IN SENTENCING Eugene V. Debs to a jail term of six months for defying a court injunction during the tempestuous 1894 Pullman Strike, Federal Circuit Court Judge William A. Woods helped to further the transformation of a wage-conscious labor leader into a class-conscious socialist. In the homelike atmosphere of the little McHenry County jail in Woodstock, Illinois, Debs crowded the reading of several socialist books and pamphlets into a busy and highly organized daily routine. His constant stream of visitors included many socialists, among them Victor Berger, Thomas J. Morgan, and Keir Hardie, the last having recently arrived from England for an extended lecture tour. During the evening hours between eight and ten, Debs habitually discussed socialism and social and economic reform with six other American Railway Union officials who were with him at Woodstock serving three-months sentences.1
Debs was impressed by the relevancy of the general Marxist critique of contemporary economic life and particularly by its contention that the economically dominant class always controlled a nation's political and judicial machinery. The cogency and reality of this analysis had been revealed to him in the crushing of the Pullman Strike through a court injunction secured by the General Managers' Association. In Judge Woods, a friend of the railroads, and in his colleague, Judge Peter Grosscup, a pronounced foe of labor unions, the Association possessed a pair of obedient servants willing and eager to accom____________________
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Publication information: Book title: The Forging of American Socialism:Origins of the Modern Movement. Contributors: Howard H. Quint - Author. Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill. Place of publication: Indianapolis. Publication year: 1964. Page number: 280.