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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.*7
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.
a plan of action to establish a co-operative shop under the auspices of the international union. This plan, however, which was later adopted by the Knights of Labor under the title of integral co-operation," was not adopted at this time, but there was a fair number of machinists' shops on the joint stock plan.
The taking up of productive co-operation brought the workingmen face to face with the credit problem. For, granting that they had sufficient to start the shops, they needed capital to finance their output. This need of a credit system naturally led to monetary reform which, as we shall presently see, was placed by the National Labor Union at the head of its platform in 1867.
LABOR CONGRESS OF 1867
The chief hindrance to the success of the National Labor Union was the lack of adequate provision for revenue to cover expenses. The executive council had been authorised to levy a tax of 25 cents on each member of the National Labor Union, but the officers confessed their inability to determine who were "members," as the constituency of that body had been "indistinctly defined and but questionably established." The lukewarmness of the affiliated organisations in providing revenue should not, however, be interpreted as a disagreement with the principles of the National Labor Union. President Whaley reported at the next convention that the platform had been invariably adopted by all unions before which it was brought for ratification.
Secretary Gibson,68 within a month after the first convention in 1866, issued notices for subscriptions to the proceedings of that convention, but financial returns were insufficient to warrant their publication in pamphlet form. Treasurer Hinchcliffe received from the local tax for running expenses only $205.21 and disbursed $187.25.
The three States which had made substantial progress in the
68 Evidence of his zeal is found in the records of his correspondence during the year. Without clerical assistance wrote 1,387 letters, and received 956.
He also distributed 2,157 printed letters, and 5,816 addresses and circulars. Meanwhile he received only $75.38, and expended $791.62.
work of organisation during the year, were New York, under the leadership of William J. Jessup, Connecticut, under Alfred W. Phelps, and California, under A. M. Kennady. These were the States which passed eight-hour laws.
An important event in the year's work was the issuing of an Address to the Workingmen of the United States by the committee, of which A. C. Cameron was chairman, appointed for that purpose by the last convention. Realising that their address would be subject to the "criticism of the entire capitalistic press" of the country, and in order that it might be "catholic in spirit, comprehensive in scope, simple in diction and unanswerable in argument," the committee had asked for two weeks' time in which to prepare it for the public. But it was not ready until July, 1867. The address, while probably not "unanswerable in argument," doubtless was comprehensive in scope." It dealt with every problem that affected labour,70 eight hours, co-operation, trade unions, the apprentice system, strikes, female labour, Negro labour, the public domain, and political action. Eight hours was declared to be "engrossing the attention of the American workman, and, in fact, the American people," and the arguments in its favour were substantially the same as at the first convention. But the subject of co-operation was given much more prominence. After reciting the success of co-operation in England, it stated that "there are special reasons and needs for the existence of co-operative efforts in this country, for here there is less disposition on the part of capital to combine and co-operate with labour, than elsewhere, in consequence of the excessive accumulations of capital by the great rates of interest which prevail in this country." This was the first suggestion in American trade union documents of what the next year became the accepted platform of greenbackism.
On the subjects of the public domain, trade unionism, strikes, and apprenticeship, the address differed little from the declarations of the convention, although with regard to the last named, the doctrine of vested rights in a trade was more clearly applied.
69 Jessup contributed individually toward the expenses of the organisation. 70 It was printed in pamphlet form and
widely distributed. Doc. Hist., IX, 141– 168.
But Negro labour and female labour were elaborately treated. The Negro problem was discussed both from the economic and the political side. Attention was called to the recent case of the importation of Negro caulkers from Portsmouth, Virginia, to Boston during an eight-hour strike, and the need of a general consolidation of labour regardless of race was deduced. But still greater attention was called to the coming importance of the Negro as a voter and the question was squarely put: "Can we afford to reject their proffered co-operation and make them enemies?" The address concluded on this question that "the interests of the workingmen in America especially requires that the formation of Trades' Unions, Eight Hour Leagues, and other labour organisations should be encouraged among the coloured race."
With reference to the subject of female labour, the address conceded that in many trades women were qualified to fill the positions formerly occupied by men, but demanded that they should also get the same compensation as men.
The last and the most important section of the address dealt with "political action." Like the platform adopted at the convention, it called upon the workingmen to "cut aloof from the ties and trammels of party, manipulated in the interest of capital" and to use the ballot in their own interests. However, unlike the convention, the address did not treat political action in connection with the eight-hour law, but linked it with the abolition of "our iniquitous monetary and financial system," which reduced the "producing classes" to a state of servitude.
This change is an indication that the labour movement of the sixties was already abandoning wage-consciousness for the consciousness of the "producer," embracing alike wage-earners, small manufacturers, and farmers.
The adoption by the labour movement of the point of view of the "producer," took place at a time when the movement of discontent spread all along the line of the "producing classes." As shown in the preceding chapter, the wage-earners were the only class obliged to organise during the years of war prosperity. The farmers were reaping the benefits of high prices and had no incentive to organise. But the falling prices after the War affected the farmer and the wage-earner alike. They
meant unemployment and low wages to the latter and operation at a loss to the former. The wage-earners felt the turning tide sooner on account of the return of the soldiers to industry, and they hastened to start a movement for remedial legislation an eight-hour law. By the year 1867 the farmers began keenly to feel the depression and we consequently find them joining with the wage-earners in a movement for legislation that would benefit the "producer" instead of the "capitalist."
When the second convention of the National Labor Union met in Chicago, August 19, 1867, it contained four delegates from three anti-monopoly associations in Illinois 71 and two representatives from land and labour leagues in Michigan. All of these organisations represented the farmers' interests and were but a small fraction of the numerous farmers' political clubs, which were then rapidly forming in the agricultural States of the West.72
The representation of the purely wage-earners' organisations had undergone some change since the Baltimore convention. The number of national unions which sent delegates had grown from 3 to 6,73 the number of trades' assemblies had decreased from 11 to 9, and local trade unions from 41 to 33, but the eight-hour leagues increased from 4 to 9 and there was 1 state organisation. The total number of organisations was 64, and of delegates, 71. The well-known leaders were nearly all present. There were Gibson and Whaley, Sylvis and Trevellick, Hinchcliffe and Cameron, Jessup and Phelps. The Lassalean Schlägel, although not a delegate, was seated by a special resolution. Prominent absentees, who had been present at Baltimore, were Fincher and Troup, but their absence was more than balanced by the presence of Sylvis and Trevellick. The important fact was the larger representation of national trade unions, showing that legislative action had found adherents among all forms of labour organisations.
President Whaley's report pointed out that the lack of a