United States History I
February 2, 2015
Primary Source Writing Response One
Samuel Gompers, Testimony on Labor Unions, 1883 portrays what exactly are unions and what are the purpose of trades unions. In the very beginning it gives the background to Samuel Gompers’ life. Gompers belief was that only strong, centralized trade unions could significantly improve salaries and working conditions. It then goes into a report of the Committee of the Senate upon the Relations between Labor and Capital. This is where witnesses and senators begin to talk about the pros and cons of trades unions.
A little background information about Samuel Gompers. He was born into a working-class Jewish family in London in 1850, who then emigrated to New York City in 1863. This is where Gompers learned the cigar trade from his father. He then started to be a part of New York’s labor movement circles during the 1870s, which he became the head of the Cigar Makers International Union. He then went and founded the American Federation of Labor (AFL). Which he then was a president of until his death in 1924. As explained throughout this report trades unions are organizations that give people the belief that more people the better because it gives everyone a higher motive that will in turn give them a higher goal to look to. At the very beginning of the report the witness (Gompers) talks about the internal condition of the trades unions when it first began. The witness talks about how many strikes they had and how many were successful. Gompers then goes into how they have found the science behind going on strike. When it is generally dull, there are no strikes for advanced wages. Instead they strike when business is