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A Text Book
THOMAS SEWALL ADAMS, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Political Economy
in the University of Wisconsin
HELEN L. SUMNER, A.B.
Honorary Fellow in Political Economy
in the University of Wisconsin
LONDON: MACMILLAN & CO., LTD.
All rights reserved
The principal aim of this book is to furnish a convenient collection of facts that will facilitate the study and the teaching of the American labor problem. It is hoped that the book will be not without interest for the general reader. But it is the requirements of the undergraduate student, and the convenience of the teacher of undergraduates, that have been kept constantly in mind. Where it was necessary, we have sacrificed both interest and general social philosophy, in order to present concrete facts.
We believe that the gravest differences of opinion about the labor problem, and the most dangerous misapprehensions, are caused by the failure to view the problem broadly, to consider its many phases and ramifications. The labor problem is greater than the problem of trade unionism, far more important than the problem of industrial peace. Impelled by this conviction, we have preferred to cover a broad field imperfectly, rather than a narrow field in detail.
We have necessarily left much to be done by the teacher or the reader himself. There are important questions, such as the problem of the unskilled workers, which have been passed by without a word; there are logical gaps
which should be filled, such as the extent to which the progress of the last century may fairly be attributed to trade unions, strikes, and the other “remedies” discussed in Book II; there are facts stated and statistics cited which are sadly in need of long critical discussions concerning their probable validity and precise meaning; and finally, there has been given no statement and little intimation of the general social theory which most logically and consistently explains the facts cited.
These lacunae we have attempted to fill, in a measure, by the citation of certain Supplementary Readings, designed to eke out our treatment where it is especially inadequate, or to present another point of view when our interpretation is particularly dubious. For the most part, however, these defects must be remedied by the teacher or by wider reading on the part of the student himself. It is impossible to say all that should be said about the American labor problem in a single volume, and say it in the concrete way which the temperament of the undergraduate student and the exigencies of the college examination require.
The authors take sincere pleasure in acknowledging the valuable assistance of Professor Richard T. Ely and Professor John R. Commons, of the University of Wisconsin, who have read the manuscript and have made many helpful suggestions. To Mr. Max 0. Lorenz we are indebted for many valuable suggestions concerning the distribution of wealth. Acknowledgments are also due to numerous correspondents in different parts of the country who have