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LABOR

IN

EUROPE AND AMERICA;

A SPECIAL REPORT

ON

THE RATES OP WAGES, THE COST OF SUBSISTENCE, AND THE CONDITION OF THE

WORKING CLASSES, IN GREAT BRITAIN, FRANCE, BELGIUM, GERMANY,

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LABOR IN EUROPE AND AMERICA.

June 1932,

CHEW, ESQ.

Since the day when our primal progenitor was expelled from Eden, and the doom pronounced, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat , bread," the subject of labor has been one of absorbing interest. To trace it from the earliest historic period to the present time, through all the vicissitudes which our race has experienced, would be a difficult if not an impossible task; and yet the subject has of late assumed such gigantic proportions as to demand the most careful consideration.

It may be well, in the outset, to accurately define the word “labor." It is generally, but we believe incorrectly, used as a synonym for "work." The latter word denotes occupation or employment, but not necessarily of a toilsome or fatiguing character, while the former, as Worcester's first definition properly expresses it, implies “exertion attended with pain or fatigue, hard work, task, toil, &c." Work may be performed not only without pain or fatigue, but with positive pleasure.

Notwithstanding this difference of signification, the words "work" and “ workmen” will, in the following pages, be regarded as synony. mous with “labor” and “laborers,” partiy as a concession to popular use, but chiefly to avoid the frequent repetition of those words.

ORIGIN OF SLAVERY, AND DEVELOPMENT OF WAGE LABOR. From the earliest times of which there exists any authentic record, the performance of the labor necessary to sustain life has been an occasion of contention and struggle in human society. The desire to escape from this necessary toil, or the ambition to possess more than their own labor could produce, has always impelled men to seek in some way to con

trol the services of their fellows. “The simple wish,” says Maine in his o Ancient Law, "to use the bodily powers of another person as a means e of ministering to one's own ease or pleasure is doubtless the foundation

of slavery, aud as old as human nature.” In the more advanced portions of the modern world slavery is forbidden, and it is only through the intervention of those subtle forces known as the “laws of trade" that one man can derive profit from the labor of another. In a more primitive state of society this process was far more simple and direct. There “the wish to use the bodily powers of another," if accompanied by adequate power, went straight to its object by reducing to bondage the person whose services were desired. Thus, born of the rude impulses of men at a stage of social development when the right of the stronger was the prevailing law, slavery is everywhere found as an already established fact in the very infancy of civilization. Among the dations of antiquity, the most polished as well as the rudest, slavery was universal; and it is only within a comparatively recent period that it has disappeared even from the most enlightened nations of modern times. In our own country less than a decade has elapsed since its final abolition by the adoption of the thirteenth amendment to the Con. stitution, and it was but a few years earlier that Alexander II issued the edict which terminated serfdom in Russia. The Spanish republic, falling in with the spirit of the age, has but just done what the Spanish monarchy so long refused to do, by adopting.legislation looking to the abolition of slavery in the Antilles; while in Brazil the process of emancipation, inaugurated by the law of September 28, 1871, will prob

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