True Spirit of Reform

Reform—What is the spirit of true reform? It does not consist in Anti-Slavery merely; nor Temperance, nor Non-Resistance, nor any one of all of them. They are individually but fractional parts of the great whole, good in their places – essential to true reform, but wanting and imperfect when alone; it covers the whole ground, it includes them all; it knows no geographical limit, is not confined to sect or party, but in it wide embrace, clasps the great family of man; recognizing the universal brotherhood, and equal rights of all.

It seeks the welfare of each, and those greatest good of the whole. It would strike the fetter from the slave, forever sheathe the bloody sword, raise the drunkard from his degradation, and restore the wanderer to the paths of virtue. It sympathizes with the wrongs and sufferings of the serf of Russia, the laborer of England, the peasant of Ireland and the operative in our own country. Its course is on war, like the current gathering additional strength the farther it travels. In its progress it sweeps away those false distinctions in society, which make man a stranger to his brother. It removes the sectional divisions which make him the destroyer of his own race. It overcomes prejudices that may have been strengthened by years of indulgence; and uproots wrong customs and usages although they boast of antediluvian antiquity, have been baptized by the holy fathers, and adopted by the wise and good of all ages.

It may be slow in its progress; years may elapse before any movement be perceived; but it is nevertheless certain, and will surmount every obstacle, and effect a glorious work for the race. Who will not aid in forward, and hasten the era when the toils, struggles, hopes and fears of Reformers will be known only on the pages of history?

—Practical Christian


Importance of Radical Reform

March 5th, 1847

Those who are not disposed to reflect on the condition of society, are not aware of the numerous evils with which our social system is afflicted and consequently do not appreciate the importance of a thorough and radical reform. Some go so far as to assert that society cannot be so constituted that the happiness of its members can be interested to any great extent. But those who have given the subject a careful and candid investigation, are perfectly convinced that the present organization of society is at war with the better and higher feelings of man’s nature; and the deeper the investigation has been the more fully they are convinced that a great change must be effected before the evils which now make this earth one great store house of discord and confusion, and be abolished.

How to effect this change is a matter of which there are at present various opinions. But I am confident that all will agree that this reform must commence with the laboring classes. It is for this portion of men and women that we are to look for better days. It is vain to expect that the capitalist will ever take hold of this work. If we wait for them to better our condition, we shall only find to our sorrow that we are sinking deeper and deeper in misery, want and deregulation, and therefore we, the producers of all that is valuable, must take hold of this work; and with a determination which cannot be shaken. – We must take nature for our guide, and ascertain what our rights are, and so far as we are satisfied that we have rights, let us assert them; and not only assert them, but let us all with one voice proclaim to those who would take away our rights, that we are ready to defend them. We must expect to find some obstacles thrown in our way, but let us not be discouraged.

The mad dog of Infidel and disorganizer will be sounded from every hireling Priest and every hireling Press. But we must not be alarmed. Let us show them that our love of truth is stronger than our love of approbation. Let us boast no longer of freedom, for it is only a name. We talk about freedom, and we are free to starve unless we will consent to be slaves to the interest of capital. We are permitted to labor only when our labor can be procured for less than its real value, and we have given capital the power to cut off any particular branch of Industry, when it is for its interest to do so.

If there be but little demand for any particular article, capital is always ready to take advantage of the producers of that article, and consequently they are compelled by necessity to take for their labor just what capital pleases to give them. Capital has the entire control of labor. But this is not right. Labor should control capital. And if this was the case, we should not see the laboring classes of Europe as we now see them in a state of starvation. Capital has taken away their right to labor; and even those who are permitted to labor do not receive a compensation which is sufficient to support life. The same causes which have brought the laboring classes of Europe where we now see them, are operating here and will as sure as effects follow causes produce the same result. These causes are capital and machinery. The latter if applied as it should be to save labor would be a great blessing. But as now applied is a great curse, from the fact that we are compelled to compete with steam and consequently to labor harder and more hours to produce the same result. There is now machinery enough in New England to do the work of five times its present population performed in the old way, and the consequence is we are nearer starvation.


Boston, Feb 21, 1847


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