Samuel Gompers was an English-born American cigar maker who became a labor union leader and a key figure in American labor history. Gompers founded the American Federation of Labor, and served as the organization's president from 1886 to 1894 and from 1895 until his death in 1924. He promoted harmony among the different craft unions that comprised the AFL, trying to minimize jurisdictional battles. He promoted "thorough" organization and collective bargaining to secure shorter hours and higher wages, the first essential steps, he believed, to emancipating labor. He also encouraged the AFL to take political action to "elect their friends" and "defeat their enemies". During World War I, Gompers and the AFL openly supported the war effort, attempting to avoid strikes and boost morale while raising wage rates and expanding membership.
What does labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures,