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[139]

The eight-hour movement (1865)

Address in Faneuil Hall, November 2, 1865.

It is twenty-nine years this month since I first stood on the platform of Faneuil Hall to address an audience of the citizens of Boston. I felt then that I was speaking for the cause of the laboring men, and if tonight I should make the last speech of my life, I would be glad that it should be in the same strain,--for laboring men and their rights.

The labor of these twenty-nine years has been in behalf of a race bought and sold. The South did not rest their system wholly on this claim to own their laborers; but according to Chancellor Harper, Alexander H. Stevens, Governor Pickens, and John C. Calhoun, asserted that the laborer must necessarily be owned by capitalists or individuals. That struggle for the ownership of labor is now somewhat near its end; and we fitly commence a struggle to define and to arrange the true relations of capital and labor. To-day one of your sons is born. He lies in his cradle as the child of a man without means, with a little education, and with less leisure. The favored child of the capitalist is borne up by every circumstance, as on the eagle's wings. The problem of to-day is how to make the chances of the two as equal as possible; and before this movement stops, every child born in America must have an equal chance in life.

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