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purchase the best staple groceries, 20 say they always buy the best flour, and 30 say they buy the best meats and provisions; 20 dealers say they sell good and medium quality of meats, not the best; 1 dealer says he sells as good goods as ever; 1 finds it hard work to sell poor meats; 4 sell medium grade of groceries and provisions; 12 say they have no call for fancy groceries. With reference to quantity, 36 dealers say their customers buy economically, while 5 state that they buy as much as ever. Concerning payments, 22 dealers sell for cash, and have no cause to find fault about payments; 6 dealers say their customers pay only fairly ; 2, that they pay as well as the rich; 3, that they lose more by the poorer classes; 10, that they pay slowly; while 8 think, if they had more work, there would be no trouble about prompt payments, and they I would buy more. One dealer says business is better than for five years; and another says when business is brisk workingmen live as well as their employers.
Boots and shoo8.—Thirty-eight retail dealers. Concerning quality of goods bought by workingmen, 11 dealers say they buy cheap goods at the lowest possible price ; 16 dealers say they buy cheap goods because they are too poor to buy better, and the inferior articles wear out so.soon it keeps them buying all the time; 24 dealers say their principal trade is in medium grade goods; 1 dealer says women buy better quality of goods than men, but not the best; 2 dealers sell good, durable goods; and i dealer says he sells same grade as five years ago, but that they are better goods than they were then. Regarding quantity, 15 dealers say they sell fewer goods than they used to, purchasers buying very economically. Payments are reported prompt by 25 dealers, as they sell for cash ; 8 dealers say payments are made slowly."
Ready-made clothing.-Twenty-three retail dealers. Quality of goods sold of medium grade is the testimony of 16 dealers; 8 dealers say they sell cheap goods principally because their customers cannot afford better quality; 8 dealers state that many who used to wear custom-made goods now buy ready-made, and that parts of snits are usually sold instead of complete outfits; 1 dealer sells as good articles as ever. Regarding quantity, 1 dealer says he is selling more goods, 7 that they are selling less than formerly, and 7 say their customers buy underclothing very sparingly. Cash payments are required by 13 dealers; 2 say their customers pay fairly, 2 that they pay better than formerly, and 2 poorly.
Tailors.-Eleven retail dealers in custom-made clothing. Concerning quality, 7 dealers say their customers buy pretty good suits, 2 that they want good work; 1 dealer says in good times all classes wore the best goods; 4 dealers say many of their former customers now buy ready-made goods. Regarding quantity, 7 dealers say they do not sell as many goods as they used to, and many only buy parts of suits at a time. Respecting payments, 3 dealers say they usually get their money, 4 that payments are slow; 1 dealer says laboring men pay as well as those with money; 2 say give them work and they will pay promptly; 1 dealer says he sells some clothing on the installment plan.
Hats, caps, and gents' furnishing goods.-Thirteen retail dealers. Workingmen buy medium quality of goods is the testimony of 11 dealers, and 8 of these dealers say by buying cheap goods they are consequently obliged to buy much oftener; 2 dealers say they sell as many dollars' worth as ever, but low grade of goods; 4 dealers say when workingmen had money they bought the best. Regarding quantity, 9 dealers state that their customers buy economically, parts of suits of underwear only at a time; 2 dealers say they sell fewer goods than formerly. Respecting payments, 11 dealers say they sell for cash; the other 2 dealers report that payments are made slowly.
Furniture, carpeis, crockery, fc.-Fifteen retail dealers. Regarding quality, 6 dealers report that they sell medium-priced furniture; 2 dealers say they sell only the cheapest goods now; 6 dealers say their customers buy good articles, paying more attention to service than to show. Concerning quantity sold, 5 dealers say, workingmen buy only what they actually need ; 3 dealers say they sell less than five years ago; while 1 dealer says there has been no falling off in the amounts of individual purchases. Respecting payments, 7 dealers say their business is done principally for cash; 3 of the 7 tried the installment plan, but gave it up; 3 now sell chiefly on the installment plan, and get their money; 5 dealers say payments are not made promptly.
Dry goods.-Fifteen retail dealers. Dry goods may be classed, as to quality, as cheap, medinm, good, and best ; 7 dealers soll cheap hosiery, and 4 cheap underwear; ió dealers sell medium cottons, 4 medinm hosiery, 5 medium underwear, and 9 medium prints; 1 sells good hosiery, 1 good underwear, 2 good cottons, and 4 good prints; 1 dealer sells the best cottons; 1 dealer says he is selling better goods than ever. Concerning quantity, 10 dealers say their customers buy economically ; 5 say they buy from week to week for immediate wants; 1 dealer says he sells as much as ever. Cash payments are required by 7 dealers.
Wood and coal. -Twenty retail dealers. No particulars concerning quality of wood and coal sold were obtained. Concerning quantity purchased, 8 dealers say they sell considerable coal to grocers and coal-peddlers, who resell it by the basket, and in some cases sell as small a quantity as a peck of coal or a stick of wood ; 18 dealers report that they sell wood in small quantities; 18 dealers say workingmen buy from one
quarter to one-half a ton of coal at a time. A cash business is done by 10 dealers; 2 say their customers pay pretty well. One dealer speaks of a custom followed by some families of “doubling up” in winter, in order to economize on expense for fuel.
Sewing-machines.-Four retail dealers. Three say they sell to the laboring class to a great extent; the other firm says four-fifths of its trade is with working men and women. All four sell on installments; 2 report payments as met promptly, while the other two say money comes in slowly
From this investigation, embracing the business experience of 345 dealers doing a retail trade in ten cities and towns, which contain a population of about 550.000, it seems fair and just to draw the following conclusions: That the workingmeu of Varsg. chusetts, in the majority of cases, have the best quality of food, though not in so great quantity and rariety as in previous years ; that they are practicing a rigid economy in purchase of clothing, dry goods, boots and shoes, house-furnishing goods, and fuel ; and that the majority continue to pay their bills promptly.
Comparing this state of affairs with the previously ascertained relations of wages and prices, which show in 1878 an advance over 1860 of twenty-four and four-tenths per cent. in average weekly wages, and an average advance in cost of living of fourteen and a half per cent., which means a pecuniary betterment of ten per cent. in the general condition of the workingman in Massachusetts in 1878 as compared with 1861account being made of the decrease in hours of labor in many industries-it woul seem almost like stating an axiom to prophesy that, with a revival in business, a grad ual decline in the prices of provisions, &c., and no cnt-down in wages, the condition of the workingman in this State, within a comparatively short period, will be better, considering all circumstances, than it ever has been since the foundation of our Coumonwealth.
RATES OF WAGES, PRICE OF PROVISIONS, FUEL, RENT, ETC., IN ENG
LAND AND AMERICA IN THE SUMMER OF 1878.
IN CONNECTION WITH THE STATEMENT OF JOSEPH D. WEEKS, P.
Boiling, per ton ........
extra for best iron,
heating ....do... Hoot-rolling, 1" by 18".
heating....... Sheet-rolling, No. 24.....
heating, No. 24...
400 to 4
90 to 1
Per lb. Flour...
8 75 to 9 Pease, white.
Per lb. M ilk......
.qt. Butter ....
28 to 32 Cheese ..
......do.. Eggs ..... .....doz..
16 to Candles...
.....do.. Coal. ton.
4 50 Mutton.
16 to Lamb..
.....do.. Veal... .....do..
17 to Han. ....
corned ..........do.. Shirtings, brown, ...yd..
bleached, i.do.. Ticking ..............do..' Prints ................do..! Suit of working clothes. House rent, 4 rooms, per
NOTE.-Above prices are per ton of 2,240 pounds, except when otherwise stated. The shilling is reckoned at 24 cents, and a week at 54 hours in England.
BROOKLYN, N. Y., August 28, 1878. To the Honorable Congressional Committee :
A business experience of fifty years enables me to impart to your committee the results and facts of the past. In my boyhood, and for many years, the great staple flonr was sold at about $5; labor, unskilled, 75 cents to $1; skilled labor, carpenters and masons, $1.25 to $1.50 per day; wood, $3 to $4 per cord; charcoal, 12 to 15 cents per basket of 11 bushels; milk, 6 cents per quart, beer measure; codfish, 2 to 3 cents per pound; halibut, 5 cents. A day's work was from sunrise to sunset; one hour allowed for each, breakfast, dinner, and supper; the hours were 7 a. m. 12 m., and 4 p. m. The town bell was rung at these hours, and at 9 p. m. for bed-time, Orrell coal was then brought from England as a curiosity; anthracite coal was not then known; there were no steamboats or engines.
The people of that day so mixed religion and morality as to regulate their conduct, weights, and measures after the pattern of the fathers-“ good," " pressed down," “running over.” The yard measure was 36 inches and a thumb; milk measure was the imperial gallon or quart; now 'tis wine measure (less); 16 ounces was then the pound; now any number from 12 oz. Troy to 16 oz. avoirdupois, according to the ideas of the huckster. There were then no "helpers"; every mechanic had one or more apprentices, as he required, without hinderance; these apprentices were under the eye of the master; they generally boarded in his family, and were subject to his orders at all times; they served generally seven years—from 14 to 21 years of age. The writer entered at 15 and served but 6 years, under regular articles of indenture between parent and master; the result of this supervision was a good and faithful workman. Meanwhile, the apprentice was the helper," instead of a broken-down man. It was for the interest of the master to make the apprentice as thorough a workman as himself, so that he might charge journeyman's wages during the minority of the apprentice, as he might do at and after the age of 18 years—4 years to instruct and 3 years to enjoy the benefit. Now, lazy foreign helpers have usurped the places belonging to the native youth; and just here was the beginning of the habits and customs that have made it almost impossible for parents to apprentice their sons. Hence, commercial colleges are overrun with boys from Iv to 18 years of age. With habits of idleness engendered, they are thrown upon the community to get a living by hook or by crook, instead of filling honorable positions as skilled and honest workmen,
leaving their proper places to be filled by foreigners, who have little or no sympathy with American manners and customs.
Formerly, especially during the war, when flour was sold at $18 per barrel, much was written and said about the due relation of wages to the prier of flour, but now, with flour at $6, no claim of that sort is made. Question these men about this proper relation of bread to wages," &c.
Your committee can immortalize itself by recommending to Congress and to the several States the passing of two laws: one by government, to regulate the es. portation of flour, tixing a minimum value at $5 and by a sliding scale of export dnties-favor the workinen by cheap bread ; the other, the passage of a law requiring the employment of boys during their minority by master-mechanics, abolishing the “helper" system, and giving, as formerly, the master the right to direct, under proper regulations, for you to set forth (but I fear you will have to call upon older men for the details), by and through which the hordes of boys from 14 to 12, now idle and vicious, can be lessened, and a race hereafter to be produced of indnstrious, bonest workmen.
The present multitude of dissolute boys can be saved from the prison and taught some useful trade.
Remember, gentlemen, that labor is the right arin of the state. Deinagogues may prate about that of which they know but little, but statesmen should see to it that labor should first be honest work, and then good pay will follow, as it always has done.
I should like to appear before your committee, but have no relish for newspaper notoriety. Yours,
OFFICE OF PERRY & Co.,
Albany, N. Y., August 3, 1876, DEAR SIR: I have taken the liberty of sending to you and to your honorable ass ciates on the labor commission copies of my pamphlet treating of the subject of labor in a certain phase, and, perhaps, to some extent of local application. I think yog will discover in it some evidences that one of the causes for the present movenkat on the part of the labor interest is the inability of the trades-unions to maintain their control and their power to dictate prices and terms. While these organizations can do this, we hear of few complaints from that source. I cannot but feel that no small part of the troubles that now rest upon our country are due to them, the cost of production has been increased to an unnatural degree and out of proper tion to the cost of living; the ability to export onr manufactures has been weakened, as well as the financial ability of our manufacturers. That wages have been largely reduced is true, and so has the cost of living to an equal, if not greater, extent. Tim hundred and fifty-nine men of all grades (25 of them small boys) earned per day in our foundery the week ending 20th July, 1878, an average of $1.57 each; that is. from 50 cents to $3.50 per day. With wages 20 per cent. above this, they remained idle in 1877 five months rather than give up their union, or rather than to allow us to control our own works.
That much labor is unemployed cannot be denied; but laborers must take their share in the depressions and disasters of the times with other classes of community: but in an experience of thirty-five years in the employment of large numbers of me chanics and laborers, I have observed that steady, sober, and industrious men, who were willing to work for wages in proportion to the cost of living and the price that products would command, rarely lacked employment.
I will say, in short, not to trouble you with anything further, that, in my opinios. the two chief causes for the unsatisfactory condition of labor are found in trade unions and intemperance. Very respectfully, yours,
JOHN S. PERRY. Hon. ABRAM S. HEWITT,
BURLINGTON, Iowa, August 9, 1: DEAR SIR: In response to your resolution, adopted by the committee on August inviting employers and employed to forward information calculated to throw light apara the labor problem, we respectfully submit the following statement, which shows a*
nearly as possible, the fluctuations of the price of labor in this vicinity in the cigar manufacturing industry in the years between 1860 and 1878:
In explanation of the above statement we would state that the rise in wages in 1862 was the direct result of enlistment of cigar-makers in the Army. The cigar-makers remaining at home, noticing the urgent demand for their labor, organized a union at once, and dictated their own terms until the year 1867. In this year the disbanding of the Army caused the return of the cigar-makers who had served in the war; and employers gladly welcomed them to their old places on account of the dictatorial manner of the cigar-makers' union. There being no actual use for the returned cigarmakers (their places having been filled by apprentices and others), it at once caused a competition for situations, and a consequent reduction of wages.
In the year 1872 a new source of trouble made its appearance in the shape of cigarmolds. By the introduction of these molds experienced labor has been displaced by inexperienced labor, and the cigar manufacturing industry, formerly followed almost entirely by men, is fast going into the hands of boys and girls from the ages of fourteen to twenty years. In conclusion, we will say that great hopes are entertained that your committee will be able to agree upon the true cause of, as well as upon the proper remedy for, the present depression. We are, sir, with great respect, yours, &c.,
HENRY C. CADY,
Cigar-Maker. ROBT. SCHNEIDER,
Manufacturer. AUG. ANDERSON,
Cigar-Maker. DEMPSEY & HOERR,
Manufacturers. FRED. LANGE,
Cigar-Maker. Hon. ABRAM S. HEWITT,
Chairman Congressional Labor Investigation Committee, New York City.
WASHINGTON, D. C., August 9, 1878. Sir: For a number of years past my mind and attention have been directed to the problem of avoiding the now impending calamities by means of rural labor organization, whereby the surplus population of our overcrowded cities may be advantageously