Correspondence between F. Takano and S. Gompers
August 21, 1897
Mr. Fusataro Takano
Hongo, Tokyo, Japan.
Dear Sir & Brother:--
Your very interesting favor of July 20th enclosing article came duly to hand. Enclosed you will find a proof slip showing that it has been set up. I have changed it somewhat, only in the paragraphing, however, so that it will not appear as one entire paragraph. Proofs have been sent to the subscribers with the request that it be not published before Aug. 28th. It will appear in the Sept. issue of The American Federationist. In sending out the syndicate letter I have sent bill for $l.00 to each of the 16 subscribers thus far and as soon as a fair portion of it has been received a I money order will be forwarded to you for the entire amount and I wish you would please send me a receipt then. I was very intensely interested in the splendid strike of the carpenters and your excellent account of it. I also read with a very great deal of interest your article in The Far East. It certainly shows your true conception of the movement and the trend of the times and what is necessary in order that with the industrial development the workers must keep pace in their improvement or they will undoubtedly be crushed beneath the iron heel of modern capitalism. I am sure that your articles will be appreciated by the subscribers and more than likely a larger number will make application for them in the future. You have no doubt received my letter in which suggestion is made for photographs of bridges, machine shops and machinery indicating the conditions of Japan and the changes taking place.
Now that the first article will be published in the course of a few days I hope you will continue sending the article monthly so that there will be no break, because you know that when once an intermission occurs interest is lost. I shall ask the subscribers to send you a copy of the paper containing the article so that you may be advised as to the number of those who have subscribed for it, and at the same time receive the news which they may publish on labor matters here.
The formation of your Association for the encouragement of the formation of Trades Union is an excellent one and the method pursued by you in the entire matter is deserving of the very greatest credit; it is certainly gratifying to me. I would suggest that as soon as there are sufficient number of any one trade in your Association that they be formed into a trade union and then given whatever assistance or advice or encouragement that you or your colleagues may have opportunity to give. Of course you understand that the trade unions must be formed in such a manner that they will be capable in the course of a short time to operate and transact their own business. They should not be left in such a position as to depend upon others for their permanency or success. Without such a formation on trade union lines you may be successful in organizing for a short while, but when the men upon whom they have been taught to look as their sole means of existence have been removed by one cause or another from aiding them, the organization will fall. I need not impress this upon your mind for I am sure you understand it fully. I only refer to it here so that it shall not be lost sight of by your friends and co-laborers. I see, for instance, that you have 22 printers and 54 carpenters and that in the course of a few weeks you expect 100 printers. Let me add this as an additional reason why the course I suggested should be followed at as early a date as possible. You say that you hope before the year is out to have one thousand members in your Association. It may be different in your country, but I judge men from my experience of them and of the past in all forms of organization and find that when an organization is growing it is most difficult to change its course of policy and men who belong to what they think is a strong organization numerically are then loath to form into a union where the membership will be small. I want you to think of this and if possible to act upon it before it is too late. The only way that people can be practically taught the workings of trade unions is in a trade union. They may be taught the philosophy of trade unionism by other means, but they can not fully appreciate the work necessary to the successful consummation of trade union success other than by the practical which requires their constant attention.
You have no doubt heard of the great miners strike which is now in progress in this country since July 4th. It has engrossed nearly my entire time and the end is by no means yet in sight. I hope for victory and am working to the top notch of my ability to secure that end. We have the courts issuing injunctions in wholesale, half a dozen being served upon me just previous to addressing one meeting. However, I doubt very much that these injunctions will have much of an effect upon the strike. We are proceeding with our work because we realize that our constitutional rights of public assemblage and public speech should not be lightly set aside by Judges.
Enclosed you will find a commission as general organizer for the American Federation of Labor, as well as password and manual.
At this time it is impossible for me to write at greater length but with all my heart I wish you every success in your grand work and trust that I may hear from you soon and often.
Sincerely & fraternally yours,
President A.F. of L.