From the The Age (Augusta, Maine), 6/11/1847, p. 1, c. 4
A “STRIKE.” It has become so fashionable for mechanics’ and laboring men to “turn out,” or “strike” to secure higher wages, better fare, or a “ten hour system,” that we seldom think of recording such an event. The fact is, in this free country of ours, where the sovereignty resides with the people, laboring men have things in both “church and State,” in their own way. This results from the simple fact that laboring men constitute the mass of the people, and knowing their rights dare maintain them. But in those States where negro slavery exists, labor is deemed degrading, and laboring men, though they constitute a large majority of the white population, are socially degraded, and comparatively powerless. It is the province of a slave to perform manual labor. The white man who labors beside the slave, sinks in public estimation, to a level with his sable companion in toil. Feeling the weight of public opinion thus pressing upon him, the white laborer has not the moral courage to “strike” for his rights, or to “turn out,” when he is unjustly oppressed. He we have seldom heard of a strike or a turn out among white laborers in a slave State.
An exception has recently occurred in Virginia. In the Tredegar and Armory Iron Works, both large establishments, the white workmen have had a “turn out,” the object of which was to compel the proprietors, to remove all slave labor from the establishment. They refuse to labor side by side with negro slaves.
This, as we before remarked, is a new movement in a slave State, and has occasioned no small stir among those whose interests are identified with the institution of slavery. If the same spirit should extend, and white laboring men who constitute a vast majority of the white population of the South, and who have been socially degraded and kept in ignorance and poverty by the influence of the institutions of slavery, were to assert their freedom, and to assume that influence to which their numbers entitle them, slavery would soon disappear.
The voice of the Richmond press is, that such a movement cannot be tolerated in that community, and it remains to be seen which interest will prevail. At the last accounts the demands of the workmen were resolutely refused.