The notion that business had gotten too big for it britches was no longer a notion. Everyone knew about the power of the trusts and the super-wealthy. The Pujo Committee of 1913 had established the links of consolidation in business and finance in the U.S. The finances of the entire nation were proven to have been consolidated into the hands of a few. No one liked the idea. Every president from Grover Cleveland on, had jawboned about the horrible state of affairs. Teddy Roosevelt was even labeled as "the Trust Buster". But as early as 1888, committees in the Benjamin Harrison administration were investigating monopolies. In 1890, the Sherman Anti-trust Act was passed in response to public opinion. The Act prohibited conspiracies in restraint of trade among the several states. America had been a country based on competition. Competition was considered good. The elimination of competition via monopolies, trust, and other such evolutions was bad. To gain wealth was good. But to become so wealthy and so powerful that all competition could be stifled was bad, but, what to do, what to do? The Sherman Anti-trust Act of 1890 was the government's first attempt to do something. The Sherman Act sat around rather idle and difficult until 1894 when, ironically enough, it was put to use against workers and not business monopolies or trusts. It was in the Pullman strike that the Sherman Act was brought into play. On the few occasions where it had been brought against business, it was dismissed or interpreted to the advantage of business trusts and monopolies. It was only when it faced labor unions that it developed a legal significance. In the Pullman strike, the strikers and their sympathetic associates who cooperated against Mr. Pullman in other states were declared to be a labor monopoly. Their actions in refusing to handle Pullman cars at different railroad stations were declared to be in restraint of trade. An injunction was ordered and the Pullman strike was deemed illegal. Eugene Debs, union leader, refused to comply with the injunction. He was arrested and tried for contempt of court. He was convicted. In the Danbury Hatter's case of 1908 the financial penalty of the Act was imposed. The Union involved was ordered to pay triple the claimed damages. Used in this manner, the Sherman Anti-trust Act could break the back of any union declared to be in violation. In retrospect, it becomes rather apparent that the Sherman Anti-trust Act was passed purely as a placebo to placate public outrage. The government was controlled and operated by big business, as was everything else. The only thing that remains in question, is whether or not the legislature passed the Act, worded so obscurely, with the intention of using it in the future as an anti-labor initiative. If the act was passed sincerely by the legislature, then we clearly become aware of the peril of a judicial system where individual judges have the option not to read the intent of the law but the letter of the law, or to interpret law as they see fit. The only option to this behavior in a democratic society seemed to be that laws would have to be written in the future with a good deal more attention paid to specifics and details. In 1914, Congress, again supported by strong public opinion, went back to the drawing board. An attempt was made to refine the Sherman Act and exempt labor unions from its anti-trust provisions. The Clayton Act was passed. Labor hailed the Clayton act as the Magna Carta of labor-management relations. This was not quite the case. In fact, conservative or anti-labor judges throughout the country saw the Clayton Act as basically synonymous with the Sherman Act. So, in the beginning, laborers were not allowed to join together for any other than fraternal purposes. They could not "conspire" to better their working conditions, increase their wages, or damage or interrupt their employer's business. As time progressed laborers were able to combine and to petition their bosses peacefully. But if their peaceful petitions were rejected by their bosses, their only recourse was to quit and seek new employment. Of course, we have no cases where bosses were restricted from joining together for their mutual business benefit. We have no cases where bosses are brought to trial for restricting the opportunities or wages of laborers. We have no cases where any management group is accused of manipulating prices or conspiring to raise prices. Nor do we find any cases of bosses working together against the rights of their workers. Up until this point we have what seems to be very much a one way street. All men are created equal. But, of course, bosses are more equal. The question still remained as to what were the rights of labor? What could laborers do in response to perceived injustice on the part of their bosses? Picketing was not permitted; boycotts were not permitted; sympathy strikes were not permitted; sit-downs were not permitted; work stoppage and slowdowns were not permitted; interfering with another man's opportunity to go to work in a striker's position was not permitted and the courts were obviously prejudiced towards management. Workers could quit or take action and go to jail. Workers had, of course, taken action, and they were beaten, clubbed, put in jail or machine gunned in the streets. But by 1932, with the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt the tide began to turn ever so slightly. The Norris-LaGuardia Act was called the anti-injunction act. The injunction had become a legal tool of management that was used to the point of abuse. An injunction could be issued without the consent of both disputants. An injunction could be issued simply on the word of management. A judge could issue a stop strike order without even hearing the side of the strikers. If the strikers then refused to comply, troops could be called in, and as we have seen, usually were. With the Norris-LaGuardia act the legislature got specific. Half the bill imposed restrictions on the manner in which the federal courts might grant injunctions. The remaining half of the bill dealt with the subject matter of an injunction. The bill reviewed old injustices and attempted to correct them. It seemed to be an attempt to put unions on an equal footing with corporations. Picketing seemed to be legal under the statute. Unions could restrain trade, just as corporations could, as long as they acted "reasonably," - no fraud or violence was permitted. Violence was always a problem. Violence could be initiated by both sides and who would know or be capable of determining the true aggressor. With the election of Roosevelt, the passing of the Norris-LaGuardia Act, and the appointment of new pro-labor judges, labor found a new freedom, and they took advantage of it. The moral of the story seems to be that judges may be even more important than the law or the legislatures. From 1931 to 1939 things went pretty much in labor's direction. But, by 1939, pubic opinion was swinging back once again. Labor organizing tactics, sympathetic support, sit-down strikes, property damage and violence against industry and non-union workers took its toll on public opinion. States began to reconsider Norris-LaGuardia and make qualifying legislation of their own. By 1941, the unions had been calmed down, but yet were on a freer footing than they had ever been in history. The New Deal leaned towards more balanced labor-management relations. There was even talk of a man's "right to work"; a man's natural right to sustenance; a man should have a right to sustain his life even in a world owned entirely by other people, shouldn't he? Of course, from management's point of view, the government had caved. Labor had always had all the rights that they deserved. There was no Constitutional right to a "job." There was no natural right to "employment." There was no such thing as an American guarantee of "freedom from want," or "freedom from fear" for that matter. Freedom of speech and freedom of religion had their obvious limitations also. Freedom of property was the fundamental principle of this society. Freedom to accumulate wealth, uninhibited by government is another right that the forefathers should have been more specific about. Wealth and property, these were the true "unalienable" rights of man. Without these two "rights" there was no such thing as freedom. Where property rights are not protected and sustained, human rights are without consequence.
"Labor Problems in American History", by Carroll R. Daugherty; "American Economic History", sixth edition, by Harold Underwood Faulkner.
Books by Richard Edward Noble. Click on covers below for more info and purchasing instructions.
Classic Tragic Novel
Don't Laugh - This Could Have Been Your Life
Funny stories and some strange characters.
Monkey Dishes and Cocktail Fawks
My Harrowing days in the restaurant business. Great Read.
It's a Long Story
Long Short Fiction - Great stories!
Bloggin' Be My Life
"Bloggin' be My Life" contains a selection of some of my more popular Hobo Philosopher blogs.If you enjoy reading this blog, you should love Bloggin' Be My Life.
It's All About Love
It's All About Love is ... all about love. This is the 2nd book of poetry from The Bard From Chelmsford off Arlington. Every poem in this book comes with a prose introduction. If you enjoy poetry this is a simple choice. Have fun!
A Little Something
Traditional poetry from The Bard From Chelmsford Off Arlington with some poignant prose introductions. If you enjoy any type of poetry, you will enjoy this volume. Thanks.
Talking To Myself
This is my third book of poetry.
Bits and Pieces
The Hobo Philosopher - My first book using the Hobo Philosopher brand. Featuring a variety of writing styles and ideas. Look for the Thoughtful Hobo on the cover.
A Baker's Dozen
The Hobo Philosopher: My Second book of Fiction, Creative Non-Fiction and Short Stories. All varieties of short stories - lots of laughs!
Cat Point - and Them Dang Oyster People
Cat Point is the sequel to "The Eastpointer." Both books contain humorous tales about life in a fishing community on the Florida Panhandle. Lots of laughs.
Won 1st Place award for humor in 2007 from Florida Press Association. More wit, wisdom and humor from the yet to be world famous author, R.E. Noble
A Summer with Charlie - Lawrence
Fiction - Salisbury Beach, Lawrence, Mass. Featured in Merrimack Valley Magazine July /Aug. issue 2010
Travel, Humor, Commentary on migrant farm work and illegal immigration still very pertinent today.
"Just Hangin' Out Ma"
Thank God for the Street Corners of Lawrence, Mass. Anecdotes and humorous escapades about growing up in an industrial mill town in the 40s,50s and 60s.
This is the sequel to "Just Hangin' Out, Ma"
That Old Gang of Mine
This is # 3 in my Lawrence Hometown series. The series is about growing up in the 40's, 50's and 60's in an industrial mill town. Sorta like a Huck Finn goes to vist Uncle Ralph, the bus driver, who lives in a big, rundown city. Lots of fun.
Come On-A My House
This is # 4 in my Lawrence Hometown series.The old homested at 32 Chelmsford ST is pictured on the cover..
Down By The Old Mill Stream
# 5 in the Lawrence My Hometown series.
Standing on the Corner is # 6 in the lawrence My Hometown series.
The old Howard Playstead on Lawrence St.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry
# 7 in the Lawrence my Hometown series.
Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother
Classic tragic novel written from child's perspective. Deals with abuse, poverty, unemployment. Pulls no punches.
Noble Notes on Famous Folks
Humorous, satirical notes on everybody from Constantine to Bill Clinton. Inspiration: Willy Cuppy.
America on Strike
History - documented survey of labor strikes in America
Mein Kampf - An Analysis of Book One
Who are the American Nazis - the Liberals or the Conservatives?
MY NAME IS RICHARD EDWARD NOBLE. I AM A FREELANCE WRITER AND I HAVE PUBLISHED 12 BOOKS:"THE EASTPOINTER" - SELECTIONS FROM AWARD WINNING NEWSPAPER COLUMN - "A LITTLE SOMETHING" - POETRY WITH PROSE -"HONOR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER" - A NOVEL ABOUT GROWING UP IN THE NEW ENGLAND MILL TOWN OF LAWRENCE, MASS, "HOBO-ING AMERICA" - A WORKINGMAN'S TOUR OF THE U.S.A. - "A SUMMER WITH CHARLIE" - THE STORY OF A YOUNG SAILOR'S LAST DAYS AT SALISBURY BEACH, "NOBLE NOTES ON FAMOUS FOLKS" - HUMOROUS ANECDOTES ON FAMOUS FOLKS IN HISTORY,
"AMERICA ON STRIKE" HISTORY BOOK - A SURVEY OF LABOR STRIKES IN AMERICA; "A BAKER'S DOZEN" A BOOK OF HUMOROUS SHORT STORIES; "JUST HANGIN' OUT, MA" - GROWING UP IN THE 40'S, 50'S AND 60'S IN LAWRENCE, MY HOMETOWN, "TENEMENT DWELLERS" - SEQUEL TO JUST HANGIN OUT, MA; MEIN KAMPF - ANALYSIS OF BOOK ONE - HISTORY. CAT POINT - AND THEM DANG OYSTER PEOPLE - SEQUEL TO THE EASTPOINTER
All 12 BOOKS ARE AVAILABLE ON AMAZON.COM, BARNES AND NOBLE AND OTHER INTERNET SOURCES OR FROM NOBLE PUBLISHING. ALL 12 OF MY BOOKS ARE NOW ON KINDLE AT BARGAIN PRICES TOO. IF YOU WOULD LIKE MORE INFORMATION ABOUT DISCOUNTS AND SPECIAL OFFERS E-MAIL ME. MY EMAIL IS ON MY PROFILE PAGE.