William Morris

Motion in support of the Northumberland miners

William Morris moved the first resolution, which was as follows:

"That this meeting of London citizens expresses its warmest sympathy with the miners of Northumberland in their struggle against the system of class monopoly and legalised robbery, by which they are deprived of the just reward of their labour, and even of the means of labour."

He said he had recently come from the North and seen the friends on whose behalf they were appealing. All working-men were their friends; all exploiters of the working-man were their enemies. It might be thought that this dispute was a very small one, but it was an endeavour on the part of the miners to prevent themselves from being filched out of the miserable pittance they already received. When they heard of the large wages which miners got it was a lie from beginning to end. These men were earning not even a bare subsistence wage, but a starvation wage — 13s. or 14s. per week for men spending their time in the bowels of the earth! Was that a due reward for labour? (Cries of "No.") At the same time, whilst the miners were so poor, were the employers poorer? No; they were riding in their carriages and having the best to eat and drink. He contended that they must get rid of the system. This strike was simply one of the incidents in the great warfare of labour against capital, which the present system rendered it imperative for the work- ing man to carry on. The time would come when the worker will say, "We, who make everything, must own everything." They were there to sustain the revolution which would put an end to all strikes and the war between employers and employed. As long as there were employers and employed there would be war between them. They must be prepared to fight for peace, or they did not deserve to have it. The miners of the North were beginning to look at the matter from the Socialists' point of view, and as soon as the workers clearly understood that they must have their destiny in their own hands it would not be difficult to get rid of the present system.


Motion in support of Northumberland miners


  1. Sunday 24th April, 1887 at a meeting in Hyde Park in support of the striking Northumberland miners organised by the Socialist League


  1. Commonweal, 30th April, 1887, pp. 137-8. Reprinted from an article in the London Daily Chronicle