Your committee cannot, therefore, without the violation of a solemn trust,
withhold their unanimous opinion that the opportunities allowed to chil
dren employed in manufactories to obtain an education suitable to the
character of American freemen, and to the wives and mothers of such,
are altogether inadequate to the purpose ; that the evils complained of are
unjust and cruel ; and are no less than the sacrifice of the dearest inter
ests of thousands of the rising generation to the cupidity and avarice of
541. Labor, too, had lost its old lever of free land. Near the
Eastern cities, land was no longer " free." Even in the West
the rage for speculation in land ( 442) forced the real settler
either to pay unreasonable prices to private holders, or to take
undesirable lands, or to go far from markets and neighbors,
so that his life was more barren and his profits lost in the
cost of transportation.
Still the public domain in that vast section did offer hope
to many individuals from the East, especially if they had a
little capital and much self-reliance. But such emigrants went
mainly from the farm or the small village. The public domain
did not much help the factory class. How should a penniless
factory family get team and wagon for the long journey to the
West ? Or food and supplies for that journey and for the hard
months afterward while the first crop was coming to harvest ?
Or tools and seed to get in a crop ? How, indeed, should the
man get the $100 necessary to secure the smallest farm the
government would sell him? Or, if he took the chance of
" squatting " on government land, without paying down the
price, how should he keep some sharp-eyed speculator from
buying the place at the first government sale so reaping all
the profits of his toil? Preemption and homestead laws were
still in the future, though both the West and the Eastern labor
party were already calling for them. In the absence of such
laws, the poor man from the East who sought a home on the
public domain took heroic risks.
544] HOSTILITY OF COURTS AND PRESS 457
542. Labor, then, must depend upon itself, and wage its fight
in its own Eastern home. So the workers sought strength in
organization. Labor " unions " had appeared before 1800, but
only for " mutual insurance " and other benevolent and social
purposes. The hint that such organizations might be used in
class war seems to have come from the side of capital. Soon
after 1800, the newspapers begin to notice " combinations " of
capitalists to raise prices. Then the labor combinations began
to ask for shorter hours and better wages, and finally to
" strike " for them. Between 1802 and 1807, New York, Phila
delphia, Boston, and Baltimore (about all the cities of that
time) had one or more strikes.
543. A few progressive thinkers, like William Ellery Chan-
ning and Horace Mann, saw that the labor question was the
question of human welfare ; but in general the " respectable
classes " long looked on all labor unions as iniquitous and revolu
tionary conspiracies. Like the old French political despotism
( 16), so in this industrial matter, the capitalist classes held
it proper that each weak worker should speak for himself, and
that "no one should speak for the whole." 1 In Boston a
" combination " of merchants announced in the public press
that their "union" had pledged itself to drive the shipwrights,
caulkers, and gravers of that city to abandon " unions " or
starve, and that they had subscribed $20,000 for that purpose.
544. The attitude of the propertied classes was reflected in the
courts. Here the unions found their chief obstacle. The courts
promptly put down this first series of early strikes by punish
ing the leaders sternly for " conspiracy " under the odious
principles of the English Common Law. In 1825, it is true, a
New York jury destroyed the terror of such prosecutions for a
1 It is curious to note that Monroe, in one of his messages to Congress dur
ing the terrible panic of 1819, had congratulated manufacturers on the " fall
in the price of labor, so favorable to the success of domestic manufactures."
And Hamilton, in urging that America should develop manufactures, wrote
with enthusiasm of the fact that in Great Britain four sevenths of the em
ployees in the cotton factories were women and children, the greater propor
tion being children, " and many of a tender age " !
458 THE LABOR MOVEMENT, 1825-1837 [ 545
time by awarding a fine of only " one dollar " for the " crime "
of " conspiring to raise wages." But not till 1842 did any
court recognize that workmen had the same right of collective
bargaining as had always been possessed without question by
employers. In that year the Massachusetts Supreme Court
held that labor organizations might legally try to advance
wages "by rules binding solely on members."
545. Another obstacle to the early labor movement was the fact
that all newspapers were bitterly and contemptuously hostile. The
working class had no way to get their grievances or their pro
gram before the public. But in 1825 George Henry Evans and
Frederick W. Evans (recent English immigrants) began to pub
lish the Workingman's Advocate at New York. Two years
later, the Mechanics- Free Press appeared at Philadelphia.
Now " unions " multiplied swiftly, and a strenuous labor
war began. The twelve years between the founding of the first
labor paper (1825) and the great " panic " of 1837 saw the first
real labor movement in America 1 a movement to which we owe
much of the best in our modern life.
546. Later organization in this period had three stages.
First each important trade in each large city organized its
" trade association." These associations were local; and one
trade had no connection with another of the same city.
But in 1827 the Journeymen Carpenters' association in Phil
adelphia struck for a ten-hour day. The struggle was a stubborn
one, and other trade associations in the city gave sympathy and
some help to the carpenters. The strike failed. But it had
taught the need of wider union among workingmen to gain
their common end ; and the next year the many trade associ
ations of Philadelphia federated in the " Mechanics ' Union of
Trade Associations." 2
1 Much of the agitation noticed in 539, 540 belongs to this period.
2 Terms have shifted. The appropriate name, Trades' Union, has been cor
rupted into " trade-union " for the name of the association of workers in one
trade ; and consequently the more general union has had to seek new names,
such as Trades' Assembly, or Trades' Council.
547] AND POLITICS 459
This second stage in labor organization spread swiftly. New
York had its General Trades' Union in 1831 l and the like
was soon true of the remaining large cities. Such a feder
ation held considerable authority over the several local " associ
ations " which composed it. It usually maintained a Trades'
Union hall, with courses of public lectures and a labor paper,
and it took an active part in supporting strikes (when approved
by it) from the general treasury and by public meetings.
The third stage came in 1834, when the various city Trades'
Unions organized a nationakfederation. This " republic of labor "
held conventions in 1834, 1835, 1836, and 1837 ; but the organ
ization was imperfect, and in 1837 it was ingulfed in the indus
trial depression that followed the panic ( 590).
547. Kecent extension of the franchise had made voters
out of the mechanics ( 563) ; and, from the first, the labor
organizations turned to political activity. On August 11, 1828,
the Philadelphia Trades' Union, at a public meeting, recom
" to the Mechanics and Working Men of the city to support such men only
for the City Councils and State Legislature, as shall have pledged themselves
. . . to support the interests and claims of the Working Classes."
The " Delegates of the Working Men," accordingly, sent a cir
cular letter to fourteen candidates for the legislature " to obtain
your views in relation to the following subjects :
" First. An equal and general system of Education.
" Second. The banking system, and all other exclusive monopolies.
" Third. Lotteries: whether a total abolishment of them is not essential
to the moral as well as to the pecuniary interest of society." 2
1 Growing out of & successful carpenters' strike for higher wages, a contest in
which the carpenters had been supported actively by other trades.
2 " There are at present," says another address from the same source a little
later, " not less than 200 lottery offices in Philadelphia, and as many, if not
more, persons engaged in hawking tickets." Special complaint is directed at
these " itinerant venders " who "assail the poor man at his labor, enter the
abode of the needy, and, by holding out false promises of wealth, induce him
to hazard his little all in the demoralizing system." .
460 THE LABOR MOVEMENT, 1825-1837 '[ 548
Then, after a strong paragraph expressing the special interest
of the working class in the first question, the circular con
" If your views, on these matters should be in accordance with those we
represent, we request you to allow us to place your name upon our ticket.' 1 ''
Soon definite Workingmen's parties appeared in various local
ities. In 1830 in New York a " Workingman's party " nomi
nated a State ticket. Its candidate for governor got only 3000
votes, but three labor candidates were chosen to the legislature,
and Ely Moore (president of the New York City Trades'
Union) was sent to Congress. In 1834, in far-away eastern
Tennessee a labor party brought the tailor Andrew Johnson into
public life as alderman in a mountain village. And a Boston
Convention of the "New England Association of Farmers,
Mechanics, and Other Workinguien " urged
" the organization of the whole laboring population" in order to revise
"our social and political system," hoping "to imbue . . . our offspring
with . . . abhorrence for the usurpation of aristocracy ... so ... that
they shall dedicate their lives to a completion of the work which their
ancestors commenced in their struggle for national, and their sires have
continued in their contest for personal, independence."
548. No national labor party was formed. But the old political
parties began at once to bid eagerly for the labor vote, and bit
by bit, much of its program was placed in the statute books.
In New York, one wing of the new Democratic party was
especially friendly. This was the " Equal Rights " party, or
the Loco Focos, who, like the labor organizations, opposed all
special privileges and the monopoly of the United States Bank.
In 1835 the Loco Focos absorbed bodily the Workingman's party in
New York State.
Soon after, the labor organizations in other States were lost in
the fully developed Democratic party. For some years that party
remained in large degree a workingman's party. When it surren
dered to the Slave Power, the political labor movement received
a fatal blow. The remnants of the labor forces made a leading
550] MAN OR THE DOLLAR ? 461
element in the various Liberty and Free Soil parties ( 678,
687 ft'.), but the movement for a distinct labor organization did
not revive until after the Civil War.
549. The strikes of the years 1825-1837 aimed: (1) to raise
wages ; (2) to secure what we now call the " closed shop " (i.e. to
compel the employment of union labor only, to the exclusion
of non-union men, known even then as " rats " and " scabs ") ;
and (3) to shorten the working-day to ten hours.
But, in its political action, theWorkingman's party turned away
from these problems, vital as they were, to broader social reforms.
They sought to abolish monopolies and lotteries and imprison
ment for debt ; l to exempt a workingman's home and tools from
seizure for debt ; to give him a lien on his work for his wages ;
to make it easier for him to get a home out of the public
domain ; to give women " equal rights with men in all respects " ;
and to establish a noble system of public schools far ahead
of any practice in that day.
The closed-shop principle failed when the unions fell in the
" panic " of 1837. Eights for women, too, had to wait long.
The other demands were attained fully or in fair measure.
Some of them deserve a few words more ( 550-552).
550. This labor movement was the first clear demand in America
that society should put " man above the dollar." Forty years before,
the makers of the Constitution agreed that the end of govern
ment was to protect property. But the laborer now demanded,
as a right, that the rich should help pay for his children's school
ing ; that his person should no longer be seized for debt, nor
his means of livelihood ; and that, when a creditor, his wages
should have a first lien, ahead of other creditors' claims.
These demands, disregarding the old " rights " of property,
rested on the broad claim that they aimed to advance general
human ivelfare. Many good people called them communistic.
But modern society has come to see all this as did the working-
men of the thirties. The laborer's wages, we agree, should
1 McMaster estimates that in the early thirties 75,000 men were imprisoned
for debt each year.
462 THE LABOR MOVEMENT, 1825-1837 [ 551
have preference over the capitalist's profits. The one may add
to the graces of life for the few : the other means life itself, and
a decent standard of living, for the many. So we have adopted
this part of the early labor program.
551. The demand for a ten-hour day, in place of the inhuman
dawn-to-dark day, was long resisted by the employer class as
though it would overturn all social order. When the carpenter
journeymen of Philadelphia organized in 1827 to get that
shorter day ( 546), the employers united in an address to the
public, in which :
(1) They complained of the attempt to "deprive employers of about
one-fifth part of their usual time" ; (2) they "regretted " the formation of
" a society that has a tendency to subvert good order, and coerce or mislead
those who have been industriously pursuing their avocation and honestly
maintaining their families " ; and (3) they declared their united resolution
not to "employ any Journeyman who will not give his time and labor as
usual, in as much as we believe the present mode has not been, and is not
now, oppressive to the workmen."" l
The strike failed, as did several others in Philadelphia for
the same purpose. But public sympathy was won for the
cause, and monster petitions began to pour in upon the city
government to adopt the shorter day for workingmen employed
for the city. June 4) 1835, the city council yielded, and private
concerns slowly followed this example.
In Baltimore, the same year, a general strike established the
ten-hour day for all business, public and private. But, in the
Boston district, three great strikes for this object were crushed
by irresistible combinations of capitalists pledged publicly to
force their employees to keep the old " dawn-to-dark " day.
Success there, and in the rest of the country, came through the
example of the Federal government. Van Buren (Jackson's
successor) had been closely associated with the New York
lr rhe journeymen replied with au appeal for public sympathy : "Citizens
of Philadelphia, to you we appeal; with you rests the ultimate success or
failure of our cause. Willjyou not assist us? Remember we are men . . . and
say will you combine with our employers to force us to be slaves? "
THE FIGHT FOR FREE SCHOOLS
Loco Focos ( 548) ; and the National Convention of Trades'
Unions in 1836 brought all possible pressure to bear upon him,
during his campaign for the Presidency. In 1840, as President,
Van Buren redeemed his promises. He issued a notable order
directing a ten-hour day in the navy yards and in all " public
establishments " of the government. During the next ten
years ten hours became the regular labor day for artisans and
A*/, /tffc /f*.
FACSIMILE OF TIME CARD OF MACHINE SHOP IN PROVIDENCE, R. I., FOR
1848. From Tarbell's " Golden Rule in Business " in the American Maga
zine for April, 1915.
factories throughout the country, though in some districts,
especially in New England, a twelve-hour day remained the
rule down to the Civil War.
552. Foremost in the program of the workingmen stood the
demand for free schools supported by public taxes and controlled
by the public will. In New England this ancient principle of
the Puritans had been largely abandoned, and the surviving
464 THE LABOR MOVEMENT, 1825-1837 [ 552
public schools were much inferior to the private schools. In
New York and Pennsylvania (outside Philadelphia, Pittsburg,
and Lancaster County), all public schools were pauper schools
cheap private enterprises for poor children only, supported by
appropriations from the county boards.
The labor unions protested indignantly against the pauper
school, and against any " class " school. They called for a
" general and equal education . . . immediately under the control
and suffrage of the people,' 7 not " as charity . . . but as of right,"
" for every child in the State, from the lowest branch of the
infant school to the lecture rooms of practical science." 1
They anticipated also the modern demands for the kindergarten
and for industrial training.
Toward this call for free schools for the people, the capital
istic press adopted a tone of condescending reproof. It re
minded the workers that more education was already attainable
by the poor in America than anywhere else. Much more could
never be expected. " The peasant must labor during those hours
of the day which his wealthy neighbor can give to abstract
culture : otherwise the earth would not yield enough for the
subsistence of all." And again, " Education . . . must be the
work of individuals. ... If a government concern, nothing could
prevent it from becoming a political job." Many leading papers
reviled the idea of free public schools as " Agrarianism " or
" an arbitrary division of property." And one editor deplores
the taking away from " the more thriving members " of the
working classes " one of their chief incitements to industry,
the hope of earning the means of educating their children."
Indeed, it is hard to find any of the hoary arguments, still
furbished anew against every democratic proposal, which was
not worn threadbare in the thirties in opposition to a free-
1 These quoted phrases are all taken from two of many reports on this
matter adopted by the Mechanics' Union of Philadelphia. They are typical.
More detail is given in West's American History and Government.
552] THE FIGHT FOR FREE SCHOOLS 465
FOR FURTHER READING. A somewhat fuller account of the Industrial
Revolution in England is given in the Modern World, 661-680. Material
for the industrial conditions in America was not accessible in any suitable
degree until the recent appearance of the Documentary History of
American Industrial Society ( 540, note, above). The older standard
histories are therefore all lacking in this matter. Some valuable matter
is scattered through the pages of Dodd's Expansion and Conflict,
especially pp. 39-51. and a forceful sketch of the movement is given in
Simons' Social Forces in American History, 179-190.
INTELLECTUAL AND SOCIAL PROGRESS
553. THROUGHOUT the East, we have noted, elementary public
schools were lacking or poor. Their revival was owing first of
all to the persistent demand by the workingmen. That agita
tion prepared the ground for the work of humanitarian re
formers led by Horace Mann. Through Mann's efforts, Massa
chusetts created a State Board of Education in 1837 and es
tablished the first American Normal School in 1839. By such
forces, a good system of " common schools " soon spread over
the Eastern States.
554. Meantime the Northwest, where all men were working-
men, was setting up, on paper at least, a complete system of free
public education, such as the workingmen of the East were vainly
asking for. In the West, elementary schools drew some help
from the national land grant in the Survey Ordinance ( 314),
and State "universities" were founded early to save the
national grant for " higher institutions of learning " ( 315).
It was natural therefore for the West to try to link primary
school and university by public " high-schools," so as to form
a complete State system. The constitution of Indiana in 1816
declared it the duty of the legislature to establish " a general
system of education, ascending in regular graduation from town
ship schools to a State University, wherein tuition shall be gratis
and equally open to all"
In practice, however, private academies made the chief link
between elementary schools and college for two generations
more. Even the primary schools were often more imposing on
paper than in fact ; and in many States the land grants were
wasted or stolen by incompetent or venal politicians. Still,
by 1840, public schools were frequent enough in the Northwest,
556] VICTORY FOR FREE SCHOOLS 467
as in the Northeast, so that a poor boy with ambition and self-
denial could usually get at least " a common school education.' 7
555. " Higher education " made even more progress than did
the common schools. The Western " universities " were paper
universities for some time more ; but the " small college " mul
tiplied in numbers and grew toward high standards and en
larged usefulness, especially in the Northeast. Amherst,
Bowdoin, Dartmouth, Hobart, Williams, in that section, had
multitudes of ambitious imitators in the Southern and North
western States. Every Southern planter sent his sons to
college, as a matter of course, very often to the larger North
ern institutions. In proportion to the White population,
therefore, the South had more youth in college, down to the
Civil War, than any other section.
In 1830 Oberlin, in Ohio, opened its doors to women. No other
institution of equal rank did so for twenty years more ; but
special " seminaries " for girls soon appeared in large numbers.
556. The first real flowering in American literature came just
after 1830. America's only earlier distinction in letters had
been in political oratory. In this field, from 1812 to 1830,
Webster, Clay, and Calhoun sustained the best traditions of
the Revolutionary days ; and those same years saw also the
early work of Irving, Cooper, and Bryant. All these six long
continued to grow in fame and power. And now between 1830
and 1845, began the public career of Edward Everett in oratory ;
of Emerson, Hawthorne, Holmes, Longfellow, Lowell, Poe,
and Whittier in the literature of creative imagination and
spiritual power ; of Bancroft, Prescott, Palfrey, and Sparks in
historical composition ; of Kent and Story in legal commentary ;
of Audubon, Agassiz, Dana, and Asa Gray in science. Noah
Webster's Dictionary was published in 1828 ; ten years later,
the Smithsonian Institution was founded ; and, midway be
tween, appeared the first penny daily, the New York Sun.
True, this splendid outburst was confined to the North At
lantic section, and almost wholly to the New England district.
It soon found, however, as eager an appreciation in the North-
468 AMERICAN LIFE IN 1830 [ 557
west as in New England itself. The Southern aristocracy had
little sympathy with " Yankee " literature, tinged as most of
it was with anti-slavery sentiment, but clung conservatively
to the old English classics and to such moderns as Scott.
557. The intellectual ferment of the thirties and forties trans
formed society. Exact and profound scholarship was still lack
ing ; but an aspiration for knowledge, a hunger for culture, a
splendid idealism, became characteristics of American life,
until " fattened out," for a time after 1875, by a gross material
prosperity. During that long era, to welcome " high thinking "
at the price of " plain living " was instinctive in an almost un
believably large portion of the people.
Ambitious boys, barefoot and in thread worn coats, thronged
the little colleges, not for four years of a good time, but with gen
uine passion to break into the fairy realm of knowledge ; and
their hard-earned dimes that did not have to go for plain food
went for books. 1 English authors of a new sort of genius
Carlyle, Browning, William Morris as well as English scien
tists with new teachings, like Darwin and Huxley, reached