Early American Marxism: Document Download Page by Year: 1895

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“Proclamation to the Members of the American Railway Union: Terre Haute, Indiana—June 1, 1895,” by Eugene V. Debs Written statement issued by Gene Debs to the members and supporters of his American Railway Union at the time of the Supreme Court’s upholding his 6 month jail term for “contempt of court.” The ARU had fought the good fight on behalf of the 4,000 employees of the Pullman Palace Car Co., Debs declares: “To crush the American Railway Union was the one tie that united them all in the bonds of vengeance; it solidified the enemies of labor into one great association, one organization which, by its fabulous wealth, enabled it to bring into action resources aggregating billions of money and every appliance that money could purchase. But in this supreme hour the American Railway Union, undaunted, put forth its efforts to rescue Pullman’s famine-cursed wage slaves from the grasp of an employer as heartless as a stone, as remorseless as a savage and as unpitying as an incarnate fiend.” Debs is defiant in the face of the Supreme Court’s upholding of his 6 month sentence without trial, likening American lawlessness to that of Tsarist Russia: “In the grasp of despotic power, as infamous and as cruel as ever blackened the records of Russia, I treat with ineffable scorn the power that without trial sends me and my official associates of the American Railway Union to prison. I do not believe, nor will I believe, that my brothers, beloved of our great order, will throw their courage away and join the ranks of the enemy, while their comrades, the victims of worse than Russian vengeance, are suffering in prison.”