Labor Reform Associations

A Quiet Strike

The Banner Room

We understand that the young ladies employed in the Spinning Room of Mill No. 2, Dwight Corporation, made a very quiet and successful "strike," on Monday. The spinning machinery was set in motion in the morning, but there was no girls to tend it. They had heard the rumor that their wages were to be cut down, upon which they determined to quit. They silently kept their resolve, and remained out until Tuesday afternoon, when they were requested to return to their employment, with an addition to their previous wage of fifty cents per week.

The Ladies connected with the other Mills ought certainly to present them with a banner, as a tribute of esteem for thus volunteering as pioneers in the march of increasing recompense.

We think the girls have acted rightly, and by way of encouragement, and stirring up their minds by way of remembrance, we say "stick to your text," and pursue a steady course, with a determined spirit, and you will come off victorious.

—Cabolville Chronotype,

reprinted in Voice of Industry,

November 21, 1845


The Most Important Question

Combination for Raising Wages. –

The laboring classes form the great majority of every community, and as has been already observed, a country must be considered as happy or miserable, in proportion as those classes are abundantly or scantily supplied with the necessaries and comforts of life. From this principle it necessarily follows, that combination for lowering wages, could they be effectual must be regarded as conspiracies for increasing human misery; and that combinations for raising wages, could they be effectual, must be approved as associations for the promotion of human happiness.

In the whole compass of economical science, the most important practical question is this, namely, can combinations, amongst the laboring classes, exact a permanent increase of wages?

—Colonel Torrens


Preamble to the LFLRA

Preamble to the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association

Whereas we, the Operatives of Lowell, believing that in the present age of improvement nothing can escape the searching glance of reform; and when men begin to inquire why the Laobrer does not hold that place in the social, moral and intellectual world, which a bountiful Creator designed him to occupy the reason is obvious. He is a slave to a false and debasing state of society. Our Merciful Father in his infinite wisdom surely, has not bestowed all his blessings, both mental and moral on a favored few, on whom also he has showered all of pecuniary gifts. No! to us all has he given minds capable of eternal progression and improvement!

It now only remains for us to throw off the shackles which are binding us in ignorance and servitude and which prevent us from rising to that scale of being for which God designed us.

But how shall this be done? How shall the mass become educated? With the present system of labor it is impossible. There must be reasonable hours for manual labor, and a just portion of time allowed for the cultivation of the mental and moral faculties and no other way can the great work he accomplished.

We know no employment is respectable only as long as those employed are such and no farther than they are intelligent and moral can they merit the companionship and esteem of their fellow beings. It is evident, that with the present system of labor, the minds of the mass must remain uncultivated , their morals unimproved and our country be flooded with vice and misery!

Shall we, Operatives of America, the land where Democracy claims to be the principle by which we live and by which we are governed, see the evil daily increasing which separates more widely and more effectually the favorerd few and the unfortunate many, without one exertion to stay the progress? God forbid! Let the daughters of New England kindle the spark of philanthropy on every heart till its brightness shall fill the whole earth!

In consideration of which we adopt the following Constitution:

Art. 1st. This Association shall be called the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association.

Art. 2d. This Association shall be governed by the following Officers: “President, two Vice Presidents, a Secretary, Treasurer and board Directors, consisting of eight in number.

Art. 3d. It shall be the duty of the President to preside at the meetings of the Association and board of Director, and call especial meetings whenever any three members of the same shall request it.

Art. 4th. It shall be the duty of the Vice Presidents to preside in case f the absence of the President.

Art. 5th. It shall be the duty of the Secretary to be present at all meetings of the Association, and be prepared to read the proceedings of the last meeting, if requested.  – Also, to keep a correct account of the business of the Association.

Art. 6th. It shall be the duty of the Treasurer to receive all money paid into treasury, and keep a correct account of the same, also, to pay all bills presented by the Association, and signed by the President and Secretary.

Art. 7th. It shall be the duty of the Directors to present all plans of operation to the Association and to assist in all the labors of the same.

Art. 8th. Any person signing this Constitution, shall literally pledge herself to labor actively for Reform in the present system of labor.

Art. 9th. The members of this Association disapprove of all hostile measures, strikes and turn outs until all pacific measures prove abortive and then that it is the imperious duty of every one to assert and maintain that Independence which our brave ancestors bequeathed us, and sealed with their blood.

Art. 10th. This Constitution may be altered and amended by a vote of two thirds of the members present, provided the amended be proposed at a previous meeting. – It shall be the duty of the Board of Directors to revise the Constitution at the time of the Annual meeting for choosing Officers, which shall be holden on the first Tuesday of January.

The following Officers were chosen Jan. 1846.

Sarah G. Bagley, President.
Hannah C. Tarlton,
Mary Emerson,
Huldah J. Stone
, Rec'g. Sec'y
Sarah A. Young, Cor Sec’y
Mary A. K. Tarlton, Treasurer
Clumena Butler,
Miss Gilman,
Asbey Kemp,
Catherine Maxey,
Mary J. Robinson,
Eliza J. Simpson,
Elizabeth L. True,
Elimira B. Stone.


Numbers Daily Increasing

Report of the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association to the New England Workingmen's Association

The following report was read to the meeting by Miss Bagley of Lowell: Report of Female Labor Reform

Since the last meeting of the Workingmen's Convention at Lowell, Mass., our numbers have been daily increasing, our meetings generally well attended, and the real zeal of the friends of equal rights and justice has kindled anew. Our number of members is between four and five hundred, but this we consider a small part of the work which has been accomplished. The humble efforts of a few females united in the holy cause of human rights and human equalities, could not be expected to move the world in a day. But God be praised! we have moved the minds of community to think and to speak on the subject. This is truly encouraging. For when we can arouse the minds of men and women to a sense of their own individual rights, and cause them to think for themselves, then will they begin to act for themselves! The true nobility of the land—the laboring part of the community, have too long been looked down upon with haughty scorn and cold contempt, by the more prospered few, as being unworthy a place on a level with them. We would not seek to bring them down, (God knows that all such are already low enough in the scale of moral excellence) but we would seek to elevate, to ennoble, to raise higher the standard of moral excellence and human attainments. "Excelsior" shall be our motto; and let the spirit of the word thrill every heart!

“Act—act, in the living present,
Heart within, and God o'erheard”

Sarah G. Bagley, Pres't; H. J. Stone, Sec’y


Our Influence is Felt

Report of the Female Labor Reform Association in Lowell

Since our last meeting at Boston, our cause has advanced beyond the most sanguine expectations of its friends. Not that our numbers have been greatly increased, but a general interest has been manifested in behalf of the principles for which we contend. All whether directly interested or not, are beginning to enquire whether there is not some cause of complaint on our part. Not only are friends interested, but those who would hush our enquiries, and leave us to the mercies of our taskmasters,—are anxiously watching our movements and questioning our motives. The press too, takes every occasion to slander our efforts, and ridicule our operations.

These are all indications, that our labor has not been wholly in vain,—that our influence is felt and feared.

Our light has not gone out on the altar, nor our exertions abated, and by the blessing of Heaven, we mean to fight on till a complete victory crowns our efforts.

Sarah G. Bagley, Pres't; H. J. Stone, Sec’y


True Hearted Sisters

A Card

The members of the Female Labor Reform Association most cheerfully avail themselves of this opportunity to acknowledge their indebtedness and gratitude to those ladies who served in the capacity of officers during the past year, with fidelity and faithfulness to the cause of labor reform.

They would assure those true hearted sisters that although some of them are far away from our busy city—meeting with them no more in their social, happy circles, that they are not forgotten—that their labors of love, when the Association was in its infancy, struggling against every kind of opposition and the strong tide of popular prejudice, are still bright on memory's clear page.

Will they not be with them still in spirit, and make glad their hearts, now and then, by words of encouragement and of hope! Forget not, where'er fortune may cast your lines, to plead for oppressed, down-trodden humanity! May kind Providence shield from all evil, and give you all that peace and serenity which ever flows from purity of motive and rectitude of conduct.

H. J. Stone, Sec’y

Voice of industry, April 10, 1846


Report of the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association to the New England Workingmen's Association

The Report of the Female Labor Reform Association of Lowell, was called for. It was moved that the Delegate from Lowell, be requested to read said Report, which is as follows:

Report of the F. L. Reform Association.

We are happy in being able to impart cheering and hopeful intelligence to the laborers and operatives of New England, through our report before this convention. Our prospects were never more flattering—our faith in the final and complete success of this humane and righteous enterprise, never more strong or well grounded than at the present time. Public attention is being thoroughly awakened—deep thought is struggling for utterance—philanthropy is kindling a brighter flame, in the hearts of all who have souls to feel, or powers to act. Our opposers are making the discovery that we are in earnest in this great,—this mighty Reform! that there is talent, integrity and a true, laudable zeal in our ranks, which will not be looked down, or thwarted in its noble designs, to elevate humanity—to assert and maintain the rights of a Republican people.

The Press is manifesting a more active interest in the subject of labor's rights, all over the land. The Clergy are beginning to throw off the shackles which have so long crippled their efforts for good, and like their master are pleading in behalf of humanity's rights. There is a spirit abroad in the wide world, which will not rest, until Justice shall be established on every hill—until Righteousness, with its peaceful, regenerating streams shall flow through every vale —until a union of interest, a bond of brotherhood, shall make in deed and in truth, all one in the great family of man.

Let no one disregard the holy, benevolent promptings of this heaven-derived spirit in the soul; but, rather heed its kind warnings, and obey faithfully its imperative commands! We believe this spirit is in our midst, prompting to action—to duty, and to radical reform. To aid on the cause of human improvement and intellectual culture, our Associations have established an Industrial Reform Lyceum, in the city of Lowell, which will be addressed by the wisest and best men our country affords, from week to week, thereby giving all who will, an opportunity to learn our views and aims; and also to assist in carrying forward the all-important Labor Reform movement.

We have also a Press, now owned entirely by our Association, through which to communicate with the world around us, having none to molest, or at least none to make us afraid to speak the truth boldly! And God granting us wisdom we shall endeavor so to do. We shall continue to labor unitedly, and untiringly to establish again on this sin-polluted earth, the reign of Justice, equity and love.

Let us all be true to ourselves, mentally, morally and physically, and the blessings of high heaven, will crown our labors with abundant success. Our pathway through life will be strewn with flowers which never fade—our hearts retain the freshness and vigor of youth until the last sands of life have run, and death like a kind friend, shall give us a welcome passport to the joys of heaven—to the home of Angels!

Sarah G. Bagley, Pres't; H. J. Stone, Sec’y

The report was accepted with much applause.


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