Samuel Gompers Papers

To John Moffitt

                                                                                                                                   Feb. 5, 1910.

Mr. John A. Moffitt,
President, United Hatters of North America,
Room 15, 11 Waverly Place, New York City.

Dear Sir and Brother:

        Last evening when I came from a meeting of a committee of Congress before which I argued one phase of our cause,  I was informed of the verdict rendered in the Loewe suit against the 200 hatters of the United Hatters of North America. As I understand it the verdict involving three-fold damages claimed, is for about $222,000. While it is true that the news took me by surprise, yet I am free to say to you that I foresaw no other result. I did not believe that the jury would make so large an award.

        The fact of the matter is that in so far as the law is concerned, the United States Supreme Court settled that when it handed down its decision holding that the labor organizations come under the operations of the Sherman Anti-Trust law. It was thereafter a simple question for the jury as to whether you did the things charged in the complaint, and if you did, the extent of the damages Loewe and Company suffered.

        I cannot but repeat to you what I said in the A.F. of L. office to you and your attorneys just after we all came from the Supreme Court at the conclusion of the argument in the case before that court, and that is that the case was badly and incompetently presented, and that the rights and principles involved were never properly presented to the Supreme Court. The evening before the argument before the court, you know that I devoted that entire evening to presenting these very thoughts to your counsel. I think you and Brother Maher, who was present, and some others, will agree that the attorneys at least did not dissent from the views I expressed, and yet not one word of reference was made to it in the argument to the court. Of course, anyone can indulge in the old phrase " I told you so," but I think I can justly say that at least in so far as I am concerned that it was foresight, not hindsight. However, that can't be rectified in this case now, and the purpose of my writing is first to express my great regret that the organization and the men will suffer as they will; that it has given the opportunity for a fellow like Davenport, like a ghoul, to proclaim the jury's award is "a new declaration of independence,, (the independence of the tyrant to do as he will) and that it will give every avaricious employer encouragement to drive his hardest bargain and exercise his greatest power with and over the workers.

        In the fall of 1908 you were with me on the platform and heard that I urged this very state of facts and dangers to our people, and endeavored as best I could to arouse them to meet the new danger. In the American Federationist I editorially discussed it. It might not be amiss to read the editorial in the March issue of the 1908 American Federationist, under the caption, "Labor Organizations Must not be Outlawed--The Supreme Court's Decision in the Hatters' Case." It will be found interesting reading, particularly now.

        I should like very much to know what course you are going to pursue in the case, that is, whether you are going to take an appeal?

        Also, I should very much like to have a letter from you giving me a resume of the case, something that I can use in whole or in part for publication in the American Federationist.I am sure that the working people and all the people of the country will be much interested in what you will have to say upon this new phase of the development of the labor movement.

        After all, we will have to fight before Congress for our rights, unless by some chance the Supreme Court may render a decision which will practically establish the free basis and natural standing of the trade unions, the voluntary organizations of labor in the United States.

        With best wishes, I am,

                                          Fraternally yours, Saml Gompers

                                          President, American Federation of Labor.

TLpS, reel 141, vol. 153, pp. 201-3, SG Letterbooks, DLC.