From the Richmond Enquirer, 6/15/1847, p. 4, c. 6

          To the Editors of the Enquirer.

Gentlemen: It is a mistake to suppose, as reported in your paper of this morning, on the authority of a statement in the Republican, that an accommodation has been effected between the “Employer and Employees” at the Tredegar works. The Employer took the position which he chose to occupy deliberately, and it was one which, under no circumstances, would he change or depart from. It was simply, that those who enter into his employment must not expect to prescribe to him whom he shall be at liberty to employ; and that he would not consent to employ men who would unite and combine themselves into an association to exclude slaves from our factories. It was because the late workmen asserted such a pretension, that he determined that their employment should cease; and because they were understood to have entered into a combination to effect their purpose, that he thought they had committed an offence against the laws, for which they deserved to be prosecuted. In that aspect, he regarded it as a matter in which the whole community was concerned; it must be evident that such combinations are a direct attack on slave property; and, if they do not originate in abolition, they are pregnant with its evils.

It is a rule of public law, which has been recognized in States in which there are no slaves, that combinations against any interest, or to accomplish private ends, are public offences, and, as such, are prohibited and punished. The rule exists in this Commonwealth, and there can be no case which calls more loudly for its application, than combinations to prevent masters from employing their slaves as it may be their pleasure.

You will perceive then that the “employer” could enter into no compromise or arrangement with the “employees.” This community, it is presumed, would not sanction or excuse a proceeding which yielded everything to the pretension in question. Nothing occurred, but that the prosecution was dismissed upon the workmen disclaiming any purpose or design to commit an offence, avowing that they had not pledged themselves one to another, and expressing their regret if their proceedings were against the laws; and the dismissal of the prosecution was the act of the Mayor.

Trusting that the facts of the case, involving a principle so important to the whole community and the South, may now by fully understood, I will conclude by asking the Editors of the Republican to copy this communication.

                                                                                              Very respectfully,
                                                                                              Your obedient servant,
                                                                                              J. R. ANDERSON.

Go to top