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1 The Collision Of Cultures
2 Britain And Its Colonies
3 Colonial Ways Of Life
4 The Imperial Perspective
5 From Empire To Independence
6 The American Revolution
7 Shaping A Federal Union
8 The Federalist Era
9 The Early Republic
10 Nationalism And Sectionalism
11 The Jacksonian Impulse
12 The Dynamics Of Growth
13 An American Renaissance: Religion, Romanticism, And Reform
14 Manifest Destiny
15 The Old South
16 The Crisis Of Union
17 The War Of The Union
18 Reconstruction: North And South
19 New Frontiers: South And West
20 Big Business And Organized Labor
21 The Emergence Of Urban America
22 Gilded-age Politics And Agrarian Revolt
23 An American Empire
24 The Progressive Era
25 America And The Great War
26 The Modern Temper
27 Republican Resurgence And Decline
28 New Deal America
29 From Isolation To Global War
30 The Second World War
31 The Fair Deal And Containment
32 Through The Picture Window: Society And Culture, 19451960
33 Conflict And Deadlock: The Eisenhower Years
34 New Frontiers: Politics And Social Change In The 1960s
35 Rebellion And Reaction In The 1960s And 1970s
36 A Conservative Insurgency
37 Triumph And Tragedy: America At The Turn Of The Century

Labor's Vision: Preamble to the Constitution of the Knights of Labor (1878)

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The recent alarming development and aggression of aggregated wealth, which, unless checked, will invariably lead to the pauperization and hopeless degradation of the toiling masses, render it imperative, if we desire to enjoy the blessings of life, that a check should be placed upon its power and upon unjust accumulation, and a system adopted which will secure to the laborer the fruits of his toil; and as this much desired object can only be accomplished by the thorough unification of labor, and the united effort of those who obey the divine injunction that "In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread," we have formed the * * * * * with a view of securing the organization and direction, by co-operative effort, of the power of the industrial classes; and we submit to the world the object sought to be accomplished by our organization, calling upon all who believe in securing "the greatest good to the greatest number" to aid and assist us:-

I. To bring within the folds of organization every department of productive industry, making knowledge a standpoint for action, and industrial and moral worth, not wealth, the true standard of individual and national greatness.

II. To secure to the toilers a proper share of the wealth that they create; more of the leisure that rightfully belongs to them; more societary advantages; more of the benefits, privileges, and emoluments of the world, all those rights and privileges necessary to make them capable of enjoying, appreciating, defending, and perpetuating the blessings of good government.

III. To arrive at the true condition of the producing masses in their educational, moral, and financial condition, by demanding from the various governments the establishment of bureaus of Labor Statistics.

IV. The establishment of co-operative institutions, productive and distributive.

V. The reserving of the public lands--the heritage of the people--for the actual settler; not another acre for railroads or settlers.

VI. The abrogation of all laws that do not bear equally upon capital and labor, the removal of unjust technicalities, delays, and discriminations in the administration of justice, and the adopting of measures providing for the health and safety of those engaged in mining, manufacturing, or building pursuits.

VII. The enactment of laws to compel chartered corporations to pay their employees weekly, in full, for labor per-formed during the preceding week, in the lawful money of the country.

VIII. The enactment of laws giving mechanics and laborers a first lien on their work for their full wages.

IX. The abolishment of the contract system on national, state, and municipal work.

X. The substitution of arbitration for strikes, whenever and wherever employers and employees are willing to meet on equitable grounds.

XI. The prohibition of the employment of children in workshops, mines, and factories before attaining their fourteenth year.

XII. To abolish the system of letting out by contract labor of convicts in our prisons and reformatory institutions.

XIII. To secure for both sexes equal pay for equal work.

XIV. The reduction of the hours of labor to eight per day, so that the laborers may have more time for social enjoyment and intellectual improvement, and be enabled to reap the advantages conferred by the labor-saving machinery which their brains have created.

XV. To prevail upon governments to establish a purely national circulating medium, based upon the faith aed resources of the nation, and issued directly to the people, without the intervention of any system of banking corporations, which money shall be a legal tender in payment of all debts, public or private.

Author : Knights of Labor

Keyword / Topic : Knights of Labor; organized labor

Reference : America: A Narrative History, 6th Edition, Chapter 20; Inventing America, Chapter 18; Give Me Liberty, Chapter 16

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