December 27

On this day in the year 1900, the most respected printer in America, the scholarly Theodore Low De Vinne, wrote a letter to his employees, thanking them for the Testimonial Dinner which they had tendered Mrs. De Vinne and himself upon the occasion of their fiftieth wedding anniversary and his own seventy-second birthday, on December 25th:

“Dear friends and Comrades of the De Vinne Press: Your present of this magnificent Pilgrim Shield on my anniversary was a great surprise. I did not expect it, and it is all the more welcome. I thank you for it heartily. It is a great gratification to me, in the last years of a long life, to know that I still retain the good will and love of our employees.

“The man in business, like the Pilgrim of John Bunyan, has to fight continually. To try to give the best workmanship to buyers who want the best only at low rates—to give the best wages to men who are often deserving of more than they receive—to be just and exact to all—are requirements not easily met.

“A fair employer has to be active and earnest as well as fair to meet the competition of rivals in business. He has to crowd and jostle. He often has to be aggressive. He may trample and strike where he does not intend to hurt. What is worse, he often has to postpone the proper recognition of valued helpers.

“I dare not say that I have always lived up to my ideal of what an employer should be. I have made mistakes which I regret. Yet I do say that I have always tried to be just, and I accept this testimonial, to which men have contributed who have been in the employ of our house for periods ranging from ten to fifty years, as evidence of their belief that I have always meant to be fair to all. That appreciation is dear to me.

“I don’t intend to make a long reply. You have been active and willing helpers in the building up of a great business, and I am thankful and grateful. Let me beg of you to continue the same regard you have shown to me to my successors in the management of the house, who I am sure will go on in the path we have successfully trod, and will maintain the reputation of the house for the benefit of all.”

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