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Pullman Strike

The American history has been characterized by numerous labor struggles. However, some struggles remain naturally significant than others and left remarkable impacts to the labor movement. The Pullman Strike that took place in 1894 did not only lead to the splitting of the labor movement but gave rise to doubts about the unskilled workers powers to have their demands recognized and effected. The strike started like a revolt against quickly intensified and labor practices that the workers of the US railroad service felt were unfair. It was a result of these allegations that what has remained as unforgettable period in the labor history begun. The objective of this paper is not just to have the readers vast with the events that happened during the Pullman strike but also to bring out the society’s repercussions.

What had been designed as a strike heading for a triumphant took a sudden turn around heading for the worst. At the start of the strike, the momentum was going in accordance to the plans but after a short time, it was clear that the once simple servants strike won’t remain the same for long. This realization unraveled the time when Eugene Debs took a visit to the Blue Island found in Illinois in the mid 1894. After what had been planned to be a peaceful rally so as to attract more boycott support, the workers taking part in the strike decided to have the situation handled their way as they had the yards destroyed, derailed a locomotive and had anything in their vicinity and was moving on fire. Though considered as inappropriate behavior, this was what Attorney General Onley had hoped the workers would do from the beginning. This stand taken by Onley was the only possible basis which he could justify his injunction against the workers strike. The Attorney General’s stand on the strike was that the strike was both unjustified and extremely dangerous to the nation’s welfare. An injunction was reached at when Onley passionately filed his case in July 1894.

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The injunction came out successful in an effort to succeed in fracturing the strikers’ actions. It achieved this by serving two main aims; doing away with the leadership of the workers on strike and it gave room for troops to be employed to rectify the situation following the allegation that mail delivery had been earlier disrupted. The strikers become frustrated and disgusted by the injunction action leaving them infuriated and started acting before they thought twice about their actions. They went ahead to ignore Debs warning on the mail issue and with anger getting the better to them they resolved to settling their disapproval of the intervention by the federal through dragging cars to block the tracks thus disrupting the passage of mail completely.
The following day was marked by the President being dragged into the matter. President Cleveland Grover ordered troops to Chicago to re-establish harmony in the community. This included the assurance that mail delivery continued undisrupted. This action was objected not only by the striking workers but also by both the mayor and governor of Illinois. They both come out strongly opposing the presence of troops in the area. The aftermath of the strike formed the climax of the events happening in this period. The trial coming as a result of strike stated that Debs was found guilty and tried for violation of the court injunction and was sentenced for six months. In the political arena, after serving his sentence, Debs came out as a leading socialist in America and eventually ran for Presidency in 1900. The commission formed to look into the events causing the Pullman strike found Pullman the one to be blamed for everything and his company town regarded as being un-American. The Labor Day was made a federal holiday after organized labor was considered a top priority.

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The Pullman Strike had adverse affects on the overall welfare of United States and its citizens. Whether considered at that time or not, the citizens believed that the strike cost human misery, cost the nation dollars and resulted in class bitterness. The strike is also attributed to have led to President Cleveland re-nomination defeat, American Railway Union destruction and vast financial damages in the railroads. It was through the strike that the overall United States overall labor problems were emphasized. Thus the replacing of capitalism with socialism campaign was underway. Although the Pullman Strike did not accomplish what it was initiated for concerning adequate and fair wage treatment, it managed to clearly highlight the labor movement’s efforts to overcome its obstacles that are endless.

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