The Pullman Strike

In the late spring of 1894, over four thousand workers at the Pullman Palace Car Company went out on strike. The company seemed an unlikely place for a strike, as its workers inhabited the well-appointed company town of Pullman, located near Chicago, Illinois. But the rise of Pullman-style welfare capitalism obscured a number of significant strains and tensions that quickly came to the surface in the economic depression of 1893-98. During the summer of 1894 members of the American Railway Union representing the strikers succeeded in paralyzing the American railroad network west of Chicago by refusing to handle the popular Pullman cars. A federal judge’s injunction against the Union boycott turned the strike’s tide in favor of the Pullman Company. President Cleveland effectively finished the strikers off when he dispatched federal troops to Chicago, where they protected strikebreakers operating trains.