[Silver Spring?]: 1869. 4pp. Caption title, as issued. Folded. Lightly spotted at blank lower margin, Good+.
This pamphlet is a scarce and significant reflection of the beginnings of the American Labor movement as an independent political and social force. The National Labor Union, which Blair mistakenly calls the 'National Labor Organization,' was one of the earliest efforts to organize industrial and agricultural labor as a counterweight to the growing power of post-Civil War American manufacturing and banking organizations. Writing from his home in Silver Spring, Maryland on August 14, 1869, the venerable Blair, member of President Jackson's Kitchen Cabinet, forcefully expresses his populist, Jacksonian roots in this response to an invitation for him to attend the upcoming Philadelphia Convention of the Union. He passionately denounces national banks and monopoly capital, and urges the country "to disestablish our national banks and resume for the people the control of the finances of the government."
Blair presents his views in this scarce Letter to John Magwire, a member of the Executive Committee of the National Labor Union. The "modern system of national banking," says Blair, "is a more absolute, and therefore worse monopoly of its whole monetary concerns than was ever conceded to the Bank of the United States." The Philadelphia convention mentioned by Blair was the first to be held in which black delegates were allowed to attend [Susan B. Anthony and other women were rejected as delegates] [II Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, pages 165 et seq.].
The National Labor Union [NLU] was the first national labor organization in the United States. It was organized in 1866 by William Sylvis, an iron moulder who had founded the National Union of Iron Moulders in 1860 and also served as its president. Sylvis organized the NLU with the goal of establishing a federation of skilled and unskilled workers from all different trades, including farmers, under a single organization. The NLU fought for higher wages and eight-hour work days, with early success; and supported cheap money and inflationary greenbacks. After the Panic of 1873, however, members drifted to the Knights of Labor. By 1874 the NLU had collapsed.
John Magwire [also spelled Maguire], born in Pennsylvania in 1805, moved to St. Louis in 1837, opened his own mines and foundries, and built steamboat hulls. President Lincoln appointed him an inspector of steam vessels in St. Louis. An early proponent of labor unions, he served as the representative of the Workingmen's Union of Missouri. His Union joined the National Labor Union; Magwire was appointed to its Executive Council. [Reavis, L.U., et al.: SAINT LOUIS: THE FUTURE CITY OF THE WORLD. St. Louis: Gray, Baker & Co., 1875, Pages 803-15.]
OCLC records five locations under two accession numbers as of July 2014. Item #31266