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tion the propriety of purchasing and using things made through the abuse of their fellow-beings. As Emerson said of his charity-given dollar that “it was a wicked dollar he would yet learn to withhold,” so women were teaching themselves to withstand desires for articles which helped to perpetuate wicked systems of work.
To the political economist, the part that woman was taking in the country's industries became a subject of national importance. After frequent investigations into the nature of their occupations, the question was propounded, “ Whether it would not be expedient, for the good of the State, to altogether forbid the employment of women in factories ?” The position taken by Mr. Wright, the leading authority in American labor statistics,—not prominent, however, as an advanced reformer,—was "that married women ought not to be tolerated in the mills at all," as “the employment of mothers is the most harmful wrong done to the race.” “Vital science,” he observes, “ will one day demand their exclusion, as the effect of such employment is an evil that is sapping the life of our operative population andm ust, sooner or later, be regulated, or more probably, stopped.”*
It will be seen at once that this suggestion of Mr. Wright lies directly on the plane of modern socialism or nationalism. To advocate taking two million women forcibly from certain harmful occupations is a tacit admission that the individual has no right to dispose of herself to the disadvantage of the State. Physicians had long sounded notes of warning of a race deterioration that was going on in consequence of the employment of women under bad conditions of labor, and the claim was made that “at all hazards the State must protect itself.” To do this, however, involved consequences that the advisers, perhaps, foresaw. As legislation excluding women and children from factories would interfere directly with their support, the logical conclusion would be that the State, to keep them from actual starvation, would be bound to interfere again to the extent of furnishing them with such means of living as would make them—what the State wanted-happy, healthy, capable mothers of the race. And, as it would be obviously impossible to discriminate between those engaged in one pursuit at the expense of those employed in others, it would follow that the State, by supporting the factory work
* Massachusetts Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1875, pp. 183-84.
ers, would place itself under obligations to clothe, feed, shelter, and educate all women.
This second proposition is so necessary a corollary of the first as to make Mr. Wright's suggestion almost conclusive evidence that his investigations had led him to accept the nationalistic theory of State interference with the liberty of labor, as the sole remedy for the evils sapping the life of our female operative population. And as no student of practical economics would consent to the entire withdrawal from the productive industries of so large and capable a body of workers as the three millions women now engaged in them, Mr. Wright must have also given acceptance to that other part of the nationalistic creed-growing so fast into popular favor-of its being the duty of the State to regulate the hours of labor so that work may be the promoter of health in women in place of being its destroyer.
Even if the results of Mr. Wright's investigations into the hard facts of woman's industrial condition in America had been to throw him into accord with what is termed “scientific socialism,”* his experience would have been simply that of most honest investigators. Helen Campbell, converted to socialism while gathering material for her books illustrative of women as workers, claimed in her latest volume that “In socialism .... in its highest interpretation, lies the only solution for every problem on either side the great sea, between the eastern and western worker.” Instances of similar experience might be multiplied, but are rendered unnecessary by the
* Whenever “socialism” is referred to in this essay, by the term should be simply understood the meaning given to the word in recent editions of Webster's “ Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language,” viz.: "A theory of society which advocates a more precise, orderly, and harmonious arrangement of the social relations of mankind than that which has hitherto prevailed.” This necessarily is the very opposite of anarchy, described, in the same authority, as “ The state of society where there is no law or supreme power, or where the laws are not efficient and individuals do what they please with impunity.” Socialism is therefore the antithesis of anarchism. The former is constructive and altruistic, the latter destructive, and the absolute sovereignty of the individual, consequently, disregard of others. Nor is by socialism meant communism. Socialism recognizes the right of the individual to the product of his own labor and certainly not the division thereof ; whereas communism means that common ownership of property which has only been successfully carried out in the conventual orders of the Roman Catholic Church and in the Buddhistic Lamaseries. This is the position taken in a recently published article from the pen of the well-known social-economist Charles Sotheran, formerly literary editor of the New York Star, but better known under his noms-de-plume of “ Colmolyn ” and “ Southernwood." rapidity with which the doctrine has spread in the past ten years throughout Europe and America, and the honored names which have become identified with its support. According to its adherents, one phase of applied socialism will consist in a consolidation of the splendid processes of organization and co-operation inaugurated by the various labor societies and speculative enterprises of to-day. In its results, it aims to benefit woman : (1) by recognizing woman as the perfect equal of man, politically and socially ; (2) by fixing woman's means of support by the State so as to render her independent of man, and thus insure her that freedom and dignity which is hers of right as the mothers of the race ; (3) by permitting them to withdraw from maleficent industries ; (4) by shortening the legal working day so as to afford her leisure for the higher things of life. As women are also in greatest measure the teachers of the race, socialism victorious would secure for them a complete system of technical, art, and professional schools, so as to make the education of women universal and rounded in place of partial and incomplete. To-day, scarcely one-third of the population has been taught so much as to read and write understandingly.
The students of woman's present position in and outside the named industries make the claim that nothing less radical than such reforms as are contemplated by the socialists will avail to better their condition. A charge made and sustained by them is that existing labor legislation, as well as charitable donations of schools, libraries, etc., built by bourgeois manufacturers out of the “skimped” wages of employees, have all been futile. Whatever has been done, the fact remains, as Victor Hugo tersely put it, “ The paradise of the rich is made out of the hell of the poor.” Dives grows richer with the years, the purple and linen of his wives and daughters more costly, their fare more sumptuous. While Lazarus, with his women, whose toil supplies the fine raiment and choice delicacies, crouches outside the gates in rags, grown more beggarly, and whose food becomes daily more loathsome and scant.
Nationalism proposes to call this injustice to a halt. With Herbert Spencer it says, that“ One woman will not be suffered to enjoy without working that which another produces without enjoying." It preaches the brotherhood of man, the sisterhood of women ; the creed heroic in its grandeur of the abolition of alms-giving Charity, and the substitution for this outgrown goddess of past ages a divine spirit of Justice, whose fiat is to be obeyed though the heavens fall. “The growth within the mass of the population of these principles is,” says a recent writer in the Forum, “one of the most formidable symptoms of the times.'” In this remark there lies all the pungency of truth. Earnest men and women are preaching the doctrines of Nationalism with all that intensity of faith which characterized the disciples of the anti-chattel slavery movement. To most, its tenets have become a religious as well as a political belief. To hasten the time of its adoption, women's voices are being heard in lecture halls and wayside inns, in meetinghouses, in the school-room, at the hearth-stone, and through the medium of the printing-press-speaking with the same enthusiasm for the redemption of the white slave as the Lucy Stones and Harriet Beecher Stowes did before 1866 for the enfranchisement of the black slave. That woman's duty to woman is taking this noble shape of pleading the cause of humanity, as though every industrial worker in factory, field, mill, and shop were her own mother, children, sisters, brothers, is the light in the heavens showing that the darkest hour before dawn has been reached, and is passing away from the horizon of the industrial population.
JOSEPHINE SHAW LOWELL.
To make even a superficial study of the work done and being done by American women to help their suffering fellow-beings must fill the heart with gratitude for the wisdom and devotion displayed, and with a rejoicing hope for the future. To know that all over this vast continent, intelligent and unwearying women are thinking and working and praying for the needy, the wicked, the ignorant, the weak, and the down-trodden, is a joy and an inspiration.
Necessarily, everything that is attempted is not accomplished, nor are all the attempts wise, but, nevertheless, it is encouraging to find, in looking over the whole field, that it has been very uncommon for any women, in this country, to rest content to feed the body of their suffering fellow-creatures, ignoring the wants of the brain, the heart, and the soul. However imperfectly accomplished, there always seems at least an at. tempt to reach beyond the material need and minister to some higher want; to add at least a little to the character of those they have sought to help, and where the ministering to the higher wants has been made the real aim of the work, wliere the command, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness," has been followed, the results are, as I have said, full of encouragement.
It would be impossible in this article to give a detailed history of the charitable work of American women, nor would it be especially useful, because in each community very much the same course is followed, and nothing would be gained by describing what is so well known. I shall, therefore, attempt nothing beyond a general sketch of the usual fields of women's work, pausing to give a more careful description only of such enterprises as seem to me to contain something original, and