Victor Drury in the Trenton Sunday Advertiser (1883-1886)


The Labor Question: Labor as a Polity, a Philosophy, and a Religion. A Course of Fourteen Lectures, by Victor Drury.

  • Victor Drury, “The Labor Question: Lecture 1,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 7 (February 18, 1883): 2.
  • Victor Drury, “The Labor Question: Lecture 2,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 8 (February 25, 1883): 2.
  • Victor Drury, “The Labor Question: Lecture 3,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 9 (March 4, 1883): 2.
  • Victor Drury, “The Labor Question: Lecture 4,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 10 (March 11, 1883): 2.
  • Victor Drury, “The Labor Question: Lecture 5,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 11 (March 18, 1883): 2.
  • Victor Drury, “The Labor Question: Lecture 6,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 12 (March 25, 1883): 2.
  • Victor Drury, “The Labor Question: Lecture 7,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 13 (April 1, 1883): 2.
  • Victor Drury, “The Labor Question: Lecture 8,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 14 (April 8, 1883): 2.
  • Victor Drury, “The Labor Question: Lecture 9,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 15 (April 15, 1883): 2.
  • Victor Drury, “The Labor Question: Lecture 10,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 16 (April 22, 1883): 2.
  • Victor Drury, “The Labor Question: Lecture 11,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 17 (April 29, 1883): 2.
  • Victor Drury, “The Labor Question: Lecture 12,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 18 (May 6, 1883): 2.
  • Victor Drury, “The Labor Question: Lecture 13,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 19 (May 13, 1883): 2.
  • Victor Drury, “The Labor Question: Lecture 14,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 20 (May 20, 1883): 2.


  • Victor Drury, “The One and the Other,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 15 (April 15, 1883): 2.

Organization of Exchange: Letters on a Live Topic, by Victor Drury.

  • Victor Drury, “Organization of Exchange: Letter No. 3,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 32 (August 12, 1883): 3.
  • Victor Drury, “Organization of Exchange: Letter No. 4,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 33 (August 19, 1883): 2.
  • Victor Drury, “Organization of Exchange Letter No. 5,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 34 (August 26, 1883): 2.
  • Victor Drury, “Organization of Exchange: Letter No. 6,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 35 (September 2, 1883): 2.
  • Victor Drury, “Organization of Exchange: Letter No. 7,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 36 (September 9, 1883): 2.
  • Victor Drury, “Organization of Exchange: Letter No. 8,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 37 (September 16, 1883): 2.
  • Victor Drury, “Organization of Exchange: Letter No. 9,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 38 (September 23, 1883): 2.
  • Victor Drury, “Organization of Exchange: Letter No. 10,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 39 (September 30, 1883): 2.
  • Victor Drury, “Organization of Exchange: Letter No. 11,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 40 (October 7, 1883): 2.
  • Victor Drury, “Organization of Exchange: Letter No. 12,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 41 (October 14, 1883): 2.
  • Victor Drury, “Organization of Exchange: Letter No. 13,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 42 (October 21, 1883): 2.

The Land Question: Sketches, Rough and Elementary, by Victor Drury.

  • Victor Drury, “The Land Question,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 45 (November 11, 1883): 2.
  • Victor Drury, “The Land Question,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 46 (November 18, 1883): 2.
  • Victor Drury, “The Land Question,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 47 (November 25, 1883): 2.
  • Victor Drury, “The Land Question,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 48 (December 2, 1883): 2.
  • Victor Drury, “The Land Question,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 49 (December 9, 1883): 2.
  • Victor Drury, “The Land Question,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 50 (December 16, 1883): 2.
  • Victor Drury, “The Land Question,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 51 (December 23, 1883): 2.
  • Victor Drury, “The Land Question,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 1 no. 52 (December 30, 1883): 2.

[Eight-Hour Question]

  • Victor Drury, “Eight-Hour Question Considered,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 9 (March 1, 1885): 4, 8.
  • Victor Drury, “Eight-Hour Question Considered,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 12 (March 22, 1885): 4, 3.


  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter I,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 15 (April 12, 1885): 3.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter I (cont.),” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 16 (April 19, 1885): 6.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter I (cont.),” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 17 (April 26, 1885): 6.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter II,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 18 (May 3, 1885): 6.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter II (cont.),” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 19 (May 10, 1885): 6.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter III,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 22 (May 31, 1885): 6.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter III (cont.),” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 23 (June 7, 1885): 8.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter III (cont.),” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 24 (June 14, 1885): 8.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter III (cont.),” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 25 (June 21, 1885): 8.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter IV,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 26 (June 28, 1885): 8.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter IV (cont.),” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 27 (July 5, 1885): 7.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter V,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 28 (July 12, 1885): 8.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter V (cont.),” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 29 (July 19, 1885): 8.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter V (cont.),” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 30 (July 26, 1885): 8.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter V (cont.),” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 31 (August 2, 1885): 8.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter VI,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 32 (August 9, 1885): 5.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter VI (cont.),” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 33 (August 16, 1885): 10.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter VI (cont.),” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 35 (August 30, 1885): 8.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter VII,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 37 (September 13, 1885): 3.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter VII (cont.),” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 38 (September 20, 1885): 8.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter VII (cont.),” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 39 (September 27, 1885): 7.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter VIII,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 40 (October 4, 1885): 2.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter VIII (cont.),” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 41 (October 11, 1885): 8.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter IX,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 42 (October 18, 1885): 8.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter IX (cont.),” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 45 (November 8, 1885): 8.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter IX (cont.),” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 46 (November 15, 1885): 8.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter IX (cont.),” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 47 (November 22, 1885): 8.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter X,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 48 (November 29, 1885): 8.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter X (cont.),” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 49 (December 6, 1885): 4.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter X (cont.),” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 50 (December 13, 1885): 8.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter XI,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 3 no. 52 (December 27, 1885): 5.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter XI (cont.),” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 4 no. 1 (January 3, 1885): 5.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter XI (cont.),” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 4 no. 2 (January 10, 1885): 5.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter XII,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 4 no. 3 (January 17, 1886): 8.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter XII (cont.),” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 4 no. 4 (January 24, 1886): 5.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter XII (cont.),” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 4 no. 5 (January 31, 1886): 5.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter XII (cont.),” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 4 no. 5 (January 31, 1886): 5.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 4 no. 8 (February 21, 1886). [issue(s) missing?]
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter XIII,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 4 no. 9 (February 28, 1886): 8.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter XIII,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 4 no. 10 (March 7, 1886). [issue missing?]
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter XIII (cont.),” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 4 no. 11 (March 14, 1886): 7.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter XIV,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 4 no. 12 (March 21, 1886): 3.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter XIV (cont.),” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 4 no. 13 (March 28, 1886): 3.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy: Chapter XV,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 4 no. 14 (April 4, 1886): 3.
  • [issue(s) missing]
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 4 no. 20 (May 16, 1886): 5.
  • Victor Drury, “A Brief Outline of Political Economy,” Trenton Sunday Advertiser 4 no. 21 (May 23, 1886): 5. “The End”]



Labor as a Polity, a Philosophy, and a Religion.


By request of a number of moving spirits in the cause of labor’s emancipation, we begin to-day the publication of a series of fourteen lectures, delivered by that profound thinker and able champion of labor, Victor Drury, before the Labor Standard American Auxiliary Association. These lectures should be read, carefully considered and filed away. In our opinion they are the most complete and intelligent presentation of the question under consideration that has yet been given.


Brothers: The placing of the labor movement upon a scientific basis, is the ultimate object of our aspirations, and the means by which this desideratum’ in to be achieved, should be the constant occupation of our thoughts. In order to enunciate the principles which we hold to be true, we combine our efforts.

It is for that purpose we meet this evening, showing the interest we take in the progress and final triumph of the principles which we are striving to elaborate, to perfect, and to teach. It is generally admitted that the principal cause of crime is poverty, and although crime may spring from many other causes, yet the, greatest amount of crime is caused by indigence and misery. It may therefore be said that poverty is the question with which the labor movement deals, and that the object of the labor movement is the abolition of poverty. Now, if crime arises from poverty, and crime is sin, then the abolition of poverty signifies the suppression of sin. If that then be the design of the labor movement, it is truly a religious movement and appeals to our highest faculties, to our most developed sentiments—to all that we have within us of good, of noble, and holy. We all agree that that is the end. Upon that point we are a unit. There are different ways of achieving the end. Therefore, as to the way in which it is to be accomplished we may not, perhaps, be unified. We may agree as to the end. There we do not differ. As to the means to the end, there we may differ.

If our object is worthy and (and surely to attempt the abolition of crime is worthy and noble) then the combining of our intelligence for the purpose of accomplishing our object, becomes not only a duty, but a labor of love. Time will, of necessity, develop among us a unity of ideas in relation to the means. But we may greatly shorten the period of time by a well-concerted mental effort, and a determination to discover the means as early as possible, for the sooner it is discovered the greater will be the amount of suffering obviated to the human family, and before setting out to discover the means, it is necessary to know the end in view. Before, however, we publish to the outside world te means whereby we intend to accomplish our object, it would be well to state, among ourselves, when we meet in council, a few of the principles which appear to as to be axiomatic, and if thee be any of our members who cannot accept them as axioms, it would also be well that those who do receive them should so explain them, and make them so lucid that no intellectual divergences should possibly exist between our members in relation to the principles upon which our society is built, and which every individual may be called upon to defend at any moment from the attacks of the incredulous world. We may state the base axioms to be as follows:

1. Labor creates all wealth.

2. All wealth belongs, of right, to those who create it.

3. That the productive capacity of society is superior to the consumptive capacity of society.

I do not intend to imply that the three preceding axioms constitute the whole of the foundation upon which the superstructure of our movement is built. There are many others, but I will call them, if you will, so many major stones, or corner stones of the foundation. I am perfectly well aware that upon the face of it, according to the economists, our first proposition is incorrect and untenable, but because those have divided wealth into natural wealth, or the product of Nature—and created wealth, or the product of labor, it dues not follow that we are wrong in the present, because it has been conceded that they were right in the past. Because they have always separated the word “wealth” from the idea of utility, it does not follow that we are compelled to admit that there can be wealth in that in which the element of utility is absent. Labor gives utility to natural wealth; without labor it may not contain the property of utility, and, therefore, may be useless. As for example, there is coal in the earth ; it cannot be called wealth until labor has mined it—that is, made it useful. And if they contend that coal is natural wealth, which they know to be in certain mines, they certainly will not contend that the undiscovered coal is natural wealth. All that is useful is wealthy. Therefore we say that people are wealthy, or poor, according as possess things which are necessary and useful in abundance, or are deprived of them. We are not responsible if the vocabulary of the economists does not contain a word which represents our idea; and if they have given a metaphysical and non-defined notion of wealth, we have a positive and well-defined notion of the word. Their arguments and objections, then, may do for sophists, but will not mislead or blind us; we have no reason to fear the bugbear which they raise of the difference between natural and created wealth.

Our second proposition is but the corollary of the first, and springs from it as naturally as the stem from the root, the leaf from the stem, and the seed from the blossom or the fruit.

Our third proposition, viz, that the productive power of society is greater than its consumptive power, is a truth capable of mathematical demonstration, and proves conclusively that poverty has no raison d’etre; and that its existence is but an evidence of the non-intelligent employment of the forces which are at the command of mankind. The absence of intelligent action would probably be found to arise from the short-sighted selfishness exercised by men towards each other.

We may therefore conclude that the abolition of poverty is one of the undoubted possibilities of the future, when mankind shall have become more civilized.

I am well aware that our third proposition will be contested, but, however hot the argument, the possibility of demonstration is with us, and we should therefore feel no cause of alarm, but court argument and discussion rather than avoid it. In order that we may the more surely and readily decide upon the means to the end, I take the liberty of presenting the following to the consideration of our members. The problem which we have here to solve is that of the production of the necessary amount of utilities (or wealth) and its equitable distribution. The agglomeration of human beings upon this planet, which are known under the general name of Society, can only exist by the manifestation of its activity, and all its innumerable varieties of manifestation tend to one general end, having one general purpose, viz., production, distribution and consumption of utilities (or wealth.) These, manifestations of activity operate upon and through five things, or may be said to work in five elements; or it may be said that these five elements combined render production, distribution and consumption possible. These five things are—

1. Land
2 Labor.
3. Capital.
4. Exchange.
5. Insurance, or security.

This view of the matter may be so new and to all appearances so incorrect that it may be necessary to accompany the assertion with a few words of explanation, which must, of necessity, be very brief, and we leave further explanations to future opportunities. First, then, as to land. When we say land, we mean the surface of the planet, all that is below it in the shape of minerals, &c., &c., down to the center of gravity, and all that is above it, from the blade of grass to the exterior of the terrestrial atmosphere.

It is evident that without these materials and substances, which are furnished by nature, labor would be impossible ; therefore it is that land is the first element. Labor is the expression of the pent-up activities in man ; it expresses itself in various ways, according to the mental, moral and physical construction of the individual; it is the exercise of his powers upon some raw material, furnished by the land or nature to which he gives, by his labor, the property or quality of utility, which the material did not possess before his labor was bestowed upon it. Hence, labor is, in its natural order, the second element.

Capital is the result of the combined action of the two former elements. When a man has produced more than is necessary for his immediate consumption, the residue is capital, from its most simple to its most complete form. Capital is, therefore, in the natural order of things, the third element.

Exchange results from the diversity of the physical and mental attitudes of man, and the attraction which men have towards some particular kinds of labor. This division of labor results in one man producing of a certain article more than he requires, and nothing which he requires of certain others, which results in his exchanging with his neighbor, who is similarly situated. Hence, exchange is produced by a combination of these three former elements, and is, very naturally, the fourth element.

Insurance is the element which gives to society—to every individual—the benefits of security in his capacity of unit in the collectivity, and which guarantees ail against want, loss or destruction which may arise from natural, although unforeseen and unexpected causes. It may not appear at first sight that this is an important element, on account of the narrow sense in which the word “insurance” is generally used, yet I can find no other word in the vocabulary which expresses so nearly our meaning, unless we use the word “security.” Perhaps an immediate example will render it clear, and a second example, more extended, will render it acceptable. If, for example, in community of ten thousand people, one farmer had his crops completely destroyed by a hail storm, and his house was fired by the lightning and totally destroyed, the man would be ruined and would starve. If in that community the principle of insurance was equitably applied, and each of te ten thousand inhabitants enjoyed it, fifty cents from each would repair the loss and avoid the suffering, that is, supposing the house and crops were equivalent to $5,000. Thus none of them would suffer.

In a more extended way society requires to be guaranteed against the evils and the losses arising from crime, which are the result of crime and cupidity, hence we see that the building of schools, the giving to children a professional and technical, as well as a liberal education, in order to make them producers —thus preserving society from the evil of| parasitism. This is all insurance. Protecting the marine from destruction by storm, i. e., the building of ports and harbors, is insurance. Hence, insurance springs from the combined action
of the other four elements and is naturally the fifth element.

If, then, these five elements combine a productive distribution and consumption, is it not eminently just and proper that each of these elements should have an equitable portion of that which is produced by their combined action? If one of these elements obtain an unjust proportion—if one has more than its fair share, then one of the others, or all of the others most have less than in equity is theirs. It may possibly be that in this fact may be found the origin of all the injustice, recrimination and struggles that have afflicted and cursed the world for thousands of years past. We shall attempt, hereafter, to discover what amount would be a just and equitable portion, and how much would go to each, I find that I have already made this address too lengthy, so I will close. I do not attempt to be exhaustive—I emit my thoughts as they occur to me. My object is to be corrected where I am incorrect, to learn, not to teach; to be improved by those who are more capable than myself, and I know that we have numbers of members who will and can do so. So far as I have seen them in the States in which I have traveled, upon the question of social economies, they all repeat the dying words of Goethe: “Light, more light.”


In my first lecture I attempted to show that the whole of he manifestations of human nature, which we observe in society find their expression in operating by or through five things or elements, which were:

1. Land
2 Labor.
3. Capital.
4. Exchange.
5. Insurance, or security.

What I attempted to show, but I do not know if I succeeded, that this was the natural order in which these five elements presented themselves to man, in order that he might emerge from a state of barbarism to a state of civilization.

I do not pretend to infer that mankind has yet reached a state of complete development in what we call civilization, on the contrary, for if we look around us we cannot fail to perceive that a complete cut-throat game is being played by the actors upon this little “stage of life,” which fully entitles it to be called semi-barbarous. When we speak of the civilization of the nineteenth century, we do so only in comparison with the more pronounced barbarism of former centuries, and when we speak of the present century, in comparison with the possible civilization of the future, we are always entitled to speak of it as the barbarism of the nineteenth century.

In order, then, that man may exist, land is the primary necessity. Our definition of “land,” it will be remembered, was “all the products of nature which exist upon the planet—from the centre of gravity to the outer circumference of the terrestrial atmosphere.”

That evidently includes all the mineral productions below the surface of the soil, as also all the vegetable productions which are above its surface. We will take no cognizance for the present of the animal life which exists upon the earth’s surface. We will not make that a point of contention, even of mention, for reasons which will hereafter appear.

It is evident, therefore, that the first element, which is “land,” is necessary, nay, indispensable to the existence of development of the second element, which is “labor.” For, without the production of the land labor would be impossible. Without the cereals, fruits and vegetables man could not live to work. Without the timber from the trees he could not produce articles of utility and comfort by his labor. Without the minerals, coal, iron, etc, he could not labor to produce these innumerable consequences which follow in the train of the mechanical arts, and which have culminated in the present complex industrial development. Hence, we say that the products of the land furnish the substratum upon which labor is performed.

The first conception which the human mind would form of the land—if unbiassed by preexisting customs and laws—would be that it was the product of nature accorded to the use of all mankind, to be employed for the pur pose of furthering the general happiness of all, in conformity with the best, highest and most noble interests of the collectivity. That would appear to be not only a very natural, but also a very correct conception. If that be so, it is evident that the land was never intended to be the exclusive property of a privileged few. That it never should have become personal property, personal wealth ; but that it should always have remained natural wealth, i. e., collective property, collective wealth. It follows, therefore; that the present self-styled proprietors of the land are not, in justice, entitled to that which they claim as their own, and they hold it in defiance of the natural conception which attaches to the existence of land. In a word, we may say that land is monopolized by the privileged few, the proprietory, to the detriment of the unprivileged many—the people. And it is through monopoly that the various forms of wealth are centred in a few hands, causing poverty, misery and untold crime.

In is in order to escape these evils that the workers have banded together in Trades Unions, and, doubtless, as a correct knowledge of the circumstances involved in the case become more generally known and more clearly understood, we shall be enabled to conquer these evils. For we all believe that—

“Goodness is alone immortal,
Evil was not made to last.”

And it is by the slow process of the elimination of evil that comparative perfection is attained.

It follows that those who come into the world, and have labor to bestow upon the land, which labor would produce utilities for the supply of the wants and comforts of themselves and others, find it impossible to apply this second element, labor, to the first element, land. Because the element, land, has become the exclusive property of certain individuals. In other words, they have “monopolized the land.”

It is unnecessary to discuss the means whereby this monopoly has been effected. Suffice it to say that, whether by conquest, by legislative enactment, or by purchases from the indigent, for beads or trinkets, the effect upon society is precisely the same.


Here we may mention the fact that over 200,000,000 of acres of the United States’ public domain had been granted previous to the year 1874, to railroad and other corporations, by the United States Congress. And that during that year bills were pending, the passing of which would give to monopolist an additional 150,000,000 of acres of the people’s land. The action of Congress in the bill dealing with “swamp and overflowed lands,” and in various other bills, gives evidence of the monopolizing tendencies, which we merely refer to, and leave the future to execrate the memories of the so-called “honorable” members of Congress of the United States of America.

These considerations give sufficient evidence of how lightly the important question of land has been treated by men who are at least supposed to possess reason and réflection. And how little the interests of the masses are studied by their so-called representatives. And in the face of these facts we are told to “go West,” while there are millions of acres of uncultivated lands at our own doors.

In 1870, the unimproved lands of the State of New Jersey amounted to 1,013,037 acres, which is very near by half the area of the state.

In Pennsylvania and New York a similar condition exists. The most remote of these lands are from ten to fourteen hours’ journey from the great commercial centres. Why, then, should we go thousands of miles, at great expense, to find homesteads? Why, indeed? if not to satisfy the greed of railroad corporations?

These facts prove also that the monopolists of land have no conception of the function which it is to perform in the economy of society; they do recognize that land is an instrument of labor. And if we investigate the opinions and theories of the economists, we shall find that they themselves have been unable to arrive at a unified sentiment upon the question. If, then, the conclusions of men who have devoted much time and thought to the matter are so far from being unified, may we not reasonably conclude that their premises are incorrect ; and may we not, as workers and producers, without pride, self-sufficiency or assumption,

The land, we say, is furnished by nature for the benefit of all mankind, and it does not follow that because the proprietors of land hold the land by virtue of certain parchment titles, that they have natural right to that land. But it does more reasonable follow, that because they have used force, fraud or cunning, in order to obtain such monopoly, that they have merely an usurped right to that land. Nature gave the land to mankind—man permitted the land to be seized upon by monopolists. Every man has, therefore, a natural right to the land, when monopolists can show that their parchment titles are signed by the handwriting of Nature, then, and not till then, will we concede that the usurped right is paramount to the natural right, and the the parchment titles have any validity; we therefore repudiate such titles.

In relation to property, or the ownership in land, the arguments of all the economists result in the admission that it is purely a legal convention, a “monopoly tolerated in the interest of all.” But they fail to prove that the interest of all is served; whereas experience proves that this “tolerated monopoly ” is in the interest of the few, and detrimental to the interest of the many.


Let us look for a moment, and briefly, at what some of the economists say. I quote from and give the sense if not the words; is will fortify us in oar position :

Says Jean Baptiste Say: “ Arable or farming land appears to be comprised among natural riches or wealth, since it is not of human creation; Nature gave it gratuitously to man ; as this wealth is not fugitive, like air and water, but can be located, fixed and circumscribed, certain men have appropriated it to themselves to the exclusion of others, who have given their consent to this appropriation (monopoly), therefore the land, which was a natural and a gratuitous gift, has become social wealth, for the use of which the proprietors should be paid.”

Now, upon what ground does J. B. Say assert that certain people in the past gave their consent to the appropriation of the land by certain other people—where does he find the proof of this consent having been given? This getting of consent is merely assumed.

Adam Smith says: “In the cultivation of the land nature labors conjointly with man, and although the labor of nature costs nothing, its product has value, just as much as the product which comes from the highest paid labor, and we may consider to be the product of their power of nature, which the farmer (worker) gives to proprietor for the use of the land.”

Now, why, in the name of common sense, does-Adam Smith assume that these productive powers in Nature belong. in right any more to the proprietor than to the worker?

Listen for moment to the admission made by Sénior, he says, plainly: “The instruments of production are labor and the natural agents. The natural agents having been appropriated, (i. E, monopolized), the proprietors extort for its use a rent, which is a recompense for no sacrifice made by them, and is received by those who have neither labored nor furnished capital. The only part they play is holding out the hand to receive the gifts of the community.”

Here, then, is the first economist, who says that the land has been monopolized; that proprietors receive that for which they give no equivalent, and that rent is an extortion.

Scrope thus expresses himself: “The value of and the faculty of deriving a rent therefrom, is due to two circumstances:

“First—To the appropriation (monopoly) of its natural powers;

“Second—To the labor applied to its cultivation and amelioration,

“With respect to the first, rent is a monopoly. It is a restriction of the usufruct of the gift which the Creator has given to mankind for the satisfaction of their wants. This restriction can only be justified in so far as it is necessary for the public good. When it goes beyond this point it is necessary to modify it by virtue of the principle by which it was established.”

Had Scrope deigned to inform us by what “principle” rent had been established, we should have thanked him, as he failed to do so we must infer that there was no principle involved, but that it sprung from the power, the selfishness and the caprice of the monop- lists. It arose from might, not right; from power, not principle. And the economists who write these things, sustain and bolster-up property and ownership in land. We ask ourselves, Do they really do so in good faith? Perhaps they do—but if so, it is because they cannot conceive of a better economic system than that which to-day obtains. We can readily admit that land is an instrument of labor; but, who is the workman? Is it the proprietor, who, by reason of his right of property, has given fecundity to the soil? In this consists the monopoly of the proprietor. He did not make the instrument, end yet he extorts payment for its use.

It is not for my purpose to follow the whole of the economists in their efforts to justify personal proprietorship in land. Yet I cannot refrain from calling attention to the terse manner in which Ricardo (who established the theory of rent in economics) has expressed his views. He says, distinctly: “Rent is that portion of the product of the land which is paid to the proprietor for the privilege of using the productive and imperishable qualities of the land, and its amount equals the surplus of that which is produced by the cultivation of the most arid soils.”

Let us say, however, in the actual state of society, the proprietor extorts payment for three things:

First—For the action of the productive forces of the land ;

Second—For the increased value given to the land by the workers, who have cleared and cultivated the land;

Third—For the increased value given to the land by the building of roads, canals, railroads, and other means of communication, which render the distribution of its products easier and cheaper.

All these things are not the result of the labor of an individual—a proprietor; they are the result of the combined labor of nature and man, of countless generations now past and gone, and they belong to society in its collective capacity ; they represent the result of a vast number of forces—physical, intellectual, social and moral. To permit these to be monopolized by an individual is the height of absurdity. If rent is necessary, it should be paid to society and form part of the social budget, in the interest of all, and for the purpose of works of public utility.

Although we have spoken of land in its relation to agriculture, it must not be supposed that the same injustice does not obtain in cities, where rent is paid upon houses and buildings. And it is more pointedly to that particular feature of proprietorship, which I wish to call your attention in the future.

The workers have been deprived of their right, and the problem is, how to regain it. This problem cannot be solved until we are convinced, and admit that land is the first “element” which has been monopolized, and must therefore be the first to be regained.

The object of this lecture is to show that such is the case.

It is not until a road is made clear that we can proceed to reach the goal.

The reasons why the workers have not yet succeeded in reaching their ends, arise not so much from a want of a clear conception of the ends, as from a diversity of predilection for a certain kind of means to the end.

Let us as workers do all in our power to increase a knowledge of the and, and to unify the means to the end.


Friends—In our former observations we have dwelt upon the fact that the activity of society finds its expression through the operation of five elements or things.

The first of these elements, Land, we have dealt with somewhat in detail.

It now remains to speak of the other four elements, viz, Labor, Capital, Exchange and Insurance.

Before, however, taking up the question of Labor, we want to say something further upon the question of Land; and to claim a few moments’ attention to the difference which exists between Property and Possession.

The only ideas which have prevailed in the world up to the present time, in relation to the social and economic condition of the people, are those which have been promulgated and maintained by the political economists of various schools, and although it is not my intention to go through a lengthy discussion of their relative merits and demerits, I should greatly desire that we (as workingmen who have to work out our emancipation), should know briefly what position the economists occupy on the question of land in relation to the labor problem, in order that we may the better understand the evils under which we suffer, and thus more efficiently labor to overcome them.

The ancients knew nothing of national or political economy—or, as some of the moderns have falsely called it, “The Science of Government.”

A few moral sentiments and common-place remarks are all that is to be found, scattered here and there, throughout their literatures.

It is true that Aristotle, in his writings, had remarked the great advantages to be derived fro the division of labor. He had noted the fact of the transition from barter to the use of money, and also the difference between value and utility. Plato, in his “Republic,” gave a sketch of what he considered society should be. It may be possible that in these hints may be found the possible germ of a social science, but they were never followed up, nor were the laws which underlie them ever investigated.

The prosperity of Genoa and Venice, which excited jealous rivalry in all other parts of Europe, and the commercial supremacy which had for four centuries gradually been acquired by the Hanseatic league, first led men to study the subject, and we find it occupying a place in the literature of Italy, Spain, France and England, from the sixteenth century onward.

Europe, at that date, had revolted against all schemes of a universal monarchy. This was the period of nationalistic history. Independent sovereign Kingdoms, with national languages and national literatures, divided the area of Europe among them. Thus the circumstances of the times gave shape to these studies, and the mercantile school of writers, as they are now called, set their wits to work in order to devise means whereby they could make their own nation rich, while, at the same time, they sought to discover means whereby all other nations could be impoverished.

This may be said tu be the first school which worked toward the discovery of the laws of social science.

The second school was that of the economists, or physiocrats, founded by Quesnay, under Louis XV. This school maintained that agricultural labor produced more than was consumed by the farmer and his household, and that this surplus was the origin of all wealth.

Benjamin Franklin became Minister to France at the time when the teachings of the physiocrats held sway, and became a pupil and disciple of Quesnay.

The third school of economists was founded by Adam Smith, a Scotch professor, who was a friend of Quesnay, the French writer. This school has been falsely called the industrial school. It would be more properly designated by the title of commercial school, which teaches selfishness, for he maintains as a truth that if every man is left to do what he likes with his own, no matter how he gets it, and to use it in whatever way will secure the largest possible returns to himself, society will reap the largest possible benefit.

Thus he fairly and squarely defends monopoly—the oppression of the poor by the rich, and all the train of evils which follow.

The work of Adam Smith, “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” was published in 1776, and in 1778, R. T. Malthus published his “Essay on Population,” which furnishes a discussion of the other side of the question—viz., the poverty of nations. Malthus was a. member of the Tory or Conservative—i. e., aristocratic party. At that time of political disturbances, when the impoverished workers of Europe were calling governments to account for the bad policy which led to so much misery, he was led to the study of the economic coalition in which that misery originated, in order to close the mouths of these so-called agitators by showing that government—i. e, aristocracy—had nothing to do with it; that it arose from causes which were beyond the control of the ruling classes.

He found that the cause of misery was the excessive growth of population, which led to the pressure of numbers upon the means of subsistence, and could only be controlled permanently by the self-restraint of the lower classes, and by their discontinuing to produce so many children. He demonstrated that population increased in a geometrical ratio, while subsistence could only increase in an arithmetical ratio. He says the human species would increase as the numbers 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 125, 258, and subsistence would increase as the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,6, 7, 8. In the view of Malthus the condition of the people can only change from ease to misery; as soon as they advance to welfare they are thoughtless as to the future, and their increase of numbers will always keep them in poverty, and will cause years of scarcity to follow quickly upon the footsteps of years of plenty.

Thus the aristocracy, who were the monopolists of the land, threw the blame for the existence of distress upon natural causes not within their control.

Somewhat later arose another economist, David Ricardo, who to the Whig party, or, as it was then insinuated, the Liberal party. He carried the investigation a step further, and attempted to account for the inequality of conditions which distinguished different classes of society, and he declared that it did not arise from natural and unavoidable causes, but from the effects of an artificial monopoly—the tenure of land. He maintained that those who had been fortaunate enough to obtain possession of the best soils at the settlement of a country form a privileged class that can live in idleness upon the labor of others, by means of exacting payment for the use of the natural powers of those soils.

Thus we see the aristocracy of birth, who monopolized the land, lid the blame to natural causes, while the aristocracy of money, the bourgeoisie, who monopolized the instruments of labor, laid the blame on the monopolizers of the land.

We may, therefore, infer that a fourth school of political economy is yet to be founded, which shall bear the name, and be, in fact, the industrial school of political economists. In order to found this school, the industrials themselves—the workers—must come forward and give the subject the attention and study which will them to deduce the laws which the industrial relations of mankind, from a close attention to all the phenomena which present themselves in the industrial domain of human activity; and perhaps one of he most fundamental things which we have to consider in meeting the arguments of the economists in relation to the tenure of land, from whence spring all other things, is the difference, of which I spoke a few moments ago, between property and possession.

There are two different manners in which a thing may be owned, or, we may say, that there are two different views which may be taken of ownership—via., property and possession, and between the two there is a subtle difference, which calls for a definition; for the source of all the errors of those who sustain the right of property, as also of those who combat that right, arises from having confounded the one with the other.

The etymological sense of the word “property”—that which is proper to—indicates clearly that man is the proprietor of all that is property to, or inseparable from his being; his senses, organ faculties, acquired knowledge, &c., but not of those things which are separable from his being, which are outside of himself. He can possess these latter, but he cannot make them proper to himself—cannot assimilate them with himself.

All of our notions concerning property descend to us form the old English common law, which, in its turn, was derived from the old Roman law.

The Roman law gives this definition of property, Jus utendi, et abutend re suâ, which is the right to use and to abuse one’s things, and maintains that the proprietor has “jus in re,” which is the right in the thing; while the definition which it gives of possession is this—“jus utendi”—which signifies the right to the use of the things, and declares the attribute of possession to be “jus ad rem,” the right to the thing. The Roman code, therefore, clearly distinguishes between property and possession.

To the proprietor it gives the absolute right in the thing, to use and abuse; while to the possessor it gives the right to make use of the thing to render it productive.

In the eye of the Roman law, property is a right, a legal faculty—a man is proprietor by virtue of legal convention which confers upon him the right to abuse his property.

A man is possessor from the fact that he has become the first to occupy and make use of that which he possesses. Possession is, therefore, a natural right. Property is a fictitious right.

The distinction between use and abuse, be- tween property and possession, has not been maintained either in principle or in practice. We have been working under laws which we have copied from the barbarians, and from which we have eliminated some little of the barbarism which those laws were admirably adapted to perpetuate. We have not modified the laws accordingly; we have not even taken cognizance of the distinctive difference which those laws required and maintained.

The proprietor disposes of that which he owns during his life, and after his death according to his caprice. We may own a house, leave it unoccupied, and let it fall into decay. He may leave his fields uncultivated and non-productive, while those around are with- out shelter and without food; he does not want to use, so he has the right to abuse. None can use his property, or render it productive without submitting to the conditions which he chooses to impose, and he can thus live as an idle parasite upon the labor of those who render his property productive.

The possessor, on the contrary, has merely the right to the use of that which he owns, and it ceases to belong to him when he ceases to render it productive.

In Japan, the tenure of land depends upon this recognized principle of the difference between use and abuse. Those who cultivate the soil are bound to conserve it in proper condition, under penalty of forfeiture of possession.

How different was the tenure of land in the southern states of America, where, by the right of property, the planters were permitted to exhaust the fertility of the soil to the detriment of the nation.

It is eminently unjust that any man should monopolize that which he cannot use, and the right of property in land is doomed to disappear before the fast increasing knowledge of the producers, which is proven by the fact that every step which humanity takes on the road to progress manifests itself by an abbreviation of the privileges which this fictitious right confers upon the proprietor.

When he emerged from the savage state, man, impelled by want, found the means of living only through labor, and the right of the first occupant was a necessity. Possession, that is to say, the use of that which he occupied, from being the fact became the law.

Each man may then be said to have become proprietor of the little bit of land which he could cultivate, and defend against the encroachments of ferocious animals, and of men still more ferocious,

At that period man knew no other law than that of brute force; the strong subjugated the weak, and property became established in its most complete form, that of slavery.

Throughout all antiquity, the prisoner of war, the insolvent debtor, were slaves according to law; the proprietor had absolute right in […] in the land; he had the right of life and death over his wife, over his children, over his slaves; for all of these things were his things (re suâ), he could use them and abuse them at his pleasure.

The feudal system, which destroyed slavery and instituted serfdom, destroyed the right of property in man. The serf was no longer a thing belonging to man, but he belonged to the land, with which he was bought and sold. It was a step in advance. The serf had a family; the slave was but cattle.

The feudal aristocracy was overthrown by the commercial aristocracy, who dealt a severe blow at the right of property by the abolition of the law of primogeniture, by the enactment of laws concerning inheritance; the right of expropriation for public utility; by the laws concerning mortgages, corporations, limited liabilities, the tendency of which is to transform individual private property into collective public property; but, above all, to transform into wagedom, i. e., chattel slavery into wages slavery.

Those who work for wages are certainly not free; they are industrial slaves, since they cannot produce without having a master, commonly called a “boss;” but they are no longer either the thing belonging to man, nor the thing belonging to the land; they have conquered their position of comparative dignity as men and citizens. These successive restrictions of the rights of property, these limitations of the right to abuse, will not be complete until the right of property shall have become restricted simply to the right of possession accessible to all, under well-defined and absolute conditions. The association of capital, which is evinced by the ever-growing power and ever-increasing arrogance of corporations, is but the prelude to the association of labor, which will lead the producing masses toward the equity of conditions with unerring fatality. It has been proved beyond the possibility of a doubt, that those who hold the land command the use of all the elements of life—land, air, water and light—are linked together in such intimate connection, that exclusive property in any one of them extends to them all, and no man has a natural right to claim, as private property, a larger portion of these united elements than he can cultivate for his own use and that of his own family. It is therefore held the land, air, light and water are common property, which ought to belong to the state alone as a source of public revenue, and not as a source of rent for the exclusive benefit of private landlords and their families.


We have seen that there are five elements which enter into the activities of mankind, or rather that these five elements serve as a medium, through which the activities of society find their expression, and we have shown that these elements are Land, Labor, Capital, Exchange and Insurance.

Having shown that land is the primary element, and having drawn a distinction between property and possession, we will briefly consider the element Labor, which is second in order.

It is very probable that we men and women of the labor movement, who are workers, have conceptions concerning labor which are not entertained by many others, and particularly the political economists; and in order that we may not be misunderstood when we speak of Labor, it is very necessary that we should vibe explicit in our definition, for it frequently occurs to us—when discussing with our opponents the subject of the labor movement in general—to find that the conception which our adversaries have of labor is so far [from?] identical with our conception, that confusion rather than clearness arises from discussion; from the simple fact that our ideas concerning that which is labor, and that which is not labor, are not the same.

I make no hesitation in affirming that mankind can exist on this planet only in one or the other of the following capacities, to wit:

As Worker,
“ Beggar,
“ Loafer,
“ Thief, or
“ Prostitute.

No matter what kind of man or woman we may meet in the world, we may relegate them, according to the manner of their lives, to one or the other of these categories, and all who get a living in this world, get that living in some of these five mentioned ways.

It is not at all improbably that, in the near future, each man and woman will be placed in the proper category; that each category will be decided to be either more or immoral, and, as the aspiration of the world at large is to organize society upon a basis of morality, the achievement of that aspiration will necessitate measures which have, as yet, been contemplated only by the very few.

There are very few among us, I opine, who will object to the correctness of the following simple proposition:

That the four last-mentioned in the above list are parasites upon the body industrial.

There is another class which I will not stop to consider here, which class is subject to subdivisions into, first, the imbecile; second, the incapacitated, which latter may agains be subdivided. This will come up in the future, I mention it here for two reasons—first, to say that it is not an oversight; secondly, because they must not be looked upon as parasites.

For the general meaning of labor, we can refer all those who inquire to the dictionaries of Johnson, Walker, Webster and Worcester. There they will find how labor is treated— as noun and adjective, as verb active and verb transitive. But we who have to treat labor as one of the social forces; are compelled to take a much more comprehensive view of the word than our lexicographers ever dreamed of taking, and as it is one of the natural forces, without which society could not exist, we cannot, I should think, be accused of treating it with too mach importance.

As labor emanates from man, as it is one man’s constituent properties, and is, of all things, the most immaterial, we can hardly arrive at a definition of labor without first ascertaining, in some way or other, why labor is inherent in man and is truly inseparable from him.

Man is not simple in his nature. He is complex. He is composed of three parts. 1st, the physical; 2d, the mental; 3d, the moral. He has a body, he has a mind, he has a heart.

His body requires food, clothing, shelter. He consumes, he ought to produce—hence labor.

His mind requires that he should think, that he should reason, that he should learn, that he should progress—hence science, instruction.

His heart requires enthusiasm, attachment, affection—hence love.

Every man requires all these, and any social environment which deprives him of any of these, is either incomplete or false. Hence we say that to Labor, to Learn and to Love is the destiny of man. If man does not do all these, he is inharmonious, incomplete; and any state of society which prevents man from exercising things for which, by the very nature implanted within him he was destined, cannot but decline, fall, and become obliterated.

In so far as we deal with labor, we have to deal with man as a physical being, and we take no cognizance of the intellectual and esthetic side of his nature. We set aside the head and the heart for the moment, and deal merely with the body, and we say that man is a bundle of muscular and nervous forces, the exercise of which ix necessary to his existence; that the exercise of these muscular and nervous forces constitutes labor, and that therefore labor is a condition of life, that without labor man cannot live. We say that labor is a condition of life, equally as imperative as eating, drinking, sleeping or breathing; for if a man refuses to eat, drink, sleep or breathe, he cannot live, he must die; therefore we repeat that labor is a condition of life, and man surely dies if he does not accept that condition; for without labor which produces food, it would be impossible to eat.

The human system is an alembic which distills from the food which it consumes certain muscular and nervous forces, which become superabundant and must be worked off, or else the body becomes uneasy, fretful and eventually diseased. In other words, the food which we eat gives us strength or generates force, and gives superfluous energy, which force, if it be too long peat up, or if it exists in too great a quantity, causes uneasiness, which requires exertion in order to carry it of

Now this giving off of superfluous energy, this exertion necessary to give off the pent-up force constitutes muscular and nervous motion, which is generally understood as muscular activity, and if employed in the creation of something which is useful, something which ministers to the wants, the convenience or the happiness of man, is what is properly designated as labor. Nature has implanted in man the necessity for food—he must have it or die. Structure corresponds to function—hence he is endowed with a physical structure and activity, which is provided in abundance to procure that food.

As man cannot continue in health without the exercise of this physical activity, in order to be healthy he must labor; that is, he must expend this superfluous pent-up force.

Now the giving off this superfluous energy, if conducted into a productive channel, will furnish more than necessary to repair the loss of that energy which is expended in producing. In other words, a man who labors sufficiently to keep himself in health, will produce more than he can consume; or we may say that his power of production is superior to his power of consumption.

That which is true of the individual is true with the nation.

Therefore we say that labor constitutes the healthful exercise of the physical fonctions, to the point of maintaining those functions in a healthy condition. Here the line of demarcation is distinctly drawn between labor and drudgery.

The compilers of the dictionaries above referred to make no distinction whatever; they confound labor with drudgery; therefore with them they are convertible terms. Not so with us; we define labor to be ennobling—drudgery to be degrading.

Labor calls forth the exercise of the physical powers to the extent of producing healthy physical, mental and moral condition in man.

Drudgery carries the exercise of the physical powers to the extent which destroys the mental and moral condition in man.

Hence—Labor is a blessing,
Drudgery, a curse;
Labor is a duty,
Drudgery, a crime.

Drudgery, like idleness, is a parent crime, for it engenders many others.

This acceptation of the meaning of labor is practically entertained by the rich (although theoretically they deny it), as well as by the poor; by the idle as well as by the industrious; by the loafer as well as by the worker. We find the rich, the idler and the loafer resort to what they call exercise, in order to give off this pent-up energy, which makes them feel uncomfortable.

Those who are rich and do not require to work for their food, as also those who are idle and will not work for their food, resort to riding, bowling, fencing, dancing, driving fast horses, playing billiards, etc, (when they do nothing worse), in order to keep themselves in health. Now, we maintain that if the same amount of physical energy were ex- pended in producing something which is necessary or useful, as is wastefully expended on doing that which is useless; that is, if they would expend their energies in productive exercise instead of non-productive exercise, they would produce more than an equivalent for that which they consume.

We consider that if persons consume without giving an equivalent in production for that which they consume, that some other person who does produce must produce not only an equivalent for his own consumption, but also an equivalent to the consumption of the non-producer; hence, the man who does work is compelled tc produce double the amount of his consumption, in order that the idler may consume without producing.

Thus the worker has to drudge—and work, which should be a blessing, becomes drudgery, which is a curse.

“Labor,” said Franklin; “if you-need it not for food, you do for physic.”

In the ideas of some labor is disreputable. The workers should make all efforts to raise it from the low position into which it has been thrust, and make it respected.

Let us assert, with the good men of the twelfth century, whose shoe-strings their descendants of to-day are unworthy to unloose—

Laborare est Orare.”—To Labor is to Pray. And say with the poet—

“Work for thy bread! be it ever so slowly,
Cherish a flower! be it ever so lowly ;
Labor! for labor is noble and holy,
And let thy brave deeds be thy prayer to thy God.”


Friends.—We considered labor from the physical side of the question only. But we must not overlook the fact that the intellectual faculties of men are engaged in production, and therefore to restrict the consideration of labor to his mere physical capacities, would be to ignore his mental power, which plays, perhaps, a much greater part in production than even physical power.
We may say that labor is the expression of, the sum total of all the forces, physical, intellectual and moral, which are centered in man and which result in production. Production is the result of labor.

Above all other animals, man is born feeble and without the power to secure those things which are indispensable to his preservation, as well as to the satisfaction of his wants.

But he is born with hands and with intelligence; that is, with the faculty to create all that he wants.

It is labor that him shelter, food and raiment. It is labor that has built cities, canals, railroads, steamships and telegraphs.

It is to labor that man owes the discovery of the forces and the laws of nature; the invention of machinery, which enables him to utilize these forces, and even to subjugate the elements.

Labor is so essential to life that if men cease to employ their time in useful employment they are driven to expend their activity in brutal orgies, vice and degradation.

All wealth, all riches, are the product of labor. Nature grows and ripens the fruit upon the trees, and yet they must be gathered before they become useful. The very act of gathering is labor, and no one can enjoy the useful properties of fruit, no one can consume the fruit, unless his own labor, or the labor of another, has been expended, in gathering it.

The water which flows in the river cannot be utilized until labor has been expended, in order to bring it to the spot where it is required for use.

Therefore, upon such things as nature has furnished in the most complete form, labor in some degree must be expended in order to give to it its full sum of utility.

The production of land must be supplemented by labor before a thing is sufficiently
useful to be ready for consumption.

The forces of nature, aided by the land, produce the wool on the back of the sheep. In the raw state it is practically useless to man; but when it is spun, woven and manufactured into garments it becomes of the greatest utility to him, and it is labor, and labor only, which gives this utility. But in its passage from its primitive condition of wool to its ultimate condition of a garment, it has passed through a numerous series of manipulations, in which have been employed tools, implements and machinery, which are the result of centuries of discovery, invention and perfection. This machinery itself represents an incalculable amount of labor, both mental and physical, which past generations have performed.

Labor, then, is the application of our strength and our intelligence upon the materials which are furnished by nature.

It does not create wood, stone nor metals; it only fashions them, gives them shape and utility. It does not create or invent steam or electricity, it only discovers and applies them. It does not cause the grains not the fruits to grow—it merely aids the productive forces of the land.

It would, perhaps, be proper to recognize only one industry. To give shape to a stone or to give shape to the intelligence of a human being, are analogous operations, in each case we apply our strength and intelligence to modify things which are already in existence, but in no case are the materials upon which that labor is exercised created by that labor.

Man should, before all other things, know how to labor, how to produce. Scientific and professional education should be accessible to all. Any state or society which condemns a portion of its population to ignorance and misery, commits an act of suicide.

The more theoretical and practical knowledge a man has, the more can he contribute to the progress of industry, science and art. In a word, the greater is his power of production. Such a man is useful to society, while the ignorant and degraded are a burden to themselves and to the community.

There are, unfortunately, certain periods in which men, however well disposed to produce, are not able to apply their power by reason of causes brought about by panics, &c., similar to the one which brought about such vast suffering in 1873.

Since we see that man exercises his activity upon a fund furnished by nature, and which is common to all, since it is not of human creation, it should be accessible to all; consequently, the land and all the natural agents should not be unjustly monopolized by the few, but should be in the possession of those who increase, through their agency, the wealth of the world and the comforts of society.

The word “labor” is so diversely understood that when the workers speak of it the capitalists will persist in giving to the term certain significations which we do not intend to convey, and which we do not even imply. It will, therefore, greatly aid our cause when we can insure a definite interpretation of the word, and when we say labor, I think we mean the application of man’s powers (his physical, mental and moral powers combined), to the production of something which administers to the wants or increases the happiness of mankind.

Let it pot be inconsiderately supposed that the moral faculties of man are not called into play by the performance of labor. A little reflection will convince us that they are. Were it not so we should not see people labor to produce that which they, themselves, cannot live to enjoy.

We have seen old farmers at the age of ninety-five years, and who expected to die from season to season, carefully planting, budding and grafting fruit trees, the fruits from which, to a moral certainty, they never expected to enjoy; they had no children or grandchildren, neither kith nor kin, nor were they compelled to do so from want; they had all they wanted or hoped for, and yet they labored, and innocently gave as a reason for laboring, when the impossibility of reaping the fruits or results of their labor was mentioned to them, that “future generations would enjoy them.”

There are those who deny that the moral faculties are in any way stimulated in conjunction with labor; to such I would say, consider well ere you deny it. Did Sir Humphrey Davy think as to whether or not he should be paid for his labor when he applied himself to the construction of the safety lamp, &c.?

He was prompted by his moral faculties to save the lives of the poor and oft-slaughtered miners. Consider well, I say, and you will find innumerable examples. The great base of human nature is not sordid and selfish—it is only the apex of the social pyramid which is gangrened with the greed of gold.

* * * * * * *

When the silk-producing regions of France were threatened with devastation by a disease which attacked the silk worm, Pasteur, the celebrated French chemist, gave his skill, knowledge, genius and labor to the discovery of the causes and their remedy. He worked without thought or hope of reward or gain. His labors were prompted solely by his moral sentiments.

He saw the poverty and misery which the destruction of the silk worm had caused, and would farther cause, in the homes of thousands of the French peasantry; the sight of that misery made his heart bleed, and with that love and generosity which can be awakened only in the finer examples of human nature, he flew to the rescue, prompted by a deep feeling of humanity. His patient and devoted labors were crowned with success, and he stands to-day, as he ever will stand, an evidence that morality is a factor in the sum of labor.

“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”

The same may be said of Dr. Déclat, who labored so earnestly in the discovery of antiseptics while engaged among the hospitals of Paris.

All men are not prophets in their own land, it is true; and the value of his labors were unrecognized, even by the fraternity, until, having been practiced with success in the hospitals of London, the system was recognized in Paris in the Lister dressing.

While pursuing the experiments necessary to the discovery of the antiseptic, his mind was never, for a moment, preoccupied as to whether reward or gain would follow; he never once asked himself the selfish question, “Will it pay?”

To deny that the moral faculties are called into play in the performance of labor, is to restrict the idea of labor to ridiculous limits, and we claim that there is moral as well as mental and physical labor.

It is necessary to take into consideration the difference between useful and useless labor. The banker, the broker, all tell us that they work very hard. Granted. But is it useful labor? The burglar works hard to rob a house; a, whole gang of them will work very hard, physically as the carpenter does, and mentally as does the banker, the landlord, or the merchant, and yet no one would contend for an instant that a burglar performs any useful labor. On the contrary, it may truly be considered useless labor. The counterfeiter labors both mentally and physically to manufacture and pass counterfeit coin; yet this is all useless labor, nay, worse than useless, so says the banker. Certainly so, Mr. Banker, we workingmen admit that. But we also conceive that when you receive a bill drawn upon goods which never existed, from one of your confederates, and when you endorse that commercial bill and get it discounted, that your labor in so doing is useless, worse than useless, as you say. In fact, we look upon it as a counterfeit, which it is, and we demand that if the law (misnamed justice), punishes the one by state prison for his useless labor, that the law should also punish you, Mr. Banker, for your useless labor. It is this difference between useful and useless labor which makes the difference between misery and prosperity, for if all who are now engaged in working hard at that which is useless, were to expend the same amount of labor in producing that which is useful, there would be less of poverty and of want; and when we speak of the “organization of labor,” we imply a correct and good use of all the forces which are now expended partially in an incorrect and improper manner. As an illustration of non-productive labor, I have visited prisons, arsenals, &C., where prisoners have been condemned to hard labor, and I have seen them under the superintendence of a paid overseer move a pile of building stones from one position to another, and then replace them in the original position. I have seen the same thing done in another prison with a pile of cannon balls.

Here is an example of the sense of so-called government, and an illustration of the “majesty of the law!!” If self-conceited jurists cannot distinguish between useful and useless labor, let us not, as workingmen, follow in the footsteps of their blind and fossilized errors, and expend our forces upon that which is useless.

It would perhaps be well to consider before closing with the element “labor,” the difference which we make, or rather the distinction which we draw between labor and drudgery.

It has been shown that the food which we consume nervous and muscular force, which, if not expended, renders the body fretful and uneasy. This expending or giving off of this superabundant force, when applied to that which is useful, constitutes labor.

To a properly-educated and well-balanced person this labor is a pleasure, because ti contributes towards keeping he body in health and renders life enjoyable. But when this force is once fully expended, and repose and food are necessary to recuperate the totally expended strength, to continue to labor at the same kind of employment is at first irksome, it next becomes painful, and eventually it becomes insupportable, and at this point ceases to be labor, and is, in fact, drudgery.

Under our present system of industry, to speak of avoiding drudgery may appear far too Utopian, but we may profitably look upon such a possibility in the far future, and by keeping the possibility in sight, work for the means which will enable us to avoid drudgery.

It is a well-recognized fact that there is a point beyond which it is not profitable to continue labor, and that if it be continued beyond that point it ceases to give a remunerative result.

The statistical investigations which the present factory system of industry so greatly facilitates, will, no doubt, lead to a knowledge of what these limits really are in the various industries.

Unfortunately, the “right of private property” steps in and prevents the state from collecting such information as would lead to a positive knowledge of certain industrial phenomena, for manufacturers will not permit the Labor Bureaus of the States to look into their factories and their books, and by comparing them arrive at results. Such little, however, as is known demonstrates certain facts.

In factories (cotton) where the operatives have worked thirteen hours a day, it has been found that all the fabrics woven during the last hour were not so good as those woven during the previous hour, and that a loss occurred from the imperfection of the work done.

Here, then, is one fact which demonstrates that there is a limit to the powers of labor, but it does not demonstrate what that limit is.

Some time ago, in the public offices at Washington, where the work of the clerks is calculating and adding figures, it was discovered that the errors made during the last hour of their work, took more than an hour to correct on the following day. Here, then, is another confirmation of the fact that labor may be prolonged beyond a profitable point, and our effort should be to ascertain what that point is in all industries and in all kinds of labor.

We see plainly that it applies to mental labor equally as well as to physical labor. The weaver’s labor may be classed as physical, the clerk’s as mental labor, and neither of them can be carried on beyond a certain point without becoming drudgery.

It would be interesting to follow the subject further and see the result which labor and drudgery have upon the human frame, and the human mind; how the one ennobles a man—how the other degrades him.

Is would, however, not be to our purpose here. It is sufficient that we have called attention to the fact, for it must not be omitted when we treat of the element “labor.”

We hope that it has been made clear that land and labor are naturally the two first elements of production.

[To be continued.]

About Shawn P. Wilbur 2703 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.

1 Comment

  1. Victor Drury appears to have been a very interesting man. I am currently working on the final chapter on my dissertation and it includes him as a main character. I would love to know where I can view the rest of the files you have listed on this page! Thank you for all the hard work making sure these histories are available.

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