William Sylvis

Sylvis, William


Born Sept. 28, 1828, in the borough of Indiana, Pa; died July 27, 1869. Figure in the American labor movement.

In the early 1860’s, Sylvis helped organize the National Iron Moulders’ Union and in 1863 was elected its president. In 1868 he became president of the National Labor Union, created in 1866 at a national congress of labor unions in Baltimore. Proceeding from the assumption that the interests of workers and capitalists are irreconcilable, Sylvis advanced a proposal for the creation of a social system in which the profit of labor would be distributed among its immediate producers. He supported the active intervention of the labor movement in politics and insisted on the establishment of a labor party. Marx esteemed Sylvis highly, calling him an honest, experienced, and staunch leader of the working class.


Grossman, J. William Sylvis—Pioneer of American Labor. New York, 1945.
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Like Madison's study, Labor Leaders in America focuses on the lives of the major labor figures: William Sylvis, Terence Powderly, Eugene V.