Samuel Gompers (1850–1924) was the first president of the American Federation of Labor. Gompers came to the United States from England as a teenager and became a naturalized citizen in 1872. He became involved in labor movements while working as a cigar maker, and in 1886 he helped to establish the American Federation of Labor. As that organization’s first president, he sought greater rights for workers through tactics such as strikes and boycotts. Gompers was concerned with practical matters of labor like hours, pay, and working conditions rather than political or social issues. Under his leadership, the American Federation of Labor became an influential labor union and an effective model for collective bargaining.

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