Northern Labor and Antislavery: A Documentary History

By Philip S. Foner; Herbert Shapiro | Go to book overview
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II
Abolition Addresses Labor

IN THIS CHAPTER REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ABOLITIONIST MOVEMENT
SPEAK TO AMERICAN WAGE WORKERS ON THE SUBJECT OF THEIR STAKE
IN ABOLISHING CHATTEL SLAVERY.

1. The Antislavery National Eraalerts white workers to the danger that chattel slavery will be followed by wages slavery.


SLAVE vs. FREE LABOR

THE MECHANICS OF VIRGINIA. --An address has been put forth by the Mechanics' Association of Portsmouth, Virginia, to the mechanics of the State calling upon them to organize, in order to vindicate their rights, and put an end to the practice of teaching slaves mechanical trades. It seems that the owners of negroes are to a considerable extent in the habit of bringing them up as carpenters, coopers, blacksmiths, &c., and that the white mechanics feel themselves degraded by this competition, at the same time that it threatens more and more to depress their wages.

COLORED MECHANICS. --A Mechanics' State Convention was held at Atlanta, Georgia, on the 4th instant, at which about 500 delegates were in attendance. The report then adopted asserts that "the employment of negroes in the mechanic arts is a policy of very questionable propriety in the South."

There is nothing surer than the general introduction of manufactures into the older of the slave States, and nothing is better proved than the capacity of the slave laborer for the handicraft required in the production of the staple articles of trade. Henry Clay said, in 1844, that "the cotton-growing region was destined, at an early day, to become the greatest cotton-manufacturing region in the world." Mr. Stewart, about the same time, in a letter to Mr. Pleasants, says, after clearly presenting the facts of the case, "Let, then, the Southern people avail themselves of their great and decided advantages in the possession of the staple article and cheaper labor, enabling them not only to compete successfully with their brethren of the North,

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