Monday, April 22, 2013

S = Samuel Gompers

Born in London to a poor family, Samuel Gompers was just 10 when he was apprenticed to a cigar maker. When he was 13, his family immigrated to New York. By 14 he joined the Cigar makers’ Local Union. His evenings were devoted to activities such as debate, public speaking and parliamentary procedure.

Of his work as a cigar maker, Samuel Gompers said that he ‘loved the freedom of that work, for I had earned the mind-freedom that accompanied skill as a craftsman. I was eager to learn from discussion and reading.

He met another cigar maker, Sophia Julian and they married. Gompers was 17. He and his wife had twelve children, six who survived to adulthood.

A believer is social reform, he believed the best way to improve quality of work and the condition of society was for the workers to collectively bargain by way of unions.  He was elected president of the Cigar Makers International Union.

In 1886, he was elected president of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and remained president for 40 years. His efforts helped to establish an eight hour work day and was instrumental in organizing labor to respond to President Woodrow Wilson’s needs during World War I.


Teresa Coltrin said...

At the age of 10?? Thanks for the info on Samuel Gompers.

Sandy Campbell said...

Interesting! Had no idea!

Dawn Embers said...

Another interesting person showcased here. I didn't know about him really but did find the cigar part interesting.

Kate OMara said...

I'm so glad you read about Samuel Gompers. He's one of those men who changed the world but few know his name.

Kristen Dyrr said...

Wow, this is so interesting! I love your blog. I love when I can learn something. :)

#atozchallenge, Kristen's blog: