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The Movement’s Decline

Hamilton’s Nine-Hour League continued to push for its goals for a few more weeks. But by late May, it was clear the movement had fizzled.  A number of employers who had locked out workers before the parade reopened their plants, but with ten hours as the standard work day.  Lists of employers adhering to the ten-hours’ pledge were again circulated in city newspapers.

The Hamilton Nine-Hour League’s last valiant stand took place at a mass meeting in Market Square on June 8th.  With only 300 attendees – “one half of whom had no sympathy with the movement but went there out of curiosity” – it was clear that the movement had lost steam. James Ryan made one last appeal from the dais:

An illustration of James Ryan addressing a crowd in Old Market Square. Ryan is in profile as he faces a crowd of onlookers in the centre of the market. Around the edges of the illustration are temporary outdoor market stalls and permanent commercial buildings.

An artist’s rendering of James Ryan addressing a crowd in Old Market Square.

We are more than machines, we are immortal beings with the same feelings, the same aspiration as our employers, and we require relaxation and enjoyment as well as those who can afford three months holidays in a year, while we are denigrating and sometimes spoiling our health by overwork at the anvil or vice to support them in luxurious ease…

This was Ryan’s last appearance in the historical record.

Audio clip with transcript