Eight Hour Day

The demand for the eight hour day was one of the earliest and most important achievements of the labor movement in Europe and North America. These verses, as sung by Pete Seeger on 'American Industrial Ballads', come from a song by John Hory of the Knights of Labor written in 1886.

The tune is most popularly known as the 'British Grenadiers March' but goes back at least to the 17th century as 'All You that Love Good Fellows' and other songs. The American revolutionaries of 1776 stole the song from the red-coats and made it 'Free Amerikay.' Ever since this lively little tune as been a popular setting for political, labor and protest songs.


We're brave and gallant miner boys
who work down underground.
For courage and good nature,
no finer can be found.
We work both late and early
and get but little pay
To support our wives and children
in free Amerikay.

If Satan took the blacklegs *,
I'm sure 'twould be no sin.
What peace and happiness 'twould be
for us poor workingmen.
Eight hours we'd have for working;
eight hours we'd have for play;
Eight hours we'd have for sleeping
in free Amerikay.

* Blacklegs are strike breakers.

C Standard