A book detailing the working conditions and the young labour movement of the USA in the 19th Century, based primarily on the daughter of Karl Marx's fifteen week agitation tour.
The Working-Class Movement in America: Eleanor Marx
THE Working-class Question is the same in America as in Europe. There the reiterated, always more pressing inquiry, which is not only the working-class question but the social question of to-day, is uttered with even more reiteration and emphasis than in England. The inquiry, variously fashioned and variously formulated, is yet always in essence the same, and for practical purposes may be put in these words:--Why is it that the actual producers and distributors of wealth own least wealth, and those who are not its actual producers and distributors own most wealth?
It would be foolish, and more, on our part, to deny that the phrase "Working-class Question in America" is to us in the main synonymous with the phrase "Socialism in America." We believe that Socialism explains the reason why there is, and always must be, a "working-class question," until that question is solved by the historic, evolutionary, and revolutionary method, that Socialism alone points out as inevitable. But whilst this is the case with the beginning of the real working-class movement in any country,--and it really has begun in America,--there must be mixed up with that beginning so much of confusion, of false starts, of marching and counter-marching, of apparent conflict between those that actually have the same end at heart, and of very real conflict between the slowly awakening masses, on the one hand, and the many blind led by the wittingly or unwittingly blind, on the other, that, in a sense, any account of the working-class question has to do with certain elements that are other than socialistic.
And, first, a few words on our credentials to deal with the subject. These consist of some study of the questions under discussion in this country, observation of the great proletarian movement in Europe and America through the medium of the labour press of other lands, a fifteen weeks' tour through America under the auspices of the Socialist Labour Party. The second and third of these alone call for a moment's notice.
The ordinary reader has little or no idea, of the amount of purely corking-class journalism that there is abroad. Here we cannot pause to say anything on the English newspapers that are really devoted to the cause of labour. But we may ask the reader not to form his estimate of the magnitude of the working-class movement generally from the meagre list of journals of this kind to be found in England. In every other of the chief European countries the journalistic strength of the proletarian movement, where oppression by the authorities has not been resorted to, is much greater than in this. But in connection with the special object before us the following list of some of the chief working-class papers of the United States is of interest:--Labour Journal, Alpena, Mich.; The Talk, Anna, Ills.; The Trades' Union, Atchison, Kansas; People's Advocate, Atlantic, Cass Co., Iowa; The Free Press, Baltimore, Mich.; The Labour Vindicator, Bay City., Mich.; The Labour Leader, Boston, Mass.; The Missouri Industry, Brookfield, Mo.; The Agitator, Bridgeport, Conn.; Morning Justice, Burlington, Iowa; The Signal, Champaign, Ills.; The Carpenter, Cleveland, Ohio; The Chicago Express, Chicago, Ills.; Arbeiter Zeitung, Chicago, Ills.; The Sentinel, Chicago, Ills.; The Women's World, Chicago, Ills.; The Unionist, Cincinnati, Ohio; Cloud County Critic, Concordia, Kansas; Iowa Plain Dealer, Cresco, Iowa; The Commonwealth, Creston, Iowa; The Dayton Workman, Dayton, Ohio; Daily Labour Bulletin, Decatur, Ills.; The Labour Leaf Detroit, Mich.; The Labour Enquirer, Denver, Colo.; Workman, Durham, N.C.; Easton Labour Journal, Easton, Pa. Anti-Monopolist Enterprise, Dickinson Co., Kansas; Western Watchman, Eureka, Humboldt Co., Cal.; The Weekly Protest, Exeter, N.H.; Labour Advocate, Galveston, Texas; The Signal, Grinnell, Iowa; The Palladium, Hamilton, Ont.; American Liberty, Hampton, Va.; The Labourer, Haverhill, Mass.; Labour Echo, Houston, Texas; Industrial Record, Jacksonville, Fla.; Joliet Weekly News, Joliet, Ills.; Labour Organizer, Kansas City, Mo.; The Equator, Key West, Fla.; El. Jornalero, Key West, Fla.; Labour Advocate, Lewiston, Maine; The Radical, Litchfield, Minn.; Saturday Evening Union, Los Angeles, Call.; The Labour Record, Louisville, Ky.; The Knight of Labour, Lynn, Mass.; Budget, Manchester, N.H; Menominee River Labourer, Marinette, Men. Co., Mich.; Die Tribune, Indianapolis, Ind.; The Weekly Record, Memphis, Tenn.; Arbeiter Zeitung, Milwaukee, Wis.; Labour Review, Milwaukee, Wis.; Free Press, Millersville, Pa.; Rights of Man, Mount Vernon, Ind.; The Liberal, Nashville, Tenn.; The Agitator, Nangatnek, Conn.; Workman'a Advocate, New Haven, Conn.; New Jersey Unionist, Newark, N.Y.; The People, Providence, N.Y.; Bäcker Zeitung, Boycotter; Der Sozialist, Furniture Workers' Journal, Irish World, John Swinton's Paper, Our Country, Progress, Leader, Volks Zeitung, Standard, all of New York City; The Sentinel, Norwich, N.Y.; Progress, Omaha, Neb., N.Y.; The State Standard, Parkersville, West Va.; Labour Standard, Paterson, N.Y.; The Voice of Labour, Petersburg, Ills.; National Labour Tribune, Pittsburgh, Pa.; The Labour Herald, Pittsburgh, Pa.; Granite Cutters' Journal, Tageblatt, Philadelphia, Pa.; The Avant Courier, Portland, Oregon; Kansas Workman, Anenema, Kansas; The Laborette, Rawlins; Labour Herald, Richmond, Va.; The Capital, Richmond, Va.; The Southern Artizan, Richmond, Va.; Anti-Monopolist, Wentworth Block, Rochester, N.H.; The Rockland Opinion, Rockland, Maine; Rock Islander, Rock Island, Ills.; The Champion, St. Louis, Mo.; The Oregon Vidette, Salem, Oregon; Die Tribune, and Puget Sound Weekly Co-operator, Seattle, Wash, Ter.; The Labour Union, Sedalia, Mo.; The Sheboygan, Sheboygan Falls, Wis.; The Voice of Labour, Springfield, Ills.; The Mail, Eldridge Building, Stockton, Cali.; The Labourer, Syracuse, N.Y.; The Industrial News, Toledo, Ohio.
It should be noted (1) that this is not a complete list, especially as regards the large number of German papers that are published weekly or daily, and are avowedly proletarian in character; (2) that probably each journal in the list is a genuine working-class paper, and not, like almost all our English so-called labour prints, a capitalist organ in disguise. Dealing, however briefly, with our recent tour through the States, involves a certain amount of personal reference only justifiable by the desire to show that we have had exceptional opportunities for observation during our stay in America. From September 10th to October 1st New York was our centre. During those three weeks large audiences were addressed in New York, its suburbs, and neighbouring towns to the number of some half-dozen. On October 2nd we left New York on a twelve weeks' tour, visiting in all some thirty-five places. This tour included the New England towns, the Lake towns, the West as far as Kansas City, whence we worked steadily back to New York.
In all these places at least one meeting was held, and in some places as many as four meetings. These were, with the very rarest exceptions, largely attended. In many places hundreds of people were unable to gain admission. The audiences were, without any exception at all, most attentive. We have never spoken to any audiences like the American for patience, fairness, anxiety to get at the meaning of the speaker. To say that all, or even the majority of the listeners agreed with the views laid before them, would be inaccurate. But to say that all gave a fair hearing, and that the majority at least understood what was meant, is to say the truth.
The fact is the American people were waiting to hear in their own language what Socialism was. Until this time its doctrines had been consciously and deliberately preached, as a rule, only by Germans. Of systematic and general declaration of them in the English tongue there had been practically nothing. This is the real significance Of the tour of 1886. For the first time the American public were brought clearly face to face with the principles of a teaching they had ridiculed and condemned without understanding.
That this is the case was shown by the tone of the press. Liebknecht our German friend and co-worker, and ourselves were, on our arrival in America, assailed with all the violence, virulence, and misrepresentation of which portions of the press of that country are capable. Our meetings, if reported at all, were dismissed in a few lines of inaccurate statement. Within three weeks all this was changed, and from that time to the end of the tour every leading newspaper in every town, from New York to Rockville, gave full and fair accounts of interviews, of the meetings, and of the speeches. Thus for some three months the American public had in town after town from one to three or four columns in each of the leading papers wholly given over to socialistic teaching, to say nothing of the countless leaders devoted to the demolition and advertisement of our doctrines.
And in every town we met, both in private and in public, the leading men and women in the various working-class organisations. Most of our days were spent in the presence of, and conversation with, the rank and file as well as the leaders of those organisations. Our position in respect to them was that of learners rather than of teachers. We were anxious to gather from them all the facts and generalisations possible. Some of these facts and generalisations, together with certain of our own observations, we now lay before the reader.
Chapter 01: General Impressions
THE first general impression left on the mind is, that in this country of extremes, those of poverty and wealth, of exploitation in its active and passive form, are more marked than in Europe. In America transition stages and classes are, for the most part, wanting. The extremes of temperature in one place, and the suddenness of the passage from one extreme to another, are quite unparalleled in England. Again, in America there seems to be no social and intellectual middle class. The cultured American is perhaps the most charming person on the face of the earth. The manners and customs of the average American, on the other hand, are, for the most part, indescribably unpleasant. Between these two there appears to be no mean. The middle class set of people that make up the majority of the English folk with whom we come into contact--that large number of quite ordinary but very pleasant, well bred, decently-read English people, with whom you can comfortably spend an evening, if you would not care to spend a life--are apparently almost unrepresented in America. It must he understood that in our strictures on the manners of the average American we are not dealing with the working classes. We were everywhere struck with the excessive kindliness and courtesy of the working men and women of America. In all places we found that there, whether they were officials like the tram conductors or our fellow-travellers in street or by car, set an example of good breeding that the American moneyed man and woman might do well to follow.
So is it also in class relations. There are in America far more trenchant distinctions between the capitalist and labouring class than in the older lands. This distinction is not, as in the latter, bridged over and refined down by many examples of intermediate classes. It stands out clearly and uncompromisingly. At the one end of the scale is the millionaire, openly, remorselessly crushing out all rivals, swallowing up all the feebler folk. At the other end is the helpless, starving proletarian. Towards this last the multitude of the people are gravitating, and they begin to see that they are gravitating thither. The real division of society into two classes, the labourer and capitalist, veiled in England and other European countries by the remains of old systems, by artificial classes of royalty, nobility, and so forth, in America stares one in the face. No such remnants of old systems, no surviving classes that belonged to these, exist in America. The capitalist system came here as a ready-made article, and with all the force of its inherent, uncompromising brutality, it thrusts on the notice of every one the fact that in society to-day there are only two classes, and that these are enemies.
With the more clear demarcation of these two classes, each the necessary complement of the other, there is also the more clear recognition of their antagonism. In England, to a large extent, the attempt to make the workers believe that there is a community of interests between them and their employers still succeeds. Not only do the employers make the men and women they own believe this; they actually persuade themselves to some extent that it is true. But in America this mutual deception is nearly at an end. The working men and the capitalists in the majority of cases quite understand that each, as a class, is the deadly and inexorable foe of the other; that no ultimate modus vivendi is possible between them; that the next years of the nineteenth century will be taken up chiefly by an internecine struggle, that will end, as the capitalists hope, in the subjugation of the working class; as the working men know, in the abolition of all classes.
The second general impression to be noted is this; that the condition of the working class is no better in America than in England. To this very important conclusion we have not so much come as we have been driven. We believe it to be absolutely irrefutable. The conclusion rests on foul main bases; (1) the evidence furnished by the daily press of America; (2) our own observations during fifteen weeks; (3) the evidence given by the hundreds of working men and women--Germans, English, Irish, and Americans--of whom we made careful and detailed inquiries; (4) statistics furnished by the Bureau of Labour Reports.
All four classes of evidence point to the same conclusion. Setting aside, in both countries, exceptional cases of great hardship or of notably high wage, and taking the average condition of the average wage-labourer in the two countries, his condition in the one is, to all intents and purposes, precisely as bad as it is in the other. In the present chapter we do not propose to give any of the evidence on which this generalisation rests. But in its successors we propose to deal at length with two classes only of that evidence. Certain details that came under our own personal observation will be given, and the statistics from the reports furnished by the Bureaus of Labour for the different States will be quoted at length. These last yield infinitely the most valuable results, for two reasons. First, they cover wide areas and numberless cases; secondly, they are official documents, unbased by any sentiment in favour of labour.
And here we are tempted to ask, "Where are the American writers of fiction?" With a subject, and such a subject, lying ready to their very hands, clamouring at their very doors, not one of them touches it. Even in England, where we have no novelist belonging to the schools of Henry James or W. D. Howells, some sort of attempt at dealing with the relative position of rich and poor, and even with their relative antagonism, has here and there been made. Charles Dickens, Walter Besant, Disraeli in "The Two Nations," whether they understood the real nature of the questions at issue or not, at least touched on them. But of the American novelists none of repute has pictured for us the New York or Boston proletariate. From a double point of view this seems strange. The American is nothing if not descriptive, photographic; and the society in the midst of which he lives cries aloud to be pictured by him. We have portraits of "ladies," of Daisy Millers, and so forth. But there are no studies of factory-hands and of dwellers in tenement houses; no pictures of those sunk in the innermost depths of the modern Inferno. Yet these types will be, must be, dealt with; and one of these days the Uncle Tom's Cabin of Capitalism will be written.
The third general impression is the prevalence of what we call unconscious Socialism. This unconscious sentiment is less prevalent in England than in America, simply because in the former country there has been of late years more clear and distinct preaching of the doctrines of Socialism, by voice and book, than in the latter. Within the last few years, in England, a considerable number of sentimental Socialists have been forthcoming. By sentimental Socialists we mean men and women who have felt that things were wrong, and felt that they ought to be righted. These, coming across the teachings of Socialism, which show why things are wrong, and how they are to be righted, have, without understanding these teachings, except imperfectly, yet felt their accuracy, felt that they offer at once the only explanation of the present, and the only solution of the future. Now, in England a large number of people feeling thus have declared themselves Socialists, and their Socialism is, even if it be! a little helpless, no longer unconscious.
But in America the opportunity that these have had and embraced, has not until quite recently been forthcoming. The popular idea of Socialism was everywhere there, as it is still to a large extent in England, one of misconception founded on misrepresentation. The placing of Socialism and its principles before the people has, however, been followed in America, as in England, by the discovery of a vast amount of this unconscious Socialism. Large numbers of persons, finding at last that Socialism does not mean equal division of property, nor the application of dynamite to capitalists, nor anarchy, have in town after town, by hundred upon hundred, declared, "Well, if that is Socialism we are Socialists."
It must not be, for one moment, imagined from this that the doctrines preached by us, as the mouthpieces for the time being of the Socialist party, were not revolutionary. These were, as all Socialist teachings must be, of the most revolutionary character. The mistake into which the Americans had fallen was the common one, that Anarchism is revolutionary. Anarchism is reactionary, and the Socialist labour party of America, like its most recent speakers, are not Anarchists because they are revolutionists.
Still more important than even the adhesion by word of mouth and in many cases by membership of so many unconscious Socialists of the sentimental type, was the significant discovery of the vast body of unconscious working-class Socialists. With these again it was the same story, but with a sequel the full meaning of which can only be grasped by those who know that the Socialist movement can never be a real one in any country until it is a working-class movement. The mass of the American working class had scarcely any more conception of the meaning of Socialism than had "their betters." They also had been grievously misled by capitalist papers and capitalist, economists and preachers. Hence it came to pass that after most of our meetings we were met by Knights of Labour, Central Labour Union men, and members of other working-class organisations, who told us that they, entering the place antagonists to Socialism as they fancied, had discovered that for a long time past they had been holding its ideas. Upon this, by far the most significant aspect of the widely-spread unconscious Socialism, we shall have more to say when we consider the working-class organisations in detail.
With the economic condition of the working class in America, with the chief working-class organisations, with the recent political movement, and with the leaders of that movement, we shall deal in the chapters that follow.
Chapter 02: The General Conditions of American Workers
THE average condition of the average wage-labourer in America is as bad as it is in England. In support of this, our chief evidence will be taken from the latest annual reports of the Bureau of Labour for the various States. For these reports, together with much valuable oral information, we are indebted to Colonel Carroll D. Wright, the head of the Massachusetts Bureau (the first established in America), from the time of its founding until now. Colonel Wright is also the head of the Central Bureau, established in 1884, at Washington. The work of this central office is the generalising the generalisations of the individual States, for the benefit of the Union as a whole.
Here is a list of the States in which these Bureaux are at work, with the date of the founding of each :--Massachusetts, 1869; Pennsylvania, 1872; Ohio, 1877; New Jersey, 1878; Missouri, 1879; Illinois, 1879; Indiana, 1879; New York, 1883; California, 1883; Michigan, 1883; Wisconsin, 1883; Iowa, 1884; Maryland, 1884; Kansas, 1885; Connecticut, 1685; and the "National Bureau," Washington, 1884.
On the value of these reports it is not necessary to dwell. But before passing to the consideration of the results yielded by them two statements may be made. First, these facts, figures, and comments call to mind in the most remarkable way the reports of the English Inspectors under the Factory and Mines Acts. It is impossible to read them without seeing the fatal similarity between the reports from England in the years 1834-66, and those from America of the years 1884-87. He that will compare the abstracts of these too-much-forgotten English reports given in Karl Marx' "Capital" (vol. i., chap. x.) with the quotations now given, will have no difficulty in seeing how stereotyped are the methods of the system of capitalist production. And he that will compare the picture drawn by F. Engels of the English Working Class in 1844 will see how absolutely parallel are the positions of the English workers in 1844 and of the American in 1887. With this difference. The American has the forty years' experience of his European brethren to teach him, and as Engels says, in America it takes ten months to do what in Europe takes ten years to achieve. Every word of Engels' Introduction, chapter after chapter, page after page of his book, by the simple substitution of "America" for "England," and "American" for "English," apply to the United States of to-day, and thanks to these forty years' experience, thanks to the higher development of the capitalist system, the concluding words of Engels' work are especially true of the America of our time. "The classes are divided more and more sharply, the spirit of resistance penetrates the workers, the bitterness intensifies, the guerrilla skirmishes become concentrated in more important battles, and soon a slight impulse will suffice to set the avalanche in motion."
(2) The other fact to be noted is that, with one exception, the whole of the Commissioners for the States whose reports we have examined are, as a result of their investigations, in favour of the views advocated by the intelligent of the working class, and opposed by the capitalist class as a body. And this result is not arrived at by any partial, or incomplete, or unfair statement of facts. With one exception, the most scrupulous honesty,and an almost pedantic accuracy of statement, and balancing of evidence are notable. The one exception is that of Mr. Frank A. Flower, the Commissioner for Wisconsin. He, to take but one example, sets an abstract of the opinion of 756 masters against an abstract of opinion of 12 men on the "eight hour" movement. Mr. Flower, of Wisconsin, is also the exception mentioned earlier to the general rule, that the Commissioners endorse the demands that labour is making at the hands of capital.
The evidence to be now given is arranged thus: --(1) Evidence of a general nature, necessarily worded with less of precision than is obtainable when actual facts and figures are dealt with; (2) Evidence as to the conduct of employers; (3) Evidence as to the wages, work, method of living of the employed; (4) Evidence as to female and child labour.
In studying this evidence we must remember that it applies almost wholly to the actual workers, and takes no account of the thousands who would work but cannot find anything to do.
(1) GENERAL.--In this connection we give (a) Certain quotations from the various reports on the general condition of the corking class; (b) Actual statements of comparison between England and America.
(a) Condition. Fall River (Massachusetts) :--"Every mill in the city is making money but the operatives travel in the same old path-sickness, suffering, and small pay." "There is a state of things here that should make men blush for shame" (Physician, p. 204). (Cotton Operative, pp. 137-8.) "Improved machinery and increased speed, while it increases the manufacturers' profits, and enables the operative to earn more money, yet gives the operative nearly one-third less for his work than formerly;... the operatives make more actual money, but they do so much more work for the increased money that they get less per yard than formerly" (Comm., p. 46). "Perhaps any of the evils which exist arise from... the increasing tendency to regard the operative simply as a wheel, or a pin to a machine. He is, in the eyes of employers, very much what a mule or spindle is, and no more.... It is the fault of the system, not of any man or set of men. They care not who or what the operative is, or where he lives, or what his character, except as any of these things bear on production. They may and do care as men, but not as agents, superintendents, or overseers.... We are preparing for New Liverpools, and New Lancashires on American soil, with ignorance, vice, and stupidity as the characteristics of the operative population" (Clergyman's evidence, quoted by Commissioner,. pp. 186, 187).
Kansas (State):--"Nearly all of our labouring classes here are as badly off as ourselves. What we are to do this winter I don't know. We would be thankful for another railroad wreck, if no one was hurt; it would be a Godsend to all of us" (Plasterer, p. 110). " The wage community in which I live is becoming worse; it is deplorable" (Tinner). "I find that times are getting worse as I grow older" (Teamster). "Corporations must be restrained in some way, or the working people will soon be beggars. I don't see how I am going to live through the winter, as I can get no work at any price" (Plasterer). For the last seven years things have been growing rapidly worse" (Stonemason). "Work is very slack at present" (Labourer). "Times are harder now than I ever knew before" (Labourer). "I was raised a slave. ... I was better off as a slave" (Farmer, pp. 119-122). "The condition of the labouring classes is too bad for utterance, and is rapidly growing worse" (p. 205). "The depression existing among our wage-workers" (the Commissioner himself, p. 226). "The condition of the wage-worker is worse than I thought, and deserves to be brought more prominently before the public" (One of the canvassers for the Bureau, p. 259). "It is useless to disguise the fact that out of this...enforced idleness grows much of the discontent and dissatisfaction now pervading the country, and which has obtained a strong foothold now upon the soil of Kansas, where only the other day her pioneers were staking out homesteads almost within sight of her capital city. (Comm., p. 226). ... And it should be born in mind that the settlement of Kansas was begun only thirty years ago, and men of middle age vividly recall the fact that this whole region was marked on the school-boy atlases as the great American desert" (Comm., p. 4).
We purposely give a number of quotations from the Kansas report, as Kansas is one of those fabled Western States as to which the emigrant agents wax eloquent. And in this connection the following facts that came within our personal observation of the much " boomed " Kansas City may be of interest. In districts still quite wild, at least an hour distant from the city, are wretched wooden shanties with three or four rooms. The ground on which these are built cost 600 dollars. The "houses" coat another 600, i.e., £ 240 for three-roomed huts, an hour's distance from the town, roadless, on the top of a bluff, and in a wilderness of mud. And the working men who build or hire these shanties must, in order to do so, mortgage heavily, and then become the mere bond-slaves of the large packing and other corporations that are "running" Kansas City as the "Western Chicago." It is also worth noting that the immense coloured population of Kansas is beginning to understand the wage-slavery question. "Their purpose" (i.e., of the "idle classes") "is to keep us poor, so that we shall be compelled to toil for their benefit. I know that our condition is growing rapidly worse, and serious results will surely follow if something is not done. The coloured people are getting awake on this matter. The time is past when they can be deceived. They are beginning to think for themselves" (Labourer and Minister, D. 253).
Pennsylvania:--" The rich and poor are further apart than ever before" (Commissioner, p. xiii.). "The condition of the labouring classes in this: city (Pittsburgh) is very bad; their wages are very low; they do not average six dollars a week the year round. Hardly enough to live" (Glass-blower, p. 133). "I have moved my residence five times during the year 1885, to keep myself in employment" (Coal-miner, Mercer County, p. 165). "I have never experienced such uneasiness in my life as at present, in trying to procure the necessaries of life" (Coal-miner, Westmoreland County, p. 164). "I am an American citizen....The miners are not making a decent living by any means, nor could they do so if they were working full time at the price now paid.... We do not get half a living....We are not paying our way, but going in debt every month" (Miner, Irwin, p. 179).
Michigan:--"Labour to-day is poorer paid than ever before; more discontent exists, more men in despair, and if a change is not soon devised, trouble must come....I am willing to work as most men are, and now it is time something was done" (Shoemaker in Factory, p. 165). "Employers appear to be trying to ascertain how little a working man can subsist upon, rather than to determine what rate of wages will enable them to procure their wares at the lowest net cost" (Accountant, p. 162).
Ohio :--" The American mechanic, subjected as he is to fluctuating extremes of climate, requires a variety of food, and nature has provided it for him; but does he get it in Ohio?...It can hardly be claimed that he does....Labour-saving machinery has been a blessing to humanity;...but if it has reached that point in development where it forces muscular labour into competition with it, how long will it be before it becomes a curse instead of a blessing? The answer must come from the manufacturers themselves. When man must die that trade may thrive, we have reached the danger Line to the republic, and the transition should be sudden and complete" (Comm., pp. 10, 95).
New Jersey:--"The struggle for existence is daily becoming keener, and the average wage-labourer must practise the strictest economy, or he will ~nd himself behind at the end of the season (Comm., p. 142). "I have in former years accumulated considerable, but now.., cannot make a cent above expenses" (Locksmith, Newark, p. 220).
(b) Comparison between England and America. Fall River:--"They are more tyrannical here in Fall River than they are in England. I always thought they were tyrants at home, but found out differently when I came here" (Cotton operative, p. 146). "The universal sentiment was that America, as presented by Fall River, was far behind England in the matter of the treatment of the operatives" (The Commissioner, p. 7).
New Jersey:--"I would like to go back to England again, as this country seems to be getting worse every day" (Paterson labourer, p. 228).
Pennsylvania:--" I was better off there [Durham, England] than I am here at the present time" (Miner, p. 123). "The wage-labourer is worse off in this country than in England" (Iron-worker, p. 128). "My condition there was as good as it is here....My candid opinion is that the working man in England is as well off as he is here" (Puddler, pp. 129-30). "Six years since I came to this country with wife and five children,... was able to pay their way over along with me, and had enough money left...to purchase all necessaries for housekeeping, furniture, tools, etc. To-day (though some of my family have grown up to help me a little), were I to sell off everything I am possessed of, I could not pay off the debts I owe, much less pay our way back to Europe" (Miner, p. 130, 131). "My condition was as good there [Wales] as in this country" (Miner, p. 136). "On the whole, I believe, they [in Scotland] are more contented" (Check-weighman, p. 176). "I was in South Wales. Was above my present condition" (Fire-boss, p. 177). "My condition there [Durham] was better than here for the last two years" (Miner, p. 178). "My condition, I think, was better off there [Scotland] than here" (Miner, p. 186). "I came to this country five years ago, and I can say, with a clear conscience, I never was in lower circumstances than I am at present" (Miner, p. 170). On the other hand, one or two miners say they are "better off" in America than in England, but these are, apparently, exceptions to the general rule.
Michigan:--"I did not find America as represented to us in England" (Labourer, p. 165).
From the Ohio report we take some very significant passages. They are of a much less general character than all the quotations thus far given, inasmuch as they deal with actual figures with such trifles as wages, working-time, duration of life. "The Ohio moulder earns eighty dollars more than the British moulder,"--but mark the sequel,--"he has corked 312 hours, or 35 day longer to do it....The American moulder dies before he reaches the age of forty, while his British prototype lives to be fifty years and eleven months" (p. 9). As sixteen is the age when in both countries the moulder begins moulding, "the American moulder has twenty-four years to work before death is sure to come, while the British moulder has thirty-five" (p. 9). "In a word, the European workman is a mechanic still, whilst the American workman has ceased to be a mechanic, and has become a machine" (Comm., p. 8).
Chapter 03: The Conduct of the Employers
ALL the Old World devices flourish rankly on American soil. Fines, payable in time or money, are exacted.
Lawrence:--"If a man or woman stops ten minutes, owing to a break, he or she will have to work twenty minutes' overtime to make up for it" (Cotton operative, p. 117). "If our average is not up to the standard of the mill, we are fined" (Cotton operative, p. 117). We may here say that in all the factory towns of New England that we visited, and notably at Rockville (Conn.), New Medford (Mass.), and Manchester (New Hampshire), these complaints as to fines were very general. A female " hand " at Rockville and several men at New Bedford assured us that often half their wages in the week went in fines, which were inflicted at the arbitrary whim of the superintendent.
Cheating in the good old-fashioned way, with certain modern improvements, is rife.
Fall River:--"The manufacturers take advantage of the length of cuts, and the numbers of the spun yarn" (Commissioner).... "The theory is that a 'cut' measures forty-five yards, and for a cut of forty-five yards the weaver is paid,...but the cuts in the cloth-room as they come from the mill...are marked all the way from forty-seven to fifty yards, being a gain or steal of from two to five yards on the part of the corporation" (Former operative, p. 162). The coarser and finer cottons are known as "counts." The pay is higher for, say, No. 45 (the finer), than for No. 38 (the coarser). "The overseers let the men spin the 45 counts, and call them 40's, several counts coarser than they really are."..."This system of cheating costs the spinners about a dollar a week each" (Commissioner, pp. 162-3).
New Jersey:--"Thirteen rasps to the dozen are required of me, while the firm sells but twelve" (File-cutter, p. 220).
Kansas:--This "cheating" goes on in all industries, but probably no one is cheated by his employer so openly and outrageously as the miner. In Kansas, where mining is not yet so developed or flourishing as in Ohio and Pennsylvania, "the miner gets pay for about one-third of his labour, as I know that they (the employers) ship twice as many nut and slack cars as they do lump; and for nut and slack the miner gets nothing, although they sell the slack for two to three cents a bushel, almost as much as they pretend to pay the miner (3 1/2 cents); and they sell the nut for about four to five cents. They exact eighty-five pounds lump coal from the miner, and sell to their customers eighty pounds to the bushel" (p. 138). "Coal is weighed after it is screened, and the miner gets two parts out of four" (p. 136).
Notices to Quit. Fall River:--"We always require ten days' notice; we have no occasion to give notice, for we discharge at once, without notice, any operative that does not do his work properly." "We always demand ten days' notice, but do not give it; if we want a man to go, he goes." "We give no notice to poor workers, who spoil work, or who are negligent" (p. 136). These three quotations are the answers of the treasurers of three different cotton mills. Working men and women--and not only those employed in mills--constantly complained to us of the arbitrary manner in which their employers discharged them.
Boycotting and the Blade List.--The virtuous masters hold strong views on the boycott. They also hold strong views on the black List. Unfortunately, the two sets of views are diametrically opposed one to the other. Those of the employers may be gathered from the Wisconsin report.
Wisconsin:--"Of the 304 discussing the boycott, 155 think we should have new laws defining the practice as a crime, and providing severe penalties for those who engage in it. On the other hand, 149 believe that our present statutes, together with the common law jurisdiction of courts, are sufficiently comprehensive to deal properly with the subject" (p. 389). Mr. Flower, with his usual spirit of fairness, does not give a single opinion of the workmen on the boycott.
As to the use of the employers' boycott, or the black list, a few quotations.
Fall River:--"Nearly all the Fall River operatives visited by the agent seemed to fear the possibility of the manufacturers discovering that they had given information.... Thirty members of the Spinners Union were on the black list, and could not obtain work in any mill in the city " (Commissioner, p. 153). The masters here quite candidly "own up," as they would say. " We " (says one of them) "started a secret service ... as it gave us the names and occupations of the most prominent in agitating strikes. There have been twenty-six male spinners black-listed since last fall" (p. 155). In Lowell and Lawrence there were no complaints as to the black list. Why? Because of the clever use by the masters of the discharge paper (the equivalent of the French livret). "The refusal to grant an 'honourable' discharge to an operative would have the same effect as entering his name on a black list" (Commissioner, p. 156). Method No. 3: "If they leave without a 'line,' at the pleasure of the overseer, their name is given to the agent:, and then sent around to all the other corporations, and then there is no more work for that operative" (Correspondent of the Commissioner, p. 210). Two other quotations in this connection as part of the evidence that might be given to show that the black list exists in all States.
Connecticut :--"The terrors of the black list, though sometimes exaggerated, have quite enough foundation in fact to make a workman hesitate before braving them." "The danger [of the black list] ...is to some extent real, and so serious as to make any man hesitate before incurring it. Let any capitalist ask himself candidly what he would do if he were in the workmen's place.... The individual employee ... is at the mercy of the employer" (pp. xxi., xxiii., xxiv.).
Michigan:--" The working men of Michigan have been invited ... to give us their answers;.... their failure to do so in large numbers may not be from indifference to the subject of labour, so much as from a feeling that possibly their information might expose their identity" (p. 140).
Ohio:--"Did his" [i.e., the workman who refuses to violate the law by refusing "truck" payment] "hardship end with a discharge, in ordinary times the calamity would not be serious. If our information be correct a discharge for this reason is a serious matter, for when he seeks employment elsewhere he finds his record, in this respect, precedes him, and unless labour is scarce, he seeks employment in vain" (Commissioner, p. 214).
New York, 1885:--"It will be noticed from the testimony on this point that many witnesses assert that they know of their own knowledge that men have been black-listed" (Commissioner, p. 301). The "testimony" referred to by the Commissioner is that of men belonging to well-nigh every possible trade (over twenty in number), from labourers down to journalists.
Ironclad Oath.--This is a pledge to be taken by the employe on entering service that he will belong to no working-class organisation.
New York State:--" Considerable complaint is made by the labour organisations of the State, that employers in some sections exact from those seeking work signatures to documents which stipulate that the signer is not, and does not contemplate joining, and will never join, a labour organisation " (Commissioner, p. 586). Here is a copy of an "oath" as drawn up by the Western Union Telegraph Co. of Jay Could: "I, , of , in consideration of my present re-employment by the Western Union Telegraph Co., hereby promise and agree to and with the said company that I will forthwith abandon any and all membership, connection, or affiliation with any organization or society, whether secret or open, which in any wise attempts to regulate the conditions of my services or the payment therefor while in the employment now undertaken. I hereby further agree that I will, while in the employ of said company, render good and faithful service to the best of my ability, and will not in any wise renew or re-enter upon any relations or membership whatsoever in or with any such organisation .-Dated, 1883. Signed, ; Address, (Seal)': (p. 587). "At the time of the plumbers' strike in June 1884 the following pledge was drawn up, and the men asked to sign it: 'I, , do hereby solemnly declare that I am not a member of any journeymen's organisation, and that I will not in the future join or become a member of any of the now existing journeymen's organisations. To the truthfulness of the foregoing declaration I hereby pledge my word and honour as a man": (p. 587) "To the employe's of the Warren Foundry. ... We request every man who has joined the above organisation (Knights of Labour) and wishes to continue in employ of the Warren Foundry to immediately free himself from a combination in hostility to the company.... If there are any not willing to do so, we request them to leave our premises.... Anyone not willing to conform to the above requests...will be summarily discharged.... Signed----, President, --, Superintendent" (Phillipsburg, 7th April, 1885, New Jersey Report, p. 220).
A personal reminiscence here may be indulged. In Springfield, Ohio, one William Whiteley (oddly enough) owns, with his brothers, nearly everything; the shops for the making of agricultural implements, the bodies of most of the working population, and their political souls. He is a great man on the iron-clad oath. All his men take it and break it. He has placarded in his workshops offers of ten dollars reward to any workman who will give information as to a fellow-workman belonging to a labour organisation. Over the entrance to his chief shop are the words, "Free and independent workmen only employed here."
On November 9th we were at the little town of Bloomington, Ill. Two of the most earnest of the many working men who helped in the announcement and noising abroad of the meeting in the Opera House at which we spoke, Eberding and Kronau, were, within a few hours of our leaving Bloomington, dismissed by their employers. They were noted as industrious, honest, sober men, and as two of the best workmen in the place. Their crime was talking an open interest in lectures on the condition of the working classes.
The "Truck" "Order" or "Scrip" System, as they sometimes call it in America, exists to a larger extent, and in more openly brutal fashion, than in any part of Great Britain.
Ohio:--"The man who compels his employe to take 'scrip' in payment of wages violates the statute". Of course "no direct compulsion is used, but, nevertheless, should an employe refuse or neglect to patronise the company's store, a hint is conveyed to him, in a roundabout way, that his prospects at the mine would be vastly improved by trading at the store of his employer. If this has not the desired effect, he is laid off for a few days, and then the hint is renewed, with the addition that this is the last chance. This failing, the next move is to make the miner's position so unpleasant by a system of persecution that life becomes a burden. Upon the finishing up of his room he is told there is no more work for him" (Miner, Shawnee, Perry County, p. 214). Here we may further add that in many cases, as the land and houses are also the property of the "corporations," there are only "corporation stores;" and, to quote Mr. NcHugh, the Commissioner for Ohio, "As some of them [i.e. employers] frankly confess, to cut off the profits of the store would destroy the most profitable part of their business " (Ohio Report, p. 217).
Kansas:--" Most of the miners have a company store, and if the miner don't do all his trading with them he is discharged.... The miner has to rent of the company, trade with the company, and be idle when they don't want him to work. If this is not slavery, what is it? ...Once get a miner here, and get him in debt to them and they own him. If·he has a family he can't get enough ahead to get away" (Miner, Crawford, p. 38).
Michigan :-" The greatest difficulty that the wage worker has to contend with, in my opinion, is the custom of many firms doing business on what is called the 'white horse' plan--that is, orders" (Machinist, p. 161). "The order system, which is in vogue in the north of the State,... is nothing but it a system of robbery" (Carpenter, p. 161). "I could take the cash and go among the farmers, and buy what they have to sell for one-third, and sometimes one-half what we have to pay the company. My book account at the store shows one dollar per bushel for potatoes, which did not cost the company more than twenty-five cents" (Saw Mill Labourer, pp. 161-2). "I worked all last summer in same shop as at present, and only received thirty dollars in cash during the entire year" (Cooper, p. 162). "I have tried the store-order system, and have proved by actual figures that I can buy for 30 per cent. less than for orders" (Marble Cutter, p. 162).
Pennsylvania :--"We have a company's store here, and are expected to deal in it" (Miner, Allegheny County, p. 123). "... The company's stores, where nearly all the employes are compelled to deal. The reason I said 'if there is anything due,' is because the company deducts the store bill, rent, doctor, [the company deducts seventy-five cents per month for medicine and medical attendance], coal, etc., from the men. It is seldom a married man has any pay to get, especially an outside labourer" (Labourer, Carbon County, pp. 152, 153).
Trusteeing is another form of this robbery of the employed by the employer. It is practically a mortgaging of wages to a shopkeeper for goods supplied. How this reacts on man and master may be seen from two quotations. Fall River·:--"When a man is trusteed twice he is discharged, because it causes the book-keeper trouble, and the agent is apt to imagine the man is dishonest. Then they take every cent of his money here" (Cotton Operative, p. 20). "The system enables the labourer to get credit--at exorbitant prices--and so live ahead of his earnings; second, the lawyers in Lowell add their fee to the cost, and collect it of the defendant, which is contrary to law" (p. 205).
Violation of the Laws.--In America, as in England, the employer does not scruple to break all or any of the laws for the protection of the labourer. " Laws in several states have been passed, aiming at the removal of the truck and Company-store system. · · · There is yet, however, too much evasion of these laws " (First Annual Report by the Commissioner of Labour, Washington, p. 244).-- Ohio:--"We have personally and by letter caused complaints to be made to the prosecuting attorneys in four counties of the State, where flagrant violations of this law" [i.e., concerning the truck system] "were of almost hourly occurrence, and with the exception of Perry Country, so far as we are advised, not one case of this kind has been made the subject of investigation by grand juries.... If a hungry man steals: a ham, and forces a lock or pries open a door to do it, it is burglary, and a prosecuting attorney will take special delight in having him sent to the penitentiary for it; but for the man who pays his men in 'scrip' and thus indiscriminately robs the helpless families of his employes prosecuting attorneys have 'nought but smiles and pleasant greetings,' as though those upon whom these men were depredating were entitled to no protection, and wealth could do no wrong" (Comm., p. 216). Fall River:--"There should he a compliance by the large manufacturing establishments with the ten-hour law, which has never yet been enforced" (Correspondent of Commissioner, p. 190). " A member of a city Board of Health ordered a wealthy house owner to abate a nuisance in a tenement block. The owner paid no attention until the order was made imperative. Then, instead of complying with the law, he visited the other members of the board, and said that the first member was persecuting him, and letting others go who were just as bad. By a vote of two to one he was given six months more time" (Commissioner, p. 72).---Connecticut :--" There are, in the United States to-day, a great many instances of laws unenforced. ...Violations of the foreign contract labour law.... go on from month to month'' (Commissioner, p.xxi). These violations of the law by the lawmakers are most frequent in mines, for the sufficient reason that these are the working places most; out of sight.---"We see them [the Labour Laws] violated every day, and no penalty inflicted for violating the same" (Miner, p. 125).--Pennsylvania:--"Others" [i.e., companies) "are shielding themselves behind the technicality that the miners have not requested them individually to send in their props, also giving length, number, and size of the required props. I think this is a poor excuse, as the meaning of the law undoubtedly is that all companies and parties interested shall live up to its spirit" (Commissioner, p. 137a). In this same report there are some half-dozen terrible lists of accidents to miners, and the practically unanimous testimony of miners and Commissioners is that the majority of these would not have occurred had the laws been carried out by the masters and overseers. One of the main reasons why labour laws are thus violated is, in America as in England, the small number of Inspectors. "Laws do not execute themselves," writes Mr. McHugh. "A law... proved to be inoperative owing to no public official being specially required to enforce it. ...we do not believe that any inspector can make four inspections to each mine yearly " (Comm., p. 80b). "We are told there is a mine Inspector somewhere in Kansas" (says a Kansas witness, p. 138 of the Report), "but unless Governor Glick saw him come and draw his pay, I know that he was not seen in his official capacity by any miner in Leavenworth." It is satisfactory to learn from the Commissioner that since this statement was made the Leavenworth miners "have seen the mine Inspector in his official capacity." Complaints of a like nature were made to us in factory towms in New England, in mining districts like La Salle (Illinois), and in New York State. Summing up the whole question of this violation of laws, the Ohio Commissioner says: "We, in America, boast of our superiority in the freedom and democracy of our institutions, and our respect for the laws made by the representatives of the people, and that all laws regularly enacted are entitled to obedience and respect until declared unconstitutional by the courts.... But if the manner in which the scrip law in Ohio is enforced and respected should be taken as evidence against us, would we not have to hang our heads in shame, and acknowledge that our boasted veneration for law is but a sham and a delusion, and that statutes that put a curb on our cupidity have no binding force or effect, and were only enacted for the purpose of pandering to a sentiment?" (Comm., p. 228).
Wherever there is any difficulty in getting information for the Bureaux of Labour, the masters are its cause. Either the men are afraid of the black list if they tell the truth, or the masters actually refuse to give any information to the Commissioners.---0hio :--"Many of those who refuse to give information asked by the Bureau are corporate companies, who owe their existence to, and are maintained and protected in every right by, a law enacted by the same power that created the Bureau. They preach law, but do not practise it, and the Bureau is powerless to compel them to do so" (Commissioner, p. 150).
As final evidence of the moral tone of the employers, two last quotations.--Fall River:--"This feeling [of national antagonism] is fostered by the manufacturers in the belief that by causing dissensions among the help [hands] it would interfere with their joining hands on any question of labour reform" Commissioner, p. 14).--- Pennsylvania :--"It is not the widows and orphans that are the masters' chief concern [in employing children], but rather their zealous worship of the almighty dollar (Commissioner, P· 80b.)
Chapter 04: Wages, Work, Method of Living
THE wages of the American labourer, as measured in terms of money, are generally higher than in England. Against this, however, must be set the greater expense of living and rent, the longer working hours, and above all the greater intensity of the labour in America. With each of these we shall deal directly. Here, therefore, only one or two general notes on the amount of wage, and especially on the time of payment.----Fall River:--"The average wage in Fall River is nine dollars a week. For a single man ... this is scarcely sufficient' (Commissioner, p. 28)---Kansas:--"It is hard work to earn 1 dollar per day" (Tailoress, p. 118). "A man with a family working, as I have to, for 1 dollar 25 cents per day can barely live " (Labourer, p. 118). "it will be seen that the highest daily average wages paid any one trade ... is to bricklayers yearly earnings 425 dollars (£8;)."..."Stone cutters average next highest yearly earnings 415 dollars 71 cents. Iron servants 511 dollars 11 cents " " The average annual earnings...as a fair average of the general earnings throughout the State, 333 dollars 9 cents." Michigan--"Average wages paid to 549 persons, 1 dollar 67 cents per day" (Commissioner, p. 141).
Our own inquiries in the lumber districts showed that the average wage per day was 40 to 90 cents the average time of employment six months in the year.
Pennsylvania :--" Average highest wages to miner, 2 dollars per day, ... labourers 1 dollar 40 cents, boys 50 to 60 cents per day. Idle Days, 111 (Comm., p. 8a). "I will risk my life on the assertion that the last figures (270 dollars wages for the year to miners, Somerset County are at least 10 per cent. above the average earnings in this region, except one mine" (p. 170). ----New Jersey:--"The daily wages for skilled. miners 1.20 to 1.50 (dollars); for ordinary labour 1 dollar to 1.25; boys 55 to 75 cents.... In some of our mines the wages during the year were reduced to 90 cents per day" (Commissioner, pp. 281, 291). "My actual earnings last year were but 100 dollars, while the cost of living was 400 " (Paterson, p. 227). "Wages have been reduced 50 per cent. in three years" (Silkworker, p. 226). The average wage throughout the Unites States, according to the last census, was 1 dollar 15 1/2 cents per worker per day, a sum which every one to whom we spoke, employer and employed alike, declared wholly insufficient to "keep a family " in the States. And we should bear in mind that this: "average" includes some exceptionally well-paid men, and takes no account of the thousands of unemployed who would work if they could. Tile New York Commissioner touches the heart of the question of wages in the following passage:--"While the fixing of wages is left to the employer alone,... the only limit to reduction is starvation " (p. 611).
One great source of grievance among the workers lies in the fact that in many cases the wages are paid not weekly but, fortnightly or monthly. --Kansas:--"Employes are kept out of their pay for too long a period, especially by railroad corporations.... Most ... of the railroad companies keep back from fifteen to twenty days' pay" (Tinsmith, p. 118) "A man ... has to wait 50 days before he receives a cent of wages, and then he only gets pay for 30 days, leaving the proceeds of 20 days' labour in the company's hands till he quits their employ " (Railroad Labourer, p. 119). "I find that the amount of wages thus retained from month to month by the companies is reported as representing from fifteen to twenty days' labour. ... The poorest paid and most, numerous class ...are thus unable to exist from pay-day to pay-day without credit" (Commissioner, p. 228).---Michigan:--~"Of 520 labourers asked, 'Are you paid weekly, fortnightly, or monthly?' 116 answered weekly, 32 fortnightly, 177 monthly, 28 whenever I want it, 137 no regular pay-day" (Commissioner, p. l5l). " How long are wages withheld:'' 'A week to ten days' (Mason). ,Sixty to ninety days' (Labourer). 'One month' (Fireman). 'Ninety days' (Carpenter, labourer, farm labourer). 'Sometimes three months' (Engineer). 'As long as they are able to keep it' (Machinist). 'Six months to a year' (Single sawyer). 'Seven months' (Sawmill labourer). 'Sometimes for life'" (Carpenter) (pp. 152, 153).--Connecticut :--"Of the factory operatives a little less than two-fifths are paid weekly, a little more than two-fifths monthly, most of the others fortnightly" (p. ix.). In Pennsylvania monthly payments prevail in the coal regions, elsewhere fortnightly. "When one starts to work it is sometimes seven weeks before he gets any pay". (Miner, p. 163).
(b) Working Time.--As to the length of this per day, let us take the State of Connecticut as a fair general type of the New England cotton factories, which have been, to some extent, influenced by legislation. Of 65,627 hands...about 5 per cent. were employed 54 hours (per week); a little over 22 per cent. from 55 to 59; over 56 per cent. 59 1/2 or 60 hours; 16 per cent. (10,602) more than 60 hours; "12 per cent. of the men, 22 per cent. of the women, and 34 per cent. of the children are employed more than 10 hours daily. On the other hand, 30 per cent. of the men, 28 per cent. of the women, and only 11 per cent. of the children are employed less than 10 hours daily." ... (Comm., p. xv.). --New Jersey :---"In England, they" (silk-workers) "work only 54 hours, here we have 60," (Silkworker, Patterson, p. 226).
One or two special cases taken from other callings. --Fall River--" "Tram-drivers 15 hours per day. Kansas street car conductor 16 and 17 hours a-day. But the most unfortunate of these wretched car-servants are the drivers of the so-called 'bob-tail' cars. On these there are no conductors, and the one man-not driving, be it remembered, as, for example, the Blackfriars Bridge cars, a short and stated distance, but often from one end of a town to another--has to drive, collect money, give change, stop for the passengers who wish to alight or who wish to ascend, keep his accounts 'made up,' and this for 16 to 18 hours a-day. And for such hard work the men do not get enough, as a Milwaukee driver told us, to 'keep their families."'--New York:--"Bakers 16 hours for 6 days; they always, without exception, work Sunday; it amounts to 14 per day" (p. 327). --Wisconsin :--"Labourer, on the Menominee River, "17 hours per day."---Pennsylvania:--"Here I see men working 14, 16, and 18 hours, and I know that some of them go into the mines on Sunday, trying to make a living and cannot, while their employers own Sunday-schools, churches, preachers, Government bonds,... with yachts, steamboats, orange plantations, and are very rich" (Iron-worker, p. 128).----"We worked 6 hours per day in England, here we work from 10 to 12 hours a day" (Miner, p. 160).----"In England... there is more leisure time for culture" ... (Miner, p. 145). "In England I worked 6 hours per day,...here a miner...has to work all the hours God sends --in fact, make a beast of himself or starve" (p. 131).
The eight-hours' working day is declared for with a practical unanimity by the working men and by the Commissioners. In the Kansas report the answers from men belonging to 18 different trades are given. They all declare for shorter hours of work, and 12 of the 18 for an eight-hour day.--Wisconsin:--Of the 12 men against the 756 masters, 10 are for 8 hours, 1 for 9 hours, and 1 against reduction. Of the 756 masters, 437 were against the reduction of the working day to 8 hours, 68 were for it, 20 indefinite, 233 silent.----New York:--" The most remarkable feature of tile investigation in New York city was the unanimity with which the witnesses answered interrogations in regard to shorter hours of labour. They invariably expressed themselves in favour of shortening the working day:' (p. 151).----The Pennsylvania Commissioner will make a good end to this set of quotations:--"That eight hours will in the not distant future be the standard measure of a day's work is, in my opinion, beyond doubt" (p. 15).
In America, as in England, a large number of the working men are in enforced idleness through part of the year. We are not speaking here of the great army of the perennially unemployed, but of those who would be said even by the capitalist class to be workers.---Kansas (Miners):--"This mine has probably worked half-time during the year." "At present we are working half-time " (p. 136). "A printer whose lost time during the last year was six months" (p. 204). A coloured woman, seamstress: "My husband is over one-half of his time idle through inability to get work" (p. 206). A summary on page 258 shows that in Topeka, in 1885 of 660 skilled workmen, 156 worked only part of the time, 108 had no work; of 572 labourers 77 worked only part of the time, 113 had no work. "Skilled and unskilled workmen...out of employed..... over 1 in 5" (p. 259). Important figures, since we are constantly told both in Europe and America that "skilled labour" is always certain of employment "out West."--New Jersey :--" The locomotive works in Paterson, at one time employing 3,500 men, has not given work to 500 during the last year and a half. Many of the ironworkers, machinists, blacksmiths, etc., could be seen around the city hose-house,... trying to get a few weeks' work on the streets.... But there were always four times more than were necessary" (p. 218).-- Michigan:--"I am out of employment so long that I am sick and tired of looking for work " (Machinist). "I am willing to do any kind of work, but am unable to secure work at any price" (Carpenter). "Cannot get, employment only about two or three days in a week" (Painter). "I only had a very little work last summer" (Labourer). "My position as a wage-worker is rather blue at present, because there are so many men that are out of employment " (Wood-worker). " Am out of work at present, and no prospect of any work" (p. 160). We quote from the report on " Industrial Depression ":--"Out of the total number of establishments, such as factories, mines, etc., existing in the country during the year ending July 1st, 1885, 7 1/2 per cent...were idle or equivalent to idle.... There were in round numbers 255,000 such establishments employing upwards of 2,250,000 hands.
.... Then there were possibly 19,125 establishments idle or equivalent to idle, 168,750 hands out of employment, so far as such establishments were concerned during the year considered" (p. 65).
To the displacement of human by machine labour not a little of this enforced 'idleness" is due. How many skilled workers have, during the last few years, been driven into the ranks of the unskilled and unemployed in America, will be better appreciated from the following facts--taken from Colonel Wright's Report on Industrial Depressions, l886, pp. 80-86--than from anything we could ourselves say on the subject. In the manufacture of agricultural implements, during the last 15 or 40 years, machinery has displaced "fully 50 per cent. of muscular labour." In manufacture of small arms displacement of 44 to 49 men in one "operation." Boots and hoe...in some cases, 80 per cent, displaced, in others 50 to 60. "Within the past 30 years," says: one Philadelphia manufacturer, "machinery has displaced about 6 times the amount of hand labour required." Broom industry, 50 per cent. Carriages and waggons, 34 per cent. Carpets, weaving, spinning, and all the proceses together, displaced 10 to 20 times the number of persons now necessary.... In spinning alone 75 to 100 times the number. Hats, di placement, 9 to 1. Cotton goods, within 10 years 50 per cent. (in New Hampshire). Flour, nearly three-fourths of the manual labour displaced. Furniture, one-half to three-fourths. Leather-making, 50 per cent. Metals, and metallic goods, one man with one boy can produce as much as was formerly produced by 10 skilled men. One boy running a planing machine does the work of 25 men. In the Hocking Valley, mining coal by machines, 160 men do the work of 500. Oil industry, Penn., 5,700 teams of horses, and double that number of men, displaced. Wall-paper, displacement, 100 to 1. Railroad supplies, 50 per cent. Silk manufacture, general manufacture, 40 per cent.; weaving, 95; winding 90. Woollen goods; carding, 33 per cent.; spinning, 50; weaving, 25. "This is during the last few years only ... machinery in spinning and weaving has displaced 20 times the hand labour formerly employed."
The stealing of the employees time goes on just as criminally in America as in this country.--- Fall River:--"An operative said, ' ... if the super- intendent takes ten minutes in the morning, fifteen at noon, and five at night, it is nobody's business'" (p. 109). " Clocks have been put back half an hour, and where a mill with 2,000 looms does a thing of this kind the steal amounts to something" (Former Operative, p. 109). " As a rule, they " [the spinners] "all go into the mill half an hour before starting-up time ... then at noon they must clean up, and that takes all the dinner-hour, so that they rarely get out of the mill during the day" (p. 115). This "stealing on time" is the nibbling and cribbling of time:' denounced in England by Leonard Horner. (See "Capital," p. 226.)
(c) Intensification of labour.--This, more than anything, distinguishes the American labourer from the British. Every one of the many working men and women of every calling that had come from England, to whom we spoke in America, laid stress on the fact that the workers in the New World had to do more work in a given time. "Until I came here," said one of them, "I did not know what hard work was;" and our friend P. J. Maguire, one of the most experienced and active labour organisers, told us that it usually " took months" before the British worker could be "broken in to the style of work in America." They must keep up art awful strain or drop out of the race----Fall River :--"I saw on the sheet in a certain mill, written opposite the name of a female weaver, 'a lazy weaver,' and opposite another, '5 1/2 cuts, or get out' " (p. 113). "We used to get off twenty-eight thousand in a week, now we get off thirty-three thousand under the ten-hour law:' (p. 47).---Ohio:-- "By having the work made at such prices ... a moulder would be obliged to do two days' work for one day's wages" (Superintendent Machine Shop, p. 10). "The 'hurry and push' that has been introduced of late years into the American workshops ...··(p. 10). "in fact the workers state that the 'grinding' or 'driving' was almost beyond human endurance:' (Fall River, p. 156).
(d) Method of Living.--A few words on the horrors of the tenement houses. New York city is especially the home of these dens.----New York:--In 1883 there were 25,000 tenement houses, with 1,000,000 inhabitants. As to the overcrowding, it is estimated that 18,996 tenement houses accommodate fifty people each, and not a few of these contain three times as many. "I have seen a family of six and even eight people living in the customary front and 'inside' room. Where they all slept was a mystery, but that a portion of them were obliged to sleep on the floor seemed the only explanation. The temperature of these rooms is excessive, and while the smell of sewer gas is in itself obnoxious, it becomes simply refreshing when compared with the stifling fumes that seem to permeate every nook and corner of these dilapidated tenements. They cook, eat, and sleep in the same room, men, women, and children together. Refuse of every description makes the floors damp and slimy, and the puny, half-naked children crawl or slide about in it" (Commissioner, pp. 174, 179). "These people very seldom cooked any of their meals.... I have seen large accumulations of tobacco scraps and tobacco stems which, having long lain in that way, have become putrid; in one instance I ran the point of my shoe into a mass of this kind to see what it really was, and it was filled with vermin " (Evidence of Cigar Maker on Tenement House Cigar Factories. Report for 1884, p. 154).----In other towns and cities besides New York city, both in New York and, other States, the like is to be seen. Pennsylvania:--"I know of forty people living in a little house of three rooms. It is a common thing for seven people to live in one room" (p. 128).--Fall River:--"The Granite Mills houses were the best in the city "--and yet--"sixteen houses use the same privy, and the stench in summer is unbearable" (Weaver,p. 81). "The inhabitants of Norombega Block (Lowell, Mass.) have to carry their refuse of all kinds, and human excrements, save when they throw it between the two blocks...into Austin Avenue for deposit" (Comm., p. 91). "These tenements are... bad, morally as well as in a sanitary point of view " (p. 84). "The tenements throughout the city are in a very poor condition" (Cotton Spinner, p. 80). " 'Dirty,' 'foul odours,' 'wretched and dirty,' 'excessively filthy,' such are the terms in which the Commissioner speaks of the Fall River tenements. Some of the very worst are those owned by the corporations, and the 'hands' are forced to live in them." "When a man is employed by a mill he is compelled to move into their tenaments. Their breakfast depends on their moving in, and their life on their moving out. The recent strike at the Chace Mills was caused by the refusal of a newly engaged man to more out of a private tenement and into one of the company's. He did not consider it fit to live in, so refused, and was discharged, and for no other reason" (p. 84).
For these "filthy," "dirty," "wretched" houses exorbitant rents are changed. And as to the landlords of these miserable dwellings: "It would seem, says the New York Commissioner, "as if a spirit of common humanity would prompt the owners of such property to prevent a continuance of these awful health-destroying and disease-infecting cesspools. Humanity, however, has little or nothing to do with the case. The main and all-important question with these people seems to he to get the largest possible revenue from their wretched rookeries with the least possible outlay" (New York Report, 1886, p. 177) " The Harris Block on Hall Street (Lowell) is owned by a man who gives his name to the block, and in the census of 1880 it was found that in the 36 tenements there were 396 persons in the 36 families.
The owner of the block pays a ground rent of 260 dollars per year, and receives an average rental from each tenement of 8 dollars; the total for one month, 288 dollars, more than covering his yearly land rent" (Fall River, Comm., p. 92). " They are not as good as we would like to have them, but good enough for the operatives" (Cotton Manufacturer, . 83).
As to the question of food. The verbal testimony of the English in America to us was always in effect that food cost as much in America as in England, or more in America than in England. But there is another aspect of this question generally forgotten: that is, not what the food costs, but what can the labourer afford to spend per day upon it.---0hio:--" Wards of the State" [the people in the punitive, reformatory, and benevolent institutions] "cost for subsistence per head 16+, cents per day. For the purpose of subsistence the working people spend 13 9/10 cents per day per person " (p. 95). Of course, in the former case the food is bought wholesale, and in the latter retail.
The food question leads to that of drink. In America, as in England, there are not wanting people, even among the working classes, who, confusing effects and causes, explain the miserable condition of the workers by the fact that they will drink. Of sixteen Kansas labouring men, seven declare for temperance as necessary if the cause of labour is to succeed, and four others are anxious for prohibition. A waggon-maker says, however, "I don't think this howl about the working man spending so much for whiskey is truthful....I am confident that the proportion is much less than it is among any other class--business men, for instance." A printer puts the matter in the right light. "I will admit that we should preach and practise temperance, but there are other evils that we have got to fight" (pp. 120, 121). A doctor, quoted in the Fall Hiver Report, takes what Colonel Carroll Wright calls "a more philosophical view of the cause and the tendency of the evil." "I must admit that the system of overworking the operatives is so debilitating as to seem to make necessary the use of some kind of stimulant, and could that necessity be met by a very moderate use of beer and spirits all might be well" (p. 176). Say the Cotton Operatives: "The 'drive' they are subjected to leads them to take a stimulant in order to recuperate their energies" (p. 62).
Chapter 05: Women and Child Labour
The employment of the labour of women and children has, in America as in England, two chief causes that react one on the other. By their employment the capitalist obtains labour at a cheaper rate, and the poverty of the labourer's family forces the weaker members of it to seek for work. "And this employment of women and child labour has assumed alarming proportions, relatively larger ... than in Europe" (New Jersey Report, p. 265).
The employer prefers to employ women and children. Fall River:--"We never employ men when we can get women who can do their work just as well. This is done, not only on account of the reduced expenses, but because they cause less trouble by striking, or by finding unnecessary fault " (Superintendent, p. 192). A Lawrence weaver said: " One of the evils existing in this city is the gradual extinction of the male operative.... Within a radius of two squares in which I am living, I know of a score of young men who are supported by their sisters and their mothers, because there is no work in the mills for them" (p. 11).---New Jersey:-- "Woman and child labour is much lower priced than that of men,.., the hours of labour are longer and the rate of wages less, women never agitate, they merely 'toil and scrimp, and bear"' (New Jersey Report, 1884, Commissioner, p. 265). "Women, however, are learning that they must agitate, and that the highest virtue is not to 'scrimp, and toil, end bear.' " According to the just-issued New Jersey Report, "Since the girls have joined the Knights of Labour here (Vineland) they make the same wages as the men" (Commissioner Report, 1886, p. 188). In some cases the women are certainly employed on work of too arduous a nature.--Pennsylvania:--"That women have been permitted to perform the severe manual labour generally apportioned to men [in mines] is true.... The owners did not directly hire the women, but must have been cognisant of the facts" (Commissioner, B.).--Women's time is stolen, and their lives risked like those of the men. Utica, New York State:--"Question: 'Was it not the custom to go in before the starting time to clean machinery?' Answer (female weaver): 'Yes, sir, it was.' Question: 'Did you get paid extra for it.' Answer : "No, sir; and the girls used to clean their looms while running, at the risk of getting their hands taken off"' (New York, 1884, p. 127). When they are employed st work for which they are supposed to be fitted the wages are terribly low.---New York (Report for 1885): "An expert [at crotcheting ladies' shawls] could earn 123 cents for a day's labour." "The half-starved, overworked seamstress ... pays for the machine by which ..· she is enabled to make pants for 1 dollar 50 cents a dozen. Vests st 15 cents a piece. It is this slave-ridden and driven woman that, in case of fire, is held responsible for the goods that my be destroyed in her awful rookery home." Collar and cuff makers, "Women pay out of their wages about 75 dollars per year for thread." Tailoress earns "four months a-year 3 dollars per week. The place is in a horrible condition." Shirt ironers, wages 1 dollar 25 to 1·50 per week. Gloves per dozen, 90 cents. "Millinery, 12 cents a day....Firm pays every two weeks:' The law demands that in certain occupations seats shall be provided for the women employed. The seats are provided--but "the spirit of the law is absolutely defied and set at nought by, the refusal of employers to allow these women to occupy them." In America, as in England, the sweater "lives on the woman's earnings, literally on her sweat and blood." Ladies' under-garments, 30 cents per dozen; small size, 15 cents per dozen. Wrappers, 1 dollar per dozen. Cloak working, women employed by the great dry goods stores--full day's pay--. .. 50 to 60 cents. ... Shirts, 75 cents to 1 dollar 50 cents per dozen. Of 1,322 women 27 earned 6 dollars a week; 6 earned 5; 127 earned 4; 534 earned 1 dollar. Women in factories are fined on every possible pretext. If found with a paper in their hands, sometimes as high as 2 dollars, and for being late as much as 1 dollar. There is no tired amount, whatever may occur to the foreman or superintendent. ... Fines for being five minutes late, in a silk weaving factory 25 cents, and half hour's time; for washing your hands 25 cents; eating a piece of bread at your loom 1 dollar; also for imperfect work, sitting on a stool, taking a drink of eater, and many trifling things too numerous to mention." Matters are just as bad in other large cities as in New York. For instance in Philadelphia, ladies' wrappers are made for 60 cents per dozen. The best wages paid do not go beyond 5 dollars per week. Plain jerseys bring 37 cents per dozen, the maximum earning per week reaching 4 dollars. Overalls are made for 5 cents a pair; an active worker can turn out ten pairs a day. Long aprons, called "nurse aprons," with a deep hem all around and two tucks at the bottom, bring 35 cents a dozen. By working from 5.30 in the morning till 7 at night, two dozen can be made in a day. The average wages paid to saleswomen and girls employed in clerical work does not exceed 5 dollars per week. On this they have to dress well in order to keep their position. Board and room at the lowest figure is 3 dollars, not counting laundry work, which has also to come from the 5 dollars. The sanitary condition of the workshops and factories is described as very bad, and "calls for immediate reform." In many factories where men and women are employed there are no separate closets for the women, and many modest girls risk their health on this account. Then the 'hands' are locked into the rooms. We ourselves were shown such a room where a number of unhappy girls had been burnt to death through such locking of the doors." Of the " peculiar abuses" to which these women are subject a few acre mentioned by the Commissioner: "Artificial flowers: Poisoned hands and cannot work. Had to sue the man for 50 cents." Saleswoman: "No ventilation and have to use gas or electric light all day." Shoes: " Water in fire buckets is not often changed. It is frequently green with age." Gents' ties: "Work in basement with gas light." "One hundred women and small girls work in a cellar without ventilation, and electric light burning all day." "In certain workshops there are facilities for washing, but if caught washing fined" (Comm., pp. 147--162). If the workshops and factories are in this condition, it will easily be imagined what the "homes " and the " house-labour" of these women are like. "No words of mine," Mr. Peck says, speaking of the tenements and their female occupants, "certainly can convey to the public any adequate conception of the truly awful condition of thousands of these suffering people" (p. 164). "A room on the attic floor of a wretched old rookery in Heater Street... was possibly ten feet square. The ceiling was low and slanting, and its only source of light was through the begrimed panes of glass of a small gable window opening on the roof.... The air was stifling... and odoriferous with sewer gas. Piled upon the door were stacks of cloaks ready to be put together. The women (a number of cloak makers) were scantily clad, their hair was unkempt, and their pale, abject countenances, as they bent over their work, formed a picture of physical suffering and wane, that I had certainly never seen before. ... They were working as if driven by some unseen power; but when I learned that they were enabled to earn 50 cents for sixteen and perhaps more hours' Labour per day, it needed no further investigation to convince me that the 'unseen power' was the necessity of bread for their own and their children's mouths. The style and quality of the cloaks upon which these women were at work was of the latest and best. They were lined with quilted silk or satin, and trimmed with sealskin or other expensive material, and found ready sale in the largest retail stores of the city, at from 35 dollars to 75 dollars each. Two of these women could manage by long hours and the most diligent application to turn out one cloak per day, and the price received was 1 dollar or 50 cents a piece. This," adds the Commissioner, "is not a fancy picture nor is it an exceptional case." In another such room where also the "temperature was next to suffocating and dense with impurities ... on one end of the table, at which four of these women sat, was a dinner pail, partially filled with soup,--that is what they called it,--and a loaf of well seasoned bread. These two sumptuous courses, served wit·h one spoon and one knife, satiated the thirst and hunger of four working women." A trained seamstress said: "I have sat steadily at the machine from six o'clock in the morning till one o'clock at night--and I sew rapidly-and yet only make 25 cents a day." But "the most deplorable aspect of woman's labour is to be found among those unfortunates who, having no specific calling, are forced to seek casual labour ... at scrubbing or washing.... Visits have been made to these women's resorts of which it can only be said that the condition of debasement is beyond description if not belief.... In a single tenement house on the west side of New York...a building five stories in height, very narrow, and with an extremely shabby exterior. The main entrance was not over three feet in width, and the stairs were uncomfortably steep, and hardly admitted of the passage of two persons. They were lighted (?) from a very small and dirty skylight set in the roof, and barely discernible by reason of the accumulated cobwebs and dust· of generations....The case of one family found living on the fifth or attic door was of a character to touch even the most hard-hearted. My knock on the door was responded to by the feeble voice of a,middle-aged man, who, upon entering, I found sitting on an old box close to the broken-down stove which stood, or rather was propped up by bricks, at one side of the apartment. He was engaged in whittling a small stick with which to kindle a fire, while three children hovered near by, and seemed chilled with cold. The furniture of the room, if I might dignify it by that name, consisted of a pine table, three legs of which were made from rough pieces of board, one of these even being spliced; the fragments of what had originally been two chairs, and the remains of an old sofa, with its hind legs intact, and the place of the two missing ones in front supplied with chunks of wood. This room was possibly ten feet square, and lighted by a single window, which gave a view of the walls of a large factory which hemmed in the tenement on two sides. Connected with this was the almost universal 'inside' room, absolutely without ventilation or light, except that gained through the door opening into it. Its cramped space was nearly taken up with a bad consisting of a filthy old mattress, stretched out on the top of two old trunks, and a wooden box. From conversation with the man I learned the fact that he was a cripple and unable to work. In addition to the three children present he had two older ones, ... and these seven human beings lived in these two rooms. ... This was but one of perhaps twenty family histories in the same building....In this same building was the home of another scrub-woman; ... the woman was in poor health, ... and the features of her one child at home--a little girl some five years of age--looked pale, pinched, and forlorn; her emaciated body was covered with an aggregation or Fags,... the two formed a sad and touching picture. And all within a stone's throw of Broadway, the great business thoroughfare of New York city. ... It must be understood that they are not abandoned women, but are really working women" (pp. 165--167). The condition of the women employed in cigar-making (i.e., in tenements) is on all fours with the above. Just as the cloak makers "work till twelve or one o'clock, sleep by the machine a few hours, and then commence to work again " (p. 178), these women also, with their families, "work, eat, and sleep in these rooms." "I see women," says a thoroughly reliable witness, "surrounded by filth with children waddling in it, and having sores on their hands and faces and various parts of the body. ... They are all the time handling this tobacco they make into cigars."
Of the special diseases of these working women, the natural result of the long hours of work, the poor food, the horrible dens in which t.hey live, the Commissioner has much to arty. One or two quotations will suffice. "Sewing machine girls are subject to diseases of the womb, and when married mostly have miscarriages. In tobacco factories women are mostly affected with nervous and hysterical complaints, consumption and chest ailments" ...(p. 171). In his final summary (p. 632) Mr. Peck speaks of the "long hours of labour, the beggarly wages" of these women, and maintains that the facts accumulated by him "furnish the most convincing reasons for legislative interference."
As to the number of women thus working. In New York city there are some 20,000. Of 70,000 hands in Connecticut 20,000 are women. These quotations refer more especially to New York city, mainly for the reason that the Commissioner for the state devoted almost the whole of his last report to the condition of the working women of the metropolis. But--as the extracts from the Fall River, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut Reports show--it would be an error to suppose the New York women to be in an altogether exceptional position. Everywhere in America today--save in such occupations as ironworking, e.g., from which women are of necessity excluded--they are forced into direct competition with the men, and are in many cases replacing them. Everywhere we found women forced to work for wages because the husband's were insufficient for even bare subsistence, besides having to tend their children, and go the usual dreary round of endless household drudgery. We have lived in English factory towns and know something of English factory hands; but we may fairly say we have never in the English Manchester seen women so worn out and degraded, such famine in their cheeks, such need and oppression, starving in their eyes, as in the women we saw trudging to their work in the New Hampshire Manchester. What must the children born of such women be?
Before leaving this subject we cannot refrain from referring to an aspect of it that calls for far more detailed investigation than we can give it here. That is, the compulsory prostitution that this state of affairs brings about. A Philadelphia employer of labour quoted in an American newspaper (The Philadelphia Record), on the complaint of a girl that she could not live on the wages she was paid, advised her to do as the other girls did, and get a gentleman friend to help her. " Grinding poverty is a very general cause of prostitution, ... the prominent fact is that a large number of female operatives and domestics earn such small wages that a temporary cessation of business, or being a short time out of situations, is sufficient to reduce them to absolute distress, and it becomes a literal battle for life. ... There was a good deal of quasi prostitution, ...when out of work they cohabit with one or two men, but when work was obtained dropped such associations" (New York, 1886, pp. 187--89). "What were the things complained of?' [i.e., in certain mills]. have known of a premium being paid for prostitution in one of the mills in this city.' 'Did you find a case: where improper liberties were taken?' 'I have known of bosses trying to compel poor girls to meet them at different places; such were the complaints made to me. ... In the Utica steam cotton mills some of the girls were being robbed of their cloth ... while it was found two girls were credited with more cloth than they could possibly have done, and besides they had not half worked; these two girls were not only not respectable, but were bad.' 'And was it known by the employers that they were such?' "Yes, sir"' (New York, 1885, p. 127). Of the fearful number of women forced to choose between starvation and prostitution in such "flourishing" towns as Kansas city and Indianapolis two clergymen, the Rev. Robert Collier and the Rev. William MacCullough, bore sadly eloquent testimony during our stay there.
The Children.--They In America, as in England, are gradually ousting the men, where they are not themselves in turn ousted by machinery. --Fall River:--"Parents are obliged to do this [send children to the mills] to earn sufficient for the maintenance of their family" (Cotton Operative, p. 10) "The management has given some of the frames in the spinning-room into the charge of boys" (Cotton Operative, y. 152). New York (1884 and 1886):--"Without the wages earned by children parents would be unable to support their families" (Commissioner, p. 112). "To such extremities of want are these people pushed that they are not only compelled to work long and excessive hours, but their children are dragged in, and compelled to work as well" (Commissioner; 1,. 162). ----Kansas:--"Two of my boys help me, or I could not keep out of debt" (p. 13f). " Children, as a rule, are taken from school when they are of an age to perform any kind of manual labour--say twelve to fourteen years" (Superintendent of lead and zinc mines, p. 142).--New Jersey:--"Their remuneration [the men's] because of female and child competition has been reduced to such an extent that only with the aid received from other members of the family are they able to keep the wolf from the door" (p. 265). "Children are occupying the places of adult labour here" (p. 218).
The demand for child labour forces the parents, as in this country, to lie about the ages of their children, and such laws as exist are constantly evaded or ignored. The workers called as witnesses are almost unanimous in their demand that where laws regulating child labour exist they should be enforced. The opinions of these men and women, even when they are starving parents, are accurately represented by a quotation from the Kansas report:-- "I think a parent should be compelled to send his child to school until he is fourteen years old. If child labour was abolished it is my opinion that there would be 35 per cent. more employment for persons now out of work" (Ironmoulder, p. 110). The opinion of all the Commissioners whose reports we have seen, including even Mr. Flower's, of Wisconsin, is represented by the following words of the New Jersey Commissioner:--" There are enough laws on the Statute Book, if properly enforced, at least to restrain the labour of children within reasonable limits, and to make creditable citizens of them, by providing them with a rudimentary education" (p. 266).
But thousands of children are not receiving this rudimentary education. American schools are in all respects admirable, only with the "growth of industry" the power of the children to go to them decreases. When people are starving the children must get bread before they get teaching. In all the Eastern factory towns, in all the lumber districts, even in many a Western city, we heard the same story. "The children must work; they can't go to school." Where the law demands school attendance, the law is evaded. Hence the alarming increase of night schools where young men and women of sixteen and upwards are trying to learn, after a long day's labour, what the law declares they shall learn as little children. In factories the children are "shifted" when the inspectors appear, and thus--unless they are strong enough after ten to twelve hours' work to attend night school--thousands of little ones grow up in complete and dangerous ignorance.----Wisconsin :-" Our compulsory education law is inoperative --has been a dead letter since its enactment in 1879" (Commissioner, p. xiii.)---Kansas:--" Times is so bad that it is a hard thing to send children to school, although schools are so plenty" (Farmer, p. 122).---Fall River:--"We have, a good system of public schools ... but ... impracticable for the mill children who attend school only compelled by law" (p. 177).----Michigan :-" Between the ages of ten and fifteen there were 196,224 children, of whom 30,230 did not attend school... over 15 per cent."--New Jersey :--"Many of them [farming boys] are overworked, and grow up without a chance to get a common school education" (p. 228). "In 1873 the school census gave 286,444 children between the school ages, of whom 179,443, or 62.6 per cent. were enrolled in the public schools, and 69,229, or 24.l per cent. were estimated to have attended no school. In 1888 there were 343,897 school children, of whom 209,526, or only 60.9 attended the public schools, while 89,254 went to no school. In 1878, near the close of the financial crisis, over 62.8 per cent. of our children attended the public schools, and the average attendance (113,604) was actually larger than that four years later (113,482) although the number of children of school age was nearly 22,000 less " (Commissioner, p. 267). New York:--"According to the last report of the Hen. W. B. Ruggles, State Superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction, we have the following statistics:--
Number of children in the State between five end twenty one years of of age, meaning the legal school age, ...1,685.000.
Number of children in the common schools,....1,041,089.
Average daily attendance.....533,142.
"This means on its face that 644,011 of the children of the State of New York, whose expenses for a common school education are paid by the State, were not found in the schoolrooms during the official year upon which this report is founded. It means that the average daily absence from these schools was 1,101,958." As says another, "'It is impossible for the mind to contemplate the terrible import of these figures. They are so astounding as to seem almost incredible.' And yet these are the official figures gathered in the same manner for thirty years past:' (p. 57). It is true the Superintendent sayS that in this number there are many being educated in private schools, universities, etc., but the Commissioner points out that " teachers and school officers endeavour to put the best side out," and "unless the State attends to the duty (of enforcing education) it will soon be called upon to provide for these neglected boys and girls in alms-houses, hospitals, asylums, reform schools, and penitentiaries · · · These remarks," adds the Commissioner, Mr. Charles F. Peck, "are naturally suggested by the statistics, and they ought to be suggestive of our duties as citizens and law-makers." In conclusion, he quotes the summary of the "intelligent officials ": "That an army of uneducated and undisciplined children is growing up among us is shown, not only by the State and United States statistics, but by the general observation of men interested in the welfare of children, the widest diffusion of education, and the perpetuity of our free institutions. The terrible fact is further revealed by the incontrovertible evidence of the organization and condition of our schools."
To give some idea of the amount of child labour. --Michigan:--"71 establishments in 46 towns and cities ... representing 26 different classes of business; 292 boys and 62 girls employed from 8 to 14 years." "In Detroit, 92 different establishments; 287 boys, 85 girls between the ages of 10 to 15, " (Commissioner, pp. 238--245). In Connecticut, of the 70,000 hands mentioned above, 3,000 were children under 15. In the cigar-making trade of New York city 20 to 25 per cent, of the labourers are children. As to 8 different trades child labour is reported as "not coming into competition with adult labour" in two (though in these same trades, cigarmaking and telegraphers, a large number of children are employed to help the adults), and as coming into "direct competition," "crowding out adult labour to some extent," or "the displacing of a man by two boys," in six (p. 74). " And," says the Commissioner, " the testimony as to the employment of 'children of tender age' in tenement houses furnishes the evidence of a condition of existing affairs which, I do not hesitate to say, calls for prompt and effective action on the part of the legislature." ..."'What is the appearance of these child labourers?' 'The physical appearance of the girls in cigar factories is that which we mould find in some of the pauper schools that Dickens describes in England,... the close confinement in an atmosphere where tobacco is being manufactured is detrimental to full grown people, and must be more so to those not physically developed.'...Do employees receive a full hour for meal-time during noon?' 'Not over a half an hour.'...'Do they eat their meals in the factory or outside ?' 'In the factory; not one in five hundred goes home, for the time allowed is so short.' 'Of what does the meal usually consist?' 'Poor men's sandwich--two pieces of bread, with a little piece of bread in the middle' .. ." (New York Report, 1884, p. 145--146). As to hours.----Michigan :--"In Detroit, 9 hours 50 minutes for the girls, and 4 hours 56 minutes for the boys" (Commissioner, pp. 245, 246). In Yorkville, the village of New York mills, 11 hours are the day's work for children under 14. In the cigar factories 95 per cent. of the children work 10 hours a day. In the smaller bakeries children of from 9 to 13 start, work at 11 at night and go on until 4 in the morning. In cotton mills they work from 10 to 11 hours. These instances are taken from States where there is a legal limit, and will give some idea of what happens in other States where there is none of this "annoying legislation."
Their wages. In the 71 establishments in 16 places mentioned above, "the wages were 50 cents per day for the boys, and 31 cents for the girls. The average wages paid to boys in Detroit was 35 cents per day, and to girls 29 cents per day" (Commissioner, p. 241--245). In New York city " there are little children working for 2 dollars a week in the large dry goods establishments,... and at tailoring, some are employed by the week, when they earn from 1.50 to 2 dollars; some work by the piece [at pulling threads out from coats], and the regular price is 2 coats for a cent" (pp. 168--179).
To draw to an end with this, we quote a few passages out of many. "There are little children working in the large dry goods establishments. The owners of these large houses in some instances are very severe on the children, and treat them, not like human beings, but like slaves" (New York Report, 1884, p. 168)...."I have been in tenement houses and seen children from 7 to 12 years of age at work; ... when busy they work from 7 o'clock in the morning till 9 and sometimes 10 at night." Louis Troester:--"Have seen children working in tenement houses; they were from 8 years of age upwards; they worked from early morning till 9 and 10 o'clock at night preparing tobacco; they were denied the pleasure of going into the streets;... and also the privileges of education." Frederick Haller:--"You can see any number of children employed in stripping and preparing tobacco;.., they work from 11 to 13 hours a day--sometimes more; they do not work as long hours as grown persons, but enough to kill them rapidly" (pp. 179, 180). In "crueler bakeries ...the place is one thorough mass of smoke from the heated oil,... and children work all night through, or rather, until 4 o'clock in the morning,...and you see children lying upon barrels or about the stores, and they are children from 13 years down to 9 years old" (p. l55). "In the American district Telegraph Company ... are boys 11 and 12 years of age who are required to be continually at work at least 10 hours a day, running into the worst of places in all sorts of weather, mixing with all kinds of people, into houses of the most damnable disrepute, houses of assignation, and gambling houses; it is very detrimental to their health and morals; they are also compelled to work overtime, and sometimes the hours of their labour commence in the morning, say at 8 o'clock, and they work until 1; and in the evening commence their work again from 6 o'clock until 11 o'clock, and then very frequently work overtime, so.., while they work 10 hours and often overtime, the hours of their labour extend from 8 in the morning to 11 in the evening; in the 5 hours intervening, may be, frequently compel them to devote an hour or more before they go from their homes to the office, and it cannot be devoted to rest, pleasure, or recreation in the true sense of the term" (p. 155). And in factory towns it is not only the children working in the mills who claim our pity. " Several children," says Col. Wright, in his Fall River Report, "were found supplied with a loaf of bread, which was their dinner, their parents going to the mills in the early morning and not returning until night" (p. 90). No wonder that the New York Commissioner breaks out: "I plead for the little ones. ... In these days of legislative interference, when the shield of the State protects the dumb beast from the merciless blows of his driver; when the over-worked horse is remembered and released from his work,... it would seem pitiable if childhood's want of leisure for rest of body, and education for rest of mind should be denied them. Massachusetts ... goes on regardless of consequences, protecting the strong, forgetting the weak and poor ... under the false plea of non-interference with the liberty of the people. The children have rights that the State is bound to respect. Their right is to play and make merry; to be at school, to be players not workers" (p. 355).
To come back from the poetry of this impassioned appeal let us turn finally to the dry facts and figures.---New Jersey:--"While there were nearly twice as many children employed in the factories in 1880 than in 1870 [for the whole of the United States], the increase in women operatives was 142 per cent., while in adult male labour the gain had fallen short of 50 per cent." (p· 265). "Must 'Granite Mills' burn down and bury in their ruins the smouldering dust of mother and child before the law will give to them the power of self-protection? Must children plead in vain?"
On the antagonism between the capitalist and the labourer under our present system, and on the internecine struggle between these two, that is the epic of the last part of the nineteenth century, a few final notes. Fall River:--"The former feeling of bitterness between the north and south is but an example of t·he feeling 'twixt employed and employer in Fall River" (Operative, p. 146). "... this contest ... between labour and capital will continue so long as the purely wage system lasts. It is absurd to say that the interests of capital and labour are identical." (Colonel Wright, Industrial Depression Report, 1886). The outcome of this antagonism, and the ending of it, are in the organisation of the working classes. This is recognised by all the Commissioners, except Mr. Flower, of Wisconsin. ---Pennsylvania:--"Capital is concentrated, governed by single intelligence,... labour is diffusive, naturally disorganised,...but it is organised labour that the capitalist most fears, and therefore it is with it that he most strongly contends and encourages individual action" (pp. xvi., xvii.).---- Ohio :--" The trades having the most powerful and compact organisation come the nearest to receiving an equitable share of the joint product of capital and labour" (p. 3). --New York:--" Organisation is absolutely necessary to protect .. · the wageworker. There is but one way by which labour can place itself in a position (to sell itself where it pleases), and that is by organisation." "This organisation is their [i.e., the workers] only strength in contests (with the capitalist) in which sentiment or justice has not yet entered" (pp. 298, 556, 612). The working men themselves almost unanimously declare that in organisation lies their hope for the future. "The only way," says a Kansas working man, whose words sum up the opinions of hundreds of his fellows in this and other States, "..to advance the cause of labour, is for all to stand together and work as one" (p. 111). Even Mr. Flower. of Wisconsin, has to quote 29 workers out of 37 as favourable to labour organisations, and only 6 are said to be antagonistic to them.
And of the dangerous and bitter spirit of both parties in this contest, one quotation may be taken as typical evidence. "Miners in 0hio have been paraded in some of the press of the State as being in their normal element only when on a strike....Where villainies such as are described above are practised upon a class of men, the wonder is that they have contented themselves with strikes.., In many other communities, under similar circumstances, furnishing subjects for first-class funerals would have been resorted to" (Commissioner, p. 226).
To reduce the possibility of funerals, first-class and otherwise, to a minimum, it is clear that the workers of America must organise. Indeed, they have begun some time ere this to organise, and on the nature of the working-class organisations and their bearing on the future of American politics and economics as shall speak. We end by calling attention to the three chief points as to which, according to the reports, intelligent labour is unanimous: abolition of child labour, eight-hour working day, organisation.
Chapter 06: Organisations the Grange
THERE are two objects with which a member of the working class may join a labour organisation. The two are not necessarily exclusive one of the other. One object is that the individual's position in his particular trade may be more favourable and more secure. The other is that the condition of the working class in general may be improved. Until recently, both in England and in America, the former has been the main, to a large extent the only, idea in the minds of the working men when they joined bodies of organised labour. But, of late years, to this has been added the idea of work for the emancipation of the working class as a whole. This idea is with more and more distinctness shaping itself to that of the nationalisation of all means of production and distribution, and in America more than in England it is taking this form.
Let us quote three different writers in this connection. One is an American clergyman. Writing in the Century Magazine, he declares that "Labour is organising for the purpose of its interests. It is thus deepening the chasm and intensifying the hostility between the labouring classes and the capitalists. Nearly every trade has now its trade union--some local, some national. These unions are essentially warlike in their aims and in their methods." On the other hand, another writer, equally able, says the Ohio Commissioner, declares trades unions to be simply "A bull movement in the labour market." Finally, the Ohio Commissioner himself holds that "the latter is undoubtedly right, the former wrong, because trades unions, as they exist to-day, do not recognise any hostility as existing between capital and labour." Our readers will know that, for once, we are on the side of the clergyman in this matter. It is just because the working class is recognising the inherent hostility between their class and the capitalistic that the second object of trades unions mentioned above is becoming more and more clearly the primary object.
And if we wanted proof of this we could have no better than the words Of ex-Mayor Grace of New York: "They are organised for defence, not for aggression,....their end is to make the working man's life less precarious; to make him a better mechanic, a better man, a better husband and father, and a better citizen." With Mayor Grace the wish is father to the thought. From this optimistic belief the mayor, then getting ready to become ex-mayor, was rudely shaken when, in November 1886, he saw organised labour declaring for Henry George as his successor and against Abram Hewitt, and declaring with no bated breath that its opposition to the latter was largely based on the fact that he was a representative of the capitalistic class.
Lastly, we quote from Professor Ely's "Labour Movement in America " his conception of the meaning and value of working-class organisations. Professor Ely, the English reader must remember, is the political economist of America least unfavourably disposed, or we may even say most favourably disposed, to the labourers as a class. He is the head and front of the Economic Association, and a sore stone of offending to the orthodox school of economist:: in that country. According to him, the Trades Union and working-class organisations (1) "enable the labourer to withhold his commodity temporarily from the market;" (2) "assist the labourer to find the best market for his commodity" [labour, as Professor Ely will call it-labour-power as it should be called]; (3) "render it easy for the artisan to form useful connections with those pursuing the same trade;" (4) "educate the labourers to prudence in marriage.' To many of our readers these "uses" of working-class organisations will appear ludicrously useless, and to yet more they will appear insufficient, by reason of the omission of that one use which to the working class is becoming more and more paramount--the organisation of labour against the capitalistic class, with a view to the ending of the present method of production and distribution.
Against these declarations of Professor Ely and of the Ohio Commissioner, and of the "able writer." we are content to set the declarations and preambles of various working-class organisations to be given in the sequel. It will be found that these are practically unanimous in stating, explicitly or implicitly, that the working-class movement is a political one, and is directed towards the abolition of the present wage-system. And the facts of the electoral contests of November 1886, of the various contests since that date, and of the preparation made by the United Labour Party for coming struggles, are yet more eloquent witnesses on our behalf.
SKETCH OF THE HISTORY OF WORKING-CLASS ORGANISATIONS IN AMERICA.--For the facts now given we are indebted to Professor Ely's book and to the reports of the Bureaux of Labour statistics. There are "no traces of anything like a modern trades union in the colonial period of American history." But in 1802 the tailors of New York struck for an extra four dollars a month, and marching about the city with a band, compelled their fellows to come out on strike, until the clapping of their leader into prison ended this first working-class effort in America. Between 1800 and 1825 sporadic appearances of unions of one trade in one place occur. They are illustrated by the New York Society of Journeymen Shipwrights, incorporated April 3rd, 1803; the New York House Carpenters' Union, 1806; the New York Typographical Society, 1817; Albany Typographical Society, 1821; and, at last the movement quitting New York State, the Columbian Charitable Society of Shipwrights and Caulkers of Boston and Charlestown, 1822.
From 1825 the working-class movement really begins. More local unions appear; unions between workers in different trades and in one place, unions between workers of the same trade in many places, finally between workers in different trades and in different places, are gradually evolved. Boston and New York are the chief centres of the work from 1895 to 1861. But in 1830 a working man's convention met at Syracuse, New York State, and nominated a governor for the State. In the same year, the workmen's party of New York helping, the Democrats elected three or four members of the legislature. In 1833 the General Trades Union of the City of New York, prototype of the Central Labour Union, to be presently described, met, and in 1835 there is mention of a National Trades Union. The ten years before the civil war are remarkable for the number of trades unions organised on a national basis. A list of these follows :--Instrumental Typographical Union, 1850, 28,000 members, July 1886; National Trade Association of Hat Finishers, 1854, divided in 1868 into two organisations, the one retaining the old name, 3,392 members, the other calling itself the Silk and Fur Hat Finishers' Trade Association, 643 members; the Sons of Vulcan, 1858; the Iron Moulders' Union of North America, 1859; the Machinists and Blacksmiths' Union of North America, 1859.
The years 1861 to 1886 are yet more full of the movements of labour. The civil war had, after the fashion of the Crusades in the history books, stirred the minds of men, brought different types into contact, even if into collision, opened up avenues of communication, and above all, forced the attention of men on labour problems by the sudden and unrighteous encroachments of business men and, if we may be allowed the pleonasm, adventurers. In 1863 the Brotherhood of the Footboard, an organisation of engine-drivers, was founded, and a year later it became the Grand International Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. In 1865, still another year later, one of the most important bodies in the world, the Cigar Makers' National Union, started. In 1837 it was International. An International Union of Brick-layers and Masons, in 1865; the Order of Railway Conductors (originally known as the: Conductors Brotherhood), in 1868; the Wool Hat Finishers' Association, in 1869; the Trade Union of Furniture Workers (late the International Furniture Workers Union), in 1873; the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen, in 1875; the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers, made up of the Sons of Vulcan, the Associated Brotherhood of Iron and Steel Heaters, and the Iron and Steel Roll Hands' Union, in 1876; the Granite Cutters' National Union of the United States, America, in 1877; Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, in 1881; Cigar Makers' Progressive Union of America, 1882; the National Hat Makers, in 1883; the Railroad Brakemen, in 1884; the Coalminers' National Federation, in 1885; the Journeymen Bakers' National Union, in 1886,--are the chief trades unions formed since the war.
"Other trades unions which must be mentioned are the following:--The Chicago Seamen's Union, the United Order of Carpenters and Joiners, the Plasterers' National Union, the Journeymen Tailors' National Union of the United States, Deutsch Amerikanische Typographia (composed of those setting type for German books or periodicals), American Flint Glass Workers, and the Universal Federation of Window Glass Workers. Working men who have national or international organisations of which I am not acquainted with the precise names are the boiler makers, book keepers (clerks included), bottle blowers, stationary engineers, metal workers, piano makers, plumbers, railroad switchmen, shoe lasters, spinners, stereotypers, telegraphers, silk weavers, wood carvers" ("Ely,') pp. 65, 66). The membership of the American Trades Unions varies from 2,000 to 25,000 each, while there are also many thousand Americans who belong to the English Amalgamated Engineers, Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners, the machinists, Millwrights, smiths, and pattern makers.
Before turning our attention to the genuine working-class organisations, a few words on the Grange or the Patrons of Husbandry. This body, with its unfortunate name-word "patrons," is an essentially class organisation, and not a working-class one. It is composed of farmers, and farmers only. No. 6 of its Declaration of Purposes reads: " Ours being peculiarly a farmers' institution, we cannot admit all to our ranks."
The Grange is local, is state, is national in its character. It professes to advance the interests of all, apparently by the self-satisfactory method of advancing those of the one. The one is, of course, the agricultural constituency, as the patrons put it; the employing fraction only of this, as facts show. Started in 1866, on the initiative of P. H. Kelly, a Minnesota farmer,
who had been sent south just after the war by the Agricultural Department of the Government, the Grange went through the usual stages of a successful organisation--struggle, growth, political temptation, reaction, recovery. In 1886 Maine added 1,100 "patrons" and 11 new granges; the corresponding numbers for New Hampshire and Pennsylvania were respectively 700 and 9; 1,700 and 18; Massachusetts increased its membership 100 per cent., with 10 new granges; Connecticut, 150 per cent., with 16 new granges.
The objects of the Grange are very definite, as far as the actual farming interest is concerned, and are vagueness itself as far as relates to the people generally. To make farms self-sustaining, to diversify crops, to discountenance the credit and the mortgage system, to dispense with a surplus of middle men, to oppose the tyranny of monopolies, are definite aims. But there is an air of vagueness about labouring for the good of mankind, developing a better manhood, fostering mutual understanding, suppressing prejudices.
The Grange is not a political organisation. Upon this point it is very explicit and reiteratory. It claims to be educational and co-operative, and has many co-operative associations (132 in Texas alone), banks, insurance companies, and so forth. Yet by its agitation this organisation has helped to secure the passing of the Inter-state Commerce Law, the Oleo-margarine Law, and other enactments.
Recognising the antagonism between capital and labour to-day (Declaration 4), yet the Grange makes no definite contribution to the solution of the problem of their reconciliation. Not that the organisation ignores economic questions, as witness the resolution passed at the annual session of the National Grange in 1885: "Resolved that the Worthy Lecturer of the National Grange be instructed to continue the distribution of subjects for discussion quarterly, to subordinate granges, and that questions of political economy be given prominence," etc. On further investigation the questions of political economy resolve themselves into "gold, silver, greenbacks, national banks, corporations, inter-state and transcontinental transportation, and the tariff as it relates to agriculture."
From the above it will be seen that at present the Grange is a trade union only in the narrow sense; is an organisation of farmers alone; is not a political body. It may in time become leavened with the leaven of the general working-class movement; but as it is at present constituted the Grange is probably more likely to be a hindrance to that general movement than a help.
We pass to the chief organisations,--the Knights of Labour, the Central Labour Unions, the Socialistic Labour Party, and the United Labour Party. These are organisations of organisations, and as such hold the same position in respect to the bodies they group together as a generalisation of generalisations holds to the inductions that it summaries.
Chapter 07: Knights of Labor, Central Labor Unions, Socialistic Labor Party, United Labor Party
THE KNIGHTS OF LABOUR Organisation is so well known on both sides of the Atlantic that all really necessary here is the definite statement of certain facts, dates, and figures, and an attempt to make plain the exact position of the K. of L. at the present time. On Thanksgiving Day, 1869, Uriah S. Stevens, a tailor of Philadelphia, called together eight friends. The nine (is one not irresistibly reminded of t.he theory that a tailor is one-ninth of a man?) founded the K. of L. At first a secret order, whose very name was not known to the public, and whose cabalistic five stars were for long an example of omne ignotum pro terrifico to the Philadelphians, this became in June 1878 an organisation, public at least as far as its name and its general objects are concerned.
Roughly speaking, the scattered unions of the various towns of the various states and the scattered units of labour have affiliated themselves with the Knights, and thus formed another one, and the largest, of the National labour organisations. Each local society is called the Local Assembly (L. A.). Its members may be of one, or more than one, trade. Three-fourths of the members of a new L. A. must be wage-workers. Any one but a banker, stockbroker, gambler (with cards), lawyer, and alcoholic money-maker may be admitted. Local Assemblies are grouped into D. A. (District Assemblies). These are either geographical or technical. I,. A.'s and D. A.'s, alike represented by numbers, are grouped up as a whole into the General Assembly, or delegate body representing the whole order. The first General Assembly was held in 1878; membership, 80,000. A General Assembly has taken place in each year since that date. Membership in 1883, 52,000; l884, 71,000; 1885, 111,000. The membership, as estimated by Professor Ely, for 1856, would be 300,000 to 500,000, though our friend Colonel Hinton, who knows much of the internal working of the order, estimates its number as at least a million.
What are the principles of the K. of L.? Here at once it becomes necessary to distinguish the principles of the organisation from those of its members. This necessity arises from the fact that the majority of those who join the organisation and subscribe to its principles understand neither the aim of the former nor the meaning of the latter. Both these last are in the main socialistic. It is impossible here to analyse the four paragraphs of the preamble or the twenty-two declarations that follow them. To one or two points only can we call attention. The burden of the four preliminary paragraphs is that capitalists and corporations (companies) need checking; that the industrial masses need organisation; and though the K of L. are formed "Not as a political party, most of the objects herein set forth can only be obtained by legislation." "With the contradiction contained in these last two quotations we are the less concerned, as the movement of November 1886 and the action of thousands of the Knights in regard to it are the best comment on the two phrases and the best indorsement of the latter of them.
One only of the twenty-two "aims" can we note. But this is in truth the sum of all of them. It is No. 19. " To establish co-operative institutions, such as will tend to supersede the wage system, by the introduction of an industrial co-operative system." Now this is pure and unadulterated Socialism.
Briefly; scientific Socialism teaches that the basis of our society to-day is the method of the production and distribution of commodities; that the misery and inequality in that society are due to that method; that the essence of that method is unpaid labour. Co-operative institutions are to he established--i.e., co-operation both in production and in distribution. That this is the true reading is shown, practically, by the extensive establishments founded by the K. of L. for the production of commodities (mines) and their distribution (stores). Now a co-operative industrial system, or, as the Knights at times put it, a universal co-operative system, that is "to supersede the wage system," is not possible unless the means of production and distribution are systematised and are universal. Universal cooperation in production and distribution is impossible without the universal possession of the means of production and distribution--i.e., without the abolition of private property in these.
But the real significance of all this lies in the fact that in the Knights of Labour we have the first spontaneous expression by the American working people of their consciousness of themselves as a class. This expression--this organisation--at first almost unconscious, are becoming every day more conscious. Necessarily confused at first, the very confusion of the movement is evidence of its spontaneity and its reality. At present there is much uncertainty as to leaders, or even as to the direction in which movement is to be made. But all this is sorting itself, and it will not be long before the American working class will be organised, and moving with definite purpose towards a definite end.
The Knights, then, are a huge heterogeneous organisation; and whilst certain of its members are conscious and avowed Socialists, and others are unconscious Socialists, the mass know no more of the teachings of Socialism than they do of their own supposed principles.
As a consequence of this and of other causes, there are two clearly defined parties within the organisation, into one or the other of which all the minority of earnest men is entering. The one party, led by Mr. Powderly, the Grand Master Workman, is conservative, reactionary, and must go back yet more completely to the capitalistic side as the intensity of the struggle increases. The other party is advanced, socialistic, and must launch out into Socialism open and avowed. The split between these parties will probably turn on the two questions of political action and the open declaration of Socialism. But whatever form it takes, such a split is, we think, imminent.
Already there are among the rank and file plentiful signs of dissatisfaction with the action of their leaders. The vacillating, temporising conduct of these last in respect to the strike of the Chicago packers in the autumn of 1886, to the subsequent railroad strikes, to the long shore strike and others, above all their disapproval, in direct contravention of the principles of the order, of the eight-hour movement of May 1886, have made many of the Knights believe that it is not only the interest of the working class that is in the minds of their chiefs. More than mere rumours have been rife of the subordination of these to the interests of the capitalists and of the Roman Catholic Church. A great many delegates who went up to the convention of 1886 at Richmond with the profoundest belief in Powderly came away with that belief shaken or shattered.
A comparative study of the position of the Knights in the eastern and western towns still further bears witness to this general fact. In the former, where the mass of the members are more in contact with, and more under the influence of, the bosses of the movement, two things are more noticeable than in the western towns further removed from their reactionary influence. First, the organisation is much less really effective for good to the working classes, and shows much more signs of being under capitalist pressure; second, its relations to other labour organisations are much less harmonious in the eastern towns.
CENTRAL LABOUR UNIONS.--This name may be used generally for a number of bodies all of the same nature, but with names so varying as General Trades Unions, Trade and Labour Assemblies, Trade and Labour Councils, Federations of Labour. They are certain central bodies organised with a view to the men and women of a particular district working together. These Central Labour Unions are more hopeful organisations than even the Knights. They are, in the first place, more avowedly socialistic; and, in the second, more avowedly political organisations. The declarations of principles of the New York, and of the Kansas City C. L. U., for example, are definite. and decisive, without any of the vagueness that runs through the preamble and principles of the Knights. They speak out plainly against the wages system, on the ground that it is based on unpaid labour, and recognise the necessity and inevitableness of a complete change of that system. Here again, as with the Knights, the mass of the members, unfortunately, do not understand the full meaning of the ideas to which they subscribe.
The Central Labour Unions do not hesitate to work at present for certain means towards the ultimate end, and they do this as a political party altogether apart from the old parties. A brief quotation from the Kansas City C. L. U., sent us by one of its chief organisers, J. H. Trautwein, may be taken as generally typical of the Unions. "We, the undersigned, believing all the old parties have failed to legislate for the people at large, and have betrayed the trust reposed in them by the masses, and only enacted measures that result in creating paupers and millionaires, pledge ourselves to sever all affiliations with all the old parties whatever, and sign the following club roll for the purpose of forming a party of the industrial masses." Then follow certain measures to be worked for, many of which--such as the prohibition of child labour, equal wages for women and men, an eight-hour working day--are indorsed by the Knights also.
The difference between the C. L.U. and K. of L.-- a difference at present distinctly in favour of the former--is due to the different historical development of the two bodies. The Unions are the result of many years of evolution in Labour organisations; and upon them has been brought to bear the practical experience especially of the German Socialists. The Knights, as we have already shown, were the first spontaneous and indigenous outgrowth of the American working class: as it became conscious of itself.
The Socialist Labour Party.--This party, founded originally by the Germans, now numbers many thousands of members of all nationalities in America. The men of its earlier days--F. A. Sorge and others--are beginning to reap at last their deserved reward. This organisation, with its German, American, Scandinavian branches throughout the States differs from all others in certain important points. (1) Long before any of the others the Socialists understood that there was a labour question, and understood what that question really was. Thus they have been, unconsciously to their scholars in many cases, the teachers of the working classes. (2) They state clearly that society is made up of only two classes--"that of the workers and that of the great bosses." (3) They formulate clearly their demands that the land, the instruments of production (machines, factories, etc.), and the products of labour become the property of the whole people. (4) They announce sufficiently their means; "to realise our demands we strive to gain control of the political power with all proper means." (5) They are in alliance with the Socialistic Labour Party of Europe.
What are the relations of the Socialistic Labour Party to the other organisations of America? In the first place, the vast majority of its members are also members of one or more of these organisations; and only a few, not understanding the position of the movement in America, hold aloof from the Knights or Central Labour Unions. As a consequence, these other organisations are becoming, to a constantly increasing extent, infiltrated with Socialism, and slowly their vague, indefinite aspirations and ideas are becoming formulated in terms of that science. With this the individual Knights and Unionists are being gradually brought over, not only to the understanding of Socialism, but to open declarations of themselves as Socialists and as members of the S. L. P.
The complete bringing About of these desirable results is delayed by two things chiefly. One is the distrust of Socialism held until recently by the average American working men--a distrust born of his ignorance of its principles, its aims, its methods Most K. of L., for example, protest strongly against being called Socialists. The other impediment lies in some of the German Socialists themselves. A few of these, as already hinted, not understanding the movement generally, and still less understanding it in America, are anxious to "boss the show" in that country. As long as that is possible, the movement in America will not be American. Socialism, to be effective there, must be of native growth, even if the seeds are brought from other countries.
That is, whilst the Germans will in the future, as in the past, direct the thoughts of their fellow-workers, and suggest ideas to them, they will have to be content after a time to stand aside, and let the so-called leadership of the movement pass into the hands of the English-speaking peoples. The most clear-headed Germans in America quite see this. Their work has been, is, and still will be, to teach and to initiate organisation. But already their American brethren, under their tuition, are organising for themselves on the basis of Socialism. From the moment this is the case, the policy and duty of the Germans are to withdraw into the background, and whilst never relaxing in energy, or ceasing to inspire from within, to let the forefront of the movement be American.
THE UNITED LABOUR PARTY.--Out Of these labour organisations, but especially out of the last one considered, i.e., the Socialistic, has grown the United Labour Party. The date of the birth of this was the elections in November 1886. Then, for the first time, the class consciousness of t.he working people became embodied in a definite political movement of antagonism to the capitalist class. The startling success of the Labour Party in New York, Chicago, Milwaukee, and other places, taught their opponents, and taught themselves, something of the extraordinary power and significance of this new force in politics. Both of the old parties, Democrat and Republican, are frightened at the working-class movement. They will do all they can to get the Labour Party on their side. In this they will ultimately fail. Weaklings, especially at the outset, will succumb to the temptation; but the United Labour Party of America has, to use an Americanism, "come to stay," and to outstay all others.
The Henry George movement in New York, though often called Socialistic, did not, strictly speaking, deserve that name. The chief interest and importance of it were, as in the case of the Knights of Labour, in its spontaneity and Americanness. The Socialists played their usual pan. here. As the Communist manifesto has it, they, the vanguard of the working classes, cast in their lot with any genuine working-class movement. Their teaching for years before, and their action at the time, had, of course, much to do with originating and shaping the November movement; and the leading organisers, writers, and speakers were, in most cases, Socialists by avowal or in heart. Of course with these were associated many men and women who would by no means have accepted the name of Socialists as applicable to themselves.
In such towns as Chicago, Milwaukee, etc., further afield than New York, the running of working-class candidates in November 1886 was on somewhat different lines from the mayoralty contest in which George figured. In certain cases, at least, the men working in these contests in the more outlying districts understood more clearly than the New Yorkers the real questions at issue, and the real principles upon which the working class is and must be in conflict with the capitalists.
After the November (1886) elections the Labour Party began getting itself into yet more definite shape; and at a meeting held on January 13th, 1887, in New York, a permanent organisation, a platform, and a constitution for the United Labour Party of America were agreed upon. In these there were, from our point of view, certain weak points in detail. But the perty as then constituted condemned the present industrial system, and recognised that the "ultimate emancipation of labour can only be attained by the abolition of private ownership in the productive forces of nature." Here, then, we have, for the first time in America, the working class organised as a distinct political party, opposed alike to Democrat and Republican, taking its stand on the nationalisation of the productive forces of nature.
This basis is not sufficiently broad nor sufficiently firm. Nationalisation of the land is all that Mr. George and his followers mean; and already (September 1887) they have parted company with the men that see further and more clearly than themselves. At the Syracuse Convention in August 1887, the Socialists, by very questionable means, were practically expelled for the time being from the United Labour Party. But the Socialists can bide their time, and probably the time will not be long. A political party that repudiates the nationalising of all the means of production and distribution, and only bankers after the nationalising of the land, is assuredly not a labour party.
The most significant fact, none the less, is the formation of a party bearing even the name of labour. Its preliminary bossing by half-hearted men and professional politicians was an inevitable incident in its evolution; as inevitable as its ultimately becoming a purely Socialistic organisation.
The example of the American working men will he followed before long on the European side of the Atlantic. An English or, if you will, a British Labour Party will be formed, foe alike to Liberal and Conservative; its ultimate standpoint will be Socialistic, although, like the American Labour Party, it may have to pass through several preliminary stages; and its ultimate fate, like that of its trans-atlantic prototype, will be the attainment of supreme political, and then of supreme economic power.
Chapter 08: The Cowboys
THE cowboys of the West have been this long time objects of interest to Americans of the other points of the compass, and recent events have made the English public familiar with them under certain aspects, but there is one aspect under which this class of men seem little known to their fellow- countrymen, and are almost wholly unknown to other people's,--that is, in their capacity as proletarians.
To most people, until lately, the cowboy was a " bold, bad man," as reckless of the lives of others as of his own, with vague ideas as to morals, and especially as to the rights of property; generally full of whiskey, and always handy with a revolver. If the spectators of the "shows" in which he has been exhibited on both sides of the Atlantic have modified their ideas upon this human subject, the modification has been, 89 a rule, in the direction of a recognition of the fact that he is not much worse or better morally than his more civilised fellows, and in his manners, as in his physique, he is for the most part considerably the superior of these.
In the present chapter we desire to show the reader that which the cowboys themselves have made plain to us, that they are distinctly members of the non-possessing and yet producing and distributing class, that they are as much at the mercy of the capitalist as a New or Old England cotton-operative, that their supposed "freedom" is no more of a reality than his. Further, evidence will be given that the cowboys, as a class, are beginning to recognise these facts, are becoming anxious that the general public should know them, and, best of all, are desirous, through the medium of either the Knights of Labour, or some other working-class organisation, to connect themselves with the mass of the labouring class and with the general movement of that class against the tyranny of their employers.
Our first acquaintance with these facts was made at Cincinnati, and in a sufficiently odd way. Some delightful German-American friends, in their anxiety to show us all the sights of the city, had lured us into a dime museum. The chief attraction at this show, pending the arrival of Sir Roger Tichborne, who came the next week, was not seen and did not conquer, was a group of cowboys. They were sitting in twos and threes on various little raised platforms, clad in their picturesque garb, and looking terribly bored. Presently, a spruce gentleman, in ordinary, commonplace garments, began to make stereotyped speeches about them in a voice metallic enough for stereotyping. But, at one platform, he mercifully stopped short, and told us that Mr. John Sullivan, alias Broncho John, would take up the parable.
Thereupon, a cowboy of singularly handsome face and figure, with the frankest of blue eyes, rose and spoke a piece. To our great astonishment he plunged at once into a denunciation of capitalists in general and of the ranch-owners in particular. We were struck both by the manner and the matter of this man's talk. It had the first and second and third qualifications for oratorical success-earnestness, Broncho John evidently knew what he was talking about, and felt what he said. the gist of his speech is embodied in the last paragraph but one. To that need only be added John's appeal to the newspapers of the East that they should do what the Western ones were afraid or unwilling to do, and state clearly the case of the cowboys, their complaints, and their demands.
As Broncho John invited any interested in the question to communicate with him, we answered his invitation, and on the following day had a long talk privately with him. The main points of the many we learned from him through the medium of that conversation and of a little pamphlet he gave us, will now be noted. There are some 8,000 to 10,000 cowboys (this is Broncho John's estimate, and is considerably below the actual number), and "no class is harder worked,.. none so poorly paid for their services." The reason why they are so poorly paid and hard worked is simple enough.--"They have no organisation back of them," while their employers have "one of the strongest and most systematic and, at the same time, despotic unions that was ever formed to awe and dictate to labour."...The conditions under which the cowboys work are such that organisation is immensely difficult, in many cases well-nigh impossible. They are dispersed over miles upon miles of huge plains and desolate wastes, a few here and a few there, so that concerted action seems almost out of the question. Yet so many are, it appears, "awakened to the necessity of having a league of their own" that a Cowboy Assembly of the K. of L. or a Cowboy Union is sure to be started in the near future. Meanwhile, the fact that such a league is desired by the cowboys is significant enough, and even more significant is their employers' fear of any such combination. One means by which the bosses hope to ward it off is by issuing orders that the men "must not read books or newspapers." Small wonder the cowboys regard such an "order" as "tyrannical in the extreme." A pathetic example of the belief of the cowboys in a movement of some sort we found in Bronco John's conviction that a return of Blaine (as president) would mean that "all the thieving would go on," while the election of Henry George would "make a change."
As to the actual work and wages of the cowboy. The work is necessarily extremely arduous and dangerous. For some six to eight months in the year--i.e., the working time on the plains--he has not only to be in the saddle from morn to night, but often the whole night through as well. To look after these huge Western herds of cattle, to keep a cool head during stampedes and "milling" is no small matter. "I have been with a party," says John Sullivan, "when we were obliged to ride 200 miles before we got the cattle under, in all that time not one of us took a moment's rest or a bit to eat." In getting the cattle across streams milling often occurs, i.e., the beasts take fright and swim round and round and in every direction but that of the shore. As a consequence " many a good cowboy has been drowned," and it is not "uncommon for a party to spend three weeks or a month in getting a herd of 4,000 cattle across a stream." Further, there are the innumerable dangers from bands of marauders, Indians, and prairie fires to face; and, into the bargain, the herd must not only be delivered safe and all told, bat they must have increased in weight since leaving the ranch. "The rule is, the cowboy must fatten the cattle on the trail, no matter how thin he may grow himself."
And for such work as this the ranchers, who expect their employes to risk their very lives in looking after the stock, pay the best paid of the cowboys--25 dollars a month. Moreover, the cowboy has himself to find his outfit, except his horses, which belong to the ranchers, and cowboy's outfit is a heavy item of expense. He must have a heavy fur hat, Mexican "chafferals" (leggings), a "slicker" (oilskin coat), a good saddle, a "quirt" (a heavy whip some three feet long), spurs, revolver, specially made boots, etc., etc. In all, this costs him about 145 dollars. But the cowboys who cannot afford such an outlay at the start are supplied by the ranchers, and supplied with goods of a kind that barely last through a season. For these the rancher charges 15 dollars a month out of the wages; so inferior is the outfit, that it has constantly to be renewed, and thus the cowboy remains constantly in debt.
From climatic and other conditions it is wellnigh impossible for cowboys to obtain any employment during the "off-time," and these men must therefore keep themselves and their families on the 120 to 150 dollars that can be earned in the year. Nor is this the only difficulty with which the cowboys have to contend. Black-listing is apparently not peculiar to the East of America. It seems to flourish even in the Wild West, and the cowboy is as much its victim as the cotton-operative, "It may easily be seen then," says Broncho John, " that the cowboys have a serious struggle against actual want, and such is the system of the Ranchers' Society they dare not protest. Experience has taught them that to ask for an increase in wages means immediate discharge from the service. But that is not the worst. The moment a man is discharged by any member of the Ranchers' Society his name is sent to every other member, the name is turned to in the hooks of each ranch and a black mark placed opposite it. This is called 'black-listing' the cowboy. He might as well leave the country at once."
But perhaps the greatest injustice, the most flagrant piece of robbery, perpetrated by these large ranch owners, and one which affects both settlers and cowboys, is that of "repleving" cattle. To "repleve" is wild-western for seizing all unbranded cattle, and of late the right to do this has been claimed by the Association of Ranchers under the Maverick Law. A settler or cowboy gets a few head of cattle; in time these increase, and a few years ago he could sell them to the Association or other traders at "fair market price." But this did not suit the ranchers. Just as they--to use Broncho John's words--are "grinding out" the settlers from the land which they have opened up; just as the " road agent" is ousting the settler from the little homestead he has raised, so the ranchers want all the cattle--and take it. Any unbranded animal is claimed by them. Against this iniquitous proceeding two men--settlers we believe--named Cooper and Leineberger, tried to protest. They refused to give up the cattle that was their property. Hereupon the Association (The Wyoming Stock Growers) instituted an action against them (in 1884) for infringement of the Maverick Law. The defendant's counsel pleaded as a demurrer that while the law was in force in that State, it was against the constitution of the United States. Judge Parks would give no decision at all, and Judge Corn gave his decision in favour of the Association. Thereupon Cooper and Leineberger appealed to the Supreme Court, with what result we have been, so far, unable to learn. For such cases as this never get into Eastern papers, and the Western ones mostly fear to touch upon them. The press, like everything else, is under the terrorist regime of the ranchers. Meantime, "repleving" goes on merrily, and the small settlers, robbed of their little stock, become cowboys and the wage-slaves of the ranchers, who are all staunch upholders of the sacred rights of property.
Chapter 09: Anarchists
Note, the beginning of this chapter is incredibly sectarian, but it does go on to give a thorough account of the trial of the Anarchists of Haymarket, with a point by point exposure of the trial being fixed. Furthermore as part of her tour Eleanor made agitation for new trial and the conspiracy of the first one a key part of her program.
IT is necessary, in the first place, to make clear our own relations to Anarchism, and the relations between Anarchism and Socialism.
It is hardly necessary to say that, as Socialists, we are not Anarchists, and are, of necessity, entirely opposed to the methods and aims of Anarchism. It is true both Anarchist and Socialist attack the present capitalist system. But the Anarchist attacks it from the individualist, conservative, reactionary point of view, the Socialist from the communist, progressive, revolutionary standpoint. The two " schools "--if the one can be called a school which has no definite programme, no clear teaching--have, in fact, nothing in common. It is characteristic that the most violent attacks made on us during our tour in 1886 were made by Anarchist writers and speakers. The Chicago capitalist press wanted us to be hanged after we had landed; Herr Most's paper, Die Freiheit, was for shooting us "on sight" before we landed.
This personal fact is mentioned because it is characteristic of the general Anarchist tactics. In every country, wherever a revolutionary movement has begun, a small handful of men has cropped up (as often as not thoroughly honest, but usually led or urged on by police agents), calling themselves Anarchists, yet very vague and contradictory as to what they mean by this name. Everywhere they have proved a hindrance to the real working-class movement; everywhere they have proved a danger, since the police have egged them on to premature and disastrous emeutes; and everywhere, happily, they disappear when once the movement attains real power and meaning. In a word, where the working class has come to years of discretion, and where from a vague feeling of misery and unrest it has grown to understand its true position, has awakened to class consciousness, Anarchism dies out. Anarchism ruined the International movement; it threw back the Spanish, Italian, and French movements for many years; it has proved a hindrance in America; and so much or so little of it as exists in England is found by the Revolutionary Socialist party a decided nuisance. Everywhere Anarchism (especially when police inspired) talks very big; but while there is "great talk of revolution, there is great chance of despotism." The Socialist believes in organisation; he believes in political action, in the seizure of political power by the working class as the only means of attaining that complete economic emancipation which is the final aim. As to what the Anarchists believe, it is a little difficult to say, as no two give the same definition of their views. But the tree is known by its fruit; and the fruit of Anarchism has invariably been reaction, a throwing back of the movement, and a confusing of men's minds.
But while it is true that Anarchism has proved, to some extent, a hindrance in America, chiefly because so many Americans have been induced to call Socialism Anarchism as a mere protest, or from want of accurate knowledge, the power of Anarchism, pure and simple, must not be overestimated. There is a great deal of sound and fury, but it signifies nothing. In their very stronghold, Chicago, events have taught them the folly of their own doctrines; and at the November election, in 1886, there were no heartier workers for the Labour candidates than the Anarchists, who until that time had seized every opportunity of denouncing the political action of the Socialists. Moreover, it must be borne in mind that well-nigh every word spoken by the chief defendants at the Chicago trial, of which more in a moment, could be indorsed by Socialists; for they there preached, not Anarchism, but Socialism. Indeed, he that will compare the fine speech by Parsons in 1886 with that of Liebknecht at the high treason trial at Leipzig, will find the two practically identical.
Our very antagonism to the Anarchist doctrines, therefore, made it the more incumbent upon us, whilst in America in 1886, to do all in our power toward demanding for the Chicago Anarchists that justice which was denied them. It was our duty, and we made it our business, to speak at every meeting we held in America in favour of a new trial for the condemned Anarchists of Chicago. And this on the following grounds:--
(1) The trial took place too near the event of May 4th, 1886, in point of time.
(2) The trial took place too near the event of May 4th in point of place. A change of venue was necessary for justice. This is recognised in the case of the police when held on a charge of murder. Thus a private detective agency man, Joy, arrested in November of the same year on a charge of shooting one Begley, in an unarmed and peaceful crowd, was not tried where the event occurred.
(3) The arrests were made without any legal warrant. This statement is true, not only of the eight men sentenced, but of many others, who were thus illegally arrested, kept in prison four months, and then discharged without even being brought to trial.
(4) The houses, offices, and desks of the accused were broken into, and their contents taken by the police without any search-warrants having been issued.
(5) During the trial and after its close the police made, at judicious intervals, opportune discoveries of bombs and the like in Chicago. These discoveries were simultaneous with any awakening of public feeling on behalf of the accused. Thus, four infernal machines were discovered a month after their arrest, and the attempt was actually made to use this discovery as evidence against the imprisoned men. In the opinion of many people these bombs found by the police were also hidden by the, police.
(6) The jury was, at least in part, made up of men prejudiced against the accused. Amongst the many whom the prisoners' advocates challenged was one who admitted that he had formed a distinct affirmative opinion as to their guilt before the trial began, and who was certain that no amount of evidence could shake that opinion. Judge Gary overruled the objection to this man, and he served on the jury. Besides this one special case, there was general evidence that the jury was packed. We quote from the Chicago Inter-Ocean of October 2nd, 1886. The application to Judge Gary for a new trial was made on October 1st. "The affidavit of E. V. Stevens, a travelling salesman,... states that the affiant is well acquainted with Otis S. Favor; that he knows the latter to be intimate with Ryce, the special bailiff; that he has heard Favor state that Ryce had said to him in his presence and the presence of others, while Ryce was engaged in summoning jurors, the following words: 'I am managing this case, and know what I am about. These fellows are going to be hung as certain as death. I am calling such men as the defendants will have to challenge and to waste their challenges.' The defendants' counsel then said that Favor had refused to appear in the court to testify openly or to do so by affidavit, unless he was compelled to do so by order of the Court. They therefore asked that the Court order a subpoena to compel Favor's appearance....Judge Gary:'I shall overrule the motion.'"
(7) The judge was unfair. Two cases have already been given. He ruled out of order questions as to whether the police had given money to the witnesses for the prosecution. He ruled in order the introduction of translated extracts from a work of Most's, although there was no evidence that any of the accused had ever seen the book, and although it was known that two of them (Parsons and Fielden) could not read the language in which the book was written. To the counsel for the defence, when they pleaded against the introduction of such evidence as this, Judge Gary said, " Sit down, and don't make scenes." He allowed the bloody clothing of the policemen that were killed to be introduced in court. When, on Captain Black protesting, State-Attorney Grinnell said," I could bring in the shattered corpses of the policemen," Judge Gary uttered no reproof. He overruled an objection to evidence as to conversations between the prisoners and the police. To the defendants' counsel, cross-examining, he said, " I think you ask much too much." When the verdict and sentence were given by the jury, unimpeachable witnesses state that the judge went out to his wife, who was waiting for the result, and said, "All is well, mother. Seven to be hanged, and one fifteen years. All is well."
(8) The counsel for the prosecution, Mr. Grinnell, was passionate and venomous. In his opening speech he denounced the accused as "godless foreigners. When the group "Freiheit" was mentioned, the familiar German word had to be translated to Mr. Grinnell, whose comment was, "Oh yes, freedom to send people into the air!'' He tried hard to use the after discovery of infernal machines (v.a.) as evidence against the accused men. When the desk, stolen and broken into by the police without warrant, was found to be fitted by a key in the possession of Spies, the demand was made that the keys should be returned to their owner. " Oh, hell never need them again!" said Grinnell.
(9) The witnesses upon whose evidence the men were condemned were tainted. Wilhelm Seliger, who turned States' evidence, had been living in the police-station, admitted many conversations with the police, and the receipt of money from them, and was contradicted on essential points by witnesses equally independent of prosecution and defence. Of Gottfried Waller, the second States' evidence witness, the same assertions may be made. The most important witness, one Gillmer, who saw everything--saw Schnaubelt (never in custody) throw the bomb, saw Spies light it, Raw Fischer with them--was a semi-tramp, out of work, living in the prison, who said nothing of all he saw at the inquest nor for days after. He knew all details of build and face of men in the alley, but not a word of the speeches. Shea and Jansen, two detectives, the latter of whom had been in the Anarchist organisation with other policemen for sixteen months, and a number of newspaper reporters, for the most part on intimate terms with the police, completed the list of the witnesses for the prosecution. Shea confessed that he tried to get Spies to sign an incriminating paper in prison, without letting him see its contents. Jansen attended secret meetings,and furnished the police with notes of them. When anything was wanted to egg on the Anarchists to action, he considerately provided it. One Malcolm MacThomson heard a compromising conversation between Spies and Schwab, in which "pistols" and " police " were mentioned, and the question, "Will one be enough?" asked. He confessed that he did not understand a word of German, and it was proved that Spies and Schwab always spoke in German to one another.
Against these may be set their own contradictions and the evidence of an army of independent witnesses. These showed that the Haymarket meeting was peaceful and orderly, that many women were present, that no incendiary speeches were made. Thus, a certain Freeman saw Parsons, Fielden, and Spies, not in the alley a la Gillmer, but on the waggon; heard Parsons suggest adjournment as it was raining; heard Fielden say, "I am ready. Wait a minute, and then we'll go." This witness contradicted the police evidence. Dr. James Taylor, aged seventy-six, was in the alley at the time the bomb was thrown from a point twenty feet from the alley. He testified to the perfectly peaceful character of the meeting until the police interfered.
But especially Mayor Harrison must be quoted. Was present at the meeting until within twenty minutes of explosion. Had agreed with Chief of Police that it must be dissolved if not peaceful. Tone of speeches generally such that feared a point might be reached when he must dissolve it, as he was determined to do as soon as any use of force was threatened. Parsons' speech a political tirade. Witness told Captain Bonfield (Chief of Police) it had been a very tame speech. Rent to police-station, told Bonfield there would be no trouble, and it would be better if his men went home. Then left, thinking all was well.
(10) The American press to some extent, the Chicago papers to a considerable, and the Times and especially the Tribune of that city to a hideous extent, clamoured for the hanging of these men. Anything more indecent, undignified, and panic-stricken than the Chicago Tribune's articles we have never, in a fairly large and varied experience of journalism, seen. If these men are ultimately hanged, it will be the Chicago Tribune that has done it. And as proof that the condemned were condemned not because the evidence showed they were murderers, but because it showed they were Anarchists, one quotation from the Tribune will suffice: "Chicago hangs Anarchists." There are no words of qualification: "Chicago hangs Anarchists."
During the months of September to December 1886 a change was wrought in popular feeling. The speaking and writing of many men and women, altogether opposed to Anarchist teachings, the constant appeal to the sense of justice of the American people, the gradual recovery of the latter from the state of unreasoning fear into which the events of May and the infamous newspaper articles had worked them,--these and other things had their effect. By the time of the municipal elections in November a great body of public opinion had declared fur a new trial. Then came the thunderbolt of the success of the Labour Party at the elections. From that moment it was certain the men would not be hanged in December 3rd. On Thanksgiving Day (November 25th) Captain Black, the magnificent advocate for the Chicago Anarchists, obtained a stay of execution.
In April 1887 we received from our friend, Captain Black, the printed copies of his brief and argument, and of his oral argument before the Supreme Court of Illinois on March 18th. In his accompanying letter, dated April 6th, he writes: "Let me as a lawyer say to you that I deem it [the argument] unanswerable, and I know it has not been met, although upon the other side they filed printed arguments aggregating over 546 pages. ...I think the opposition really expect a reversal of the judgment; and for myself I am absolutely confident of the result."
The opinion of the better class of journals was in the main the same. And the opinion of almost every one, when the first angry panic was over and calmer judgment prevailed, was, even as far back as December 1886, that unless some new and much more reliable and conclusive evidence could be brought forward by the police at the second trial, no jury would convict the Chicago Anarchists of murder.
Of one thing there can be no doubt. After on Ulysses' wanderings and the coming into contact with Knights of Labour, Central Labour Unionists, and so forth, in many towns, we can say with confidence that the vast majority of the working class were of opinion that a miscarriage of justice had occurred. Of course this majority were not. Anarchists. Nor were they even Socialists. To the teachings--the avowed teachings--of the eight men sentenced they were as intensely opposed as any Socialist could be. But they considered that justice had not been done.
The present position of affairs in this celebrated case is (September 19th, 1887), that the Supreme Court of Illinois has refused the application for a new trial, and has confirmed the sentence, fixing as the date of execution, November 11th. Probably appeal will be made to the Supreme Court of the United States. It seems impossible that men can be done to death on such no-evidence as was brought against the Chicago Anarchists, and if they are executed we have no hesitation in declaring that the American people will be guilty of a cowardly and brutal murder.
We have thought it wise to retain in this volume that which we wrote originally in May 1887, as throwing light upon subsequent events in connection with the Chicago Anarchists, and as having a general bearing upon trials in a capitalistic society of men whose greatest crime is antagonism to that society.
Chapter 10: Some Working Class Leaders
WE bring this series of notes on the American phase of the working-class movement to a close with a short account of some of the people whom we met in the States. This account will include brief reminiscences of Henry George, the Sinaloa folk, certain of the Woman Suffrage advocates, nessrs. Hinton, Schevitch, Black, Morgan, Vrooman.
Henry George.--To English readers it is not necessary to give any description of George or of his views. It is far more important to show how he and they have been modified by the movement that forced them both to the front in November, 1886. We met Henry George late in September (the 29th). He was already nominated for Mayor of New York, and the election was due on November 2nd, whilst we were leaving New York on October 2nd for eleven weeks of agitation tour. At such a time, under such circumstances, he and ourselves holding our respective positions, it will be understood that our talk was on momentous matters, and, for the greater freedom on either side, was understood at the outset to be a private conversation. As since that day we have had no opportunity of again meeting Henry George, our notes upon him and his utterances must be understood as limited to opinions and expressions, to whose publication we have reason to believe he would have and could have no objection.
Henry George is a little man, with exceedingly clear blue eyes that seem exceedingly honest, a straight-cut mouth, red beard, and bald head. In manner he is sharp, quick but not abrupt, and outspoken. He believes--his books are expressive of his creed--that the land question is at the bottom of everything. Solve that, he seems to think, and the evils of society will lessen and vanish. He does not, like the Socialist, regard the mode of the production and distribution of commodities, with its private property in the means of which land is but one, of that production and distribution, as the basis of modern society, and therefore of the ills of that organisation. And he does not see how, from our point of view, this idea of his is especially untenable in America--the country to which the capitalist method came ready made, and where it now exists in its most brutal and uncompromising form--the country in which, at the same time, there is the largest area of land as yet unclaimed or uncultivated, and the country in which, probably, peasant proprietorship will hold out longest.
But from this, as we think, economic error in regard to the basis of our present system and the necessity of attacking the land question first, it must not be imagined that Henry George recognises no other evils than those connected with the holding of land and desires no other remedies than those that concern land tenure. His answer, dated August 26th, 1886, to the Conference of Labour Associations, when they asked him if he would stand for Mayor, is evidence on this point. Here are one or two quotations thence. "Those general conditions which, despite the fact that labour is the producer of all wealth, make the term working man synonymous with poor man....The party that shall do for the question of industrial slavery what the Republican party did for the question of chattel slavery must ... be a working-man's party.... I have seen the promise of the coming of such a party in the growing discontent of Labour with unjust social conditions. ... The wrongs of our social system.... There is and there can be an idle class only where there is a disinherited class."
In these quotations there is something more than condemnation of the land system. "General conditions," "industrial slavery," " unjust social conditions," "the wrongs of our social system," are the terms used. Clearly, Henry George recognises that society is wrong, and nowhere in this letter does he refer to the land as the basis of this wrong. Indeed, the word "land" never on e occurs in the letter. Unfortunately, clear as is George's recognition of the rottenness of our social, i.e., our capitalist system, he does not anywhere in this document state clearly what he believes to be the root of this rottenness. Only in one passage does he give even a hint at this. "The foundation of our system is in our local governments." It is in these "local governments" that our capitalist or commercial system appears in its most concentrated, mediate, and concrete form.
As to the immediate remedy, Henry George, not unnaturally as the potential candidate for the Mayorship of New York, is more definite. This is political action. "I have long believed that the Labour movement could accomplish little until carried into politics," and "the increasing disposition to pass beyond the field of trades associations into the larger sphere of political action," are two phrases from the letter already utilised.
Now, whilst as to the immediate remedy the opinions just quoted of George became confirmed more and more strongly as the electoral contest went on, his opinions as to the actual cause of the "unjust social conditions" also took more definite shape. Brought into close and constant contact with the men and women that were the life of the movement known in New York by his name, men and women who were, as we have said, really Socialists, this man, a drop of spray on the momentary crest of the vast and gathering wave of an immense popular movement, was consciously or unconsciously forced into ever clearer and more clear declarations as to the private ownership of the means of production and distribution. These declarations are to be found throughout his speeches during September and October, and in his open letters to Abram Hewitt, the capitalist candidate; and their number and definiteness increased as the time for the Mayoralty election drew near. We have not space to quote all of these--and to quote only a part of them would be of little value; but from them and from the result of the contest on November 2nd, and from the course of events since, we venture upon a prophecy as to the political future of Henry George. Like the Knights of Labour, he will come to the parting of the ways, one of which goes onwards and the other backwards. How near he even now is to that trenchant point he, better than all other men, should know. Paradoxical as it may seem, he possibly does not know better than all other men what his decision will be. But the decision will have to be made. Will he go forward with the labour party resolved on nationalisation, not of land alone, but of raw material, machinery, means of credit, capital, or fall back towards the ranks of the old parties and be absorbed of them?
The question is answered by the events of the Syracuse Convention, and by Mr. George himself, in his own paper, the Standard. Henry George declared against Socialism in the Standard of August 6th, 1887, in a series of articles betraying the most astounding ignorance of that against which he declared. By doing this he took the sea-end of the two steps which we said he must take, and took beyond all power of retracing. As far as a real working-class movement is concerned, he is a ruined man.
The Sinaloa Folk.--These are a company of men and women who have obtained possession of the State of Sinaloa in Mexico, call themselves the Credit Foncier Company, have planned and built a city and propose living therein as in a sort of Zoar among the cities of the plain. The Chairman is Albert K. Owen, who is no relation or connection of Robert Owen; the Treasurer, John W, Lovell; the Attorney, Lewis H. Hankins; the Secretary, Davitt D. Chidester; the Representative in Mexico City, Ignacio Pombo. Departments of Deposits, Surveying, Law, Motors, Police, Transportation, Diversification, Education, Farming, Pharmacy, each have a head. Amongst these "heads" are Edward and Marie Howland, two of our earliest visitors in America, and two of those who left on us the deepest impression of sincerity and earnestness. The intention is to form another of the "communities" of which America has already seen not a few, with a combination of the communistic life within and the capitalist life without. Such a combination is, as it seems to us, but, one more of those attempts at a compromise between the anti-social system of to-day and the social system of to-morrow that are fore-doomed by their intrinsic nature.
This then is an attempt of the Fourier and Saint Simon order, and will probably meet with the same fate as is encountered by all undertakings of this kind. The establishing of small islands of more or less incomplete communism in the midst of the present sea of capitalist method of living, only ends in the overwhelming of the islands by the sea. The necessary smallness of the scale upon which such an experiment must be made handicaps its success. It is true that the whole scheme of the Sinaloa community is on broader and longer lines than, perhaps, any other that has yet been started. Yet, the riddle of modern society is not likely to be solved in this way. The success of an experiment of the kind, assuming that it is attained, would be an encouragement, possibly even an example, to the workers. Hut probably the final solution of the riddle will be by the conquering of political power in every country by the proletarian party, by their subsequent conquest of economic power, and by the abolition of private property in the means of production and distribution, leading to a communistic society commensurate with the whole of the nation. Let it he added, nevertheless, that if earnestness of purpose, integrity, high sense of honour and of the beauty of life could insure success in such an undertaking, that of the Sinaloa community, judging from the members of it with whom we came into personal relations, is assured.
It was at the house of the Treasurer of the Sinaloa community, John Lovell, that we me Henry George, and also one of the representative Woman-Suffrage women of America, Mrs. Devereux Blake. With another of these, Mrs. Isabella Beecher Hooker, sister of the late Henry Ward Beecher and of Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe, we spent perhaps the most happy and assuredly the most peaceful hours of our stay in America. A word or two may be said here upon our experience of the American women who are in the front of the battle for the extension of the suffrage to their sex.
They appear to be like and yet unlike their English sisters labouring in the same field. They are like them in their non-understanding of the fact that the woman question is one of economics and not of mere sentiment. The present position of women rests, as everything in our complex modern society rests, upon an economic basis. The woman question is one of the organisation of society as a whole. American female woman-suffragists are like the English in the fact that they are, as a rule, well-to-do. And they are like them in that they make no suggestion for change that is outside the limits of the society of to-day.
But the American woman-suffragists differ from the English in one very important particular. They are ready and willing to listen to the ideas of other schools of thought whose shibboleth is not identical with theirs. They are beginning to understand that this special question is only part of a much larger one. They are beginning to understand that it can only be answered satisfactorily and completely when the great economic problem is solved. The two women above mentioned, and others of the same school as they, eagerly listened to any attempt at a statement as to the method of solution of that problem, and were ready to engage in the more far-reaching struggle for the emancipation of the workers as well as in that for the emancipation of their own sex. And in this wider view of the contest for liberty there is of course no narrowing of the view as to the woman question especially; nor does any one lose the woman-like in the larger mind.
Another difference between the American and English "advanced" women is that the former are much more outspoken. They call things honestly by their names, and are not like the English, afraid of being thought "improper." When the Pall Mall Gazette and Mr. Stead were dealing with certain questions that assuredly concern women at least as much as they concern men, a very plain-speaking letter on the subject was drawn up, and a number of well-known "advanced" women in England were all aflame to sign it at first. But the fear of that member of their sex whose name is Grundy came upon them, and they nearly all with one accord began to make excuse. Not that they had altered their opinions; they were only afraid to make them public. Among the advanced women of America such cowardice as this would be impossible.
Colonel Richard J. Hinton.--A New York visitor, earlier even than the Howland husband and wife, and a man as sincere and earnest as they. English born and Chartist bred, Hinton came over to America on the right side in things political, and has been upon it and in the forefront of it ever since. He was all through the Civil War, and took out from Boston the first corps of newspaper fighters and writers for the North. He was close friend of Ossawatomie Brown--John Brown, as the English know him--and there were almost as many and as large offers made for his head as were made for that of his friend. Since the war ended Hinton has worked at journalism; and when the Labour Bureaus were started, he held, and still holds, official position under them. But he has never ceased to fight as well as to write. Since the battle for the negro slaves was won, he has been engaged in that on behalf of the wage slaves. Always active with pen and with tongue in any movement, small or large, for the greater freedom of any class, he has never lost sight of that largest of all movements that is destined to swallow up all others, as Aaron's rod the magicians'. No man or woman in America is more clear than he as to the hearing of all the various struggles here and there, now and than, upon the one great struggle between the working class and the possessing. And, whatever form that struggle assumes during the many years that we hope, for man's sake, Hinton may live, it is certain that he will be in the thick of it, and that his energy, enthusiasm, and bravery will be, of incalculable value. Equally certain is it that his wife, a beautiful-faced, beautiful-natured Irish woman, will be by his side, strengthening him and their cause.
Sergius Schevitch.--A cosmopolitan of the cosmopolitans. Russian by birth, this remarkable man speaks and writes perfectly German, French, English, and American, and, for aught we know, half a dozen other languages. He can conduct a newspaper and address a meeting in any one of five tongues, counting American and English as two. He not only speaks and writes American,--he thinks it. He has as clear an understanding of the conditions of society in the States, of the political situation there, of the position of the working-class movement, as Hinton himself; and this intimate knowledge of the land of his present adoption is accompanied by a knowledge not less intimate of the general European movement and its details in different countries. For a long time Schevitch was editor of the New Yorker Volkszeitung, the most important German labour paper in America. This post he only resigned to take that of editor of the The Leader, a journal started just before the November elections of 1886 on behalf of Henry George in his candidature for the mayorship of New York. After the elections the payer was continued as an organ of the working classes, and both Hinton and Schevitch held positions on it, the latter still at the head of affairs. Physically, Schevitch is as remarkable as he is mentally. He is of magnificent physique, and very handsome face; his voice is singularly strong and sweet. His wife, an actress of considerable power, was Helena von Rackovitz, the heroine of the duel that ended in the death of Ferdinand Lassalle, and the heroine of George Meredith's "Tragic Comedians," a book whose indebtedness to Helena von Rackovitz' own Memoirs has been hardly sufficiently acknowledged by its distinguished author.
Captain William Black.--Another physical and mental giant, but this time pure American. His name has gone out into all the earth as the advocate for the Chicago Anarchists, and to him, more than to all the rest of the world put together perhaps, they owed the long remission of their sentence, and will owe any commutation of it, should that commutation ultimately come. It was in their prison that one of us first met Black. On the one side of the iron grating in Cook County Gaol were eight men, seven under sentence of death and one of penal servitude for fifteen years. On our side were a few men-visitors and two women. One of the latter was Mrs. Neebe, wife of the eighth prisoner. She is dead since. The other was Mrs. Black, a bright, energetic, fresh little woman. She and her husband scarcely ever missed paying at least once in the day a visit to the men, either at 9.30 a.m. or at 4 p.m. The presence of both of them, even when they were not talking to one of the prisoners or intertwining a little finger with one of theirs through the grating (the only shaking hands possible), must have been a great solace. Her cheerful courage and enthusiastic faith in the ultimate getting of justice done were, without a doubt, of much help to the condemned men. But even more helpful, if possible, must have been the presence of her husband. It was easy to pick him out from among those present. Fully six feet in height, and built in perfect proportions, with long, quite white hair, a darker moustache and imperial, and very strong, keen eyes, such as only the kings and queens among men have.
Only a few hours later he and his indomitable little wife were with us, and during our four days' stay in Chicago hardly one went by without a visit from them although, according to Mrs. Black's statement, her husband was anything but "calling" man. Fortunately for us the five or ten minutes of his average stay anywhere became hours with us and hours among the most memorable of all that made up our American time. We found the wife bitten with the amiable variety of Anarchism that attacks those by whom neither the history nor the economics of the question has been studied, and who, seeing men unjustly treated because they are called by a particular name, straightway label themselves in the same fashion. But the husband was quite "sound." He defended his clients as men unfairly treated. He was in full accord with their Socialist speeches at the trial, but not with the Anarchist ones ascribed to them before it. He fully recognised the need for an education, an organisation, a political programme, as well as the not less necessary agitation; and so, for the matter of that, did his wife.
Nothing was more interesting than to see how in Black the enthusiast and the practical man were blended and yet distinct. He would discuss the future of the working-class movement with a contagious fire; the next moment, if you asked him a question as to the Chicago trial and the appeals he was then prosecuting, he was the calm, contained judicial lawyer, upon whose purely legal opinion you could depend as confidently as upon his unswerving fidelity to any cause in which he believed.
Black also had been through the war, and his tales of that time of trial were as delightful as the "Arabian Nights." And most delightful of all was the singing of the Battle Hymn of the Republic by our two friends. Many a time he had sung it on the march, when his men passed the word up to him for a song; and he sang it in our hotel rooms with a swing and a ring in his voice as if he were marching along at the head of a company. If only some Chicago "drummer" (Anglice, commercial traveller) had looked into our room at 10 o'clock that November morning and seen Black thundering out the Battle Song of the North, his wife singing "seconds," two other people listening, and, I think, four with tears in their eyes, what a quartette of asses he would have thought us !
William Morgan.--Another Chicago friend; working man in the stock sense of the word, and a very typical example of the best type. A Birmingham artisan originally, this man is physically a curious antithesis to Black. He is considerably below middle height, and of the generally stunted growth that generations of artisan heredity often produce; but mentally he ranks with Hinton and Black in our remembrance. An open and avowed Socialist and a thoroughly dependable man, he never disguised his opinions, never denied his principles, never truckled to man or to party. Yet he held a good position in some railway works, we fancy; and such was his influence among his fellow-workmen that on more than one occasion they had, upon his advice, abandoned a useless strike, whilst on others he had conducted similar movements to a successful issue. To Morgan, more than to any one else singly was due the excellent organisation of the working-class movement in Chicago that realised 25,000 votes in November 1886, and frightened the Democrats and Republicans into an alliance, offensive and defensive, against the new third party. And Morgan's courage is not less than his integrity. He kept his head cool and clear all through the time of terror after the bombthrowing and police-killing in May 1886, by degrees got others round him, cool and clear-headed, and with their help stayed the unreasoning panic. And when we held the public meeting in Chicago that, according to the Chicago Tribune and Times, was to be proclaimed beforehand and then broken up by the police, with "threatenings and slaughter" as to arrests and imprisonment and hanging for all the principals, it was Morgan who took the chair. But, when we write thus of this one earnest, single-souled, faithful worker for Socialism, we remember that he himself would be the first to point out that there are scores and hundreds like him in America. It is impossible now to recall every one of the number of thorough men and women, with true hearts and shrewd heads, in the movement, whom we met in every town we visited; but some of the names, for our own satisfaction, we should like to place on record. Only it must be remembered that just such another list--and a much longer one--might be made of men and women, as earnest and reliable, had we space and our readers patience. In Chicago Morgan has, besides other helpers, Warner and Krüger; away out West in Kansas city are Teske and Ruf (cigar-makers, who make their own men Socialists); and Trautwein (" ein ganz gew
hnlicher Schneider") ; in Cincinnati, Walster (editor of the Zeitung), Borckhauser, and Fritz; in Springfield, Mass., Mielliez, Mache, Nagler; in its namesake Ohio, the Hruzas, man and wife; Brown of Boston; Mueller of St. Paul's; and the trio, Nymanover, Evers, Blumenberg, at Minneapolis; Harris in Brooklyn; Seller and Busche the Bridgeport and Newhaven co-workers; Winter of St. Louis; Nicolai of Louisville; Paul of Davenport; Eberding of Bloomington; Dorn of Baltimore; Grahamer of Wiliamsport; Osborne Warde and Heidemann of Washington; and the Blatz family of Milwaukee. Many names, especially those of working men, we omit in memory of the black list.
We should like to describe in full one whose name is given in this fragment of a list. But trying to make anybody who has not known Otto Walster understand what manner of man this rare soul is, needs a George Meredith at least, if not a Heine or a Balzac, or these two last in one. There are two aspects of the poetry of a movement like that of Socialism. The one is furnished by the genuine proletariat, by their sufferings, their awakening, their feeling after hope, their aspiration, their understanding, their resolve and their victory, and of this song only the earlier verses are as yet sung confusedly. The clear voice of these, and yet more, the full clarion of battle and the paen of triumph are not yet sounded.
But the other aspect of the poetry of the working-class movement is already more definite and distinct in form. It is yielded by the artistic souls that, famishing in the desert of to-day, are making for the promised land beyond, and mark the way thither by their singing. Of such of these is Walster. Poet, dramatist, novelist, an artist to his soul's core, he descends into the common ways of men so that he may help to lead men from them. He makes the path out of the desert at once plainer and more smooth. He goes along it apparently carelessly, with a sort of devil-may-care swing; but he misses no flower that may be noted by the way; nay, he plants many himself, and for the less favoured souls gladdens all the journey with an eternal geniality and with hashes of an exquisite and pathetic humour.
When he was not at work on his paper, he was slouching about with his hands plunged far down into the outer pockets of his long great-coat, and his slouch hat on the back of his head, devouring chestnuts, showing us everything, and commenting on all that he showed with infinite wit, unforced, unobtrusive. He took us to panoramas, to dime museums, to saloons, to cafes chantants, to theatres. Was it not at one of these last that his attention was distracted from the stage by a lady and gentleman before us, of whom the representative of the ungentler sex had the very largest and most projecting ears ever fastened on to human head? They were like the sails of a windmill; and Walster watched them through most of one act. Then, still regarding them stonily, he said, as if to himself, "Und sie liebt ihn!"
The Vrooman Boys.--Let us end with a description more within compass than that of Walster, and whose objects are of not less moment in the American movement. The youthfulness of many of the working-class agitators and writers is, in so young a country, very much in keeping. At Cincinnati two boys came to see us, and said, quite as a matter of course, that they Here the editors of an American labour paper in that city. But the most interesting instance of this juvenility in work was in Kansas city. We were speaking at a private meeting on Sunday night there, before the public one on the Tuesday, from which over five hundred people were turned away at the door, and at which forty new members of the American section of the Socialist Labour Party were enrolled. A very young and eager face on the left stood out from all others at the preliminary private meeting. Later on, we were introduced to its owner, Waiter Vrooman, the boy-orator. He was then only seventeen, but was well known as a public speaker on labour questions, and an immensely popular one. He had been "run in" several times for open air speeches, and on one occasion the police had to let him out of the gaol by the back way, or the crowd, angry at his arrest, would have had him out by the front or burned the prison down. Yet the lad's head was by no means turned by all this, as one little thing showed significantly. On the Tuesday night, when our speaking as done, the crammed and jammed audience of something getting on for 2,000 people shouted for the boy. He rose and spoke two sentences only in spout twice as many seconds.
Walter and his brother Harry were the editors of the American labour paper of Kansas city,--The Labour Inquirer. Harry, nineteen years of age, had contributed to the Bureau of Labour for Kansas State a most valuable set of facts and statistics on the Labour movement. Both boys we found frank, open-hearted, delightful; quite boys still and with a keen sense of fun, as their elder brother, a Unitarian clergyman, and not yet a Socialist, found out, for they chaffed him good-humouredly, but mercilessly. A fourth boy, fifteen years of age, they announced as "coming on," and sure to work with them before long. Walter has, since our visit, gone to New York and created a huge sensation there by his really wonderful speaking, while more recently Harry has also gone East upon the war-path. Probably we shall hear them in England one of these days.
Such a phenomenon as the Vrooman boys would be impossible in any other country than America. But its occurrence there, as well as the various nationalities of the names we have given in these pages,--e.g., Black, Morgan, Mielliez, Macdonald, McGuire, Hruza, Trautwein, Vrooman,--show the universality of the Socialist movement in America, and tell of the certainty of its ultimate triumph.