The 10 July 1845 issue of the Voice of Industry (Vol. 1 No. 7).
Our National Anniversary.
This eventful day, so hallowed by the American people has again returned and passed us by. Its joys and its sorrows, its clamor and its reflections, its festivities and privations have all fled upon the rapid wings of time, and how much have we, as a nation or individuals, profited by their teachings? This national jubilee with its thousands of orations, speeches and sentiments, have sown seeds that the future will reap in gladness or sorrow. They will bring forth temperance or dissipation, freedom or oppression, intelligence or ignorance, religion or infidelity, virtue or vice, human elevation or degradation. Fellow countrymen, have these considerations had their just weight upon our minds, and due consideration in all our acts? Ye who move the people's will, guide their physical, mental and moral destinies, have you been true to yourselves, your fellow men and your God? Have you spurned the seductive influences of party aggrandizement? Has the unhallowed lust for sordid wealth and ignoble power been overruled by a love of justice and humanity? Have sectarian strife and dogmatical partialisms been absorbed by that universal piety, which regards every son and daughter of the race, as children of our common family "entitled to life, liberty and the pursuits of happiness?" Have you been thoughtful of the poor, the industrious, the downtrodden, the oppressed and afflicted, and have your voices been heard on their behalf, and your arms been stretched out to help? If so, your country will rejoice and all who worship at the shrine of universal freedom, will invoke a blessing upon your efforts and memories. But we fear, that the records of this day's transactions would develop its usual amount of party littleness, bloated patriotism, sordid contention and high sounding, heartless panegyrics upon our "nation's glories," its "free institutions," "our national defence" and the freedom and happiness of our people, while their very bones are daily crying out—want, and oppression, and stall-fed patriots, like vampires, are sucking away their life's blood. Far be it from us, to say aught against the inborn love of our people for republicanism, their national character and the fundamental principles inculcated by the fathers of our country—their aims were high and many of their deeds virtuous. But have we proved true to their charge and the treasure entrusted to our care? Have we made that progress in the path of Christian freedom, which we as a nation and individuals are capable of making? Are our people daily growing wiser and happier, and want, crime and oppression wearing away from our land? These reflections are worthy the consideration of every American and lover of his race.
Every American, man and woman should ask themselves the question, seriously and candidly, are we a free people? Are we realizing that freedom, and enjoying those "inalienable rights" so much lauded, and so often sounded by the trumpet of every political and social demagogue throughout the length and breadth of the land? Is it not important that we investigate this matter, every man and woman for themselves, and know why there is so much want, dependence and misery among us, if forsooth, we are freemen and freewomen, and that freedom worth enjoying?
For this purpose, a portion of the workingmen and women of Massachusetts met in a mass convention at Woburn, on the fourth. Not as Whigs, Democrats, abolitionists, orthodox or heterodox; but as men and women, to exercise the powers that God has given them, for the abolition of all wrong and oppression from among our people and from off the earth. The occasion exceeded the sanguine expectations of its most ardent friends and was well worthy the noble and philanthropic cause. The day was delightful and the grove one of nature's most beautiful, which together with the peace, order, harmony and temperance that everywhere prevailed, strikingly contrasted with the clamor and dissipation which usually characterizes this day. Most of the addresses were high-toned, charitable and eloquent, evincing a deep degree of feeling and encouragement. The audience were attentive and courteous, and the meeting adjourned with a renewed degree of courage, interest and perseverance in the great warfare of human rights. Let the working people of New England take new courage and when another fourth of July shall roll round, instead of one, let our vales in many places resound with the workingmen's meetings. The groves are fit places for such meetings, and though we have no splendid palaces, the God of the just has provided these his temples, where the wrongs of the oppressed may be proclaimed. We give way to the proceedings as reported by the Secretary, John McMullen, and shall notice the subject hereafter.
A convention of the workingmen and women of New England, was held on the 4th inst at Woburn in a beautiful grove. Delegates from the vicinity continued to arrive until about 11 o'clock, principally from Lowell, Boston and Lynn, numbering in the aggregate about 2,000. The delegation from Boston and Lowell were escorted by a band of music from the cars to the grove, which was tastefully arranged for the occasion.
Mr. Dana, of Brook Farm, was called for and responded in an elegant and truthful speech—he gloried in the achievements of our fathers who left their heirs so choice an inheritance, as that which we possess—but we are bound to ensure to our children with interest those patrimonial legacies—rights recognized by nature—rights to labor and its products and to a development of all our faculties. He opposed the prevailing system of hired labor, which generates hostility, and recommended unity of interests in an organized form, as the panacea to cure the infection of oppressed labor and capital.
Mr. Mellen, of Boston, followed. His remarks brought a reply from Mr. Linsley, of Charlestown, and Miss S[arah] G. Bagley, of Lowell, a lady of superior talents and accomplishments, whose refined and delicate feelings gave a thrilling power to her language and spell-bound this large auditory, so that the rustling of the leaves might be heard softly playing with the wind between the intervals of speech. She spoke of the Lowell Offering—that it was not the voice of the operatives—it gave a false representation to the truth—it was controlled by the manufacturing interest to give a gloss to their inhumanity, and anything calling in question the factory system, or a vindication of operatives' rights, was neglected. She had written several pieces of this character, which were rejected [by the Lowell Offering]. She said she had served an apprenticeship of 10 years in the mills, and by her experience claimed to know something about it—and that many of the operatives were doomed to eternal slavery in consequence of their ignorance—not knowing how to do the most common domestic work. Many could not do the most common sewing, and notwithstanding the present lengthened time of labor, which deprived them of the most human comfort, the proprietors or agents of these mills were striving to add 2 hours more to their time of labor thus cutting off all hope of bettering their condition; but said she, the girls have united against this measure, and formed a society [the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association] to repel this movement. She took her seat amidst the loud and unanimous huzzas of the deep[ly] moved throng, and was followed by some closing remarks from Mr. Albert Brisbane of New York, after which adjournment was called for and adopted.
We would say to our city readers...
We would say to our city readers that we shall soon investigate some of the peculiar evils which afflict the laboring people within their immediate vicinity, such as the trucking off order system, which is getting to be quite a fashionable and genteel manner of swindling the workingmen and women out of a portion of their hard earnings, in both city and country. The Lien Law which aims to protect the laborer from the fraud and cunning of dishonest employers, we shall notice and urge. Those thieving establishments, commonly known as "Intelligence Offices" which are picking the pockets and preying upon thousands of unsuspecting, needy males and females by hanging out their sign of friendship, also "Oak Hall" humbugs and various other humanity-grinding systems which are making sad havoc with the health, happiness and virtue of our people, we shall expose and hold up to the view of the public, as soon as our arrangements will permit.
The Natick Correspondent of the Lowell Journal.
We have it from undoubted authority, that his report; that a delegate from Lowell to the New England Workingmen's Convention, held at Boston in May last, stated "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," was a falsehood.1 Such is the man so anxious for the welfare of our Sunday Schools.
Christian Benevolence.—Paying a rich minister one hundred dollars to attend the funeral services of a relative, and the poor sexton one dollar for tolling the bell.
To the Working People.
Why is it that your servant the Boston Postmaster receives $8,000 a year for doing nothing, while you are obliged to work early and late from one year's end to another, for a bare subsistence?
Constitution of the New England Workingmen's Association.
Whereas we, the mechanics and workingmen of New England, are convinced by the sad experience of years, that, under the present arrangements of society, labor is and must be the slave of wealth; and whereas the producers of all wealth are deprived not merely of its enjoyment, but also of the social and civil rights which belong to humanity and the race; and whereas we are convinced that the reform of these abuses must depend upon ourselves and ourselves only; and whereas we believe that intelligent union alone is strength, we hereby declare our object to be "union for power, power to bless humanity," and to further this object resolve ourselves into an association under the following.
Article 1. This association shall be called the "New England Workingmen's Association."
Article 2. The object of this association shall be to extend the knowledge of the evil of our present social condition, and the best method of reform, and in every way to secure the highest good and well-being of our class and of society.
Article 3. The officers of this association shall consist of a President, two or more Vice President, a recording Secretary, Corresponding Secretary, Treasurer, and an Executive Committee seven in number of which the President, Corresponding Secretary, and Treasurer, shall be member ex officio.
Article 4. The above officers will be expected to discharge faithfully the duties incident to the several stations. It shall be the duty of the Executive Committee to superintend the general interests of the association, to appropriate its funds for the publishment of papers, tracts, lectures, and such other documents as they may deem useful for the success of the ca[u]se, and to present a faithful report of their doings thereon, at the annual meeting of the association.
Article 5. The officers of the association shall be chosen at the annual meeting. The Executive Committee shall have the power to fill any vacancies which may occur in this body.
Article 6. The annual meeting shall be held at Boston, during the anniversary week in May. The Executive Committee shall have the power to call a Mass Convention at such time and place as they shall think proper.
Article 7. Any person may become a member of this Association by paying into the Treasury the sum of twenty-five cents and signing this Constitution.
Article 8. This Constitution may be altered or amended by a vote of two thirds of the members present at the annual meeting.
Note: spelling and punctuation have been slightly modified.
- 1See the previous issue, Vol. 1 No. 6, for what this is in reference to.