The forces which have combined during the past generation to cause employees to organize were of slight importance prior to the Civil War, and even for several years after its close. Then the number of laborers in any one establishment was relatively small; and the opportunity to hold conventions, poor. Besides, the abundance of public land provided an escape for those who worked for wages. Accordingly, only a few small unions were organized prior to 1860, and these practically disappeared during the four years' conflict that followed. The return, in 1865, of more than a million soldiers to the ranks of industry, the rapid disappearance of desirable and accessible public lands, and the steady increase in the size of manufacturing plants, soon began to create a feeling, particularly in the eastern states, that laboring men ought to organize for mutual protection and advancement. About this time there were held several labor conferences which declared (1) for an eight-hour day, (2) for restriction on immigration, (3) for reduction of the tariff, (4) for a relatively small standing army, (5) for early payment of the national debt, and (6) for the granting of public land only to actual settlers. Gradually each trade or craft organized, until at the present time practically all skilled trades have their unions.