The Voice of Industry (Vol. 1 No. 12 - 14 August 1845)

voice of industry cover

The 14 August 1845 issue of the Voice of Industry (Vol. 1 No. 12).

Submitted by adri on September 19, 2023


We heartily approve of the sentiments contained in the following extract from the Washington Constitution. We believe the farmers, mechanics, and other workingmen of our country have almost everywhere been treated with less respect than their merits deserve. If their claims are presented for any respectable or lucrative station, they are told to go to work; while some idle aristocrat, no more competent, and not half so deserving, is given the preference. This should not be; and we rejoice to see that public sentiment in various sections is manifesting itself in favor of a reform in this respect. We shall ever deem it our duty and privilege to advocate and defend the rights of the toiling millions who are the chief source of our country's wealth and power—in whose hands rest the future destinies of the nation.

We know that the organic principle of our government is one of social and political equality. Theoretically, we acknowledge the doctrine of equal rights, equal obligations, and exact justice to all—but in its practical workings, this principle of just equality is somehow or other most woefully violated. In the hour of peril to our country or to our party, we mainly depend for succor and success upon the faithfulness and efforts of the workingmen. We invoke his aid—we rely upon his constancy—and by the strength of his arm, or the strength of his principles, we are saved. His labor cultivates the earth, his art fashions the most costly articles, and the most valuable products and their richest sources of the country are created by the toils of the workingman. Yet it too often happens, that in the hour of political victory, his services and his merits are alike forgotten, and the honors and rewards of the government are but too frequently bestowed upon those who neither exerted their efforts nor risked their means to ensure success. We do not hesitate to say that all the social virtues and the most enlarged patriotism preeminently dwell with those who cultivate the soil and work at the various mechanical trades. And we are sustained by high authority when we affirm that the aggregate wisdom of these classes is greater than the wisdom of the selfish and eschewing few, who usually assume to control and direct them. Whilst they exert themselves, then, for the maintenance and advancement of free principles—whilst they contribute their efforts and their means to strengthen and support our noble form of government, let them freely and equally participate in the rewards and the honors of the highest offices. All employments are alike honorable, when honorably pursued. Honesty, integrity, and ability constitute the true qualifications for office, and not the mere condition in life, or the peculiar employment or profession of the individual. - New Haven Democrat

Labor Reform.2

The question is often asked: What do those who belong to this association expect to accomplish? Answer: Tall trees from little acorns grow, and they expect to see grow out of this small beginning a great and mighty blessing; even the liberation of millions from cruel bondage, to an equal footing with our aristocratic nabobs and slaveholders! They expect to be the humble means of planting the little acorn of individual right and individual independence, which will produce a tree whose leaves shall be for the healing of the domestic maladies and moral evils of community. They expect to open the eyes of the blind, who are now being led by the nose, whithersoever the monied few list, to unstop the ears of the deaf, who having ears hear not the death warrant in every bell which summons them to the different places of thirteen and sixteen hours' toil, there wearing out the very vital energies of nature, to the entire neglect of all that which distinguishes man from the brute creation, or constitutes him an intellectual moral being. They expect to awaken the minds of the worthy laborers to a sense of their own inherent powers—their capabilities for moral and intellectual improvement—their own worth and the high-table land of promise which they are able to go up and possess!

They expect to give such an impetus to the spirit and progress of reform, that after having set free the white slaves of the North, its influence shall cause the chains to fall from the groaning millions of colored brethren at the South! They expect and confidently hope to instill into the hearts of poor, but virtuous, worthy females, enough of that moral courage and independence of soul, which shall enable them to dare go in and out, even at a minister's front door, in whose pious family they labor faithfully and unremittingly. They expect to live until that time, when the workingmen and women of our republican nation will become the truly educated part of the people—combining the theoretical with the practical, the useful with the agreeable—thereby exhibiting in beauty and harmony the full developing of all those powers, both mental and physical, which give dignity and superior grace to the whole being! They hope to live and enjoy a better state of society, where virtue and honesty shall no longer be clothed as it now too often is, in rags, while vice and unblushing meanness rustles in silks and fine linen, and looks plain unsophisticated truth and honest integrity out of countenance! These are a few of the good things which they confidently hope and expect to see result from the united labors of the different associations formed throughout our land. God speed them on in their noble work. Let their motto with its deep, meaning tone and spirit pervade and animate every faculty of the great heart of associations! "Union for power—Power to bless Humanity." - Vox Populi

For the Voice of Industry.

Mr. Editor: As I have been invited to furnish something for the readers of your pleasant and useful "Voice," I thought it might interest them to learn that Lowell is onward.

True there is not the general interest manifested, that we should be glad to witness; but our cause is progressing, and a commendable degree of zeal among the friends of true liberty exists. The discussion going on about the Lowell Offering has been useful as an impetus to action, and the pretended friends of reform have had an opportunity to define their true position. The readers of the Offering have generally been able to decide where to find the Offering and its influence, but its publisher has settled the question if any doubt has existed.

It requires some moral courage to speak and act independently in Lowell, as those who have made the experiment know full well. Those who possess a firm adherence to the good and true, whether approved or censured, will not be turned aside by contumely or abuse in any form. Such are some of the friends of reform in Lowell.

There are many, very many here, who are prepared to allow others to think and act for them; and themselves be only the machines to give expression to the will and opinions of others.

If there is a state of servitude more servile than slavery itself, it is that to which I have alluded. A man who in addition to being a servant physically will be one mentally; has descended a little lower than any man could possibly descend who has a decent amount of self-respect.

We feel very much the need of a periodical here devoted to our cause. We are determined to speak here more clearly with your "Voice" in the future, and see if we cannot awaken a more general interest.

You will hear from us and be apprised of things in general and some things in particular every week. I will give you a brief sketch of our Union Meeting last week.

We appointed a committee of investigation for the purpose of tracing some of the false stories published in some of the papers of this city, and exposing them to the public. I trust if they had been appointed three months past, they would have had an abundance of material furnished them. You will hear from our committee in future.

We wish you much success in your efforts to be useful, and remain

Yours in the cause of humanity,

- Oliva [Olivia?]

We find announced in the Lowell papers...

We find announced in the Lowell papers a work entitled "Lowell as it was, and as it is," by the Rev. H. A. Miles,3 of that city, and regret much to learn from some notices of the work, that he has been disposed to gloss over the present system of manufacturing. It is lamentable that men who occupy such responsible stations in society should be so blinded to the great source of evil, and the fruitful causes of man's misery and degradation. The great preacher to the gentiles set us an example that is plain and intelligible, which needs no college education, or theological finish, to prepare the understanding to receive it. The enlightened mind naturally perceives it, and the enlightened conscience feels it. "As ye would that others should do unto you, do ye even so to them." Has our reverend friend been governed by this great principle of universal law and justice, while writing the work above referred to? Has love of popular favors, and the perverting effects of wealth and power had no influence over his pen? While asking divine blessing upon his bounteous repasts which were eaten in peace and leisure, has he thought of those whose blessing is the factory bell, and whose stomachs are the receptacles of half masticated food, and whose daily meditations and nightly dreams are visited with the horrors of indigestion, causing diseases, prostration and oftentimes premature death? While receiving his thousand dollars or upwards annually for his services, has he given a thought to those whose physical requirements are no less, and receive but seventy-five cents or one dollar per day, subject to lost time and misfortunes? These things should not be brooked, they are too true; and we should not be too sensitive about investigating the subject. Should the work alluded to come within our possession we shall notice it hereafter.

The Offering for August is before us...

The [Lowell] Offering for August is before us in its usual neat and tasty form. We notice that the editorial articles are strongly imbued with corporation flattery and praise; a disposition to cloak and shroud the evils of the present factory system, with the scanty garb of apparent good which hangs around it, is clearly visible. We quote the following to show the error that the fair editress has fallen into. In speaking of her factory life she remarks—

She has never regretted this step—and those who think and speak of a factory life as the darkest lot, view it in a different light from that in which it has appeared to her. She could have earned a livelihood by her needle; but to do that she must sit at work as many hours as she would be confined in the mill. To teach a country school was to have a paltry pittance a few months in the year, and be destitute of employment the remainder of it. To write "silly stories" for a living was what she never dreamed of, though she possibly might have done it. For several years she labored at the loom "unnoticed and unknown."

What does this show? that the factory system is better than it has been represented? Surely not, but that other systems of labor are wrong. Because females are obliged to labor with the needle as many hours as they labor in the mills to gain a livelihood—teach school for a "paltry pittance, or write silly stories for a living," does not argue anything in favor of a factory life, that there are not wrongs in the system, or oppression in Lowell. The editress of the Offering is only contrasting one bad feature of our system of labor, with others alike disastrous (though more limited and less powerful) to the prosperity of the females of our country, and we think she must discover the fallacy of her reasoning after candid reflection.

Note: spelling and punctuation have been slightly modified.

  • 1Text reprinted from the New Haven Democrat.
  • 2The Voice reprinted this article, originally authored by the penname "Veritas," from the newspaper Vox Populi.
  • 3See also Vol. 1 No. 17 of the Voice for another critique of Miles' account of the Lowell mills, which the Voice reprinted from the Harbinger.