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Eugene Debs

Eugene Victor Debs was born in Terre Haute , Indiana. The need for employment ended his schooling at age 14, when he became a fireman on a local railroad. Later he took night classes at the local business college in his spare time. Giving up his job as railroad fireman in 1874, he took up another job as a billing clerk in the wholesale grocery firm of Hulman & Cox. 1875 was a busy year for Debs. He became the founder of the local Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen, and continued to work at Hulman & Cox. Debs used part of his salary to help the fledgling local union, and he conducted its work at night. Later in 1875 he became president of Occidental Literary Club of Terre Haute, to which he invited such famous personages as Colonel Robert Ingersoll, James Whitcomb Riley, Susan B. Anthony , and many others. Five years later he was elected the union's national secretary-treasurer. He was also politically active, serving as the town clerk of Terre Haute (1879-83). In 1884, Debs was elected state representative to the Indiana General Assembly as a Democrat representing Terre Haute and Vigo County. He also served in 1885. Debs would spend the rest of his life trying to recover his health, which was severly battered while in prison confinement. He still wrote numerous articles and made several speeches, until 1926, when he was admitted to Lindlahr Sanitarium just outside of Chicago. He died there on October 20th, and his body was brought back to Terre Haute for burial.