Samuel Gompers House
Backstory and Context
Samuel L. Gompers was born in England to a Jewish family on January 27, 1850. His family, suffering financial hardship, immigrated to the United States in 1863, moving to the Manhattan's Lower East Side in New York City. The son of a cigar-maker, Gompers joined the Cigarmakers Local Union No. 15 1864, at age 14. In 1875, he was elected president of the Cigarmakers' International Union Local 144. Gompers would later go on to help found the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions in 1881, which became the American Federation of Labor.
In 1886, following a dispute with the Knights of Labor, a federation of craft unions formed American Federation of Labor (AFL). Founded in Columbus, Ohio, the AFL was the first enduring national labor union. Samuel Gompers, its first president, called the AFL "the strongest, best organized labor movement of all the world."1 Under his leadership, the AFL advocated the philosophy of "business unionism,"2 which focused on increasing business profits, promoting national economic growth, and improving the condition of workers. The AFL would go on to become the largest union grouping in the country for the first half of the 20th century.
The Samuel Gompers House once served as the residence of one of America's most famous union organizers. Built in 1902, it is located in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Gompers lived in the bay-fronted, three-story brick rowhouse from 1902 until 1917, and occasionally met with labor leaders here. The structure is typical of Edwardian architecture. It was designated as a National Historical Landmark and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
2. "American Federation of Labor." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed November 13, 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Federation_of_Labor.
"Samuel Gompers." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed November 13, 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Gompers.
"Samuel Gompers House - 2122 1st Street, NW." DC Historic Sites. Accessed November 13, 2016. http://historicsites.dcpreservation.org/items/show/254.
"Samuel Gompers House." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed November 13, 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Gompers_House.