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  • These are the questions that I want you to think about during the presentation. I will answer them in the presentation, so you should probably pay attention.
  • This strike happened right after sleeping cars on railroads started became popular.   It was the first national strike in the history of the United States.   It involved over 150,000 people and 27 states and territories, not to mention federal troop interference.    It halted the railway system.  
  • George Pullman created a company called the Pullman Palace Car Company.   Started out by taking over his fathers company, which basically moved stuff. He often rode in railroad cars, but he thought they were very uncomfortable. Since he knew a lot about sleeping accomodations, he stated taking an interest in sleeping cars. He started a company called Pullman Palace Car Comapany, which specialized in making these sleeping cars, and he became one of the biggest rail car makers in the nation. He built a town in chicago so his workers can live there and he was gonna make the production plant there so it was easier for his workers to commute to work.   He put everything in the town, like a library, a bar, stables, a church, etc. It was a utopia.    Then the panic started.
  • Pullman saw that a lot of other companies were failing and declaring bankruptcy, so he lowered his workers' paychecks to help sustain the company. The problem is, Pullman didn't lower the rent prices in his town. This made an impossible situation for his workers because they didn't get paid enough money to pay for rent. His workers became angry and tried to talk to him about it, begging him to change it, but he wouldn't listen. He was the type that refused to change anything once he set his mind to doing something.
  • Since Pullman refused to listen to his workers' complaints, 4,000 workers  decided to strike. The Pullman plant closed. They went to the American Railway Union, or the ARU, to ask for help. The ARU had over 100,000 members. The American Railway Union was led by a man named Eugene Debs. Debs wanted to just send a person to Pullman to negotiate, but the rest of his union disagreed. They started a boycott. Railroad switchmen refused to switch with Pullman Palace cars. They were fired for not doing their job, which just intensified the heat of the strike. The strike expanded, and it involved more than just the people of Pullman. Other workers from all over Chicago started to strike and boycott with the Pullman workers, and soon workers from across the nation started to strike as well. This made railroads and rail yards freeze completely all over the city.
  • The governor of Illinois asked President Cleveland for help. The president wanted to send in troops, but the governor didn't think it would be a good idea, he thought the authorities should be left to handle it.  President Cleveland did it anyways, and send around 6,000 troops to stop the boycott.   It turns out the governor was right, because once the strikers saw the troops, what had once been a peaceful strike and boycott turned into complete chaos.  The strikers started to set up barricades so the troops wouldn't enter, and they set fires to the rail cars. They totally destroyed everything that moved.  The troops eventually got frustrated and started shooting into the crowds. Around six workers were killed and twenty more were wounded.
  • The authorities then arrest the seven main leaders of the strike, including the leader of the ARU, Eugene Debs.  After the leaders were arrested, the strike became weaker. The ARU tried to get the workers' jobs back. Pullman took the workers back into the company, except those who were arrested. The workers' wages never increased. The results of the strike were terrible.The railroads lost about $685,308 in expenses, and $4,672,916 in revenue. Also, 100,000 of the Pullman employees lost $1,389,143 worth of wages. 12 people were killed and 71 people were arrested.   While Debs was in jail, he decided that unions did not do their job very well, so he converted to socialism.


  • 1. Questions To Be Answered
    • 1) Why did Pullman decide to start a sleeping car company?
    • 2) What triggered the strike?
    • 3) When did the strike start?
    • 4) Why do you think George Pullman refused to explain his reasoning with his workers?
    • 5) Do you think it was fair that Eugene V. Debs was arrested even though the boycott was not his idea?
  • 2. The Pullman Strike, 1894 First National Strike in US History History
  • 3. George Pullman
  • 4. To Save the Company during the Panic Workers' paycheck (12¢)
  • 5. Workers Strike
    • Pullman's workers (4,000) + ARU (100,000) = Railroads halt
  • 6. President Sends in Troops
    • Strikers completely destroyed the cars
  • 7. Strike Disperses
    • The seven leaders arrested
  • 8. Picture Citations
    • George Pullman Portrait. N.d. Dictionary of Unitarian & Universalist Biography . N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2011. <http://www25.uua.org/uuhs/duub/articles/georgemortimerpullman.html>. 
    • Pullman Company Paycheck, 1894 . 1894. Chicago History Museum, Chicago. The Newberry . Web. 3 Dec. 2011. <http://publications.newberry.org/pullman/items/show/121>. 
    •   Henke, A. Headquarters of the Strike . 1894. Private Collection, Chicago. The Newberry . Web. 3 Dec. 2011. <http://publications.newberry.org/pullman/items/show/173>.  
    •   Taylor, J W. Looking Up the Panhandle Railroad . 1984. Private collection. The Stan Iverson Memorial Library & Anarchist Archives . Web. 10 Nov. 2011. <http://recollectionbooks.com/siml/library/PullmanStrike.htm>.
    • Eugene Debs, Martin Elliot . N.d. Elliot Family Archives. Wikipedia . Web. 3 Dec. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Eugene_Debs_Martin_Elliott_300.jpg>.