One of the forms in which these associations make their appearance is that of trades' unions. The principal object of these, generally, is the increase of wages. The different trades often combine for this purpose, and endeavor to fix the rate at which they will work. This, it would seem, they have an undoubted right to do: whether it be good policy is another question.

Men may mutually agree, for example, that they will work only ten hours per day, and will have two dollars per day as wages. All who voluntarily join such an agreement are in honor bound to keep it; and, if the association binds itself to support those who are turned out of employment, they have also the undoubted right so to do.

But, while all this is conceded, it does not follow, that, if a member violates the rules of the society, his associates may inflict any punishment upon him for doing so, except such as the law of the land authorizes. A trade's union is not an imperium in imperio. It has all the rights which each individual member has, and no more. Hence any attempt to inflict punishment upon such delinquent is as much an infringement of his rights, and of the laws of the country, as if it were done by an individual.

Again: nor has a trade's union any right whatever, moral or legal, to interfere in any manner with those of their craft who do not choose to enter into their association. If such persons prefer to work at a less rate of wages than that established in the tariff of the union rather than not work at all, they have the most unquestionable right to do so; and any attempt to prevent them by brute force is an infringement of personal rights which government is bound to resist to the utmost. Such an act is merely the act of a mob, and has no justification. Nay, more: under a free government, where these very men who have thus combined are citizens, with the right of suffrage, and, in common with others, elect those who enact the laws under which they live, any outrage of this kind is an overt act of moral treason against republican institutions. It is a virtual declaration that these institutions have failed, and must fail, to give adequate protection, and therefore these aggrieved parties are obliged to resort to violence; in other words, to override the government, the Constitution, and the laws.