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take the field are not those who see the surrender at Appomattox Court House. Few indeed are those who begin the fight and are crowned with laurels at the close.
I have described at some length the cause of the industrial struggle in a book which was published at this office last month.* It seems to me, however, that there are many of our readers who would be glad to know something of the personality of the men upon whom has fallen the direction of the forces of organised labour in the present trouble. What kind of leaders are they? Have they definite ideas as to where they are driving? How do they compare with our own men on this side of the water? What chance of success hare they in the great fight upon which they have entered? These questions, which are of supreme interest to civilisation, are somewhat difficult to answer; but the following brief sketch of the leader of the great Pullman boycott may possibly be useful as a contribution to the study of a question of which we shall hear more and more as the years roll on.
Labour in America, like almost everything else in that country, suffers from the conditions under which life is lived. In Britain, between Aberdeen and Plymouth, we are all one family gathered round a tea - table. Everyone knows every one more or less.
The London newspapersarrive before sunset at both extremities of the island, and none of us is more than twenty-four hours' distance from any other. Under these circumstances there is a much greater possibility of organised action and AR of co-operation than there is in an immense continent where a scanty population is scattered over territory as immense as that of the American Republic. Each of the United States has it3 own separate life; each of the great cities has its own existence, and lives, indeed, so much apart from its neighhours as to render it not inconceivable that we may see before long the evolution of some distinctive cities, which will be as independent in all but in name as were the great cities of mediæval Italy, and with as distinct a note and character of their own. All this tends to a very intensely active and vigorous local life, which producesa swarm of small politicians and parochial statesmen, but does not tend to bring forth leaders whose reputation and character form national assets. Somo men think in
parishes, others in counties, a few in states; but there are very few.who think in continents. The man who has to Jead human force echelonned at irregular intervals between the Atlantic and the Pacific must be one who thinks in continents. Such men are rare, and the most oppressive feeling which weighs down the visitor to the United States is that the moral and mental qualities of man have not developed in proportion to the space which he has to govern. The Americans live in a great continent, no doubt; but the individual man is quite as little as his progenitor in the Old World, sometimes indeed even less, as is inevitable, for individuals may retrograde although the race advances. When we reflect upon the immense
obstacles which timeand space place between man and man, we begin to understand something of the difficulties of national action.
One man, however, has succeeded in impressing a sense of his individuality upon the whole nation; and that man, although at this moment defeated and awaiting trial and imprisonment, has by that fact alone achieved something that very few other men have accomplished. Eugene V. Debs, the President of the American Railway Union, the responsible leader in the great industrial war which centred at Chicago, is therefore a character well worth studying, even although at this distance the materials are hardly so ample as I could have desired. 1.—THE STRIKE
AT PULLMAN. Before sketching Mr. Debs, it may be as well to give a brief account of the sanguinary oc
currences which have given Chicago so evil a notoriety these last few weeks. The strike which Mr. Debs conducted cost Chicago about six million dollars in the destruction of property from fire and violence. Ten lives were lost and forty-one persons were wounded. As many as 10,000 armed men stood arrayed with Gatling guns and artillery to answer for order. Such are the incidents of labour war in America. Bad as it is, it is not so bad by a long way as the destruction to life and property which took place at Pittsburg seventeen years ago, when the railway men struck against a ten per cent. reduction in their wages. On that occasion Pittsburg was virtually held for a time by the mob against the soldiers, and five times as many people were killed as perished in the Chicago strike.
THE STRIKE AT PULLMAN. The struggle which had such calamitous results—for
GEORGE M. PULLMAN.
calamitous they were, even although they were not so bad as the troubles at Pittsburg---began in a local strike at Pullman, the model city built by the manufacturer of
the nature of the change, but the men protested that it was equivalent to a reduction of $5 a week on their average wage. No reason was given, and they refused to work at the reduction. They waited upon the superintendent and asked for redress. He said he could do nothing. They then appealed to the general superintendent. He said he did not care to talk with them. That was the beginning of the whole quarrel. The men, feeling that they had been arbitrarily cut in their wages, and resenting the refusal to make any explanation or even to listen to their grievances, decided to demand a return to last year's pay. Thereupon all question as to the paper and the freight cars disappeared. Mr. Pullman gave way on that point too late. The fire was in the heather,
THE DEMAND FOR LAST YEAR'S WAGE. Five local unions, and the Railway Union, composed of painters, upholsterers, tinners, car-builders, and others, held a conference, and unanimously decided to demand a restoration of their old pay. The vice-president of the Union, Mr. Howard, who had just arrived from the victory over the Great Northern, addressed the conference and strongly opposed any precipitate action. He admitted that he could not but blame Pullman's superintendents, who had denied to their men the right to meet them and discuss their grievances, but he hoped there would be no need for either a strike or a boycott. It was in vain, however, that Mr. Howard endeavoured to avert the inevitable conflict. The upholsterers brought forward as a special grievance the fact that the president of their Union had been dismissed immediately after his election to that office, although he was a skilled and temperate workman. On May 7th, Vice-President Wicks was waited upon by forty-three employées, representing every department of work at Pullman, complaining of an immense number of grievances. They complained of tyranny and abuse on the part of the forewomen, dishonesty of managers, favouritism, and arbitrary black
EIGENE V. DEBS.
Pullman cars in the neigh-
Pullman cut his work-
voting against his wishes at the Presidential election. Mr. Pullman is a Republican. Pullman gave a heavy majority of votes to Cleveland, and to teach his workmen the consequences of voting against the McKinley tariff Mr. Pullman cut their wages to the quick. This may be incorrect. The industrial depression was enough to explain the reduction without imputing it to political motives. The story that the cut in wages was due to a deliberate intention to teach the voters a lesson as to the results of free trade is made in the press as on Mr. Pullman's own authority. Whatever may have been the cause, the fact is indisputable. The works were nearly closed down.
THE PULLMAN DIVIDEND.
Instead of employing 6,000 men and paying wages out at the rate of £60,000 a month, the number employed was reduced to about 2,000, all of whom were working at reduced wages. All the time the Pullman Company was paying eight per cent. dividend, but this dividend was earned by the hire of the cars which were let out to the various railway companies in the United States. The profit of the work actually done in manufacturing cars at Pullman was a minus quantity. In order to keep the works going and to provide work for those who had nothing to do, Mr. Pullman contracted to build several cars at cosi price, and by this means he was able to raise the number of his employés to about 4,000. So matters stood at the end of this year. A foolish little quarrel broke out between Pullman's agents and the workmen in one shop, and from this trifle the whole trouble arose.
THE BEGINNING OF STRIFE. At the beginning of May the freight-car builders in one shop at Pullman were ordered to make some change listing. They further alleged that they wanted their in the way in which they worked the paper into the old wages back again, and double pay for Sunday sides of the freight cars. I do not profess to understand work.
UGENE V. DEBS.
THE PULLMAN NON POSSUMUS. Mr. Wicks at once said that he would investigate the complaints, but that any return to the old wages was impossible. They were losing $20,000 on one contract alone, which had been entered into solely for the purpose of keeping the works going. Sɔ far as the company was concerned, it would have suited them better to have shut down the works all winter. He said further that the company had four million dollars worth of cars standing idle in their yards, which were depreciating every day. The men owed the company $70,000 for rent, for which they were not being pressed. Some of the deputies wished to holt the union and to go on strike there and then, but Vice-President Howard induced them
a fatherly affection for his employés, and had a lively interest in the town. He had been selling cars below cost price in order to keep his people employed. Mr. Pullman said further that he claimed to be a truthful man, but that the books of the Corporation were open to the men to substantiate his statements. He was about to take a contract for eight hundred cars, but he could only do so if his men would stand by him at the existing rate of wages. If he had to return to the old wages, he could only go on for four weeks longer until the present contracts were finished, as the old rate would make competition impossible for his company. Mr. Pullman then retired, and Vice-President Howard was left to plead for peace with the workmen. He spoke very
to listen to reason and to wait for Mr. Wicks's promised investigation into their complaints. Mr. Wicks made his investigations, and reported that there was no ground for the alleged grievance of the employés. Thereupon tisty specific grievances were brought forward in writing, while many others were stated to the stenographer. Further investigation was promised, and the question as to wages was resumed.
MR. PULLMAN'S PROMISE. Mr. Pullman himself then entered the conference and addressed his workmen. He said that he would most carefully investigate all the complaints and mete out strict justice to the offenders. He did not think that his men could look him in the face and ask him for more pay in view of the facts. He had been informed only the other day that at no time in the history of the company had there been less friction at the works. He said he felt
strongl against a strike, thinking that a strike at that
would be a fatal error. The men thereupon agreed to defer the strike, and to take immediate advantage of Mr. Pullman's offer to permit an investigation with regard to the contracts taken by him at a loss. Mr. Howard assured them that he had the personal assurance of Mr. Pullman and Mr. Wicks that none of the committee or any of the complainants should suffer in any way on account of what they had said. At the close of the meeting late at night the freight-car builders declared that they would not go to work next day, but Mr. Howard, after half an hour's strenuous arguing, was able to avert a rupture. Mr. Howard believed at that time it was possible to settle matters without a strike.
AND HOW IT WAS KEPT.
Unfortunately, everything was spoiled by what the men loudly asserted to be an act of bad faith on the part
[From the Jew lok Cinete
537 Pittsburg, Cincinnati , Chicago, and St. Louis (Pan Handle) 1,554 Chicago and Alton
813 Baltimore and Ohio. 1,999 Chicago, Rick Island, and Pacific
3,610 Chicago and Grand Trunk To'al mileage
of Mr. Pullman. When they asked to see the books, they were shown a statement which had been drawn up in the office, which they were allowed to read, but which they were not allowed to verify by any reference to the books. Further, they asserted that two members of the Grievance Committee had been dismissed, and in no cases had any of the abuses been admitted or remedied. Thereupon on May 11th they unanimously decided to strike. Mr. Howard having done everything he could for peace, told , them that as the general officer of the American Railway Union he was merely the servant of the local unions, and that as they had commanded a strike it had become his duty to see that they won. He warned them that there n ust be no disorder, no gathering in knots or lounging
THE STRIKE BEGUN. The strike at Pullman began on May 11th. At first everything went peaceably. Mr. Pullman declared that it would be money into his pocket to discontinue the works. The men declared that they were driven to strike by despair, and that nothing would have induced them to leave work but the absolute impossibility of making sufficient to render life endurable. There was not the slightest indication of the use of violence. So far was this from being so that the Strike Committee offered to enroll 2,000 men to protect the works. Up to this point all is plain sailing ; Mr. Debs has not yet appeared upon the scene. The American Railway Union, of which he was the originator, had been represented by Vice
about the streets, and no drinking. Sub-committees of three were appointed from each of the twenty-five departments of the Pullman Works to preserve good order, to prevent intimidation of other workers who wished to work, and to see that no pledges were violated.
When the die was cast, Mr. Wicks said that in the case of one foreman they had found the grievances well founded, and that if the strike had not been declared that foreman would probably have been discharged for tyranny and abuse. In nearly all of the other instances, so far as the investigation had proceeded, the complaints were so frivolous and trivial that they could not be noticed. As to the allegedl dismissal of complainants, only one was paid off, and that was due to the fact that there was no more work in his shop for him to do. Two more workmen who had taken no part in the complaints had shared his fate.
President Howard, a man who throughout the earlier stages of the strike had displayed great moderation, and who had tried to prevent a strike which his experienced eye must have foreseen was doomed to end in disaster. When they were launched upon the strike Mr. Howard exhorted them to comply with the spirit which Christ our Saviour showed while on earth, and do their duty to their fellow-men. Having thus explained how the original strike came about, I will now turn to the central figure in this interesting drama.
II.—EUGENE V. DEBS. Mr. Eugene V. Debs, unlike many of those who have taken a leading part in the industrial movement in America, is an American born.* He was born in Terre
* In my book “Chi ago To-day ” I quoted an erroneous statement in the press that be was an Englishman.