EIGHT-HOUR DAY. In the struggle for the shortest hours of labor compatible with the highest efficiency, begun in Great Britain early in the 19th century, the first great landmark was the Ten Hours' Bill of 1847, enforcing in all trades what had come about in many. But the golden ideal since 1824 (announced as such by Robert Owen in 1817) has been eight hours; possibly in remembrance that such was the rule in mediaeval England; partly perhaps from the tempting threefold division of the day into equal parts, as in the rhyme Eight hours for work, eight hours for play, eight hours for sleep, eight 'bob) a The eight-hour movement began in Australia in 1856; by 1877 the short day was established for women work ers in factories, for miners working under-. ground and for public service employees. The movement on the Continent dates from the foundation of the (International' in 1864, and as a world-demand of the social reformers, from the Paris Trades-Union Congress of 1883. In 1916 Ecuador enacted an eight-hour law, of universal application, with exemption from labor on Sundays and legal holidays. Ex tra work is to be paid 25 per cent overtime, 50 Or cent for overtime from six in the evening to midnight, and 100 per cent after that hour. In the United States, till recently, the subject was left to the States and to private contests, the government aiding by making short hours in its own works. In 1840 President Van Buren reduced the working day in the government navy yards to 10 hours. The first State 10 hour law, for textile workers only, was of 1849, in Pennsylvania. The first Massachusetts law was in 1874, and was due largely to the (Knights of Saint Crispin.° But the eight-hour movement had long before become general: in 1866 the demand was formulated at a gen eral workingmen's congress at Baltimore, and at other meetings; and the National Labor Union was organized to secure an eight-hour day. A six weeks' strike in New England and New York, April—May 1866, attempted to secure it, but failed. In 1867 Connecticut and Illinois passed laws making eight hours a legal day °unless otherwise agreed?' Pennsylvania fol lowed in 1868 and New York in 1870. On 24
June 1869 the United States enacted an eight hour day for its establishment; but the mana gers reduced wages correspondingly, allowing those who wished to work 10 hours at the old wages, which aroused such wrath that the Pres ident revoked the order. All these laws were rendered nugatory by the contracting-out clauses. In 1872 eight-hour leagues were formed in various places, and in Connecticut and New York a mass of strikes among the wood-working trades won this goal for a while; but the great depression from 1873 on pre vented pressing such questions. Since 1880 nearly all the States have enacted eight-hour laws, subject to conditions, usually restricted to work for the State, county or municipality. The first great concerted effort for eight hours was in 1886, when 200,000 workmen went on strike; it was at an eight-hour meeting in Hay market Square, Chicago, that the anarchist bomb was thrown. A general strike was an nounced for this object in 1890, but was only partially successful; several hundred thousand workmen struck, and many employers yielded, but soon advanced the hours. The first really efficient national law was of 1 Ang. 1892, en forcing eight hours upon all laborers, mechan ics or contractors in the District of Columbia on public works, under pain of fine and im prisonment.
Unquestionably the shorter workday move ment, which began in Great Britain about the same time as in America, had its inception in the desire to protect women and children from being overworked. Soon the labor unions rec ognized that it was better to ask for shorter hours than for higher wages, and so in various industries there has been a steady persistent effort for an eight-hour day, at the same wages paid for 9 or 10 hours. Widespread strikes in the building trades, the printing industry, etc., were won by the employees, and the num bers in the unions steadily increased. By 1912 it was popularly understood, both in Great Britain and America, that eight hours was a fair day's work, and liberal employers granted it very generally without pressure. However, some large industries continued to work 10 hours, notably the railways and common car riers.