Imágenes de páginas

disposed of, as set forth in the accompanying paper. And I believe that, if some means can be found of giving to small investors in joint-stock and co-operative skillful rural enterprises the protection necessary to make them feel that their investments are reasonably safe, thousands of families, now idle and snffering in the overcrowded cities and manufacturing districts, might be relieved by the principle of combination and through co-operative associations. They could settle on the sands purebased for the sole object to plant and cultivate such crops as would produce commercial articles, as in France, and thus, through rural industry, develop untold wealth for the benefit of the country, and to furnish an abundant supply of bread to the laboring classes.

But how can this protection be provided ? Surely it is one of the most practical and important, nay, vital problems, to the solution of which the best intellects of our national legislature should be seriously addressed.

Herewith I have the honor to inclose a copy of a suggestion presented on the 5th in stant by me to the Labor Exchange Association of this city, which I also submit for your consideration. Most respectfully, your obedient servant,


603 H Street V. W. Hon. ABRAM S. HEWITT,

Chairman of the Congressional Labor Committee. N.. B.-It would afford me great pleasure to appear before your honorable committee, or confer with its individual members, in relation to this subject, which a profound study for many years, coupled with extensive observations in several countries, enables me to treat practically.

I. S. General Smolinski (a Pole, but for many years an American citizen) is known to me as a thoughtful, humane, and estimable man.

THOS. B. BRYAN. WASHINGTON, D, C., August 9, 1878.

WASHINGTON, D. C., August 5, 1878. To the Labor Exchange Association, Washington City:

Labor is the exercise of man's force, either physical or mental, and when in harmonious co-operation with nature, it produces what is essential to sustain life or what contributes to its comforts and enjoyment. Thus, Jabor is the fundamental idea of every true system of political economy-the corner-stone of the welfare of mankind. Capital is one of the products of labor. It, in turn, creates manufacture, commerce, civilization. As the handinaid of enterprise, it develops the natural resources of the country, and opens communications between remote nations of the earth, which wonld remain unknown to each other but for the far-reaching of capital and enterprise. Thus capital is a secondary yet most potent element in the scheme of political economy, and is most effective and beneticent in its working when fairly employed in conjunction with labor, its prime cause. How, then, can this association of capital and labor be best effected, in order to relieve the present all-prevailing distress in the cities of this country?

The first great cause of that distress is the improper distribution of the labor, aggravated by secondary causes, which appear to the masses as primary, because most obvious and most nearly atfecting them. There are too manv, vastly too many, nonproducers and consumers, too few engaged in productive labor. Until the true equi. sibrium be established, by drawing from the citios this surplus population and swelling the ranks of those whose labor shall be the tilling of the soil, it is vain to efpect permanent relief.

Take the District of Colunbia for an illustration. Ont of a population of, say, 150,000, there are probably from 5,000 to 10,000 heads of families who depend mpon labor for their support, and yet half of whom are entirely without work even now in summer, and certainly with little prospect of finding employment next winter. Suppose these fathers have an average of from three to five children each ; what is the character of their eclucation and what their future prospects! Are they being educated to become producers or to swell the number of consumers? And this is but a type, and indeed a mild type, of the epidemic of misery now raging in all the cities of the Union.

What is the remedy? Certainly not in the power of the general government, but directly in this of the very inhabitants of the cities themselves, who slould check, while it is yet tine, the impending calamities, by organizing and purchasing large bodies of land for the colonization of surplus and discontented population, and thus the evil complained of will disappear and universal benefit result. * Lands may be advantageously purchased at present, and especially in the Southern States, where for


an average of $6 per acre vast bodies of adjacent land can be secured, admirably adapted to the wants of such colonies, and from which capital would realize a safe and even a remunerative return. Twelve hundred acres should belong to the shareholders, and 10,800 to colonists, as follows: 3,000 to be planted in vines and fruits, 3,000 in cereals and other crops, 2,600 to be preserved in forest, and 2,200 in pasture. The last two items to be in common to all the settlers. By such subdivision the settlers have to pay for 10,800-300 of them, equal to 36 acres each, and plus for surveying and absolute expenses incurred by organization, say, $2 per acre more than its original cost

$250 00 Transport to colony (railroad companies, to encourage immigration, may give free pass) still we reckon.

25 00 Town lots to be laid on the reserved land of shareholders, each lot half an

50 00 * House built on it by shareholders worth about..

300 00 † Seeds and plants, if furnished (10 acres each planter), with once plowing for vines, &c..

250 00 Groceries to be kept at cost price, first advance of such to each

50 00 Poultry, cow, and hog, if required

50 00 Each settler-planter will be debtor to the shareholders about.....

1,013 00 No employé to be engaged by shareholders unless he himself holds at least five shares, and no mechanic or laborer unless he is an actual settler. From every weekly or monthly payment of the wages of employés, mechanics, and laborers thereof will be deducted 10 per centum, and they will be credited as much until they pay all they owe to the concern; then the shareholders shall issue to them, as to all the remainder of the settlers who may pay all in full, the fee-simple title to the property which they may possess in the colony.

The Labor Exchange Association of the City of Washington will alone receive the subscription to the aniount of two thousand five hundred shares, each of $100, payable by installments of $2 per month until all is paid, and issue to the first the other two thousand five hundred shares of full paid stock; and as soon as the first thousand shares are subscribed (each so subscribing has to pay down $2 per share) they will call a meeting, and elect one president, one vice-president, and three or five directors, all five or seven to form the board of directors, who shall have their office and hold their mcetings permanently in the city of Washington, whose object shall be intelligent devotion to assist worthy citizens out of employment, and the distressed with their families to the colony bought and organized for that purpose by the philanthropic citizens as “Washingtonsville Community.”

The board of directors will elect a secretary, who shall be an attorney, to transact legal business of purchase and sale, designate a bank of deposit, &c., and designate one of the five or seven directors for managing director, who shall conduct the administration on the colony's grounds, reporting to the headquarters monthly Besides the above officere, the managing director shall pass upon contracts, appoint the following assistants: one surveyor, one overseer-gardener and viticultor, one foreman to superintend the labor, one head clerk and one or two assistant clerks of country store, All those employés, with the exception of the secretary and attorney of the colony, shall permanently remain and settle on the colony's grounds, and be approved by the full board of directors. The salaries of managing director, secretary and attorney, surveyor, overseer-gardener, foreman, and clerks of country store, should be no higher than the wages of first, second, and third class mechanics. All other higher grade officers not to be paid until the dividends after four years of association's existence will justify it.

As soon as the association of the Washingtonsville Community shall be organized as above, the directors will send two or three trustworthy gentlemen, two practical viticultors and gardeners, and one surveyor to Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina, to exainine the character of the soil, its price, &c., and report to the board of directors, who shall convoke a meeting of shareholders, and these by a vote of threefourths majority shall decide the spot upon which the Washingtonsville Community will settle.

Any citizen who may subscribe five shares with the intention to settle on the lands of this association, as well as any mechanic or any workingman sent by the board of directors of said association as one of the permanent settlers, shall receive the assistance specified in this preamble, and pay for it by half of the fruit-produce raised by him, and for the other half he will receive cash as soon as the association, after manufacturing it, shall dispose of it and receive the proceeds.

The settlers will be shown and taught by the overseer-gardener and viticultor the art of skillful cultivation of the soil, particularly how to plant and trim vines, &c. All pro

* There is in South Carolina, and no doubt elsewhere, beautiful timber which may be manufactured on the spot by portable stoam-saws. Thus, material would cost a trifle but labor. + The overseer gardener can raise a supply of plants and garden-seed which will pay well, &c.

duce shall have a market on the spot, through the agents of the association, who, by virtue of the constitution of this association, shall be the members of the community. Grants and donations will be given to the settlers in town lots and materials, raw or manufactured, by the association for the schools and houses of worship of any denomination.

The subscribers to the shares subject to installments, as well as holders of full-paid shares, by virtue of the spirit of this association, shall be entitled to dividends incoming from rural manufacturing produce, received half in payment of debt from cultivators and the other half purchased from them as stated above, and so it shall continue until all the liabilities of settlers and those of the association are fully paid and the stock declared to be worth $200 per share clear of all incunıbrances. Then all shareholders shall receive, per installments, or otherwise, $200 in cash for every $100 on the face of the share, and thus redeemed shares will be transferred to the whole com. munity and become its property for the purpose of an educational fund, children's and orphans' endowments, &c., administered by said community according to the laws of the State in which this community will settle, and as independent and self-governing citizens, who never will cease to bear in their hearts gratitude to the fellow-citizens of the District of Columbia for their assistance in making them to become thus.

In conclusion, we, the undersigned subscribers, citizens of the District of Columbia, authorize Gen.•Í. Smolinski to solicit subscriptions from all citizens, patriotic and wise economists, considering that such investment will be profitable to the subscriber, and in the mean time enable the city to relieve hundreds of families, and open permanent avenues to all of us desiring to secure for our children, by rural education and industry, moral, honorable, and happy independence.

Twó per centum ($2), collected at time of subscription, shall be deposited at the bank of Riggs & Co., credited to Labor Exchange Association for Washingtonsville Community.

Names of subscribers.

Number of shares


Residence and emarks.

Amount paid.

To the Congressional Committee of Inquiry on the Labor Question :

I live in Woburn, Mass., a town containing 10,800 inhabitants, the business of which is principally making leather.

I ask your attention to the few following facts and ideas: Materials and provisions necessary to suppport a family are as low as at any former period, and more can be bought to-day for an average week's work than at any former time. It will be seen by the following statistics that it is better for laboring men to live and support a family with a currency based on specie payment.

I call your attention to a list of prices of various articles of consumption used in all families in the years of 1860, 1865, and 1878. This was obtained from one of the oldest and most reliable stores in town, and is as follows, namely:

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

The following prices were also paid for labor in the same years, taken from one or the leading manufactories in town:

[blocks in formation]

Thus, it will be seen that provisions are as cheap or cheaper to-day than in 1860, and the workingman is getting more pay now than then, while in 1865 his condition was much more unfavorable than either of the other years. I think there has been more uneasiness and suffering among the laboring men for lack of employment than Ow wages.

The rapid introduction of labor-saving machinery has been largely, if not mainly, influential in bringing this about. I will refer you to only one department of industry in proof of this: In 1865 there were 4,731 less shbemakers in the State than in 1875, yet there was manufactured in 1875 $33,000,000 more of boots and shoes.

Capacity or incapacity has too little weight with working-people. How far superior brain power ought to work for universal good is a question yet to be settled. All men cannot fill every place, but every man can fill some place. Brain force is a gift from God. Men cannot be made good or great by their own will, or by legislation, any more than they all can be made seven feet tall. The question may arise, how far superior brain power ought to work for universal good! This will not be likely to follow until the selfish eleinents of our nature are changed into benevolence, and this can be accomplished only by slow degrees. The present state of society and civilization has grown out of the average condition of the brains of the people, and cannot be set aside at once without disastrous results.

Demand and supply cannot be controlled by the people of one State or nation. If the hours of labor should be reduced or wages raised in America, then we could not compete with other nations in our productions, and business would suffer a still further depression than is now experienced.

It is a question how far the government ought to interfere for the benefit of the weaker portion of the people. Much cannot be done in this direction without impairing their manhood by taking away their self reliance, which would be most unfortunate.

How far it comes within the scope of the function of the government to assist poor people in a pecuniary way who have the right of franchise is for you to decide. It is certainly a very important point to be considered. Possibly it might be allowable to place some such people on lands where they could help themselves.

This subject is almost unlimited, and I have already said more than you will wish to read. I have heard so much of weak vagaries presented to your committee, I felt like saying what I have in writing, as I cannot appear before you personally, which I should be happy to do. Truly,



WILLIAMSBURG (BROOKLYN, E. D.), August 20, 1878. To the Congressional Committee appointed to investigate the Condition of Labor :

The Tailors' Union of Williamsburg feels cor.strained to submit its contribution and conscientiqusly responds to the call, so far as it is concerned in this branch of labor. In order the better to comprehend our case, it must be understood that (this) our union is composed exclusively of shop tailors, i. e., tailors who work year in and year out, making clothes which are sent to every part of the United States, California included. The clothing of our handiwork therefore forms a handsome staple article of manufacture in which millions of dollars are yearly interchanged-a statement which is proved by the fact that between 30,000 and 40,000 working people of both sexes are employed at this trade in the cities of New York and vicinity. It is not, by any means, to be supposed that these are all thoroughly qualified workmen of the trade. There are coat-makers who during the entire year make nothing but coats, others who make nothing but vests, others nothing but pantaloons. The two last species of piece-work are easiest to learn, and consequently performed mostly by women and those who are not tailors by trade. We might rank these different clothes-makers into first, second, and third classes, who are paid according to the fineness or coarseness of the work. The manufacturers or employers are mostly to be found in New York, and count many millionaires among their number. It must not be forgotten that our wages for piece-work, which have always been low, have, since the late tinaucial crisis, been reduced. One cause of this is attributed to a lack of consumption as well as a weakened means of purchasing: Half of these employers are in competition with cheaper wares thrown on the market. A second canse lies in the improvements in machinery, such as cutting and fitting machines, &c. By these innovations a large number of idle hands are created, who to stave off starvation underbid others by accepting any terms offered them.

We have already said that the prices many years ago were a third higher, and for a time after the war of the rebellion much more than that; so that many working people actually had their own homes, even palaces where a noble himself need not be ashamed to dwell. These favorable times are, however, gone. Many were obliged to forsake their homes, being unable to pay either the interest on the unpaid capital they had assumed, or the taxes levied every year upon them. A further cause of the reduction of the wages is that the manufacturer has developed all the methods of the division of the industry and applied them. The manufacturer No. 2 is likewise a workman, employs a number of people, and sends away large quantities of work cut out. The larger part of his work is done by girls between the ages of 14 and 20 years, who receive weekly from $1.50 to $5. Those who work on machines get the pay of men, i. e., $6 to $7. Constant labor at the sewing-machine, however, generally ends in giving them asthma.

The advantage accruing to this method of manufacture comes from working at one piece, or at similar work, wherein a much larger quantity can be rushed throngh than by single piece method; and as avarice lies at the bottom of the operation, every possible scientific means must be applied in order to wrench the utmost from the muscular and brain power of the employé; these people work cheaper on an average than other tailors, and their system is crowding the prices gradually down. The manufacturers of this second class generally live in New York and Newark, though they are also to be found in smaller numbers in Williamsburg and other places. For the most part those who possess houses are of this class.

Point I.-Considering the qnestion, then, from the first standpoint, we are not slow to conclude that the condition of the tailors throughout the entire State of New York is at a very low ebb.

Point II.-In the second place, the influence of legislation on the labor market is well illustrated by the prevailing habit of sending convicts to prisons and houses of correction, where they are consigned to hard work. Their labor is jobbed out to contractors of this class of tailor work, and thus put in competition with honorable labor.

ATTENDANCE AT SCHOOL.- The privilege of schools is, as a general thing, advantageous for the children of the tailors, especially the free schools, which are inaintained and conducted by the State. Unfortunately, however, the German language is not tanght nor used there. This deficiency is partly made up by a large number of private schools. Another difficulty here presents itself, as a tuition of $1.50 to $2 per month is charged. This being generally beyond the means of the poor German people who labor at the tailoring trade, the privilege of schooling their children is almost entirely cut off.

Point III-WAGES.-Let us consider the subject of wages, by taking individnal cases from among our members; the shortest half of the work being represented by A.

A, with the assistance of his wife, finishes from four to six coats in a week, which yield him from 12 to 18 shillings apiece, working 82 hours each week. Reckoning 51 weeks in a year, he receives $450, of which $96 must be deducted for rent. The cost of living amounts at least to $260; fuel, $35; clothing, $25; besides washingsoaps and other household materials, doctor's bills, and drugs. He has two children to support.

B, with the help of his wife, makes eight coats per week, for which he is paid from 6 to 12 shillings apiece. His weekly wages are $7.50; annual income $382.50 ; annnal outgoes for rent, $72; fuel, $35 to $40. Has six children to support. With such a miserable recompense and so great a responsibility, the poor man must suffer hopelessly a lifetime.

C, of class No. 3, makes coats for 30 cents to a dollar apiece. He earns, with the help of his wife, between $3 and $4 a week; pays $72 a year for rent; has tive children to support. Added to these he seldom has work the year round.

D, with the help of his wife, makes 24 to 30 vests per week; he receives 4 to 5 shil· lings apiece for them; has an average wage of $10 per week, and perhaps only one child, and pays an annual rent of $85.

Vest-maker II makes vests at 20 to 37 cents apiece; has an average income of $ with the help of his wife. Having a family of three children, he must pay at least $72 per year rent.

Vest-makers III, of class 3, consist mostly of women, who receive 12 to 20 cents apiece, and a weekly salary of $3 to $4.

« AnteriorContinuar »