« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
of the state, it would be manifestly partial, and therefore unjust." 49
Feeling, however, that they had been unable to do full justice to the question of the hours of labour, the commission suggested that a paid commission be appointed to continue the investigation.
Accordingly, a resolution of the legislature, May 28, 1866, provided for a commission to be appointed by the governor for the purpose of investigating the subject of hours of labour,
especially in its relation to the social, educational, and sanitary condition of the industrial classes, and to the permanent prosperity of the productive interests of the state." 50
Following the example set by the earlier commission, this body, consisting of Amasa Walker, the economist, William Hyde, and Edward H. Rogers, issued a circular asking for information from corporations and individuals in various occupations throughout the State.
The report returned by this commission was not unanimous. Walker and Hyde sent in a majority report which recommended that no law restricting the hours of labour be enacted for the adult population.51
E. H. Rogers' minority report was a very careful and able discussion of the investigations made, and in it he reviewed the early struggle for a reduction of hours, the recent efforts of the caulkers and ship carpenters of Boston to gain the eighthour day, and the eight-hour philosophy. He recommended the adoption of a law limiting hours to eight per day, in the absence of a contract to the contrary. No law was enacted, however.52
Meanwhile the question was not neglected in other States. A bill providing for eight hours was introduced in the Pennsylvania house of representatives in February, 1866. It passed, but was lost in the senate.53 The Ohio house of representatives in the same month passed a similar bill by a vote of 70 The senate made some trifling amendments to the bill
50 Massachusetts, Acts and Resolves, 1866, chap. 92, 320,
51 Massachusetts, House Document, 1867, No. 44.
53 House Journal, 1866, 769.
and passed it. But the house refused to concur in these amendments and the bill was lost.54
New Jersey's legislature was no longer favourable to the eight-hour system, and the bill there introduced was likewise lost. 55 Illinois enacted an eight-hour law,56 but it was not enforced. Wisconsin, by a law enacted in 1867, provided for the eight-hour day for women and children,57 but it laid a penalty only upon an employer who should compel any woman or child to work more than eight hours a day.
The nation-wide agitation for an eight-hour law met with some measure of success in California, which had passed a ten-hour law in 1853. In January, 1866, a concurrent resolution was adopted by the legislature providing for the appointment of a committee, consisting of three members from the senate and two from the house, to investigate..the proposition to change the hours of labour in the legal day.58 No record is obtainable of the report of this committee, but at the session of 1868 a bill was passed providing for the eight-hour day in all cases unless otherwise stipulated by the parties contracting. Eight hours was made the legal day for all public employment, and a fine of from $10 to $100 was imposed upon the employer who should employ a child at any work for more than eight hours in any one day.59
Connecticut had, in the meantime, enacted a law establishing eight hours as the legal day for all persons, unless other hours were agreed upon by the parties concerned.60 The immediate success in this State was mainly due to the efforts of Phelps, vice-president of the National Labor Union for that State and president of the trades' union of New Haven.
A victory, which later however proved futile, occurred in the State of New York. Here William Jessup, the president of the state workingmen's assembly, led in the fight. He was the first labour leader to appreciate the value of exact statistical data in support of labour's demands before the legislature.
54 House Journal, 1866, 195, 420. 55 Ninetieth General Assembly of New Jersey, Minutes of Votes and Proceedings, 1866, 653.
56 Illinois, Public Laws, 1867, 101. 57 Wisconsin, Laws, 1867, chap. 83, p. 80.
58 California, Laws, 1865-1866, chap. 2, 882.
59 Ibid., 1868, chap. 70, p. 63.
60 Connecticut, Laws, 1867, chap. 37, 23,
An eight-hour bill was introduced in the assembly in the spring of 1867. This passed both houses,61 and was signed by Governor Fenton. He refused, however, to see that it was properly enforced. Every law, he said, was obligatory by its own nature, and could derive no additional force from any further act of his.62
The question was brought before the legislatures of Michigan, Maryland, Minnesota, and Missouri. But with the single exception of the last named State, the bills were defeated.63
A feature which characterised all of these measures, whether enacted or merely proposed, was the permission of longer hours than those named in the law, provided they were so specified in the contract. A contract requiring ten or more hours a day would be perfectly legal. The eight-hour day was the legal day only "when the contract was silent on the subject or where there is no express contract to the contrary," as stated in the Wisconsin law. None of the laws provided for the protection of agricultural labour, and most of them did not include domestic service.
The movement for eight-hour laws thus, on the whole, proved futile. How the advocates of this legislation viewed the results was clearly expressed in 1867 by the committee on eighthours at the second convention of the National Labor Union which said: "Your committee wish also further to state that Eight Hour laws have been passed by the legislatures of six states, but for all practical intents and purposes they might as well have never been placed on the statute books, and can only be described as frauds on the labouring class." 64
The causes were several. First, the American Federal system made it necessary to break the movement up into as many independent parts as there were state legislatures. In England, a legislative movement had the advantage that Parliament was the only body upon which labour needed to bring pressure in order to attain results. In the United States, Congress could pass a shorter hour law only for the District of Columbia, the
territories, and for the wage-earners directly or indirectly in the employ of the Federal Government.
Another cause was the inexperience of the labour leaders in dealing with legislative matters. They were easily befuddled by skilful politicians, who, while in many cases willing to pass the desired legislation, at the same time craftily omitted to provide for the means of its enforcement; and, when asked to see that their own laws were enforced, they made, like Governor Fenton of New York, the meaningless reply that every law is obligatory by its nature."
Meanwhile, the contraction of the paper currency continued. The conditions of industry grew more and more depressed. Unemployment rapidly increased and, in the face of a falling market, strikes were doomed to failure. Some prompt and fundamental measure was required to meet the situation. This brought on a rapid growth of the movement for productive cooperation.
As early as 1863, when retail prices began to rise far more rapidly than wages, a substantial movement for distributive co-operation on the Rochdale plan as well as on the purely joint-stock principle started. That movement continued with varying success, but about the middle of 1866 there came a strong current in favour of productive co-operation. Distributive co-operation, in fact, had been regarded as merely a beginning, and Thomas Phillips, one of the foremost leaders in this movement, had urged in his letters in Fincher's that cooperation should not stop at store associations; they should be a foundation for the rest. The store should be started first, in order to get the capital and experience necessary to manage manufactures, agriculture, and general commerce.65
The Lawrence, Massachusetts, association, which did a flourishing business for several years, was fairly typical of the early efforts on the part of consumers to extend the co-operative principle through distribution to production, and illustrates well the beginnings of transition in the movement. On account of the high cost of provisions, it was organised in November, 1863,
65 Fincher's, Apr. 30, 1864.
to conduct a co-operative grocery store which was opened the following January with a stock of goods worth $1,400. In less than a month the company was obliged to add another "store man"; in April they opened a meat market; in July another man was put to work and a little later still another clerk was added. In January, 1865, a shoemaker was hired, and arrangements were made for "a female to make children's clothes and to superintend the dry-goods department." They had purchased a new store building, 4 stories high, 40 feet by 30 the cellar for a meat market and stock room, the first floor for groceries, the second for dry goods, boots, and shoes, and the top floors for work-shops and shoemaking.
Agricultural co-operation, also had its early adherents. In May, 1865, news came to Fincher's of the establishment of a co-operative farming and manufacturing company at Foster's Crossing, Ohio. Here, too, the promoter of the enterprise had been active first in a co-operative grocery store (at Cincinnati) and in addition had already commenced the publication of a little paper called the Co-operative Record.
But the co-operative experiments which attracted special attention during the three years following the summer of 1866, were the efforts of workmen to carry on in their own shops a form of productive co-operation which would give to them the whole product of their own labour. Such attempts were made by practically all of the leading trades including the bakers, coach-makers, collar makers, coal-miners, shipwrights, machinists and blacksmiths, nailers, foundry-workers, shipcarpenters and caulkers, glass-blowers, hatters, boiler-makers, plumbers, iron-rollers, tailors, printers, needle women, and moulders. A large proportion of these attempts grew out of unsuccessful strikes during the period of depression in 1866 and 1867. Most important among these were the co-operative stove foundries established under the direct encouragement of William H. Sylvis, president of the Molders' International Union, of which a full account was given above.
The machinists, too, throughout this period, took an active interest in co-operation. The national convention, which met in October, 1865, appointed a committee of five to report on
66 Ibid., May 6, 1865.
67 See above, II, 56-58.