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For the Voice
It has been estimated, that a laboring village of 400 families, would save annually for their own benefit, eighty thousand dollars, which are now quit into the pockets of owners of Mills, agents, overseers, priests, doctors, lawyers, traders and spongers, or are wasted by bad economy and poor work. The laborer is now usually defrauded out of 70 per cent of his labor. Thirty dollars worth of labor in a large association, will go as far to subsist and improve the laborer, as $100 now goes in our antagonistical society.
If such is the case, laborers ought to unite in business and trade. They may as well trade themselves in a community, as allow our present traders to grow rich as their expense. Let them begin small as traders, and soon with their labor and trade they will acquire credit, and by the aid of credit, may carry on a large business, until they find that they can do without credit. If we wait until capitalists step forward to our relief, we may wait forever. We must commence business ourselves, just as young traders do, with such means as we may command. If our present mode of trading operates to the ruin of laborers, laborers must turn associative traders in self-defence. Let us not be daunted by the fear of failures. Large companies of laborers will not be so likely to fail, as individuals. If they do fail, they have only to make a dividend among their creditors.
The advantages of a trading association, are, that we imperceptibly and unexpectedly acquire capital, when we could not advance it outright. Let two or three more then commerce upon such conditions, as they shall agree upon. Let them admit others into their society upon fair terms. Let them always, if possible carry on the printing business, so as to be to be able to provide books and periodicals for the improvement of the community. If we cannot commence with all kinds of labor at first, let us commence with that which will soonest promote our object. Printing is as good business as other kinds of labor, and periodicals espousing the cause of labor, would create a favorable public sentiment and enlist many recruits into our industrial armies. If we could start a laborer’s newspaper, in any of our villages, it would rally the people around it, as a nucleus around which all kinds of business might be successfully collected. If we could consent to live cheap, as upon the Graham system, we should save enough, to enable us to extend our operations, until the expenses of our common modes of subsistence might be better endured.
We ought to be willing to live in tents or chanties or rough houses, until we can rear the commodious philanstery, with its halls and workshops. In some respects, we ought to have the discipline of an army, so as to secure unity. In other respects, we ought to enjoy the freedom of a true democracy, or practice the virtues of a true church. – We ought to begin deliberately and charitably to elevate ourselves and our race. We must bear all things of a disagreeable nature, with the greatest patience and humility. A re-organization of society upon sound principles, must require much time and experience. At present our laws and customs excite the selfish passions. Politicians priests and traders, are more or less swayed by self-promotion. – They do not compose a twentieth part of the community, and yet they rule them.
The people are impoverished by armies and navies. In all ages, the business of fighting has degraded the people at large. Even the very soldiers who enlist for the sake of honor, are usually reduced to penury in their old age. – But we must propagate such christian morals, as will prevent wars. Now aristocratical governments necessarily breed civil wars, which breed foreign war, and thus the miseries of man are endless. Nobles have cheated the people out of the lands. Priests become masters, prophets, and leaders of hostile sects. The consequence is that people enlist under their banners and carry on unintelligible controversies, to the detriment of all, except those who are maintained at the vast expense, to conduct these religious factions. How many might be the savings of an association! Trade, religion, politics, pride, folly and competition all conspire to wrong the laborer. Indirect taxation makes thousands of paupers, every year. Intemperance in eating and drinking, and the following of the fashions ruin us. So many are the abuses of law, fashion and religion, that there is no remedy for our sufferings, but in a reconstruction of society, upon the principles of justice.
Set down then my friends, and estimate the advantages of Association.
As an economical plan, we should save three quarters of our labor.
As a religious plan, we should live together in charity, for all the conceptions of sects about the nature and attributes of God, and about our future condition, would not interfere with the productiveness of labor, for our comfort in this world.
As a political plan, by our unity of action, we should hasten the period, when the abuses of legislation would cease. Many of our laws are unconstitutional. That clause which says, “No man shall obtain the advantage distinct from those of the community,” &c. ought to be exemplified in practice.
As things are now circumstanced, it can only be theory. It can only be practical in Associations.
“Workingmen’s Protective Union.” – All friendly to the organization of an Association for mutual aid and benefit, and the promulgation of the principles of equal rights and brotherly love, are requested to meet at No. 76 Central St. (up stairs) this Friday evening.
Being in the “city of Notions” on Monday evening, we spent a short time at a meeting of the “Protective Union,” at Boylston Hall, and were much pleased with our visit. The meeting was for discussion and conducted with ability and energy, the principal topic being, the success of their “Union”. This institution is in successful operation, numbering about one hundred constitutional members and from fifty to seventy five “proposed.” - The Division has a store-house connected with it, where they keep their goods, bought at wholesale prices and from which they have already realized quite a saving. For experiment sake, we took occasion to purchase a few articles of West India Goods at this “Union Store,” to the amount of $1,30, and return we found the same articles would cost us in Lowell about $2,30 - quite a saving on a small scale; still this portrays a very faint idea of what this institution is calculated to accomplish for the producing classes, in the purchase of the necessaries of life.
A division has been formed at Roxbury and another about being organized at South Boston.
The Various Protective Unions which are springing up in this country do not aim at much beyond an economy of time and money to the members in the procurement of the necessaries of life for themselves and families; they have every prospect of success, and in view of the vast expense to society of sustaining and enriching that large class, known as the business class, who, for the want of a just and wise system of commercial exchanges, are performing ten-fold the service the actual interest of the producer and consumer require, it is but just and proper they should succeed until one grand system of connected Protective Unions shall swallow up all commerce and trade.
Co-operative Societies – Protective Union.
Agreeable to notice last week, we publish in todays paper, a long and able article from “The People’s Journal” upon the superiority of Co-operative and Mutual Benefit societies over all other institutions, for the final emancipation of the Laboring classes, from the iron grasp of isolated and concentrated capital. From the facts and figures in this article, we see that a wonderful work is being wrought out in the Old world by the co-operative principle among the laborers themselves.
These demonstrations on the part of the oppressed working people of England, should give new encouragement to the friends of Labor Reform in this country: for the same evils exist here, and consequently the same principles will produce a remedy.
To see the producing masses, who have toiled on under the galling bondage of English Feudalism, with hardly a ray of hope to light up a better future; thus rising up in the magestry of the united omnipotence, and with a firm, steady and resolute purpose, building up for themselves a higher and better destiny; must be cheering to the heart of every philanthropist.
Of all co-operative societies extant, “The Workingmen’s Protective,” instituted in Boston about one year since, appears to us best calculated to secure immediate benefit to the producing portion of the community. – Twelve or thirteen Divisions of the Union are already established and under successful operation in this State and New Hampshire, and a growing interest is manifested among the working people generally to try an experiment which has thus far proved so successful; hence we may safely expect that the day is not so far distance when, in every considerable town in New England, will be established a “Protective Union.” Indeed, is it too much to anticipate that the day will come when Divisions in Main, shall furnish Lumber for the carpenters of Boston, Lowell and other towns and cities, where large quantities of Eastern Lumber are used; without being subject to the large profits now paid to Lumber speculators – when Divisions in Vermont shall furnish Butter, Cheese and Poultry, for the working people of the Manufacturing and Mechanical Districts, without passing through the hands of speculating exchange; and when Divisions in the Western States shall provide grain and flour for their Eastern breather, free from the New York and Boston flour dealers enormous Tax? Already can we fancy (what may not always be mere fancy) that we see the noble ship, - “Protective Union,” – with her sails spread to the breeze making her way across the Atlantic to exchange her treasures for the necessary products of our English brothers, and returning to our shores to diffuse her wealth among the masses. We may be though airy and speculative, but it does seem that the success of the co-operative principle whenever adopted, either for good or bad purposes, warrants us in indulging in such anticipations, without being able to change the visonist. We talk about the laboring man’s being entitled to a just reward for his labor! – and what is a just reward? one fifth only of what he actually produces? No! every man and woman who produce any value to the world should have enough of what they create to satisfy the demands of their natural wants, and did they not ‘toil and spin’, and give the producer of their labor to mere exchangers and speculators, who live in splendor, and fare sumptuously every day,” they would not labor on in poverty, without time to cultivate their mental powers, or time and means to enjoy common blessing of life. These co-operative influences at work all around, to our mind are the legitimate results of the present organization of Commerce and Trade, which operate so partially upon the laboring community. As now organized, Trade and Commerce result in one great “grab game,” of fraud and deception, and he who is the most cunning and understands the “tricks” best gets the largest share of the spoils. This has brought into existence a large class of exchangers and non-producers, who study every art and resort to every means, to live in affluence and ease, from the labor of others. –
Their trade is legal gouging; and the more they can get, and just keep clear of the laws of legal justice, the more elevated and the respectable are they in society. This false state of things has existed so long and has so interwoven itself into the structure of society, that it is considered one of the essentials of civilization. And if the streets of our Cities and villages evince a mercantile prosperity, without giving one thought to the condition of Mechanics and real producers, we are accustomed to say ‘the people are thriving;’ when in fact the laboring population may be living in destitution and want. It is high time that the producers of the country should awake to the disastrous tendencies of trade, if they desire that their own and the condition of their children shall be one jot better than the victims of despotic oppression.
Let the useful laborers make the “dignity of labor” something more than an unreal theme of admiration, by uniting in co-operative Unions, and teaching the non-producing speculators that labor is dignified enough to transact its own exchanges and commercial affairs, or at least that they cannot receive four fifth of the fruits of their hard labor for merely finding for it a market.
As the Voice is the organ of every cause that is calculated to elevate mankind by securing to them their natural rights, we shall give these co-operative Unions our aid and support, and shall keep our readers informed of their progress from time to time.
Workingmen’s Protective Union.
The head-quarters of this most useful organization – on which promises results so highly beneficial to all classes of citizens and more especially to the families of our workingmen – have been established in Boylston Hall (Rooms Nos. 1 and 3) Boston, with Branches in the following towns, namely: South-Boston, Roxbury, Chelsea, Lynn, Lowell, Cabotville, Manchester, N.H. and three in Boston.
The main object of this Union is, by providing a central depot for articles of the first necessity, under the head groceries, imported at prime cost, to assist the industrious mechanic who is disposed seasonably to supply his future wants by furnishing a stock of goods to be paid for in ready money, so as to be enabled to afford them to him at wholesale prices. Besides which, it is in contemplation to embrace wood and coal, (prepared in Summer and retailed in Winger.) flour and clothing, as additional and important items in the comprehensive details of the plan at large. Boots and shoes they have already on hand, supplied directly from the workshops of the manufactures at Lynn.
Such a movement, it will be obvious, carried out in good faith, (and there are some of our most practical and judicious men at the head of it,) must tend to produce a thorough but peaceful revolution in the whole aspect and structure of society; converting the minor grocery establishments, where strong drink, under some form or other continues to be preservingly vended, into one or more vast trading-house, magazines or warehouses, “whose officers are peace and their exactors-righteousness,” – dispensing with those middle men, who, doing nothing themselves, subsist upon the food of others; and above all, contributing in its aim to elevate the working man in the great scale of universal existence, so as to place him on that just level of equality with his fellow-beings for which a God of perfect justice, whose ‘ways’ we have been assured ‘are equal,’ had originally designed them.
Workingmen’s Protective Union
A friend has called our attention to a communication in one of the papers of this city (signed “Inquiry”) reflecting upon The Workingmen’s Protective Union, which betrays a sad want of knowledge of the institution it condemns, or an unusual amount of that spirit, so peculiar to this age – self-lanthropy. The writer avers, that at first he “thought well” of the institution, but upon “sober second thought” - (that is, the thought likely which lies deep down in the - pocket) he believes it one of the very worst combinations that could be devised to injure the workingmen.” What an interest for the workingmen! What benevolence and foresight! How he made this important discovery - whether by “special revelation” while meditating over his “Cash book,” or from some of the “injured workingmen” who are members of the “Union;” it doth not appear. But hear him:
“I will suppose that there is connected with the Society, IN Lowell, one boot and shoe dealer and six boot and shoe makers; one merchant tailor and twenty coat makers; ten overseers and four second hands; and twenty boarding house keepers, as well as all other trades &c., in proportion. They hold a general meeting and choose a committee, or agents, to make arrangements with the different tradesmen and mechanics to supply the “Union” with such articles as they may wan. The agents go to the different boot and shoe dealers, hatters, &c., and see who will agree to sell them the lowest, and thus their patronage is up at auction, to be struck down (upon the principle of selling the Town’s poor,) to the lowest bidder. What is done next? Is it not plain enough that the boot dealer will be obliged to go to the six boot makers and say to them, “I have agreed to sell to the ‘Union’ ten per cent less than to my other customers, so I shall be obliged to reduce the price of your work done for our association ten per cent.” So will the hat dealer and tailor be obliged to reduce the wages of their workmen (or cheat in quality).”
Now, Mr. “Inquiry,” for the sake of argument we will admit your reasoning to be true, we will admit your reasoning to be true, and that its force may be clearly perceived, let us make an example. - Suppose A is shoemaker, works for B and belongs to Division No. 11 or 16 (for be it known to all concerned that there are two Divisions in Lowell) Workingmen’s Protective Union. -
Now in the “course of human,” or humane “events,” B engages to supply the Union with Boots and Shoes at a discount of “ten per cent,” and consequently tells A that upon all work done for the Union he must reduce the price of labor in the same ratio. Well now, A has been making upon the average six dollars per week, in the new arrangement, about one half of his work will be for the Union, consequently a discount of ten per cent is made upon half his former weeks work, or upon $3,00. So in the operation there’s a loss of 30 cents. But A wants upon average four dollars worth of goods per week from the Union Store and upon these he saves, from the usual retail price about twenty per cent. Now after taking into consideration, that A is insured three dollars per week in case of sickness, besides being provided with friends and brothers to sympathize with, and watch over him - can “Inquiry” tell us, from his own course of reasoning, how much worse off A will be at the end of the year, for belonging to this “injurious combination?”
But let us examine this subject farther and see if the Union, will produce any “ten per cent discount” as argued by “Inquiry.” - Who don’t know that, the more business a man does - the larger his sales, the smaller profits he can afford to sell for? Hence a shoe dealer, doing a fair retail business, on being applied to, to furnish the Division with his goods, in consideration of the amount of trade he will thereby receive, puts down his wares ten per cent, because with the Division he does a wholesale business, and when the year is up he finds he has done better than he otherwise could, and instead of cutting down the wages of his workmen he would be enabled to raise them, for the price of labor in the present state of society must be governed by supply and demand, and instead of the Unions decreasing the wages of the producer, it must increase them. For instance, in the Boot and Shoe business which we have considered, if the Union concentrates the business of three stores in one, it is quite evidence that the rent of the two stores, the salaries of several clerks, the wood of several fires, oil, fixtures, &c., would be saved, all or nearly all of which, besides the profits of two proprietors would accrue to the workingmen, the dealer or proprietor of the one store also doing a better business than before. Indeed there would be more work to do, because many poor men, women and children, who are now obliged to go very poorly shod or without shoes entirely, would, through the advantages which the Union guarantees, be enabled to purchase and make themselves comfortable. The only persons apparently discommoded by this operation of the Union, would be those two dealers who have lost their privilege of living upon others labor, or by exchanging the products of others industry - must go forth into the world that is no smaller than when they were exchanging the workmanship of others hands, and earn their living by the sweat of their own faces. “Perhaps “Inquiry” thinks this is a calamity.
People who condemn an institution, calculated to do so much good as the Protective Union is, must be governed by a selfishness of the blindest character. Men may enter into company, go to Boston and other markets and purchase groceries and necessaries of life and bring them to Lowell to retail out to poor laborers and widow women for from ten to fifteen per cent profit - they may gamble and speculate in flour, wood and other articles the poor must buy or suffer, and its all quite well - honorable - even christian; but because a dozen workingmen band together to buy a box of hats, or shoes at wholesale, and thereby save the retailers profits, (not cheapen the producers price as “inquiry” would have us believe,) why its an “injurious combination” and they must be warred against as dangerous members of society. If one or two men have a right to open a store in Lowell and sell their goods at twenty per cent advance, why in the name of common sense have not ten or a hundred men the right to establish one and sell at a less per cent or even at cost, and thereby enhance the happiness and comforts of the mass?
But we have dwelt upon the subject longer than necessary - the advantages of the Protective Union are self-evident and it will live down all opposition. We advise “Inquiry” not to give himself too much uneasiness for the welfare of the Workingmen who belong to so “injurious a combination.” If they are liable to injure themselves very seriously, no doubt, they will find it out nearly as soon as he will.
We had a long and interesting conversation this week, with two mechanics, weavers, from Stirlingshire, Scotland, on the condition and prospects of the laboring classes, in England.
They are plain, unpretending men, who have been sent out, as Pioneers, to examine and report about the West. It is their intention to remain here a year. If they like it a small body of their countrymen will come over, and, should they be pleased, after a year’s trial, a larger number will join them, and make the West their home.
These mechanics think, that the laboring classes have made great advance within the last ten years. The first outward impulse given to them, according to their, was the Chartist’s move. The second, the anti-corn league. The third, and most important, is the co-operative efforts which are making all over the Kingdom.
The co-operative principle, as now acted upon, is not necessarily confined to any branch of human industry. It may be applied to all. Thus: - if there are ten persons in a neighborhood, some of whom cannot read, or write, or cipher, while others can – or if among them there be those who understand German, or have some knowledge of astronomy, and the others know nothing of these things – they meet together at stated periods, and by mutual efforts, by co-operative aid, instruct each other without cost, and with great social pleasure and generous happiness. In this way, these two mechanics have been, mainly instructed, and we found them familiar, not only with such writers as Mill, Douglass, Jerrold, &c. but with Dr. Arnold, and the strong popular writers of Great Britain. They made not the least show of learning. They talked, indeed, in a plain common sense view of society, and the obligations all of us owed to it.
But the co-operative principle is applied chiefly, so far as to meet the necessities of the laboring classes. For instance take the shirt make of London. They lived by their labor and that was all the best among them could do. They leagued together. The result has been, that they get now ten pence for work which they only received a penny and a half for before! Of course their condition is greatly improved, and if Hood had another song to write he could joyously depict the great change which had been wrought for the poor woman of London.
These “co-operative leagues” exist in nearly all the large towns in Great Britain. A moderate sum is subscribed by each laboring man which is invested in various ways; for the establishment of reading rooms; for the erection of alls; for the purchase of large tracts of land, which is let out to members in small quantities – half an acre, or one, two, three of four acres – as they may wish, with cottage thereupon, at a rent of four or five per cent on the cost; for manufacturers for the sole and joint use of the producers; for union stores, in which clothing, wares, groceries, provisions, &c., &c., are sold to members at cost. And so far, these Leagues have done well. Many of them have one, two, three, and some over four thousand members, and they have secured competence and content to hundreds upon hundreds who were, before, almost starving. Those at Nottingham have taken initiatory steps to purchase provisions in Cincinnati (and ten others have joined them) at market prices there, with a view of escaping speculators and saving the profits secured to them.
The Land League is the most powerful. – That has 18,000 members. Their capital is very large. There was paid in, in the last week of May, upwards of ￡3000 - say over $14,000! The bread and flower company of Plymouth had erected a steam mill, extensive steakhouses-and the same week had near the same amount paid in. Both these leagues had done, and we’re doing immense good to the laboring classes in every way! Then the printers-will not be long behind any class-has adopted a national Cooperative principle. They pay sixpence a week. […] They have over six thousand members!
The working principle of the League will be understood by all. It substitutes co-operation for competition. What the result of this new move will be, we cannot say. But if it can be carried out - if co-operation can be made to take the place of competition (and it must do so sooner or later) the very happiest results will follow.
Among the many systems of the present day which call loudly for reform, is that of exchanges. It is one link in that vast chain of evils by which working men and women are surrounded which needs to be cut out or welded in a different form ere they will receive an equivalent return for what they pay out.
The honest toiler after laboring year in and year out and paying his or her necessary expenses, seldom or never finds a dollar left to lay up for a “rainy day,” cheated first in the labor market and then by the exchanger; between the two he or she stands a pretty good chance of getting fleeced.
I shall endeavour to show (in this article as well as those that follow) the benefit to be derived from the “Workingmen's Protective Union,” not only to the producing consumers but to the non-producers or exchangers themselves for it was not to injure the latter class that the “Union” was instituted, but to benefit the whole.
It is an old saying that a “penny saved is as good as a penny earned,” and this is emphatically a money saving thereby a money making concern. I shall not at this time attempt to explain the principles of the institution when fully carried out but deal in matter of fact such as the Union in its present crude and imperfect state is; and that you need not take my word alon I will give you the figures taking such articles as are most commonly used by ur housekeepers; giving the prices at which they can be obtained at the “Protective Union” store, also the prices at the Grocers with the percentage saved, the goods being of the same quality: Molasses 24 1-2 cts. Per gal.,, at Grocers 33 cts. Saying 36 per cent., Sugar House do. 42 cts. At Grocers 60 saving 38 per cent., Yong Hyson Tea 34 cts. Per lb at Grocers 45 and 50 savings 33 per centl, Old Hyson 50 cts., at Grocers 75 and 100 savings 50 to 75 per cent., Brown Havana Sugar 7 to 8 per cent., Crush’d Sugar 10 cts at Grocers 14 saving 40 per cent., Crush’d Sugar 10 cts. At Grovers 14 saving 40 per cent., Cream Tarter 20 at Grocers 25 aving 20 per cent., Salt Fish 3 3-4 at Grocers 5 saving 33 per cent., Com. Bleached W. Oil 45 cts. At Grocers 65 cts. Saving 45 per cent., Sperm Oil 80 at Grocers 100 saving 20 percent., Box Rasins 7 cts. At Grocers 12 saving 70 per cent., Ground Coffee 8 1-2 at Groers 12 1-2 saving 43 per cent., Old Java 10 cts. At Grocers 14 and 15 saving 40 and 50 per cent., Starch 6 3-4 at Grocers 12 saving 73 per cent., No. 1 Soap 5-1 cts. At Grocers 8 saving 53 per cent, Vinegar 12 per gal. At Grocers 16 saving 34 per cent., Salt 17 cts. Per Bag at Grocers 25 saving 48 per cent., On Pepper and Spices there is still a greater saving; thus while at our store you can buy Ground black pepper for 8 1-2 etc. Per lb. At Grocers you pay 24 cts. A Grocers 36 saving of 154 per cent., Cinnamon 18 1-4 cts. At Grocers 36 saving 90 per cent. Nutmegs 8 cts per oz. At Grocers 11 saving 37 1-2 per cent. Such readers is the difference in the prices between the two places, not in the above only but in nearly all the thousand and one aricles to be found behind the counters of our Grocers: The above catalogue was found to agree with the prices of more than one store, if the charges on their customers books are correct; the writer of this had occasions to visit one of their stores this week and found out by actual observation the prices of a number of articles, which o not tell so well for the present system of trade, even as the above list. I will mention one fact although “workingmen do not know whether to sell Baskets by the yard or dozen” they are not altogether green. A daughter of Erin came in and called for two lbs. of sugar” the attendant on complying with her request took it out of the “wrong box.” - “I want the eight cent sugar” said she, he went to another barrel and scooped up something which if it was sugar showed evidently that dirt abounded much more than sweets, it looked very much like the sugar that settles in the bottom of a molasses hogshead; perhaps he does not treat all his customers in this way her poverty probably was the reason why she was obliged to pay 40 or 50 per cent., more than the articles were really worth, who wonders that God’s poor are likely to retain their poverty so long as this accursed system prevails.
But to return to my subject. It will be seen that about one third can be saved by joining the “Protective Union.” Let us reckon this up.
A man with a wife and two or three children cannot (under the present system) feed and clothe them for less than $200 per year, (setting aside the rent in this case) and as there is as much saving to be made in all his expenses as there is in Groceries, we will take one third of two hundred dollars which is $66.66 quite a pretty little sum for a poor man, put it upon interest adding the $66.66 each year and at the end of five years you have $375.76 at the end of ten years it will amount to $878.62 who wonders that our exchangers “fare sumptuously every day,” it is enough to buy a farm, and if during this time the soil should be made free (as I hope and trust it will) he will have enough to stock it and money left, who will say the “Protective Union” is not the poor man’s friend? I intended to have touched upon several other things in connection with this subject, but this article is already too long and will defer it until next week.
It will be seen by every candid person that the saving made by trading at a Protected Union store is immense, and that the benefits accruing from it, to the members, will measure compensate, (so far as dollars and cents are concerned,) for the smallest of their ways.
The next thing to be considered is the quality of the articles, as the question is often asked by the uninitiated, “are the articles as good as can be procured at the grocery store at the prices quoted.” I answer yes, and often better. I will mention one or two facts. One of our members soon after our first purchase of goods bought a pound of Young Hyson Tea, team, I believe, 35 cents for it. He had previous to that been paying at the rate of 60 and 65 cents per pound. Upon trying it he found to greatly superior (both in strength and flavor) to that he had been paying the high price for;-that’s he got a better article, 25 and 30 cents a pound cheaper. I will mention one other. A person (not a member) came into the store a few weeks since while I was present and wish to see some of the same quality of tea. It was shown to him. He took a small parcel of tea, for which he had paid 45 or $.50 per pound, out of his pocket, and upon comparing them no difference could be seen, but when he tasted our cheap article it was pronounced the best; you examined other goods and inquired their prices. Suffice it to say is now a member of Division Number 11.
I believe it is pretty generally understood that articles can be, are adulterated, either before or after they get into the hands of the retailer,-it is not that they have been greatly belied. Is not an inferior article of tea often mixed with a good and thus palmed off as the best? Does not coffee often get the sprinkling of peas when being roasted and round, and then sold as pure coffee? Is not sperm well mixed with an equal quantity of common whale oil, and sold as a superior article? Are not sugars adulterated in the same ratio, and someone to the end of the chapter? I’ve never seen these things done, but have frequently heard of there being done. I cannot pretend to be a judge of sugars, teas or oils and I do not know as I should be able to detect the fraud, but in the article of coffee my nose does not deceive me, working as I do in the neighborhood, where they roast and grind it. I have an opportunity of testing the ingredients of which is composed. Although I am opposed to the use of it, I must confess that the odor of coffee when roasting is anything but disagreeable, and when the pure article is undergoing the process I snuff it up and enjoy it hugely, but when the grocer’s incense to mammon (burnt peas) arises, my olfactory organs give evidence symptoms of a desire on their part to quit the premises. We do not countenance any such cheatery as this in the “Protective Union” why should we? None of us can be benefited by it and “honesty (in all cases) is the best policy.” If there should be any such article as keys brought into a “Division,” it would be sold as such and not as coffee. But if it grocer sells a mixture of the two I don’t imagine he sells it for peas, or, a mixture, but the pure article itself. So much for adulteration - But there is another consideration for it is not in quality only, but in weights and measures there is a saving; we frequently hear new members say, upon having their jugs and buckets filled, and on being told that the quantity ordered would more than fill them, “that they never before had any difficulty in making them hold that amount,” showing conclusively that if the grocers weights and measures are just right ours are too large. I heard it stated a few days since by an individual who will join us if he remains in the city, that he had frequently weighed articles after the purchasing from grocers and found they fell short, one and two ounces in the pound. If they carry on this business very extensively, it will not take a great while to ‘feather their nests.’ I will relate a little incident as told me by an old lady with whom I formerly boarded. - She had ordered a barrel of flour, her grocer on bringing it was obliged to carry it down a flight of stairs to get into the kitchen. She thought he handled it as if it was not very heavy, and upon examination, after he had gone it seems that the grocer thought the inspector had allowed to great weight and had remedied it himself, for upon putting a stick into it, it would find the bottom without much help. She ordered it sent back, and with it one of Mrs. Caudle’s blessings. There are but two out of man instances which might be cited in proof of short weight and measure, but I do not mean to be understood that Lowell is the only place where this is practiced. It is the same all through the country in a greater or less degree. Our “union,” puts a stop to all this, for if a member was ever so much disposed to play the “grab game,” he could not do it without being detected, there are no dividends either to induce him to do it, and if light weight and a poor article is served to one, it is to all, so that he would not be a gainer either way. Everything must be conducted in a straightforward manner for we are bound together by mutual interests and when one member suffers it is felt through the whole Division.
P.S. Since writing the above a friend has called in to enquire about the “Protective Union,” his attention being called to it by the article in the last weeks paper, he says some of our grocers have taken exception to the prices quoted in that article, especially the Tea, as there is a number of qualities of Hyson Tea. I procured some Young Hyson Tea yesterday (Tuesday) purchased of one of our most popular grocers, by one of this customers and saw the price paid for it on his book, which was 56 cents per pound, and on trial with an equal quantity of ours, the cost of which is 34 cents, (percentage added will make it 36 cents,) our Tea was pronounced vastly, superior to the other by those who knew nothing why the experiment was being tried, and who are connoisseurs in such matters too; how does that tell, Messrs Grocers? Nearly 60 per cent saved and a better article! You can try the experiment yourselves at any time, all we ask is “fair play”
The question is naturally asked, “why charge such a large profit?” And why resort to such shameful practices? “Surely they can get a living by trading-honestly.” True, but some people want to get rich ‘on the run,’ and to do this and pay their enormous expenses, our traders probably think it really necessary to make the “workies” pay well for what they purchase.
Suppose we examine the “outgoes” of these establishment by figures. There are probably not less than 60 grocers in the city, (big and little,) the rent of whose stores will average $150 per year, which will amount in all the $9000. Two clerks in store whose pay, at one dollar per day each, will amount to $37,560. The cost of lighting, at one dollar twenty-five cents per week, Will amount to $3900. The fuel used will probably amount to about $20 each season, amounting in all, to $1200. Most of them (say fifty) keep a horse and wagon, the cost of keeping will not be less than two dollars twenty-five cents per week, which will amount to $5800. Wear of horse, wagon and harness is not less that $30 per year, which will be $1,500. Now let us sum it all up, and you have $58,960, and quite a number of incidental expenses not reckoned in; and I likewise learn that they make calculations on having their paying customers ‘foot the bills’ of the non paying ones. If this is the case I do not thing that $75,000 will pay the ills. A smart sum that, reader, and smarter still when we come to add this to the pay of ‘bosses’ which is anywhere from $500 to $2000 per year, call it $1000, which on adding to the other amounts to $135,000; this is merely a rough estimate, everyone can see for himself the expense attending these stores.
When I seem in retiring from business after being in it for fifteen or twenty years with a fortune from 20- 40 thousand dollars, I think the business in which they have been engaged somewhat different from that of our laborers and artisans, most of whom are obliged to struggle hard for a mere physical existence, with none of those privileges enjoyed by the upper classes so call, and often not having the necessities of life, much less its luxuries. Is this right? If not, why is it so? Are these laborers and artisans not diligent, honest, faithful? Are their hearts not as warm as those whose hands are softer? In fact are they not men? Yes, those who at the end of each day or week can show some specimen of their handiwork are not considered so respectable as the merchant, or clerk in the counting room or store, and his pay is small in proportion as his work maybe useful, laborious or repugnant, and being wrong in the first place by his employer is considered fair game to be plucked from the exchanger. But the grocers are not the only ones of this class for living on the working classes, and as we intend to do away with all exchangers (on the present false system,) as soon as practicable, it may be as well to count the cost of others in the future number.
As we have examined one branch of exchange and has seen the expense of attending it, suppose take a cursory glance at some others, for it must be remembered that the “Protective Union,” when fully carried out, enters into not one only, but all branches of trade. A radical changes necessary. Let us a dig at the root, for it is in this way only can be evil be eradicated. Accustomed as we are to view them as individuals, in their isolated capacity - worshiping the “golden eagle, the silver dollar, and the copper agent,” - each striving with all others in a honorable competition, we do not realize what a host we are fattening on the bones and sinews of the industrial classes. Could the working men and women see the wealth amassed by those who never performed a day’s useful labor in their lives; could they but see the army of useless exchangers arrayed before them in one solid phalanx, I think there would be but one mind pervading the working community and that they ALL would see the necessity of a combination (on their part) to do their own exchanging.
But let us make a computation of the cost of some other branches of trade, beginning with the Dry Goods and Hosiery class. There are about forty stores of this class in Lowell. Their expenses, including rents, clerks, lighting, fuel, incidental expenses, (for they like to have things in pretty good shape,) and their profits, added in cannot be less than $80,000. Of variety and confectionary stores there are, I think ,something more than 125, some of which however are small, I will call them 100 the cost of sustaining which at a fair computation is about $115,000. Think of this ye who are blessed with a “sweet tooth.” A pretty sum is spend for peppermints, sugar, plums, rattles and wax babies! Then Then we have Hat, Shoe, Glothing, Book, Hardware, Provision, Furniture and Auction stores, with a number of other kinds, amounting to about 125 these are pretty expensive, and require a great deal of cash to keep them in operation - we will say $240,000, add to these the cost of Grocers and you have the enormous sum of $570,000; were the “huge paws” to save this, it would take but a few years to accumulate capital and sufficient to buy every corporation in this city. But these are not all; we have quite a surplus of Druggissts on hand. They would be missed no doubt, if three fourths of them were to leave, but I think the city would be none the less healthy. And last though not least, “for their name is legion,” come the “Rumsellers” a blighening curse to all around; - living upon the hard earnings of their besotted victims. The clicking of the “almighty dollar” drowns the cry of little ones famishing for bread, and the wail of the widow is not heard amid the uproar of bacchanalians in their midnight orgies. Of, who would be a rumseller? Still the money expended on this class of exchangers is immense - their profits are enormous, and would swell the list of thousands of dollars.
I have not enumerated in the above list hose who have any visible means of support. The Show maker, the Hatter, the Tailor, the Millner and the Mantua makers, &c., &c; each can show some specimen of their ‘craft.’ The articles exposed for sale by them exhibit signs of industry and skill. Not so with the mere exchanger. He has wares for sale but they were wrought by other hands than his. Are they silks, woollens, sugar, rice, iron, or steel; each can tell a tale of want and privation, and of industry ill requited. While the careless salesman tells his stereotyped story of “We cannot afford them for anything less.” “They cost us so much.” “We sell them to you at a TREMENDOUS SACRIFICE,” forgetting (if he ever knew) that while his tongue runs on so glibly the only sacrifice there is about it is being made over again by those who wrought the delicate fabrics, toil on a plantation, or else in the bowels of the earth or over a smelting furnace.
Let us see how this system works with goods of our own domestic manufacture. - Hats, for instance. There are no less than twenty places (probably more) in Lowell where they are kept for sale, and but three where they are manufactured, at most of these stores they keep other goods, shoes, gloves, cravats, &c., still these goods pass through their hands, not a whit the better for it, the prices enhanced, an for what, pray? To support a set of men who are either too lazy or proud to perform any manual labor. They do not wish to be considered as common hatters or shoemakers. There is quite a difference between Mr. Stiggins the shoemaker and Mr. Stiggins who keeps the great shoe store. In truth there is. Give me the honest son of Crispin be he jour’ or ‘boss,’ for all these delicate whisperers of pretty things to the ladies, - but it does cost a ‘heap’ of money to support these uncommon men.
Let us look again, Mr. A., the exchanger, buys of Mr. B., the manufacturer, one dozen hats for forty-eight dollars, Mr. A. Takes them over to his store, Mr. C. Calls in fifteen minutes afterwards and buys one of these hats and pays five dollars for it, or at the rate of sixty dollars per dozen. Is the hat worth one dollar more by being moved across the street into the store of a man who knows no more about making it than a Hottentot? No, yet, I have seen this done repeatedly.
Again, Mr. C. Cannot purchase a single hat of Mr. B. The Manufacturer any cheaper than he can of Mr. A. The exchanger. Why so? Because he would lose the custom of Mr. A. And the proprietors of other hat stores. Thus these go-between are an obstacle in the way of both the consumer and the domestic manufacturer. In this is seen the necessity of bringing the different branches of home industry into the “Union” as far as possible, to overturn the present rotten institution of exchanges, and it will be done if the working men are only true to themselves.
“How can we get along without these stores?” ask some; “We must have some place to obtain our articles of food, clothing, &c.” True, but it does not necessarily follow that they must come through the present system of exchanges. Let us take a candid view of the subject. Suppose, instead of sixty or more grocers stores in this city there were but six, and those established on “Protective Union” principles. I am not certain but that we could get along with a smaller number, but for convenience we will take this number, and have them located in such parts of the city as will best accommodate the whole. Then in place of one hundred and twenty clerks we would take sixty. One fourth the number of horses and wagons. And the cost of lighting and warming six must, of course, be less than sixty. There would be no losses accruing from bad debts as our trades is conducted on cash principles. There would be no “Bosses” to pay and thus there would be a saving of from sixty to one hundred thousand dollars on this class of individuals. And now suppose we take the other stores and reduce them in the same ration and have them conducted on the same plan everyone must see the advantage to be gained by changing the present false system to one where the good of not a few, but the whole are cared for. But some say “It is so handy to have a place where you can run in and buy any little thing you may chance to want.” Yes, but is it not “paying too dear for the whistle,” this buying little thing at handy places? Is your grocer the one that is located nearest you? Perhaps so, but it is often the case that a person resides at one part of the city, and his grocer’s store be at the other. And again, our dry goods stores are all on two streets or nearly so, still our ladies are very well accommodated. But these candy shops are “stuck in” every nook and corner almost and are exceedingly “handy” to spend money. They are, with the exception of the dram shops, the greatest nuisances we have. Just imagine a broad shouldered man of two hundred pounds weight dealing out candy by the cents worth. Isn’t it ridiculous? How much better it would be for him and community were he to follow a plough or wield a blacksmith’s hammer. It may not be so lucrative but much more honorable, and he would have the satisfaction of knowing that he had added to the worlds wealth instead of taking from it.
Let us view it in another point. It would have a tendency to lower rents, and for this reason; there would be no use for the stores, therefore they must be converted into dwellings; and the addition of three or four hundred tenements would not be likely to raise the rents. And our Landlords (of whom I shall have a word to say by and by) would not “cut it quite so fat.”
“But what can this army of Exchangers do if they are obliged to quit their present business?” I do not know of any particular branch of honest industry that their genius would be adapted to, but it seems to me that sharpening tools would bear some similarity to grinding the faces of the poor. And if some of them were to turn barbers, their system of “shave” would be turned to good account. But who knows but there might be a Michaelangelo or Raphael among them, a Newton or Franklin or Fulton or Whitney. Each may imitate although it may be a great way off these justly great men. All will not be able to equal the great masters in sculpture or painting, but they all may be able to square a block of granite or paint a house, and so with the rest. The “organ grinder” in our streets is but a very faint representation of Mozart, but still he adds a little harmony to the world. But I would not advise our friends (the Exchangers) to take up this last mentioned business as this class are termed vagrants.
But what is this “Protective Union?” What are its principles? How is it conducted? It will endeavor to answer these questions as they will naturally arise. My object is not to find fault, altogether, (as some of my good friends the grocers seem to think,) but to try and put my brother Workingmen on the ‘track’ where their condition will be at least tolerable. The design of this institution, as understood by its founders, was not merely pecuniary gain, but something higher and nobler. The present saving may serve to open the eyes to some other reforms, who would otherwise remain in the dark; for those who are engaged in any one reform are generally willing to ‘lend an ear’ to another. Just get a wedge entered, if it be no bigger than a pumpkin seed, and then lay on with the beetle of Humanity and their hearts will soon be open wide enough to admit all true Reform.
I do not know of any better way to explain the objects of the “Union” than to give the following preamble to the constitution:
“Whereas there are many of our fellow workingmen, who have so small an equivalent returned them for their toil - although laboring excessively, to the deterioration of health as well as to the neglect of the intellect - that in very many cases, no surplus remains after the purchase of the necessaries of life; hence indigence, and in the event of sickness, not only destitution, but without that kindness, and sympathetic attention to which their case lays claim, - Whereas many evils arise from the isolated way in which the laborer as a man of small means, purchases the necessaries of life; therefore, to unite the little fund of the producers and purchases the necessaries of life; therefore, to unite the little fund of the producers, and purchase in season, as do the wealthy class, their fuel and groceries, would, it is obvious, secure to the brothers a larger share of their products than otherwise can be, - and, whereas, we most firmly believe it is the imperative duty we owe one another and ourselves to give all the information in our power for the procurance of sure, steady and profitable employment, that we may have deeds of genuine sympathy, which not only manifest themselves in relieving the destitute administering to the sick, but those which strike at the root of poverty.. Therefore, to secure such desirable objects, we resolve ourselves into an association, and agree to be governed by the following Rules and Regulations.”
Associations composing the “Workingmen’s protective Union” are termed “Divisions,” and are numbered by the “Supreme Division” in the order of their admission and recognition. Any person is eligible to membership “who is of good moral character, and who is capable of earning a livelihood or has some visible means of support, and who does not use or vend intoxicating drinks as a beverage.”
Each person, on admission, pays a fee of three dollars which helps to make up the trading fund, and a loan of fifty cents to the Supreme Division to create a standing fund whereby they can trade advantageously. The last mentioned sum however is refunded to a member on his leaving his Division. There is likewise a monthly assessment of twenty five cents. “The money received from admission fees, monthly assessments, &c. Is expended in the purchase of fuel, groceries, provisions, for sick benefits and such other purposes as the Division may direct. All the funds of the Division my be kept in active use in making purchases; while two fifths of the funds shall be liable at all times for the payment of sick benefits.
Besides the usual quota of Presidents, Secretaries, &c., we have a Board of Commerce consisting of five persons, who have the management of the mercantile department. A Financial Committee of five whose duty it is, to “audit the books of the Financial Secretary and Treasurer,” and see that the other business is kept straight. A visiting committee of five whose duty is to visit the sick and minister to their wants.
The “Supreme Division” is composed of Delegates elected from the several Divisions of the “Union.” Each Division is entitled to one Delegate to every twenty-five constitutional members.” “The S.D. has jurisdiction over all Divisions associated together, under the name of the W.M.P.U. So far as to ensure a strict conformity to the principles of the “Union.” “It has the sole right and power of organizing the new Divisions. - Of receiving appeals in relation to, and deciding all constitutional questions, and redressing grievances arising between Divisions.”
This is but a rough outline of some of the features of this institution, which will by and by work wonders in the mercantile world.
It has been said that the sick, infirm and those who are too poor to pay the admission fee, are debarred the privilege of trading at the store. I tis not so, as they can one and all by making their circumstances known have the RIGHT to trade on the same terms as the members.
“But how are the goods purchased and how sold?” Your capital must be so very small that the articles purchased cannot come a great deal cheaper than at the grocers. And, then, again it must cost something for transportation, expenses of store, &c. Well thought of. I will explain the matter. In the first place our capital is small but it is turned so often that the trade of Division No. 11 is not far from $1,000 per month; and of Division No. 16 cannot be less than that amount. Both of these Division are located in this city, (Lowell.)
Perhaps the trade of one Division cannot effect much in point of cheapness, but when we take into consideration twenty or thirty doing their business through one agent (the Chairman of the Board of Trade of the Supreme Division) it will at once be seen that our goods must come as cheap, aye, cheaper than those of our grocers. A man that buys six or eight hogsheads of molasses each week, and other goods in proportion, as does our agent, will get them at a lower price than he who buys but one. I saw our agent (the Chairman of the Board of Trade) purchase Tea for twenty-five cents per pound, which they were selling at the same time as the grocers for twenty-seven and a half cents - quite a difference.
As to defraying the expenses of store, transportation, &c. I will say, we add six per cent, above cost, on all articles; which is sufficient to meet all incidental expenses.
I did intend to speak of some other things in connection with this subject, but on account of the length of this article must defer it until next week.
Is the object of the Union accomplished, and are the founders of it satisfied, with the present experiment? No, were this the end; they would never have spent time and money freely as water, for the mere gratification of the “acquisitiveness” of a few selfish mortals. Working as they had been for years with a view to the elevation of the “Industrial classes,” they hit upon the present happy expedient, the success of which has far surpassed their most sanguine expectations. But flattering as the present prospects are, it is “hardly a beginning” if the workingmen are only “true to their trusts.”
“This world is out of joint,” we must work it into its socket, get it into good “running trim,” tune all the discordant strings and pipes, until all be perfect harmony; and then such music will be heard as has not been since “the morning stars first sang together.”
“Associative” principles are glorious when the members of an “Association” are actuated by a good motive. It must be carried into all the different branches of agriculture and mechanics, and above all to education; the head, the heart and the hands all need culture. They are now a dismembered “Trinity,” each at war with the other, they must, THEY WILL, be united; then capital will not war on labor nor labor upon capital; but there will be a Union of all for the elevation of all, and this earth will indeed be a paradise.
Many who join this institution know but very little about it, further than that there is a present saving of Dollars and cents; they do not stope to consider that there are exchangers beyond the retailers who need looking after. The Importer and wholesale dealer are diving deeper into their pockets even than the retailer.
Just look a moment at those splendid swellings on Beacon Street, Boston. Who build them? You know too well perhaps. But who inhabits them? Does the Mason, Carpenter, Painter, or Slater - those who performed all the work? No, not a man of them. Who then? Why the Hon. Mr. A. the “Princely Merchant,” Lawyer B. whose head would make a most excellent wig block, Doctor C. Whose whole skill lies in writing death warrants in latin, men who never performed a days useful labor in their lives; and who, I conceive, we have no earthly use for, if we except the last named, and his services are of a rather questionable character.
We must become Importers. This will be done by the “Union of Divisions;” we have enough in the “Union” now to charter a small vessel to the West INdies for sugar and molasses. Let the experiment be tried and it will soon be seen that the business done at present is a small affair compared with this.
And I believe it will not be a long time before we shall have “Protective Union” ships bringing to our shores the produce of every clime. By that time our Industry will learn that it needs NO TARIFF protection and that army of useless hangers-on at our custom Houses will be done away. And instead of our present leeching system we shall have DIRECT TAXATION. And then methinks the powers that be at Washington will be exceedingly cautious how they engage in war or appropriate money for any foolish, unholy, or unjust cause.
The PEOPLE can see how much it costs to “foot the bills.”
But let us see how we are to make exchanges among ourselves in our domestic produce and manufactures. The high prices and fluctuating character of Bread-stuffs and other produce should lead us to look into the matter ourselves. The reason is not that we have had a “short crop” for it never was more bountiful. This cry of “rot” among the “murplnes” is decidedly “small potatoes” and even if the whole crop is “cut off” (which is not the case) it would be but a small item from the abundant harvest which has been reaped by our sturdy farmers.
But what causes these high prices? Go and witness the nefarious practices of forestallers or speculators. It is not the farmer, or anyone one who does the work, that causes this distress in community. No, but it is the business of some who bear the form of men to take advantage of the wants and necessities of the poor and these are the WHOLE CLASS OF SPECULATORS. Why I heard, a short time since, that a flour speculator offered to be at the expense of putting up the wires of magnetic telegraph on one of the new lines of they would give him the exclusive benefit of it in his particular line of business years only, I forget just how many. Here would be individual monopoly with a vengeance. And for what pray? That he alone might get rich at the expense of the many.
But the “Union” will dispense with this business.
Let us make a few reasonable suppositions. Suppose the Divisions in Lowell are engaged in the manufacture of cloths. Those in Boston engaged in commerce. Those in Hingbram engaged in the mackerel fishery. Vermont and New Hampshire in butter and cheese &c. Those in New York and the West raising Wheat and manufacturing it into flour. At the South they would have Rice, cotton and so on, each section of the country growing or manufacturing the same articles as now. And then cach section exchange with the other at COST PRICES would it net be a happy result? “There would be no chance to shave, for all would be mutually interested. No “Bosses” to reap the products of another’s toil for they ALL would be masters. There would be no chance for idlers, I grant ye, as there would be no drones allowed in the different “hives” and this class of individuals would be obliged to go to work or seek other quarters.
This, brother Workingmen, will be the result of a complete organization of “Protective Unions,” it can, it will be done at no very distant day. Then up ye sons of toil, assert your rights, join our ranks and help on this ear of reform, let us present one firm unbroken front to our oppressors, our cause is just. Then onward! Our motto is “Excelsior.”
Having examined the present false system of trade and its cure, I beg leave to introduce two subjects intimately connected with the well being of the working classes and therefore should be taken into consideration by the members of the “Protective Union.” I mean the present mode of renting Dwellings, Shops &c., and the manner in which our laborers and mechanics do business.
Rents we know are extravagantly high in our cities and large towns, and the poor man is obliged to take up with an uncommonly small amount of room for an uncommonly large amount of money. Queer creatures are these Landlords - regular cast iron fellows, with “india rubber consciences.” They are as voracious as sharks, have capacious maws, bolding any amount of ‘the lucre,’ no matter if it be the first earnings of the orphan, or the last of the widow, they cannot find it in their hearts (gizzards I mean) to refuse it. Now I think it is best to get rid of these characters, which can be done in two ways. The first and best is, to join the National Reformers, “Vote yourself a farm,” and use your individual and united efforts to stop the sale of public lands, useless to actual settlers. The next is to form Joint Stock companies, purchase tracts of land from fifty to one hundred acres, divide them into lots so that each can have a share, not to speculate, but to “live upon.” In this way you can get a comfortable cottage with a fine garden attached to it a few miles out of town, cheaper than you can bay a seven by nine ‘building spot’ in the city.
In conversation, a few days since with a friend whose honesty, intelligence, and long experience in building is a sufficient guarantee of his knowledge of this business I asked ‘How much less can the lumber be bought for a hundred houses than for a single one?” He answered about ten per cent. “What would be the difference in the work of a hundred than of one?” “About ten per cent.” I then asked if it would be cheaper to have a large number of these dwellings under one roof, he answered, ‘Of course it would be a great deal cheaper,’ saving in the whole about thirty per cent.
How much better it would be for rent payers to have comfortable houses of their own than to be cooped up in the stifled, unhealthy, inconvenient dwellings which are most common in our cities. But it may be argued that it is not possible for the laboring classes to reside so far form their work, it would be rather a hard case if obliged to walk, but then railroads are so plenty it would be an easy matter to have a settlement of this kind located near one, and the fare would be a mere trifle compared to the enormous amounts paid for rents. I know it looks chimerical to some of my honest hard-fisted brother workingmen who have been toiling hard year in and year out and can hardly make “buckle and strap meet.” And I know too that it is much easier talking and writing than doing, but still IT CAN BE DONE. Perhaps not in one or two years but with frugality and the saving by dropping the present tiger system of trade, a few years will accomplish it. I understand that a very pretty cottage can be built for less than six hundred dollars, even as high as lumber is now, and by merely taking enough to build a single one. By buying a large amount of lumber and having them built upon “joint stock principles” most any poor man at the end of five years can have a house of a his own over his head.
Let us contrast the above with the present mode of building houses for the poor. Mr. Jones a journeyman Blacksmith has by working hard and faring harder ten years, laid by six or eight hundred dollars, and has a desire to have a “cost” of his own. Upon learning it Mr. Snooks a speculator hastens to, an informs him that he has a piece of land which is “just the thing,” there is to be such and such improvements made, perhaps a courthouse one side, a poor house the other, a jail in front and State prison in the rear, and a ‘smart chance’ for a grave yard in the distance. Well, upon the whole, Jones thinks it a bargain and they “strike up a trade.” Snooks takes all of Jones’ money for the land and imagines it his own, he keeps at work busy as every, hoping by honest industry to get clear of debt, by and by sickness or some other unforeseen misfortune overtakes him or his family, and the poor fellow cannot meet his payments, he goes to Snooks and tells him that circumstances over which he had no control prevents him from meetings his demands and asks for “further time.” Snooks is inexorable. He tells him of his wife and babes how they must suffer if he takes ALL from him. But Snooks, Shylock like demands his “pound of flesh.” “Alas! There is no higher earthly power near to stay his hand by fixing a penalty on a ‘single drop o blood.’ He is turned ‘out of house and home,’ no chance for redress for it was lawful. This is not an idle dream, but it is a true picture of thousands of our honest and industrious workingmen. Let every workingman join or help form a joint stock company, and in a few short years their fondest hopes (if they be not too much) will be realized.
I shall be under the necessity of postponing the subject of joint ownership in business on account of the length of this article until next week.
The Voice of Industry is in the public domain.
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