June 15th, 10:00 am — 5:00 pm
Eugene V. Debs Museum, 451 North 8th Street
Contact: Allison Duerk, Debs Museum Director (812) 232-2163 or firstname.lastname@example.org
“Manifestly the spirit of ‘76 still survives. The fires of liberty and noble aspirations are not yet extinguished.” — Eugene V. Debs, “Liberty” (1895)
The Eugene V. Debs Foundation will commemorate the 125th anniversary of the Pullman Strike with a day of special programming at the Debs Museum located at 451 North 8th Street in Terre Haute. All events are free and open to the public.
125 years ago this summer, a quarter of a million rebel railroaders tied up the nation’s rail lines and halted trains from Detroit to the West Coast. Why? Striking in sympathy, they protested inhumane working and living conditions in George Pullman’s company town on Chicago’s south side. Pullman’s famous sleeper cars transformed rail travel, but workers who built them often struggled to make ends meet. At the head of the 1894 Pullman Strike was Terre Haute’s own Eugene V. Debs, president of the American Railway Union. The work stoppage eventually led to martial law in Chicago, deadly conflict between troops and strikers, and Debs’ jailing in 1895. The Pullman Strike also paved the way for labor law reforms, future industrial unions, and Debs’ revolutionary politics.
10:00 am – Walking Tour: Gene and Kate’s Neighborhood
Debs Foundation Secretary Michelle K. Morahn and research partner John S. Morahn will present a walking tour of the block surrounding the 1890 Debs Home. Get to know the Debs’ neighbors in this once-fashionable residential area of Terre Haute. Tour departs from the Debs Museum. Advance registration required — call (812) 232-2163 or register here.
12:00 pm – Author Talk and Book Signing with Jack Kelly
Visiting author Jack Kelly will discuss and sign copies of his recent book The Edge of Anarchy: The Railroad Barons, the Gilded Age, & the Greatest Labor Uprising in America. Debs Foundation President Noel Beasley calls Kelly’s work on the Pullman Strike “an excellent depiction of a nation in crisis” and “a timely reflection of the remarkably parallel characteristics and contradictions of that time and our own.” Copies of The Edge of Anarchy will be available for purchase in the Debs Museum gift shop for $25.
1:00 pm – Debs in Our Voices: “Liberty”
All are invited to join in a participatory reading of “Liberty,” the speech that Debs delivered to a crowd of 100,000 supporters in Chicago following his release from Woodstock Jail after the Pullman Strike. Readers will share short passages of the speech from the front porch of the Debs Home. A guided tour of the Museum will follow. This presentation of “Liberty” continues the Foundation’s new tradition of bringing Debs’ words to life in our own voices. The first annual Debs Day, designated by Mayor Duke Bennett on June 16, 2018, commemorated the 100th anniversary of Debs’ anti-war “Canton Speech” that resulted in his infamous 10-year prison sentence and landmark free speech case.
The Eugene V. Debs Foundation promotes the work and legacy of Eugene V. Debs through education, research and community outreach in addition to operating the Debs Museum. The Foundation keeps alive the spirit of progressivism, humanitarianism, and social criticism epitomized by Debs.