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Q. I understand you to say that in a new country labor would be better remunerated by producing the things that would be produced cheaply, as they could be produced on fertile land; therefore agriculture in a new country like this is the normal position of the country !-A. It is the normal position of the country to pay more attention to that than anything else; but exchanging goods or importing goods is preventing them being sold.
Q. You think this country should have chiefly devoted its industry to agriculture, and bought the manufactured goods abroad where they could be produced cheaper! A. With this exception: there are some articles we can manufacture, perhaps, as cheap as foreign countries. The moment an article can be exported it proves we are right to produce it. That is all business. It is the exchange of the shoemaker's surplus for the butcher's surplus. Every nation and individual should follow the business that nature points out to him.
Q. Then the restrictions on the use of machinery and in the hours of labor, would such fact be restriction on our power to produce and sell to other countries !—Á. Most undoubtedly.
Q. What would be the result of that on the wages of labor, in your judgment ?-A. I think the result of that would be that very likely people that would work ten hours in Australia would undersell us in wheat, and we might lose our business.
Q. What would be the general effect on the industries of this country ?-A. I think very bad. I think the government ought not to interfere with the hours of labor.
Q. What would become of the people that could not get employment by reason of the discontinuance of machinery; what would happen to them -A. There are certain things the government can do. I always admired the old English law, the law laid down by that great lawyer-I forget his name—that man has a right to a certain portion of the earth. I think when an honest man cannot get employment, there should be some power that would help him for the time being. I think the working classes should so vote for representatives that there might be some improvement in the poorlaws. I would not give them the name of poor-laws; I would give them a better
Q. Do you regard the present state of business as a reaction from a false system of legislation which directed so much labor in the direction of manufactures, and that system having broken down, the labor is now being forced back to the soil, where it would be only for that system ?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. In other words, the cause of the present difficulty is the disclusion of labor arising out of false legislation ?-A. Exactly.
Q. And you think natural causes and the repeal of this false legislation would give free trade to nature, and trade would relocate itself where it properly belongs?-A. I think that is all Congress has to do; to think, of all things, that governments are instituted among men for what? Not to tell this man or that man what to do, but to protect every man in his honest calling. Every man is entitled to pay his taxes, because the government protects him in his calling; but it has no right to say to this man, "You shall raise two bushels of wheat and sell it to a man in New England for a yard of cloth,” because that man could take his wheat to France and get two yards of cloth for it. I think the government is a protective institution. I believe the people in this country are in their present condition from laws diametrically opposite to that of the principal economist, whose maxims are the guidance of all nations, such as Germany and France.
Q. You do not believe that legislation can, for any considerable period, successfully compete with the laws of nature I-A. No, sir.
Q. They will assert themselves ?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. And that this present state of things is an assertion by nature of laws that are superior to laws passed by Congress ?-A. You put it in good language.
Q. Is that what you mean ?-A. Yes, sir.
HENRY V. ROTHSCHILD appeared and made the following statement :
By the CHAIRMAN : Question. What is your occupation ?-Answer. I am a manufacturer of clothing. Q. Carrying on business in this city ?-Q. Carrying on business at wholesale. Q. In the city of New York ?-A. Yes, sir. Q: Do you employ people ?–A. Yes, sir; we employ hands in the house and outside of the house,
Q. How many hands do you employ?--A. It is variable; sometimes 40 and 50; sometimes more and sometimes less. In very prosperous times we have employed still more.
Q. How many are you employing at the present time ?-A. I could not say now, eractly; but this being the height of the season, we employ outside 40 or 50 and inside 10 or 12, because one man in the house can do enough for five or six outside of the house.
Q. Is your business at present suffering from depression ?-A. My business is suffering by the diminished profit—the percentage of profit not being as large as it used to be; but as for demand, goods can be sold, but at a very small margin above the cost.
Q. But your business still pays some profit -A. O, yes; we can always succeed by economy and strict attention to business, and by personal supervision over our workingmen. This is a most significant point.
Q. Assuming that you could not make any profit, would you discontinue your busiuess ?-A. Decidedly.
Q. You would not go on unless you made a profit!-A. Certainly, we should have to discontinue, because all labor must remunerate us in some form; otherwise we could not live.
Q. You could not carry on business unless you got enough out of it to pay the expenses 1-A. Certainly.
Q. Your expenses consist of what—first, the material, and second, the labor ?-A. Yes, sir. I want to call your attention principally to this fact. Taking the laborer, as far as I could see him or serve him, if he is at the present time in a depressed cordition, it is very much due to himself. Eight hours or ten hours a day has nothing to do with it. For a short time, in the clothing trade, the cutters succeeded in forcing us into eight hours; but it was discovered that the difference between eight hours and ten honrs was not properly passed for their personal improvement, intellectually or morally, but they were seen roving about in the hours nntil darkness came on, and in the morning until work began. It showed that by a reduction of the hours of labor more men would have to be employed to get the same amount of net product, but it did not benefit the laborer. I should be the first man to stand here and say, "Give the laborer less hours of labor," if he would employ those hours of leisure for his own moral and intellectual advancement.
Q. What does he do with his time after ten hours? Does he employ that properlg !-A. With ten hours' work they are so employed that evening about closes the day.
Q. Your remedy is, for the moral improvement of the working classes, to keep them so busy that they cannot indulge in dissipation ?-A. That is a most significant point, and it is the only form in which the workingman can be improved. I am sorry that my notice came so late yesterday evening. I do not want to detain the committee with anything else but an oral statement, and I hope to file at some future day something in the form of an essay, which I can do in a more scientific way than I can now. There is one thing which I have not noticed, or any of the other speakers-one significant fact, which is the only thing I believe the legislature cannot properly do. I say the legislature has no right to encroach upon me as to whether I shall employ men eight hours, or ten, or fifteen hours. It is a matter of mutual agreement, and the legislature has no right, according to the principles of our government, according to the principles of the Declaration of Independence, to impose upon me what hours of labor I shall have between myself and my employés.
Q. Do you think the legislature has a right to establish a system of sanitary inspection of houses in New York –A. That is the thing. Go into the lower wards of this city. Examine the houses of the poorer classes of the workingmen, those that are suffering the direst poverty this moment, and see how they live. You will enter a room and a bedroom, and you will find a father and mother and six or seven children, grown 9 ap to maturity, and male and female within sight of each other forced to perform all aets of nature; and through this all those higher instincts, which the educated mind has, of personal self-respect, are extinguished from the minds of these people.
Q. But suppose it is given in evidence before the competent authorities—and we are not the competent authorities; it is the legislature of the States—ppose it is given in evidence that the employment of people for fifteen hours a day is demoralizing and destructive of the people's health, do you say the legislature cannot interfere to prevent such employment ?-A. I think that is a different point. Political economy teaches us that the laborers and the capitalists are two different forms of society. The laborer inust do all he can for himself.
Q. I don't know any such anthority. There is another anthority which says: “The laborer is worthy of his hire.” I want to get at your view, whether you take the ground that it is wrong for the legislature to interfere as to the regulating of the hours of labor at all ?-A. Decidedly; because the laborer and the man that employs him are two different parties, and the laborer should do as good as he can for himself, and the capitalist shou'd do as good as he can for himself; it is a matter between the laborer and the capitalist.
Q. Yon think the community have no interest in that question at all?-A. They have an interest so far as if an unprincipled employer tyrannizes in some way over the laborer; that is a different thing.
Q. How would you interfere in that case-by legislation or not?-A. If a tyranny arises, from which we are amply protected at the present day, the legislature can always interfere, without a doubt. But this is no tyranny, if the contract arises between a laborer and the employer. The horse-cars of New York are employing their hands 14 and 15 hours a day. They are all willing to work; they are not bound to accept the labor; it is a matter between themselves and their employers.
Q. But do they want to work that length of time !--A. All labor is irksome.
Q. Suppose it turned out, as a matter of fact, by a report of the physicians, that horse-car drivers and conductors who worked sixteen hours a day only lived two and three years in that employment, working at that rate, would the community be justified in interfering or not?-A. If the community finds that it has a tyranny over the health or the development, morally or intellectually, it has a right to interfere.
Q. Then you admit there are circumstances under which the community should legislate ?-A. Certainly; there is nothing in the world in regard to which the legislature has no right to interfere. We have, for example, bone-boiling establishments, which is a legitimate trade, and the legislature interferes.
Q. You set out in the beginniug by saying the legislature should not interfere between the employer and the employed as to the number of hours he should work. I now understand you to say that if the legislature comes to the conclusion that the number of hours of labor are too great, they may interfere ?--A. Yes, sir; and, even the first gentleman who spoke—he did not say anything about ill health arising out of ten hours of labor. He referred to eight hours of labor for no other reason than that the laborers would be more employed. It is not to be presumed that we can afford to pay the same price for the labor of eight hours that you can for ten hours.
Q. Do you employ people by the day or by the hour?--A. I employ a great number by the day. Q. Some by the piece !-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Will you give the committee a statement of the price which you pay for any particular article, such as a vest or a pair of pantaloons ?-A. There is an immense divergence in regard to that.
Q. Give us a good average.-A. The skilled laborer to-day demands a good price and gets it, and we employ him in dull times in order to keep him. The unskilled laborer is but briefly employed, and poorly paid.
Q. Take vests, for example, such as are sold to the ordinary average person. Will you tell me what is the price paid now for making a vest ?-A. Vests are made in this city for as low as 25 cents and 20 cents, and people are making money by it.
Q. How many 25-cent vests can they make in a day?-A. All those who make vests have regular factories, and by the aid of sewing-machines they succeed sometimes in making 200 and 300 in a day.
Q. With one person ?-A. That is by the employment of machines. I have spoken to two young ladies that are working for us making vests, who are, according to the char- . acter of the work, making as many as eight vests at 25 cents a vest.
Q. How many hours a day have they to work to make eight vests ?-A. Those are working home, in their rooms, and the hours of labor for them are not regulated as it is for those working in the house by the day.
Q. I have asked other witnesses how they regulate the hours of labor in private, . houses, and I want to ask you how many hours they must work in order to produce eight vests in a day at 25 cents a vest ?-A. It depends upon the speed and proticiency of the hands. Some people can work very fast and do the work as well, and others not so fast.
Q. A fair average hand ?-A. Twelve to fourteen hours a day.
Q. Is that a fair statement of the earnings of the sewing-women of New York working upon clothes 1-A. That I will not say. Very few women are employed in our business ; occasionally on a vest. Most vests are made by manufacturers, who employ six, eight, ten, and sometimes twenty machines.
Q. Who work the machines P-A. Girls work the machines. These girls are employed by the week and work regular hours a day.
Q. How much is paid to those hands a week, and how many hours a day do they work?-A. From $4 to $10 and $12 a week.
Q. How many hours a day !-A. I wish to impress this on you. There is a regular division of labor by all manufacturers of that kind.
Q. The girl is sitting at the machine; she works there. How many hours does she work the machine, doing her part of the work ?-A. Ten hours a day, unless she volunteers to work over-hours, and then she is paid extra.
Q. Are they allowed to work over-hours !-A. In some cases.
Q. How many hours are they allowed to over-work ?-A. If we are busy we will request them to work maybe two hours more, and they will get extra pay for that.
Q. How many hours do they work ?-A. They may work twelve or fourteen, according to the energy and industry and determinatlon of the person working.
Q. I'p to their capacity of work ?-A. Yes, sir; and at other times, there being a sufficiency of labor, they do not work so long.
Q. Is there an abundant demand in New York for women who earn their living by sowing in this way?--A. I am told by vest-manufacturers that they cannot, at the present time, find hands enough.
Q. There are not sufficient hands ?-A. Not sufficient skilled hands.
Q. Under that state of things are wages going up ?—A. They claim pretty good wages. A girl earning the wages I said is earning pretty good wages, and they offer premiums if one-vest man can take away the hands of another employer in order to procure them for themselves, if they are skilled hands, and unskilled hands are brietly employed at very small pay.
Q. You think there is not too large a supply?-A. Not in that branch of business.
Q. Among the sewing women of New York for that labor?-A. In that particular industry.
Q. I speak, generally, of the clothing trade.-A. That is a different thing—the clothing trade. There is, perhaps, no business in this country that has so minutely a perfect division of labor; it is divided in every particular. The coat is taken out and cut; he has his operative for the sewing-machine, and the man that makes the lining, and his pressman; he has a particular presser and a particular finisher, for certain parts of the garment. So it is a complete division of labor. I wish, also, to impress upon your niind the great importance of machinery, and what machinery has done. It was no further back than this morning that I conversed with my father who was nothing more, forty years ago, than a mechanic, and he told me at that time overcoats were made by hand for six shillings, and the same garment to-day at the same price would be considered a very excellent and a good price. For what reason? The great divisjon of labor, assisted by machinery.
Q. Have the earnings of those people, men and women engaged in the manufacture of clothing, increased or diminished since the invention of sewing-machines ?-A. It bas vastly increased.
Q. For how many months in the year? Is there more steady employment now, or less steady employment than there was prior to the introduction of sewing machines ?A. The employment has been variable, according to the times.
Q. It is more steady since the introduction of sewing-machines than it was before the introduction of sewing-machines ?-A. Well, I think, as far as I could judge at the present time, and according to the past time, the employment has been pretty steady in our line of business. Of course, it has been very variable; the cloth business is fluctuating.
Q. I am comparing the state of things before machinery was introduced and since machinery was introduced. You say they get higher wages ?–A. Yes, sir; higher wages and better work.
Q. And larger pay, and it has employed them as many hours in the course of a year ay it did formerly ?-A. Not as many hours.
Q. Their hours of labor are reduced ?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Is the employment as steady as it was before the introduction of machinery ?-A. I must here again make a division between skilled and unskilled labor. Skilled labor is actively in demand at the present day, and cannot be had for the asking of it; but unskilled labor can be had at low wages, and is but briefly employed. Of course, in certain seasons of the year, the work being not so large is not so well paid ; but, at the present time, I cannot to-day, for the skilled labor that I am looking for receive a sufficiency of it.
Q. You cannot get enough of skilled labor!-A. I can get a great deal of labor which is not skilled, and to whom I can give the commonest work, but they cannot be employed for any length of time, and it is with nervousness I give them a good garment; but for the skilled labor it is difficult for me to get them, and, if I have them, I must give them a sufficiency of employment at all times in order to keep them.
Q. In other words, as lawyers say, there is plenty of room at the top of the ladder! -A. Yes, sir.
Q. But not much at the bottom ?-A. No, sir. I wish to call your attention to another thing which, perhaps, depresses the workingmen at this present time. I have con versed with a great many workingmen, and with many employed in rolling-mills, such as carpenters, and in every department of traffic, as far as I could find them; I have gone into their houses and saw how they lived, and conversed with them about their antecedents, what they thought their own future prospects were, and what they thought they could do with their children, and whether they were going to make mechanics of their children, and I have npon this data many deductions which are for me quite suitable. Now, in several cases the improvidence of workingmen is the greatest source of evil to them.
Q. Their own improvidence?-A. Yes, sir. I am not saying a word against them; I respect them as highly as any other man, but I refer back to every man who has advanced himself from nothing up, and he was a good mechanic, and, after having started a little, came forward. Go to any small town where large manufacturers are, and ask them how business is, and they will tell you it is dull; and why? Because the workingmen in the neighborhood have nothing to do. In a certain city in Central Pennsylvania I have conversed with perhaps inore workmen than in any other town. I have been in the nail-factories and in the rolling-mills and I came in contact with one who seemed to be an intelligent man in everything except in regard to his own personal advancement. I asked him what his wages were six years ago, and he said * From $125 to $150 a month, and to-day I do not earn over $60, and sometimes nothing, because the mill stops at times."
Q. How is the improvidence shown by the fact of their getting less wages ?—A. I will show you: At the time when their wages were large they were careless; they followed all sorts of luxuries, and often lost time by it. They did not care for the future, but spent their money carelessly; and the party I speak of, I asked him, “Why didn't you save when you had plenty ?" He said, “If I was as wise then as I am now, I would have saved, and I would not be in want,” and I compared him to his neighbor who had saved $10,000, and he said he had saved when there was plenty.
Q. In other words, economy and frugality on the part of men, whether laborers or employers, is essential to succeed in life?-A. Certainly.
Q. You, of course, are very familiar with the clothing trade. Do you think that a larger percentage of the employers in the clothing trade have succeeded in life and avoided failing in business than there are among laboring men who have saved money and risen to a position of competence? In other words, is there any difference between the percentage of workingnien who rise in life and make themselves comfortable and employers who are engaged in business and who succeed?-A. That is a different point and a different question. Here we have in tlris city about 280 wholesale clothing-inen, and picking out one after the other, I will assure you that they have all been laboring mechanics at the bench, and have saved, themselves.
Q. That shows a large percentage who have got up and made themselves successful ?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. What proportion of the men engaged in the clothing trade succeed and retire with a competency ?-A. The largest number of failures that have been in any trade since this trouble began, the clothing trade has suffered the least of any.
Q. How is it with other trades? Do you know, from reading the statistics, the number of men that succeed as employers?--A. Yes, sir.
Q. What is the percentage?-A. Between 2 and 3 per cent.
Q. Is there not as large a number among the laborers who also succeed in achieving a competence, and, when they die, leave something for their families? I want to know whether, in a comparison between those who succeed as employers and those who succeed as laborers in saving a competency, whether there is a greater percentage of employers who succeed than of workingmen. In other words, whether the margin of economy is not as large a percentage among working people as it is among employers ?-A. I presume so; but the failure of an employer is, perhaps, due to many other causes than the poverty of a workingman.
Q. Is it not largely due to spending more money than he can afford ?-A. Yes, sir; abstinence is the first principle of success.
Q. Do you mean that working people are more extravagant and less inclined to frngality than employers ?-A. Yes, sir; they are.
Q. You say only 2 or 3 per cent. of employers engaged in business make a success of it?-A. Their failures are due to other causes.
Q. No matter what the causes are. Are there only 2 or 3 per cent. that actually come out at the end of their life with a competency !-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Don't you think there are 2 or 3 per cent. of the laboring class that accomplish that result?-A. Yes, sir; but if they were more economical, knowing what they are going to receive every week, they would be better off.
The CHAIRMAX. If I had any advice to give to workingmen, it would be, save when you can, be as frugal, and temperate, and industrious as possible, aud it is almost certain that your lot in life will at least be a respectable and successful one. But it would be very unjust to leave the impression that the fault is all on the side of the workingmen and none on the part of the employers, in respect to economy and extravagance of living.
Mr. ROTHSCHILD. But remember that some of the merchants that have failed have never been extravagant in all their lives, and there have been other causes which caused them to succhunb.
The CHAIRMAN. I think if you will take any of the first merchants who have failed, you will discover a long period of expensive living antedating the failure.
Mr. ROTHSCHILD. Not always. Tam perfectly assured that the number of persons that have failed in this city have not failed because they have lived extravagantly, but have failed because others failed who owed them money, and because there was such a greatly diminished value of their stock. When stock was taken on the 1st of January, when $100,000 worth of stock on hand was offered for sale and brought $75,000, or 75 per cent., that caused failures.
Q. Errors of judgment ?--A. Yes, sir.
Q. Suppose the employer had saved, at every step, all he could, would he not have accumulated a fund which would have secured hini against errors of judgment ?-A. Some woud.