Terence V. Powderly quotes

Terence V. Powderly photo
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Terence V. Powderly

Birthdate: 22. January 1849
Date of death: 24. June 1924

Terence Vincent Powderly was an American labor union leader, politician and attorney, best known as head of the Knights of Labor in the late 1880s. He was elected mayor of Scranton, Pennsylvania, for three 2-year terms, starting in 1878. A Republican, he served as the United States Commissioner General of Immigration in 1897. The Knights of Labor was one of the largest American labor organizations of the 19th century, but Powderly was a poor administrator and could barely keep it under control. His small central office could not supervise or coordinate the many strikes and other activities sponsored by union locals. Powderly believed that the Knights was an educational tool to uplift the workingman, and he downplayed the use of strikes to achieve workers' goals.

His influence reportedly led to the passing of the alien contract labor law in 1885 and establishment of labor bureaus and arbitration boards in many states. The Knights failed to maintain its large membership after being blamed for the violence of the Haymarket Riot of 1886. It was increasingly upstaged by the American Federation of Labor under Samuel Gompers, which coordinated numerous specialized craft unions that appealed to skilled workers, instead of the mix of unskilled, semiskilled, and skilled workers in the Knights. Wikipedia

„No law that ever darkened white paper in the printing can lay down a rule of conduct for all men to follow alike.“

—  Terence V. Powderly

Context: You cannot judge all men by the one standard, any more than you can make shoes for all of them on the same last. No law that ever darkened white paper in the printing can lay down a rule of conduct for all men to follow alike.

„Give men shorter hours in which to labor, and you give them more time to study and learn why bread is so scarce while wheat is so plenty.“

—  Terence V. Powderly

"The Army of the Discontented," http://ebooks.library.cornell.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=nora;cc=nora;g=moagrp;xc=1;q1=The%20Army%20of%20the%20Discontented;rgn=full%20text;cite1=Powderly;cite1restrict=author;view=image;seq=0381;idno=nora0140-4;node=nora0140-4%3A8 North American Review, vol. 140, whole no. 341 (April 1885), p. 377.

„I learned that we are all good and bad instead of good or bad“

—  Terence V. Powderly

Context: Many men, aware of the treatment I received at the hands of Walter Dawson, have asked me why I did not avenge the wrongs he inflicted on me. I am not aware that he did inflict wrong on me … I did some good through being blacklisted. It made me more than determined to perfect an organization that would render blacklisting impossible; it made me mayor of Scranton where I learned that we are all good and bad instead of good or bad. It taught me how to put myself in the place of the vilest, filthiest, lowest-down tramp that comes to me for help. It taught me when men were brought before me for trial how to pierce the veil between cause and effect, between motive and act; it enabled me to come down from the bench as a magistrate, a representative of the law, and before the bar of my own heart, and conscience, place the prisoner then before me on the bench in my stead.

„If you owe a man a dollar, pay it; if you owe him a grudge, forget it, and always be kind.“

—  Terence V. Powderly

[Powderly, Terence, 'The Path I Trod: The Autobiography of Terence V. Powderly, 1940, Columbia University Press, 9781163178164, https://archive.org/stream/pathitrodautobio00powdrich, 34]

„That the army of the discontented is gathering fresh recruits day by day is true, and if this army should become so large that, driven to desperation, it should one day arise in its wrath and grapple with its real or fancied enemy, the responsibility for that act must fall upon the head of those who could have averted the blow, but who turned a deaf ear to the supplication of suffering humanity and gave the screw of oppression an extra turn because they had the power.“

—  Terence V. Powderly

"The Army of the Discontented," http://ebooks.library.cornell.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=nora;cc=nora;g=moagrp;xc=1;q1=The%20Army%20of%20the%20Discontented;rgn=full%20text;cite1=Powderly;cite1restrict=author;view=image;seq=0381;idno=nora0140-4;node=nora0140-4%3A8 North American Review, vol. 140, whole no. 341 (April 1885), p. 371.

„Individually, workingmen are weak, and, when separated, each one follows a different course, without accomplishing anything for himself or his fellow man; but when combined in one common bond of brotherhood, they become as the cable, each strand of which, though weak and insignificant enough in itself, is assisted and strengthened by being joined with others, and the work that one could not perform alone is easily accomplished by a combination of strands.“

—  Terence V. Powderly

"The Organization of Labor," http://ebooks.library.cornell.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=nora;cc=nora;g=moagrp;xc=1;q1=The%20Organization%20of%20Labor;rgn=full%20text;cite1=Powderly;cite1restrict=author;view=image;seq=0122;idno=nora0135-2;node=nora0135-2%3A2 North American Review, vol. 135, no. 2, whole no. 309 (Aug. 1882), pp. 119.

„Revolutions are not manufactured or made to order; they are never successfully planned or deliberately entered upon; they do not come at the bidding of one man or one set of men; they grow and then come“

—  Terence V. Powderly

[Powderly, Terence, 'The Path I Trod: The Autobiography of Terence V. Powderly, 1940, Columbia University Press, 9781163178164, https://archive.org/stream/pathitrodautobio00powdrich, 46]

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