What Samuel Gompers had to say about politics and government:

1883:  I do not want it understood that my vote can be purchased for a beefsteak, but that I will vote always for measures that will improve the the condition of the workingmen. (Vol. 1: Testimony, U.S. Congress, Senate Comm. on Ed. and Labor, Aug. 16, 1883)

1883:  I do say that the Government of the United States ought to be in advance of  its people. It is the duty of a legislator, as I understand it, to frame and adopt measures for the welfare of the people.  I believe that the duty of the legislature is to propose laws for the benefit of the people. The Constitution of the country, I believe, does not give our National Government the right to adopt a law which would be applicable to private employments; yet for its own employes it ought to be in advance. . . .  The selfish, mercenary, or other such motives which govern individuals in their struggles to accumulate wealth ought not to exist in our Government. . . .  (Vol. 1: Testimony, U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Education and Labor, Aug. 16, 1883)

1887: The Labor movement, to succeed politically, must work for present and tangible results. (Vol. 2: Leader , July 25, 1887)

1892: [O]nly in so far as we gain economic independence can our political liberty become tangible and important. This may sound like political heresy, but it is economic truth. (Vol. 3:  North American Review , July 1892)

1896:  The industrial field is littered with more corpses of organizations destroyed by the damning influences of partisan politics than from all other causes combined. (Vol. 4: Circular, June 27, 1896)

1900:  We ask for State legislation, and we are told to go to the Federal Government; we come to the Federal Government and it is contended that these things rightfully belong to the States.  It does not make a particle of difference. If we come here to the Federal Government and ask for remedial legislation, we are told that these things will come when they become a custom, and not by legislation.  And then we go to employers, to their companies, and ask them to confer with us in order to inaugurate that custom, and they tell us, "If you do not get out of here we will put a boot in the place where it will feel uncomfortable."  If we strike or ask that the matter be submitted to arbitration, we are told there is nothing to arbitrate.  If we strike in order to enforce what we believe to be our rights, we are enjoined; and if we exercise what we believe to be our rights in spite of the injunction,  we are guilty of contempt of court and are put in the jug during his honor's pleasure.  There is not anywhere we can go for the purpose of trying to bring about some remedy, some change, some improvement but we are met by the same opposition, prompted by the same cause, prompted by the same motive, and that is to leave the workingman helpless to the mercy of the employing class. I think, though, I may say that that time has gone by.  The workingmen of our country have learned somewhat of their rights, and they propose to stand by them, and they have the courage to do so, too. (Vol. 5: Testimony, U.S. Congress, House Committee on Labor, Apr. 12, 1900)

1903:  We have been asked how many trade unionists there are in Congress.  I venture to say that there are more trade unionists in Congress and in our state Legislatures holding clear cards than there are elsewhere in similar positions the world over. (Vol. 6: SG to AFL Convention, Nov. 1903)

1904:  We deny the assertion made by some of our opponents when they say the American Federation of  Labor is against political action.  We are against the American labor movement being made a political party machine. (Vol. 6: SG to AFL Convention, Nov. 1904)

1906: Let the slogan go forth that we will stand by our friends and administer a stinging rebuke to men or parties who are either indifferent, negligent, or hostile. (Vol. 7: SG to Millard Pettingill, Apr. 25, 1906)

1906: There are some men who can never  understand political action unless there is a party. (Address to CMIU 144, Apr. 26, 1906)

1906:  It is true we did not defeat as many men as we should like to have done, but I want to tell you what we did.  We put the fear of God into them. We cut down their majorities, we cut down their pluralities. . . .  Our opponents will not be so arrogant toward the representatives of labor as they have been in the past. (Vol. 7: SG to AFL Convention, Nov. 1906)

1911: It is a material fact that the working people of our country ask no special favors at the hands of a State Legislature or the Congress of the United States.  We present to you the conditions which exist, and call your attention to the fact that there are some things which the working people of America are unable to do for themselves of their own initiative, and in so far as  these conditions exist, that which we can not do for ourselves, the people collectively in their legislative bodies must necessarily do for us. (Vol. 8: Indianapolis Star, Feb. 21, 1911)

1911:  I feel persuaded that the time has come when we shall have a constructive, progressive, radical labor party, unless the Democratic party shall perform its duties in the premises. (Vol. 8: Indianapolis Star, Feb. 21, 1911)

1912:  My opinion is that we require no more Commissions, no more Sage investigators.  What we want is action , and we want it immediately.  We want a Department of  Labor established, with a Secretary at its head, who shall have a seat in the President's cabinet, and that man to be a man who knows what Labor is, not only from a theoretical standpoint, but from the practical standpoint. . . .  I hope you will do your utmost to see that such a Department is established, and let us get away from the puny vacillating system of unnecessary excuses by referring matters to irresponsible Commissions, from which no permanent and beneficial results ensue. (Vol. 8: SG to A. W. Rucker, Feb. 7, 1912)

1913: I am free to say to you, and I will stand by it, I hold, and I have said, that when an injunction undertakes to violate the constitutional rights guaranteed to me as a citizen I am going to assert my rights as a citizen to test the question and to take the consequences. (Testimony, U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Jan. 6, 1913)

1914: I am very suspicious of the activities of governmental agencies. (Vol. 9: Testimony before the U.S. Commission on Industrial Relations, May 22, 1914)

1914: We have been asked, or advised, to go for all the laws we can get. Save the workingmen of America from such a proposition! There are numbers of laws we can get, but prudence and defense of the rights and the liberties of the toilers are much more important than the effort to secure all the laws we can get. (Vol. 9: AFL Convention, Nov. 20, 1914)

1914:  It is less than a month ago the Congress of the United States declared that the labor of a human being is not a commodity or article of commerce. It required a third of a century to work for the accomplishment of this one declaration, and in spite of that, one of the delegates [to the 1914 convention] said: "Why, pass such a law as the maximum eight-hour law and no court would dare to enforce anything like compelling men to work eight hours or more." Is that so? Since the passage of the labor provision in the Clayton bill, signed by the President of the United States, the ink upon that act scarcely dry, a Federal Judge, Judge Anderson, sitting in Indianapolis, has issued an injunction forbidding the men of labor to quit their work. (Vol. 9: AFL Convention, Nov. 20, 1914)

1915: Several times the proposition to form a labor party has been considered by the trade union movement, but after careful and thorough consideration it has been invariably decided that we can attain our purposes more quickly and more effectively by continuing our political policy of independent political action partisan to principles rather than to a party. (SG to Joseph Lockhead, Sept. 11, 1915)

1915: If the workers surrender control over working relations to legislative and administrative agents, they put their industrial liberty at the disposal of state agents. They strip themselves bare of the means of defense–they can no longer defend themselves by the strike. To insure liberty and personal welfare, personal relations must be controlled only by those concerned. ("Workers and the 8-Hour Day," pamphlet)

1915: A law that is really a law, is a result of public thought and conviction and not a power to create thought or conviction. The enforcement of a law follows naturally because the people will it. To enact a law with the hope and for the purpose of educating the people is to proceed by indirection and to waste energy. It is better to begin work for securing ideals by directing activity first for fundamentals. Frequently, when the people concerned become mindful and eager for what will promote their own welfare, they find that they are much more able to secure what will benefit and adapt their methods to changing circumstances than is any law or the administration of that law. (American Federationist,  Feb. 1915)

1917:  I assume it is not necessary for me to give any assurance of how utterly out of accord I am with the IWW and any such propaganda; but some of the men deported  [from Bisbee, Arizona] are said to be law-abiding men engaged in an earnest effort at improvement of their condition. If the men treated as stated have been guilty of any crime, they should be tried in the courts and given the opportunity for defense. There is not law of which I am aware that gives authority to private citizens to undertake to deport from the state any man. If there be lawlessness, it is surely such conduct. (SG to Woodrow Wilson, July 20, 1917)

1924: There are a number of people who mistakenly charge me with being a Democrat. I never was a member of the Democratic Party. I was at one time, in my early years, a member of the Republican Party, and cast my first vote for a Republican President--U. S. Grant as soon as I attained my majority. I never did belong to the Democratic Party. In the pursuit of the Nonpartisan policy of labor in which I thoroughly believe, I supported Republican or Democrat or publicist as in the varying parties I believed that they would best serve the people without regard to party. In the last twelve years and up to 1924 the Democratic Party, a large number of them represented these principles in advocacy of the peoples rights--that there were a larger number of them in Congress than Republicans--it was not because of partisanship that we supported a larger number of Democrats than Republicans but because, as I say, there was a larger number of Democrats favorably inclined toward the pressing interests and rights of the masses of the people. (SG Press Conference, Nov.10, 1924)