« EelmineJätka »
movement-earnestly advocated by the best men of all parties must depend on the whole people. When the vast good which this measure promises is clearly seen, no one can doubt that the nation will thoroughly work out this reform as it has so many others.
384. The “ Knights of Labor"; the “Black-List” and the “Boycott.” — For a number of years, a large part of the laboring-men of the country had been members of a society or union known as “The Knights of Labor." 2 The purpose of the society was to secure for its members the power of united action in all matters that concerned their interest.
In this, as in every country, there had been at times serious disputes between employers and workmen ; one object of the
Knights of Labor' was to get such disputes settled in a way satisfactory to both parties. Where this could not be done, the labor-union might order its members to quit work until they either got the terms they asked, or were compelled to accept those offered by the employers. In some instances, when the union men struck, they refused to allow men who were not
Knights of Labor" to take their places, and used force to prevent them.
The employers, on the other hand, formed combinations, or unions, to protect their own interests. In some cases they kept
black-list on which was recorded the names of those laboringmen who were thought to be unreasonable in their demands for higher pay or shorter hours, or whose influence over the other men was believed to be injurious. Such men often found it impossible to get work.
1 The first movement toward Civil Service Reform was made in 1853, but nothing was accomplished. Presidents Grant and Hayes next took it up; since, the progress made by the Civil Service Commissioners is seen in the fact that during the year 1885 they held one hundred and fifty examinations of applicants for government positions in seventeen different states. The whole number examined was 7602; of these, 1876 received appointments from the government.
2 Originally organized in 1869. Since then another organization has been formed, called the “American Federation of Labor."
THE YEAR OF STRIKES.
The“ Knights,” however, were not without their weapon. They could refuse to have any dealings with an employer who used the “black-list”; and furthermore, they could, and did, use their influence to prevent others from having any dealings with him. This was called “boycotting.' It is difficult to say whether the “black-list" or the “boycott" came first; but in President Cleveland's administration both were extensively used, and both caused immense loss without apparently gaining any very decided advantage for either side.
385. The Year of Strikes; the Chicago Anarchists.The year 1886 may almost be called the year of labor strikes. They began very early in the spring, with the horse-car drivers and conductors in New York; and they gradually extended, in one form or another, to points as far west as Nebraska, and as far south as New Orleans.2
In many cases, the strikers demanded that the working-day be shortened to eight hours; in other cases, they asked an increase of wages. In Chicago, forty thousand men left their employments, and the greater part of the factories and workshops of the city were closed. Processions of strikers, ten thousand strong, marched through the streets, — in some cases, with all the precision of movement of a body of highly drilled troops. Soon the men engaged in handling freight at the different railroad freight-houses in the city joined their fellow-workmen, and all movement or delivery of goods came to a stop. On the day following, there was some rioting. On the evening of the next day (May 4, 1886), six or seven hundred persons gathered in the neighborhood of Haymarket Square, and were addressed by different speakers, one of whom an Englishman — urged the most violent measures. А
1 The word “boycott" came from Captain Boycott, the name of an English farmer and land agent in Ireland. In 1880 he became so much disliked that the people of the district where he lived refused to work for, buy from, sell to, or have any dealings whatever with him.
2 See Appleton's "Annual Cyclopædia," 1887, “Strikes”; and “ Massachusetts Labor Bureau Report,” 1887.
large force of police was on the ground; believing that the meeting was likely to end in a serious riot, they ordered the crowd to disperse. At that moment, some one threw a dynamite bomb? at the police. It exploded with terrible force, severely wounding many of the officers, and killing several. Persons in the crowd then drew revolvers, and fired on the police. The officers charged on the crowd, firing rapidly, and killing and wounding a large number. The ringleaders of the mob were arrested, and brought to trial. All but one were of foreign birth. They belonged to a small but dangerous class calling themselves Anarchists. The object of the Anarchist is to overthrow all forms of government, either by peaceable means, or as in the case of the men arrested at Chicago — by murder, and the destruction of property. The workingmen of Chicago, and throughout the country, expressed their horror of such methods, and denounced the Anarchists as enemies of the interests of labor, and of society. Four were hanged.
386. The Charleston Earthquake; the Western “Blizzards."
Late in the summer of 1886, a very destructive earthquake occurred at Charleston, South Carolina. The city had suffered, the year before, from lue of a series of hurricanes which had destroyed a large amount of property at the West and South; but the earthquake was far more terrible in its effects. Quite a number of lives were lost, and so many buildings shaken down, or badly damaged by repeated shocks, that it seemed at one time as if the entire city would be reduced to ruins. The total loss reached over five million dollars. Aid was promptly despatched Crom every part of the Union to the suffering people of the stricken city, which has since bravely recovered from its heavy calamity. 1 These bombs were made of pieces of gas-pipe filled with dynamite,
-a substance which explodes with much greater force than gunpowder.
2 Sixty of the police were badly wounded, and seven were either killed on the spot, or died in consequence of the injuries they had received.
3 Anarchists (An'ar-kists): the name comes from two Greek words meaning without a ruler or government; hence, in ordinary use, those who seek to overthrow all government.
THE STATUE OF LIBERTY.
A year from the winter following this disaster (1888), frightful storms of snow accompanied by intense cold (known by the expressive name of “blizzards ") swept over portions of the Northwest,' destroying many lives, especially those of school-children, who lost their way in the blinding tempests, and were frozen to death.
387. The Statue of Liberty. — Meanwhile, in the autumn of 1886, the colossal statue of “Liberty enlightening the World" was unveiled and lighted in the harbor of New York. The statue
the largest of the kind ever made was presented to the United States by a great number of citizens of the Republic of France, as a memorial of their friendly feeling toward the people of this country, and as an expression of their confidence in the stability of the American government.
The statue is of bronze, and represents the goddess, or genius,
The Statue of Liberty. of Liberty holding high upraised in one hand a lighted torch, to show the way to those who are
1 Particularly in Nebraska, the Dakotas, and Minnesota.
2 The statue is a little over a hundred and fifty feet in height. The top of the torch is rather more than three hundred feet above the water. The expense of the statue was paid by subscriptions raised in France, and the work was done by the French sculptor, Bartholdi, at a cost of over two hundred thousand dollars. The government of the United States set apart Bedloe's Island, in New York Harbor, for the statue; and three hundred thousand dollars were raised in this country to build the foundation and pedestal on which it stands.
seeking the shores of the New World. The figure is of great beauty; and at night the torch serves the purpose of a guiding light to all incoming vessels.
388. Four Important Laws (the Presidency; the Presidential Elections; Interstate Railroads; Chinese Immigrants). — During President Cleveland's administration, four very important laws were passed by Congress. The first (1886) provided, in case of the death or disability of both the President and the Vice-President, that the Secretary of State (followed, if necessary, by the other members of the Cabinet) should succeed to the office of President.
The second law (1887) laid down certain rules for counting the electoral votes, in order that all uncertainty and dispute in regard to the election of the President might be avoided.
The third law (1887) — the Interstate ? Commerce Act for the purpose of regulating the charges made by all railroads which pass through more than one state, the object being to secure fair and uniform rates both for passengers and freight.
The fourth law (1888) forbade any Chinese laborer to land on our shores. The reason for this measure was that upwards of a hundred thousand Chinamen had emigrated to the United States,
most of whom remained in California, - and their cheap labor was believed to be hurtful, rather than helpful, to the country.
Other immigrants, it was said, come here to make the United States their permanent home; but the Chinaman comes simply to get what he can out of the country; he then leaves it forever. He can live on a few cents' worth of rice a day, he has no family to support, and so he can afford to work for wages on which an
1 The Cabinet now consists of the following officers: 1. The Secretary of State; 2. The Secretary of the Treasury; 3. The Secretary of War; 4. The Secretary of the Navy; 5. The Secretary of the Interior; 6. The Attorney-General; 7. The Postmaster-General; 8. The Secretary of Agriculture. 2 Interstate: between states.
3 Immigrants: foreigners coming into the United States to seek work or homes are now generally called immigrants. Before the Chinese Law, an effort was made to exclude paupers, and later, to exclude laborers hired to come to this country by American employers to compete against our own workmen.