Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"Man vs. Machine": The Society for Promoting National Regeneration (1833)

Morning Chronicle, Saturday, 7th December, 1833.


We copy from Cobbett's Register of this day the following strange article, which bears the above title. The matter appears to us in a very serious light; but at present we cannot offer any remarks on the subject. The Manchester Paper of this day will probably notice it.

Prince's Tavern, Princess-street, Manchester,

Monday, Nov. 25, 1833. At a meeting called, at the above time and place, of the Working People of Manchester, and their Friends, after taking into their consideration—

That society in this country exhibits the strange anomaly of one part of the people working beyond their strength, another part working at worn-out and other employments for very inadequate wages, and another part in a state of starvation for want of employment;

That eight hours' daily labour is enough for any human being, and under proper arrangements, sufficient to afford an amply supply of food, raiment, and shelter, or the necessaries and comforts of life, and that to the remainder of his time every person is entitled for education, recreation, and sleep ;

That the productive power of this country, aided by machinery, is so great, and so rapidly increasing, as from its misdirection, to threaten danger to society by a still further fall in wages, unless some measure be adopted to reduce the hours of work, and to maintain at least the present amount of wages:— It was unanimously Resolved,

1. That it is desirable that all who wish to see society improved and confusion avoided, should endeavour to assist the working classes to obtain ' for eight hours' work the present full day's wages,' such eight hours to be performed between the hours of six in the morning and six in the evening; and that this new regulation should commence on the first day of March next.

2. That in order to carry the foregoing purposes into effect, a society shall be formed, to be called 'the Society for Promoting National Regeneration.'

3. That persons be immediately appointed from among the workmen to visit their fellow-workmen in each trade, manufacture and employment, in every district of the kingdom, for the purpose of communicating with them on the subject of the above Resolutions, and of inducing them to determine upon their adoption.

4. That persons be also appointed to visit the master manufacturers in each trade, in every district, to explain and recommend to them the adoption of the new regulation referred to in the first Resolution.

5. That the persons appointed as above shall hold a meeting on Tuesday evening, the 17th of December, at eight o'clock, to report what has been done, and to determine upon future proceedings.

6. That all persons engaged in gratuitous education on Sundays and during the week days, be respectfully invited to make arrangements for throwing open their school-rooms to the working classes for two hours a day (say from one to three o'clock, or from six to eight, or any other two hours more convenient), from the 1st of March next, and that all well-disposed persons be invited to assist in promoting their education when time for such purpose has been secured to them.

7. That subscriptions be now entered into in aid of the fund to be raised by the working classes for the execution of their part of the proposed undertaking.

8. That another and distinct subscription be also entered into for defraying the expenses of the persons appointed to visit the master manufacturers, and for other general purposes.

9. That the workmen and their friends use their utmost efforts to obtain further subscriptions, and that all well-disposed females be respectfully requested cordially to co-operate in this undertaking.

10. That a Committee of workmen and their friends be now formed*, with power to add to their number, and to appoint a secretary and treasurer for the Manchester district of the Society, described in the second Resolution.

11. That this Committee be instructed to procure as soon as possible a convenient office in Manchester, which shall be called 'The Office of the Society for National Regeneration.'

12. That circulars reporting the proceedings of this Meeting be immediately printed, and sent to the masters in every trade in the United Kingdom.

13. That such masters as may be disposed to adopt the proposed regulation for reducing the hours of work, and paying the same wages, are hereby respectfully invited to signify their consent by letter (postpaid), addressed to the Office of the Society in Manchester.

14. That the Catechism now read, entitled ' The Catechism of the Society for Promoting National Regeneration,' be adopted.

15. That Messrs. Oastler, Wood, Bull, Sadler, and others, be urgently requested to desist from soliciting Parliament for a ten hours' bill, and to use their utmost exertions in aid of the measures now adopted to carry into effect, on the 1st of March next, the regulation of ' eight hours' work for the present full day's wages.'

16. That the thanks of this Meeting are hereby given to the aforesaid gentlemen, for their long-continued invaluable services in the cause of the oppressed of the working classes, and especially in the cause of the children and young persons employed in factories.

17. That Mr. Owen be requested to establish Committees of the Society for National Regeneration, in every place or district which he may visit, especially in the Potteries, Birmingham, Worcester, Gloucester, Nottingham, Leicester, Derby, and London ; and that he be also requested to report to the Office of the Society at Manchester, the names of such individuals as will assist in the present undertaking.

18. That in the first week in January next, the working men in every district throughout Great Britain and Ireland shall make application to their employers for their concurrence in the adoption of the regulation of ' eight hours' work for the present full day's wages,' to commence on the 1st day of March next.

19. That this Meeting earnestly appeal to their fellow-men in France, Germany, and the other countries of Europe, and on the continent of America, for their support and co-operation in this effort to improve the condition of the labourer in all parts of the world.


* The following is a list of the Committee:—John Fielden, Esq. M.P., Joshua Milne, Esq., George Condy, Esq., Messrs. John Travis, jun., I. W. Hodgetts, George Marshal), William Clegg, Joshua Fielden, Thos. Fielden, John Doherty, Geo. Higginbottom, James Tuvner, Win. Taylor, Phillip Grant, John Wyatt, George Scott, John Scott, Joseph Scott, Henry Greaves, John Broadie, Wm. Wills, and Robt. Owen, Esq.

The Office of the Society is No. 48, Pall-mall, corner of King-street.

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