Step by Step

Coal miners in Hazelton, PA, 1905

Pete Seeger recorded this song but I learned it from Ruthie Gorton when she sung it in concert in Eugene, Oregon sometime in the late 1970's. According to Ruthie, the words are from the preamble to the constitution of the United Mine Workers (UMWA). The tune is Irish traditional or perhaps Seegerish. Ruthie had an emense repertoire of traditional and modern songs each with a progressive social message. She sang the entire concert a capella -- just Ruthie perched on a stool holding us all spell bound with her clear ringing voice.

The UMWA constitution was ratified at their founding convention in 1890 when they united around eleven points including the eight hour day, abolition of child labor and the condemning the debt slavery of the company store.


Step by step the longest march can be won, can be won
Many stones can form an arch, singly none, singly none
And by union what we will can be accomplished still
Drops of water turn a mill, singly none, singly none.

Song sheet: 
C standard