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Q. Have you seen anywhere or heard anywhere a more earnest, thorough, calm, able discussion of the rights of the laboring classes than is given in that book ?-A. I admire very much the spirit of the discussion; I take exception to his conclusions.
Q. You say the educated classes have not given themselves to the consideration of the laboring classes ?-A. Jr. Thornton is the exception to the rule.
Q. Take John Stuart Mill and Mr. Fawcett. Do you think Mr. Fawcett has not given the most careful and elaborate discussion to this question of the condition of the laborer?--A. The political economists of our time, in our opinion, considered this question from the capitalistic side and not from the labor side.
Q. Do all political economists consider it on that side? Have you heard of Fred. erick Allison ?--A. Yes, sir.
Q. Have you heard of Thomas Hume ?-A. Yes, sir. Q. Are they gentlemen of education, culture, and refinement; and what are their views in reference to the laboring classes ?-A. I suppose we could go on for some time and pick out the exceptions to the rule.
Q. You said Mr. Thornton was the only exception ?-A. No; I didn't say that; he is an exception. Among thousands and tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of the capitalistic class, it would be very curious if you were not, in the nineteenth century, able to pick out 50 or 100 men who have shown themselves superior to the capitalistic influences of their class.
Q. How many political economists do you think are living at the present time ?--A. Most every member of this Congress, except this committee, believes himself a sort of political economist when he comes back to his district to teach the laboring class what they ought to ask.
Q. That, no doubt, is true, but when he goes back to Congress he always disclaims being a political economist, so we have none of them there.--A. They disclaim many things when they get back to Congress that they say before election. Now, our point is, that there is no written science of political economy. There is a German school of political economists arising, which questions the Manchester and the other schools, and it is a considerable question as to which has the right of the argument. In fact, I would say that we believe that we have got the unwritten science of political economy, and one of the reasons why every laboring man in all these organizations comes before you to ask the establishment of a bureau of the statistics of labor is because they believe, if the right man is placed there, we will be able to demonstrate that the old political economists were false, and we will evolve soon a social science that will give us light on these questions.
Q. Is it not the fact, so far as you can recollect, that you cannot point out any way by which this can be done by legislation, and is there any other way than the way you have now suggested, by some social arrangement by which there should be co-operation among the men-co-operation I mean among the employed and perhaps among the employers—and some agreement by which ultimately there may be a harmonious action between the two, and these desired changes and improvements be attained, rather than by any direct and arbitrary legislation? Is it not a matter of slow process, and only to be sought rather by social advances, social means, than by direct and arbitrary legislation ?-A. I believe that the difficulties that are nearest to us appear the largest, and that the difficulties which our chairman has named are not near as large as they appear to him to be, and that investigation will develop the fact that the legislation that we propose, namely, the amendment of the eight-hour law applying to contracts, and to the patent law, is practicable-to a certain extent, of course, because there is a limit to all things; but to a very large extent it is practicable. For instance, take the cotton and woolen mills of New England. I claim that under the patent law every one of the factories in our manufacture of textile goods can be operated under such an eight-hour law by the amendment of the patent law. That would, of itself, emancipate a vast army of men, women, and children from the demoralizing influence of the times.
Q. When the term expires of the patent on a certain class of machinery, what then ?--A. The government does not lose its control of a patent. It the best interests of the people demand the revoking of a patent, I suppose it is proper to revoke it.
Q. At the end of seventeen years a patent is public property. You know that very much of the machinery of New England which has been patented, and which had a very high price upon it on account of being patented, is now free froin patents. That is the fact in regard to sewing-machines very largely, How are you going to remedy that?-A. I suppose there is not a yard of textile goods manufactured in New England that is not the product of a machine that has not a patent on it.
Q. Take the sewing-machine ?-A. The sewing-machine is the manufacturer of cloth into clothing
Mr. Rice. You have given your first point, and that is the limitation of the hours of labor, and difficulties have sprung up upon one side or the other, and you can make such further inquiries into the matter as you desire and state your views hereafter,
By the CHAIRMAN: Q. What is the third suggestion you have to make?-A. That is all the suggestion I have to make this morning in that direction. I wish for a moment or two to call your attention to the result of the reduction of the hours of labor. I will not occupy more than five minutes in it. Now, then, this is our statement. We ask for a reduction of the hours of labor, not only because we believe the interests of humanity demand it, but for economic reasons; namely, that the only way by which we can reach a better state by a better system of productive industry is by slow, gradual, and ordinary steps out of it. We do not believe we can bring the socialistic state or the co-operative state to America-as English people call it. We don't believe we can get the co-operative state by bringing it down from heaven. As Parker says, "Nature never takes any leaps." We don't believe we are going to take leaps. We are going to take steps. We think a reduction of the hours of labor will increase wages. It will decrease the prodncing power of a day's work. We claim this not simply as a theory but as a fact established by history, that there never was a reduction of the hours of labor that was not followed by a permanent increase of wages, and that that permanent increase of wages is the result of certain natural forces in operation, and you can no more resist the power of the reduction of the hours of labor in fixing the wages than you can fix the power of the law of gravitation. Certain laws that govern wages operate as surely as the law that governs gravitation, and that law which governs wages, which is acknowledged by nearly all the political economists of all schools in some way, is the power of liabit or custom over wages. James Hall says, in his “Homes of the Working Classes," that if you reduce the beef diet of an Englishman to a diet of potatoes, you reduce his wages at the same time. As Parker then says, the habits and customs of the people have considerable effect on wages, but they differ in the degree, and we claim that a reduction of the hours of labor will soonest affect the habits and customs of the people; that it gives not only a temporary but a permanent result. For instance, we have, to-day, a certain productive capacity. We have a productive capacity of 100 per cent. We have a consumptive capacity of about that amount to-day. There is not much produced comparatively to what there onght to be, perhaps, and we will say that they are about united, about agreed, the productive and consumptive capacity. When I say " capacity,” I don't say that we cannot produce more or cannot consume more, but I mean that the amount that is produced to-day finds a market. Now, then, reducing the hours of labor will reduce the productive amount, we will say, one-fifth. It won't be quite one-fifth, but we will call it one-fifth Now, the demand is for 100 per cent., and they can only give 89; the consequence is that you call into operation nearly one-fifth more wage labor. In a million persons employed, that means that you are giving employment to 200,000 men.
By the CHAIRMAN: Q. It has been put in testimony here that eight hours' labor would be as effective and productive as ten hours. You don't hold to that doctrine !-A. No, sir; if a given piece of machinery running by machinery is capable of prodlucing a certain niount per honr, it will produce more in twenty-four hours than it will in twenty-three.
Q. If you reduce the amount of production for a given amount of labor, will that not add to the cost of the article produced ?--A. It would appear to. Remember, we have found 200,000 unemployed in a million. What does that mean? It means that you have made 200,000 consumers of the product of other men's labor. You have redaced the labor market, accoriling to the old theory of the law of demand and supplyyou have reduced the unemployed to that extent that wages must necessarily go up. Now, the price of an article is regulated more by the number of these articles produced than anything else; if we can multiply the manufacture of gas-fixtures, for instance, to mannfacture that gas-fixture in China with cheap labor at 6 cents a day will cost infinitely more in China than it will here at $5 a day labor, because there is a larger demand for the sale of gas-fixtures here, and there you wonld have only the royal family. I doubt whether the Emperor of China is able to have a common gasfixture in his house such as we are able to have in our workingmen's houses.
Q. You don't doubt the Chinese would be soon able to produce such gas-fixtures at 6 cents a day?-A. No, sir; the price of those is regulated, not by the price of labor on them, but by the number they manufacture.
By Mr. Rice: Q. By the state of society ?-A. Yes, sir; by the state of civilization. The Emperor of China cannot ride in a horse-car; it would cost him $100,000 to ride in a horse-car, and it would cost us only 5 cents.
By the CHAIRMAN : Q. Show us how Congress can limit the hours of labor in a practical way.—A. I believe it can be done by the legislation I propose. Q. We all know very well, and we are hoping the time will come when laborers can work less hours a day, and still support their families, and have more hours for recreation and mental employment. We are looking forward to that time; society is working towards it; machinery is helping towards it. Show us how Congress by any legislation can also help towards it?--A. I think if you will take the measures I have proposed, and investigate carefully into those seeming difficulties--some of them real difficulties—I believe you will find it is practicable to adopt the legislation I propose, if it is expedient. The question for you to consider is: Does the best interest of the country demand such legislation? That is a question I would like to discuss at some other time. I wish to say that this committee is, in my opinion, the most important committee that sits to-day on the planetary earth.
Q. There has been one sitting in France for some months on the same subject.-A. I recognize the fact that the eyes of the world are looking here. This is a co-operative government. Here is the new social state politically, and all that we ask
Q. France is a republic ?-A. Yes, sir; I was born here, and perhaps I have got a prejudice in favor of this country. Nevertheless, I believe here, where we have had the co-operative experience of one hundred years, is to be developed the new socialistic or co-operative state, and I believe if this committee will patiently and carefully investigate this question to its depths from the east to the west, to our factory slaves in New England and the poor Chinaman out in California, that you will go back to Congress and propose such legislation as will guarantee to us the safety of our institutions.
Q. Do you think a committee, no matter how earnest, could in the short interval between two sessions fathom this subject and get it into suitable shape for legislation, and would it be necessary to send Mr. Rice and me back to the next Congress in order that we may have more time!-A. I shall be glad when I see the two great political parties unite to investigate the question. I have not any faith that they will be so united.
Q. Have you not seen that the two parties here are desirous to get at the truth ?A. I see before me the two parties represented. I hope they are very faithfully and efficiently represented.
Q. Are they not trying, as far as you can see, to get at the facts ?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Are we not hearing every one we can?-Á. I don't know that I could make any criticism, although I felt like making some criticism yesterday; but I understood the chairman-I stated to my friends that I felt a little displeased, and I say now that I ascertained from a member of the committee that you (Mr. Hewitt) were unable to sleep all the night before, and that you had occasion for the disagreement that occurred.
The CHAIRMAN. I am glad to have you make the explanation. I generally lose four nights out of five, and it is with great difficulty that I ever perform any public or private duty, and I do it to the best of my ability.
Mr. MCNEIL. There is one thing upon which this committee can unite: it is that which all workingmen have united upon, even greenbackers—and let me say here that I wish this committee could have divorced the two questions—I wish in the future investigations they will allow the financial reformers to take a proper time if you are to discuss finance, but don't mix finance and industry together. We want them separated. We have nothing whatever to do with the greenback movement. It is not a question which properly comes before this committee in this investigation of the causes of this difficulty. What we all unite upon, even the greenbackers and the socialists and the trade-unionists, is investigation. We have knocked at the door of Congress for the last five years asking for the establishment of a national bureau of statistics of labor. We ask you to report to the next House in favor of the establishment of such a department, and, with this remark, Mr. Chairman, I am much obliged to you.
Mr. RICE. There are those who believe that the currency has something to do with the question of labor, and it is our duty to hear from them.
Mr. McNEIL. Of course, they have the same right to their opinion that I have to mine, only I wish the hearing could be separated.
The CHAIRMAN. But the matter confided to us is to investigate the causes of the depression of labor. A great many people think the cause is too much currency; some think it is too little; and we cannot perform our duty without hearing those gentle
Mr. McNeil. I ask you to separate them, so that a hearing for labor be given on one day, and finance on another.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee thonght it was better to begin by giving everybody a hearing in the order in which they might come. Hereafter we may be better able to classify the hearings a little more closely.
A. T. Peck appeared and made the following statement:
By the CHAIRMAN :
Q. How many persons do you employ!-A. At present only one or two; sometimes one hundred.
Q. How long is it since you employed a hundred ?--A. It is some five or six years since that. I sold the factory to a batter, and I propose to build another one next week,
Q. You are not now engaged in any business ?-A. No, sir; I am contracting for a factory to open the process of the manufacture of combs again, and buttons.
Q. Are you engaged now in carrying on business ?-A. Not just at this moment.
By Mr. RICE:
By the CHAIRMAN : Q. Have you given careful attention to the causes of the present depression in business and in the remuneration of labor ?-A. One-half of my lifetime, which is sixty-three years.
Q. Will you give to the committee a statement of what you hold to be the causes of the present depression ?-A. I was somewhat startled by my friend who preceded me and said he didn't want to have anything to do about the currency of the country; didn't want to mix it up with labor. I was much gratified with my friend on your left who said he didn't see how he could get along without it. I am here to talk about the currency, and I want to call your attention to some laws passed by Congress some fifteen years ago, and their effect. Some fifteen years ago Congress enacted the national banking act, and the effect of that is that the bankers get money from the government free of interest. That is the effect of the national banking act. Over three hundred millions is got by the national banks from the United States Government free of interest. I don't find any fault with the law, for I see among all the improvements and all the inventions and discoveries during our lives, or the centuries that have gone before, nothing so far-reaching to lift up suffering humanity, the working-class, as that very law, if it is very slightly extended. Now, what does it prove? It proves that the government has lent the bankers three hundred millions of dollars without running the government in debt one cent; it doesn't tax any one a cent: it does not injure a solitary soul. Now, take note of that great fact, that the Government of these United States, which is the government of the people, does lend money to the banking class of this country free of interest-absolutely free of interest-without running the government into debt one cent, or taxing a dollar to anybody, and not injuring a solitary soul. I want that to be understood. Your honors know that. Every one of you Congressmen know that to be the fact. Now, then, I don't find any fault with the law, for I say that if you can take a hundred thousand bankers of the United States and lend them money from the governinent free of interest, you can take one hundred thousand workingmen and do the same thing under the same condition. Now, about the word “money." We have considered in these days the government legal-tender notes as money; they certainly buy everything. They built every inch of this building; they paid for every dollar of it; they control the whole traffic of this immense country to-day; and certainly they are money. And why are they money? Because three hundred and fifty million of dollars of greenbacks are based upon over $10,000,000,000 of property. The whole value of the property of this country is $10,000,000,000, and yet who says they are not based upon value, absolute value-consequently they are money. Now, then, a piece of paper, to be money, must have its base, and that base must be the solid gold and silver of the country. It does not necessarily follow that every greenback must on demand be paid in gold and silver; it is not necessary at all, because we scatter and use constantly throughout this country in the year over four thousand millions of dollars in paper, and not one dollar in gold is used, and yet it is on the gold basis; everything is balanced by it. Why? Because our products go forward to the old country, and they are settled for on the gold; therefore, our trade is based on the gold basis, and when an importer buys his meat or grain or cotton, he bases it on the absolute solid foundation of gold and silver coin. It would not matter how many thousand millions there are if every dollar is based upon this property. I hold in my hand a petition to Congress, and if that petition should in the process of time be granted, certain immense results will follow, and I will read it to you, and then give it to your clerk.
Now, suppose Congress should enact such a system as that; there is not a voter in these United States anywhere, if he wanted a homestead or a house, if he could buy or get contractors to build it for him, but, as soon as the house was done, he would go and get bis money and pay for it on those conditions, the result being that you place the workingman, the householder, in the same condition the banker is. He takes his money that he gets from the government free of interest and loans it on interest; but this man takes his house and lives in it. He only pays 4 per cent. a year on the cost of it, and in twenty-five years he owns his house, and he has not paid any interest, and the result is the man owns his premises free and clear, and he owes the government nothing. That is the result. What do I do as a contractor! I go and contract for digging the cellar of a house. I go and ask the stone-wall man to lay the stone, and the brick man to make the underpinning. Then I go to the carpenter and painter and get them to contract for the building, with the understanding that not one dollar is to be paid those men until the building is done. I have done that several times. Not one dollar did I pay until the whole building was done. I know hundreds that do the same thing, and in the city there are thousands that do it, and that is that they borrow money and pledge the building, paying 6 per cent. for the use of the money, and pay all these things, and they have the use of the property, and get in some cases 25 per cent. interest. Suppose the government had one of these institutions in the place where I live; instead of paying a man 6 per cent. I could get the use of the money for nothing, just the same as my banking friend does. Now, the reason why the National Government can loan money to the banker free of interest is because they give security. When I go to a savings bank don't I give security? What is that security? Bond and mortgage. There is not a savings bank in this state that is not perfectly sound when it is conducted on the principles of strict savings-bank law; there is not one of them that ever failed, or can fail; the security is equal to any United States bond that ever was made, or ever can be made.
Q. The remedy you suggest is to loan $5,000 to everybody that wants to borrow it to build a house -A. They are to build or to buy before they get the money ; that is the point. Right in there I want to make an observation.
Q. Where is the government to get this money?--A. Print it.
Q. If it printed enough to supply every man that wants a house, will that money maintain its equality with gold, which you say is the fundamental condition ?-A. No; it don't make any difference how much they print, provided the property is worth gold.
Q. And the redemption of these notes is to be made in what 1-A. If any one wants anything of the government the government gives them value for it.
Q. The government is to redeem those notes by giving property !-A. Yes, sir.
Q. This post-office, for example ?-A. No; this is a public building for public purPoses.
Q. What property has the grovernment except its buildings !-A. The mortgagebonds of the property of the buildings they have given the money for?
Q. They will redeem the notes in mortgage bonds ?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. And the man who receives these bonds for anything, if he wants to get anything, must go to the government and get money for them?–A. Do they do that with the bank-notes? Answer that question.
The CHAIRMAN. If you have made your statement of the cause of the depression and the remedies, the committee would like to call some other witness. MERRILL SELLECK appeared and made the following statement:
By the CHAIRMAN : Question. Where do you live?-Answer. One hundred and forty-five East Twentyfirst street.
Q. Are you a delegate from any organized body ?-A. I am a member. Q. Are you sent here by any organized body ?-A. No; I wish to express my free ideas.
Q. What is your business ?-A. My business is to get business, now.
Q. Are you an employer?—A. No; I have been doing something in the way of canvassing.
Q. Have you been studying the causes of the present business depression !-A. I have.
Q. Are you prepared to state them ?-A. I am.
Q. State them, succinctly, please.-A. 1st. Abolish the United States Senate; 20. Restrict the powers of the President, Vice-President, and House of Representatives; 3d. Establish labor bureaus all over the country; 4th. Destroy States sovereignty; 5th, Legislate for the purpose of creating a paper currency in settlement of debts, &c., avd for legal tender; 6th. Abolish all money except the above mentioned ; 7th. Issue $58 per capita ; 8th. As the population increases so increase the amount of money, keeping it at $58 per capita ; 9th. Allow no persons outside of the labor bureau to employ others; 10th. Elect labor-bureau directors for every trade, profession, or occupation, and pay all the same wages, from the President down; 11th. Allow no healthy person to remain idle after having received a proper education; 12th. All healthy children should receive an education, commencing at the age of six years and ending at sixteen; 13th. The amount of time devoted to labor shall be six hours per day at present, though the improvements in machinery will soon render that length of time unnecessary, thus giving better facilities for mental development, recreation, &c., and equal chances and opportunities to all. Then there will be but one class of people, and that first class.