ADDRESS OF ALBERT R. PARSONS.
This conflict intenBifies as the power of the privileged classes over the non-
possessing or property less classes increases and intensifies, and this power
increases as the idle few become richer and the producing many become poorer; and this Produces what is called the labor movement. This is the labor
qUe8Tf10rnh ,Wealthi8Power; Poverty is weakness.
had time I might stop here to answer some suggestions that probably
arise in the minds of some persons, or perhaps of your honor, not being familiar with this question. I imagine I hear your honor say, "Why, labor is free.
Tins is a free country/' Now, we had in the southern states for nearly a century a form of labor known as chattel slave labor. That has been abolished,
and I hear you say that labor is free; that the war has resulted in establishing
free labor all over America. Is this true? Look at it. The chattel slave of
the past-the wage slave of today; what is the difference? The master
selected under chattel slavery his own slaves. Under the wage slavery svstem
the wage slave selects his master, and he has got to find one or else he is carried down here to my friend, the jailer, and occupies a cell along side of myself. He is compelled to find one. So the change of the industrial system, in
the language of Jefferson Davis, ex-president of the Southern Confederacy, in
an interview with the New York Herald upon the question of the chattel slave
system of the south and that of the so-called •■ free laborer," and their wages
-Jefferson Davis stated positively that the change was a decided benefit to
the former chattel Blave owners who would not exchange the new system of
wage labor at all for chattel labor, because now the dead had to bury themselves and the sick take care of themselves, and now they don't have to
employ overseers to look after them. They give them a task to do—a certain
amount to do. They say : " Now, here, perform this piece of work in a certain length of time," and if you don't (under the wage system, says Mr.
Davis), why, when you come around for your pay next Saturday, you simply
find in the envelope which contains your money, a note which informs you of
the fact that you have been discharged. Now, Jefferson Davis admitted in
his statement that the leather thong dipped in salt brine, for the chattel
slave, had been exchanged under the wage system for the lash of hunger, an
empty stomach and the ragged back of the wage slave of free born American
sovereign citizens, who, according to the census of the United States for 1880,
constitute more than nine-tenths of our entire population.
But you say the wage slave had advantages over the chattel slave. The
chattel slave couldn't get away from it. Well, if we had the statistics, I
believe it could be shown that as many chattel slaves escaped from bondage
with the bloodhounds of their masters after them as they tracked their way
over the snow-beaten rocks of Canada, and via the underground grape vine
road—I believe the statistics would show that as many chattel slaves escaped
from their bondage under that system as can and do escape today from wage
bondage into capitalistic liberty.
I am a Socialist, I am one of those, although myself a wage slave, who
holds that it is wrong, wrong to myself, wrong to my neighbor, and unjust to
my fellowmen for me, wage slave that I am, to undertake to make my escape
from wage elavery by becoming a master and an owner of slaves myself. I
refuse to do it; 1 refuse equally to be a slave or the owner of slaves. Had I