Tom Brimm, Managing Editor,
e Kentucky Labor News, June 1981
It would be the most famous written GRIEVANCE in the history of man ...
It would be known forever as the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, but it is, in fact - a pointed accounting of grievances of the colonists against King George III. Even the Magna Carta, sealed by King John at Runnymede 750 years ago, followed a grievance of less fame than the one we celebrate each Fourth of July!
Representatives of the 13 colonies were to meet initially as the FIRST CONTINENTAL CONGRESS in
1774 at CARPENTERS' HALL.They met to form a union-the UNITED States of America - and it was appropriate that their first meeting would be in the early American union hall that had been erected in Philadelphia by the Company of Carpenters, a type of guild organization which had both master carpenters (often builders in their ownright) and journeyman carpenters. This forerunner of modern trade unions established work standards and a common welfare fund where disabled workmen, or widows and orphans, could get financial help .. .
Early colonial leaders who still favored resistance to King George wanted labor's support:"Such men
are the strength of any community and should be consulted in all government affairs."
But it would be another meeting of the Congress at Independence Hall two years laterthatwould
adoptand sign thegrievance against the British monarch.
The "grievance committee" was com posed of the following great men such as THOMAS JEFFERSON,
chairman, JOHN ADAMS, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON, and ROGER
SHERMAN. 86 changes were later made by the delegates and 480 words eliminated, leavin_g 1,337. Grievances should be clear and concise, stating the facts!
"He has erected a multitude of new of fices, and sent hither swann s of officers to harass our people, and eat out of their substance."
"He hasplundered our seas, ravished our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our
The solution to the problem was offered, as it should be in any grievance:
"That these United Colonies are, and of right out to be, free and independent states ...
There was to be a BOYCOTT - of British goods - by these early American heroes. Then, as now, there were "SCABS." They were called''Tories"andthey lacked the courage to stand with theirfellow man against unjust treatment.
There was VIOLENCE. The Boston Tea Party was hardly a social affair ...
The LADIES AUXILIARIES were busy! "Even in their dresses," complained a British soldier, "the
females bid us defiance" as he noted the stripes and thirteen stars sewed into their costumes . . .
Thomas Jefferson's committee ended the grievance with words of unity too beautiful to be forgotten
. . .
"And, for the support of this Declaration,
with a firm reliance on the protection of Di vine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our
lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."
Is it any wonder thatAmerican unionshave continued to carry the torch for freedom from. tyranny,
inspired by the 56 signers of the most famous grievance of them all?