Primary Sources: The Chicago Tribune and the Labor Movement
After the Haymarket tragedy, workers continued to protest their working conditions. Railroad employees of the notoriously chiseling George Pullman went on strike in May 1894 under the leadership of Eugene Debs, attracting national attention. Investigative reporter Nellie Bly became the only reporter to cover the strike from the workers' point of view. Railroad lawyer Clarence Darrow resigned his well-paying job in order to defend the strikers.
In these July 3, 1894 excerpts, the Chicago Tribune shows its anti-labor bias as it describes how Federal troops were called in to break up the strike.
Jeer At Uncle Sam
Debs' Strikers Insultingly Defy Federal Courts.
Hoots For The Marshal
Arnold Howled Down While Reading Injunction.
Openly Break The Order.
Dupes of the Dictator Block the Rock Island Track.
Passengers Are Denied Food.
"To h-ll with the government! To h-ll with the courts!" was the response of a mob of 2,000 rioters last night at Blue Island when United States Marshal Arnold read the injunction... restraining them from interfering with the operation of the Rock Island and twenty other railroads.
Then the rioters howled defiance at the Marshal and his deputies and promptly violated the injunction by throwing a box car across the tracks and stopping all traffic for the night.
The Marshal immediately reiterated his demand for United States troops and it is the general belief that Uncle Sam's soldiers will today teach the lawless followers of [Eugene] Debs that the law is not a thing to be trifled with.
Cowardly Deputies Run.
Blue Island was in the hands of the strikers all day. By command of the leaders, the merchants of the town boycotted the unlucky passengers on the trains held there and refused to furnish food or water. A large force of Deputy United States Marshals and Deputy Sheriffs arrived there at 9 o'clock to clear the tracks, start the mail trains, and restore order. They were met by the strikers in force. A majority of the cowardly deputies ran away at the first sign of a fight, and the State of Illinois and the United States Government, as represented by Deputy Sheriff and Deputy Marshals, were ingloriously whipped and forced to appeal for aid to Springfield and Washington.
The injunction treated so contemptuously by the Blue Islanders restrains Debs and his strikers from interfering in any way with the business of railways which carry mails and inter-State freight and passenger trains. Its provisions are broad and all the roads are protected under the order. It is regarded as one of the strongest ever issued by a court. Ten thousand copies were printed, and will be posted on the line of every road this morning. In Dictator Debs' opinion the injunction is worthless. Last night he declared it was not worth "h--l room."
Troops To Kill It
Marshal Arnold Overwhelmed by the Blue Island Riot.
Asks Olney for Help.
Fort Sheridan Regulars Needed to Crash Disturbers.
Col. Crofton Ready to Act
Northwestern Road, Being Notified, Prepares a War Train.
Alleged Order For the Militia
Uncle Sam will take Dictator Debs' lawless rabble by the back of the neck at Blue Island today. The grip which will crush the life out of the strike nuisance will be given by the Fifteenth Regiment of United States Infantry now stationed at Fort Sheridan. The troops are standing to their arms, the artillery is loaded upon flat cars, in the yards stands an engine with steam up and manned by a trusted crew; nothing now is necessary but Attorney-General Olney's order to move.
This order necessarily could not be given until after the court's injunction had been read to the strikers and they had disregarded it by committing some overt act. The injunction has been read to the crowd; it has been disregarded, and there is no doubt that Attorney General Olney will send the final order today. All hope of peace and decency fled when United States Marshal Arnold read the injunction to the mob. They booed at it, jeered and laughed. When the printed notices were pasted up, they tore them down and spat upon them. In every way they showed their contempt of the constituted authority of the United States. Finding he could do nothing to uphold the dignity of the court, Marshal Arnold directed the following telegram to Attorney-General Olney at Washington:
I am here at Blue Island. Have read the order of the court to the rioters here and they simply hoot at it. They pay no attention to it and have made threats that they will not allow any Pullman car to pass through on the Rock Island road. We have had a desperate time with them here all day and our force is inadequate. In my judgement it is impossible to move trains without having the Fifteenth Infantry from Fort Sheridan ordered here at once. There are over 2,000 rioters here and more coming. Mail trains are in great danger.
J. W. Arnold
United States Marshal
Militia Ready to Fight.
The news of the trouble at Blue Island spread rapidly though the city. It was known that a slight move on either side would precipitate bloodshed, and it was expected that at least the militia would be called for. Officers of the First and Second regiments hurried to their armories and soon had almost their entire commands ready for action. Had the call come either the First or the Second would have been ready to take the cars at thirty minutes' notice. Brig.-Gen. Wheeler remained at this office in the Old Colony Building almost the entire day receiving hourly intelligence of the state of affairs at Blue Island.
Until nearly midnight District Attorney Milchrist waited in his office for anything that he thought would warrant him in indorsing the demand made upon Attorney General Olney for troops.
"I myself," said Mr. Milchrist, "have little to do with the calling out of the troops. United States Marshal Arnold has been instructed to communicate direct with Attorney General Olney in the event of his needing help at Blue Island. That he does need it and needs it badly I know, and I feel pretty sure that tomorrow will see the troops called out.
"The only thing necessary is for the strikers to commit to some overt act in defiance of the injunction. If it can be shown that this has been done and the matter is brought to the attention of Judges Woods and Grosscup they will at once indorse any demand made upon the United States for troops, and I feel sure that they will at once be furnished."
As the injunction was violated within half an hour after it was read, and as Marshal Arnold says he cannot cope with the rioters, the court must protect and enforce its orders, and that can only be done with United States soldiers.