The 3 July 1845 issue of the Voice of Industry (Vol. 1 No. 6).
From the Lowell Journal.
Meeting our friend, Horace Greeley, of New York, and learning that he was to attend the workingmen's convention, I thought I would attend it. It was held in the Chapel, under the museum. I should think that about twenty men and about ten women attended as delegates. Robert Owen, John A. Collins, Albert Brisbane, W. H. Channing and Horace Greeley addressed them. A banner was presented by a lady from Lowell. She made quite a pretty speech, which was answered by the president and W. H. Channing. Much complaint was made by the members about the want of interest felt by the workingmen for the cause of reform. I am not in the least surprised that the workingmen of Massachusetts care nothing for such reforms as were proposed by some of the members. A member from your city made a speech in which he said that capitalists and priests had joined hands to put down, grind and oppress the laboring men—that commerce, manufacturing and foreign emigration were killing them—that there were ten times more slavery in Lowell, than on the Southern Plantations—that Lowell manufactured the prostitutes of New York, and that the first thing that must be done to elevate the workingmen was to collect and burn the Sunday School books, which were poisoning the minds of the young. Such sentiments were listened to without rebuke by men calling themselves reformers—the friends of the laboring classes. No wonder the meeting was thinly attended—no wonder the clear-headed, stout-hearted practical workingmen of Massachusetts, who have been reared in our free schools and Sabbath Schools and churches, should care nothing for such reforms. This talk about slavery in the Lowell mills is one of the smallest humbugs of the day. Slaves in Lowell! Farmers' daughters, educated in our district schools, free to go where they please and to work where they please, held up to the world as ten times greater slaves than the poor girls who are bought and sold—and treated like brutes, and that too in a convention of workingmen. My feelings and sympathies are with the workingmen of the country. Every thing should be done that can be to aid them to improve their moral, intellectual and social powers. The mechanics and laboring men of Massachusetts have, during the last few years, made greater progress than any other class of men. And the very causes which have produced that progress are denounced by some professed friends of the laboring classes as they call them. It is all humbug and some of them know it. Some of the speeches were full of hatred and littleness—not one generous and noble sentiment redeemed them. Some of the speakers were men of large and generous hearts, and showed that they had a sincere desire to promote the interests and happiness of all mankind. Albert Brisbane brought forward a plan which he said he had well matured. I have not time nor inclination to state its provisions at this time, but, it seemed to me one of the greatest pieces of folly I ever heard propounded by a man out of a madhouse.
Yours, H. W. [- Lowell Courier]1
Some few weeks since the above unjust and one-sided article appeared in the Lowell Journal; a print zealously devoted to the support of the present degrading system of manufacturing, as it exists in this country and Europe—as a part of a communication characterized throughout for its narrowness, and disposition to misrepresent and stigmatize every philanthropic movement of the day, under the garb of "Law, order and our free republican institutions"—from a correspondent of that paper at Natick Mass.
From the well known character of the Lowell Journal, its reckless adherence to the vassal systems of modern servitude in all their guilded forms—its open defense of wealth, aristocracy and the rights of the "few to govern the many"—its readiness to denounce every reform which is calculated to elevate the downtrodden, and restore to the working classes those rights, of which past and present feudalism have robbed them, we did not deem it necessary to notice the communication from this "sympathizing friend to the workingmen of this country." But finding it endorsed by other prints professedly friendly to the workingmen's cause, by copying it into their columns, without even one comment as to its probable truth or falsity, we feel it a duty we owe to our position, to justice and humanity, to give it a candid consideration. The first Christian thrust at the New England Workingmen's Convention, by our "sympathizing" friend is in that characteristic style of low vulgar ridicule, so much resorted to by our opposers in other parts of the country—"I should think that about twenty men, and about ten women attended as delegates—Robert Owen, John A. Collins, Albert Brisbane, W. H. Channing, and Horace Greeley addressed them"—as though it was enough to condemn the whole object that had called together those self-sacrificing, and generous-hearted men and women, who had left their workshops and homes to consult together for humanity's good, and devise means to impede the progress of the great juggernaut of heartless servitude which is crushing by inches, the moral, physical and mental prosperity of the race—because their numbers were few, and "Robert Owen, John A. Collins, Albert Brisbane, W. H. Channing and Horace Greeley addressed them."
Such a man would have opposed the introduction of the principles and teachings of Christ, because instead of the humble band of "fishermen," a clamorous train, and an enthusiastic multitude were not ready to receive them. Such a disposition would surely have denounced every philanthropist that ever blest the world, and every human reform because they were unpopular in their infancy, promulgated by humble individuals, or conflicted with some long-established system or generally acknowledged opinions, that the light of Christian progression had proved to be erroneous and opposed to the elevation of mankind.
The friendly correspondent knew well if he knew anything about the apparent want of numbers or interest, that it resulted through some misunderstanding in giving due and extensive notice of the meeting, rather than apathy on the part of the workingmen. Also had our friends been fully represented; according to our present regulations each Association is entitled to but as many delegates as their respective towns send members to the State legislature; consequently had the various associations sent full delegations our meeting must have been small unless made up of promiscuous spectators. Our cause being in its infancy compared with many other reforms, it is not at all strange that our convention was thinly attended at times, as the city was full of more exciting meetings which drew the multitude. He that will condemn and deride any subject for the want of numbers, must be driven to the last resort, and to small things to sustain a crumbling system. In such a course there is nothing manly, nothing charitable or Christian-like, but full of "littleness" and contempt.
The next point worthy of notice is the "speech" of the member from Lowell. We know not who the member alluded to is, or what his sentiments or opinions are farther than our Natick friend has reported them; neither shall we endorse any sentiments because they were uttered in the New England workingmen's convention that cannot be sustained by facts and arguments on Christian principles. But what are the charges prefered against the Lowell delegate which so shook the sensibilities of the Journal correspondent? "That capitalists and priests had joined hands to put down, grind and oppress the laboring men." We have no tirade of abuse or denunciation to offer against the clergy, or the church, nor shall we screen them from just censure and exposure in any works of iniquity or oppression, to which they may be accessory, on account of the sacredness that custom has thrown around them. That capital and the church are to a great degree united in perpetuating systems which "grind and oppress the working people," we have no doubt—facts will bear us out in this position. The church and clergy, with few noble exceptions, have been the last to embrace and co-operate in the various reforms of the age, for the elevation of the mass. The church is governed by capital, and all the clerical sophistry and sectarian logic in Christendom cannot do away with this fact. What builds churches, pays ministers and supports the different ecclesiastical organizations in Lowell? Capital! Capital builds factories which "grind and oppress laboring men," and this capital in the hands of the same individuals; manufacturers, agents, superintendants, bankers, merchants, speculators, and others who live upon the producing classes. Hence capital and church must be united from the very nature of the case; and the clergy being the "head of the church," must serve capital or be dethroned. Capital as it now exists, is opposed to the workingmen's cause, their intelligence, elevation and happiness. Isolated capital, wants slavery, servitude and dependence—capital wants rulers, lords, and feudalism—capital establishes an aristocracy of wealth which reduces the working people to drudges, and builds up a dynasty of luxuriating idlers, and if the clergy will not sanction the dictates of capital, or keep silence like "dumb dogs," they are anathematized as infidels, fanatics and mad-men.
The next charge is, "that commerce, manufacturing and foreign emigration were killing them." This is so substantially true that it needs no comments. Every person of understanding who will investigate the subject without prejudice will not fail in the conclusion that manufacturing and commerce, as now conducted, are acting together to impoverish the laboring people and fill up the treasury of speculation and unproductive gain. Foreign emigration also has created a destructive war of competition among the working classes of this country which is fast paralyzing all their efforts and natural enterprise; and this emigration is the result of the same system of capital against labor, and slavish manufacturing operation in England and other countries that our "friend to the workingmen of this country" is laboring to entail upon them.
"That there is ten times more slavery in Lowell, than on the Southern plantations." It is not our wish to measure the comparative difference between Lowell and southern slavery. It is enough for us to know that there is slavery both in Lowell and the South, and he who professes to be an abolitionist, and at the same time fosters the manufacturing slavery of the north disgraces the name. A true abolitionist is ready to oppose all kinds of slavery, wherever it exists. True there is some difference between northern and southern slavery. The slaves of the South are sold by others to the highest bidder, who after they become disabled are obliged to support them the remainder of their lives—While the slaves of the north, sell themselves to the highest bidder so long as they are fit for service, and when they have worn themselves out in the service of their masters, and no longer able to labor, inherit a beggar's fortune, go to the poor house or do worse. If the poor people of the north are not slaves to capital, then there is no slavery.
"That Lowell manufactures the prostitutes of New York." For any person to contend that the Lowell manufactories are not demoralizing in their tendencies, and the influences sent out from our manufacturing districts are not poisoning to the virtue and chastity of the community, is to stand out against truth, supported by the strongest possible evidence—facts. We have not time or room to refer to the many heart-sickening testimonies within our knowledge; but he who would cover up the vices, corruptions and many causes which lead astray unprotected virtue and unsuspecting innocence, in the manufactories of this country, is willing to see our cities filled with licentiousness and our prisons, houses of correction and reformation overflowed with its unhappy victims. Will the Natick correspondent, or the Lowell Journal, so far stifle their reason and sense of truth, as to argue that Lowell does not create vice in a greater proportion, than other sections of the country where there is little or no manufacturing? Why appeared the article headed "licentiousness," a few weeks since in the Journal, if a lively sense of its ravaging increase did not prompt it?
The females of Lowell, who are congregated from various parts of New England and the world, are naturally as virtuous as any class; but the circumstances they are placed in, render them more liable to go astray.
Here they are unguarded, away from their homes and watchful friends, a majority of them young and unsophisticated, full of youthful hilarity upon which the various seductive influences work with fearful rapidity. Aside from the numerous lateral influences which everywhere surround our manufacturing towns—the very seeds of licentiousness are within their organization—tedious, continued and unrequited toil is not conducive to virtue and charity, and will exchange itself for almost any other situation in life—many are drawn away unconsciously by artful seduction, while others leave, knowing the road, but choose a life of prospective ease though stained with dishonor to one of hopeless servitude.
And this system of things which is filling the country with vice and offering the fair daughters as a willing sacrifice upon its polluted altar, the Lowell Journal and his feeling correspondent is striving to foster and build up.
"The first thing that must be done to elevate the workingmen, was to collect and burn the Sunday School books, which were poisoning the minds of the young."
Here comes the great engine brought to bear against almost every reform of the day—an appeal to the religious predilections, prejudices and superstitions of the community. "Our glorious institutions, Sabbath Schools and churches are in jeopardy."
Are our anxious friends afraid that the truth will overthrow "our free institutions"? If so, let them go. But we do not wish to "collect and burn" any school books, nor do the workingmen of New England—or any other books though they may be "poisoning the minds of the young"—but with the fire of truth. But this is the refuge, and has been for ages past for the workers of iniquity—behind the religious prejudices of the people, and from thence goes out the cry of "heresy and ultraism." So it was with Judaism, Muhammadanism and Romanism, and so it is at the present day.
What are the Sabbath School libraries of our country, that are so sacred in the eyes of our Natick friend? A portion of them are works to prove that endless misery is true—another that all men will be saved—another that slavery is Bible doctrine—another that Romanism is the only true doctrine—some that sprinkling is baptism, and others that immersion is the only true mode, and so on. Is the Journal correspondent a believer in all of these doctrines? Does he believe that a large portion of the race will be eternally lost? If so, don't he think those Sunday School books, (which are many), that teach and inculcate a different belief, are "poisoning the minds of the young"! Does he believe in universal salvation?—then are not those Sunday School books which encourage a contrary belief "poisoning the minds of the young"! Look at the consistency of this talk about Sunday School books!—it is all for effect, and we venture the assertion—that this vigilant guardian of the religious teaching of the rising generation, is a railing unbeliever in the teachings and doctrines of Christ. This philanthropic correspondent of the Journal talks largely about "the clear-headed and stout-hearted practical workingmen of Massachusetts," that his sympathies are with them.
He tells us that "this talk about slavery in the Lowell mills is all a humbug. Farmers' daughters—educated in our district schools—free to go where they please, and to work where they please." One would suppose by the above glowing description that the Lowell mills were filled with "farmers' daughters" who could live without labor, and go there merely as a resort for health and recreation; instead of a large portion of poverty's daughters, whose fathers do not possess one foot of land, but work day by day for the bread that feeds their families. Indeed, many of the operatives of Lowell have no fathers or homes, and many are foreigners who are free to work there according to the mandates of heartless power, or go to the poor house, beg, or do worse.
How long will the working people of this country be duped by such barking spaniels of wealth and aristocracy? How long will the operatives of Lowell receive such fulsom flattery by a hireling press to decoy them to hopeless oppression, and build a throne of lordly wealth upon their bones and sinews? Would to heaven they were all "farmers daughters" and never had departed from the land of their nativity to taste the sickly atmosphere of the manufactories of Lowell. Lowell contains many a brilliant genius, and noble nature cooped up within those walls, fading away by gradual innovations upon body and mind [sic] that are worthy of elevated stations in the world and would be a blessing to their friends and society had not poverty been their lot. May they soon come out and declare their rights and assume the position that God designed they should occupy.
The pretended sympathy and regard for the working people of this country and "the clear-headed and stout-headed workingmen of Massachusetts" expressed in the communication we have copied, clearly betrays the garb of hypocrisy, for we do not believe any friend to the workingmen could be so ignorant of their true interests, and it is our candid opinion, that the individual in question, is now living (perhaps luxuriating) upon the fruits of their labor. We expect the opposition and derision of such men, and such papers as the Lowell Journal for they are wedded to the "powers that be," and sold soul and body to the service of wealth and oppression. We have dwelt longer than we designed upon this article, but felt that truth and justice to the cause of equal rights, demand a deliberate review of the subject.
It has been shown, over and over again, in this paper, that there are large classes of persons in this republican community who do not receive enough for their labor to furnish themselves and families with food, clothing, and the commonest education, so that a large proportion of them are necessarily paupers! And yet those classes do three or four times the amount of labor that, if justice prevailed, would furnish them with all the necessaries and comforts of life! At present each of them is compelled to carry an idle loafer on his back, who consumes more than twice as much as the producer that carries him. These classes are, first, the farm laborers; secondly, the mechanics; thirdly, factory operatives; and fourthly, the day laborers. There is another class, of whom less has been said, the seamen; in relation to whom something interesting and instructive may be found in a sketch of a speech of Captain Kempton at the last meeting of the National Reform Association. The classes here enumerated must comprise a majority of the population. There are two other large classes who are scarcely less sufferers by the present system of legalized monopoly and plunder which pampers the idle few, the farmers and the small traders. It is the interest of all these classes to unite, without respect to old party ties or prejudices, and abolish the monopoly of the soil, which is the basis of the whole plundering system. - Young America
Poor in England.
Such is the oppressive character of land-stealing in England, upon the laboring poor, that the most disastrous and unnatural consequences are produced. Men who have large families, find themselves unable to support them, and are therefore driven to the unnatural resort of desertion or starvation. A late English paper states,
"The parish of Clerkenwell has lately suffered severely from the wholesale desertion by men belonging to this parish of their wives and families, some of them leaving as many as six children—thus casting a heavy and permanent burden upon the ratepayers. Within the last few days 12 men have thus absconded; and to such an extent has it been carried, that the parish has determined to adopt vigorous measures to check the practice, if possible, and intend to offer handsome rewards for their apprehension."
How to be Rich.
Nothing is more easy, says Paulding, than to grow rich. It is to trust nobody—to befriend none—to get every thing, and save all we get—to stint ourselves and every body belonging to us, to heap interest upon interest, cent upon cent, to be mean, miserable, and despised, for some 20 or 30 years, and riches will come as sure as disease and disappointment.
We have received the first number of this ably conducted paper, published alternately at New York and Boston by the Brook Farm Association. It is devoted to social science, practical literature, and elevation of the mass. Its contributors stand high as philanthropists, patriots and men of science, among whom are Park Goodwine, W. H. Channing, Albert Brisbane, Osborne Macdaniel, Horace Greeley, George Ripley, Charles A. Dana, John S. Dwight, L. W. Ryekman, John Allen and Francis G. Shaw.
Terms, $2.00 per year.
Our Voice wishes you success as an able co-worker in humanity's neglected field.
Note: spelling and punctuation have been slightly modified.