Page:Challenge of Facts and Other Essays.djvu/312
ADVANCING ORGANIZATION IN AMERICA
European history, it will help to explain many apparent contradictions in their philosophy which may perplex us when studying them side by side. All that I have yet to say will further expound and develop this contrast.
We shall also find another and most remarkable fact of American social history in this: that, while the lines of the social organization have been more strictly drawn and the social discipline has been steadily made more stringent, there have been new and other developments of individual activity which have far more than offset the loss of the earlier rude and, in truth, barbaric liberty.
A very amusing incident is mentioned in Winthrop's history of New England. A land-owner hired a man to work for him, but, not being able to pay the stipulated wages, he gave the man a pair of oxen and discharged him. The laborer asked to go on with their relation. "How shall I pay you?" said the employer. "With more oxen," replied the man. "But when the oxen are all gone?" "Then you can work for me and earn them back again." There is in this story a whole volume of demonstration of the social relations of that time and that society. We can see that the relation of employer and employee was, under then-existing circumstances, impossible; when land was available in unlimited amount, how could one man be land-owner and another laborer? Why should not the latter go on a little further and become another land-owner? The two would then be alike and equal. If, however, one of them worked for the other, what wages would he