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Beginning with a circulation of less than 5,000 copies, the paper gradually extended its field of influence until, at the end of the first year, it had doubled both in size and sales. At the end of two and one-half years (December, 1865) over 11,000 copies were printed. The territory covered included 31 out of the 36 States, the District of Columbia, 3 provinces of Canada, and 8 cities in England. The paper thus became a powerful organ for the propaganda of trade unionism, cooperation, and shorter hours. Among its colabourers were the most prominent labour leaders of the time, William H. Sylvis, Richard F. Trevellick, Thomas Phillips, and Ira Steward.
A few labour papers had been published in the years immediately before the War. The Mechanics' Own was pub lished in New York for eleven months during 1859-1860, and advocated arbitration. Another paper by the same name was published in Philadelphia a little later. The New England Mechanic appeared in 1859, and in New York during the same year the American Banker and Workingmen's Leader was published for a short time. The need for a German labour press had been keenly felt in New York City and the Arbeiter and the Soziale Republik appeared in 1858. None of these papers, however, survived the depression which immediately followed the beginning of the War.
The principal labour papers during the war, beside Fincher's, were the Chicago weekly Workingman's Advocate and the Daily Evening Voice of Boston. The Workingman's Advocate was founded in July, 1864, during a printers' strike and was edited during all of the thirteen years of its existence by Andrew C. Cameron, who from the standpoint both of length of service and ability as a practical writer was the greatest labour editor of his time. The Workingman's Advocate was the official organ of the Chicago Trades' Assembly and later also of the National Labor Union. In its editorial columns it reflected the views of the western labour movement, which inclined more than the eastern to active participation in politics.
The Daily Evening Voice of Boston, the official organ of the workingmen's assembly of Boston and vicinity, was of still
In the year 1906 the son of Mr. Cameron presented a the Wisconsin University Library.
file of this paper to
greater importance. It was started early in December, 1864, by the locked-out printers of Boston, and continued by the various local unions on a co-operative basis until its suspension in October, 1867. During the last twenty months it was supplemented by a weekly edition. The Voice was not only a labour paper but also an interesting general paper; it contained telegraphic news and gave much space to general local news; it also differed from the other labour papers by its large amount of advertisements. The Voice enjoyed a large circulation in the New England States and accurately reflected the movement of that section, which was strongly influenced by the agitation for shorter hours.
Another noteworthy paper, the Weekly Miner, was established at Belleville, Illinois, by John Hinchcliffe, as the official organ of the American Miners' Association, on May 23, 1863, one week before the appearance of Fincher's Trades' Review. It lasted until 1865, when a libel suit led to its removal to St. Louis, where it survived one more year under the name Miner and Artisan. About the same time, 1864–1866, a second labour paper by the name of Daily Press was published in St. Louis. It was established, as were many labour papers of this period, on a co-operative basis, by striking printers. The editors of nearly all of these labour papers believed themselves pioneers in the field, so completely had the movements of the thirties and the forties been forgotten.
The organisation of local trade unions probably began in the second half of the year 1862, but reliable information concerning the movement can be secured only from the beginning of June, 1863, when Fincher began publishing his weekly, Fincher's Trades' Review.
The question of wages played a large part in the organisations which took place during this period, though demands for wages were not the only cause of organisation. Fincher's says that although wages were good, in fact, had risen from 25 to 50 per cent, this did not mean that there were more opportunities for the workingman to save; for prices had risen to a
still greater extent than wages. Further, when the War ceased, there was likely to be considerable unemployment, and the proper way to meet the situation was to organise. With this warning to the trades, organisations increased at a rapid páce."
Another incentive given to the organisation of locals was the organisation of trades' assemblies. In Albany, New York, the printers' union flourished, but organisation was not confined to the printers alone. Other unions were doing as well, or better. New unions composed of members of occupations which never before thought of such a thing in their trade, were organised and joined the trades' assembly. The constitution of the assembly provided that any organised trade with twentyfive members, which sent duly accredited delegates to the assembly, would receive the support of all unions there represented. What was true of this assembly was no doubt true of others.
The wave of organisation is shown by the growing size of the trade union directory printed in Fincher's paper. Occupying but half a column in June, 1863, it grew to a full column during the next month, to two columns six months later, to four columns in July, 1864, and finally to a seven-column page in May, 1865. At the end of each half year during the first eighteen months, beginning with June, 1863, the record thus preserved was 20 trades embracing 79 unions in December, 1863; 40 trades and 203 unions in June, 1864; and 53 trades embracing 207 unions in December of that year. In November, 1865, there were 61 different trades organised with approximately 300 unions.
The following table shows the number of unions reported in Fincher's up to December, 1863, and the increase during the next year. The year 1864 saw the number of unions increased from 79 to 270. By November, 1865, but 8 more trades were organised and something like 30 locals added; so that the year 1863-1864 represents the most marked growth of local organisation.
7 Fincher's, July 4, 1863.
8 Ibid., Aug 6, 1864.
Table Showing Growth of Local Organisation from December, 1863, to December, 1864
Of the trades in 1863, the machinists and blacksmiths had the largest number of unions, 29, and following closely were the moulders with 24. Then followed the carpenters and joiners with 4, and other trades with numbers ranging from 1 to 3 each. These 79 unions were scattered over 16 States. New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts being the leading industrial States at this time, it is only natural that they should have the largest number of unions. They lead with 48 out of the 79 unions, or 60 per cent of the whole. The unions were pretty evenly divided among these three States, Massachusetts having 17, New York 16, and Pennsylvania, 15. Virginia, the most southerly State, had 1, Maine, the most northerly, 1, and Missouri, the most westerly, had 4. So up to 1864, unionism was confined, with one exception, to the region east of the Mississippi River and mainly to the northeastern and central part of that region.
The beginning of 1864 showed a phenomenal activity among wage-earners. Fincher's Trades' Review for March 12 of that year gives an account of labour activities for New York and vicinity, which was typical of other places:
"The Slate and Metal Roofers are organising and it is thought they will demand $3 per day. The Segar makers are preparing to secure better wages. The Longshoremen have demanded $2.50 per day of nine hours, from the 7th inst. The Jewellers have decided to add 25 per cent to their wages. The Bricklayers demanded $2.50 per day, House Carpenters demand $2.50 per day, Painters $2.50 per day, Dry dock practical painters $2.50 per day, Plumbers $2.50 per day, Blue Stone cutters and Flaggers, $2.50 per day. The Piano Forte makers demand an increase of 25 per cent on former wages. The Iron Moulders ask for 15 per cent advance. The Cabinetmakers .and Tailors are also moving. The Carvers ask 15 per cent addition. The Shipwrights are preparing for a struggle. The Brush makers have been conceded 25 per cent advance in New York by all employers but three. Wheelwrights and Blacksmiths are in council. The Bookbinders are organised. The Coopers have obtained their increase recently sought, and will make no immediate demand for change. The Coach Painters and coach Trimmers will shortly remodel their list of prices. Several of the trades mentioned above have obtained the wages sought by amicable treaty; and let us hope that all may succeed without the resort of a strike."
As might be expected from the foregoing, the year 1864 was a year of rapid increase in the number of local unions. The number of trades increased to 53 and the number of unions to 270. Some of the unions showed a big increase over 1863. For instance, the machinists and blacksmiths' locals increased from 29 to 46, the carpenters and joiners from 4 to 17, and several of the other unions in proportion. But the greatest increase in any trade was among the moulders, who increased their local organisations from 24 to 65.
As in 1863, the States having the largest number of locals in 1864 were New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, and the percentage which they had of the whole remained about the same.
The number of States in which locals were organised did not increase greatly; in fact, but four States were added to the list and these with a total of but five unions. Furthermore, union