A Screenplay by
Mark Dickman


     The modest home of  Pullman worker’s family. Workers and their families are seated in the crowded living room, telling Eugene Debs and his brother Theodore about their lives in Pullman Town.

WORKER 1: Mr. Debs-

DEBS:           Please, brother, just call me Gene.

WORKER 1: Gene, I’m a skilled machinist, work
                     Twelve hours a day; but, all I get is
                     A paycheck for seven cents. My
                     Wages are $9.07, but $9.00 is
                     Taken out to just rent this place.

WORKER 2: I get forty-five cents for six hours
                     Work as a blacksmith, and I’m
                     Damned if I’m going to starve
                     Anymore: to wear out both my
                     Clothes and Pullman’s anvils at
                     One and the same time.

WORKER 3: I have a wife and four children,
                      And its’ for them that I’m
                      Willing to strike. There’s got to
                      Be something wrong when a
                      Man works for as many years
                      As I have and still finds himself
                      In debt.

WORKER 4: My brother worked thirty years
                      For the company, and when he
                      Was finally laid off, they refused
                      To give him a pension. Others
                      Spend their last days in the poor
                      House. And they don’t pay any
                      Disability unless you’re maimed
                      Or die in the company’s service.

WORKER 5: And the foremen constantly
                     Curse and abuse us. They speed
                     Up the line whenever they please
                     And use piece work to lower the
                     Pitiful wages we get.

WIFE:           As our Reverend Carwardine
                     Once said: “We’re born in a
                     Pullman house, fed from the
                     Pullman shop, taught in a
                     Pullman school, catechized in a
                     Pullman church. And when we
                     Die we’ll be buried in a Pullman
                     Cemetery and end up in a
                     Pullman hell.”

WORKER 1: During this past winter the
                      Want and suffering have been
                      Unbearable. Many of our kids
                      Lack the money to buy school
                      Books, or can’t afford shoes
                      Or coats to attend class.

WORKER 2:  In some homes they’re kept in
                      Bed because they have no coal.
                      In others they’re sent to bed
                      Early because there’s no food
                      For dinner.

WORKER 3: For many there’s no work, no
                      Hope. The men rage; the women
                      Are sullen. Most of all, there’s
                      The hungry, joyless children.

WORKER 4: By now, we don’t even expect
                      The company to concede to
                      Our demands. We don’t know
                      What the outcome will be, and
                       In fact, we don’t much care.

WORKER 5:  We do know we’ve been
                       Working for less than will
                       Maintain ourselves and our
                       Families. And, because of that,
                       We refuse to slave for that
                       Damned Pullman any longer!

WIFE:             George Pullman runs a town
                       Like a feudal manor, with him
                       Our lord and master. Before
                       We joined the American Railway
                       Union, unions had been banned
                       Here. And he banned the eight-hour
                       Day – claimed it promoted idleness!

DEBS:          Up until now, brother and sisters,
                       I wanted nothing so much as to 
                       Avoid a strike. We’re sunk in a
                       Depression, and the unemployed
                       Stand on every street corner just
                       Waiting to take your jobs. The
                       Brotherhoods of Railway Workers
                       Might well not support us; indeed,
                       They could well encourage scabs.
                       The General Managers Association –
                       Which unites all the railroads passing
                       Through Chicago – forestalled a 
                       Threatened strike here by switchmen
                       In ’93; and it’s sure to try the same 
                       Thing at Pullman. As at Homestead,
                       Coeur D’Alene and Buffalo, they may
                       Well use injunctions and federal troops
                       In an attempt to crush us. Frankly, we’re
                       Ready for a showdown with Pullman.
                       We’re an inexperienced union, most
                       Of whose workers are raw recruits.
                       What’s more, a strike will require a
                       Lengthy fight, and the ARU has little
                       In the way of strike funds!

WORKER 1:  Gene, we joined the ARU because it
                       Provided us with hope. We’ll make
                       You proud of us if you only give us
                       The hand we need. Please help us
                       Teach that Pullman son-of-a-bitch
                       That there’s still a Jehovah, a God
                       Of battle for the working class!


     Officers are seated at a long table on a raised platform before the delegates. Debs, Theodore, officers and delegates. The chairman calls on Theodore to address the delegates.

CHAIRMAN: Brother Debs will now address us.

THEODORE: (He rises and walks to the podium in the center of the stage.)
                       On May 7th a committee of Pullman
                       Workers met with Vice-president Wickes
                       To present their complaints about wages
                       And working conditions. Wickes told them
                       To return in two days with their grievances
                       In writing. On May 9th Wickes again delayed,
                       Promising that he would personally investigate
                       The shop abuses. Wickes assured them that
                       There would be no retaliation against members
                       Of the committee. Nevertheless, the very next
                       Morning, three members of the committee
                       Were fired. An all-night session of the committee
                       Was held to discuss the advisability of a strike,
                       And they agreed that, unless the three men were
                       Reinstated, they would vote to strike…



     Thousands of workers walk off their job to go on strike. They are calm and peaceful. They post guards around the plant to prevent damage to company property.



THEODORE:   So that at noon, on May 11th, three thousand
                        Workers walked off their jobs in Pullman
                        Shops, and the remaining three hundred were
                        Laid off. The walkout was orderly; there wasn’t
                        A hint of violence. The strikers even posted 
                        Guards around the railroad yards to prevent
                        Vandalism. Driven to desperation, they were
                        Compelled to strike. But they did so with little
                        Hope of success. And today, they’ve come to
                        Us, brothers and sisters, to ask for our support.

CHAIRMAN:  The brother in the first row.

WORKER 1:   (He stands to address the delegates.)
                        I was at the meeting with Vice-president
                        Wickes and I wrote down the very words
                        He spoke to us…
(He takes a sheet of paper out of his pocket and reads from it.)
                        “We of the Pullman Palace Car Company
                        Have absolutely nothing to arbitrate. Wages
                        And working conditions are decided by the
                        Management, alone. Pullman is in business
                        For profit, and decreased sales requires a 
                        Cut in wares. It’s just as simple as that.”
(Boos and catcalls from the delegates. The chairman uses his gavel to call them to order.)

CHAIRMAN:  Brother Debs will now deliver our
                        Executive Committee Report.

DEBS:             (He rises and stands before the podium.)
                       Brothers and sisters of the American 
                       Railway Union. Every labor leader must
                       Answer three questions when a strike is
                       Proposed: Do the workers have just      
                       Grievances?; Have all the peaceful
                       Avenues for settlement been exhausted?;
                       And, can we win the strike? Although I can
                       I can answer the first two in the affirmative,
                       I have serious doubts about the third. 
                       Nevertheless, the decision has been taken
                       Out of my hands. I’m no more that the
                       Servant of you, the rank and file of our
                       Union. But the forces of labor must unite:
                       Our strike must spread. Pullman’s revenue 
                       Comes from the rental of his sleeping cars;
                       And he might be forced to surrender if his
                       Income is cut off. We, brothers and sisters
                       Of the ARU, will not move a single sleeper
                       Until Pullman settles with our union!...
(Applause from the floor.)
                       I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to
                       Be orderly and law-abiding. Our cause
                       Is just and the public will be with us. Let
                       It be born in mind that if the company
                       Secures workers to handle the trains, it
                       That right. We have the right to quit, but
                       Our rights end there. Others have the 
                       Right to take our places, whatever the
                       Propriety of doing so may be. Keep away
                       From the yards of other places where 
                       Large crowds may gather. The managers
                       Seek to make it appear that trains don’t
                       Run because of our interference. That’s
                       False, but they do it as a pretext for 
                       Having injunctions granted and sending
                       In federal troops against us. Respect the
                       Law and conduct yourselves as such and
                       Our cause will be crowned with success!...
(A standing ovation, cheers and applause from the floor.)


     News conference. A group of managers and Vice-president Wickes stand behind the podium, before which are reporters from the leading newspapers.

REPORTER 1: It is now the fourth day of the boycott,
                        All sleeping cars have been cut from their
                        Trains and side-tracked, and 125,000 men
                        Are on strike…



    Hundreds of Pullman workers cut and side-track a Pullman Palace car…



REPORTER 1: What do you think about the sleeping cars
                         Having been cut and side-tracked, Vice-
                         President Wickes?

WICKES:          We of the General Managers Association
                          And the Pullman Palace Car Company
                          Welcome a showdown with the American
                          Railway Union. We represent twenty-four
                          Railroads, with combined capital of eight
                          Hundred million dollars, operate forty-one
                          Thousand miles of track and employ two-
                          Hundred twenty thousand employees. But
                          If the ARU is itching for a fight, then we’ll
                          Gladly take ‘em on!

REPORTER2:    President Carnot of France was assassinated
                          By anarchists just two days before the strike,
                          And yesterday a crowd of thousands stopped
                          A train on the Chicago and Erie line and forced
                          Its crew to detach two Pullman cars. Are we
                          In for anarchy here in Chicago, Vice-president

WICKES:           I don’t know about that, sir, but when a mob
                          Takes the law into their own hands, then I’d
                          Say its high time for the Attorney General to
                          Issue an injunction against the rioters!...Let
                          Me now introduce to you Mr. Matthew 
                          Butterfield, the President of the Cleveland
                          Brotherhood of Railway Switchmen, who,
                          With us, opposes this illegal boycott.

REPORTER3:    Mr. Butterfield, would you tell us your
                          Opinion of this boycott of the Pullman
                          Palace Car Company?

BUTTERFIELD: Our brotherhood is here to settle an old
                          Account. We were strikers on the Gould
                          Railroads under the great Martin Irons in
                          ’86, and we  haven’t handled a switch
                          Since then. The very men that are now on
                          Strike were the ones who filled our places!

REPORTER 1:   Vice-President Wickes, we’ve just learned
                          That a crowd of workers in Chicago halted
                          Two express trains carrying federal mail.
                          Governor Atgeld has announced he will
                          Send the local militia, and Federal District
                          Attorney, Thomas Milchrist, has recommended
                          The hiring of Special Deputies. What do you
                          Think , sir, of these developments?

WICKES:           I think it’s about time for President Cleveland
                          To send in federal troops and for the Attorney
                          General to issue warrants against the strike

REPORTER 2:  Vice-president Wickes, we’ve heard that the
                         General Managers Association met in closed
                         Session yesterday at the Rookery Building.
                         What was the outcome of that meeting, sir?

WICKES:          It was the decision of that body to refuse to
                         Rehire anyone who goes out on strike. Every
                         One of them will be black-listed; they’ll never
                         Again work on a railroad. Let that be our
                         Warning to the ARU!



     421 Ashland Avenue block.



     The nerve center of the Pullman strike. Large hall filled with desks, typewriters and adjoining offices. Men enter and leave, conducting business. Couriers arrive and depart with telegrams. Workers seated at desks at work. Debs wears an immaculate tweed suit and hard white collar. He moves gracefully among the workers, conferring with them; then he perches on a desk at the center of the hall to read to them from a stack of newspapers on the corner of the desk. All pause and a hush among them, as they listen to him address them.

DEBS:            The newspaper campaign against us is in
                       Full swing, brothers and sisters, with the
                       Chicago Tribune right up there leading them
                       On. Listen to these headlines:
(As he reads, we see the headlines displayed in bold letters on the screen.)
                       “Anarchist Mob is in control of the city!’
                       “Dictator Debs Tramples on the Law of the Land!”
                       Here’s the Chicago Herald’s editorial:
                       “It’s an absolute necessity that the railroads
                        Must defeat the strikers. If they yield on a single
                        Point, it will be a sign of fatal weakness. If the
                        Strike can succeed, then railroad owners would
                        Be surrendering their sacred private property to
                        The red agitators and conspirators of the ARU!...”

WORKER 1:   Even-handed, objective reporting, wouldn’t you
                        Say, brothers?

(They all laugh and shake their head in disbelief.)

THEODORE:   (Reading from a newspaper.)
                        “Eugene Debs is simply a thief who is personally
                        Profiting off his fellow strikers’ suffering…”

WORKERS:     Unbelievable! Ridiculous! 

WORKER 3:    These days, Gene, you won’t even let
                         Pay you your salary! What journalistic hacks!

DEBS:               Even so, brothers and sisters, the facts can’t
                          Be denied. After all, this is the first national
                          Strike in our nation’s history. Never before
                          Has the working class of our country so
                          Singularly demonstrated our power to bring
                          The capitalist exploiters’ system to a halt.

THEODORE:    Our efforts to gain support from the railroad
                          Brotherhoods have had mixed results, however.
                          Sam Gompers of the AFL refuses to lift a finger.
                          The Mineworkers promise their full support,
                          But most of the brotherhoods have pledged
                          To work against us. Some of them have 
                          Denounced us. Others, like P.M. MacArthur,
                          Say that they: “…neither have the authority
                          Nor the inclination to aid the ARU.” And the
                          Locomotive Firemen have been instructed:
                          “…to perform their regular duties: not to
                          Leave their trains…”

WORKER 1:     (A courier enters and gives him a telegram, which he relates to them.)
                          We just got word that the owners are
                          Intentionally disrupting schedules, hoping
                          The resulting inconvenience will turn the 
                          Public against us, and serve as an excuse
                          For government intervention.

DEBS:               It’s discouraging, brothers and sisters, but
                         We have to remember that every single
                         Concession the railway companies have ever
                         Made has been wrung from them by the power
                         Of the working class.

WORKER 1:    Just imagine, railway men and their misleaders
                         Scabbing and denouncing us. It’s enough to 
                         Make a fellow puke.

THEODORE:    (Reading from telegrams that have just been delivered by couriers.)
                          The Central Labor Unions of New York and 
                          Chicago have both endorsed our boycott!
(Cheers and applause from the workers.)

DEBS:                The word should go out that every true
                           Man and woman now quit and remain
                           Out until the fight is won. Our cause is
                           Gaining ground and success is in sight.
                           We must not falter. Labor must win now
                           Or never if our victory’s to be complete.

     Vice-president Wickes sits behind a desk before which Attorney General Richard Olney paces back and forth.

OLNEY:             We have finally obtained an Omnibus
                          Injunction against the ARU leaders.
                       With the Sherman Antitrust Act as our
                       Authority, it prohibits them from any
                       That aids the boycott or urges men to
                       Join the strike.

WICKES:        Excellent work, Attorney General.
                       This will bring them to their knees.

OLNEY:          Under the Act, the court has the 
                       Power to enjoin a public nuisance
                       When it threatens the public good.
                       A railroad is a public highway and
                       The withdrawal of labor interferes
                       With the public good, consequently,
                       The boycott is subject to injunction.
                       Furthermore, any act in conjunction
                       With others that encourages the strike
                       May itself constitute a conspiracy
                       In violation of the Act.

WICKES:       Conspiracy…I like the sound of that…
                      So if one man quits work or even
                      Suggests to another that he do likewise,
                      He’s guilty of being part of this conspiracy?

OLNEY:         Exactly, Mr. Wickes!

WICKES:       “…out of this conspiracy we shall make 
                      A net that shall enmesh them all…”

OLNEY:         The growth of all labor and radical
                     Organizations must be checked by
                     Law and order. And, in this case,
                     Nothing less than force – the might
                     Of Federal troops – will be required 
                     To crush this damn boycott!


     Debs, perched on a desk, reads to Theodore, Clarence Darrow and the ARU executive board from a thick stack of newspapers.

DEBS:          (As he speaks, there are FLASH-BACKS to newspaper headlines, newspaper pundits and angry clergymen preaching from the pulpit.) 
                     Despite no sign of violence, and the
                     Fact that the mail trains have 
                     Continued to run – Judges Woods
                     And Grosscup have issued an 
                     Omnibus injunction against us. In
                     The headlines of the leading
                     Newspapers and from the pulpits
                     Of churches throughout the land
                     Comes the frantic cry for “Law and
                     Order”. Why, one minister of the
                     Gospel, here, identifies the injunction
                     With the word of God!...
(His listeners laugh and slap their knees.)
                     Here’s the Chicago Tribune’s banner
                     Headline: “STRIKE IS NOW WAR!”
                     And Reverend Dixon of Brooklyn claims:
                   “There are more anarchists today in
                   Chicago than in St. Petersburg. We
                   Should send ‘em all back to Russia
                   Where they belong!”…
(More laughter and guffaws.)

THEODORE: Nevertheless, the injunction threatens
                    To take from us our one and only
                    Weapon: the organized withholding of
                    Our labor. We still have the right to quit
                    As individuals, but if we do we’ll be
                    Blacklisted. We’ll never find work in
                    This damned depression.

DARROW:  These federal judges have the power
                    To punish violations of an order that
                    They, themselves, have issued. What’s
                    More, we were denied our due process
                    Right to respond to the issuance of that
                    Order. We have to bear in mind that, on
                    The one hand, violation of the injunction
                    Could result in jail sentences for our 
                    Leaders. While obedience, on the other,
                    Will result in tens of thousands losing 
                    Their jobs.

THEODORE: It would be crushing to the morale of
                    The entire labor movement; be a signal
                    To employers across the country to join
                    In the attacks against their own workers.

DARROW:  The situation is getting desperate. More
                     And more scabs are being brought here…



   One of the many offices opened across the country to recruit strike-breakers. Desperate men waiting in long lines and being interviewed for scab jobs.


DARROW:  (As he speaks, we see FLASH-BACKS to the incidents he is describing.)
                    And our men are being arrested for
                    Merely refusing to turn switches, or
                    Refusing to board and fire engines. As
                    Absurd as it may seem, such acts have
                    Ruled to be in contempt of court!

DEBS:          It’s the court, itself, that deserves 
                    Our contempt!...

BOARD MEMBERS:  Here, here!

DEBS:          We of the executive board have no
                    Other choice but to defy this dastardly



     Large Office. Press Conference. Attorney General Olney and Vice-president Wickes stand behind the podium, before which are aggressive reporters and cameramen. Olney has been speaking to the reporters

OLNEY:       The leaders of the ARU have now been
                    Indicted for conspiracy. President Cleveland
                    Has ordered the entire command at Fort
                    Sheridan to Chicago for the following
                    Purposes: To protect Federal property; to
                    Prevent the obstruction of the U.S. mails;
                    To prevent interference with Interstate
                    Commerce; and to enforce the decrees
                    Of the Federal Courts.

REPORTER 1: Governor Atgeld has wired the President
                    That Federal troops are unwarranted, that
                     You’re violating our state’s rights and 
                     Establishing military rule in Illinois. What
                     Do you say to that, Mr. Attorney General?

OLNEY:        Gentlemen of the press, we have been
                     Brought to the very edge of anarchy and
                     Its’ time to determine whether our laws
                     Can end it. If it takes every dollar in the 
                     U.S. Treasury and every soldier in the U.S.
                     Army to deliver a postcard to Chicago, then
                     I guarantee, gentlemen, that that postcard
                     Will be delivered!

REPORTER 2: Vice-president Wickes, Mr. Debs, the 
                      Head of the Executive Board of the ARU,
                      Has stated that: “…the first shots fired by
                      The Army will be the signal for all-out 
                      Civil War!...” What do you say to that,

OLNEY:         Surely, that’s an invitation to anarchy,
                      Is it not? Mr. Debs, gentlemen of the
                      Press, has, himself, made our own case
                      For us!







     A hotel room shared by Debs and his brother, Theodore.

DEBS’ VOICE: (As he looks out their hotel window at the Federal troops.)
                      Why, between Jackson Ave. and the Lakefront,
                      Troops are encamped by the thousands!

THEODORE’S VOICE: Yes, President Cleveland had finally brought in
                      The Army.


DEBS:            And on Independence Day – on the Fourth of July –
                      Of all of the days of the year!...

THEODORE: The Attorney General’s got his wish.
                      He threatened to prod the president
                      Into securing an injunction and using
                      The Army to enforce it; warned us that
                      If he could crush the strike here in 
                      Chicago, it would fail across the rest of
                      The country, as well.

DEBS:            Our government is fast becoming a
                       Military despotism run by the railroads.
                       The on the courts, politicians, the State
                       Militia and the Army. As kids in Terre Haute,
                       I never dreamed it’s come to this!

THEODORE: Ours has been a long road as brothers
                       To have finally arrived at this impasse,
                       Here, in Chicago, Gene.

DEBS:            Yes, the memories we share, both as
                       Brothers and as members of the
                       Brotherhood…I remember when I was
                       First admitted as a member by Josh
                       Leach, the founder; remember his big
                       Rough paw on my shoulder, the kindly
                       Look in his eyes. He told me: “My boy,
                       You’re a little young, but one of these 
                       Days you’ll make your mark. You might
                       Become the head of our great Brotherhood.”

THEODORE:  You worked night and day for the Union-

DEBS:             And you were always there by my side.

THEODORE:  “Sleep is a waste of time.” you’d always
                        Say. I’d often have to turn off the light
                        And force you into bed. And you’d ride
                        The engines back and forth across the
                        Country as an organizer.

DEBS:              Yes, my grip was always packed. I
                         Rode them rails over mountains and
                         Plains, slept in the cabooses and was
                         Fed from the lunch pails of the stokers.
                         Then I worked, myself, as fireman, was
                         Exposed to the hardships of the rails; 
                         With the men in their early morning 
                          Watches. How could I fail to feel the
                          Burden of their wrongs?

THEODORE:    And your example spurred me on, Gene.
                          Together, we learned  the work of
                          Organizing can’t be limited to any single
                          Craft, but it must include every industry,
                          The entire working class. Why, the 
                          Capitalists are organized in their General
                          Managers Associations and their Chambers 
                          Of Commerce, so why shouldn’t the workers
                          Organize and unite?

DEBS:               Not only are they organized as businessmen,
                          But they own the courts, the politicians and 
                          The press, and use them against us. First,
                          The issue an injunction, second, they send in
                          The Army, and lastly, they mount their
                        Campaign of slander. In their writs, banner
                        Headlines and they flash of their bayonets,
                        The class struggle is constantly revealed.





     Courtroom. Judge Peter Grosscup presides. Prosecutor Milchrist is seated at a table before him to the right. Debs, Theodore, the other defendants and defense attorney Darrow are seated at a table to the left. Debs wears a tailored suit, hard white collar, black tie, boutonniere and gold-rimmed glasses. Darrow, in sharp contrast, is clothed in a crumpled, baggy suit that looks like it’s been slept in. The jury is seated to their right. The trial is in its final session, having gone on now for over a month.

BAILIFF:          Hear ye, hear ye, this court is now
                        In session, the Honorable Peter
                        Grosscup presiding…

JUDGE:           (Brings the court to order with his gavel.)
                        The court will now come to order…
                        Prosecutor Milchrist, are you 
                        Prepared to continue your
                        Examination of the defendant?

MILCHRIST:   (Rises to conduct his examination.)
                        I am, your honor. I recall Mr. Eugene
                        Debs, President of the American
                       Railway Union to the witness stand…


(Commotion in the courtroom as Debs rises and enters the witness box, where he is sworn in by the bailiff.)

JUDGE:          (Brings the court to order with his gavel.)

                      I demand order in the court!...
(The courtroom is silenced.)

MILCHRIST: The defendants have been charged with
                      Conspiracy to obstruct a train carrying
                      The United States mail. In a case of
                      Conspiracy, like the one now before us,
                      The prosecution bears the burden of
                      Proving the existence of a conspiratorial
                      Agreement, overt acts, and the specific
                      Intent of each of the defendants. The
                      Overt acts alleged in the indictment
                      Consist of the following incidents…


     Thousands of strikers stop a train. They force the crew to detach its Pullman cars and side-track them.


                      On July 2, a crowd of over a thousand
                      Strikers and their sympathizers halted
                      A freight train on the Rock Island Line.
                      United States Mail cars were among
                      Those detained…


MILCHRIST: Are you aware of this incident, Mr. Debs?

DEBS:           Yes, I most certainly am.

MILCHRIST: And you are the President of the American
                      Railway Union, who helped organize, called
                      For, and did everything in its power to
                      Further the boycott of the Pullman 
                      Palace Car Company?        

DEBS:           Yes, I most certainly did. But I never
                      Advocated that our members stop
                      Freight trains, much less ones carrying
                      The U.S. mail. On the contrary, I, on
                      Numerous occasions, warned our
                      Members not to congregate at 
                      Railroad stations.

MILCHRIST: But you, nevertheless, together with
                      Your fellow union leaders, organized
                      And urged that your men withhold
                      Their labor in the form of a boycott
                      Of the Pullman Palace Car Company,
                      Did you not?

DEBS:            Yes, I did, and would do so again!

MILCHRIST:  That is all, your honor. The prosecution
                       Rests its case…

(Milchrist returns to his seat behind the table on the right.)

JUDGE:          Mr. Darrow, are you prepared to
                       Continue the case for the defense?

DARROW:     (He rises to answer the Judge.)
                       Yes, I am, your honor.

JUDGE:          Then please proceed.

DARROW:     I call Police Chief John Brennan
                       Of Chicago…

(Police Chief Brennan rises and enters the witness box, where he is sworn is by the bailiff. Darrows approaches the witness box.)
                       Police Chief Brennan, did you not
                       Witness an incident, on June 26th, in
                       Chicago, in which hired deputies fired
                       Into a group of strikers when there was
                       No disturbance taking place nor any
                       Reason to discharge their weapons?


     Deputies fire into demonstration of strikers marching down the street with banners.

                        Yes, I witnessed that incident, sir.

                        And would you describe the result of
                        This unprovoked shooting?

                        Several men and woman were killed, sir.


DARROW:      And the perpetrators have been arrested 
                        Charged, have they not?

BRENNAN:     They most certainly have, sir.


     Deputies board trains and steal items from the Pullman cars.

                        On another occasion, on June 28th, once
                        Again in Chicago, did you not witness
                        Hired deputies stealing property from
                        Palace Cars belonging to the Pullman
                        Company, Police Chief Brennan?


BRENNAN:     On that and several other occasions I
                        Witnessed such brazen acts of theft.

DARROW:      And did you ever witness theft on the
                        Part of any of the defendants or the
                        Striking railroad workers?

BRENNAN:    No sire, I did not.

DARROW:     Thank you, sir. That will be all, Police
                       Chief Brennan…

(Police Chief Brenna returns to his seat in the courtroom.)
                       The defense now calls Mr. James Revel…
(James Revel, a young man dressed in a work shirt and overalls, rises and enters the witness box, where he is sworn in by the bailiff.)
                        Mr. Revel, you are employed by the Rock
                        Island Railroad Line, are you not?


REVEL:           Yes, I am, sir.

DARROW:     On July 1st, at the freight yard where you
                       Are currently employed, did you not
                       Witness a group of hired deputies setting
                       Fire to one of your lines freight cars?


     Deputies set fire to railroad cars.


REVEL:           Yes, I did, sir.

DARROW:     They were arrested and later identified,
                       Were they not?

REVEL:           Yes, I picked them out of a line-up.

DARROW:     And did you also witness deputies on
                       That same day cutting fire hoses in close
                       Proximity to the burning freight cars?


     Deputies cut fire hoses near burning freight cars.


REVEL:           Yes, I did, sir.

DARROW:     And, to your knowledge, were these
                       Deputies ever charged?

REVEL:           Not to my knowledge, sir. And I made
                       Several inquiries about the matter.

DARROW:     Mr. Revel, why do you imagine deputies
                       Hired by the railroads, themselves, would
                       Set fire to their own employer’s property?
MILCHRIST:  Objection, your honor. The question calls
                       For speculation on the part of the witness.

JUDGE:          Objection over-ruled. Answer the question,
                       Mr. Revel.

REVEL:           It’s just my opinion, sir, but I believe the
                       Railroads would only do such a thing to
                       Discredit the union or to collect insurance
                       On obsolete equipment. The railroad’s got
                       Everything to gain by violence they can pin
                       On the strikers, and the union’s got 
                       Everything to lose.

DARROW:     Thank you, Mr. Revel. You are excused…
(Revel returns to his seat in the courtroom.)
                        The defense now calls Colonel Pingree…
(Colonel Pingree, in military uniform, rises and enters the witness box, where he is sworn in by the bailiff.)
                        Colonel Pingree, you are an officer in the
                        United States Army, in a unit now stationed
                        In Chicago, are you not?

PINGREE:       Yes, I am, sir.

DARROW:      And is it true that you are currently being
                        Held by the army for courts-martial?

PINGREE:        Yes, I am, sir.

DARROW:       And with what have you been charged,
                         Colonel Pingree?

PINGREE:         Insubordination, sir.

DARROW:        And what, exactly, were the acts of
                          Insubordination alleged, Colonel Pingree?

PINGREE:         I, together with several of my fellow
                          Officers, met to discuss whether the
                          Strikers were rioters or whether they
                          Had just cause for their demands.

DARROW:        And what was the conclusion of your
                          Discussion, Colonel Pingree?

PINGREE:         We concluded that the union had 
                          Just cause for their grievances and
                          That we’d been drafted to break
                          Their strike. We were being used to
                          Crush the union, not to quell a riot!
(Applause in the courtroom. Cries of “Here!, here!)

JUDGE:             (Bangs his gavel repeatedly.)
                          I demand order in the court!
                          Another such outburst and I shall
                          Clear the courtroom entirely!...
(Order is restored in the courtroom.)

DARROW:        Thank you, Colonel Pingree. That
                           Will be all…
(Colonel Pingree returns to his seat in the courtroom.)
                            The defense now calls Simon Crain…
(Simon Crain, dressed in a suit and tie, rises and enters the witness box, where he is sworn in by the bailiff.)
                            Mr. Crain, you are currently employed
                            As a reporter for the Chicago Herald,
                            Are you not?

CRAIN:                Yes, I am, sir.

DARROW:           And you have recently written a lengthy
                             Article on the Pullman Strike, have you not?

CRAIN:                Yes, I have, sir.

DARROW:           Could you tell us some of the things you
                             Have learned?

CRAIN:                With the feudal conditions that caused the
                             Strike, the nation-wide tie-up of railroads,
                             And the intervention of the government
                             With its injunctions and Federal troops –
                             The Pullman Strike has been the biggest
                             News story of the year. Thirty civilians were
                             Killed, twice that number injured, and more
                             Than seven-hundred men were arrested. At
                             The height of the strike there were nearly
                             Fourteen-thousand law enforcement officers.

DARROW:           And, as a journalist, what do you think about
                             Your fellow journalists’ coverage of the strike?

CRAIN:                 Most of it makes me ashamed of my profession.
                             It’s been scandalous!

DARROW:          In what way has it been scandalous, Mr. Crain?

CRAIN:                In the overwhelming company bias of most of
                            The reporting, and the wild, uncorroborated
                            Charges made against the striking workers.

DARROW:          But there has been fair strike coverage, and
                            Wide-spread sympathy for the strike, has
                            There not?

CRAIN:                Yes, sir. The support among the public has been 
                            Overwhelming! And the Daily News has provided
                            A store for the relief of the strikers, and the 
                            Inter Ocean was constantly on the attack against                       
                            Against the company’s inhumanity.    

DARROW:          Thank you, Mr. Crain, you are dismissed…
(Crain returns to his seat in the courtroom.)
                             My final witness will be Mr. Eugene Victor
                             Debs, President of the American Railway
(Whispers in the courtroom, as Debs rises, enters the witness box, and is sworn in by the bailiff.)
                             You and your fellow defendants have been
                             Charged with conspiracy to interfere with
                             The U.S. mail, Mr. Debs. A conspiracy 
                             Requires the existence of an agreement
                             Among the conspirators, overt acts and the
                             Specific intent to perform those acts. Mr.
                             Debs, did you ever interfere or urge anyone
                             To interfere with the U.S. mail by halting
                             Trains of the Rock Island Railroad?

DEBS:                   No, sir. On the contrary, on a number of
                              Occasions, our union offered to help move
                              Mail cars that had gotten tied up.

DARROW:            So there were no acts in furtherance of
                              The alleged conspiracy…Now, Mr. Debs,
                              Did you and your fellow defendants – “in
                              The secret watches of the night” – ever 
                              Band together to plan on obstructing the
                              U.S. mail?

DEBS:                    No, sir. On the contrary, all of the meetings
                              Of the American Railway Union, since the
                              Strike began, have been public and open to
                              The press.

DARROW:            So there was no agreement of the defendants
                              To conspire…Then why, Mr. Debs, do you think
                              You are being charged with conspiracy?

DEBS:                    It’s simply the last in a series of legal maneuvers
                              To crush our strike and destroy our union.

DARROW:            And what were the earlier attempts to crush
                              Your strike and destroy you union?

DEBS:                    First, there was their injunction against the
                               Union; then, their use of the police, armed
                               Thugs and the army to enforce it; and, finally,
                               There is this conspiracy show trial.

DARROW:             And why do you think the forces of capital,
                               The state and its courts, in the final analysis,
                               Have been brought to bear against you and
                               The American Railway Union, Mr. Debs?

DEBS:                     All great strikes demonstrate that the state
                                Is controlled by capital; and the aim of the
                                Capitalist state, in the final analysis, is to
                                Crush any and every challenge to its rule
                                By the working class.

DARROW:              Mr. Debs, will you please explain to us
                                The nature of the capitalist system?

DEBS:                     I’d be glad to, sir. Class struggle is at the
                                Heart of capitalism. Why? Simply because
                                One class, the capitalists, owns the tools
                                And machinery with which wealth is
                                Produced; while another, the working class,
                                Employs them at the point of production.
                                The capitalist owns the tools he does not use;
                                While the workers use the tools they do not
                                Own. And by virtue of the capitalist’s ownership
                                Of these, the means of production, he can 
                                Exploit the labor of the working class. The 
                                Capitalist buys and sells the labor-power of
                                Of the workers, the one as cheaply and the
                                Other as dearly as possible. The worker can’t
                                Work unless the capitalist hires him. And if he
                                Does get work, he offers his labor-power in
                                Exchange for a wage that represents but a
                                Fraction of what he produces. Once in the shop,
                                The factory whistle and foreman are his taskmasters.
                                Then suddenly – without warning – the factory 
                                Closes or he is fired. He still has to pay rent, pay for
                                Food and clothing for his family. But he can’t live
                                Without work, so he is hardly ‘free’. He is, in fact, a
                                ‘Wage slave’. Between capitalist and worker there
                                Can be no ‘common interest’. They are forever locked
                                In a life-and-death struggle, one that reform can never,
                                By itself, eliminate. Only when the present system of
                                Private ownership is abolished – so that the workers, 
                                Themselves, own the means of production – can they
                                Ever attain their freedom as a class. And this can only
                                Be accomplished if they have their own party with
                                Which to organize: a party of the working class, 
                                Irrespective of sex, race, creed or color…

DARROW:              Do you have any final words with which to address
                                The jury, Mr. Debs? 

DEBS:                     (He addresses the jury.) 
                                 Yes, sir…I have no apologies or regrets to express.
                                 Candor compels me to characterize the entire
                                 Court’s proceedings as a persecution, not a
                                 Prosecution. Nor is there a scrap of evidence to
                                 Convict any one of us. I believe Mr. Milchrist, the
                                 Prosecutor, is a decent man who believes in the
                                 Law. In this case, however, he acts as a puppet in
                                 The hands of the railroads. Not a single man guilty
                                  Of obstructing the U.S. mail has been indicted. 
                                  Only we, their leaders, have been dragged into
                                  Court under the tyrannical doctrine of conspiracy.
                                  Every single meeting of our union, since the strike
                                  Began, has been public and open to the press.
                                  Unlike the meetings of the General Managers
                                  Association, none of our meetings have been
                                  Held in private. So, I ask you, members of the jury,
                                  Who is it that is really guilty of conspiracy?...
(He pause, removes his spectacles, and places them into his breast coat pocket. Then he once again faces the jury.)
                                  Members of the jury, years ago I recognized my
                                  Kinship with all human beings, and made up my
                                  Mind that I wasn’t one bit better than the least
                                  Of ‘em. I said then, and I say now, that while
                                  There’s a lower class, I’m in it; and while there’s
                                  A criminal element, I’m of it; and while there’s a
                                  Soul in prison, I shall never be free… 




     Debs and Theodore are seated on the cot of their cell separated by a large pile of letters.

THEODORE:             Overnight, the strike has made you
                                   Into a national celebrity, Gene. Why,
                                   We’ll have to hire a secretary just to
                                   Keep up with all this mail!

DEBS:                       And the books and pamphlets they’ve
                                 Been sending me. They say the post
                                 Office is nearly buried under ‘em all!...
(He reads for a letter from the pile.)
                                 This one’s from an ARU brother who
                                 Asks: “Brother Debs, is there any
                                 Difference between the Democrats
                                 And the Republicans? Are the Democrats
                                 Really the ‘friend of the working man?...”

THEODORE:            I’ll take a stab at that one, Gene… First,
                                 I’d ask him: Were the Democrats opposed
                                 To the use of injunctions, Federal troops
                                 And the jailing of your ARU leaders for the
                                 Purpose of crushing our strike? What do
                                 They say about the disenfranchisement of
                                 The Negro in the Southern states? And are
                                 They opposed to capitalism, from which the
                                 Exploitation of the working class arises?

DEBS:                       The answer is obvious. Both Democrats and
                                  Republicans represent the capitalist class, 
                                  Alone. With either in power, the capitalists
                                  Are in the saddle and the working class is
                                  Under it. We need a party of our own, a 
                                  Party of the working class…Here’s another
                                  One from a mother who asks: “Would women
                              And children be treated differently under

THEODORE:         Under capitalism, a woman is her husband’s
                               Property. She isn’t even allowed to vote. And
                               If she’s able to get a job, it’s at far lower wages
                               Than a man.

DEBS:                     And a working man’s son can rarely attend
                               High school, much less college. As soon as he’s
                               Big enough, he’s forced to help support his family.

THEODORE:         With all this correspondence to answer, when will
                               We ever finish our appeal?

DEBS:                     I’ve got a first draft, here…
(He reaches under his cot for the manuscript.)
                               Can I try it out on you, Ted?

THEODORE:          Sure, Gene…

DEBS:                     (He reads aloud.)
                                Brothers and sisters of the American Railway
                                Union, through these prison walls I greet you.
                                This appeal is made particularly to you, with
                                Whom I began my career as a wage worker,
                                With whom I’ve spent twenty-seven years of
                                My life, and for whom I’ve an affectionate
                                Regard that will only cease with the end of my
                                Days. In every trying hour of my early years,
                                You stood staunch and true behind me and
                                Raised me up so that others might know me,
                                While you remained obscure, the unapplauded
                                Soldiers of the rank and file, who move this 
                                World and who should be its aristocracy. My
                                Brothers and sisters, an injustice has been done
                                To us by the Supreme Court of the United States.
                                Through the power of injunction, Federal troops
                                And the incarceration of your officers, it has
                                Attempted to crush our strike…But you can 
                                Replace me and your officers with others. No one 
                                Is indispensible.  For, if you’re looking for a Moses
                                To lead you out of the wilderness, you might as
                                Well stay right where you are. I wouldn’t lead you
                                Into the Promised Land even if I could: because if I
                                Could lead you in, someone else could surely lead 
                                You out. Your leadership must be in a party of the     
                                Working class. For your emancipation can only be 
                                By the act of the working class, itself.



© 2015 By Mark Dickman