For many in the early labor movement, the goal of harmony demanded a rededication to the fundamental promise of the American Revolution: a classless society of citizens, acting in concert with God’s grace and intent on creating the new Jerusalem. All who produce value within and for the community could regard themselves as citizen-producers–respected in each other’s eyes, concerned with the economic and political welfare of the community, and opposed to those monopolists and financiers who desire only to extract their wealth. In this view the term harmony was co-equal with a concept of justice that demanded active community control of the more avaricious aspects of one personality. With the emergence of an industrialized society, one that threatened the republican and religious foundations of the older culture, many workers saw in this concept of justice a stringent critique of the order. Insisting that even industrial capitalism was subject to these older moral and political traditions, Edward King, a type-founder and delegate to New York’s Central Labor Union, told Senate investigators that workers’ remedies to current industrial problems “imply something more than ‘business principles’; they imply the subordination of what are regarded as ‘business principles’ to morality.”
Nick Salvatore, Eugene Debs: Citizen and Socialist, 24-25.
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