Pieces People Ask For/The Labor Question
THE LABOR QUESTION.
I believe in the temperance movement. I am a temperance man of nearly forty years' standing; and I think it one of the grandest things in the world, because it holds the basis of self-control. Intemperance is the cause of poverty, I know; but there is another side to that : poverty is the cause of intemperance. Crowd a man with fourteen hours' work a day, and you crowd him down to a mere animal life. You have eclipsed his aspirations, dulled his tastes, stunted his intellect, and made him a mere tool, to work fourteen hours, and catch a thought in the interval ; and, while a man in a hundred will rise to be a genius, ninety-nine will cower down under the circumstances.
That is why I say, lift a man, give him life, let him work eight hoars a day, give him the school, develop his taste for music, give him a garden, give him beautiful things to see, and good books to read, and you will starve out those lower appetites. Give a man a chance to earn a good living, and you may save his life.If you want power in this country, if you want to make yourselves felt; if you do not want your children to wait long years before they have the bread on the table they ought to have, the leisure in their lives they ought to have, the opportunities in life they ought to have; if you don't want to wait yourselves,—write on your banner,' so that every political trimmer can read it, so that every politician, no matter how short-sighted he may be, can read it, "We never forget! If you launch the arrow of sarcasm at labor, we never forget; if there is a division in Congress, and you throw your vote in the wrong scale, we never forget. You may go down on your knees, and say, 'I am sorry I did the act;' and we will say, 'It will avail you in heaven, but on this side of the grave never.' "So that a man, in taking up the labor question, will know he is dealing with a hair-trigger pistol, and will say, "I am to be true to justice and to man: otherwise I am a dead duck."