Fear Public Sentiment

The Bryan-Thurston campaign took place amidst national news of the trial of Eugene Debs and others in the American Railway Union for violence and disobeying court injunctions in the 1894 Pullman strikes.


Railway Union Leaders Do Not Want the Stories of Mob Work Told.

They Think the Court Might Be Influenced to Hold Them Responsible for It.

Private Documents Not Produced—Trainmen Tell of the Great Strikes—How the Orders Were Received.

CHICAGO, Ill., Sept. 7.—Just before court adjourned for the day in the American Railway union contempt cases Attorney W. W. Erwin, on behalf of the defense, made an impassioned speech, objecting to the introduction of testimony showing mob violence on the ground that it would tend to create a public sentiment against the defendants, and that this public sentiment might influence the court to strain a point and punish them because of a public outcry. The court in reply assumed all responsibility. Mr. Erwin's plea came as a dramatic climax in a day of sensations.

An attempt was made by counsel for the government to compel the defendants to produce their documents, records, telegrams and private correspondence. Attorney Erwin, as soon as he learned of this intention asked, the court to rule on the question of the defendants being compelled to obey such a subpoena. Judge Woods said he was inclined to think the defendants need not produce their documents, but decided to hear from the prosecution next Tuesday.

Several witnesses testified to the interruption of traffic and intimidation. To all such testimony the defense entered an objection on the ground that the officers find directors of the American Railway union were not responsible for the acts of mobs.

In the Morning

When court opened this morning to hear the cases against Debs and other members of the American Railway union, the first witness was F. L. Krieger and Milwaukee. Krieger testified that he had seen a telegram from Debs, dated July 4, asking the switchtenders to strike. Only ten of them did so. Krieger was much confused on cross-examination. He acknowledged that he had been sent to Chicago as a witness by the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul. The defense showed [tight] from the time Krieger took the stand until he left it.

William Mackay an engineer of Milwaukee and Charles E. Mills, a fireman of the same place, both of the Chicago, Minneapolis & St. Paul, testified that they had left their trains at the instance of strikers who intimidated them. Mr. Mills was not a member of the American Railway union on immediately after. He swore that he was forced into it.

They Got Permission

J. R. Trimmer, a trainmaster on the Pan Haudle road , testified as to the removal from Chicago of a certain trainload of dead animals, for the taking away of which Mr. Debs issued an official order to those under his control. Mr. Erwin [?] to the testimony, stating that it showed no contempt of court and had nothing to do with interstate commerce. Judge Woods nevertheless allowed the testimony to continue on the ground that he did not know what might be brought forth. W. I. Henry testified in regard to receiving certain telegrams signed E. V. Debs, asking him to tie up the Big Four road system. Mr. Henry told the officers of the American Railway union that his road had no grievance and refused to call out his men. Court adjourned until 2 o'clock.

The Afternoon Session.

At the beginning of the afternoon session, H. E. Sarber of Garrett, Ind., an employe [sic] of the Baltimore & Ohio, told about receiving a telegram signed "E. V. Debs," which was circulated among the men on that road with a view to having them strike.

Joseph Dillingam, also an employe [sic] of the Baltimore & Ohio at Garrett, Ind., was cross-examined with the object of proving the existence of a black list. Judge Woods ruled this as a mere side issue, but allowed the witness to proceed. Dillingam admitted that the company would re-employ any men who were members of the American Railway union.

J. E. Murphy, an engineer of the Michigan Central, told how his train had been stopped by a mob at Kensington, James H. Bantz, an Illinois Central engineer, related how he was attacked by strikers, and other trainmen gave similar testimony.

Henry Swan, a Rock Island fireman, testified in regard to the reception of the reading of the federal injunction at [Bine] Island by the strikers and other residents. The men heard the injunction read, but jeered all the time and hooted at Marshal Arnold and Deputy Allen, who read it.

About this Document

  • Source: Omaha World Herald
  • Citation: 1
  • Date: September 8, 1894