The Voice of Industry (Vol. 3 No. 35 - 10 March 1848)

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The 10 March 1848 issue of the Voice of Industry (Vol. 3 No. 35).

Submitted by adri on July 16, 2023

Fall River Turn Out [Strike].

There has been a suspension of work on the part of the operatives in Fall River [Massachusetts]. It was in consequence of a reduction of wages. We are not informed of the particular acts by which the movement has been characterized. We have only been enabled to obtain the following general facts. It appears that upon receiving notice that their wages would be reduced, the operatives resorted to a "turn out." They held public meetings which were numerously attended. They were free meetings—meetings for free discussion. An intense interest seems to have been excited. The operatives were likely to carry public opinion with them. The corporations took alarm and managed to close all the public halls against the meetings. They were consequently held in the open air, the steps of meeting-houses and of other public buildings serving as a rostrum for the speakers. We have not been able to learn that there were any acts of violence done by the operatives either to persons or property. We understand that there were among them some talented speakers, who had powers of eloquence "to move men to mutiny and rage," if they had chosen to do so. We are not aware of any disorderly conduct having been committed, but for aught we know there may have been. At any rate, the employers became exasperated at the independence of the operatives, and their sustained opposition. They have invoked the aid of a justice of the peace, and two of the leaders were bound over in heavy sums to await their trial, but either not being able or willing to give bonds, they were thrown into Taunton Jail.

We presume they were committed as rioters, or as conspirators against the general interests of society, and have no doubt that an attempt will be made to condemn them on some such indictment. We might drop the matter here by stating that the operatives have finally resumed employment, but have organized an Association for a reduction of the hours of labor. We are not willing to leave the subject here.

Although we have no sympathy with "strikes" and "turn outs," we most thoroughly detest the conspiracy of monied corporations. We do not say that "turn outs" have not been useful, but that they are so no longer. They always result in the triumph of capital, and a sadder and more hopeless oppression of the laborer, an oppression which comes of hope extinguished. A merely incoherent, tumultuous and clamorous multitude cannot accomplish anything effectual. In all reform there must be a common end or purpose in view; a well defined method or order, and devoted, generous, persistent action. Mere "turn outs" do not include either of them.

Instead of quibbling, temporizing, and compromising with capitalists, we want to see the working classes getting daily into a position of independence through a system of co-operation and mutual guarantees. When they can obtain the means of living independent of capitalists, then, and not till then, will "strikes" and "turn outs" mean something. They must consolidate and combine so as to become their own employers and do their own trading without the interference of go-betweens and jobbers. Let them unite in themselves both the functions of laborer and capitalist. So long as we are dependent on cotton mills for employment, so long we shall be oppressed. They who work in the mills ought to own them.

This movement at Fall River is only another development of the spirit of industrial feudalism which is brooding every department of civilized industry and enterprise. Whatever may be the reverses in the sphere of industry or finance, the weight of the calamity falls always upon the laboring classes. It matters not whether they result from speculation, war, dearth of harvests, or pestilence, the poor, the laboring classes do always bear the brunt of oppression. But we cannot hope for less than this, that the operatives of Fall River will stick to their text for the Ten Hour System. Their demand is a just one. If it be a fact that after the fat dividends, which manufacturers have made for the last five or six years, they cannot afford to pay the usual wages, then let there be an abatement of the time of labor, corresponding to the reduction of wages. Why skulk out of your share of the burden, O wise and scheming cotton-crats? Have the operatives made more than a living during the years of your greatest apparent prosperity? Can they live on less now? Are rent, fuel, oil, groceries, the necessaries of life grown cheap? You know the contrary of all this to be the truth in the premises. You know that during all the recent period of prosperity, the operatives have suffered immense comparative losses. They have only been fed, barely fed—tenants, not the owners of houses, whilst the real estate, the very houses in which they have tenanted, are owned by you and have risen immensely in value. Even if you had not made dividends for two years past, and should not for two years to come, you would have made enough on the enhanced value of real estate. The laborer reaps not a penny from all the improvements which his ingenuity accomplishes. Your never gorged avarice swallows them all. Nay, more, he sees these improvements operate inversely to his good. In proportion to the multiplied faculties for the creation of wealth, are the impoverishment and enslavement of the laborers.


Mr. Greeley's Lecture.

We intended to give quite a full report of Mr. Greeley's [Horace Greeley] Lecture before the Boston Union of Associationists [Fourierst organization], but we have been prevented till now from giving it all, and can at this time give only a brief sketch of it.

In his introductory remarks Mr. Greeley spoke of the present condition of society and of the tendencies of civilization. The mercantile interest, he said, now predominates. The king of men today, after whom cities are named [Lowell, Lawrence, etc...], is a Merchant and a Factory Owner. Combinations of capital and machinery have accomplished wonders. Labor has become more efficient, but the condition of the laborer is no better. More houses are built, but a larger number than formerly are without houses. The quantity of cultivated land has increased, but landowners are less numerous. More cloth is made, but more people are without clothes. Men and brethren, what shall we do?

Existing society, Mr. Greeley said, is unjust. Its most useful members suffer grievous wrongs. The landless and homeless, cut off from their right to the soil, the poor mechanic and laborer seeking in vain for work, the poverty stricken widow, toiling incessantly, in a miserable and comfortless garret, for twenty-five cents per day, are of this class. Society as at present organized guarantees neither education nor opportunity to labor. It also dooms the poor to pay at higher rates for every thing they consume than the rich. What Association proposes, he said, is to rectify these mistakes and right these wrongs. When justice is done there will be no occasion for charity.

Mr. Greeley gave a very brief sketch of the life of [Charles] Fourier, and spoke of the circumstances which led to the study and final development in his mind of the great Social Idea. Fourier's system, he said, is founded on these four great principles:

1. Attractions are proportional to destinies.
2. The harmonies of the Universe are distributed in series.
3. The human race is one. Individuals are parts—members of the great Unity.
4. Attractive Industry.


The Lowell Journal complains...

The Lowell Journal complains that a slight has been done the City of Factory Girls in not giving it a representative in the Whig State Central Committee. What business have you to complain Mr. Journal? Lowell is only the work-house, the shop, which is owned by the Boston cotton Whigs. The people are sent there to work and to vote as they are bid, and not to exercise any choice of their own, far less to be represented in the Central State Committee of the Whig Cottonocracy. Don't pout those pretty lips. It's no use. We see by your papers that Boston is going to do all the mourning honors for Lowell, except what you were able to do up in half an hour. You folks, were not made to vote, to honor the great Statesmen of our "common country," nor even to think upon such matters. Your "manifest destiny" is to work our cotton mills, to do as we direct. This is according to the "Regulation Papers"—What business have women—girls, to meddle with Whig State Central Committees?

Note: spelling and punctuation have been slightly modified.