fourteen hours, the law was not contravened thereby. Even children whose parents or guardians gave written consent, could be worked longer than ten hours. As a result, employers made applicants for employment sign papers, and the law was to all intents and purposes a dead letter. The working people had no organization to enforce the spirit of the law, and its letter was against them. They had a ten-hour law, and, in the absence of economic organization, they had a twelve or fourteen hour workday.
- 111. What were the Industrial Congresses?
- They were primarily an attempt to reconcile the different schools of social and labor opinion. The movement gradually dwindled down to a land reform association, having dropped abolition, the ten-hour day, and co-operation. It finally died out in 1856.
- 112. Were there still organizations of the wage earners?
- Apparently there were, as we find records of strikes by various working groups. From 1849 to 1852, tailors, shoemakers, printers, bricklayers, carpenters, painters, common laborers, longshoremen, and others are recorded as having struck. Some of the building trades struck twice in a year—in the spring for an increase in wages, and in the fall to prevent reductions. The printers, shoemakers, tailors, and the building trades appear to have maintained some form of organization throughout.
- 113. What do we find in particular about this time?
- A tendency on the part of the skilled workmen to disregard the unskilled workers. Some labor men pointed out that the apprentice regulations sought by the craftsmen worked a hardship upon the unskilled laborers, and constituted a denial to the youth of the time. One spokesman, protesting against the apprentice system, claimed that the youth who were denied opportunity might say to the unions: "As you have cast us from your bosoms, as outcasts we will fearfully repay you."
- 114. Did not general movement of labor come with the return of industrial activity?
- There does not appear to have been any. Attempts were made to establish central labor unions in New York City, but seem to have been without result. On