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Pullman's return to Chicago

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When George M. Pullman returned to Chicago in April, 1863, he renewed his partnership with Senator Benjamin C. Field and began to build sleeping/palace cars. The first car was completed in 1864. Building these cars, named “The Springfield” and “The Pioneer,” was expensive, but they were clean, comfortable and exquisitely furnished.

When Pullman received his draft notice in 1864, he hired a substitute to take his place. During the Civil War, hiring a substitute was permitted. One year later, he assisted his country with a most unexpected, sorrowful ceremony.

After President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, Mrs. Lincoln accompanied his body on “The Lonesome Train” to Springfield, Illinois for burial. When the slow-moving, funeral train reached Chicago, the First Lady collapsed from the ordeal and was too ill to continue on the lengthy journey. Immediately, George M. Pullman arranged to have “The Pioneer” sleeping car made available to take her nonstop to Springfield.

By 1867, Pullman became successful and attracted investors like Andrew Carnegie. As his wealth increased, Pullman expanded his company. He built “The President,” a lodge on wheels, complete with a sleeper, a kitchen and a dining room. He realized that he needed an elite staff to assist passengers. But, where would he find such a high-quality, efficient, versatile team?

After much thought, Pullman decided to recruit recently-freed, highly-trained, former house servants. These Pullman Porters would assist passengers as porters, waiters, valets and entertainers. They would be well-paid and travel the country. Their work would be prestigious, and they would be respected everywhere. Pullman hired his Pullman Porters and became the largest single employer of African-Americans after the Civil War.

With his business established and successful, George Pullman began his personal life.

To be continued…

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