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Synopsis

Though it is probable that for a long time to come the mass of mankind in civilized countries will find it both necessary and advantageous to labor for wages, and to accept the condition of hired laborers (or, as it has absurdly become the fashion to say, employees), every thoughtful and kind-hearted person must regard with interest any device or plan which promises to enable at least the more intelligent, enterprising, and determined part of those who are not capitalists to become such, and to cease to labor for hire. Nor can any one doubt the great importance, both to the security of the capitalists, and to the intelligence and happiness of the non-capitalists (if I may use so awkward a word), of increasing the number of avenues to independence for the latter. For the character and conduct of our own population in the United States show conclusively that nothing so stimulates intelligence in the poor, and at the same time nothing so well enables them to bear the inconveniences of their lot, as a reasonable prospect that with industry and economy they may raise themselves out of the condition of hired laborers into that of independent employers of their own labor. Take away entirely the grounds of such a hope, and a great mass of our poorer people would gradually sink into stupidity, and a blind discontent which education would only increase, until they became a danger to the state; for the greater their intelligence, the greater would be the dissatisfaction with their situation—just as we see that the dissemination of education among the English agricultural laborers (by whom, of all classes in Christendom, independence is least to be hoped for), has lately aroused these sluggish beings to strikes and a struggle for a change in their condition.

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