Writings and Speeches of Eugene V. Debs

By Eugene V. Debs | Go to book overview

with the great moaning, throbbing heart" of the oppressed: not strange that the nerves of the martyrs grew "tense and quivering with the throes of mortal pain"; not strange that they should pity and plead and protest. The strange part of it is that in our highnoon of civilization a damnable judicial conspiracy should have been concocted to murder them under the forms of law.

That such is the truth of history, no honest man will attempt to deny; hence the demand, growing more pronounced every day, to snatch the names of these martyred evangelists of labor emancipation from dishonor and add them to the roll of the most illustrious dead of the nation.


PRISON LABOR1 Its Effect on Industry and Trade

In my early years I stood before the open door of a blazing furnace and piled in the fuel to create steam to speed a locomotive along the iron track of progress and civilization. In the costume of the craft, through the grime of mingled sweat and smoke and dust I was initiated into the great brotherhood of labor. The locomotive was my alma mater. I mastered the curriculum and graduated with the degree of D. D., not, as the lexicons interpret the letters, "Doctor of Divinity," but that better signification, "Do and Dare"--a higher degree than Aristotle conferred in his Lyceum or Plato thundered from his academy.

I am not in the habit of telling how little I know about Latin to those who have slaked their thirst for learning at the Pierian springs, but there is a proverb that has come down to us from the dim past which reads "Omnia vincit labor" and which has been adopted as the shibboleth of the American labor movement because, when reduced to English, it reads "Labor overcomes all things." In a certain sense this is true. Labor has built this great metropolis of the new world, built it as coral insects build the foundations of islands-- build and die; build from the fathomless depth of the ocean until the mountain billows are dashed into spray as they beat against the fortifications beneath which the builders are forever entombed and forgotten.

____________________
1
Address before Nineteenth Century Club at Delmonico's. New York City, Match 21, 1899.

-24-

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