Statue of Samuel Gompers, founder of the AFL
Statue of Samuel Gompers, founder of the AFL


Samuel Gompers, founder and president of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and himself an immigrant. From a letter to Congress dated March 19, 1924:

"America must not be overwhelmed.

"Every effort to enact immigration legislation must expect to meet a number of hostile forces and, in particular, two hostile forces of considerable strength.

"One of these is composed of corporation employers who desire to employ physical strength (broad backs) at the lowest possible wage and who prefer a rapidly revolving labor supply at low wages to a regular supply of American wage earners at fair wages.

"The other is composed of racial roups in the United States who oppose all restrictive legislation because they want the doors left open for an influx of their countrymen regardless of the menace to the people of their adopted country.'

Description and quotes from the Samuel Gompers statue Located in Washington, DC

Samuel Gompers' statue is located at 11th Street and Massachusetts Avenue, NW, in the District of Columbia.

The statue bears the seal of the American Federation of Labor, stating that the AF of L was organized November 15, 1881. The organization's slogan is labor omia vincit.

Under this, there is a quote apparently from Mr. Gompers:

"Say to organized workers of America that as I have kept the faith, I expect that they will keep the faith. They must carry on. Say to them that a union man carrying a card is not a good citizen unless he upholds the institutions of our country and is a poor citizen of our country if he upholds the institutions of our country and forgets the obligations of his trade associations."

On the front of the statue to Gompers' left is another quote:

"No lasting gain has ever come from compulsion. If we seek to force, we but tear apart that which, united, is invincible. There is no way whereby our labor movement may be assured sustained progress in determining its policies and its plan other than sincere democratic deliberation until a unanimous decision is reached. This may seem a cumbrous, slow method to the impatient, but the impatient are more concerned for immediate triumphant than for the education of constructive development."

On Gompers' right is the following quote:

"So long as we have held fast to voluntary principles and have been actuated and inspired by the spirit of service, we have sustained our forward progress and we have made our labor movement something to be respected and accorded a place in the councils of our republic. Where we have blundered into trying to force a policy or a decision, even though wise and right, we have impeded, if not interrupted the realization of our own aims."

The sculptor of this statue was R. Aitken, N.A.