Sep 4, 2006

The Quote Shelf

book shelf A frequent feature on this site; feel free to comment on the quote or to supply a competing quote.

Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if Labor had not first existed. Labor is superior to capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.
--Abraham Lincoln


ToledoNative said...


It never fails to amaze me the number of people who think that capital is superior to labor, including our government.

Stagnant wages, little job growth (but boy howdy, do they tout that growth) and the erosion of the 'perks' of the job is the outcome of putting capital first.

wjohnson said...

Lincoln would have been very aware of organized labor from the short history below.

The history of unionism in Pennsylvania dates back to 1724 when Philadelphia workers organized the Carpenters' Company, the first crafts association in the colonies. Its Carpenters' Hall gained fame as the site of the First Continental Congress in 1774; the carpenters were also responsible for the first strike in the United States in 1791. The nation's first labor union was organized by Philadelphia shoemakers in 1794. By 1827, the Mechanics' Union of Trade Associations, the country's first central labor body, was striking for a 10-hour workday and was the impetus behind the formation of the Organized Workingman's Party. (Imagine wanting to slack off and only work for 10 hours of a 24 hour day. The obvious decline of business in this country the outrageous ingrates!) Nine years later there were no fewer than 58 labor organizations in Philadelphia and 13 in Pittsburgh. The coal fields were sites of violent organizing struggles. In 1835, low wages and long hours sparked the first general mine strikes, which, like a walkout by anthracite miners in 1849, proved unsuccessful. (The nerve of these men making it known they were tired of having several killed due to unsafe cave ins and to have their families thrown out of their houses into the streets because there was no longer a man to go into the mines. That house was needed for the next man’s family who would replace the man who was killed in the cave in. These are the people who ruined this country) During the 1850s and 1870s, a secret society known as the Molly Maguires led uprisings in the anthracite fields, but its influence ended after the conviction of its leaders for terrorist activities. The demise of the Molly Maguires did not stop the violence, however.