Today in History
2 April 2010
April 2, 1891 - American Federation of Labor President Samuel Gompers spoke at the Grand Opera House in Superior, Wisconsin, during a national tour to spread the message of unionism.
Over the previous two years, Superior had been rocked by a series of bitter strikes. In July 1889, state militia troops occupied the city to break a general strike of coal heavers and construction workers. Another general strike the following summer led to bloodshed when the general manager of the American Steel Barge Works opened fire on a crowd of strikers, wounding two.
Gompers brought to Superior a message of hope and a call to action. “If men owning millions find it advantageous to organize,” he asked “how much more essential is it that you wage workers shall organize.” During his two-hour speech, he also said, “Where discontent prevails you will always find a liberty-loving people. Discontent is an evidence of progress; contentment is an evidence of stagnation.”