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of an earlier judgment handed down fifteen years before. In 1880, the Supreme Court had decided with no dissenting opinion that an income-tax on rents is not a direct tax within the meaning of the Constitution, but an excise tax, and hence permitted to the general Government. That the Supreme Court should reverse a decision which had stood for fifteen years, was a very unusual occurrence. That it should reverse by a majority of only one a decision that had been unanimously reached was still more remarkable. Yet this was not all. On April 8th, Mr. Justice Shiras had been favourable to the constitutionality of the law. Had he not altered his view, the opinion of Mr. Justice Jackson on May 20th would have made the Court stand five to four in support of the income-tax. But Justice Shiras in the interval had gone over to the other side, and so the result already described was ultimately reached. In expressing their dissent from the decision of the majority of the Court, Justice Harlan and Justice White departed wholly from the impassive and impersonal manner which is usual in that high tribunal, and spoke in terms of marked feeling. Mr. Justice White, indeed, let it be plainly seen that he believed the Court to have dealt a severe blow to the stability and safety of American political institutions. In this he struck a note which was repeated all over the land, but most of all throughout the West and South. Populism grew daily stronger; while other events which were coincident with those already told, stimulated the new movement and enhanced its power.
The slow progress of the Wilson Bill, prolonging as it did the feeling of uncertainty in the business world, had depressed all forms of industry. Thousands of men who had been thrown out of work in the summer and autumn of 1893 found themselves by the beginning of winter.
*In the case of Springer vs. The United States.
The Court stood (May 20th) as follows: In favour of the constitutionality of the tax: Justices Harlan, Brown, Jackson, White; against it, Chief Justice Fuller, Justices Brewer, Field, Gray, Shiras.
wholly destitute. Some of them were men who had left their homes in the Eastern States and gone to the Pacific Coast as railway builders, but who now turned their faces homeward, intending to tramp the long distance, and to live upon the charity of the intervening towns and cities. These men were presently joined by others who were out of work, and finally by swarms of professional vagabonds and tramps. By some curious psychological impulse, the notion of a general crusade of squalor spread all through the country, and from every quarter of the West and the Southwest bands of ragged, hungry, homeless men appeared, fierce of aspect, and terrifying to the people of the hamlets and sparsely settled districts through which they passed. Theft, rape, and sometimes murder marked the trail of this new jacquerie, which had at first no conscious purpose, as it had no leader.
Both purpose and leader were presently provided. Three odd fanatics came to the front, and after a fashion took command of the roving bands. These three-Coxey, Kelly, and Frye-styling themselves "generals," led the largest groups, which were now known "armies of the unemployed," and later as "Industrials" and "Commonwealers." Coxey, in haranguing his followers, urged them to form an immense host, and then to march on Washington, to enter the Capitol, and to demand of Congress some relief for the sufferings of labour. This became at last the purpose of the Commonwealers; and so their various "armies" converged on Washington, with Coxey's own division somewhat in advance of all the rest.
There was something grotesque and also very pitiful in the purpose of these poor men, many of whom were honest and well-meaning, and who were driven to desperation by poverty and cold and hunger. Yet among them were also many criminals and vicious characters, so that again and again the Industrials. came into conflict with the police, and sometimes even with the militia, which was called to arms because of them. The newspapers made much of "Coxey's army," and naturally viewing its march on Washington as a huge joke, began to humour the idea and to treat it with
mock-seriousness. Hence it was that in Europe, where American humour, if unlabelled, is seldom understood, the belief spread that the United States had fallen into anarchy. The Republic was to be overthrown by a great uprising of its own citizens. The movement of Coxey's prowling tramps upon Washington was gravely likened to the famous march of the mob from Paris to Versailles. English leader-writers waited solemnly for the crash of a widespread and terrible revolution.
Coxey and his followers straggled into Washington on April 28th. By that time their numbers had been reduced to about three hundred men. The mild spring weather had led most of the "army" to roam off individually into the pleasant country valleys, where they could bask in the sun and live by begging. On the first of May, however, Coxey marched his dwindling host into the grounds of the Capitol, bearing aloft some improvised banners of calico and paper muslin. But by this time public interest in the Industrials had waned. The joke had ceased to amuse. And, therefore, no particular notice was taken of Coxey, until he and some of his "lieutenants" marched across the lawns, when the Capitol police at once arrested them for walking on the grass. This was the farcical end of the Coxey crusade which foreigners regarded as a dreadful menace to the Republic, but which terminated in a short jail sentence served by the would-be Robespierre for the violation of a local ordinance.
While, however, this pilgrimage of the Commonwealers was in itself of no importance, it did reveal a state of restlessness in the industrial world. This was soon to find expression in a tremendous struggle of organised labour against organised capital-a struggle of which the outcome was at last determined by the unprecedented action of Mr. Cleveland and his Attorney-General. It involved questions, both administrative, judicial and constitutional, of far-reaching consequences.
In 1886, the men who controlled or owned the twenty-four railways which then entered the city of Chicago, formed a voluntary association known as the
General Managers' Association.* This body had for its main purpose the effective control of all persons employed by the railways represented in the Association. Wages were cut down according to a general agreement. Discharged workmen were "blacklisted," so that they could not easily get new employment. With no standing whatever in law, the Managers' Association was establishing a complete control of the independence and even of the livelihood of thousands of railway employés. To offset this combination of the owners, the men had organised, in 1893, the American Railway Union. The two bodies, antagonistic as they were in their special interests, came into conflict early in 1894, over a question which did not in its origin directly concern either of them.
The Pullman Palace Car Company was not a railway corporation, but was engaged in manufacturing cars which it operated through written contracts with the railways. It was a highly prosperous concern, and Mr. Pullman, its President, had won much commendation from philanthropic sociologists for having built the pretty little village of Pullman, near Chicago, where employés of the company could at moderate rentals find houses that were clean, well-lighted, and supplied with admirable sanitary arrangements. Lakes, parks and well-kept streets made the place appear to be a poor man's paradise. On the other hand, those who lived there saw another side. Not many residents stayed there very long. While they stayed, they seemed to be under a singular constraint. If they spoke of the Company, they did so in a half-whisper, and with a furtive glance. behind them, very much "as a Russian might mention the Czar." Every one felt that he was spied upon, and that an incautious word might lead to his discharge and get his name upon the blacklist.
In May, 1894, the Pullman Company dismissed a large number of its workmen.
*It represented also some eighteen other railway corporations.
The number of men directly and indirectly employed was estimated in 1894 as
Andrews. The United States in Our Own Time, p. 723 (New York, 1903).
The wages of those who were retained were lowered by some twenty per cent. Many were now employed for less than what was usually regarded as full time. A committee of employés waited upon Mr. Pullman to ask that the old wages be restored. Mr. Pullman refused this request, but promised that he would not punish any member of the committee for having presented the petition. This promise he apparently violated, for on the very next day three of the committee were discharged. Mr. Pullman, in fact, evidently regarded himself as a personage so sacrosanct as to make even a respectful petition to him a serious offence. Indignant at his action, five-sixths of his men went out on strike. Mr. Pullman promptly discharged the other sixth, who had remained faithful to his interests.
To justify the Pullman management, the general statement was given out on its behalf, that the close of the Columbian Exposition and the existing business depression had checked the demand for its cars; that it had been employing men at an actual loss; that it could not afford to continue them at work and at the old scale of wages. In reply to this, the fact was pointed out that while the wages of the men had been cut, the salaries of the officers remained as large as ever; and that rents in the town of Pullman had not been lowered. Moreover, the stock of the company was selling above par; its dividends for the preceding year on a capital of $36,000,000 had been $2,520,000, while it had a surplus of undivided profits amounting to $25,000,000.
About 4000 Pullman employés were members of the American Railway Union. In June, a convention of the Union was held in Chicago, and this body took up the question of the Pullman strike, although the men on strike were not railway employés at all. A committee of the Union wished to confer with the Pullman management, but were not allowed to do so. The Civic Federation of Chicago, with the approval and support of the mayors of fifty cities, urged the Company to submit the matter to arbitration. The Company answered: "We have nothing to arbitrate." Then, on June 2d, the Railway Union, finding no settlement possible, passed a resolution
to the effect that unless the Pullman Company should come to an agreement with its men before June 26th, the members of the Railway Union would refuse to "handle" Pullman cars. The Company remained obdurate, and therefore on the 26th the Union fulfilled its promise. From that day, on all the roads running out of Chicago, no train to which Pullman cars were attached could move.
The President of the Railway Union was Mr. Eugene V. Debs. He had formerly been by turns a locomotive engineer and afterwards a grocer. Going into politics, he had served a term in the Indiana legislature. He was a very shrewd, long-headed strategist. He knew well of the strength of his organisation. He was equally well aware of the weak point in all great labour demonstrations. The 150,000 men whom he controlled could, by acting together, completely paralyse the railway system centring at Chicago. Local public sentiment was, on the whole, favourable to the Pullman employés. That sentiment would, however, be alienated if violence and general disorder were to follow on the strike. It
was vital that the Railway Union should employ no lawless means. He therefore issued an address on June 29th, in which he said:
"The contest is now on between the railway corporations united solidly on the one hand, and the labour forces on the other. . . . I appeal to the strikers everywhere to refrain from any act of violence. A man who will destroy property or violate law is an enemy and not a friend to the cause of labour."
This order of Mr. Debs was implicitly obeyed by the members of the Railway Union; and the peaceable strike which was begun upon the 26th proved at once to be remarkably effective. Switchmen refused to attach Pullman cars to any train. When they were discharged for this, the rest of the train's crew would leave it in a body. By the end of the fifth day after the strike began, all the roads running out of Chicago were practically at a standstill. The Railway Managers' Association was facing absolute defeat. Its resources in the way of men were exhausted, and its trains could not be operated. Yet all this had been accomplished by peaceable means. There was no sign of violence or disorder. But the men who made up the Managers' Association were very able, and they had at their command unlimited money, and legal advisers who could conceive daring plans. This struggle against the power of the railways was to them a struggle for existence. Their chairman, therefore, issued a bold statement, in which he said:
"We are supported in our stand by the railway managers all over the United States. It is no time for weakness of policy. . . . The fight must be won."
It must have been plain to the managers that if the strike remained a peaceful one, the railways must be defeated. If violence and crime were associated with it, public sympathy would no longer sustain the strikers, and the power of the law would be invoked against them. Singularly enough, on June 30th, just when this situation became very plain, disorder suddenly broke out in Chicago. The close of the World's Fair had left in that city a large residuum of vagabonds and semi-criminals, who had
drifted thither during the Exposition, and who remained to swell the lawless population of the slums. As is usual in times of widespread excitement, these men now swarmed by thousands to the railway yards, intent on prospective plunder. It was widely asserted at the time that the Managers' Association employed agents provocateurs to incite the disorderly elements to acts of violence. Of this there is no proof. That thieves and bullies and jail-birds should seize upon so rare an opportunity for mischief was natural enough. But their sudden appearance was certainly most opportune for the railway managers and most fatal to the real interests of the strikers.
On June 30th, a mail train was stopped in the suburbs of Chicago. The engine was cut off and disabled by a mob ostensibly directed by strikers. At about the same time, the mails were completely obstructed on parts of the Southern Pacific System, the strike having extended to the Pacific States. Mail trains having Pullman cars attached were not allowed to run. This news brought the United States Government into the field at once. torney-General Olney issued vigorous instructions to the United States districtattorneys all over the country; deputy marshals were sworn in; and other precautionary measures were taken. Writing to Mr. Edwin Walker, who acted as special counsel for the Government in Chicago, Mr. Olney made the very novel suggestion that, instead of relying upon warrants issued under criminal statutes against persons who had actually committed illegal acts, Mr. Walker should apply to the Federal courts for injunctions forbidding the commission of such acts.
On July 1st, the roads were still paralysed. Disorder had still been for the most part sporadic. There was no evidence that the local authorities were not fully competent to deal with the situation so far as the unruly elements were concerned. On the following day, however, on motion of the United States District Attorney, Judge Woods issued a sweeping injunction forbidding the President of the Railway Union, Mr. Debs, and also its Vice-President, Secretary and others, from interfering with the transportation of the mails and obstructing
interstate commerce. Mr. Walker also sent word to Washington that in his judgment, United States troops would be needed to enforce the order of the court. On that very day, President Cleveland ordered General Miles to Chicago, to take personal command of the troops at Fort Sheridan. Mr. Walker seemed strangely insistent in his demand for troops and for their immediate use. Mr. Olney telegraphed him (July 3d): “I trust use of United States troops will not be necessary." Mr. Walker reiterated his demand, and with him were joined Judge Grosscup, the District Attorney, and the United States Marshal. The strikers had, indeed, been deeply stirred by the injunction, which forbade even an attempt to persuade railway employés to strike. They felt that the Federal courts were the mere tools of the railway managers, and were attempting to deprive men of the right to leave their work. Perhaps because of their indignation at this new move, the peaceful strike came to an end, and a régime of violence began. Baggage cars were wrecked and strewn along the tracks, and a mail-train was ditched. The writ of injunction was read to the mob by the marshal, and was received with jeers and curses.
That same afternoon, President Cleveland ordered Colonel Crofton to enter Chicago with the entire garrison of Fort Sheridan, infantry, artillery and cavalry. This order was promptly carried out; and on the following morning the troops were in camp upon the lake front. Reinforcements were hurried to them, and General Miles had presently a force of several thousand men. Á brigade of State militia was also ordered to the city by the Governor at the Mayor's request. The story of the next few days is one of perpetual disorder, controlled, however, or greatly lessened by the admirable work of the regular troops, whose cool firmness had that indescribable effect which discipline always exercises upon disorder. Yet there was much destruction of railway property, both within the city and near it while the temper of the soldiers was often severely tried. The spirit of the mob grew more and more dangerous; and at last (on July 7th) General Miles issued an order to the officers in command
of troops, directing them to fire upon any persons engaged in overt hostile acts. Mr. Debs, whose prudence had begun to fail him, made an inflammatory address, in which he said:
"The first shot fired by regular troops at the mobs here will be a signal for civil war. Bloodshed will surely follow."
Events moved quickly. On the following day, the President issued a proclamation ordering all persons engaged in unlawful assemblages to disperse "on or before twelve o'clock noon of the ninth day of July instant." Those who disregarded the warning were to be viewed as public enemies. "There will be no vacillation in the decisive punishment of the guilty." On that same day, a mob at Hammond, Indiana, some twenty miles distant from Chicago, set upon several non-strikers, killing one and wounding four. Matters grew still more serious, and a company of regular troops, under Major Hartz, was hurried to the Monon station. Under their protection, several trains were moved. This infuriated the mob, which, after exhausting every form of insult, began to shower the soldiers with missiles of every description. The men remained unmoved, awaiting orders. Emboldened by this apparent timidity, their assailants, who now numbered fully three thousand, made a wild rush, intending to overwhelm the compact company in blue. Major Hartz gave a sharp command, and the magazine rifles spurted fire into the yelling mob, drilling it through and through with bullets, and strewing the ground with dead.
Coincidently with these events, Judge Grosscup delivered a charge to a special Federal Grand Jury, which at once found indictments against Debs and three of his associates, the charge being one of conspiracy under the Sherman Anti-Trust Law of 1890. On July 10th, the four men were arrested and gave bail in $10,000 each. On July 17th, the same men were brought before Judge Woods and charged with contempt of court, in having disobeyed the injunction of July. 2d. They refused to give bail upon this charge, and were sent to prison under guard.
This swift and stern action of the Federal Government broke the backbone of