“There is a fearful tendency in this country to the unreasonable, unjust and unsatisfactory strikes, on the part of laborers, to compel their employers to accede to their demands for time and wages. The press dispatches for months for which large sums are paid weekly by those who take them, have consisted largely of accounts of the parades and movements generally of the strikers. The newspapers have been filled with fearful accounts of the misdeeds and violence of those who having seen fit to quit their work, endeavor to force all other laborers to join with them in enforcing their demands. . . . Large forces of police have been in constant requisition to preserve the peace, and to protect property, and the lives of unoffending citizens. In short, the ‘strikes’ in this country are becoming terribly and wonderfully alarming. . . .
Such measures rarely accomplish the purpose of their inauguration, and whatever is secured, it is always attended by greater privation, hardships, and suffering. The cause of all this trouble consists in the nature and management of the several trades unions with which mechanics of all classes see fit to restrain themselves. These are generally controlled by young and thoughtless men, without responsibilities, who can endure the hardships which they force with terrible results upon their married brethren.
Eufaula (Daily) Times, July 9, 1872.
Pensacola, January 8, 1873.
I have the honour to state for your information the following facts:
The shipment of heavy timber from this port to European markets, during the winter months gives employment to a large amount of skilled and ordinary labour in loading the vessels, & a majority of the stevedores & many of the unskilled men, thus employed, are British subjects residing in Canada, and who come here during the labour season returning when it is over.
Their presence and participation in the business of loading vessels have excited the violent opposition of resident negroes engaged in the same pursuit, an opposition which after minor demonstrations of hostilities culminated on the 6th instant in open outrage and violence. The negroes assembled in an armed mob and by force prevented these British subjects from proceeding to their labours on board the vessels in the Bay, and throughout the day their attitude was menacing. At dark, they assembled in large numbers armed with pistols and clubs and at once proceeded to assail the British subjects referred to, who escaped with their lives only by flight and concealment, the negroes entering and searching private houses and making deadly threats against them. The police of the city was powerless and no measure was taken by its authorities to arrest, or to punish the outrage. On the following days, the 7th Janry, the British subjects were again by the same mob prevented from going to work. I then called upon the Mayor of the city, to learn whether or not he would give protection to the lives of these British subjects who are guiltless of all offence against the laws of the country, when he informed me that he was powerless to prevent a repetition and continuance of the riot. I then suggested an appeal to the U.S. Naval officer commanding the navy yard, six miles from the city, and in company with the Mayor and the Sheriff of the county I called upon Commodore Middleton &submitted to him a statement of which the indorsed is a copy, the Mayor & Sheriff at the same time representing themselves as powerless to control the riot and asking his assistance. Commodore Middleton promptly sent an officer & twenty marines to the city to cooperate with them & order was restored. As a repetition of these outrages may occur at any moment whereby British interests & lives may be imperilled, I have deemed it proper to report the facts for your consideration.
I am &c (Signed) W. K. Hyer
J. J. Midland
W. K. Hyer to J. J. Midland, Jan. 8, 1873, Notes from British Legation, Depart of State, Record Group 59, National Archives.
British subjects temporarily living here and employed as stevedores and labourers on the shipping in this Bay are by the force and violence of a riotous mob of negroes not only prevented from pursuing their business, but they have been assailed with deadly weapons and their lives threatened and the rights of peaceable British subjects are invaded.
Upon application to the Mayor of the city for protection he finds himself unable to afford it with the means at his command & understanding that he has applied to you for a force to aid in restoring order and preserving the peace, I beg leave to submit the foregoing facts for your consideration and to express the hope that his request may be complied with. British subjects pursued by mobs of infuriated negroes armed with pistols and clubs have been pursued through the public streets and as yet no arrest or inquiry has been instituted because of the weakness of the civil authorities to cope with the emergency.
I am etc.
Wm. K. Hyer
1st Vice Consul
Commodore E. Middleton U.S.N.
U.S. Navy Yard
William K Hyer to Commodore E. Middleton, January 7, 1873,
Notes from British Legation, Department of State,
Record Group 59, National Archives.
Washington, January 20, 1873.
I have the honour to enclose for your consideration copies of a letter from Mr. W. K. Hyer, British Vice Consul at Mobile, and of its enclosure. From these you will perceive that an attempt was made on the 6th instant by a riotous mob of coloured men to prevent certain British subjects at Pensacola employed as stevedores and labourers in the shipping of that Port from following their peaceful occupations. The authorities of the town seem to have been unable to suppress the disturbance or to punish the offenders. In the emergency an application was made to the United States Naval Office in command of the Navy Yard, who promptly rendered effective assistance, and I have much pleasure in expressing my acknowledgments for this timely service in behalf and for the protection of British subjects.
But you will perceive that fears are entertained that these outrages may be repeated, and that the interests and lives of British subjects may be endangered thereby. I venture therefore to hope that it will be in the power of the Government to send such instructions as will prevent a repetition of those acts of violence, which I am well convinced, are entirely opposed to its wishes, as they are to the liberal spirit of the laws and institutions of the United States.
I have the honor to be, with the highest consideration,
Your obedient Servant,
Honorable Hamilton Fish
Edwards Thornton to Hamilton Fish, Jan. 20, 1873, Notes from British Legation, Record Group 59, National Archives.
Washington, 24th January, 1873
The Right Honorable
Sir Edwards Thornton KCB
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 20th instant, and of its accompaniments, relating to an attempt, alleged to have been made on the 6th instant, by a riotous mob of colored men to prevent certain British subjects at Pensacola, from pursuing their occupations as stevedores and laborers in the shipping at that port, and expressing your thanks for the timely service rendered by the United States Naval office in command of the Navy Yard at Washington on the occasion referred to.
In reply, I have to state that, with the view to a compliance with your wishes, a copy of your note together with its enclosures have been sent to the Attorney General. A copy of your note has also been transmitted to the Secretary of the Navy, for his information.
I have the honor to be with the highest consideration, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
Hamilton Fish to Edwards Thornton, Jan. 24, 1873, Notes to Foreign Legations in the U.S., Record Group 59, National Archives.
Washington, February 3, 1873
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 29th ultimo stating that your Department is informed by a letter of the 27th ultimo from the Attorney General that he has given instructions to the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida to take the necessary steps to prevent in the future the attempt alleged to have been made by a riotous mob of colored men to prevent certain British subjects at Pensacola, Florida, from pursuing their occupations as Stevedores and Labourers at that port, and I beg to offer my best thanks for the measures which have been taken, and which have no doubt will be effectual.
I have the honour to be, with the highest consideration,
Your obedient Servant,
The Honorable Hamilton Fish
Edwards Thornton to Hamilton Fish, Feb. 3, 1873, Notes from British Legation, Record Group 59, National Archives.
CHARLESTON, W. Va., April 17.—An extensive and important strike among the laborers upon the new Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, from White Sulphur Springs to Kanawha Falls, is in progress. The strike is for about four month’s back pay, and the number of men engaged in it is estimated at from 800 to 1,000, mostly negroes.
The strike began near Stretcher’s Neck, on New River, and the negroes from there marched along the road westwardly, compelling all laborers, of both colors, with whom they came in contact to stop work.
The strikers were augmented in strength as they proceeded, and when they arrived at Kanawha Falls last night there was a very large force of them. They have continually shown a very hostile and mutinous feeling towards the railroad company and its officers. At the Hawk’s Nest, about twelve miles east of Kanawha Falls, on New River, the negroes took possession of the station, and among other acts of violence broke and turned a switch so that a train going east a short time afterwards collided with a construction train upon the switch. The collision resulted in the wrecking of an engine and slight injury of several persons on board the train. At about the same time a very large rock and two or three stumps were rolled down the steep mountain next above the Hawk’s Nest upon the track, and the probabilities are undoubted that the strikers were the perpetrators of the acts.
The belligerent spirit manifested by the negroes has inspired travellers and residents of the sections in which they are figuring with fear and anxiety, and the conduct of the strikers thus far means mischief beyond a question.
The amount for which the strike was made is variously estimated, but it is probably in the neighborhood of $150,000. Much apprehension is felt by the people along the line, as the negroes will undoubtedly do a great deal of sacking and plundering for the means of subsistence, the country in that section being comparatively poor in supplies. Major A. H. Perry and Colonel Vancleve, Superintendents of the road, have gone to the New River country to see what can be done in the matter, but the strikers are bitterly determined to have their money or hold the road and stop the telegraph and trains.
If an adjustment is not effected in the course of forty–eight hours, or even less, the trains will probably stop running from necessity, as landslides are constantly occurring on the road.
E. C. B.
New York World, April 20, 1873.
A number of colored men met in Jacksonville the other day and passed the following resolutions:
Resolved, That the relations now existing between capital and labor in this vicinity, in common with other portions of the State, are unequally and unjustly balanced; that the wages paid for daily labor are inadequate to meet the ordinary requirements of the laborers, and the hours exacted for a day’s work too unreasonable and oppressive to allow the laborer that recreation and rest which the laws of his nature demand.
Resolved, That ten hours should constitute a working day, and one dollar and fifty cents should be paid the ordinary, unskilled laborer for a day’s work.
Resolved, That we consider the time and rates of pay, above named, just and reasonable for both employer and employee, and that we will do all in our power to establish these relations and exchanges between capital and labor in this county.
The immediate object of the meeting appears to have been in connection with and on behalf of the laborers employed in and about the various sawmills at Jacksonville. An executive committee of five was appointed, with instructions to visit the owners of the several saw mills, and endeavor to make satisfactory arrangements with the employers in regard to the number of hours and pay of daily laborers, to prepare rules and regulations for the government of the League, and to report at an early day the result of its labors. The mill owners will no doubt receive the committee kindly, but capital will be able to hold its own in this country for many a day yet. And shall we say that it ought to be otherwise?
Tallahassee Weekly Floridian, May 27, 1873.
The employees of the saw mills at Jacksonville are on a strike. They demand ten hours as a day’s work, and an increase of wages. The employers have refused the demand and are supplying the places of the strikers with new hands. This is more than the strikers bargained for, it being essential to the success of all strikes that the strikers shall not only remain firm themselves, but that no others shall engage to fill their places on the old terms. If, the moment a strike begins, other laborers stop in and fill up the gap, the only effect is a change of workmen, and the end of the movement is worse than the beginning. The strikers simply manoeuvre themselves out of employment. This is well understood by all labor combinations, and hence in order to escape a result so disastrous, it is generally a part of the programme entering into “a strike” to prevent by moral suasion, and, when this fails, by intimidation, by threats, and not unfrequently by violence, the employment of other labor except on the terms demanded. In the present instance, no actual violence has as yet taken place, but the intimidating process has been put in operation and the mill–owners have been compelled to appeal to the authorities about Jacksonville for protection, which of course has been afforded.
No one will deny the absolute right of every class of people to fix the value of their own property, whether it be lands, stocks, labor or anything else, and to sell it at the price demanded or withhold it, as suits their pleasure or convenience. So, on the other hand, the buyer has also a clear right to pay the price demanded or not, as suits his pleasure or interest. Thus far everything is fair and lawful, and no one has a right to complain. But when either party undertakes to coerce the other by means which would constitute a crime if employed under different circumstances, then the combination loses its moral force and its members expose themselves to punishment as law–breakers. We know nothing of the merits of this movement among the mill–workers. They may not be sufficiently remunerated, and the terms they demand may be commensurate with the services rendered, but this has nothing to do with the question of violence. No resort to force to compel acquiesence in the employers is justifiable, any more than it would be in any other combination made up to promote certain interests and the use of force to make it successful.
As a general thing, the utility of strikes is doubtful. They more frequently fail than succeed. There there is the loss of time and the demoralization which always attends a movement of the sort. In the case of common labor, it is seldom, whether the strike is successful or not, and particularly when the strikers are guilty of acts of violence, that the old hands are taken back when the trouble is over. It is an easy matter, comparatively, to supply the places of mill–workers in whom no great amount of skill is required to make efficient laborers, and this the mill–owners have demonstrated by going on as usual with their work, doubtless to the great disgust of the disappointed strikers, who were probably told that if they “knocked off,” the “bosses” could not get along and would be forced to yield. This is not the first time that pretended friends of [the] [la]boring man have got him into trouble and it will not be the last.
“Strikes,” says the Union with an eye perhaps on the Jacksonville one, “are not generally caused so much by the suffering injustice, and destitution or helplessness of men who work as by the passionate and dangerous appeals of those who do not work, and as demagogues stir up strife and bitter feelings and animosities, not so much out of regard for the welfare of workingmen, as from a particular regard for men who by politics [illegible] in some other way desire to live without work.”
Tallahassee Weekly Floridian, May 27, 1873.
The mill owners having refused to allow the reduction of a day’s work to ten hours, in compliance with the demand of the Labor League, the colored laborers, with preconcerted action, refused to go to work yesterday morning before 7 o’clock.—The owners of the mills, determined not to yield, told them that they must continue to work as heretofore, or find other employment. Both parties stood firm.
Messrs. Alsop & Clark went to work at the usual time, with a few colored men in their employ. Messrs. Eppinger, Russell & Co., C. A. Fairchild, A. Wallace and others were occupied as usual the first day of every month, in cleaning boilers and making general repairs. They fired up last night, and will go to work this morning with such help as they have been able to secure. The mill men do not anticipate any serious interference with their business by the strike.
The Superintendents of the mills claim that the strikers have not heretofore averaged ten hours labor a day, notwithstanding they are required, at this season of the year, to go to work at 6 A.M., and continue, except for dinner, until near sunset; that they do not average more than 8 or 8–1/2 hours in the winter, and from 11 to 12 in the summer. Besides they have a relief of from one to two hours while changing saws, etc., almost daily.
During the day the strikers endeavored to induce the few men who continued work at Clark’s mill to desist, and threatened violence in case they refused. Mr. Clark sent word to the Mayor requesting the protection of the police for his employees, which was promptly granted. Up to the time of going to press no serious disturbance has occurred. A resort to violence is discountenanced by the leaders of the movement.—
Jacksonville Republican, June 3, 1873.
THE LABORERS’STRIKE.—The strike still continues, and although there is much excitement among the workmen, as far as we have been able to learn, there is no disposition to do violence among the majority of them, even to the few workmen who have refused to join them and still continue working the usual number of hours.—Yet there are a few who are reckless enough to do violence to the persons and property of all mill employees who disregard the strike, as was evidenced by the mob on Monday night throwing brick–bats at a laborer returning from Wallace’s mill. One of the strikers, named Valentine, promptly interposed and fired a pistol, diverting the mob, while the person assaulted made his escape. We are assured by the Police authorities that there is no reason to fear any serious disturbance.
Jacksonville Republican, June 5, 1873.
The News says: “We understand that Gov. Hart counselled the movement of the strikers, but we hope that such a rumor is unfounded, as, in our opinion, it would be lowering the dignity of his exalted position.”
THE STRIKE.—The strike of the colored men employed at the eight different saw–mills in this vicinity still continues. The mill owners hold out against the colored men’s demand for only ten hours’ labor as stubbornly now as on the first day it occurred.
Messrs. Alsop & Clark have succeeded in employing a full crew of white men, mostly from the country, which, if they continue to work, may defeat the object of the strike at this mill.
Penniman’s mill is also running every day, being operated by white laborers entirely. Mr. C. A. Fairchild has a small force at work. We are informed that he only intends to run until he can fill an order now on hand. All the other mills remain idle.
At Bradley’s mill the hands still hold out, and the mill is not running.
We understand that the mill of J. W. Scott will be shut down for a number of weeks for the purpose of repairs.
Many of the strikers have quit the city and gone to other points in search of employment, which is more commendable than to hang about the streets in idleness.
Tallahassee Weekly Floridian, June 10, 1873.
Precisely at 12 o’clock on yesterday, every hand in the J. P. & M. Railroad shops at this place, including men and boys, white and colored, stopped work simultaneously and demanded their pay, which is now three months in arrears—their wages being due for May, June and July. Superintendent Papy was waited on, and he finally succeeded in lulling the clamors of the men by a promise to pay them off in full in a day or two. The hands, however, all refuse to strike another lick until they are paid off, and they cannot be blamed. They have had a hard struggle to live, and could not have got along at all but for the kindness and indulgence of our merchants. “The laborer is worthy of his hire,” and it is high time the officers of the Company should make extraordinary exertions and any sacrifice to satisfy the just demands of their faithful mechanics. We believe that Superintendent Papy will “raise the wind” if it is within the scope of human power. The new management succeeds to a mass of debts and embarrassments of every description, the result of the Littlefield mismanagement, and it will be fortunate indeed and deserving of great credit if it is able to afford even temporary relief to the Road.
Tallahassee Weekly Floridian, June 24, 1873.
The Jacksonville Republican of Saturday says that the strike among the mill workers seems to have come to an end. Many of the leaders have gone elsewhere to seek for employment, while others have resumed work at former rates. Most of the mills are again in operation, others now undergoing repairs, will resume within a few days. No further difficulty in procuring laborers is anticipated.
Seven or eight of the mill strikers at Jacksonville were tried at the last term of the Duval County Court upon a charge of riotous conduct in visiting the house of one Barclay, (an employee of one of the mills), at night, smashing in the windows, cutting his wife and frightening his children. The testimony was clear and conclusive against the strikers—nothing rebuttal being offered by them—and yet the jury, (all colored but one) brought in a verdict of “not guilty.”
Savannah (Georgia) Morning News, June 27, 1873.
For some time past it has been known that numbers of the colored people of Colleton County, South Carolina, have been purchasing large tracts of land, and dividing them in, or working them on, a co–operative system. The following interesting account of their operations is taken from the Waterloo News:
In this country the colored people own, and are successfully conducting, some of the largest plantations. This is done under a sort of communism. A number of them, in some cases as many as fifty, form themselves into a society, elect their officers and adopt by–laws. They have regular meetings, at which the officers report, and a specified amount is paid into the treasury by each member. When enough funds accumulate in the treasury, a suitable plantation is selected and the purchase made; usually the payments are in one, two or three years, a good portion being paid at the time of purchase. The land is equally divided by the officers elected for that purpose among the members of the society, or so much as they wish to cultivate. Each is free to work as suits him, and each can dispose of his crop as he deems proper. No new member is admitted except by the consent of the whole society. All sick are cared for by the society if unable to care for themselves—officers being elected to look after such cases and report their wants to the society at its weekly meetings, or at special meetings if the exigency of the case requires it. All disputes arising among members are brought before the society, certain of the officers being designated to hear and endeavor to amicably arrange all dissensions; and it is very seldom, if ever, they fail. Petty litigation, that is the great bane of the colored people in many sections, is in this way avoided. These societies are principally formed from people who work for hire—50 cents per day being the sum generally paid; the plantations are usually bought as soon as sufficient funds are in the treasury to make the first payment. Upon those that have been in operation three or four years the land has been paid for, and the members have acquired considerable personal property, and are generally prosperous. A sort of rivalry seems to spring up between them, which is productive of economy and thrift. These societies are situated in the low country east of the Savannah and Charleston railroad. We do not presume to say that only the colored people who have formed themselves into these societies show thrift and the accumulation of property, for a number, who six or seven years ago were not worth a dollar, now carry on successfully large rice and cotton plantations, and are becoming heavy tax–payers. But in the particular section in which these societies are formed, more property exists among their members than among those who are fighting the battle of the life and death on their own account, while from the formation of these societies they are enabled to purchase more valuable property and secure greater privileges than they could if each laid his money out in a separate purchase, in which case ten or twenty acres or more of poor land would be all he would be able to buy, as no planter would consent to cut off and sell small tracts of his best land and retain himself the poorer portion. This is undoubtedly one of the reasons of their success, as on nearly all the plantations in this section a large portion of the land is almost valueless. By securing the whole plantation they obtain sufficient good land for their purposes, while he who purchases for himself generally gets such land that it is impossible to make more than a poor subsistence from.
Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly, September 20, 1873.
We left this question yesterday at that point where in his furious zeal the State Journal’s pet LEWIS, let the confiscation “cat out of the bag.” The Democratic members who responded so promptly to his incautious statement of the objects sought to be accomplished by the Equalization scheme had, all along, known and felt that there was some iniquity covered up in that clause of the bill, but not having been “behind the scenes” they had been compelled to rely upon blind conjecture until this pointed declaration cleared up the mystery. They knew that, in the very nature of things, the Board could not have been intended to do justice (1) because its members could not be expected to possess the requisite information, especially with respect to counties they had never seen, and (2) because there was no means provided whereby such information could be obtained. Of these two reasons the first is well nigh self–evident; and of the second it is only necessary to say that the very proposition to establish such a board embodied an indirect charge that the only men competent to prove the real value of lands (the land owners) could not be believed on oath. Each tax–payer swears to the value of his property when he gives it in.—Hence to assert that any one county has failed to return a correct valuation of its real estate must necessarily be to charge that the mass of the tax–payers of such county have sworn to false returns. By whom, then, could any such Board hope to prove higher value than the owners of the lands had sworn to? Not by the owners themselves, evidently, because they would hardly consent to impeach their own veracity. Not by the members of the Board, because not one of them would be able to swear truly to the value of one–third of the lands in his own county. Not by the assessors, because that would be to put the fees of the assessor in one scale and his oath in the other. It was, therefore, very clear that if the Board acted at all it would be compelled to act upon arbitrary rules—and who could guess the limit to which arbitrary powers might not extend? This reasoning proves that some sort of Injustice must have been comtemplated by those who proposed and pushed with such relentless vigor this Equalization scheme, because, as we have already shown, justice was altogether out of the question. Here we might have been altogether at sea but for the chart so kindly furnished us by the statesman from Perry. That “injustice” was to “raise the taxes to such a pitch that GREEN LEWIS, and others of his sort, could buy,” at the tax sales, the lands which the large land holders of the State would thereby be “compelled to sell.”
But why should the large land holder be compelled to sell? Because the negroes, who constitute the mass of the Radical party in the State, acting and speaking through their so–called “Labor Union,” had demanded it. How do the antimonopolists of the northwest seek to render effective their opposition to high railroad tariffs? By meeting in Conventions and fulminating resolutions against them? No! They rely upon nothing of the sort. They rely upon legislation! True, they meet and pass resolutions; but they do so with the deliberate intention of injecting the essence of such resolutions in the laws of the land. Take away the possibility of doing this and we may hear a protest—but no resolution. The “anti–monopolists” of Alabama occupy the same ground with respect to the land monopoly that those of the northwest do with respect to the railroad monopoly, so far, at least, as the means of relief sought are concerned. Both look to legislation, because, in the very nature of things, they can look nowhere else. It is also worthy of remark that those of Alabama (disguising their true character under the thin veil of a Labor Union) seized upon the week immediately preceding the assembling of the Legislature to indicate their pleasure by resolutions and to issue their petition any commands to that body. SPENCER, it will be remembered, was in Huntsville at the time the Union assembled. He knew that the members of the Union were not “land monopolists,” and had excellent reasons to believe that there was not a land holder amongst them. This being the case what was there about a “Labor union” per se to call forth such a dispatch as he sent, about the “curse to the state” of monopolies in land? Doesn’t it look a little suspicious, to say the least, that he should be so exactly informed of what that Union proposed to accomplish, if there was no prior understanding—no conspiracy between him and the Union? If there was such understanding, is it not fair to presume that SPENCER was not the only white Radical who had been honored with their confidence? THOMAS we know was. If others were thus admitted who shall undertake to say that all the leaders were not? The presumption that there was an organized conspiracy to tax the landholders of Alabama, out of houses and homes is, therefore, created in advance of the action of the Radical party in the Legislature, and that presumption deepens into an almost positive assurance when we behold a measure introduced in the Legislature, and championed solely by that party which could not, by any possibility, have resulted in anything less than a gross injustice to the tax–paying people of the State and which was, without doubt, entirely competent, to effect the precise purposes which the Labor Union must have had in view when the resolutions before referred to were reported and adopted. Conspiracies of this sort are always concocted in secret. It would not do to let the opposition know where the blow is to fall until the axe is sweeping downward upon the neck of the victim. Hence we are almost always compelled to rely upon circumstantial evidence to establish their existence. But in this case we have the positive testimony of one of the conspirators to give force and direction to the circumstantial evidence. He didn’t want the clause stricken out.—Why? Because, as he tells us himself, “he wanted the taxes raised to such a pitch that the large landholder would be compelled to sell so that he and others like him could buy”—a declaration which, under the circumstances, could not possibly have meant anything else than that the Board of Equalization was the thing to do the work.
Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser and Mail, April 22, 1874.
There was a meeting held at Pike Road Station in this county, composed almost exclusively of negroes, on Saturday last, at which the following resolutions were adopted:
WHEREAS, The crops of the present year have not yielded a sufficient supply to satisfy the demands of the planters and laborers of Mt. Meigs Beat; and
Whereas, The white planters of said beat have held several meetings, for the purpose of devising plans whereby they may better their conditions, without allowing the colored planters and laborers an equal voice, wherein their interests are concerned as well; and
Whereas, We, the laborers, hold that we are in no way responsible for the failure of the crops, and that we have worked as faithful during the present year as we have any year since emancipation, but in consequence of a bad season, wet weather and rain, followed up by the ravages of cotton worms, &c., came the present calamity.—Therefore be it
Resolved, That we consider it nothing but humane and just that the white planters should take our poverty and distresses under advisement, as well as their own, we being the bone and sinew of the beat, and in times past while seasons were favorable rendered them valuable service at their own prices.
Be it further resolved, That we desire to cultivate a friendly relation with the white planters of this beat, but cannot do so, if they insist upon discriminating against us by framing to deprive us of our rightful privilege to have a voice in settling the price of our labor, and the hours in which we shall work.
Be it further resolved, That we believe, and do acknowledge, that a thorough and economical cultivation of the lands of this beat are essential to the peace and prosperity of both white and colored people, and that the most successful way to do that is for each to regard the other’s interest as being as sacred as his own.
Be it further resolved, That we are willing to try another crop in the coming year, upon reasonable terms, provided we are allowed to have an equal voice in the settling of those terms and a reliable showing for the procurement of whatever we contract for.
Be it further resolved, That we ask a careful consideration of these resolutions by the white planters of this beat, and a timely response, so that we may know upon what to depend for the coming year.
Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser and Mail, November 4, 1873.
We feel sure that in the whole course of a long editorial life we never sat down to write an article with a more solemn feeling of responsibility, or with a greater fear of results, than we on which our pen is now engaged. We have watched with much sorrow the gradual, nay rapid spread of Labor Organizations, the beginning of which here we are now seeing. The beginning is here—the little rippling stream, so weak as to be insignificant—the end is like that of Paris. It is the Commune with its sea of blood and its ocean of fire. That movement, which has laid in ashes and bathed in carnage the fairest city of the world, began just where we are now in the organization of labor against capital. An organization of the most fearful import, and of the most terrible conclusion. When the reader looks at the insignificant list of delegates sent to Houston, and sees the absurd labors and professions that they claim, he may laugh at the movement. But we tell him that the movement, of which that Houston gathering will be an insignificant and infinitesimal point, is now almost powerful enough to carry an election to destroy the right of property; and that the day is not very far distant when, unless it is checked, we shall have scenes not unlike those of Paris.65
This labor movement is the supplement of the trades’ unions. It is the second step, so to speak, in the progress of the principle that labor and capital are antagonistic.
The professed object of this movement is to elevate the laboring classes and improve their condition. They propose to accomplish this result by local combination, united by, delegates, in larger combinations, and so on until a central junta or Commune is reached. Now, to us it is evident that these associations are founded on two wicked, hurtful, and erroneous ideas.
1. That there is, and ought to be, a necessary antagonism between capital and labor.
2. That there is, and ought to be, a class of working men who are to be working men until the ends of their lives, never rising to the dignity of an employer or to the independence of a competency.
There is a third subordinate principle, if we may so call it, to these which assumes that there is not labor enough for all, and that, therefore, no man ought to do all of which he is capable.
We may turn to the platform of labor associations and the constitutions of trades’ unions, and we will find, when the mass of verbiage is removed, that these three principles form the skeleton.
In the first place there ought not to be, there is not, any laboring class in this sense. Thrift and industry will raise any laborer in this country at least to any position that he may choose to assume which is within the compass of his intellectual powers. Of this there can be no doubt. We need not recount the evidences of the truth of this position. The freedom of labor, free education, the cheapness of land, and a hundred other considerations, render it easy for the laboring man to rise to a position of greater ease, if not of greater respectability. So that, instead of leaving the course of labor and capital free, each to work out its destiny, as God ordained that they should, demagogues intervene, and seek to band together labor, and wield it as a weapon against the alleged aristocratic influence of wealth. The history of all these organizations is a history of violence, a history of social disturbance, and a history of social degradation.
In England we know what the trades unions have done to the poor and to the rich. We have seen some of the results in this country at the Scranton riots, conducted, as they were by Welsh miners. We have seen an industry paralyzed and men murdered, because, in obedience to their marriage vows they were willing to work for the wives they had taken to their bosoms and the children that God had given them.
The Scranton rioters were a large part of that labor organization, of which the Houston gathering will be an infinitesimal small one. These labor associations, which are one in principle, now number an immense army—an army for larger than most contemplate. The membership of these associations is now as great as was that of the Confederate army at any one time of its existence. But these laborers are law–abiding citizens says one. Certainly they are. We do not charge that there is a man among them all that would resort to violence, but they are the members of a movement which has everywhere led to violence, and which has lately deluged France. They know not what they are doing or whither they are drifting.
This may seem like foolish prognostication, but it is a transcript of history.
Every labor association we have ever known has been composed of two classes, industrious laborers, who supported idling demagogues. Look through the Houston Convention and ascertain if there are any other classes of persons composing it.
The maxim “Let every tub stand on its own bottom” is a good one. If a laborer has intelligence, thrift and industry, he ought not to be curbed in their exercise, or deprived of their profit. That which is should so remain.
Now we shall be told that the Commune was God forsaking, morality denouncing, infidelity loving society, and it was, and this the labor associations of America are not, but they are traveling thitherward. They have begun by a denial of the right of labor, and the advanced members already speak these fearful sentiments. The writer of this heard them, and reported them at a labor convention, twelve years since—sentiments that were identical with those of the Commune—sentiments violating the right of property and the sanctity of the marriage bed. This has in rare instances, cropped out even in America, and it is the mark to which the whole labor movement has tended from its first inception.
These remarks may, perhaps, be the subject of ridicule because of the insignificance of this part of the movement; but it is the small foe of a great giant that is fast growing.
Galveston (Texas) Tri–Weekly News, June 7, 1871.
A Gang of Rioters Interfere with Plantation Work and Prevent Well-Disposed Negroes from Prosecuting their Contracts.
It appears that the recent action of the planters, with reference to wages, has not been affectionately received by the laborers in Terrebonne. Quite a formidable organization makes its appearance there in consequence of the determination to pay no more than $13 per month, and in many instances violence has already been resorted to. Gentlemen just down from Terrebonne report that during the present week riotous demonstrations have become the order of the day, and that negroes who accepted the new order of things, have been driven from their work and threatened with annihilation in case they accede to the planters’ propositions.
The strikers evidently mean mischief as is fully shown by their meetings and the tone prevailing threat. A few nights ago some hundreds of them assembled in the town of Houma, disturbing and alarming the citizens by their conduct. We learn of several instances in which they have driven negroes from the field, cut the gearing of the plows or carts, and turned the mules out, merely because their victims preferred to go to work rather than join their riotous and unlawful league.
These things have been in progress for some days now, and threaten to lead to most unfortunate results unless checked. The planters say they are resolved to resent further interference. They do not wish to force the negroes to work; they freely concede their right to accept or reject the terms offered. But they will not permit the rioters to invade their premises and intimidate laborers who have contracted with them, and are honestly carrying out the agreement.
New Orleans Daily Picayune, January 10, 1874.
The Negroes Murdering, Outraging and Burning.
Further developments of the Terrebonne affair show that late last night a dispatch was received in the city from seven of the most prominent citizens, in Terrebonne parish, addressed to Gov. Kellogg and calling upon him for assistance. It stated that the negro strikers in that parish and district had broken out into open riot and were murdering white people, burning houses, plantation mills and committing the wildest outrages.
Immediately upon the receipt of this information a reporter of the Picayune called upon Gov. Kellogg, who had retired for the night, but immediately arose, and seemed much impressed by the intelligence. He stated that he had also received a similar dispatch, and had ordered a strong force of militia under Captain Snow, fully armed and equipped, to procure a special train and proceed to the spot, and spare no exertion to at once suppress the insurrection. He was unable to state whether the special train had been procured or not, but that in the event of failure, he had ordered the cavalry, with a couple of pieces of artillery, to leave on the 8 o’clock morning train. He had also directed that a dispatch be at once sent to the gentlemen, stating the troops were coming to their assistance, and to use every means to suppress the rioters.
From his words and action, he seemed deeply urgent in the matter, and indeed, stated the peace would be upheld at all hazards and the mobs dispersed.
What the nature of the difficulty was has been already explained, and appears to have been caused by the efforts of the negroes to compel the planters to pay them on their own terms and keep others from working. From threats they proceeded to actions, which appears to have been of the worst kind, the entire parish being overrun by armed bands, and white residents being compelled to flee for their lives.
New Orleans Daily Picayune, January 14, 1874.
NEW ORLEANS, La., Jan. 13. The negroes on Barjous, Lafourche, and Tecke are on strike, the landowners having resolved not to pay over $15 per month. They paid $20 last year. A large number of mounted men go from place to place, allowing none to work. The following message was received by Gov. Kellogg:
CHACHAOLUA, La., Jan. 12, 1874.
Dear Sir: Send us assistance immediately. Our section is in a state of terror and alarm. All work is suspended. Armed bodies of mounted men enter our premises in spite of our remonstrances, and threaten the lives of all at work. Our peace and safety demand immediate action at your hands.
The message is signed by a number of citizens of that locality. A number of people from that quarter called upon the Governor to–day and urged him to send immediate relief. The Governor stated that a force would probably be sent to–morrow.
New York Times, January 14, 1874.
About a week ago we called attention to the fact that affairs in Terrebonne had reached a threatening stage of development. Armed bands of disaffected laborers were roving about the parish, intimidating such negroes as had accepted the reduced terms of wages, and driving off the mules, oxen, etc., used in cultivation.
It was thought, at the time, that even more serious results might be evolved, especially since the planters seemed resolved to submit to no further interference with their operations; but though there has been no material change in the situation, we have not as yet heard of any violence beyond that of arresting on plantations and an occasional raid on the plow–gang. In fact, the negroes who really wish to work, and who, having the intelligence to appreciate the situation, are willing to bear their share of the common misfortune rather than aggravate it by violence or disorder, are afraid to give expression to their actual sentiments. In every instance where they have made contracts and endeavored to fulfill them, they have been forced to desist from work, their teams driven off, their tools broken, and themselves warned, on pain of dire injury, to beware of further offense against the rioters.
This sort of thing has been going on for some time, and we are curious to see how long that militia which is always ready to be used against the planters will be withheld from service in their protection.
In Attakapas matters are not so alarming. There is a wide disagreement between labor and capital as to the rate offered—which, by the way, are more liberal there than elsewhere, being $15 per month, instead of $13; but no demonstrations of an unlawful character have taken place. The negroes are traveling about a great deal—have, in fact, made the fortune of the Bayou Tecke packet, and they declare as yet an unwillingness to work on reduced wages. But that is all.
Many have accepted the situation, and entered into the discharge of their contracts without any interference whatever. There seems to be nothing more serious at Attakapas than a silent struggle between labor and capital, free from bitterness and unalloyed by the least ingredient of violence.
The Summing Up is that the planters will have to stand firm no matter what happens. They have been giving way to extortionists demands for six years past, and the result is an intimate acquaintance with insolvency. For that, and for every reason of prudence, consistency, good faith, manhood and self–respect, it behooves them to abide by the. pledges they have made. Better to let the year’s crop go unplanted than add another chapter to the history of failure, and establish a fresh precedent of weakness and irresolution.
New Orleans Daily Picayune, January 14, 1874.
News from the Seat of War. Danger Imminent—A Train Fired Into. The Troops Go At Last.
It being pretty generally understood Tuesday night, that a company at least of State troops would be this morning sent to Terrebonne parish, a PICAYUNE reporter was down at the train to see them off, but what was his surprise when he found only two officers, Capts. Snow and Joseph, without any assistance, proceeding to the point of destination.
They stated they were going to see what was the real state of affairs, and if soldiers were necessary, to telegraph for them.
Astounded by what seemed to be a direct violation of the orders of Governor Kellogg, the reporter hastened to General Badger’s office, where he learned that though no men had as yet been sent, a posse was held ready at a moment’s warning. The reasons for this, he stated, were that he believed two officers were enough to settle the whole difficulty, without an appeal to arms.
Thence the reporter proceeded to Gov. Kellogg’s where he learned that further advices had been received from citizens in the district which stated that if two officers could be sent up to place themselves at the head of the conservative people, peace could be preserved. The Governor also stated that Gen. Longstreet had complained that the State had no money to send the militia, and that he would have to send a message to the Assembly, asking for an appropriation. This would be forthcoming, and then troops would be sent.
So much for all these statements, but the action is entirely different from that manifested when white people were in arms to protect their rights.
In fact, circumstances warrant a reference to the contrast between the present affair and that which was known as the St. Martinsville War.
Everybody knows how promptly the troops were sent, not only there, but to Livingston and other quarters where the mere recognition of a few carpetbag interlopers or scalawag frauds was involved. There was no question then of finance or amicable settlement. The troops were promptly forwarded with all the pomp of war and its most effective implements. Half a dozen parishes were overrun, and prisoners brought to New Orleans in scores. It was a question of Radical officers and their emoluments.
Now it is a question of the lives and property of gentlemen who don’t happen to admire the Radical administration, and consequently, the greatest caution and deliberation are observed.
The contrast is instructive, and will no doubt be appreciated by the public. It is still further illustrated by subsequent events, which, while we are on the subject, might as well be mentioned.
A cold–blooded murder was perpetrated in the parish of St. Martin, by a man named Veazey. This Veazey is one of the very parish officers, to install, whom the Governor sent his army into Attakapas last spring. Two others were arrested as accessories to the murder; one of them was Judge Theo. Castille, another of the parish officers, in whose behalf the powers did not hesitate for one instant to invoke the arm of violence. These men amongst them butchered a citizen of St. Martin by the name of Guilbeau. There was no concealment; everybody knew it; the local papers contained full accounts of the affair, and did not hesitate to say that Veazey had formally announced his intention of killing Guilbeau, the day previous to the tragedy.
The murderer and his colleagues have been set free. First they imported a judge from another parish. The parish officers of St. Martin being all arrested for murder, they had to call in an outside man. The imported judge first tried Judge Castille, and, having acquitted him, retired. Then Judge Castille, being restored to his office, tried the other two, and acquitted them. They are all free men now. Judge Castille was among the distinguished visitors to New Orleans last Monday evening.
For such men as these, and with no graver object than to secure them in the possession of offices to which their title was at least doubtful, the Governor found no difficulty in sending four or five hundred men with Winchester rifles and Gatling guns into the interior of the State, and filling the rich planting region of Attakapas with all the horrors and excitement of war.
For a Community of Planters and Taxpayers, whose property is being destroyed, and whose lives are threatened by an infuriated, reckless negro mob, there is nothing but the most diplomatic deliberation and pleas of financial necessity.
In one instance it was a question of the positions and salaries of three or four insignificant vagabonds—result, an armed invasion.
In the present instance it is a question of the life and property of an influential element of the population—result, the administration becomes severely economical and sends two men to Terrebonne to see whether anybody really is getting hurt.
It’s an instructive contrast, as we said before.
To Return to Our Mattens
We will now take up the Terrebonne affair where it was first brought to Gov. Kellogg’s notice in an official manner. On Tuesday afternoon he received the following dispatch: To Gov. Kellogg:
Send troops at once to quell disturbance and riot.
District Att’y pro tem, Terrebonne. January 13, 1874.
To this he replied as follows:
To Tobias Gibson, District Attorney, etc:
Troops have been sent to preserve the peace.
Wm. P. Kellogg. January 13, 1874.
As we have already shown, the troops did not go. Captains Snow and Joseph were sent to see whether troops were necessary. Meanwhile the rioters are under full headway. On Tuesday evening they fired into the train between Terrebonne Station and Houma, wounding one man. The situation is reported to Governor Kellogg in the following dispatch:
CHACAHOULA, Jan. 14.—Gov. Kellogg, New Orleans: I am unable to carry out the order of court. Excitement great. A collision hourly expected. I call on you officially for aid to quell disturbance and riot. The passenger train has been fired into. Send troops.
Parish Judge of Terrebonne.
I fully indorse the above and trust the assistance may be granted without delay. One man wounded on the cars.
District Attorney pro. tem.
Corroborative of this we append two Special Dispatches received by the Picayune last evening from prominent citizens of Terrebonne.
CHOCAHOULA, La., Jan. 14.—To N. O. Picayune: Captains Snow and Joseph, of the Metropolitan police have arrived. Negroes still defiant. No murders or outrages as yet, but the condition is very critical. An open collision may be expected at any moment. T.S.C.
CHOCAHOULA, La., Jan. 14. 1 P.M.—To N. O. Picayune: The negroes are still in arms, and they will not be stopped any by United States troops, they say. One negro shot in the thigh this evening, only a flesh wound. The parish is still paraded by armed negroes, in squads of thirty and forty.
Troops at Last.
At last the troops are sent. The facts were too glaring, the dangers too serious. Captains Snow and Joseph reported yesterday, and the result was instant action by the authorities.
Col. W. F. Loan, A. D. C., and Gen. Longstreet left yesterday evening at six o’clock with a detachment of forty infantry and one piece of artillery, and Col. DeKlyne goes this morning at nine o’clock with a squad of cavalry.
We shall probably have news of importance to–day, for all parties. Captains Snow and Joseph included, agree that force will be necessary to quell the riot.
The subjoined dispatches were received by Gen. Badger late this evening.
ELLENDALE PLANTATION, VIA LA FOURQUE, Jan. 14.—Gen. A. S. Badger:
Matters have not been in the least exaggerated. Moral suasion no avail. Send about twenty cavalry to report at Houma. Sheriff Lyons, colored, has a possee of armed men, but can do nothing. Joseph and myself have used all our endeavors to compromise matters, but we consider a few troops absolutely necessary. Please answer at Chachahoula.
W. A. Snow,
W. A. SNOW
As has already been mentioned, a squadron of cavalry leaves this morning at nine o’clock on a special train.
New Orleans Daily Picayune, January 15, 1874.
The wages of field labor in Louisiana have been since the war and down to the present year higher than elsewhere in the world. The laborer was paid at the rate of $18 and $20 and sometimes as high as $30 per month, and furnished with cabin, food and a plot of ground for a garden. We venture to say that no laboring population in the world received better pay for the kind of work performed. The result was that the men were able to support their families without calling upon the women to assist them. The women and children being kept from the field, a tide of negro immigration came flowing from the less productive portions of Alabama and Georgia. Recently this immigration, intensified by three successive failures in the cotton and corn lands to the east of us, has assumed such large proportions as to alarm the land owners of those States, and to cast upon the richer or more prosperous fields of Mississippi and Louisiana a plethora of labor. This fact, taken in connection with the low price of cotton, and the disastrously low price of sugar, following close upon a financial panic which has diminished consumption, contracted prices in every direction, and thrown thousands of laborers into the streets without bread, explains the necessity which forced the planters of Louisiana to offer reduced wages. They could not afford to continue the high prices which have kept them impoverished, and which, if continued would involved them in bankruptcy. Deciding to reduce wages from $20 and $18 down to $15 and $13 they are met by insurrection, arson and, we fear, murder. Large sections of the State are overrun by lawless bands of negroes, who visit plantations, stop all work, threaten the lives of the peaceful and contented laborers, and fill the country with terror. This condition of affairs can last but a few days. The State and municipal authorities, acting in aid of the peaceful citizens of both races, will promptly and effectually quell the disturbance, with even less bloodshed and riot than are now witnessed in some of the Northern cities and States, from the strikes of mechanics and the starvation of workingmen.
Such a condition of affairs, even for a few days, is a subject of regret; but the people of Louisiana have the satisfaction of knowing that the recalcitrant laborers are not, like their Northern brethren, goaded to desperation by the pangs of hunger. The laborer who can refuse to work for wages which, even though reduced, are still higher than any paid elsewhere in the South, or even in the Middle States, is in no danger of starvation. The white men who have doubtless instigated and the colored men who have participated in these riots have no claim upon our sympathy.
New Orleans Daily Picayune, January 15, 1874.
Most of the sugar planters on the Coast have had no difficulty in reducing the wages of their hands to thirteen dollars per month. Last year it was eighteen dollars. The crop made at this rate of wages has proved unremunerative; in many cases disastrous. Not a few planters had determined to abandon the sugar culture if the prices of labor were not reduced. The negroes on the Coast plantations had the sagacity to discover the danger of so great a calamity to the State, and especially to themselves, and accepted the proposed reduction, and everything was going on smoothly on their plantations. Some incendiary demagogues in Terrebonne have, however, taken a different view of the subject, and have stirred up the agitation and instigated the violence of which a full description appears in our morning’s edition.
New Orleans Daily Picayune, January 16, 1874.
Arrival of the Troops.
No Difficulty Apprehended Before Saturday.
By a dispatch to Gov. Kellogg, last evening, from Col. W. J. Loan, it was ascertained that the troops arrived safely and without difficulty. The disturbance had been quelled, or rather the mobs, which had paraded the parish with threats of violence, had dispersed to their homes preparatory to a grand rally and mass meeting on Saturday next, when some trouble may be apprehended. The troops now on hand consist of a large detachment of infantry, some forty in all, one piece of artillery and a company of cavalry, all under command of Major Flannagan, Chief of Detectives. They are deemed sufficient for any emergency, and will probably quell such difficulty as may arise.
The mass meeting which is announced to take place will be addressed by the leaders of the strikers, and they may be worked into a fury, though it is believed more pacific counsels will prevail.
Hamp Keys, the reputed leader of the mob and member of the legislative committee who sent up as a sort of court of inquiry, had a conversation with Gen. Badger before he left, and was informed that it would be better were he to tell the colored people that they must allow all who desired to work at any wages to do so; otherwise the troops would interfere. Keys replied that he would see this policy was carried out; and as the committee has doubtless also arrived, their interference may have something to do with the present pacific situation.
New Orleans Daily Picayune, January 16, 1874.
The Causes of the Riot—Mass Meeting—Threats of the Negroes
Arrival of the State Troops With the Prisoners
The late difficulty which occurred in Terrebonne parish seems to be a fair example of the manner in which a large number of the negroes in the State expect to conduct themselves under the prevailing system of Republican government, and it is hoped the salutary check given them by the State forces will prove a lesson they will heed in the future.
The first difficulty, it appears, originated on the evening of January 5th, when about two hundred plantation laborers met at the Zion Church, about a mile and a half below Houma, and organized an association whose objects, explained by resolutions passed, were:
First—To form sub–associations and rent lands to work by themselves, they agreeing to waive all laborers’ privileges on the crop made to such persons who would rent them the land and also furnish supplies to make the crop and subsist themselves.
Second—Binding themselves not to work for any planter for less than $20 per month, rations, etc., the payments to be made monthly in cash.
Third—That they would allow the person furnishing the supplies to appoint an agent on the place to take charge of the interest of whoever should furnish the supplies until the crop should be made and shipped to market, the factor of the furnisher of supplies to have the privilege of selling the crop and deducting the amounts due for the laborers.
To ratify these another meeting was called on the 8th inst., when the most incendiary speeches were made, principally by W. H. Keys and T. P. Shur-bem, who advised them if the lands were not given, to seize them by force; also, not to allow any one to work for any wages under those stipulated, which were at the most simply outrageous. After the meeting a mob, headed by a fife and drum, paraded through Houma, threatening the citizens, but doing no harm. On the Tuesday following, a man named Alf. Kennedy and about fifty armed men came down the bayou, and upon arriving at the Southdown plantation of Mr. H. O. Minor, halted, for the purpose of preventing his laborers from working.
Mr. Minor, however, met them and explained that his people were peaceably working, and he would not allow them to interfere. After hesitating awhile they retired, though threatening to shortly return and burn his sugar house. The next day they did return, but were met by the colored Sheriff Lyons, with a posse of white and colored men, and they agreed to disperse upon condition the posse was disbanded. Captains Snow and Joseph, of the State troops, arriving at this opportune moment, however, considerably dampened their ardor; the more when these gentlemen stated their action would not be tolerated by the State Government. Still persisting in their demands, however, the troops under Col. Flannagan were telegraphed for, and sent as already published; the rioters, before their arrival, firing into the train as it passed Terrebonne, and severely wounding Mr. Gery, who was a passenger in one of the cars. With the troops came Col. DeKlyne, Deputy United States Marshal, who, with the assistance of the cavalry under Capt. Taylor, arrested the ringleaders, as follows: Phillip Gray, Calvin Morris, Robert Jones, James McGinniss, Abe Chestnut, R. Mobly, R. Baron, Alf. Kennedy, Henry White, Ed. Bradford, R. Kennedy, Calvin W. Williams.
After the arrest of these and the arrival of the troops, it was decided that a grand mass meeting should be held. This took place Saturday, when Keys and others made speeches followed by Mr. Minor, when everything was satisfactorily arranged, and the troops yesterday returned to the city. The prisoners were marched to the Parish Prison and locked up, and the soldiers were dismissed to their homes, all apprehension of difficulty—at least for the present—being over.
New Orleans Daily Picayune, January 20, 1874.
A number of the participants in the late riots in Terrebonne parish were brought up yesterday before United States Commissioner Weller on the affidavit of Mr. Henry C. Minor, who charged them with unlawful banding together for the purpose of depriving him of his constitutional right to reside and carry on his occupation peaceably in said parish.
Mr. Minor testified that a number of those negroes came to his plantation and endeavored to intimidate his laborers into a cessation of their duties, and Mr. Cage, who was present, identified one of the prisoners, Alfred Kennedy, as being one of the party, armed with a sword.
Assistant District Attorney, Mr. Gurley, suggested that the ringleaders of the party be held under bonds to appear before the United States Circuit Court, and that the residue give bonds for their good behavior during the ensuing six months.
Commissioner Weller held that under the accusation he should require bonds for re–appearance from all the prisoners, and that the several ringleaders should be held in a higher sum than the others. Accordingly, bonds were placed in $250 on Alf. Kennedy, Calvin Morris, Perry Jones and Robert Burrels, and the remainder in $100 each, to appear before the United States Circuit Court on the third Monday in April next. The bonds were immediately furnished and the prisoners discharged, the securities being Senator Thomas A. Cage and Representative W. Ham. Keys.
New Orleans Daily Picayune, January 21, 1874.
The annual parade of the Longshoremen’s Protective Union Association took place yesterday morning. The union met at Liberty Hall, Morris Street, at eight o/clock A.M., and formed the line. On the right were President Green and other officers, and Mitchell’s Band of twelve musicians. Five or six hundred of the members were in the ranks. The line of march was through Morris, King, and Broad Streets to East Bay, thence to Market, and along Meeting, Calhoun and King Streets to the South Carolina Institute building at the Race Course. The parade was exceedingly creditable, the members being well dressed and a goodlooking body of men. Banners were displayed, and silver and gold badges were worn by the Longshoremen. The turnout was composed almost entirely of colored men. . . .
The Longshoremen’s Protective Union Association has over eight hundred members and upwards of two thousand dollars in the treasury, besides some fifteen hundred dollars in the Freedman’s Bank. They claim that they are conservators, rather than disturbers of the public peace, and have only associated themselves together for mutual benefit and protection.
Charleston News and Courier, January 26, 1875.
CHARLESTON, Aug. 22. A serious strike has begun among the laborers on rice plantations along the Combahee River, the strikers taking advantage of the harvest season to demand an advance of fifty per cent, in wages. Many of the hands are willing and anxious to work at the present rate, but the strikers are visiting each plantation and forcing the working hands, by whipping and other violence, to join them. The situation is critical, as the crop must be harvested within a few days or be a total loss. Gov. Chamberlain has telegraphed the Sheriff of Beaufort to summon a strong posse and protect, at all hazards, the laborers who wish to work.
New York Times, August 23, 1876.
Editor, Standard & Commercial:
BEAUFORT, S. C., Aug. 24th, 1876.
Having been telegraphed by the Governor and Attorney–General to visit the disturbed district on the Combahee, I abandoned my trip to Midway, at which point I was to spend to–day, and with Lt. Gov. Cleaves we left the cars at Sheldon and upon our arrival at Gardners Corners, we found assembled at Mr. Fuller’s store, between forty and sixty white men mounted and armed with sixteen shooters, Spencer rifles, and double–barreled shotguns, and about one hundred and fifty colored men with sticks and clubs. Upon inquiry, I found that about three hundred strikers were collected on the road to Combahee.
I proceeded at once to this point and there found a large body of colored men and women, I called upon them for the cease of the strike and was informed by them that they refused to work for checks payable in 1880, and that they demanded money for their labor, and that if the planters would pay them in money they would go to work at the usual prices.
I did not find a single colored striker with any kind of deadly weapon about him, and found that they were peaceably inclined with no other object in view than to be paid in good money for honest labor; this they are determined to have or not to work.
The rice planters have been in the habit of using checks instead of money, which are not good at any but the planters stores for the reason that they are payable in 1878 and 1880, and that when these checks are used in purchasing goods at these stores they become checks as change instead of money thus making it impossible for the laborers to purchase medicines, or employ physicians or obtain any thing except through the agency of the planter.
So far as violence on the part of the strikers is concerned there were warrants issued by Trial Justice Fuller, for whipping one of their own number who had gone to work contrary to the agreement they had made in their own clubs, not to work for checks. These men upon being requested to give themselves up, walked out of the crowd and came into Beaufort without the Sheriff or even a guard, and were waiting in town hours before the arrival of the Sheriff.
The men were first taken to Trial Justice Fuller, but he not being there, the men arrested came into Beaufort at the request of the Sheriff.
At three o’clock the entire crowd had peaceably dispersed and no sign of a strike was visible.
It is due to Sheriff Sams to say that he informed the white men that he did not need their services, and it is due to them to say that they offered no violence to the strikers, during the time that I was present.
The following is the cause of the strike.
“50. Due—Fifty Cents, 60. To Jonathan Lucas
or Bearer, for labor under special contract. Payable on the first January, 1880. J. B. Bissell
The checks are issued in denominations of 5; 10; 25; and 50 cents.
Savannah Tribune, 2 September 1876, p.2.
Courtesy of Joseph Reidy.
A serious strike took place recently among the laborers on the rice plantations in South Carolina. The laborers demanded an advance of 50 per cent in their wages and the “bosses” of course refused to accede. To make short work with the strikes Chamberlain, the Republican Governor has ordered the Sheriff of Beaufort to call out the military and “protect at all hazards the laborers who wish to work” The interests of black and white laborers are the same and when they strike they find their friends!, the Republicans, the Democrats, and the Greenbackers all agreed upon shooting them down.
Labor Standard, September 23, 1876.
This afternoon great crowds of strikers and some 300 Negro laborers on the levee visited a large number of manufacturing establishments in the southern part of the city, compelling all employees to stop work, putting out all fires in the engine rooms and closing the buildings. . . . The colored part of the crowd marched up the levee and forced all steamboat companies and officers of independent steamers to sign pledges to increase the wages of all classes of steamboat and levee laborers sixty to one hundred per cent.
Scranton (Pa.) Republican, July 26, 1877, dispatch from St. Louis.
Confined Exclusively to Colored Men, No Drunkenness Among the Strikers An Increase of Wages Demanded and the Impossibility to Live on Present Rates Assigned as the Cause of the Strike.
On Saturday night it was generally rumored that the strike would begin in earnest on Monday morning, but no one knew who would start it, or what particular branch of industry would be first assailed by the leaders in the movement. During Sunday men would gather in groups late in the evening and talk in ominous tones of the morrow, but no one seemed to know anything that could subserve the purposes of a shadow to the coming event, and so everybody would sigh and say as their groups dissolved, “We will see what we shall see.”
Early this morning, at 6:30 o’clock, the movement began by the laborers on the Girardin building, on Market street, organizing themselves into a sort of vanguard to the general revolt that was desired by the laboring classes against the prevailing rates of wages. About fifty men began the movement, urging all the laborers in the immediate vicinity of the initial point to cease work and join in the strike. The crowd thus formed marched in a body down the Strand, at its intersection with Twenty–fourth street, where a block of brick buildings are in the course of construction. Here some thirteen men were induced to cease work, and a few of them joined in the procession of the strikers, who next visited the block of buildings on Avenue A, which are about being completed, when an additional reinforcement of fourteen men gave their sanction to the strikers and retired from their duties to join in the strike.
The Narrow Gauge railroad was the next object that invited the attention of the force that had now reached in numbers over one hundred men. They first went to the extended line of this road which runs along avenue A and terminates a short distance east of Kuhn’s wharf. Here the hands engaged in laying track and ballasting the road were advised by the strikers that they were not being justly compensated for their labor, and that no measure could repair the wrongs to which they were subjected except that to which the body before them had resorted. They urged them to lay down their tools and to “stand by their rights” until the price of $2 per day was paid them. All the hands employed at this point immediately assented to the proposition and fifteen more men entered the list of those who filled out the strength of the column that was leading the revolutionary movement against a low rate of wages. Mr. Hurley also advised his men to stop until they would work undisturbed by the influences by which they were surrounded.
From this point the crowd proceeded to Bath avenue, at its intersection with Market street, where another gang of fourteen men were employed on the Narrow Gauge Railroad. These men were also induced to cease work and proceeded at once to the round–house of Mr. Hurley’s road, and in doing so succeeded in securing four men to give their aid and assistance to the success of the movement. Mr. Levine’s pickery was next visited. This establishment was closed, three men induced to quite work. The next place that called for the attention of the strikers was St. Patrick’s Church, on Avenue K and Thirty–fifth street, and which is receiving its finishing touches. Here a few men were employed, some of whom acceded to the arguments advanced by the strikers and joined in their crusade against wages that are fixed at a less rate than $2 per day.
The little planing mill on Winnie st., owned by Stump & Lewis, was next visited. Here the engine was stopped and five men engaged in attending to the affairs of the establishment were forced to cease work, which they did. The engineer was forcibly seized by the men, but when he told them that he was carrying sixty pounds of steam, and unless he could attend to his engine a burst was imminent, they let him go after treating him quite rudely.
The Galveston, Houston and Henderson depot, at the western terminus of Market street, was next visited. Here some few hands employed in scattering dirt over the yard were admonished that less than $2 per day was an injustice to the dignity of labor, and to the policy of this argument they yielded, without resorting to the decision of any higher tribunal for a rule by which their actions should be governed, but the cessation was a brief one, and with the departure of the strikers the men resumed their work.
The Galveston Flour Mills were next visited, but it being suggested that bread was high enough already, no lengthy arguments were employed to occasion a strike among the employes of this establishment. Having completed the programme of the exercises the crowd left, as they said to report to Mr. McCloskey at the courthouse, who would give them whatever additional instructions they might require in fixing permanently and successfully the results of what they had so far accomplished.
Deputy Chief of Police Hutchings, with a detachment of the force, was following on the heels of the strikers to prevent anything like violence being done to private property, and to suppress any acts of intrusion that might occur among the strikers upon premises where their presence was prohibited. A NEWS reporter inquired of one of the leaders whether any talk of violence had been indulged in by those engaged in the strike, and was told that not one word of the kind had been uttered, and furthermore, that no policemen would be needed to suppress anything of that character, as the men had all agreed not to molest private property, and to hang any of their number who might be guilty of such an act.
When asked the cause of the strike the men asserted that they could not pay house rent, which in no case had been reduced, buy clothing, food and medicines for themselves and families, at the rates they were receiving for their labor. There was no drunkenness or riotous conduct among the strikers up to this point, who evidently endeavored to accomplish the object of their moevment with as much regard for order as possible. None of the artisans employed at any of the places visited were interfered with, and none, but those who live by manual labor were invited by the strikers to desist from work. At several of the places visited objections were made to the demands of the strikers by men engaged in work, who felt no desire to lose a day with only a hope that wages would be increased, and who preferred to work for what they are receiving rather than idle away valuable time with but a slim prospect of their conditions being permanently improved.
Mayor Stone met the strikers of Mechanic street at its intersection with Thirtieth street and made them a speech, in which he advised them that they were in a fair way to become violaters of the public peace, which it was his duty to protect, and which he would protect at all hazards. He deprecated the measure to which the laborers had resorted in order to right the wrongs of which they complained, and in conclusion he advised them to disperse and go to their homes and think over what they had been doing, and to devise some more systematic and lawful plan by which they could accomplish the object they had in view. He advised them further that they could appoint their committees, who could quietly and orderly confer with the contractors in the city, and thus, without anything like a tumult, or a single hostile demonstration against the true interests of the city, they could solve the riddle that they were disposed to master by violent measures. He was listened to respectfully by the crowd, and after he had concluded the march was again taken up for the courthouse, where it was understood Mr. McCloskey would meet the strikers and give them whatever additional advice he had prepared for their government.
Capt. M. Quin, superintendent of the Texas Cotton Press, was sitting in the second story of the office building this morning, when he heard an unusual noise in the yard. He put on his hat and started to see what was up. When he looked out of the rear window of the building he saw the yard crowded with colored men. As he descended the stairs he requested those near him to close all the gates of the yard at once. He then wended his way to the yard, and asked the crowd what they wanted there. For some time no answer was given, there being, apparently no leader in the crowd; but at length one of the crowd said, “We want a drink of water.” “All right,” said Capt. Quin, “there is the cistern—help yourselves.” When they had drank all they wanted and no one seemed inclined to tell their business there, Capt. Quin told them as they had all the water they wanted, they had better leave at once. As they looked around and saw that all the gates were closed upon them, they thought it would not be a bad idea to act upon the suggestions, and they did it at once, leaving as they had come, and no harm being done.
The crowd continued to the Court–house, where, as they said, speeches were to be made at 1 o’clock, but when they arrived, finding no speakers, the crowd, which had gathered all the idle colored men they met, numbered about 300. A remark being made that Burnet & Kilpatrick had a lot of hands working in the Tremont Hotel yard, the crowd left to disperse them with more earnestness than had before been noticeable in their conduct.
Arriving at the hotel, not a laborer could be seen, and no bargains being made at $2 per day, they went to Ruff’s lumber yard, where several draymen keep horses. There they made no headway, for the draymen were workers on shares, and protesting they would be the losers if stopped, were allowed to go ahead, while the crowd marched to the corner of Thirty-fourth street and Avenue H, where George Lee’s dray stables are located. At the gate they met and talked, Mr. Lee endeavoring to convince them if his men wanted $2 he would pay it when he needed them. Finally, wearying of a fruitless argument, he jumped into his buggy and drove off, saying to his draymen, “Come on, if you want to work” all obeying. The crowd followed to the Factors’ Press, where they again watered, and started down Avenue F to Hildebrand’s mill, where they heard hammering in the boiler, and yelling, “Come out if you are only getting $1.50 per day.” Two colored men appeared, but refused to have anything to do with them; one of whom, however, watched his chance and ran up Avenue F, toward the Factors’ Press, followed by the crowd. They losing him, seeing Mr. Lee’s drays in the yard, they went again to the work of getting the draymen to stop and join them, but the drivers, failing to see the necessity of striking, and disliking to be forced to stop, abused the strikers. They finally yielded to force and drove back into the press, at the door of which the crowd stopped. An occasional yell being heard, “let’s go in and take them off.” Capt. A. P. Lufkin arriving, advised them to leave there, since the drivers, as they said, had been promised two dollars per day. The crowd remaining, Captain Lufkin drove around into the yard by a rear door, took the reins of a dray in his hands, and drove out through the crowd, followed by Cotton Press employes. Supervisor Burk driving one, Inspector Marrast another, Al. Hawkins another, Albert Arnold another, Mr. Crozier another, and Mr. Timmons another, Capt. Lufkin got through without serious difficulty. Those between him and Al. Hawkins found their drays literally covered with men, their horses’ heads held, and the demand, “Get down!” given in a threatening tone. Dray sticks being raised, those on the drays jumped off and gave themselves to the defense of the drays. An indescribable confusion then arose.
Two police officers who arrived grasped men holding the horses, but finding they were too few to cope successfully, drew their clubs and used them in self–defense, or to prevent the rescue of those arrested. For some moments it was difficult to believe they could live long, considering the number of men grabbing and hitting at them, but Al. Hawkins and Mr. Arnold, who had passed through the crowd, came tearing up with Deputy Chief Hutchings, eight officers and a large crowd of citizens. Every one quieted down, and the regular drivers mounted their drays and drove across the street. The confusion was so great, and lasting several minutes, it was difficult for the reporter, though on the top of the wall, immediately above the crowd, to tell who was struck until quiet was restored. Then he found Capt. A. P. Lufkin had received a severe blow on his head, which fortunately was broken by his hat, and he being, as he stated, “the son of an Irish lady,” was not easily hurt by a blow on the head. The two officers, though pulled around considerably, received no serious damage.
The most remarkable event was the coolness of officers and citizens, numbers of whom, after drawing pistols, would not use them. Within twenty minutes fully 800 men had reached the press, and the crowd, finding they could not carry their point, withdrew, going down Postoffice to Bath avenue, south on Bath avenue to Avenue F, and on to the Court–house.
The strikers began to rally at the court–house about 3 o’clock P.M. The crowd continued to increase without any exciting demonstrations until 4:30 o’clock, which was the time fixed by the strikers to meet Mr. McCloskey as was stated by one of their number. That gentleman having failed to appear, a considerable feeling was manifested by the meeting against him. It was suggested that Col. Geo. P. Finlay be sent for to address the meeting. He was sent for and came. The meeting was then called to order by Mr. Martin Burns, who said that it was manifest that the leaders who had heretofore figured at the head of the labor movement had gone back on those who had put into practice the principles they had taught them. That he was not accustomed to public speaking, but knew enough to say that the object of the workingmen of Galveston was to secure for themselves a fair and just compensation for every day’s labor they might perform. He was in sympathy with the strike now prevailing in the city, and trusted that nothing would be done by any of the laborers of Galveston which they would hereafter regret.
Gilbert Baker then introduced the following resolutions, which were read and adopted without a dissenting voice:
Whereas the reduction of wages paid to the laboring classes, without any corresponding reduction in the cost of living, we believe to be a wrong that should not be tamely and quietly submitted to by those most deeply and vitally interested in securing a fair and just compensation for their labor; and
Whereas the necessity of revolutionizing the rates paid for labor has demonstrated itself in the countless strikes which have occurred in all parts of the country, visiting only those places and affecting only those institutions which have pressed the questions of reduction to that point where further toleration would result in the absolute starvation of the laboring classes, therefore be it
Resolved, 1. That it is not the intention or desire of the workingmen of Galveston to do violence to either the persons or property of its people.
Resolved, 2. That in inaugurating the strike which has taken practical form and existence to-day, we have but yielded to the popular manner of expressing our condemnation of the oppressions to which we have been subjected in the reduction of the prices paid for our labor.
Resolved, 3. That believing the law should be respected, and that all peaceable means should be exhausted by the laboring classes to vindicate their claims for wages sufficient to meet the ordinary wants of life, it is the wish of the working men of Galveston that the co–operation of the civil authorities should be secured in accomplishing the objects of the strike now existing; and in order to effect this end that committee of five be appointed to confer with the officials of the city and county for the purpose of securing not only the advice but the aid of these gentlemen in establishing permanently a fairer schedule in the price for honest labor.
Resolved, 4. That so long as the price of rents that now prevail continue, and the cost of the necessary elements of subsistence remain at the prices they now demand, that we deem $2 per diem for manual labor as a rate sufficiently low; and that we pledge ourselves by all honorable means to secure this rate as the fixed rate for this city, and that we agree to work for no less under any circumstances.
Col. George P. Finlay was then called for, and responded by saying that he was in sympathy with the sufferings of the laboring classes, but that he did not come to indulge in anything that might be calculated to make the workingmen before him laugh or cry. He came to speak candidly his mind touching a question in which every man before him was interested. He then reviewed the conflicts that have for years periodically broken out between labor and capital, and showed how the greatest minds and most eminent economists of the world have devoted years of patient study to the solution of those causes that give origin to them, and said that the strikes that are now prevailing over the country were attributable to known causes that should be remedied, and that until those causes were removed strikes and other outbreaks would continue. He then called the attention of his hearers to the dignity of the law, and said that it was a dignity that stood out above the dignity of labor or the dignity of anything else. He said that the laws gave to every man the right to do just as they please so long as they were pleased to do right. That it was not right to restrain any man from doing as he pleased so long as he was doing nothing that the laws prohibit. If any man wanted to work for $1.50 a day let him do it. If you want to raise wages, get together and organize and do all you can to increase the rate of your pay, but do not go outside of the law. Stay within legal bounds, and if you can induce enough of your number to join you in fixing the price of labor at $2 a day, you will thereby create a corner on that commodity, and thus you will force those who are bound to have your services to pay you your price. He told the men of the rumors that were prevailing over the city, and how women and children were suffering all the terrors of intense fear over the demonstrations of the day, and which Galveston had witnessed for the first time in its history. He told them that this demonstration was wrong, and instead of resulting in good to the working man it was entirely possible and highly probable that all those who had engaged in it would find themselves coming out of it at the “little end of the horn.” His speech was in favor of respecting the law and a bold assertion of the fact that strikes never brought any permanent good to either the country or to those who engage in them. He concluded by counseling the men present to disperse and go to their homes and stop striking, and he assured the colored men that the white people were taking no part in the strike, and did not intend to do so, and that the best thing they could do would be to emulate the example set them by the white laborers of the city, and return to peaceful avocations.
Mr. Burns, the President, then arose and said that unless something was done to save honest industry from competition with convict labor that the time would soon come when every working man would of necessity belong to the convict class. He assured the colored men that the white laborers of the city would never go back on the movement.
Mr. Ferrier arose and said that he was a white man, and a laboring man, and had heard Col. Finlay’s speech, which he thought was an effort to throw cold water on the movement. He assured the colored men that the white men would never go back on them so long as they were striving to increase the price of honest industry.
The following is the committee appointed by the President to carry out the objects of the resolutions: Wm. Ferrier, D. W. Burke, J. McCubbins, John Wilson, J. L. Washington.
The President suggested that a committee be appointed to go around at night to the different boarding–houses and induce the men not to work until the wages were conceded. He thought this a better plan than parading through the streets.
The following is the committee appointed for this purpose. J. F. Doud, George Summers, Frank Holt, George Baker and Chas. Eyer.
The meeting adjourned until seven o’clock this morning.
After the adjournment of the meeting, Mr. McCloskey appeared in the court–room; and after the persons present had expressed their willingness to hear anything that he might have to say, he ascended the judge’s stand and said that he had had no intimation of the fact that he was expected to meet the men engaged in prosecuting the strike, except what he had seen in the evening NEWS, but that he was present to talk to honest men. The Galveston NEWS, he averred, was an enemy to the true interests of the working classes, and had its emissaries engaged in watching his movements; that it had made statements as to the objects of the workingmen that were not true; that it had announced that meetings would be held when it knew that no such thing was even in contemplation. [This a representative of the NEWS present denied.] He then took up the Hurley administration and asserted that the sidewalk improvement bonds issued by Mayor Hurley were a cheat and a swindle upon their face, and that he had the history of this great fraud from the record; he knew all the thieves who were interested in it, and was not afraid to name them. He deplored the burden of taxation which would result to the people from the recognition given to these bonds by Mayor Stone and his co–operators in the present city administration. He said that at a great sacrifice to himself, physically, mentally and financially, he had started a paper which represented the honest men of the city; that he had given the sale of it to one of the head boys of the NEWS office, who had failed to settle squarely with him, and when pinned down to the count of the papers he had received, and compelled to make a showing for them, he had gone into the NEWS office and brought the papers forth. He asserted that the NEWS had resorted to this measure in order to suppress the diffusion of his paper. Most of the speech was marked by such unmitigated scurrility as to make it unfit to be literally reported.
Galveston News, July 31, 1877.
So–Called Washerwomen, all Colored, Go for Each Other and the Heathen Chinee.
Monday night colored women, emboldened by the liberties allowed their fathers, husbands and brothers, during Monday, and being of a jealous nature, determined to have a public hurrah yesterday of their own, and as the men had demanded two dollars for a day’s labor they would ask $1.50, or $9 per week. As women are generally considered cleansers of dirty linen, their first move was against the steam laundry, corner of Avenue A and Tenth street, owned by Mr. J. N. Harding, who has in his employ several women, as it happened yesterday all white.
About 6.30 A.M. colored women began collecting about his house, until they numbered about twenty-five, seven men being with them. The laundry women were soon seen coming to work. When met and told that they should not work for less than $1.50 per day, four cursed back; but, one, a Miss Murphy went into the house and began working. Seeing this, the women rushed in, caught her and carried her into the street, and by threats forced her to leave. As no other laborers were found, a council of war was being held, when a colored woman passed by and entered the house to collect money for Monday’s labor. The cry was raised that Alice had gone back on them, and Alice, being generally obnoxious to one or two colored women had spite “agin Alice anyway.” A rush was made for her, but Alice is not slow in her motions, therefore the first who got in reach went to grass from a well–directed blow, but they were too many for Alice, who was literally covered with women, clawing and pulling, until Alice’s clothes were torn from her body and they could get no hold, then the poor woman was let up and driven off.
This success again emboldened the women to further demonstrations. The cry was raised, “Let’s lock them out for good; here’s nails I brought especially.” An axe lying in the wood pile was grabbed, and the laundry house doors and windows secured. Then off they started for the heathen Chinee, who “washee Mellican man clothes so cheapee allee vile,” but before leaving Mr. Harding was warned that this visit would be repeated at one o’clock and again to-day. “Now for the Chinee, we’ll drive them away. So down Market street they went, led by a portly colored lady, whose avoirdupois is not less that 250.
On the way many expressions as to their intentions were heard, such as “We will starve no longer.” “Chinese got no business coming here taking our work from us.” Each California laundry was visited in turn, according to its location, beginning at Slam Sing’s, on Twentieth street, between Market and Postoffice, and ending at Wau Loong’s corner of Bath avenue and Postoffice street.
At these laundries all the women talked at once, telling Sam Lee, Slam Sing, Wau Loong and the rest that “they must close up and leave this city within fifteen days, or they would be driven away,” each Chinaman responding “Yees, yees,” “Alice rightee,” “Me go, yees,’ and closed their shops. The women proceeded through Market street to Eighteenth where they scattered after avowing they would meet again at 4 o’clock on the corner of Market and Eleventh streets and visit each place where women are hired, and if they receive less than $1.50 per day or $9 per week they would force them to quit.
Galveston News, August 1, 1877.
Speech of J. P. McDonnell
It was a grand sight to see in West Virginia, white and colored men standing together, men of all nationalities in one supreme contest for the common rights of workingmen (loud cheers). The barriers of ignorance and prejudice were fast falling before the growing intelligence of the masses. Hereafter there shall be no north, no south, no east, no west, only one land of labor and the workingmen must own and possess it (tremendous applause).
Labor Standard, August 4, 1877.
ALEXANDRIA, VA. At a meeting of colored Workingmen in Alexandria county, Va., a resolution was adopted that the railroad company commencing operations in our county, near the Aqueduct bridge, promises to be a curse instead of a blessing, by offering 60 cents only for ten hours hard labor, by the obligation to purchase at their own commissary and at their own rates; and they further seek to intimidate by representing that laborers from the District of Columbia be procured upon these terms; and assert their ability to introduce convict labor from the Richmond Penitentiary; that we frown down and protest against this imposition upon our rights; this unholy advantage of the already oppressed poor, and that we demand what is just and fair, and respectfully requires laborers of the District of Columbia and the city of Alexandria to do the same.
Labor Standard, March 17, 1878.
Over 200 of the colored waiters who attend the hotels at the principal watering places and seaside Summer resorts met last evening in the Bethel Church, Sullivan street, near Bleecker Street, to protest against the proposed reduction of wages for the ensuing season. The meeting was called to order by Jesse Potter. Henry Downing was appointed Chairman, and Benjamin Forde Secretary. The waiters complain that the proprietors of the principal hotels in Saratoga—the United States, the Grand Union, Clarendon, Congress Hall, and others—have given notice through the head waiters, who employ the side waiters, that the wages in future shall be $20 per month, instead of $25, as heretofore. Out of this sum a man must pay his fare to and from New York, Washington, or even from Savannah to Saratoga, Sharon Springs or Newport, and also discharge his wash bills. This the waiters find it impossible to do and continue honest men. They are almost all men of family, and with the old pay find it very difficult to live. They charge the head waiters, who get a percentage on the savings, with being the cause of the trouble. They appeal to the proprietors to consider their case and deal fairly by them. A copy of the resolutions will be sent to each of the proprietors of the hotels at the Summer resorts. A committee was appointed to communicate with the colored waiters in the various cities of the States with a view to co–operation.
New York Times, April, 26, 1878.
BALTIMORE, Oct. 23.—The oyster schuckers, white and colored, now on a strike, paraded this afternoon with bands of music, and at night held a mass meeting on Monument Square, where several speeches were made. The strike was against an alleged increase in the size of the oyster measure, by which the schuckers say they are required to open more oysters than heretofore for the same pay. The procession was largely increased by other unemployed workmen sympathizing with the strikers, and numbered several thousand persons. The proceedings were orderly. During the parade a colored striker was shot through the neck and seriously wounded by the accidental discharge of a pistol carried by another striker. It is said that only one packing house in the city is at work at present.
Labor Standard, November 2, 1878.
We the laboring men of Burke County, State of Georgia, believe it to our duty for our mutual benefits to organize ourselves into a Laboring man’s ciation, the same to be organized and incorporated, into an incorporated company, under and by virtue of the Laws of Georgia made and provided for such organizations, to wit.
That we will organize ourselves, into an incorporated company in and for Burke County, Georgia, To be known by the name and style of the, Laboring Man’s association of Burke County. Said company to be governed and controlled by a board of Directors of seven residents, citizens of Burke Co. A President, Secretary & Treasurer. Said Directors elected by the stockholders of said Comp’y, the President, Secretary & Treasurer to be elected by the board of Directors, the capital stock of said co. shall be fifty thousand dollars and may be increased to two hundred; and shall be allowed to commence business. So soon as two thousand dollars in cash is paid, into the Treasurer, the stock shall be ten dollars pr. share, and each stockholder entitled to one vote for each share. Said company shall have the power to establish agencys, in each militia District, of said County of Burke, which Agency shall be allowed to carry on such business, in said District or Districts, as shall be deemed proper by the officers of said Company. Said Company shall be governed by such by–laws, as shall be adopted by said Company and we the undersigned stockholders, doth hereby bind ourselves our heirs and assigns, to be governed by the constitution and by laws adopted by said Company after a legal charter is obtained, in witness whereof we have hereunto affixed our signatures with the number of shares, taken by each of us opposite our signatures: . . .
Official Papers & Writings: Political, 1875–1885, N.d.,
Bryant Papers, Duke. Courtesy of Joseph Reidy