Page images


mains that, of necessity, increased knowledge avails here in a marked degree; only, to be successful, the inventor needs not only knowledge but will and creative ability.

One employer finds the capacity to do mischief by strikes, &c., increased by training.

The replies of the workmen to the same series of questions are of far more interest than those of the employers, because presenting the subject in a greater variety of views.

The illustrations used by the answering workmen are nearly always remarkably apt and clear, not involved, but distinct and sharp, and generally drawn, of course, from the avocations they pursue.

As to education giving increased skill and aptitude, the testimony of the workmen is that it does almost universally; one remarking that in the business of iron molding, where generally it is least supposed to be of consequence, this result is to be most observed.

As to an ability to read and write conducing to increased “ fidelity" and “skill,” also to increase of wages, opinions vary, though most agree that it would increase them from 10 to 20 per cent. One great value of so much knowledge is, that those able to read the facts for themselves are not apt to be so unreasonable in their demands nor to engage in strikes; but, knowing the markets, know that increase of wages at a given time is impossible. One writes that “How cheap will you work?not" How much do you know ?" is the question asked by certain employers, and his opinion is that knowledge has little to do with wages. Yet the same authority, in replying to the next question, " As to how much more knowledge will increase wages," bears full testimony to the value of an acquaintance with arithmetic to miners, the class of whom he speaks. So it seems that in this labor to simply read and write is not enough; and his answer, seemingly undervaluing this knowledge, is but a strong plea for more education. Most treat fidelity, faithfulness, honesty, as a matter independent of mere knowledge of the rudiments of education; as moral qualities which are possessed in as high a degree by some who know nothing of the rudiments of education as by those who do. One argues against education increasing the fidelity of the laborer, because education enables him to appreciate the wrongs inflicted by capital upon labor, and therefore will not be likely to increase his “ fidelity" to those whom he considers his oppressors.

To the query as to the effect and value of still higher education, a knowledge of the sciences that underlie his occupation, the answers are very varied, and treat upon nearly all the related questions in the contest between capital and labor. One replies that it would enable a mechanic to take his own contract and receive all the profit coming from his labor; in other words, though the writer does not say it, it would transfer him from the rank of those who labor for wages to that of the employer. Another thinks it would increase the wealth of the employer but not of the laborer,


“Mr. Sampson likes his coolies because they are docile and cheap-not because they can read and write."

Another finds a drawback in that a youth with this education, fitted to make him a superior workman, thinks it menial to learn a trade; this idea is expressed in different forms by several.

Another states that a thorough knowledge of the material in which an iron-molder works, for instance, would enable him to produce the same results with one-third less labor; but would not necessarily increase his wages. A distinction is drawn by several between the additional wealth-producing power and the increased wages of the laborer.

In answer as to whether the increase of inventive skill keeps pace with increase of general education, one states that during the past four years the production of a given number of mechanics has at least doubled from the improvement in tools. Another says, “It is well known that all labor-saving machinery is the product of the brain of the ed laborer; but for forty years it has resulted in neither less hours for labor nor less physical labor to the laborer. The educated laborer of to-day works as hard and as many hours as the laborer forty years ago_the ·labor-saving' being money only to those who labor not." All the replies admit the value of education to any one with inventive faculties, though not conceding the whole credit to the fact of education alone.

As to educated persons being preferred for superintendents, foremen, &c., most of the replies concur that they are, but assertions are made of cases to the contrary. Some employers select men of brute force to dominate over their laborers, but the emphatic bitterness with which these facts are stated would seem to show that they are exceptional.

As to the effect of education and culture upon the position and influ. ence of the laborer, the testimony is confirmatory of its value; one believes that the large proportion of criminals are children of ignorant parents; another points to the fact that but one in ten of the convicts of New York State is from the mechanic and laboring classes; another finds great advance in the condition of the laborer through the spread of education, and looks to the reducing of the hours of labor to the lowest possible amount as the only hope for increased refinement of that class; another considers this reduction of the hours of labor “the great question of the day;" another would have every child compelled to go to school till the age of sixteen years—a portion of each year at least; another admits the great power of education in elevating the class of workmen in all respects, but says "all is lost in the knowledge that a corrupt government legislates entirely for capital and nothing for honest labor."

From the observers these questions draw forth very different replies from those given by the actual employers and laborers, not in regard to any of the technical questions, as to the general improvement produced by education, but in the reflections induced and by their deductions from the facts.

The question of the kind of education to be given is earnestly discussed, and the omissions which they charge to the common school and high school system are forcibly delineated. The absolute need of technical schools, of furnishing education closely related to the industries of all persons who must work, is strongly presented; while the philosophy of the advantages of education to the laborer is clearly stated by another observer: 1st. In the independence it creates. 2d. In the withdrawal from a lower to a higher sphere of labor, and in thus diminishing the number of the mere laborers and so increasing their wages, wherein lie some of the secrets of the worth of education.

But not mere knowledge of rudiments, not facility in mere exercise, but in the progress of technic art, and in the habit of right thinking and conscientious conduct, is the hope and progress of the American workman.

From the testimony thus given by various classes, from all sections, and among many industries, it is clear that the worth of a common school education to the common laboring man is universally conceded, with the single exception of those speaking of colored laborers; that his value to the community at large is positively increased and his power as a producer, of adding to the common stock of wealth, is materially enhanced by the education given him as a child in the common school. The increase of wages he will receive on account of his knowl. edge is put at various figures, averaging near 25 per cent. That this increase of value arises, 1st, from the fact of his being more readily instructed in the duties of his work; 2d, that he needs less supervision; 3d, that he does his work to better advantage and therefore produces more in a given time; 4th, that he is less liable to join in unreasonable and unseasonable strikes; 5th, is more industrions; 6th, less dissipated; and, lastly, is less liable to become an expense to the commonwealth through poverty or crime.

That this (which is true of the commonest laboring man who knows little more than to read and write, but who, knowing this, possesses a marked superiority over his fellows, who are ignorant of these simple rudiments and means of acquiring knowledge) also holds true in regard to additional acquirements, is likewise fully shown.

That a knowledge of the sciences that underlie the occupation gives greatly increased value to their possessor as a laborer is agreed on all hands—no answer so far excepts even the colored laborer. It does this, 1st, by enabling him to avoid dangers, in mining, for instance, to which ignorant men are exposed; 2d, by enabling him to detect and remedy difficulties, which else would cause expense or delay; 30, by enabling him to discover shorter and simpler methods of work, thereby increasing his powers of production; 4th, by stimulating his qualities of con. trivance so that he adjusts and modifies the tools or machines which he uses, and becomes eventually an inventor of simpler and better machires, thus increasing the wealth-producing power not only of himself, but of his fellow laborers. In this direction it is estimated that his value is increased 100 per cent., while in certain exceptional cases the gain is incalculable. But after admitting all these arguments in favor of the increased value of the laborer who possesses this higher education, it is clear, from the evidence of all, that the chief value and greatest advantage of such increased knowledge arise from the fact that it advances the well-being of its possessor. By virtue of increased education he commands higher wages for his services, and also adds largely to the common production.

Looking merely at its economic value, these answers go to prove that the community receives an ample return for whatever of money it invests in the education of its citizens. Since this is demonstrated, it adds force to the arguments now being urged for technical education, for special training in the several industrial fields; for, if the teaching of the simple rudiments and general instruction give so rich a return to the State, how much greater and more certain results may be relied upon from special training for special labor. This question, which has been so fully tested by the technical schools of the European governments, is attracting attention here, and we are not surprised that dissatisfaction is openly expressed that the high schools furnish no opportunity for training in the practical industries of life.

The argument, as stated here, rests on an entirely different basis from that presented by the professional man-mortified that his country possesses no schools for professional training equal to those of Europe.

This is the plea of the citizen who finds in the higher branches of the public schools an utter failure to give that training which fits for varied practical occupations. The point is well taken, and merits consideration. It is a plea for artisan, art, industrial, and scientific schools as a part of the common school system-a plea based upon the economic value to the state of such training to its citizens.

The questions of the hours of labor, of the relations between capital and labor, of the importation of cheap Chinese labor, of the alleged discrimination in legislation in favor of capital and against labor, all come up in varied forms and show an activity of thought among the workingmen which will require to be met by intelligent argument if we would avoid in this country that impending conflict between the producing and capitalist classes, to avert which is occupying the thought of the ablest minds of the Old World.

These questions cannot be ignored, and the only safe solution of problems so complex and so vital lies in the general dissemination of education among all citizens of the state, so that the capitalist shall be taught as well as the laborer, (and in this country the classes and terms are continually interchangeable, the laborer becoming capitalist, and often, by sudden reverse of fortune, the capitalist becoming laborer,) and that all shall come to see that there is no necessary antagonism between these fellow-workers, for the interests of the laborer rest everywhere upon capital, which is nothing but the sum of surplus labor, and that capital

[ocr errors]

is vitally interested in the improvement, intelligence, and prosperity of the laborer.

To short-sighted grasping capitalists and ignorant laborers this often seems the reverse of the truth, but the repetitions of history again and again demonstrate its unchangeable verity. As labor emancipates and owns itself, health and prosperity come to the nation; as it is enslaved and owned, the capitalists becoming stronger and the laborer weaker, luxury increases and the semblance of prosperity deceives the nation ; but this false semblance of strength meets with sudden catastrophe, as yesterday with the slave system of America, to-day with the hollow pretension of imperial France.

It is this danger, inherent to labor which can be controlled in mass, which arouses the instinctive hostility of free laborers to importations of Chinese contract labor. It is clear from the answers drawn out by these simple educational questions that all classes are interested in edu. cation, and that the subject includes many topics and is linked with all political and economic problems.

This report goes to press while the answers and opinions coming in from all quarters of the country are increasing in interest. My hope is that they will continue to come until every inquiry sent out has been answered.

Then, should it be possible, I expect to use all the material in hand in treating this and the related questions towards which so many of the answers have so naturally directed attention.

The special need of this will be most felt by those who know best the strong but exceptional convictions prevailing in many minds, that it is injurious and dangerous to give colored laborers a rudimentary education as noted above.

However faulty or blind any of these opinions may be in our judgment, it becomes us, in view of the gravity of the interests at stake, to bring the whole subject under the most wide and correct observation and examination, both as regards facts and opinions, that truth may have a fair chance at every honest mind, and correct ideas of what education is and of what its benefits are to all races and classes may be universally disseminated.

COSMOPOLITAN, HALF-TIME, AND EVENING SCHOOLS. The combination of people speaking various foreign languages, in San Francisco and Sacramento, has led to the establishment of schools known as cosmopolitan, in which the necessity for learning these languages is measurably met. All our cities have men and women, so pressed with the labors necessary for their support that they have no time save the evening for self-improvement. Many of these persons have had no previous opportunity even for rudimentary education. Not a few of those who attend these schools are willing to make any effort for self'mprovement. Sometimes the father and son, or the mother and


« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »