Posted by: history591seventeen | June 14, 2009

Labor History in Chicago

Rebuilding Free Speech

Rebuilding Free Speech

After seeing the Labor Statue and listening to our speaker, I have a much better understanding of this statue.  It is always helpful to find out the intended meaning from the people who create it and present it. 

Stockyard Gate

Stockyard Gate

Stopping at the Stockyard Gate was also a powerful experience.  So many different people walked through that same place in search of their American dream of which few were able to find.  I also notice the location of the railroad tracks right in front of the gate.  I am sure that was for ease of transporting goods to and from the stockyard. 

Lunch was very enjoyable and also an experience, as Jonathan stated.  I do use food in different lessons in my classroom.  I have made Johnny Cakes and butter with my students when we have studied the Revolutionary War to name one example.  Food is a great conversation with students anyway.  We talk about traditions that occur in different families and discuss where they might have originated.

 Saturday, June 13 021

We stopped by the cemetery where the anarchists are buried.  I know there have been controversies that this statue has generated.  Today it was obvious that this has continued.  There were different places on the monument where people have spray painted comments onto the statue.  I really liked the fact that our guide explained how the meaning of anarchy has changed since that time period.  Misunderstanding issues can be a dangerous thing. 

Florence Hotel in Pullman

Florence Hotel in Pullman

George Pullman tried to care for everything his workers needed.  He called his workers his children.  After studying the Colorado Coal Strike of 1913-14, I see that Pullman’s ideas are really no different from the mine operators in Colorado who developed the mining towns.  These men wanted to take care of all their workers needs too; however, the result was the same in both places.  Yes Pullman was a nicer place than any mining town would have been, but the main problem of both was the removal of free choice.

Saturday, June 13 080

I think both systems were a continuation of the Feudal system.  Within this system, there were Kings, Lords, Knights and Serfs.  Each class was given different degrees of personal freedoms; the serfs were given none.  Does this sound a little familiar?  With Pullman, you just got a taller ceiling the higher up on that social class you were.

Ethelbert B. Stewart, mediator for President Wilson during the Colorado Coal Strikes of 1913-1914, made this statement, “The companies created a condition which they considered satisfactory to themselves, and ought to be to the workmen, and jammed the workmen into it, and thought they were philanthropists.  That men have rebelled grows out of the fact that they are men, and can only be satisfied with conditions that they create, or in the creation of which they have a voice and a share”. 

In the history of man, one group taking over another and doing so in what is said to be the best interest of the other group has never met with success.  My father always said, “Don’t tell me what to do!”  I think that sums up how we all feel.  Once we have become adults, right or wrong, we want to make decisions for ourselves. 

George Pullman wanted to treat grown men as children, and they rebelled for many reasons.  In the end, it did not matter that he provided a beautiful environment for his workers to live in; he still cheated them out of money and jobs by lowering their pay and raising their rent at the same time. 

I think the Pullman strikes and the Colorado Coal strikes would be fabulous to compare with students.  It would be exciting for me to see if they could come up with the reasons both of these town systems failed so badly.

Pullman Factory Today

Pullman Factory Today

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Responses

  1. Hi Dana
    I liked your comparison of Pullman and the fuedel system. It really sets a clear picture of what was taking place and what the workers were giving up when working for the Pullman company.


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