Samuel Gompers

Samuel Gompers
Samuel Gompers
  • Born: January 27, 1850
  • Died: December 13, 1924
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Labor Leader, Cigar Maker

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Quotes

39

Citations

183

Concepts

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Samuel Gompers was an English-born American labor union leader and a key figure in American labor history. Gompers founded the American Federation of Labor (AFL), and served as the organization's president from 1886 to 1894, and from 1895 until his death in 1924. He promoted harmony among the different craft unions that comprised the AFL, trying to minimize jurisdictional battles. He promoted thorough organization and collective bargaining, to secure shorter hours and higher wages, the first essential steps, he believed, to emancipating labor. He also encouraged the AFL to take political action to "elect their friends" and "defeat their enemies". He mostly supported Democrats, but sometimes Republicans. He strongly opposed Socialists. During World War I, Gompers and the AFL openly supported the war effort, attempting to avert strikes and boost morale while raising wage rates and expanding membership.

Quotes
Quote Topics Cited
All the legislation ever secured for the ventilation or safety of mines, factory or workshop is the result of the efforts of organized labor? Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
As one voice must labor speak—to reward its friends and punish its enemies. Lobbying & Special Interests
Ascertain from employers whether the laborer is not regarded the same as a machine, thrown out as soon as all the work possible has been squeezed out of him. Work, Workers & The Labor Force ;Elderly, Aging. Old Age, Social Security & Pensions
Ask the widows and orphans of the thousands of men killed annually through the avarice of railroad corporations refusing to avail themselves of modern appliances in coupling and other improvements on their railroads. Inquire from the thousands of women and children whose husbands or fathers were suffocated or crushed in the mines through the rapacious greed of stockholders clamoring for more dividends. Health, Healthcare & Medicine
Beer is a refreshing, nutritious, non-intoxicating drink which would satisfy most working men. Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drugs
Doing for people what they can and ought to do for themselves is a dangerous experiment …. The welfare of the workers depends on their own initiative. Welfare
God bless our American institutions. May they grow better day by day. Miscellaneous
I hold a jail more roomy ... than would be the whole world if I were to submit to repression. Freedom & Liberty
If the wealth of the whole world is, as you say, "pre-eminently and beneficially the nation's wealth," how is it that thousands of able-bodied, willing, earnest men and women are suffering the pangs of hunger? We may boast of our wealth and civilization, but to the hungry man and woman and child our progress is a hollow mockery, our civilization a sham, and our "national wealth" a chimera. Poverty
If the wealth of the whole world is, as you say, “pre-eminently and beneficially the nation's wealth,” how is it that thousands of able-bodied, willing, earnest men and women are suffering the pangs of hunger? We may boast of our wealth and civilization, but to the hungry man and woman and child our progress is a hollow mockery, our civilization a sham, and our national wealth a chimera. Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
If, as you say, the success of commercial society depends upon the full play of competition, why do not you and your confreres turn your attention and direct the shafts of your attacks against the trusts and corporations Business, Commerce & Finance
In all ages wherever a tyrant has shown himself he has always found some willing judge to clothe that tyranny in the robes of legality. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
Industrial forces set in motion by steam and electricity have materially changed the structure of our civilization. Energy ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Labor has no quarrel with capital, as such. It is merely the possessors of capital who refuse to accord to labor the recognition, the right, the justice which is the laborers' due, with whom we contend. Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
Labor organizations had been the victims of so much political trickery that we felt that the only way to keep this new organization free from taint was to exclude all political partisan action. Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
Many of those who helped to lay the foundations of the trade union movement were men who had been through the experience of Socialism and found their way to sounder policies. Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
More! Slogans & Mottoes
Pullman, who has grown so rich from the toil of his workingmen, that he can riot in luxury, while he heartlessly turns these very workmen out of their tenements into the streets and leave to the tender mercies of corporate greed. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Racial differences between American whites and Asiatics will never be overcome. The superior whites have to exclude the inferior Asiatics, by law, or if necessary by force of arms. Discrimination & Prejudice
Repression or oppression never yet succeeded in crushing the truth or redressing a wrong. Freedom & Liberty
Show me a country in which there are no strikes and I'll show you that country is which there is no liberty. Freedom & Liberty
Socialism holds nothing but unhappiness for the human race. It destroys personal initiative, wipes out national pride ... and plays into the hands of the autocrats.... Socialism is the end of fanatics, the sophistry of so-called intelligentsia, and it has no place in the hearts of those who would secure and fight for freedom and preserve democracy. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
The intelligence and prosperity of the American working man is endangered by the present immigration. Immigration & Emigration
The introduction of machinery is turning into idleness thousands, faster than new industries are founded Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
The periods of unemployment accompanying depression in the business cycle ... present a challenge to all our claims to progress, humanity, and civilization. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
The school of laissez faire, of which you seem to be a pronounced advocate, has produced great men in advocating the theory of each for himself, and his Satanic Majesty taking the hindermost Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
The toilers have awakened to the new found power of organized effort. Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
The trade union movement represents the organized economic power of the workers... It is in reality the most potent and the most direct social insurance the workers can establish. Power ;Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
The working people know no country. They are citizens of the world. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
The worst crime against working people is a company which fails to operate at a profit. Business, Commerce & Finance ;Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes ;Capitalism
There are about 8 million negroes in the United States, and, my friends, I not only have not the power to put the negro out of the labor movement, but I would not, even if I did have the power. Why should I do such a thing? I would have nothing to gain, but the movement would have much to lose. Under our policies and principles we seek to build up the labor movement, instead of injuring it, and we want all the negroes we can possibly get who will join hands with organized labor. Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
There is no way whereby our labor movement may be assured sustained progress in determining its policies and its plans other than sincere democratic deliberation until a unanimous decision is reached. This may seem a cumbrous, slow method to the impatient, but the impatient are more concerned for immediate triumph than for the education of constructive development. Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
There may be here and there a worker who for certain reasons unexplainable to us does not join a union of labor. That is his right. It is his legal right, no matter how morally wrong he may be. Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
We do not want to place more power in the hands of government to investigate and regulate the lives, the conduct and the freedom of America's workers. Regulation & Deregulation
We will stand by our friends and administer a stinging rebuke to men or parties who are either indifferent, negligent, or hostile, and, wherever opportunity affords, to secure the election of intelligent, honest, earnest trade unionists, with clear, unblemished, paid-up union cards in their possession. Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
What does labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures, to make manhood more noble, womanhood more beautiful, and childhood more happy and bright. Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
What does labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures. Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
What shall the workers do? Sit idly by and see the vast resources of nature and the human mind be utilized and monopolized for the benefit of the comparative few? No. The laborers must learn to think and act, and soon, too, that only by the power of organization, and common concert of action, can either their manhood be maintained, their rights to life (work to sustain it) be recognized, and liberty and rights secured. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Where we have blundered into trying to force a policy or decision, even though wise and right, we have impeded if not interrupted the realization of our own aims. Labor Unions, Labor Relations & Strikes
Do I believe in arbitration? I do. But not in arbitration between the lion and the lamb, in which the lamb is in the morning found inside the lion. Morning
It is impossible for capitalists and laborers to have common interests.
Labor Day is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race or nation.
No race of barbarians ever existed yet offered up children for money. Money, Coins & Minting
Show me the country that has no strikes and I'll show you the country in which there is no liberty.
The man who has his millions will want everything he can lay his hands on and then raise his voice against the poor devil who wants ten cents more a day.
There is not a right too long denied to which we do not aspire in order to achieve; there is not a wrong too long endured that we are not determined to abolish.
Time is the most valuable thing on earth: time to think, time to act, time to extend our fraternal relations, time to become better men, time to become better women, time to become better and more independent citizens. Time ;Women
We do want more, and when it becomes more, we shall still want more. And we shall never cease to demand more until we have received the results of our labor.
Where trade unions are most firmly organized, there are the rights of the people most respected.