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Urging Northern Laborers to Vote Republican
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“I maintain, my dear sir, that the war of rebellion is not a war of resistance against ‘Abolitionism,’ but that it is a war of resistance against Democracy.”

[EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION]. Broadsheet. The Rebellion and Its Purposes, October 6, 1862, New York, N.Y., published by The Iron Platform,. 1 p., 10 ½ x 16 ¾ in.

Inventory #22934       Price: $1,350


“I am a Working Man. It may appear presumptuous in a “working man” to address the authorized representative of a great political party, at a time of profound excitement and activity like the present, upon either political or philosophical questions, but I cannot forget the fact, that if the candidates of the Democratic Party are successful at the polls, they will be elected by the votes of the Working Men of Pennsylvania, and, inasmuch as you claim their votes, it will be consistent with your dignity and your democratic principles to accord to them a hearing, even though it be through the medium of a volunteer advocate....By virtue of my brotherhood of Labor, and my right as a citizen, I claim your generous indulgence for obtruding upon your notice.

            Two important papers appear in the pages of these documents. The first is the “Address of the Democratic State Central Committee,” and the other the “Platform,” of the Democratic Party. To these I shall as brief as possible direct my observations....

            A class of men in the South...were determined to rule the nation in their own interest, and to convert the Government into a great national engine for their own purposes, and who found in slavery a vast and powerful political and commercial agency to effect their designs. Propagandism became their law—they were not content with “the sufficient constitutional guarantees” of which Alexander H. Stephens assured his hearers, but insisted upon making the Government an instrument for the patronage, perpetuation and extension of slavery—a local and state institution—at the expense and by the power of the whole people....The Constitution was not enough for the leaders of the treason—they wanted to override that instrument in order to destroy it. To effect this object they plotted secretly for many years, and when they believed the time had come for their crime against freedom, and against the Union and humanity—when they thought that their desperate ambition, and their aristocratic purposes had ripened, they destroyed the Democratic Party, in order that they might destroy Democracy. It was not the election of Mr. Lincoln, nor the Fugitive Slave Law—nor Personal Liberty Bills—that provoked the Rebellion. It was not the “Abolitionism of which you speak....It is plain that the bold and atrocious scheme of treason, so long cherished, so carefully matured, so systematically consummated, was not a sudden outbreak of indignation, but the most astounding development of organized perfidy on the part of men who had long enjoyed the confidence of a free people which the history of the world can produce...To the Working Men of Pennsylvania, my comrades in Labor, I simply say—Vote now for the men who are true to the cause of freedom, of progress, and of humanity....Wm Oland Bourne.”

Historical Background

The Iron Platform was a New York City newspaper devoted to worker’s issues. It was published between 1856 and 1864 and was decidedly pro-Union during the Civil War. The paper concentrated on how the Confederacy was bent on creating a government that would destroy the rights of free labor. The war was more than a question of control of the government and benefits distributed, it was instead a “contest...and it is of the utmost importance that every working man understand it clearly. If he would be a freeman, and enjoy the blessings of liberty for himself and his children—if he would be true to himself and the working men of the South—if he would be true to the interests of Labor throughout the world he must work and vote to overthrow rebellion and treason and maintain the government at every cost.”

Long before he became president, Lincoln believed in free labor and the rights of workers to sell their own labor in the open market. Through that lens, slavery was the ultimate theft—of a worker’s right to sell his or her own labor. The Iron Platform agreed, and used their press to push that point on northern laborers. Despite the attempts of Copperhead Democrats who wanted peace at any cost, most northern workers remained strongly republican due to newspapers such as the Iron Platform and Finchers’ Trades’ Review. At the end of his screed, Bourne and the newspaper endorse Marcus L. Ward for New Jersey governor and Orestes A. Brownson for Congress.

William Oland Bourne (1819 – 1901) was a New York City publisher, clergyman and social reformer. He was chaplain at the Central Park military hospital where he worked with amputees and collected war reminiscences. He was also politically active in New York’s Workingman’s Democratic Republican Association. The two candidates endorsed in the New Jersey governor’s and congressional races were both progressive Republicans. Despite the efforts of the Iron Platform and support from other workingmen’s associations, Marcus L. Ward (1812 – 1884) lost his bid to become New Jersey’s governor in 1862 but won in 1865. He worked to secure passage of the 13th and 14th amendments to the Constitution, and was later elected to Congress. Orestes A. Brownson (1803 – 1876) was a Transcendentalist turned Roman Catholic. A prolific reformer and author, he was also a staunch Unionist and strong supporter of emancipation. His 1862 run for Congress was his only attempt at public office  

Unrecorded in OCLC as a broadsheet, though it is listed with the same title as a 4-page pamphlet. As such, we locate only two copies, one at Brown University and the other at the Johns Hopkins University.


Very good. Several short fold separations carefully mended with archival tissue.


Philip S. Foner, History of the Labor Movement in the United States, Volume 1., From Colonial Times to the Founding of the American Federation of Labor (New York: International Publishers, 1947) p. 332

Eric Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party Before the Civil War (New York: Oxford, 1995).

“About the Iron Platform, New York, 1856-1864.”

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