Knights of Labor, 1886 Declaration of Principles

Abuse is as old as human activity.

What was once considered radical or impossible, is now viewed self-evident.

How we got here took lots of work and sacrifice. Take a look at the bold words.

🙂

PREAMBLE AND DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES OF THE KNIGHTS OF LABOR OF AMERICA.

TO THE PUBLIC:

The alarming development and aggressiveness of great capitalists and corporations, unless checked, will inevitably lead to the pauperization and hopeless degradation of the toiling masses.

It is imperative, if we desire to enjoy the full blessings of life, that a check be placed upon unjust accumulation, and the power for evil of aggregated wealth.

This much-desired object can be accomplished only by the united efforts of those who obey the divine injunction, “In the sweat of they face shalt thou eat bread.”

Therefore we have formed the Order of Knights of Labor, for the purpose of organizing and directing the power of the industrial masses, not as a political party, for it is more – in it are crystallized sentiments and measures for the benefit of the whole people, but it should be borne in mind, when exercising the right of suffrage, that most of the objects herein set forth can only be obtained through legislation, and that it is the duty of all to assist in nominating and supporting with their votes only such candidates as will pledge their support to those measures, regardless of party. But no one shall, however, be compelled to vote with the majority, and calling upon all who believe in securing “the greatest good to the greatest number,” to join and assist us, we declare to the world that are our aims are:

1. To make individual and moral worth, not wealth, the true standard of individual and National greatness.
2. To secure to the workers the full enjoyment of the wealth they create, sufficient leisure in which to develop their intellectual, moral, and social faculties: all of the benefits, recreation and pleasures of association; in a word, to enable them to share in the gains and honors of advancing civilization.

In order to secure these results, we demand at the hands of the State:

3. The establishment of Bureaus of Labor Statistics, that we may arrive at a correct knowledge of the educational, moral and financial condition of the laboring masses.
4. That the public lands, the heritage of the people, be reserved for actual settlers; not another acre for railroads or speculators, and that all lands now held for speculative purposes be taxed to their full value.
5. The abrogation of all laws that do not bear equally upon capital and labor, and the removal of unjust technicalities, delays and discriminations in the administration of justice.
6. The adoption of measures providing for the health and safety of those engaged in mining and manufacturing, building industries, and for indemnification to those engaged therein for injuries received through lack of necessary safeguards.
7. The recognition, by incorporation, of trades’ unions, orders and such other associations as may be organized by the working masses to improve their condition and protect their rights.
8. The enactment of laws to compel corporations to pay their employees weekly, in lawful money, for the labor of the preceding week, and giving mechanics and laborers a first lien upon the product of their labor to the extend of their full wages.
9. The abolition of the contract system on National, State and Municipal works.
10. The enactment of laws providing for arbitration between employers and employed, and to enforce the decision of the arbitrators.
11. The prohibition by law of the employment of children under 15 years of age in workshops, mines and factories.
12. To prohibit the hiring out of convict labor.
13. That a graduated income tax be levied.

And we demand at the hands of Congress:

14. The establishment of a National monetary system, in which a circulating medium in necessary quantity shall issue direct to the people, without the intervention of banks; that all the National issue shall be full legal tender in payment of all debts, public and private; and that the Government shall not guarantee or recognize any private banks, or create any banking corporations.
15. That interest-bearing bonds, bills of credit or notes shall never be issued by the Government, but that, when need arises, the emergency shall be met by issue of legal tender, non-interest-bearing money.
16. That the importation of foreign labor under contract be prohibited.
17. That, in connection wit the post-office, the Government shall organize financial exchanges, safe deposits and facilities for deposit of the savings of the people in small sums.
18. That the Government shall obtain possession, by purchase, under the right of eminent domain, of all telegraphs, telephones and railroads, and that hereafter no charter or license be issued to any corporation for construction or operation of any means of transporting intelligence, passengers or freight.

And while making the foregoing demands upon the State and National Government, we will endeavor to associate our own labors.

19. To establish co-operative institutions such as will tend to supersede the wage system, by the introduction of a co-operative industrial system.
20. To secure for both sexes equal pay for equal work.
21. To shorten the hours of labor by a general refusal to work for more than eight hours.
22. To persuade employers to agree to arbitrate all differences which may arise between them and their employees, in order that the bonds of sympathy between them may be strengthened and that strikes may be rendered unnecessary.

If you believe in organization, you are earnestly invited to join with us in securing these objects. All information on the subject of organization should be sent to the General Secretary-Treasurer of the Order, who will have an Organizer visit you and assist in furthering the good work.

Source, 1886

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