us to pay any wage which they saw fit, and get the Pullman
Company in the same shape that some of the railroads are by making concessions which ought not to be

Question: Don't you think that the opposite policy, to wit, that all your dealings with the men, as
individuals, in case you sought to abuse your power, might enable you to pay to the men ... just what
you saw fit?

Wickes: Well, of course a man in an official position, if he is arbitrary and unfair, could work a great
deal of injustice to the men; no doubt about that. But then it is a man's privilege to go to work
somewhere else.

Question: Don't you recognize as to many men, after they had become settled in a place at work of that
kind, that really that privilege does not amount to much?
Wickes: We find that the best men usually come to the front; the best of our men don't give us any
trouble with unions or anything else. It is only the inferior men -- that is, the least competent -- that give
us the trouble....


Nick Salvatore, Eugene V. Debs, 1982

Many workers complained that . . . the increasingly harsh treatment meted out by foremen and managers
undermined their basic self-dignity. To work for Pullman, one employee suggested, was to be treated
“worse than the slaves” had been treated in the South. . . . Under pressure themselves from management,
shop floor supervisors pushed workers unmercifully. The wage cuts, although cruel, might have been
bearable, one woman worker argued, but for “the tyrannical and abusive treatment we received from our
forewoman.” A former worker herself, this supervisor “seemed to delight in showing her power in
hurting the girls in every possible way” and would regularly “make you do a piece of work for twenty-
five cents less than the regular price.”


George M. Pullman, responses to questions posed by the commissioners of the U.S. Strike Commission,
August 27, 1894.

Question: I understood you to say that in considering the question of wages you would not have any
right to take the stockholders' money to give to the men in increasing wages when you could obtain their
labor for less or when it would be at a loss to the company to do so?

Pullman: I would have no right to take the stockholders' money to give one set of mechanics a higher
rate than the market price. ...We can only divide profits in a corporation to its stockholders.

Question: Let me ask you, then, what right you had to take these contracts at a loss of $400 on a car in
order to keep the men at work, if that does not involve exactly the same principle?

Pullman: No, because there is a business element in that.... there would be damage resulting to the
property of the Pullman Company as well as to the men and as to everybody living in that vicinity. If I
could by a contribution of money in that way secure the disbursement of $500,000 or $1,000,000, my
excuse for it to my stockholders would be that it would save that amount that would otherwise be lost

Question: A disbursement to whom do you mean? the wage earners, the supply dealers, and to all the people....

Question: Well, the stockholders would not be interested in the disbursement of money to the wage

Pullman: The stockholders of the Pullman company would be interested in anything that affected
directly or indirectly the value of its property at Pullman.
Question: Now, acting upon that principle, would it not have been a good business investment to have
paid those men a little more wages and had the works continue, although for the time being the company
might have been losing money - exactly upon the same principle upon which you took those contracts?

Pullman: No, the wages had bean fixed, and when I talked with the men -

Question: Who had fixed them?

Pullman: The wages had been fixed between the managers at the shops and the men. They were to work,
at an agreed scale.

Question: Had the men agreed to work at those reduced prices?

Pullman: They were working at them, yes sir.

Question: Well, were they forced to?

Pullman: No, they were not forced.

Question: They had to take that or quit?

Pullman: Exactly.

Question: The stopping of such large works as yours involves a very great loss to stockholders, does it

Pullman: As a matter of course, this strike has been --

Question: No, I mean the shutting down and the stopping of the works is an injury to the stockholders?

Pullman: Well, of course it means that when the works are shut down they are not earning interest on
their cost, and it means the cost of watchmen --

Question: I mean, it is an injury in this, that the plant itself deteriorates?

Pullman: No, sir, not especially.

Question: That the cost of keeping up the machinery in repair and taking care of it is a dead loss during
the time that it is idle?

Pullman: Yes; but it does not cost us much to keep the machinery in repair.

Question: Yes, but it is a loss for which there is no return?

Pullman: Yes, sir.

Question: And the scattering of the force of help involves a loss in getting them to work again
systematically, and so, that work is not done economically and well; is not that true?
Pullman: Yes sir, that is true.

Question: Now, then, when you offered to make a reduction on those contracts, as you have stated, did
you not have in view the saving of that loss to the stockholders as one of the motives that influenced

Pullman: Yes, sir, I had in view -

Question: And you also had in view the natural desire to keep the help at work.

Pullman: Yes sir, that appealed to me very strongly....

Question: Now, both of the motives that I have stated appealed to you in deciding to take some contracts
at less than cost?

Pullman: Yes, sir.

Question: When this reduction of wages was made, was your salary reduced and that of the other

Pullman: No, sir.

Question: Were the salaries of the superintendents and foremen reduced?

Pullman: No, sir.

Question: Now, let me ask you why, in this general reduction, that was not done?

Pullman: Because it is not easy for the manager of a corporation to find men to fill the positions. Men
that have been with a corporation for twenty-five years, it doesn't lie with me to go to him (sic) and say
to him, "I am going to reduce your salary $1,000," because he will say, "Very well; you will find
somebody else to take my place." And there are very few officers of a corporation, comparatively, to the
number of employees, and they are able to command their salaries....

Question: In other words, a corporation could not afford to make a reduction of their salaries?

Pullman: It would be impossible for me, as the president of a corporation, to reduce the salaries of my
officers arbitrarily, because I would find myself possibly without them.

Question: You might reduce your own, perhaps, but not theirs.

Pullman: I might, if I chose but the difference that it would make on the cost of a car would be so
infinitesimal and fractional that it would not be worth considering.

Question: And yet those salaries enter into the cost of cars?

Pullman: The salaries of the people directly connected with the works?
Question: The superintendents and foremen -

Pullman: Yes, sir; the salaries of some of the officers that are connected, with the manufacturing
department would, of course, affect that.

Question: Under the circumstances, don't you think that you ought to have, fairly and in justice to the
other classes, attempted to reduce those salaries?

Pullman: That might come, we can not do everything at once, and we can not tell how long this
depression is going to last.


Thomas H. Wickes, second vice-president, Pullman Company, statement to the U. S. Strike
Commission, August 1894.

On June 1 [1893], two members of the Civic Federation called upon me to consider some methods of
conciliation and arbitration. I explained the situation to them and informed them that we did not consider
there was any proper subject for arbitration. On the next day two other members of the Civic Federation
called and we had a similar discussion.

On the 15th of June, 12 persons, calling themselves a committee from the American Railway Union,
called upon me to request that there should be an arbitration. I informed them, in reply, that the company
declined to consider any communication from the American Railway Union as representing the former
employees of the company.

On the next day a committee of six of our former employees called upon me and requested that there
should be an arbitration. I informed them that we did not consider that there was any proper subject for

On the 22nd of June Messrs. F. E. Pollans, B. W. Lovejoy, and C. A. Timlin, claiming to be a committee
of three of the American Railway Union, called upon me and stated that they were instructed to notify
the Pullman Company that, unless it agreed to arbitration, a boycott would be declared to stop the
running of Pullman cars, taking effect at 12 o'clock noon, Tuesday, the 26th day of June. I replied to this
statement that the company declined to consider any communication from the American Railway Union
on the subject. ...


Declaration of the American Railway Union Convention, Chicago, Illinois, June 15, 1894.

"... unless the Pullman Palace Car Company does adjust the grievances before 12 o'clock Tuesday, June
26, 1894, the members of the American Railway Union shall refuse to handle Pullman cars and
equipment on or after the date."

General Managers' Association, public statement from emergency meeting, Chicago, Illinois, June 25th,
1894. Thomas H. Wickes, second vice-president, Pullman Company, attended as an "interested listener."

At a fully represented meeting of the General Managers' Association, held yesterday afternoon, the
following resolutions were unanimously adopted:

"Whereas we learn through the public press that the American Railway Union will declare a boycott on
all Pullman Palace cars; and

Whereas said boycott is in relation to matters over which we have no control and in which we have no
interest whatever; and

Whereas it is stated that the object and intent of the said boycott it to discommode the traveling public
and embarrass the railroads, in the belief that the public and railroads affected will influence the
settlement of the question as the American Railway Union desires; and

Whereas it is necessary that these companies determine for themselves what cars they shall or shall not


1. That it is the sense of this meeting that the said proposed boycott, being confessedly not in the interest
of any employees of said railroad companies or on account of any grievance between said railroad
companies and said employees, is unjustifiable and unwarranted.

2. That the employees of said railroad companies can not... with propriety, embarrass said companies or
discommode the traveling public because of their sympathy with the supposed wrongs of employees
engaged in a wholly different class of labor.

3. That we hereby declare it to be the lawful right and duty of the said railway companies to protest
against said boycott; to resist the same in the interest of their existing contracts and for the benefit of the
traveling public, and that we will act unitedly to that end."

 (Editor's Note: The General Managers' Association was a voluntary, unincorporated combination of
the owners of the twenty-four railroads centering or terminating in Chicago. It was formed in 1886 to
consider mutual "problems of management." Until 1894 it had dealt mainly with such technical matters
as switching, car loading, weights of livestock, etc. Occasionally it had dealt with labor problems, fixing
a "scale" for switchmen covering all lines at Chicago and distributing to members the schedules of all
wages on the twenty-four lines. That is, it also acted as an instrument for employers to mutually agree
on the price of labor so as to reduce competition between employers for labor.)

Excerpt, U.S. Strike Commission Report, November 14, 1894.

From June 22 until the practical end of the strike, the General Managers' Association directed and
controlled the contest on the part of the railroads, using the combined resources of all the roads to
support the contentions and insure the protection of each. On June 26 we find in the proceedings of the
association the following statement:

"A general discussion of the situation followed. It was suggested that some common plan of action
ought to be adopted in case employees refused to do switching of passenger trains with Pullman cars,
but were willing to continue all of their other work, and it was the general expression that in case any
man refused to do his duty, he would be discharged."

Headquarters were established; agencies for hiring men opened; as the men arrived they were cared for
and assigned to duty upon-the different lines; a bureau was started to furnish information to the press; ...
the general managers met daily to hear reports and to direct proceedings; constant communication was
kept up with the civil and military authorities as to the movements and assignments of police, marshals,
and troops.


Jane Addams, Social Worker and Head of Hull-House, a Chicago Settlement House, responses to
questions posed by commissioners before the U.S. Strike Commission, August 1894.

Addams: The proposition I made was the suggestion of Mr. Lyman Gage.... president of the First
National Bank of Chicago.... His proposition was only as to the settlement of rents. The suggestion was
that three men be appointed by the real-estate board, who knew more or less about suburban rents; that
they make an estimate of the Pullman rents as to whether or not they were exorbitant; that the estimate
be submitted to the company and to the men, and a readjustment be made on that basis. That was the
proposition I made to the general strike committee at Pullman. They were anxious to have that done, but
they did not wish it to appear that the rent was the only grievance, so they made their resolution general
- that they were ready to arbitrate any and all points. I then came back to the city, feeling that we had
made a beginning toward conciliation, and other members of the committee went to see Mr. Pullman, I

Commissioner Wright; Who were they?

Addams: The members of the committee were Mr. Bartlett, Mr. Butler, Professor Henderson, Mr.
Carroll, and Mr. Ryerson, I think.

Commissioner Wright: What was the business of the men on this committee?

Addams: Mr. Ryerson is a capitalist. I don't know that he himself went to Mr. Pullman.

Commissioner Wright: Were the other men businessmen in Chicago?
Addams: Yes, sir. Mr. Butler is an extensive dealer in general store supplies. Professor Henderson is
connected with the university. Mr. Bartlett is in the wholesale hardware business. Mr. Carroll is editor of
a labor paper and a very fair-minded man. It was impossible to come to any understanding with the
Pullman Company on that proposition, and it was dropped. We considered the effort a failure.

Commissioner Worthington: You say it was impossible to come to an understanding. Do you mean it
was impossible to secure any arbitration or conference with them?

Addams: It was always possible to see them. They were always very courteous to me, but they insisted
there was nothing to arbitrate.


George M. Pullman, quoted in the New York Tribune, July 14, 1894.

What is the demand concealed under the innocently sounding word arbitration? It must be clear to every
business man, and to every thinking workman, that no prudent employer could submit to arbitration . . . .
How could I, as president of the Pullman company, consent to agree that if any body of men not
concerned with the interest of the company's shareholders should, as arbitrators ... so decree, I would
open the shops, employ workmen at wages greater than their work could be sold for, and continue this
ruinous policy indefinitely; or be accused of a breach of faith? Who will deny that such a question is
plainly not a subject of arbitration? Is it not then unreasonable that the company should be asked to
arbitrate whether or not it should submit such a question to arbitration? Removing the original and
fundamental question one stage does not help the matter; the question would still remain: Can I, as a
business man, knowing the truth of the facts which I have stated, bind myself that I will, in any
contingency, open and operate the Pullman car shops at whatever loss, if it should happen to be the
opinion of some third party that I should do so? The answer seems to be plain.


Report, New York World, July 14, 1894.

On Monday, a committee of Mr. Pullman's working men, accompanied by members of the city council,
and with the approval of Mayor Hopkins, waited upon his [Pullman's] representative and offered to
submit the question of whether or not there was anything to arbitrate to a committee composed of two
members chosen by himself (Mr. Pullman), two selected by the circuit judges of Cook County, and one
to be chosen by these four. Laboring men were to have no representative on the committee, yet they
pledged themselves to abide by its decision. This offer, which was practically a surrender by the men,
was peremptorily rejected by Mr. Pullman's telegraphic order on the ground that "he will not permit
outsiders to run his business."

George M. Pullman, responses to questions posed by the commissioners of the U.S. Strike Commission,
August 27, 1894.

Question: What are those matters that are proper subjects for arbitration?

Pullman: A matter of opinion would be a proper subject for arbitration, as, for instance, a question of
title, or a disagreement on a matter of opinion but as to whether a fact that I know to be true is true or
not, I could not agree to submit to arbitration. Take the case in hand, the question as to whether the
shops at Pullman shall be continuously operated at a loss or not, is one which it was impossible for the
company, as a matter of principle, to submit to the opinion of any third party....

Question: You use the expression, "impossible to be submitted." Why is it impossible?

Pullman: Because it would violate a principle.

Question: What principle?

Pullman: The principle that a man should have the right to manage his own property....


George M. Pullman, responses to questions posed by commissioners of the U.S. Strike Commission,
August 27, 1894.

Commissioner Worthington: Now, let me ask you, does the company now make it a condition, in taking
back any of those who were on the strike, that they shall surrender their card of membership in the
American Railway Union?

Pullman: We do. That is the only union, however. We have never discriminated against any labor union
whatever, except the American Railway Union.

Commissioner Worthington: Have you had any other labor organization in Pullman?

Pullman: I do not know as to that. We have never made any question whatever on that in the hiring of
the men.

Commissioner Worthington: Has there ever been one that you know of?

Pullman: I presume they have, although I am not able to say definitely about it.

Commissioner Worthington: Is not this American Railway Union the first labor organization that your
employees as employees have belonged to that has come to your knowledge?

Pullman: I have no recollection of any contact with a labor organization other than the railway union.
Commissioner Worthington: And the policy now, as I understand it, of the Pullman Palace Car
Company is that it will retain no one in its employ that belongs to this branch of organized labor?

Pullman: The policy is that it will retain no one that belongs to the American Railway Union. It has not
discriminated against any other labor organizations.

Commissioner Worthington: And you do not know that there is any other one out there to discriminate

Answer: I don't know as a fact, but I presume there is.

Commissioner Worthington: But if there was one, you would not have discriminated against it?

Pullman: I say we have never discriminated against other labor organizations. If I should desire to make
any further statement hereafter, I may make it, I suppose.


Jane Addams, Social Worker and Head of Hull-House, a Chicago Settlement House, "A Modern Lear,"

Those of us who lived in Chicago during the summer of 1894 were confronted with a drama which
epitomized and, at the same time, challenged the code of social ethics under which we live, for a quick
series of unusual events had dispelled the good nature which in happier times envelops the ugliness of
the industrial situation. It sometimes seems as if the shocking experiences of that summer, the barbaric
instinct to kill, roused on both sides, the sharp division into class lines, with the resultant distrust and
bitterness, can only be endured if we learn from it all a great ethical lesson.

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