“The Sunday Petition Socialistic” The American Sentinel 4, 8, pp. 58, 59.

March 13, 1889

A GOOD deal of effort is being made, especially by certain preachers, to discredit the opposition of the SENTINEL to the Blair Bill by classing us with Socialists. There probably are some Socialists who are opposed to the bill; but though the Socialists should oppose what the SENTINEL opposes, that does not make the SENTINEL a Socialistic journal. It is not a sufficient answer to our opposition to say that certain other classes oppose the bill. We know that the principles which underlie our opposition to the Blair bill are not Socialistic. We also know that the principles upon which the bill is advocated, and by which the support of certain classes is gained, are essentially Socialistic. This we propose to prove.

Much has been made of the petition of the Knights of Labor. But the Knights of Labor never took any such step except at the solicitation of Doctor Crafts. The Blair bill had been scarcely introduced before Mr. Crafts made a trip to Chicago and other cities, soliciting the support of the Knights of Labor. Instead of their petitioning for a Sunday law, the object of it had to be explained, and objections answered before they could even be brought to support it. The object of the petition for the Blair bill was explained by Dr. Crafts to the Central Labor Union of New York, mid its indorsement secured. The Central Labor Union embraces a number of labor organizations, and the Christian Union declares the Central Labor Union to be a “radically Socialistic” organization. This, in itself, would not be particularly significant were it not for the fact that the arguments which Dr. Crafts presents to these organizations to gain their support are entirely Socialistic. Nor are these confined to Dr. Crafts. Other leaders of the movement also advocate the same principles.

Dr. Crafts went to the General Assembly of the Knights of Labor at Indianapolis last November to get the delegates there to indorse the petition for the passage of the Blair Sunday bill. A report of his speech was printed in the Journal of United Labor, the official journal of the Knights of Labor of America, Thursday, November 29, 1888. He said to them there:—

“Having carefully read and re-read your ‘declaration of principles’ and your ‘constitution,’ and having watched with interest the brave yet conservative shots of your Powderly at intemperance and other great evils, I have found myself so closely in accord with you that I have almost decided to become a Knight of Labor myself. If I do not it will be only because I believe I can advance your ‘principles’ better as an outside ally.”

The following question was asked by one of the Knights:—

“Would it not be the best way to stop Sunday trains to have the Government own and control the railroads altogether, as the Knights advocate?”

Dr. Crafts answered: “I believe in that. Perhaps the best way to begin the discussion of Government control for seven days per week is to discuss this bill for Government control on one day. If the railroads refuse the little we now ask, the people will be the more ready to take control altogether.”

The Knights of Labor advocate the doctrine that the Government shall take control of all the railroads in the country, and hire all the idle men in the country at regular railroad wages, and run the roads, as it now runs the Post-office Department, without reference to the question whether anything is made or lost by the Government. This is what gave rise to the above question. Dr. Crafts proposes to play into the hands of that kind of an element by making the bid for their support, that if they will help the Sunday workers get Government control of the railroads one day in the week, then the Sunday-law workers will help the Knights to get Government control every day in the week. Another question that was discussed both there and at the Convention of Locomotive Engineers at Richmond, Va., was the following:—

“Will not one day less work per week mean one-seventh less wages?”

The response to this was as follows:—

“As much railroad work as is done in seven days can be done in six days, and done better, because of the better condition of the men. And on this ground the engineers would be sustained in demanding, and if necessary compelling, the railroad company, to so re-adjust the pay schedule that the men will be paid as much as at present.”

That is to say, that Dr. Crafts and the Sunday-law workers propose to stand in with the laboring men to compel employers to pay seven days’ wages for six days’ work. This is made certain by the following petition to the State Legislatures, which is being circulated everywhere with the petition for the Blair bill:—

To the State Senate (or House):The undersigned earnestly petition your honorable body to pass a bill forbidding anyone to hire another, or to be hired for more than six days in any week; except in domestic service, and the care of the sick; in order that those whom law or custom permits to work on Sunday may be protected in their right to some other weekly rest-day, and in their right to a week’s wages for six days’ work.”

Now a week consists of seven days. A week’s wages for six days’ work is seven days’ wages for six days’ work. This petition asks the Legislatures of all the States to pass a law protecting employes in their right to seven days’ wages for six days’ work. No man in this world has any right to seven days’ wages for six days’ work. If he [60] has a right to seven days’ wages for six days’ work, then he has an equal right to six days’ wages for five days’ work; and to five days’ wages for four days’ work; and to four days’ wages for three days’ work; to three days’ wages for two days’ work; to two days’ wages for one day’s work; and to one day’s wages for no work at all. This is precisely what the proposition amounts to. For in proposing to pay seven days’ wages for six days’ work, it does propose to pay one day’s wages for no work. But if a man is entitled to one day’s wages for doing nothing, why stop with one day? Why not go on and pay him full wages every day for doing nothing?

But it may be argued that we have misinterpreted the meaning of the petition; that, as it asks that nobody be allowed to hire another for more than six days of any week, it may mean only that six days are to compose a week; and that it is a week’s wages of six days only that is to be paid for six days’ work. That is not the meaning of the petition. It is not the intention of those who are gaining the support of the Knights of Labor by inventing and circulating the petition. At the hearing on the Sunday bill before the United States Senate Committee on Education and Labor, December 13, 1888, Dr. George Elliott, pastor of the Foundry Methodist Church, Washington City, was speaking in favor of the bill. Senator Call asked him this question:—

“Do you propose that Congress shall make provision to pay the people in the employ of the Government who are exempted on Sunday, for Sunday work?”

Mr. Elliott“I expect you to give them adequate compensation.”

Senator Call“Do you propose that the same amount shall he paid for six days’ work as for seven?”

Mr. Elliott“I do; for the reason that we believe these employes can do all the work that is to be done in six days. And if they do all the work, they ought to have all the pay.”

There it is in plain, unmistakable words, that they deliberately propose to have laws, State and National, which shall compel employers to pay seven days’ wages for six days’ work. This is sheer Socialism; it is the very essence of Socialism. No wonder they gained the unanimous indorsement of the Convention of the Knights of Labor, and of the Locomotive Engineers, and the Socialistic Labor Union of New York City, by proposing to pay them good wages for doing nothing.

But this is not all. The Knights of Labor not only accept the proposition, but they carry it farther, and logically too. This principle has been advocated for some time by the Knights of Labor in demanding ten hours’ pay for eight hours’ work, virtually two hours’ pay for doing nothing. The Christian Union and the Catholic Review propose to help the workingmen secure their demanded eight-hour law, and then have the workingmen help to get the six-day law by for-bidding all work on Sunday. Dr. Crafts and Dr. Elliott go a step farther, and propose to secure the support of the workingmen by having laws enacted compelling employers to pay them full wages on Sunday for doing nothing. But the Knights of Labor do not propose to stop with this. The same copy of the Journal of United Labor which contained Dr. Crafts’s speech, contained the following in an editorial upon this point:—

“Why should not such a law be enacted? All the work now performed each week could easily be accomplished in five days of eight hours each if employment were given to the host of willing idle men who are now walking the streets. It is a excuse to force one portion of a community to kill themselves by overwork, while another portion the same people are suffering from privation and hunger, with no opportunity to labor. The speech of the Rev. Mr. Crafts, published elsewhere, furnishes an abundance of argument as to why such a law should be put in force.”

So when the Sunday-law advocates propose to pay a week’s wages for six days’ work of eight hours each, because all the work can be done in six days that is now done in seven, then the Knights of Labor propose to have a week’s wages for five days’ work, because, by employing all the idle men, all the work that is now done in seven days can be done in five. And as Dr. Elliott has said, “If they do all the work, they ought to have all the pay.” But if a week’s wages are to be paid for five days’ work of eight hours each, that is to say, if two days’ wages can rightly be paid for no work at all, why should the thing be stopped there? If the Government is to take control of the railroads all the time in order to pay two days’ wages for doing nothing, and if the States are to enact laws compelling employers to pay employes two days’ wages for doing nothing, then why shall not the Government, both State and National, take possession of everything, and pay the laboring men full wages all the time for doing nothing? For if men have the right to one day’s wages for no work, where is the limit to the exercise of that right? The fact of the matter is that there is no limit. If a man is entitled to wages for doing nothing part of the time; he is entitled to wages for doing nothing all the time. And the principle upon which Dr. Crafts and his other Sunday-law confreres gain the support of the workingmen to the Blair Sunday bill is nothing at all but the principle of down-right Socialism.

NOTE.—The statement of the Christian Union referred to above is as follows:—

“It is very clear that if our Sabbath is to be preserved at all—and we are sanguine of its preservationthe non-religious sentiment of the country must be brought in to re-inforce the religious demand for Sabbath rest, and it is increasingly evident that this is entirely practicable. And, curiously, what renders this practicable is that horrid ‘Socialism’ which keeps some good people lying awake o’ nights in fear and trembling. One of the Sabbath Committee in Philadelphia is, indeed, rep-resented as relying ‘upon the law of the Sabbath as promulgated by the Creator.’ But the majority of Americans, including large proportions of those who are most desirous of preserving the Sabbath, will never consent to see a purely religious obligation enforced by civil penalties. On the other hand, pure individualism affords an entirely adequate legal basis for anything like adequate Sabbath legislation…. Modern, and, if our readers please so to regard it, Socialistic political economy … holds that the community has a right to act as a unit; … it has a right to fix upon a legal holiday or an eight-hour standard for the normal labor day—if it judge this best. In short, no eight-hour man can consistently deny the right of society to maintain a Sabbath by legal provisions; and … no advocate of Sabbath laws, unless he maintains the right of the State to establish a purely religious observance, can consistently deny the right of the community to fix a normal labor day; … and Christian Socialism finds a place for both.”

The statement of the Catholic Review, also referred to, is as follows:—

“The time is near at hand when those who have so warmly advocated eight hours as a workman’s day will find it necessary to agitate for six days as a workman’s week. If the labor organizations are really anxious for an issue on which they can have the help of the vast majority of the American people, let them take up this of Sunday labor. They will find enormous obstacles to contend with in the widespread avarice of the non-Catholic workingmen as well as of the capitalists. If the limit of a day’s labor to eight hours is calculated to restrain the overproduction to which they object, the cessation of Sunday labor, which is now carried on to an extent enormously in excess of what the general public is disposed to believe, would exercise a still further restraint in this direction.”

A. T. J.

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