The Voice of Industry (Vol. 1 No. 19 - 2 October 1845)

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The 2 October 1845 issue of the Voice of Industry (Vol. 1 No. 19).

Submitted by adri on March 28, 2024

Mass Turn Out At Pittsburgh—Demand for a Reduction in Hours of Labor, by the Factory Girls of Allegheny City, and Pittsburgh—the Cause of the Laborer Onward!

We are happy to lay before our readers the late proceedings of the operatives of Pittsburgh and Allegheny City, towards the reduction of the hours of labor and the establishment of a "ten-hour system" among the incorporated manufactories of those places. That any system of incorporation, or association which virtually obliges workingmen and women to labor more hours than their physical strength will allow, is unnatural, unjust and un-Christian, is beyond controversy. It violates every principle of equality among men, by taking advantage of the necessities and conditions of the poor and dependent, and making them slaves to capital and unjust combinations.

We deny the right of any man, body of men or government, to constitute any number of hours a natural and general day's work; this can be regulated only by the age, condition, constitution and nature of the employment of the operative. Hence the power granted to corporate bodies by legislative enactments through which they can require the unjust and oppressive number of twelve and thirteen hours per day from their operatives, is wholly assumed, in opposition to the declared natural rights of man, and no authority whatever, on earth or from heaven, can be adduced to sustain this slavish system; begat in despotism and now being nourished and fostered in "Republican America," and we call upon the operatives of New England, as they regard their moral, physical and mental prosperity, as they regard the rights granted them by their creator as an inviolate heritage, as they regard the good of posterity and the final prevalence of human justice and pure Christianity among the children of earth, to unite with the operatives of Pittsburgh and Allegheny City in resisting this system of manufacturing feudalism. God never created this fair world for a slave market, wherein the bones and sinews—nay the very life's blood of a large portion of dependent and defenceless females may be bartered away with impunity, upon the glutted auction stand of avarice. Then fear not workingmen and women of New England; by every consideration of duty to yourselves and your fellow laborers, you are conjured to disenthrall yourselves from this bondage. Heaven urges you on, and the sentiments of just men bid you go forward.

We assure our friends of Pittsburgh that the statement relative to the number of hours in Lowell is incorrect—for the honor of New England we are sorry to state it—for the honor of Massachusetts, the home of the pilgrim and the "land of the free and the brave," we regret to acknowledge to the world, that thousands of the daughters of the "Mothers of the Revolution"—thousands who are destined to be mothers, watch the infancy and give the moral tone and physical character to the future generation, are [in] this "very prosperous" and auspicious year of 1845 at work between twelve and thirteen hours per day, in corporation prison houses, to secure a little food and raiment for the body!—Shame on this state of things! And yet, "good old patriotic, Christian Massachusetts," through her "honorable legislative," says, "this is a subject upon which we cannot legislate." Workingmen and women, this is a subject upon which humanity can legislate! Will you act accordingly?

The Working Men Are Awakening.1

Friend George—Last night I attended an outpouring of the white slaves of capital employed in cotton factories in Allegheny City. They demand the adoption of ten hours as the daily term of toil for others' profit, in order that some little time may be had for their own instruction and amusement. I think they will obtain their wishes, as all the toilers of the neighborhood, and some of the business community, announce their determination to lend a helping hand. "The work goes bravely on." National reform is boldly proclaimed, and its exponents listened to with marked attention, especially by our young men. Two meetings in our market-house have been held recently, whereat the freedom of the public land was eloquently advocated, and discussion invited; especially the pretended but only professed Democratic Party and its twin brother that of the nativists were boldly challenged to publicly discuss our principles; but their noisy champions did not dare attempt a public controversy. They well know that when justice is sought through the medium of truth's appeal to reason, the effect would be to instruct the public mind, and thus the people's riders—capitalists and office holders, would be necessarily unseated. Birmingham comes forth nobly, the young men there are at all times active in the people's cause. Burt, Miller and the Stevensons steadily progress with the good work, and are ably sustained by many others [of] nature's noblemen, with whose names I am not familiar. Meetings are to be held this week in Allegheny City, where the seed of national justice and reform will be sown broadcast. Be assured "Young America" here grows fast and firm in the faith that "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are unalienable." The question is being asked, how is it that the wealth-producers, the useful working classes, are in comparative want, while those who toil not abstract to themselves the wealth produced by the industrious many. The reply must come with an awakened understanding. Free investigation of the right of man to the soil will assuredly bring forth answers that will astound the labor riders everywhere.

At your coming convention you will have a representative from this branch. My best wishes are hereby tendered to the anti-rent patriots of New York. If true to themselves, success is certain, and that too, speedily. They have the glorious privilege of being pioneers in practically revolutionizing the system of feudal fraud, that everywhere, and under every system of government yet devised, continues to plunder and enslave the useful portion of mankind.

I write at this time, because I think our brother reformers will be cheered on in their arduous labors, by the consciousness of reaping a rich crop of hearty able coadjutors in the great work they have commenced. "Who would be free themselves must strike the blow."

Your friend,
John Ferral.

Note: spelling and punctuation have been slightly modified.

  • 1The Voice reprinted this article from Young America! (Vol. 2 No. 27, 27 September 1845), which was a reform-minded magazine published by George Henry Evans. John Farrel, the author of the article, was an associate of Evans and a social reformer himself.