History of Labour in the United States - Vol. 2

By John R. Commons; David J. Saposs et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
ATTEMPTED UNION -- THE PITTSBURGH CONVENTION OF 1876

The preliminary convention at Tyrone, Pennsylvania, and the two reports on a platform, 235. Discontinuity of the Pittsburgh convention from all preceding labour conventions, 236. The socialist draft of a platform, 237. The Greenback draft by the committee on resolutions, 237. Victory of the greenbackers and the withdrawal of the socialists, 238. Other planks in the platform, 238. Negative attitude towards politics, 238. Recommendation to organise secretly, 239. Failure to establish a permanent national federation of all labour organisations, 239.

THE national convention met at Tyrone,1 Pennsylvania, on December 28, 1875, as specified in the call issued by the Junior Sons of '76. It was well attended, 132 delegates being present.2 The spokesman of the socialists was P. J. McGuire, of Connecticut, while George Blair, of New York, appeared for the Knights of Labor. But apparently nearly all the delegates came from Pennsylvania and all of the elected officers, notably the chairman, John M. Davis, a Knight of Labor, and editor of the National Labor Tribune, were from that State. This probably explains why it was that the committee on amalgamation recommended the calling of a second convention to be held in Pittsburgh, April 17, 1876, to which "all organisations having for their object the elevation of labor" should be invited. To this all consented, but it was nevertheless decided to adopt a platform. The committee on platform presented two reports. The text of the minority report did not appear in the proceedings, but, as it was written by McGuire, it can safely be presumed that it was imbued with the socialist spirit. The majority report was drafted in the phraseology of the platform of the Junior Sons, yet it differed materially from the latter. The financial plank was comprehensive; it included the scheme of

____________________
1
Official Proceedings are given in the Pittsburgh National Labor Tribune, Jan. 8, 1876.
2
They claimed in a resolution to represent 120,000 organised workingmen, which doubtless was a gross exaggeration.

-235-

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