Debs’ Rebellion

Eugene Victor Debs (1855-1926)

As president of the American Railway Union (ARU), Eugene Victor Debs led a successful strike against the Great Northern Railroad in 1894. Also, on May 11th, the ARU decided on a sympathetic boycott of all rail lines using Pullman Cars in support of striking Pullman workers. This boycott soon became the largest national strike in United States history that was described as “a struggle between the greatest and most important labor organization and the entire railroad capital.” Strikers fought by establishing boycotts of Pullman train cars, and with Debs’ eventual leadership, the strike came to be known as “Debs’ Rebellion”.

The Pullman Strike was a nationwide conflict between labor unions and the railroads happened in the United States in 1894. Eugene Victor Debs was one of the greatest and most articulate advocates of workers’ power to have ever lived. During the early years of the labor movement in the United States, Debs was far ahead of his times, leading the formation of the American Railway Union (ARU) and the American Socialist Party. Debs was engaged in promoting workers’ right to organize unions and to strike in order to protect their interests or benefits.

Two questions I may ask were:

1. Before the beginning of the Pullman Strike, why did you try to stop the Union members to the strike and boycott and why finally you take part in the strike?

2. After the strike collapsed, did you consider that the American Railway Union was making the wrong decision?

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