The Voice of Industry (Vol. 1 No. 16 - 11 September 1845)

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The 11 September 1845 issue of the Voice of Industry (Vol. 1 No. 16).

Submitted by adri on December 27, 2023

Practical Operations.

Theory is of much importance, but without practice, it is of very little avail. Now the workingmen of New England have before them a great problem—they have studied, examined, investigated and theorized; yes they have solved it—that God never created a slave; that all men by nature are heirs to freedom—freedom of body and mind; consequently entitled to the natural enjoyment and voluntary disposal of the products of their physical and mental labor. Society does not recognize this great and vital truth, or refuses to practically acknowledge it; hence we have slavery, oppression, want and misery. Labor is despoiled of its dignity and the laborer robbed, degraded and made a beggar. To reform this disastrous and unnatural state of things, and make practical the cardinal principles of "equal rights," justice and mutual interests; and introduce a new state of society, in which labor shall be respected and rewarded, and the laborer ennobled and made happy, requires no little amount of energy, moral courage and self-sacrifice; and he who steps out to reform the present system of labor cannot expect to glide smoothly along in the sunshine of popular favor, praised and applauded by the falsely named wise and great, lay upon beds of down or live in ease and inactivity. Every workingman who feels an interest in the present movement among the friends of labor reform should be active, vigilant and industrious. There is much to be done, a great work is before us, many obstacles to surmount and numerous long-standing and deep-rooted customs and inveteracies to encounter. The first and most important measure towards a permanent and successful reform in our present system of labor is

an intelligent and comprehensive organization

among the producing classes. Let associations be formed in every town, city and village throughout New England; and shame on the man or woman who would refuse to join, lest their popularity should be impeached, and they receive the very vulgar opprobrium of "laborers" or friends and associates of the "working people"—shocking! Such people are unworthy the name of men and women and should receive the just contempt of every honest and high-minded toiler. It is of the utmost importance that the working classes unite together—not to rob, plunder or wrong any man or class of men; but to assert their self-evident and acknowledged rights, and peaceably remove the oppressive burdens which unjust laws, superstition, ambition and ignorance have brought upon them. Workingmen's meetings should be held in all parts of the country, and all questions touching the welfare of the laboring population and the elevation of mankind, openly, freely and plainly discussed. Let not the love of false praise, flattery and pretended sympathy deter any from giving their influence and cheerful support to the cause of human rights. Many there are who would gladly destroy and overthrow the cause in which we are engaged by their hollow-hearted demagogism and hypocritical encomiums upon the virtue, intelligence and exalted condition of the American operatives and working classes—heed them not, our word for it, they are political aspirants, social aristocrats, mercenary tyrants, or those who are willing to do their bidding and be their slaves for the "crumbs that fall from their master's table." Our voice warns you to beware of such "wolves in sheep's clothing"—let them not inveigle you into the delusive idea that all is well, while they are fleecing the product of your honest toil and faithful industry, upon which they live in vicious excess. We say to the workingmen of New England, come up to the rescue! Justice says come, humanity says come, your own best good and the well-being of posterity demands your immediate attention. Let us unite into one strong, active and united band of brothers—friends to virtue, goodness and the violated rights of mankind everywhere and under all circumstances; and uncompromising enemies to oppression of every form and in every clime. The working classes of New England demand a reform and their voices will not cease until it is accomplished. There are several well-matured and concerted measures, which require their united and harmonious action. The workingmen of New England demand

a reduction in the expenses of our national government

to a just and relative proportion with the usual wages of the common laborer. They demand

a reduction of the hours of labor in our manufactories

and the right to mutual contract, between the employer and the employed, which the present system of manufacturing virtually abrogates. They demand

a protective lien law

that shall guard the rights of many of our hard-working mechanics against the fraudulent cupidity of unprincipled "jobbers." They demand

the abolition of the "order system"

which is swindling the laboring out of their scanty wages, to fill the coffers of speculation and mercantile exchanges—and many other measures are now ripe for honest, intelligent and united action. Hence we urge the workingmen and women to organize without delay, that our theories may practically tell upon the physical, mental and moral condition of our race.

The author of the following...

The author of the following extract will pardon us for bringing it before the public without special permission. The tone and sentiments are so correct that we take the liberty, feeling that it might stimulate other sympathizing minds to do likewise.

Manchester, Sept. 6, 1845.

Mr. Editor.—I am a workingman, and as such, am willing to do all I can for the support of such papers as advocate the workingman's rights. I have seen several numbers of your paper and like its contents and the spirit with which it is conducted. It is a subject in which I am deeply interested—it has been my study for many years, and it should interest every man; yet how few there are in our ranks that are sensible that they have any rights, or that ever bestow a thought on the subject. Strange indeed that the producers of all the wealth should suffer themselves to be thus down-trodden, and but a solitary "Voice" raised against it. I have done all that I could [to] sustain the "Laborer" (published by Mr. Cox) by obtaining subscribers &c. And I regret that the workingmen cannot, or will not lift up a united voice that must and shall be heard. If aught is ever done to ameliorate the condition of the toil-worn laborer, it must be through the medium of the press. The pulpit could do much, but the clergy are ever enemies to reform; but public meetings can be held, lectures and addresses given to call attention of people to the subject. Would to heaven I could speak and write all that I think, and feel, on the rights of humanity—cheerfully would I wear out myself in the cause, for I know from sad experience what it is to toil incessantly for a bare subsistence.

Fifteen years have I labored for a corporation, and with rigid economy can little more than live, as my health from constant toil and confinement is consequently poor.

Cannot Congress be called in, to act on the subject of the hours of labor? I think the next Congress will be friendly, and if petitions were carried in something might be done. For myself I look to associated industry as the only alternative for the crying evils of the day, yet a reduction of the hours of labor would do much towards lessening our burden.

* We have but little hopes of Congress doing anything to abolish white slavery at the North, so long as her capital is stained with the blood of suffering negroes.

We find the following paragraph...1

We find the following paragraph going the rounds of the papers:

Factory girls' savings.—It is stated that the amount of money deposited by female operatives in the Lowell Savings Bank is equal to twelve hundred and fifty dollars for every factory girl in the place. Some of them have saved two thousand dollars each! the interest of which would yield a handsome support.

A more barefaced and foolish lie—an emanation from a knave or a fool—never before appeared in the public papers. Now look at the facts. There are employed in the Lowell factories (incorporated mills) 6,320 girls. Perhaps we may say, in all the manufactories in Lowell there are 7,000 females. Seven thousand multiplied by twelve hundred and fifty gives $8,750,000; or within about two millions of the whole incorporated capital of Lowell! This, then, must be the gross amount on deposit by the factory girls of Lowell. On the 30th of April last, a statement of the Treasurer of the Lowell Savings Institution was published in most of the papers of this city. By this statement it appears that there are 4,079 depositors, and that the whole amount deposited is $674,624.82; or the smart sum of $8,075,317.18 less than the amount above reported to be on deposit by the factory girls of Lowell. Nor should it be forgotten either that of the money deposited in the Lowell Savings Bank, perhaps one half is deposited by male operatives in the mills, and by mechanics, laborers, &c., out of the mills.

We respect the Lowell factory girls. They are generally females of exemplary character. Few of them are natives of our city. They come from distant towns, and from neighboring states. They have brought with them the virtues, the economies and the industrious habits of the country farm house. In their present employment we sincerely sympathize with them. Their task is a hard one, and they need no false sympathy—no quondam friendship. By such they are injured and debased. It is the tendency of such articles as we have quoted above to do this. None but a person interested in procuring a surplus of help—which must inevitably break down the wages of labor—could have been the instrument of putting it forth in its present form. Nor is this the only article of the same character that has been published respecting the profits of factory labor. In one instance a story got into the papers of a woman who had laid up in a given time about three thousand dollars by factory labor. The story was false in more instances than one. In the first place the female had not laid by more than half the amount stated, and about half of this sum it has been strongly suspected was obtained as hush money of a prominent factory man, who had been intimate with her, and who was the father of her "boy now living in the country." We do not object to the publication of facts. Let them come. No one will be injured by them. But falsehoods injure the whole community, and it is the duty of honest men to correct them.—Vox Populi

Remarks on the Object of the "Voice."2

No. I "What we labor for—the abolition of idleness."

Noble object! The fields are white already for the harvest. Idleness has already become a monster in the earth; and but for the industrious would bring its devoted subjects to a "morsel of bread." Then the industrious are indirectly the supporters of that abominable evil, which if practiced, renders its practitioners dependent upon his neighbor. Yes, the idle man lives upon the hard earnings of the poor laborer.

If the laborer would not work, the idle must, or starve. And hence to shield the poor laborer from an unrighteous tax "grievous to be borne," it wisely decreed in the scriptures of old—"if a man will not work, neither shall he eat."

The laborer, though guilty of violating this heavenly impulse to activity and usefulness, by feeding the idle, still is not equally guilty with his opulent pensioner or temporal lord, who has broken both the commands to obtain his bread by the "sweat of his brow," and to abstain from eating when he abstains from working.

Laborers, it is for you to say whether idleness shall continue to dwell in your midst. They only have a right to be idle who cannot labor. The sick and the lame, the maimed, halt and the blind—these are objects of charity. The healthy, robust and able, continually idle, it is sinful to feed. Then lift higher and swell louder your "Voice" till the idler trembles and idleness dies.

No. II "What we labor for—the abolition of want."

"Voice," your cause is a good one. God labors for this—"the abolition of want." "He openeth his hand and satisfieth the desires (wants) of every living thing." Not the artificial wants, but such as he originates. He makes provision for the natural wants of all his children—not directly, now, as in the days gone by when he withdrew the windows of heaven and the wilderness became a table of manna; but through the instrumentality of his faithful to labor. Thus God provides a plenty. Albeit, the aristocracy claims the honor of dividing. Hence want reigns around—ragged the laborer, and breadless and naked his family.

The aristocracy divides! No wonder there is want.

Laborers, your employers must have their "luxuries"—it is folly to talk of equality to the proud and the haughty, your temporal lords. But away with such lords—"there is bread enough and to spare"—why do ye "perish with hunger."

It is for the wanting today whether want shall abound. Then lift higher and swell louder your "Voice," till the pampering haughty are brought to a level with thee, and thou aboundest with the fat of the land.

No. III "What we labor for—the abolition of oppression."

"Voice," for this, the savior came; for this, he suffered; for this, he labored; for this, he died and rose again. To relieve the oppressed is, therefore Christian—is the cause of God, of Christ and humanity. Goodness and justice demand it—so also does reason, the handmaid of heaven. "Come now let us reason together," saith the lord, "wash you, make you clean: your hands are full of blood: put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgement, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow; and though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."

"To improve the condition of the least fortunate laboring classes, is inevitably infidel and can't be anything else," says the editor of the N. Y. Tribune. But what affinity hath this reasoning with the reasoning of the almighty, as above noticed? Will the editor please compare notes; and having discovered his error, "wash and be clean"—relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow; for these are among the least fortunate of the laboring classes.

The abolition of oppression demands the united energies of a Christian people. And surely the oppressed themselves should not tamely submit to their chains. It is for the oppressed to say whether oppression shall continue in the land of the freeborn. Then lift higher and swell louder your "Voice," till oppression shall cease and the oppressed go free.

Chelmsford, Ms.

Note: spelling and punctuation have been slightly modified.

  • 1The Voice reprinted this article from Vox Populi.
  • 2This text references the slogan of the Voice: "What we labor for—the abolition of idleness, want and oppression; the prevalence of industry, virtue and intelligence."