Representatives of the City, State and Nation, and of many foreign countries, paid tribute to the deceased labor leader, Samuel Gompers, late president of the American Federation of Labor. The funeral services were held at the Elks Club on West Forty-third Street, where tens of thousands lined the streets as the funeral cortege passed.
Fifteen hundred seats in the lodge room were reserved for the honorary pallbearers, comprising Governor Smith, Mayor Hylan, Acting Secretary of Labor E. J. Henning, Rear Admiral Charles P. Plunkett, Major Gen. Robert Lee Bullard and distinguished men from all fields of the nation’s activity.
Rabbi Wise opened the services by reciting the Twenty-third psalm in Hebrew and then in English. He unfolded an impressive Eulogy.
“Knowing Gompers as I did, I felt and feel that his idealism, his unfaltering courage, his love of his fellowmen, were nurtured by his Jewish past, emerged out of that background of centuries of high moral purpose and unwithstandable spiritual resolve, to which heritage he gave conscious loyalty. We know but that he might have been a steadfast worshipper within the walls of the synagogue had he found within church and synagogue alike less of social timidities and more of unquailing courage dealing with industrial inequity and social oppression !
“Of Lincoln it was said that he was such a man as freedom knows how to make. We name Samuel Gompers such a man as America knew how to re-make, how to re-fashion to its lofty uses. America re-made this immigrant lad even as America has taken multitudes of immigrant sons and daughters and won them by virtue of its kindling genius and their eager hearts to the uttermost devotion of service to American purposes.
“What romance and wonder in his story! It is in truth an American career, an American epic”, Dr. Wise stated. “Gompers died a poor man. You. his nearest, will have no inheritance taxes to pay. But he has left you, his very own, and you, his comrades of the cause, rich indeed. His work is done, neither to be done over nor to be undone. Great was his pioneering achievement; it is to be honored not as a goal or ultimate achievement but as incentive and inspiration. How better summarize the life work of Gompers than by reminding you that too long had men said before his day “now therefore ye are cursed, for none of you shall be freed from being bondmen, and hewers of wood and drawers of water in the house of my God”. Gompers so lived and wrought and fought that you, who now take up the task and burden he laid down, shall yet behold it come to pass that all men shall be blessed and all of them freed from being bondmen, even the hewers of wood and drawers of water. He had a high and honorable part in freeing men from being bondmen.”
When the coffin was lowered to the asphalt vault at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery at Tarrytown the Masonic commitment service was delivered by the Very Rev. Oscar F. R. Tredar, Dean of the Cathedral of the Incarnation, Garden City, and Chaplain of the New York Grand Lodge of Masons, assisted by Archie Ralph Kerr, Past Master of St. Cecile Lodge.