Reprinted below are excerpts of the Svoboda editorial of November 1, 1893, which called for the establishment of a fraternal organization for Ukrainians in the United States. The front-page editorial was titled “We need a national organization.” (At that time, Ukrainians were known as Ruthenians, and the original Ukrainian text of the editorial referred to “Rusyny.” In the translation below, which is reprinted from “Ukrainian National Association: Its Past and Present,” the 70th anniversary history of the UNA written by Anthony Dragan, the term “Ruthenian” has been replaced by “Ukrainian.”)
…we promised that we would explain how we, Ukrainians, living here in freedom, can improve our lot and show our neighbors that the Ukrainian people are also part of America and occupy a place of honor among all other peoples. …
Just as the fish needs water, as the bird must have wings, as the thirsty need to drink and the hungry need bread, just as every one of us needs air, so do we all Ukrainians scattered across this land need a national organization, namely such a brotherhood, such a national union that would embrace each and every Ukrainian no matter where he lives. One man cannot lift a heavy stone, but when three or four men put their strength to it, the stone will soon be lifted, it is just as difficult for one man to rid himself of want and poverty, but with the help of a few he can do it. One man cannot help all, but all can easily help the man.
It is clear then that in unity there is strength, and it is not easily defeated. Therefore, let us unite brothers, voluntary exiles from our native land, our fatherland, let us come closer together and get to know each other better, and take a closer look at our poverty, our want, our shortcomings, our needs. Let us exchange ideas, let us open our hearts to each other and see how we can solve, our problems together, and rid ourselves of our common ills!
…we Ukrainians always seem to be behind in everything. We have nothing and we are treated as nothing. Come now, brothers, let’s wake up, let us get to work. Let us look how others have reaped such good harvests, while we do not even know where to buy a sickle. Let us finally rid ourselves of this passive slumber, this negligence and indifference, let us stop saying “oh, leave things as they are,” let us follow the example of others and show that we too are strong and that we can take care of ourselves. There are many of us here now – hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians from both sides of the green Carpathian Mountains.
After long deliberations, dear brothers, on the needs of the Ukrainian American people, we have come to the conclusion that we should share with you an idea born within our soul out of deep love and concern for the Ukrainian people. If this idea, this thought becomes a reality, the future generations born in this land of the free will thank us and remember us kindly and adorn our graves with flowers nursed by tears of joy and gratitude. Calling on Almighty God to bless this seed which we throw into the Ukrainian tillage, we wish to inform the Ukrainian worker toiling hard either in dark mines or in factories where death lurks behind thousands of wheels, that it is imperative to create a national organization in America known as the Ukrainian National Association which would be open to the Ukrainian workers only, financed by their moneys to assist needy fellow workers, controlled and governed by the workers, who would thus maintain and administer their own funds.
The aims of the Ukrainian National Association would be as follows:
• to help the ailing and to pay benefits after death;
• to establish reading rooms and evening schools for adults;
• to promote enlightenment among our people with the help of inexpensive publications, as it is being done in the old country;
• to insist that Ukrainians become American citizens;
• to organize political clubs and to take an active part in the elections;
• to defend our people against sharks, crooks and operators.
To ensure successful development of the Ukrainian National Association, it will be necessary to purchase a home in a city that would be found most appropriate, and to name it the Ukrainian National Home. …
A new Ukrainian generation is rapidly growing up here in America, but who is to provide a good future for the Ukrainian youth? What will happen if this youth grows up without knowledge of the Ukrainian language, Ukrainian history and Ukrainian religion?
It would be the responsibility of the Ukrainian National Association to find out how many Ukrainian children of school age there are in various cities, and whether the people themselves can maintain a teacher or if outside help is needed.
We are certain that this idea, this plan of ours will be welcomed by Ukrainians in all America, although we expect to find many who will think that all of this is quite unnecessary.
Come what may, we are bravely calling on the Ukrainian people: Have faith in our idea! We swear to God Almighty that our sole concern is the good of the people. Wake up and see who is your brother and who wishes you well. You have eyes, look at what is happening around you, how you are being abused and ignored, and how only your work, bathed in sweat and blood, is appreciated by those who care solely for their own pockets. They get rich on your ignorance, stupidity and helplessness while you, poor man, rot deep in the mine or, like an ox, pull trucks in the factory, slaving for everybody but yourself… But when you become ill and die in pain, your friends must beg for money among your own people so that your sinful body is not thrown to the dogs but is buried in a Christian way with a cross on your grave, humbly awaiting the day of resurrection.
We firmly hope and believe that our call will not be the voice of one crying in the wilderness and that our dear Ukrainian friends will raise their own voices and write to us.
If our fellow Ukrainians fail to respond to our call and if they neglect this important and burning matter, they will have given a sad account of their spiritual maturity and determination. But we do not believe that, for our people will raise their mighty voice and Ukrainians everywhere will say: We need the Ukrainian National Association, we must get to know each other better, we must unite, we must work together to improve our lot in this new land!