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education, and their chief legislative demand was for a liberal homestead policy in the South for freedmen. To cap it all, the platform of the National Labor Union was absolute in the condemnation of the Republican party and advocated independent political action. Such a policy not only ran counter to the sentiment of loyalty felt by the rank and file of the Negroes for the Republican party, but was extremely unsuited to the ambitious aspirations of the coloured leaders, who, like their ablest representative, J. M. Langston, a lawyer from Ohio, staked their future upon the destinies of that party.

The first attempt of the Negroes to organise on a national scale was at the national coloured convention held in Washington in January, 1869. It had a large attendance of about 130 delegates, including a large number of politicians and preachers, nearly all from the northern and border States, and was purely political in its nature. Full confidence was declared in the Republican party, but provision was made for a national committee to be composed of one from each State and territory and for subordinate state committees to "take general charge of the interests of the coloured people." Equal political rights, education, and free land for freedmen were the only topics discussed. No mention was made of the relation to white labour.

The first coloured state labour convention was held in Baltimore in July, 1869. It appointed a committee to report at another state convention to be held two weeks thereafter. The report set forth that in many instances white men refused to work with Negroes and recommended thorough organisation of Negro labour throughout the country. The convention appointed five delegates to the Philadelphia convention of National Labor Union and issued a call for a national coloured labour convention to be held in Washington in December, 1869. The union of the employés of the Chesapeake Marine Railway Company in Baltimore, all coloured men, held a meeting in November, endorsed the call for the national convention, and appointed its secretary as delegate.7

The national convention met December 6, attended by 156 delegates from every section of the country. Richard Trevel

6 Ibid., Jan. 12-16, 1869.

7 Ibid., Nov. 9, 1869.

lick was present on behalf of the National Labor Union. The object of the convention stated in the call was to "consolidate the coloured workingmen of the several states to act in cooperation with our white fellow workingmen in every state and territory in the union, who are opposed to distinction in the apprenticeship laws on account of colour, and to so act cooperatively until the necessity for separate organisation shall be deemed unnecessary," and to petition Congress for the exclusion of contract coolie labour. The politicians in the convention immediately made their presence felt. Langston, of Ohio, warned the delegates against the white delegates from Massachusetts (Cummings of the Crispins and several others) whom he accused of being the emissaries of the Democratic party. The land question and education were the chief topics, and Congress was memorialised to pass a special homestead act for the Negroes in the South. The convention created a coloured national labour union with Isaac Myers, a Baltimore caulker, president, and adopted a lengthy platform. This dif fered in many respects from the platform of the white National Labor Union. It carefully omitted all matters such as greenbackisin and taxation of government bonds, taxation of the rich for war purposes, independent political action, restoration of civic rights to southerners, which might give offence to the Republican party. It omitted, also, several measures, the importance of which the Negroes did not appreciate, such as the incorporation of unions, a department of labour, convict labour, and the solidarity of men and women workers. It gave mere meution to eight hours and co-operation, but it added with strong emphasis the demand of equal rights for white and black labourers to jobs. The two platforms fully agreed that strikes were useless and that Chinese contract labour should be excluded.

After the Philadelphia convention in 1869, the National Labor Union made somewhat slower progress than during the preceding year. President Trevellick was an excellent agitator and organiser, but he did not possess that unequalled combination of breadth of vision and strong practical sense which was characteristic of Sylvis. He travelled 169 days of the year in New England, in the Middle States, in the South, and in

the West; and, accompanied by John Siney, their rapidly advancing leader, he visited the anthracite miners in Pennsylvania, who were then on a prolonged and bitter strike for the further existence of their union. As a result of these trips, 127 charters were issued to local organisations, but the finances of the organisation did not improve.

8

POLITICS IN MASSACHUSETTS

The centre of independent political action was transferred during 1869 from the West to the East. In Massachusetts the movement had retained in the person of Ira Steward and his friends a strong wage-conscious nucleus. Massachusetts was also the only important section of the nation in which the labour movement came directly in contact with a reform movement of intellectuals. The majority of these intellectuals advocated Proudhon's scheme of mutual banking and thus were in closer harmony with the greenbackism of the labour movement at large than were the followers of Steward. The attendance at the convention of the New England Labor Reform League, held in June, 1869, included representatives of both brands of labour reform. The intellectuals present were Wendell Phillips, Josiah Warren, Ezra A. Heywood, 10 E. H. Rogers, Dr. William H. Channing, Albert Brisbane and John Orvis.11 The labour representatives were Samuel P. Cummings and President William J. McLaughlin of the Knights of St. Crispin, Ira Steward, George E. McNeil, Jennie Collins, 12 and many others.

President Heywood in his upon the financial question,

8 A brief history of the organisations in that region will be found below, II, 184. These organisations, known as the Miners' and Laborers' Benevolent Associations of Luzerne and Schuylkill Counties, respectively, showed but little interest in the National Labor Union.

9 Congressman Cary of Ohio was defeated for re-election in 1868.

10 See above, I, 511. Heywood was a devoted adherent of Josiah Warren, the first American anarchist, and took him into his home in his old age and cared for him until his death. Heywood published various pamphlets on "mutualism" or anarchism.

opening address laid stress
and
and a
a series of resolutions

11 Orvis had been at Brook Farm and was organiser for the Sovereigns of Industry.

12 Jennie Collins of Boston was a young woman "of high culture and independent social position" who, in 1868, espoused the cause of women strikers in a textile mill in Dover. N. H., and rallied to their defence the factory women of New Eng land. She succeeded in establishing a union of women factory workers, which, however, disappeared soon after the unsuccessful outcome of the strike. (Andrews and Bliss, History of Women in Trade Unions, Sen. Doc.. 61 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 645, pp. 102, 103.)

was offered in which it was declared that "the use of one's credit as of his conscience or his vote, is a natural right, antecedent to, and independent of government," but that the government by "its claim to dictate the nature and amount of money, especially to restrict it to gold and silver, naturally scarce, and easily hoarded, enables the privileged few in control to make interest and prices high, wages low, and failures frequent, to suit their speculative purposes." The remedy advanced was the withdrawal of the notes of the national banks and the substitution of treasury certificates of service, receivable for taxes and bearing no interest; and the provision of free banking in the States, whereby money, based on commodities, might be furnished at cost. Declaring the solidarity of the league with the National Labor Union, the resolution finally declared that "the principles and measures here announced are no idle theories, but living issues to be made testquestions at the ballot-box; and whether it may be expedient to support our friends in either existing party. we pledge ourselves to make the interests of labour paramount to all other considerations in political action.” 13

Such was the position of the large majority of the intellectuals. As can readily be seen, their programme was Proudhon's scheme of free banking supplemented by the greenbacker's idea of government money and political action. The league advocated currency reform in preference to any other reform. On the other hand, Steward and McNeill moved as a substitute a resolution declaring that "the whole power and strength of the labour-reform movement should be concentrated upon the single and simple idea of first reducing the hours of labour, that the masses may have more time to discuss for themselves all other questions in labour reform.'

99

Thus the alignment stood: non-wage-conscious currency reform versus wage-conscious eight-hour reform. The line was not, however, drawn strictly, the intellectuals on one side and the wage-earners on the other. On one hand the wage-earner element found no less valuable a supporter than Wendell

13 American Workman. June 5, 1969. 14 The spiritual heir of these New England intellectuals during the eighties, Benjamin R. Tucker, the editor of the Boston

...

Liberty, was a strict follower of P. J. Proudhon. He translated What is Property? by Proudhon into English.

Phillips; and on the other hand, currency reform was defended by the representatives of the largest labour organisation then in existence, McLaughlin and Cummings, of the Crispins. The representatives of the cotton and woollen operatives and of the working women's organisations were against the currency issue and were unanimous for the eight-hour issue.

Three months later, failing in the attempt to swing the New England Reform League to the side of the eight-hour reform, Steward and McNeill established, in August, 1869, the Boston Eight-Hour League, a direct successor of the defunct Massachusetts Grand Eight-Hour League.15 But the Crispins were not inclined to espouse the eight-hour cause in Steward's dogmatic manner. They called a state labour reform convention on September 9 to lay the foundation of a state labour party upon a broad programme of labour demands in accordance with the decisions of the recent Philadelphia convention of the National Labor Union and the recommendations of the New England Labor Reform League. The Crispin delegates formed an overwhelming part of the well-attended convention. A few delegates from the Amalgamated Ten-Hour Association, and several intellectuals like Colonel William B. Greene 16 and John Orvis were present also. The platform dealt particularly with demands that were of vital interest to the Crispins. It declared that the workingmen "will not support for any public office, candidates who do not unequivocally recognise the right of associated labour by legislative recognition and encouragement for all legitimate purposes." The Crispins had already at the session of the legislature in 1869 presented a bill for incorporation. This was again pressed in 1870 in connection with public hearings where the proposition was strongly opposed by employers and defeated.17 The prominence given to the demand for a favourable incorporation law is explained in another resolution: "We regard co-operation in industry and exchange, as the final and permanent solution of the long conflict between labour and capital." The argument for incorporation of trade unions, at that time,

15 American Workman, Aug. 21, 1869. 16 Greene was 8 Proudhonist anarchist and published several pamphlets and a book entitled Socialistic, Communistic,

Materialistic and Financial Fragments (1875).

17 American Workman, Mar. 5. 1870. gives an extended report of the hearing.

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