Alan Trachtenberg in The Incorporation of America writes: "The Pullman strike, its burning railroad cars, and the path of ugly violence it traced through Chicago, seems the most dramatic external instance of history playing tricks on the White City." Pullman's corporate paternalism, high rents, low wages, and the lack of political and economic freedom led to the greatest American labor upheaval just one year after the World's Fair celebrated industrial and social progress. George M. Pullman, the son of a mechanic who became one of America's wealthiest tycoons, built his model town near Chicago in 1880. Hailed as a perfect community, the green lawns and beautifully constructed public buildings of Pullman seemed like a worker's paradise. However, as Rev. William H. Carwardine writes: "The town is Mr. Pullman's idol, and in many respects he may well be proud of it, but there is another side to the town of Pullman. Like the stage, there is something behind the scenes that does not harmonize with the effect produced before the curtain." Beneath the facade of a corporation intent on improving the industrial worker, a millionaire was using the working man to boost his own profits.
Created by Nicole Huffman for the American Studies Program at the University of Virginia, December 2000.