Written by Mary Quinlan Laughlin, this poem was printed in the Industrial Worker on December 25, 1909 and was a clarion call for toilers of the earth to unite and overthrow their capitalist masters. Through her eloquent prose, Quinlan passionately urged workers to revolt against a system in which they were kept in destitution by employers, harassed and beaten by police, and treated with contempt by the courts.


By Mary Quinlan Laughlin

With the searchlight of Truth here to guide us
To freedom of body and mind;
With a vow that no power shall divide us,
We are leaving our shackles behind.
Though stripped of our birthright for ages,
Mother Earth and her wealth still remains;
Come! Rally! Though tyranny rages,
We have nothing to lose but our chains.

Ye workers in lowlands and valleys,
Ye toilers on summit and hill,
Ye idle, in byways and alleys,
Ye slaves in the sweatshop and mill:
Come! Let us prove that we can use our brains;
Pass the slogan along to each brother:
We have nothing to lose but our chains.

High money, high mass will provide us
With glory and grace when we're dead;
Low money, low mass will subside us
As low as the hunger we dread.
How those without means are regarded -
No money, no mass quite explains;
As we have, so we shall be rewarded,
Oh! We've nothing to lose but our chains.

O why should good preachers implore us
To be satisfied with our lot?
Poor millions that listened before us,
Were destined to hunger and rot.
They know! while the few live in clover,
The many are tortured with pains;
And we know just by thinking it over,
We have nothing to lose but our chains.

Our brothers and sons are enlisted
To guard what the big fellows steal,
And makers of law have insisted
That they shoulder their guns for each deal
When we starve, and we strike, they maltreat us,
They drive us from highways and lanes;
They trample, they shoot, and they beat us;
Oh! we've nothing to lose but our chains.

To prove how are masters despise us
For consistently filling their maw,
At their beck many courts disfranchise us,
And brand us breakers of law.
No wage slave finds justice! No, never,
Where sanctified Capital reigns,
Come! let us join forces forever:
We have nothing to lose but our chains.


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