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labour, the establishment of a bureau of labour, the prohibition of child labour under fourteen years of age, the payment of wages in cash, and the immediate abrogation of the Burlingame Treaty with China. However, no special effort was made to reach the labour vote. Weaver, the nominee for president, spent most of his time in the South. The vote in New York fell to 12,000. In Pennsylvania, although the leaders of the Knights, such as Powderly and Wright, were present at the convention of 1880, by far the greater part of the workingmen in the coal regions of the East and the iron and steel region of the West, which had polled so heavy a vote for the party in 1878, deserted it in 1880, and the vote fell to 20,000. A careful study of the vote for Weaver in 1880 reveals the fact, that, with the exception of an industrial section running through seven counties in central Michigan, the greenback movement in 1880 presents itself as a distinctly agricultural movement, drawing the bulk of its strength from the agricultural States east of the Mississippi, and the remainder from the agricultural areas of the West. With insignificant exceptions, the desertion of the greenback cause by workingmen seems by 1880 to have been well nigh complete.


9 Libby, "A Study of the Greenback Movement, 1876-1884," in Wisconsin

Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters,
Transactions, 1898-1899, XII, 530-543.




Class struggle versus race struggle, 252. The depression in California, 253. Socialists and the strike movement, 253. The anti-Chinese riot, 253. Denis Kearney, 254. The Workingmen's party of California, 255. Its platform, 255. The sand-lot meetings, 253. Arrest of Kearney, 256. Nomination of delegates for the state constitutional convention, 256. Threats of riots and the 'gag law," 257. Kearney's acquittal, 258. State convention of the Workingmen's party, 258. First successes in elections, 259. The election to the state constitutional convention, 260. Alliance of the workingmen with the farmers, 260. The anti-Chinese clause in the constitution, 260. Adoption of the constitution by the people, 261. Workingmen's success in the state election, 261. Success in the San Francisco municipal election, 261. Movement for the enforcement of the anti-Chinese clause in the state constitution, 262. Success in the state legislature but failure in the United States Circuit Court, 262. Second arrest of Kearney, 262. Beginning of the disintegration of the Workingmen's party, 263. Defeat in elections, 263. Relation to the national green back movement, 263. End of the party, 264. Spread of the anti-Chinese movement among small employers, 264. The question before Congress, 265. Congressional investigating committee, 265. Increase in Chinese immigration during the early eighties, 266. The Representative Assembly of Trade and Labor Unions, 266. The white label, 266. The state labour convention, the League of Deliverance, and the boycott of Chinese-made goods, 267. Chinese Exclusion Act, 267.

IN California,1 as in the eastern industrial States, the railway strikes of 1877 precipitated a political labour movement. California had retained gold as currency throughout the entire period of paper money, and the labour movement at no time had accepted the greenback platform. The political issue after 1877 was racial, not financial, and the weapon was not merely the ballot, but also "direct action "-violence. The antiChinese agitation in California, culminating as it did in the Exclusion Law of 1882, was doubtless the most important single factor in the history of American labour, for without it the entire country might have been overrun by Mongolian labour, and

Cross, University of California, on the History of the Labor Movement in California.

1 This chapter is condensed and largely quoted from the manuscript of Ira B.

the labour movement might have become a conflict of races instead of one of classes.

When the news of the strikes and of the labour riots in Pittsburgh reached California, the business situation in that State was at its lowest ebb. Depression had set in there later than in the other States, so that in the three years, 1873, 1874, and 1875, approximately 150,000 immigrants from the East had entered the State.2 Consequently, when the crisis came, in 1877, the usual number of unemployed, always to be found in San Francisco, was augmented many fold. The greatest unrest and discontent prevailed among this class. At that time no city or state central labour body existed. The national socialist organisation, which then bore the name of Workingmen's party of the United States,3 was the only one in touch with the national labour movement. Thus it was that a meeting was called under the auspices of the party to agitate the labour question, and to be held on the vacant lots in front of the new city hall in San Francisco, known as the "sand-lots," on the evening of July 23.



On the day of the meeting, rumors were spread that a riot was being planned, with the object of burning the docks of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, and of pillaging the Chinese quarter. Nevertheless, the police granted a permit to hold the meeting. At least 8,000 people gathered on the sand-lots in the evening. The crowd was addressed by several socialists who spoke on the labour question, but said nothing of the Chinese. Everything was orderly until an anti-coolie procession pushed its way into the audience and insisted that the speakers say something about the Chinese. This was refused and thereupon the crowd which had gathered on the outskirts of the meeting attacked a passing Chinaman and started the cry, "On to Chinatown." This marked the beginning of a two-day riot during which more than $100,000 worth of property belonging to Chinamen and others was destroyed, and four men were killed. The disturbance was quelled by the united

2 San Francisco Bulletin, Jan. 10, 1876. 8 See below. II, 269 et seq.

4 The sand-lots, for many years. had been the gathering place for speakers, street fakers, phrenologists, tramps, and others of like stamp who had no trouble

at any time in getting a crowd of idlers to listen to their harangues, or to buy their novelties.

5 The Pacific Mail Steamship Company's vessels brought the largest portion of Chi nese immigrants to the United States.

efforts of the police, state militia, and the thousand-strong "pick-handle brigade." This was an improvised militia under the command of a citizens' vigilance committee, and owed its name to the fact that each member was armed with a hickory pick handle.

Among the members of the pick-handle brigade was an Irish drayman, Denis Kearney by name. He was born in the county of Cork, Ireland, in 1847, and, after sailing the seas for some years, had come to California in 1868. He had picked up considerable information from newspapers, public meetings, political clubs, and other sources. He was a regular attendant at the meetings of the Lyceum for Self-Culture. He was especially temperate in his habits, and, when speaking at meetings, he took occasion to abuse the members of his own class for their laziness and shiftlessness. His remarks were consistently in favour of the employers and the Chi


But the July riots changed his attitude. He made application for admission to a section of the socialistic Workingmen's party of the United States, but its leaders, knowing Kearney's contempt for the working class, rejected the application." Kearney then decided that he would organise a party of his own and forthwith formed the Workingmen's Trade and Labor Union of San Francisco, with J. G. Day as president, J. J. Hickey as treasurer, and himself as secretary. He delivered an address at the first meeting of the new party which the press characterised as "forcible in language and rather incendiary in sentiment." In the following election his organisation was practically unheard of. But becoming more and more violent, he found himself, within a short time, at the head of a considerable following. On September 23, he held his first meeting upon the sand-lots, which was attended by some 700 people. As had become his habit, he indulged in frenzied statement and concluded by declaring that San Francisco would meet the fate of Moscow unless something were done to alleviate the sufferings of the workers and drive the Chinese from California. The cry, "the Chinamen must go," now became the rallying

The story runs thus in the semi-annual report of the national secretary of

the party, National Socialist (Cincinnati), Aug. 31, 1878.

slogan of the agitators and was soon echoed and re-echoed from one end of the State to the other.

On October 5, the next step was taken when the Workingmen's party of California was organised with Kearney as president, Day as vice-president, and H. L. Knight as secretarytreasurer. Knight drew up the platform which was in part as follows:


"The object... is to unite all poor and workingmen and their friends into one political party, for the purpose of defending themselves against the dangerous encroachments of capital.

"We propose to rid the country of cheap Chinese labor as soon as possible, and by all means in our power, because it tends still more to degrade labor and aggrandise capital.

"We propose to destroy land monopoly in our State by such laws as will make it possible.

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"We propose to destroy the great money power of the rich by a system of taxation that will make great wealth impossible in the future.

"When we have 10,000 members we shall have the sympathy and support of 20,000 other workingmen.

"The party will then wait upon all who employ Chinese and ask for their discharge, and it will mark as public enemies those who refuse to comply with their request.

"This party will exhaust all peaceable means of attaining its ends, but it will not be denied justice when it has the power to enforce it. It will encourage no riot or outrage, but it will not volunteer to repress, or put down, or arrest, or prosecute the hungry and impatient who manifest their hatred of the Chinamen by a crusade against John,' or those who employ him. Let those who raise the storm by their selfishness, suppress it themselves. If they dare raise the devil, let them meet him face to face. We will not help them." 8

The party met with great success. The earnestness of the agitators in addressing two or three meetings every evening during the week and on Sundays at the sand-lots impressed people with their sincerity of purpose, and hundreds hastened to enrol then selves as members. The several socialist sections likewise were drawn into the agitation and joined the move

7 Day was a Canadian carpenter of Irish extraction. Knight was an Englishman. He came to the United States in 1842 and settled n Missouri, where he was admitted to the bar. He served through the Mexican War, coming to

California in 1852, where he engaged in mining for three years and gave some attention to law.

8 Cross, History of the Labor Movement in California, 157, MSS,

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