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The Company Store, song lyrics

Song: The Company Store
Lyrics: Isaac Hanna(1)(2)

Year: 1895(1)
Country: USA

(Click on the link if you are looking for the song, Sixteen Tons which also makes reference to the "company store" and working in a coal mine.)

The lot of the miner,
At best is quite hard,
We work for good money,
Get paid with a card;
We sarcely can live,
And not a cent more,
Since we're paid off in checks
On the company store(3).

Those great coal monopolies
Are growing apace,
They are making their millions
By grinding our face;
Unto their high prices
The people pay toll,
While they pay fifty cents
For mining their coal.
This song was originally posted on
They keep cutting our wages
Time after time,
Where we once had a dollar,
We now have a dime;
While our souls are near famished,
And our bodies are sore,
We are paid off in checks,
On the company store.

Though hard we may labor
But little we have;
We are robbed of our rights,
Though we fought for the slave.
Monop'ly keeps grasping
For more and still more;
They will soon own the earth,
Through the company store.

We sign then a contract
As agreed between men,
Though it holds us like slaves,
It never hold them;
And when they've exhausted
The old contract score,
They capped the climax
With the company store.

The old pirates and brigands
Who fought hand to hand,
Who would scuttle a ship,
Or pillage the land,
Have formed a collusion
And all come on shore,
And now ply their trade
Through the company store.
This song was originally posted on
But when those old worthies
Are called to their doom,
I think honest business
Will enjoy a great boom;
And when they are finally
Called from our shore,
I hope they'll take with them
The company store.


1 - From the United Mine Workers Journal, May 23, 1895.

2 - Isaac Hanna, of Englewood, Illinois.

3 - Please check out these references for a bit more on the script system and company stores from Tennessee 4 Me, Truck System wages. and The British Truck System in the Nineteenth Century, (20 pages), George W. Hilton, Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 65, No. 3 (Jun., 1957). Of course this system of extreme worker exploitation and debt bondage existed well into the early 20th century in some industries.