Sept. 29, [1902]

         Mr. Carl Browne,
         313 Sutter St., San Francisco, Cal.

          Dear Mr. Browne:

Your favor of August 27th reached here during my absence from headquarters. I have been very busy since and for that reason was unable to reply. As per your request I mailed to your address under separate cover a copy of the proceedings of the Chicago Convention of the American Federation of Labor, beginning Dec. 15, 1893. I am also sending you a number of documents which may be of interest.

I am too busy attending to necessary work to give any time to political parties known by any name. I interpose no objection whatever to workingmen going into politics and doing what may best serve the interests of labor in the political field, but my objections have been and shall continue to be directed against turning our trade unions, as such, into political machines. I see my duty clearly and cannot help if I come in for the adverse criticism of Mr. Debs or Mr. Boice. That is their business. I shall simply go on in my work as I see the light and my duty. Nor do I think that I, who have worked consistently my whole life to help build up the labor movement and find its present magnificent growth (although not one-tenth as strong as I hope to help make it) to follow a new policy, declared for by my critics, when as a matter of fact, they were just as strenuous and critical in the various moods and fancies in which they found themselves at different periods, advocating the Republican party, the Democratic party, the Socialist Labor party, and now another form of political party. In other words, let me say to you that I do not propose to dance to every changing tune which Mr. Debs and others may for the moment be in a mood to play upon their "charmed" instrument, an instrument which they believe is charmed to bring about the millennium or the royal road to emancipation in the twinkling of an eye. I may be wrong, but somehow I cannot escape the conclusion that success in the labor movement, that advantages to the workers, improvement in their conditions, and the establishment of equal justice among men, in other words, the time for which we are all hoping and praying, lie through the road of hard work, thorough organization, close application and, if necessary, bear burdens and make temporary sacrifices, and even bear the ill will of Mr. Debs and others who have never yet succeeded in any effort they have undertaken.

It may not be uninteresting for you to bear in mind the fact that Mr. Debs was Secretary of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen, and editor of the Locomotive Firemen's Magazine. During his incumbency of these offices no man in that Brotherhood wielded so large an influence in the organization as he, yet, as a matter of fact, he never uttered a word nor did an act that in the slightest degree contributed toward having the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen ally itself with organized labor of the country. Then, like all new converts to the idea of closer unity among workingmen, he imagined that the world could be revolutionized in a day. In other words, he started to bring about an organization of railway men in rivalry and antagonism to the established organizations of railway employes. He failed in that. He then started his colonization scheme and within a year abandoned that. He went on the stump for the candidates of one of the two dominant political parties. He then joined the Socialist Labor party, the party that antagonized the trade union movement both in declaration and in action. He helped to launch a new organization in Colorado a few months ago to be a rival and antagonist to the American Federation of Labor. Outside of the Western Federation of Miners, which partly declared for the new organization, disintegration has come on in the other unions which became part of Mr. Debs's latest scheme. I withdraw that last remark in saying it is his latest scheme. That is now three months ago, and no one knows what Mr. Debs' latest scheme is unless he is in direct conversation with him. Do you think that I should change my course because of the adverse criticism of Mr. Debs? Not I.

I read your paper and documents and was much interested. Let me hear from you occasionally.

                                                              Very truly yours, Saml Gompers

                                                              President, American Federation of Labor.


TLpS, reel 48, vol. 60, pp. 221-23, SG Letterbooks, DLC.