Social-Demokraten. 3 May 1890

1st of May. The Paris-congress decision on the demonstration.– The press before the demonstration.– The demonstration

Source: Social-Demokraten, 3 May 1890;
Written by: Hjlmar Branting;
Transcribed: by Hal Smith.

With sun and lovely spring weather the day entered, the worker’s demonstration day.

And out “red” paper, spread in thousands of copies, saluted the proletarians: The working class all around the world expect every man to fulfil his duty.

At 10 a.m. came the monitors, who were around 250, together to the Bricklayers house at Tunnelgatan. There were the best tactics for ordering the demonstration discussed, since Mr Nilsson reported on the police’s arrangements. Program and monitor badges were handed out.

At 12.30 the monitors arrived to the place, were the assembly would be. Already then it was observed, that something was happening in the high quarters of the cream of society. The police had partly arrived already; here and there in the gentile houses’ windows one and another curious face could already be seen.

Since flags and banners had been put in the places, where the respective unions should have their places, the monitors positioned themselves a bit from each other. The ordering of monitor and flags was not that easy. Thanks to the police’s kind help — especially commissary Sandström showed a good eye for organising the deployment — had the unions already at 1 p.m. their places decided and over the whole ground around the circus building the different union flags and banners were waving.

Sometimes in spread herds, sometimes in big masses, — the workers from Inedal in perfect march — did the demonstrators arrive. There was a life, a motion, under which one eventually ordered ones respective flags. First were:

The board of the district flag no. 1 after which

Brushmaker’s organisation,
Mill worker’s union and
Sanitation worker’s union followed.


The Social Democratic alliance after who’s flag
Plaster worker’s organisation and
Glass worker’s organisation followed.
Dock worker’s union.
Shoe Maker’s union.
Painter’s organisation.
Wooden Worker’s organisation:
1st Wooden worker’s organisation after which
Naval Wooden Worker’s union followed.
2nd Building Joiner’s and Lumbermen’s union.
3rd Carpenter’s union.
Coal Carrier’s organisation.
Tobacco Worker’s organisation.
Int. Temperance league Tiden.
Bricklayer’s union.
Cooper’s organisation.
Hard Labour’s organisation.
Cork Cutter’s union.

The board of the district flag no. 2 after which
Hat Maker’s organisation followed.
Tailor’s union.
Sugar Refinery Worker’s union.
Maria and Katarina Worker’s associations.
Baker’s organisation.
Tapestry union.
Iron and Metal Worker’s organisation:
1st The organisation flag after which
File Makers, Firemen and Western Iron Worker’s union followed.
2nd Northern Iron Worker’s union.
3rd Founder’s union.
4th Sheet-metal Worker’s union.
5th Pipe Worker’s union.
6th Southern Iron Worker’s union.
Stove-builder’s Worker’s organisation.
Saddler’s Worker’s union.
Tannery Worker’s union.
Good Templars league C. O. Berg.
Utilitarian Association.
Machine Worker’s organisation after whose flag Ekensberg’s discussion club followed.
Stone-cutter’s organisation in Sundbyberg.
Wagon-maker’s Worker’s organisation.
Brewery Worker’s organisation.
The temple Nursery-tower af Goodt-order.
Lodge Kungsholmen.

10 minutes before half past two the signal for departure sounded, a drum roll from the head, and the big columns, of which many must be made much longer than initially planned, started to move around Circus Karlavägen ahead, whose wide side-walks were overfilled by spectators.

Exactly half past two the procession started with music at the head and to the tunes of “the Souvenir March” Karlavägen ahead, through old Ladugårdslandstull and out on Gärdet, where incredible masses had already gathered.

Under Fågelbacken, where the red draped platforms were placed far from each other and in between them the singer’s stage, the procession went right.

Eventually one union after another marched up against the speaker’s tribunes, while flags and banners where planted around the singer’s stage.

It went almost around three quarters of an hour before the last row of the procession had reached up, though.

Those who could did not have the opportunity to hear the speeches, pressed through to the singers, who were around 70. First “Sköna Maj” [Beautiful May] was sung, where after The Marsilleillaise, “Vår och Frihet” [Spring and Freedom] and as final number, “Arbetets söner” [Sons of Work — a socialistic classic] followed.

The singer’s stage, decorated with around 30 flags, were extra magnificent in sight.

Here and there stuck among the crowd had “mobile restaurateurs” put up simple service tables. One and another had even been thoughtful enough to bring a stove on which the coffee pot stood boiling.

At around half past four the party was over. But first one and a half hour later had the last people left Gärdet and passed “Ladugårdslandstull.”

Summary of the speeches

[Speeches by Hinke Bergegren, “The working times influence on the physical condition,” David Bergström, “ The workers struggle for normal workdays,” P M Landin, “The normal workday serves the economic thrift,” August Palm, “Shorter workdays, higher salaries, citizen rights,” R H Hansen, “The normal workday and the misery of the masses,” Fridtjuv Berg, K J Karlsson, Hjalmar Branting.]

The resolution

which was taken in Stockholm as well as in other cities in Sweden, led:

Following the decision, taken unanimously on the international socialistic worker’s congress, which last year was held in Paris, we have today, 1st of May 1890, just as the whole class-conscious proletariat in Europe and America, gathered in a world demonstration for the 8 hour workday.

Under the capitalistic era of large-scale industry have the production from work multiplied. A worker is with the means of work today capable of producing as much as before 10 or 100. Because of this is the material possibility to for a shorter workday given, and our conviction is that already today a 8 hour workday could fulfil the needs of society.

We demand the limitation of work time for mainly the following reasons:

1. The 8-hour-workday would put a barrage for the physical and intellectual degeneration, which now threatens the working class as an effect of its inhumanly long, prematurely jading, health destroying work time.

2. The 8-hour-workday would, generally enforced, have as an immediate effect a reduction in the reserve army of unemployed, which the present economy creates, and already thereby make a tremendous raise in the situation for the whole working class.

3. The 8-hour-workday shall give the worker time and energy to spend more time to his intellectual and moral development as a free man and citizen; it will even from this viewpoint be a mighty lever for raising the working class even in the framework of the existing society at the same time as it fosters the working class for its high task to found a new social order.

We further demand this 8-hour workday enforced by law not because we disregard the possibility to achieve shorter working hours also by the organised working class’ direct pressure on the present owners to the means of work, but because we consider it an obligation for society that through the law come to the help to the economically weaker, the workers, partly to win for the worse organised professions what the stronger fully or partly has achieved, partly to secure everyone from a backslide to the misery of long working hours. First of all we demand that the state and municipals as employers should state an example and everywhere enforce the 8-our-workday.

How many we were

Of course, it is almost impossible to even to a bit certainty decide how many we were who participated in the big demonstration.

Of our counters, who had taken place by “Ladugårdslands tull,” declare one who calculated the first section, 915 rows, another, who calculated the later half 1,000 rows, The rows, which should have been six man abreast, counted generally 10 to 12 men.

We thus won’t say too much if we write Over 20,000 alone in the procession.

But together with the masses, which already stood out on the field, the total number sums up after lowest calculation to 50,000 persons.

The conservatives would not see more than 30,000 other persons said 80,000.

Jörgen, who have travelled the world and seen colossal masses of people assured that the number of persons out on the field summed up to 120,000 (!)