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Proceedings of the Colored National Labor convention : held in Washington, D.C., on December 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th, 1869.

1869-WASHGINGTON DC-Colored national Labor Convention 44.pdf

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National Labor Union and Bureau of Labor




The question of the hour is : How can the workingman best improve his condition ? This question is not only being agitated in the United States, but throughout the civilized world. The universal law of our existence is : "In the sweat of thy face thou shalt eat thy bread." We desire to impress you with this fact, that it is a Divine Law, that we must labor, and that the comforts of life can only be attained by honest, patient toil.

It should be the aim of every man to become a capitalist : that is, every man should try and receive an exchange for his labor, which by proper economy and investment, will, in the future, place him in the position of those on whom he is now dependent for a living. At least it should be your aspiration to become the owner of your own homestead, and place that homestead beyond the reach of want and poverty. As workingmen we can only possess these blessings by being industrious with our brains and hands, temperate in our habits, and economical with our means.

It is the duty of our National Labor Union, and more particularly the Bureau of Labor created by your delegates assembled from nearly every State in the Union, to advise with you upon the best and most speedy means to better your condition in the United States.

We look with painful emotions upon the present condition of colored labor in the several States. Disorganized, poorly paid, assaulted, and, in many cases, totally indifferent to its own welfare. After a careful survey and consideration of this vital question, in which we have consulted the wisdom and experience of the most profound economists and labor reformers of our times---

We advise you, first, to immediately organize, because labor can only protect itself when organized ; that is, by being organized thoroughly, you have the command of capital. You receive better pay for your labor. You learn where and how to invest your labor to better advantage. You learn the value of the capital invested with your labor--how to respect that capital, and make that capital respect your labor. You learn how and where to create employment, to give yourselves work when you are debarred by opposite combinations. You learn the wants of of your fellow workmen and how to provide for them.

In a word, without organization, you stand in danger of being exterminated. You cannot expect to be profitably employed, and the trades will soon die out in the race. With organization you will find employment, you will force opposite combinations to recognize your claims to work without restriction because of our color, and open the way for your children to learn trades and move forward in the enjoyment of all the rights of American citizenship. How shall you organize? We answer, call a general meeting of the workingmen in every city and town, and after discussing the importance of organization, appoint a committee of one from each branch of trade of labor represented, to prepare a plan for organization. When they have reported a plan, then appoint your committee on constitution and permanent organization. When they report, proceed immediately to form yourselves into an association, send a copy of your constitution and list of officers to the Bureau of Labor, and get your charter. We would advise, where there is a sufficient number of any particular branch, that they organize seperate associations. As each man desires to follow that business for which he has been educated.

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