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a reasonable portion of the profits accruing from its operations, it becomes an evil, and the cause of degradation instead of a blessing.
The organization and adjustment of the laws of society, so as to secure to wealth its true value, and, at the same time, allow a reason. able profit to labor, may be regarded as the most difficult problem in political economy. One who labors through life, and, having reared a family, leaves his offspring in a condition no better than was that of his own in the beginning, has gained nothing-his labor has yielded no profit. And so it is with the laboríng part of the community, as a class; for, if their condition remains the same, without a diminution in the relative proportion of numbers, and without improvement for generations in succession, we may justly conclude that they have realized no profit, and that all beyond that which was necessary to sustain them in a working condition, has been absorbed by the proprietors of the soil, and other capitalists. Where this is the case- --it matters not what the form of government, nor with how much apparent solici. tude the laws provide for the protection of the rights and privileges of the subject—that class which possess the natural and artificial wealth, possess also a property in labor—differing, it is true, in some respects, but for all practical purposes—as complete as that of the master in the slave which is bought with his money; for the latter must be fed and clothed, and kept in a working condition, and the former receives no more; all over this goes to pay for the privilege of cultivating the soil, and using the money, or operating the machinery erected by capital.
The food and clothing of the laboring classes cannot be regarded as profit. Profit is something gained, and if their condition has remained unimproved through a series of generations, it is evidence that the profits of labor, whether great or small, have been absorbed by the owners of property. And the difference between the condition of free laborers, who receive no profit, and that of slaves, consists principally in the right of the former to choose their employers, and generally, to select their occupations, and in exemption from corporal punishment; but they are, nevertheless, compelled to labor by necessity as strong, and not less relenting, than the chains that bind, and the rod which compels the slave. In addition to the necessities of his own nature, the one is impelled by the claims of a helpless offspring, and of parents decrepid with age; the other simply by the rod, which he may avert by obedience.
In Europe the advantages are all in favor of wealth, which receives and appropriates to itself almost the entire profits of labor. But the abundance and cheapness of lands in the United States have been hitherto the means of enabling the laboring classes to escape, in a great measure, from the tyranny of that power which is based on the proprietorship of the soil ; yet, nevertheless, they require protection from the influence of money capital. No extensive enterprise affecting the economical pursuits of the country, can be carried into effect without the agency of capital ; •and owing to its selfish nature, capital rarely seeks employment from motives of benevolence; and being able to subsist without employment, it can wait until labor is compelled, by necessity, to accede to its terms. It never contemplates a division of profits, for it understands, as by instinct, that this would destroy its power, and hence, it always claims the lion's share.
Another drawback on labor in this country, and more especially in the west, is the great distance between the producers and consumers. While this absorbs the profits of labor, it also employs much the greater part of the capital, and thus prevents its permanent investment in local improvements. And furthermore, it tends to confine the peo. ple to a few employments, thus preventing that division of labor, and diversity of pursuits, so necessary to the full development of the resources of the country. Hence, notwithstanding our free institutions, the abolishment of entails, and the law of primogeniture, and also the abundance and cheapness of land, yet labor is in danger of falling into the same abject condition here as in Europe.
The laws of every country seem to evince a greater solicitude for the protection of property, than for the welfare of persons; and while they guard with vigilance the profits of capital, leave labor to strug. gle for the means of subsistence merely. We do not object that property is protected, nor deny that the owner is entitled to receive a reasonable profit from others for its use; but we desire that labor should receive encouragement and protection also. We desire that the strength of the human arm, directed by intelligence, and honestly employed, should not only be sustained in a working condition, but that these faculties should bear some proportion to capital, and receive a reasonable and just dividend of the profits accruing from their joint operations. Less cannot supply the natural demands of justice; and we have shown that labor receives no profit, unless something remains
after satisfying the common wants of nature, in which are included the support of holpless infancy and decrepid age. We would, however, take nothing from the rich, but give encouragement to the poor; we would not pull down the strong, but strengthen the hands of the weak.
A change so important to the interest and happiness of the human race, cannot be effected by acts of injustice or violence; it must be of slow growth, and the work of more than one generation; it must be based on the principles of natural justice, modified by the wants and the condition of both the people and the country; and hence, it is important that we examine the subject and devise the means of improvement before the evils which we deprecate have become too deeply and firmly rooted to be eradicated.
Encouragement to a division of labor, by increasing the number of pursuits, may be regarded as the first step towards relieving it from the predominance of capital. By diversisying employments, a wider field is opened for the exercise of that endless variety of physical and mental faculties which so strongly mark the individuals of the human family. Philosophy finds a meaning in this variety of character, and perceiving its adaptation to the development of the varied resources of human subsistence, indicates pursuits corresponding to the peculiar inclinations and capacity of each individual. These varied endowments may be regarded as the peculiar property of those who possess them, and when wisely directed, are calculated, not only to facilitate the operations of labor, and increase its profits, but to render it more pleasing and agreeable also. But in a community where the great mass is crowded into one, or but a very limited number of pursuits, these varied adaptations not only lose their advantages, but become detrimental to that portion of the operatives who, against their natural inclinations, are complled to labor in employments for which they were not designed by nature. In such circumstances, it is not to be expected that mankind can be reconciled to labor, and it is natural that many should endeavor to escape from such a condition by any means in their
power. These are subjects on which we have bestowed much reflection, and admit that we have been always met by insurmountable difficulties in devising any plan that will secure to labor what we esteem a fair division of profits with capital, without doing violence to rights which have been secured by the constitution and laws of the country. Of all the schemes which have been projected for the establishment of communities, none, we believe, have stood the test of practical experience. Individual acquisitions, and the absolute right of control over property, the produce of their own labor, must be left without restraint, or we take from man one of the strongest motives to labor. And, if the profits accruing from capital should be reduced too low, this would tend likewise, to diminish the ardor of acquisition. Hence we conclude, that it is necessary to leave the field of enterprise open to all, under the direction of laws that will secure to each the enjoy. ment and control of his own honest acquisitions; and that our hopes of the amelioration of the condition of the working classes must depend mainly on intellectual improvement, and a division of labor.
Having arrived at these conclusions, the inquiry naturally follows, How shall we encourage or promote the division of labor to an extent that will create a demand for, and call into requisition the varied faculties of the entire community, so as to bring capital instead of labor into market, in search of employment ? We answer, a general law, authorizing the establishment of corporations for industrial purposes, would, in our opinion, do much towards bringing about this result; and the better to explain the nature of such a law, we publish entire the following act of the legislature of New York, passed on the 17th day of February, 1848 :
AN ACT TO AUTHORIZE THE FORMATION OF CORPORATIONS FOR MANU
FACTURING, MINING, MECHANICAL OR CHEMICAL PURPOSES. Sec. 1. At any time hereafter, any three or more persons, who may desire to form a company for the purpose of carrying on any kind of manufacturing, mining, mechanical, or chemical business, may make, sign, and acknowledge before some officer competent to take the acknowledgment of deeds, and file in the office of the clerk of the county in which the business of the company shall be carried on, and a duplicate thereof in the office of the Secretary of State, a certificate in writing, in which shall be stated the corporate name of the said company, and the objects for which the company shall be formed, the amount of the capital stock of the said company, the term of its existence, not to exceed fisty years, the number of shares of which the said stock shall consist, the number of trustees and their names, who shall manage the concerns of said company for the first year, and the names of the town and county in which the operations of the said company are to be carried on.
SEC. 2. When the certifica shall have been filed, as aforesaid, the persons who shall have signed and acknowledged the same, and their successors, shall be a body politic and corporate, in fact and in name, by the name stated in such ces.
lificate; and by that name have succession, and shall be capable of suing and being sued in any court of law or equity in this State, and they and their successors may have a common seal, and may make and alter the same at pleasure; and they shall, by their corporate name, be capable in law of purchasing, holding, and conveying any real and personal estate whatever, which may be necessary to enable the said company to carry on their operations named in such certificate, but shall not mortgage the same or give any lien thereon.
Sec. 3. The stock, property, and concerns of such company shall be managed by not less than three, nor more than nine trustees, who shall respectively be stockholders in such company and citizens of the United States, and a majority of whom shall be citizens of this State, who shall, except the first year, be annually elected by the stockholders, at such time and place as may be directed by the bylaws of the company; and public notice of the time and place of holding such election shall be published, not less than ten days previous thereto, in the newspaper printed nearest to the place where the operations of the said company shall be carried on; and the election shall be made by such of the stockholders as shall attend for that purpose, either in person or by proxy. All elections shall be by ballot, and each stockholder shall be entitled to as many votes as he owns shares of stock in the said company, and the persons receiving the greatest number of votes shall be trustees; and when any vacancy shall happen among the trustees, by death, resignation or otherwise, it shall be filled for the remainder of the year in such manner as may be provided for by the by-laws of the said company.
Sec. 4. In case it shall happen at any time, that an election of trustees shall not be made on the day designated by the by-laws of said company, when it ought to have been made, the company for that reason shall not be dissolved, but it shall be lawful on any other day, to hold an election for trustees, in such manner as shall be provided for by the said by laws, and all acts of trustees shall be valid and binding as against such company, until their successors shall be elected.
Sec. 5. There shall be a President of the company, who shall be designated from the number of the trustees, and also such subordinate officers as the company by its by-laws may designate, who may be elected or appointed, and required to give such security for the faithful performance of the duties of their office as the company by its by-laws may require.
Sec. 6. It shall be lawful for the trustees to call in and demand from the stockholders respectively, all such sums of money by them subscribed, at such times, and in such payments or instalments as the trustees shall deem proper, under the penalty of forfeiting the shares of stock subscribed for, and all previous payments made thereon, if payment shall not be made by the stockholders within sixty days after a personal demand or notice requiring such payment shall have been published for six successive weeks in the newspaper nearest to the place where the business of the company shall be carried on as aforesaid.
Sec. 7. The trustees of such company shall have power to make such pru