• British Labor Leader Bevin Comments on Gompers' Contributions to American Labor

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    ERNEST BEVIN (1881-1951) was a British labor leader and statesman. He was active in labor organizations beginning in 1905 and became head of the Dockers’ Union.  In 1921, he merged several unions into the Transport and General Workers’ Union, which became the world’s largest trade union. He served as its general secretary until 1940.

    Bevin was a forceful minister of labor and national service in Winston Churchill’s wartime coalition government (1940-45). As foreign secretary in Clement Attlee’s Labor Government (1945-51), he negotiated the Brussels Treaty and helped establish NATO.

    SAMUEL GOMPERS (1850-1924) was an English-born American labor union leader and a key figure in American labor history.  He founded the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and served as its president from 1886 to 1894 and from 1895 until his death in 1924.  Gompers is considered one of the most significant labor leaders in American history.  Gompers promoted harmony among the different craft unions within the AFL and collective bargaining to secure shorter hours and higher wages. He also encouraged unionists to support their friends and defeat their enemies in elections.

    In the offering here, Bevin shares his feelings about Gompers’ contributions with the American Labor Leader’s widow: 7” x 9” TLS on Foreign Office stationary, dated 11th June, 1947.

    “Dear Mrs. Gompers,

    “Thank you for your letter of the 2nd of March.

    “My first opportunity of meeting you late husband, Sam, was in Washington in 1915. I traveled with him to the San Francisco Convention and again back through the United States. I look upon that visit as having an important influence on my whole outlook on international affairs and particularly the international labor movement.

    “I had the pleasure of working with him prior to the Peace Conference in 1918 when he attended the Conferences here in London, which contributed to the establishment of the International Labor Office and other international organizations affecting working people.

    “I always admired his great and difficult fight for labor in the United States. With a nation evolving as it was with millions of immigrants pouring in in those years, one only had to witness it to realize how difficult it all was. In such circumstances, the great American Labor Movement was built.

    “American Labor is benefiting now as a result of the efforts of Sam Gompers.

    “Yours sincerely,

    “Ernest Bevin”

    Folds. Letter is on both sides of one sheet. Some traces of paper clip staining at the top of the verso, but overall in excellent condition.

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