Pullman in the First World War

Preparedness and Neutrality

The First World War began in July 14, 1914. By 1915, a strong Preparedness movement had emerged. Adherents believed that the United States needed to immediately build up a strong military, with the assumption that the U.S. would be forced to fight in the Great War sooner rather than later.

The most prominent advocate of the movement was ex-President Theodore Roosevelt, who gave a number of impassioned speeches and made early commercially available wire recordings supporting the build up.

The movement became a major theme of the 1916 Presidential election, pitting incumbent Democrat Woodrow Wilson against Republican Charles Evans Hughes. Wilson’s platform emphasized neutrality and diplomatic solutions to conflict—his main campaign slogan was “He kept us out of war”.  Hughes criticized Wilson for not taking adequate preparations to face a conflict. 

A number of cities throughout the U.S. held Preparedness parades and rallies; Chicago held several in the spring and summer of 1916. (More information)

In June, 1916, employees of the Pullman Company and residents of Pullman marched through the neighborhood, boarded a special train, and joined the huge Chicago Preparedness Parade.


There have been a number of movies filmed in the Pullman neighborhood. The first one was Awake, America, Awake! This movie is from the Coloma Theater in Coloma, MI. The movie was partially filmed on the grounds of the Pullman Factory. It was a six reel movie, starring Jane Thomas. It was seized by the Department of Justice in 1917 for allegedly seditious content.

Despite the willingness of the Pullman Company to support the Preparedness Movement, management was concerned that production of war materials or active support of one side or another would be costly for future business. In addition, much of the U.S. was deeply isolationist and wary of the great powers at war.



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