Volume 1 April 16, 1887
The Collegiate Church
The Protestant Reformed Dutch church of New York is, as its name indicates, an offshoot of the Protestant Reformed church of Holland. The name Protestant was given to followers of Luther in 1529, when six princes of the German empire formally protested against the decrees of the diet of Spires. Later on doctrinal disputes arose among Protestants, many differing from Luther concerning the “real presence” at the Lord's supper. Those who agreed with the Protestant leader became known as Lutherans and the churches rejecting his views called themselves “Reformed.” The Lutherans were largely confined to Germany, and the “Reformed” churches of France, Switzerland, Germany, Scotland and Holland fraternized. They not only agreed in their views as to the Lord's supper, but accepted the Presbyterian form of church government – that is, government by presbyters, bishops as a separate order of the clergy not being recognized. After the settlement of New York by the Dutch a branch of their national church was naturally the first established here.
The present Dutch Reformed church in the city dates back to 1628, when the Lord's supper was first administered here to fifty communicants by Rev. Jonas Michaelius; but religious meetings had been held before that date in a large room over a “horse mill” or a “water mill” – accounts vary – built by Francois Molemaker in 1626. The religious services were conducted by the zienkentroosters (comforters of the sick), who came over with the earliest colonists. In 1633 the first dominie, Everardus : Exodus, came over with Governor Wonter Van Twiller, whereupon a plain wooden building was erected on the banks of the East river, near what is now Old slip, in which the emigrants continued to worship until 1642. The Dutchmen appeared quite well satisfied with this primitive structure until the famous navigator, David Peterson De Vries, called the attention of Governor Kieft to the marked contrast between this “old barn” and the New England meeting houses. The pride of the Dutch burghers was thus aroused, and they set up about building a new stone church, at a cost of 2,500 guilders, which, for the sake of safety, they placed within the fort (now the Battery). They occupied this building until they gave it up to the British as a garrison chapel in 1693. The Dutch in that year opened their new church in Garden street (now Exchange place). A register of the members of this church, with their residences, is still extant, from which it appears that Wall street was then the most northerly thoroughfare of the city. The church was quite a simple, but substantial, structure and cost 64,178 guilders or $27,671.
In July, 1726, a lot of ground on Nassau street was bought from David Johnson for £575 as a site for a new church. This building was opened in 1729. It stood on Nassau street, between Cedar and Liberty. It was altered and its seating capacity increased by the erection of galleries in 1704. It was used for worship until 1844, when it was leased to the United States for a post office, and in 1861 it was sold to the Mutual life insurance company, which tore down the church to make way for the magnificent building now occupying the site. In time this came to be known as the Old Middle Dutch church. A picture of the structure as it appeared when first erected was struck off and dedicated to the Hon. Rip Van Dam.
The accompanying picture of the Mutual Life insurance building, now occupying the site of the old Nassau street church, will give to our readers outside of New York some idea of the business structures in this portion of the city.
After long and bitter opposition from the older members, preaching in English in this church was first permitted in 1763, and the result was a growth in the attendance that caused the alterations already alluded to. After these were completed the appearance of the church was materially changed.
The church in time became crowded, and in 1767 measures were taken for erecting a new building. In June of that year it was resolved that “the church should be erected on the ground of Mr. Harpending; that it should be 100 feet in length and 70 in breadth; that it should front Horse and Cart land, and be placed in the middle of the lot.” In accordance with this resolution the church was built on the corner of William street (then Horse and Cart land), and Fulton street. It was a handsome structure, costing $30,000. Its cornerstone was laid July 2, 1767, and it was dedicated May 25,1769.
This was, at the time of its erection, one of the handsomest churches in the city, its only rival being St. Paul's, the Episcopal church (still standing on lower Broadway), which was opened for worship in 1766. The site of St. Paul's was then described as “in the fields,” and crop of grain was raised upon it the year before ground was broken for the building. The population was rapidly growing, however, having advanced from 10,881 in 1786 to 21,863 in 1771. As growth in New York has necessarily ever been, northward, the consistory of the Dutch church also felt encouraged to go as far north as Fulton street in choosing a site for their new structure. It became known as the North church, that on Nassau street being called the Middle and that on Garden street the South church.
During the revolutionary war most of the communicants of the Dutch church fled from the city on its occupation by the British, and the North and Middle churches were occupied as stables or barracks by the troops. After the war services were resumed in the old Garden street church until the impoverished people could raise funds to put the other churches in order. In course of time this was done, and services were resumed in all. In 1807 the old Garden street structure was taken down and a new one erected on its site, which was occupied until it was burned in the great fire of 1835.
The North church was the only Dutch Reformed church left down town after the Middle church was turned into a post office in 1844. In 1856 it was closed for a number of weeks for extensive repairs, and was reopened on the last Sunday in August of that year, when Rev. Thomas de Witt, D.D., preached a sermon, which he gave a historical sketch of the church, and referred to the change of circumstances that had gradually driven the congregation up town. “Still,” he said, “a large population of another description and of a more fluctuating character, is found, and will remain in this vicinity, to whom the 'Gospel which is preached to the poor' should be ministered. For this purpose the consistory of this church have resolved to preserve this edifice and renovate its appearance, in order that the means of grace may be dispensed within its walls in time to come.” It seems, however, that in course of time the consistory found “that gospel which is preached to” the rich more in their line, and in 1875, 106 years after its dedication, the venerable structure was pulled down and the site leased for business purposes. A reminder of the old church remains, however, in the Fulton street prayer meeting, begun in the church in 1857, and still continued in a chapel on the second floor of the business building erected on the site.
In 1813 there was a distinct congregation formed in Garden street, leaving the Middle and North churches under the direction of the original church corporation, now familiarly called the Collegiate church. As population was forced up town this separate congregation divided into two, one body building a handsome church at Fifth avenue and Twenty-first street, and the other a church fronting on Washington square and adjoining the university. The corporate church also felt the need of a house of worship further up town, and in 1836 it purchased a building already erected on Ninth street, a little east of Broadway, on the Snug Harbor estate, and occupying a portion of the present site of Stewart's store. Meanwhile lots were bought on which to erect a handsome new church at the corner of Fourth street and Lafayette place. The cornerstone was laid Nov. 9, 1836, and the church was dedicated May 9, 1839. It was built of granite and was adorned with twelve Ionic columns, each a monolith. When first erected it had a tall steeple.
The steeple was inconsistent with the style of architecture and it was after a few years taken down, after which the building resembled a Greek temple, and it was until quite recently one of the finest examples of the Greek style in the city. A few weeks ago workmen began demolishing the church. The great monolithic columns, each of which weighed fifty tons and cost $2,000, were offered by the contractor to any one who would take them away; but no one appeared to want them, and they were finally thrown down, all but one of them breaking to pieces in their fall. On the site of the church the consistory is to put up a large six-story brick building for manufacturing purposes, which has already been rented, in advance of its erected, at $12,500 a year for ten years. When this church was built it was regarded as the center of a thriving suburban neighborhood; but the northward rush of population continued, and when the old Middle church was leased to the United States government in 1844 it was already plain that a church still further up town would have to be erected.
Lots were accordingly procured at Fifth avenue and Twenty-ninth street, and the corner stone of a new building was laid Nov. 26, 1851, and the church was dedicated Oct. 11, 1854.
This was the most magnificent structure yet erected by the consistory, and on its completion the old church on Ninth street was abandoned. The new church was built of white marble, in the Romanesque style. It fronts Fifth avenue and is 82 feet in width by 113 in depth. At its rear and fronting on Twenty-ninth street is a lecture room 34 by 82. The top of its spire is 215 feet from the ground.
The pressure of population northward still continued, and in 1857 ground at the corner of Forty-eighth street and Fifth avenue was purchased from Columbia college upon which a lecture room was at first erected. In July, 1869, the cornerstone of a new church was laid, but the building was not dedicated until November, 1872. The material is Newark sandstone, and the style of architecture the decorated Gothic of the fourteenth century. It has a front of 70 feet on Fifth avenue and 100 feet on Forty-eighth street. It is a handsome building, in the very center of wealth and fashion, and, it is needless to say, has a wealthy and fashionable congregation.
In addition to these churches the original church corporation has erected chapels at 160 West Twenty-ninth street, on Ninth avenue above Thirty-eighth street, at Seventh avenue and Fifty-fourth street (which has since become an independent church), and the chapel already mentioned within the new business building erected on the site of the old North church at Fulton and William streets. In addition to these chapels the church maintains a school at 160 West Twenty-ninth street, an institution that has recently celebrated its 250th anniversary.
On December 31, 1885, the number of communicants of the three associated churches and the three chapels was 1,669. The Seventh avenue chapel had become a separate congregation, known as Grace Reformed church, during the year, the consistory giving the congregation the church building rent free and guaranteeing it $2,000 a year for three years toward its expenses. This seems to have been the policy toward numerous other independent churches that have grown out of the original church. Such aid is also apparently extended to some independent churches closely allied to the Dutch church in faith and discipline, as the Year Book of 1886 casually mentions the Holland church on West Eleventh street as a “small band of believers, who have been continuously aided by the consistory from the beginning of their enterprise.”
A statement of the work of the board of deacons for the year 1885 begins thus: “The collegiate church still finds, as she has done in all past periods of her history, the truth of the Savior's words, 'The poor ye have always with you,' and for them she makes constant provision.” The large promise apparently made in this magniloquent sentence is, however, straightway modified by the announcement that it is the province of the board of deacons “to assist only those who are members of our church in full communion, connected with one of our three associated churches, or with either of our three associated churches, or with either of the three chapels.” The report goes on to describe the system for thus giving aid, and states that the board depends for funds for this purpose on the monthly offerings of the congregations. These offerings during the year 1885 amounted to $3,615.61. “Consequently,” says the report, “the amount given to each beneficiary can be but small, and is generally not more than sufficient to pay a modest rent in some attic or like unpretending apartment.” A tenement is probably meant. The monthly average of persons assisted by the board during the year was twenty-six, and the highest number in any one month thirty-two. A free bed is maintained in the Presbyterian hospital, and the poor are buried at the expense of the church. “The congregations are earnestly desired to continue their liberal provision” for this work.
Here, then, we have a fair indication of the scope of the work of the Collegiate Dutch Reformed church. Since the destruction of the Lafayette place structure it maintains two fashionable churches on Fifth avenue and three chapels in other parts of the city. It assists other congregations of the same faith. As a corporation it does nothing for the poor, except, perhaps, to bury them. The contributions of the various congregations aggregated $3,617.61 in 1885, or $2.16 from each of 1,669 communicants. This sum suffices to maintain in attics or in charitable institutions an average of thirty-two poor people who are members of the church. For the vast remainder of the hopelessly poor of the city the congregations, as such, do nothing.
That those concerned are proud of this achievement was shown by the elaborate celebration of the quarter-millennial anniversary of the founding of the church, which took place Nov. 21, 1878, in the church at Fifth avenue and Twenty-ninth street. On that occasion addresses were made by Dr. Ormiston and Dr. Vermilye, two of the pastors of the church, and by Drs. Dix, Crosby, Anderson, Tiffany, Storrs and others representing various Protestant denominations, all of whom spoke in highly laudatory language of the oldest religious organization in the city.
The church has apparently always been one whose membership consisted of well-to-do people, and it has steadily followed the migration of such people northward. One stand to preserve a church for the poor seems to have been attempted when the old North church was reopened in 1856, and in his sermon on that occasion Dr. DeWitt appeared to intimate that that edifice would be maintained forever for the benefit of that “large population of another description,” namely, the poor. That the church was originally built for a different class is shown in many ways. The coat of arms of the more aristocratic burghers were, as has already been shown, burned in the window panes or hung upon the walls. Dr. DeWitt, in his sermon already quoted, said that when he first become one of the pastors “the most substantial and fashionable citizens” resided within easy walking distance of the down town churches. Very soon afterward the increase of commerce led to a change, whereupon he says “the more respectable citizens” began moving northward and the church followed them. In his quarter-millennial address, in 1878, Dr. Vermilye exhibited a gold-headed cane, which he boasted had, in commemoration of the event, been given to him by “a Van of the Vans.” The doctor also dwelt with manifest satisfaction on the thought that but few churches of the denomination had taken advantage of the act authorizing them to commit their temporalities to a board of trustees, an act which he declared was passed “in courtesy to the popular craving for a share of whatever office or power may exist.” In fact, he declared that under the Dutch system a board of trustees is superfluous, and its absence makes it possible “that a troublesome or unqualified member may be quietly dropped – a great blessing often to pastors, consistories and people.”
It is thus manifest that the congregations of the collegiate church do not belong to the class that needs practice the custom of the New England Christians described by Whittier as –
Churchgoers, fearful of the unseen powers,
But grumbling over palpit tax and pew rent,
Saving, as shrewd economists, their souls
And winter pork with the least possible outlay
Of salt and sanctity.
Probably no congregations of professing Christians have ever existed in New York better able to meet out of their pockets the material expenses of church maintenance or that expenditure for the gratification of sectarian pride quite common to all denominations, and especially strong in this. It was the contrast between their “old barn” and the New England meeting houses, pointed out to them by the navigator De Vries, that stirred the Dutch to erect their first stone church within the fort; and it is a historical fact that it was to the rivalry between this church and other Protestant denominations that the erection of the first handsome church buildings in New York was due.
Yet, despite all this, the Collegiate church has never been supported by the contributions of its members. The first step after the resolution had been taken to erect a church in the fort was to apply to the West India company for assistance, and in 1665 we find the governor authorizing the mayor and council to raise 1,200 guilders to support the Dutch ministers of the city. These public donations, however, long ago ceased to be necessary, for shortly after 1722 the consistory of the church acquired the power to levy an ever increasing tax on a considerable tract of land in the heart of the business portion of the city; – a right that it still continues to exercise, deriving therefrom an income that has enabled it to pay princely salaries to its ministers, to build the handsome churches and chapels it now holds and to erect great business buildings, such as that which will shortly occupy the site of the old Lafayette place church. What its revenue is no man outside the inner circle of control can say, but there is no difficulty in showing that its power to levy a land tax on the sites of business houses on Broadway, Maiden lane and John, William and Fulton streets yield it a yearly income of probably more than $150,000, to say nothing of the rents it derives from the church sites that it has given over to secular use, or the profits it derives from the investment of the proceeds of the sale of such properties as that now occupied by the Mutual Life insurance building. This property was sold by the church to the United States government in 1860 for $200,000. The government sold it to its present owners in 1882 for $400,000 which was regarded as a price so low that it subjected those making the sale to severe criticism. The transaction, however, gives a hint as to the recent appreciation in value of the large amount of land in that neighborhood held by this old church organization.
The history of these lands, of their acquisition by the church and of the celebrated lawsuit that ended in leaving them in the possession of the church, is a most interesting one, and it will be given to the readers of The Standard next week. It is sufficient, at present, to say that some of the most wealthy and fashionable congregations in this city obtain “salvation free” through the invalid bequest of a dead shoemaker to a corporation prohibited by law at the time from owning real estate having an annual value of more than £200. These facts have been freely admitted in a court of justice, but the right of taxation thus conferred by a dead shoemaker has been upheld on the ground that, though the church has no actual right to this property, no heir at law to John Harberdinck has ever turned up, and on this basis the rents have been collected and appropriated, splendid churches have been erected and a vast estate has been built up, while in return those who have enjoyed all of these advantages on earth and a greater prospective inheritance in the world to come, have maintained in attics and tenement houses an average of twenty-six poor people at an annual cost of $2.16 per annum to each communicant, while the attempt to preach the gospel to those less respectable people, the poor, has long since been abandoned.
This history recalls vividly the scriptural suggestion as to obstacles encountered by the rich in a heavenward journey, and enforces one interpretation of the ancient belief that there can be no worship without sacrifice. It is not, under the circumstances, remarkable that even those concerned should have a glimmering consciousness that this deadhead parlor car route to the realms of eternal bliss is a limited one, and that congregations ready to support their churches from their own pocketbooks are likely to be more zealous and effective. Such, at least, is the reasonable inference from some remarks in the Year book of 1886 in relation to the erection of the Seventh avenue chapel into a separate and independent congregation. After referring to the various steps taken, the report says: “The pastor states that already the wisdom of organizing Grace Reformed church is demonstrated. It is influencing for good a far larger number of persons than formerly. It is training its members in self-respect and self-denial, as was impossible under the chapel system. It is a far less heavy burden on the society for Christian work. Above all, it is winning souls to Christ whom it could not reach before.”
Thus from the official report of this wealthy church corporation it appears that John Harberdinck's bequest was as unwise as it was illegal. The church thus endowed with the power to tax the land neither preaches the gospel to the poor nor ministers to their temporal necessities. It cultivates pride, and even the branches it puts forth find themselves incapable of “winning souls to Christ” until they shake off the incubus of this wealth and cultivate the sense of self respect and the capacity for self denial that come from working for the Lord on their own account instead of leaning on the unjust power given by an old shoemaker, long since dead, and upheld by a system of judicial interpretation that awards the surface of God's earth to the holder of the most dubious title rather than to the whole people, to whom it naturally belongs. Should a new system, in course of time, appropriate these net ground rents to the public use and benefit, it is clear that the cause of Christianity will in no wise suffer by the change.
The Randall Farm Articles
Three Gentlemen Subscribe $15 to Have Them Put Into Tract Form for Free Distribution Among Business Men
New York, April 11 – I would like to urge the publication – if it is not already your intention to do so – of the two recent articles on the Randall farm, in the shape of tracts, and to offer you $15 from three of us to that end. These two articles form an object lesson in political economy which appeals with the greatest power to that class of individuals – generally businessmen – who pride themselves on their great practicality and strength of mind, and who wants everything reduced to dollars and cents. They will, I think, make many a man a convert against his will.
I cannot help telling you how much we enjoy and appreciate The Standard here in our family circle. Very little of it, I can assure you, goes unread, and after we are done with it it is lent out to others. It is doing a great and noble work, and in a spirit of rare kindness and Christian conciliation, too. May it meet with every success.
One of the most respected citizens of Brooklyn has also expressed admiration for these articles and offers $15 more for their separate publication and distribution among business and professional men. The articles will be republished as suggested.
A Word From Austria
St. Michael, Austria, March 22 – The first few numbers of The Standard have been received, and I cannot but express my utmost delight in looking over them. Believe me, the great ideas which it advocates have not only found echo in the new world, but also here in a monarchical state; and, although the remedy is an easy matter in the United States compared to what must be done in Austria, “Progress and Poverty,” “Social Problems,” and the other works are read here by intelligent people with great interest. I express not only mine, but also the best wishes of a good many friends of the United States here, for the speedy success of your movement, intermingled with the egotistical hope that it may enlighten our people here too, and that we may ultimately profit by it.
The Rapid Course of Conversion
Wakefield, Mass., March 28 – A number of citizens of this town, imbued with the principles of taxing land values, and in full belief that the result will justify the prediction made in that wonderful book, “Progress and Poverty,” are ready to forsake all party and vote and work for this principle, and will immediately set about organizing a club for propagating the faith. You can hardly conceive how rapidly this doctrine is spreading. Men who scarcely had heard of the name of Henry George six months ago, and knew less of his doctrine, are now eagerly discussing those doctrines everywhere. I myself knew nothing definite about them until The Standard was published. I bought the second number out of curiosity, was interested and continued to buy as they were issued. I soon read “Progress and Poverty” and was converted. And my case is repeating itself all around me.
George B. Sinclair
Archbishop vs. Priest
Events of the Week Relating to the Controversy
Dr. Curran Astonishes Father Kearney by Celebrating Mass at St. Patrick's – Something About the Circular That the Priests Are Expected to Sign – St. Stephen's Parishioners Will Continue Their Agitation
Rev. Dr. Curran returned to the city from his spiritual retreat on Easter Sunday morning. He spent the day with some friends, but went to the rectory of St. Patrick's in Mott street before the doors were bolted for the night and occupied his old room there. He rose in time to celebrate the 7.30 o'clock mass at the smaller altar in the church, and while preparing to do so Father Kearney, the pastor, became aware of his presence by meeting him in the church. Dr. Curran greeted the pastor with his customary politeness, bidding him good morning. Father Kearney replied in a different tone, inquiring of Dr. Curran how he dared to come to St. Patrick's. Dr. Curran explained that he looked upon St. Patrick's pastoral residence as his home while in the city, since he had never been permanently removed from it, and that he had, of course, come into the church to celebrate mass. Father Kearney rejoined excitedly with the declaration that Dr. Curran should not celebrate mass, reminding the doctor, at the same time, that he was pastor. Dr. Curran replied, “I am aware of that, and I am your assistant.” “No, you are not,” said Father Kearney; “you were removed by the archbishop.” This Dr. Curran denied, stating that he had been invited to go to Ellenville temporarily, and that no notice had ever been given him that he had been taken away from St. Patrick's. Father Kearney could not deny the statement, but he had other exciting topics to discuss with the doctor. “I don't see how you have the face to come back,” he said, “after saying what you did about me in the papers. You said that I was a liar.” “No,” said the imperturbable doctor, “I said that your statement to the archbishop that I neglected my duties while here was not true.”
Father Kearney appealed to the sexton of the church for a decision as to the facts, but the sexton sided with Dr. Curran. The pastor then reiterated his refusal to allow the doctor to say mass, but Dr. Curran was persistent in pushing his own determination, and at last Father Kearney yielded the point in controversy, remarking, “Well, we'll let him say mass this time.” Dr. Curran smiled pleasantly, and proceeded to say mass as if nothing had happened. His bearing had been so cool and collected that Father Kearney himself could hardly take offense at it. After the mass Dr. Curran spent an hour in his room and then prepared to go out. Father Kearney met him at the door and gave him a note from the archbishop. In it the prelate directed Dr. Curran to proceed to Ellenville at his earliest convenience and remain there during the illness of the present rector. Dr. Curran went to Ellenville on Thursday.
It has been stated in several of the daily papers that in admonishing Dr. Curran of the necessity of a ten days' season of reflection and prayer, the archbishop had given him the choice of three places of retreat. This is not a fact. The written decree of the archbishop designated the West Hoboken monastery as the place of Dr. Curran's incarceration.
Priests Must Be Sought After in Order to Obtain Their Pledges of Loyalty
The circular designed by the supporters of the archbishop to test the metal of the Catholic clergy of New York has been going the rounds of the parishes for signatures during the past week. Its most active promoter is Rev. Thomas F. Lynch, pastor of the Church of the Transfiguration in Mott street. The contents of the document seem to be guarded with vigilance, as no one has been able as yet to make them public. It is even alleged by a well informed clergyman that the younger priests are expected to sign the paper without having the time to read it, not to say scrutinize it. The pressure exerted upon them to cause them to append their names to it amounts to coercion.
Rev. James J. Dougherty, pastor of St. Monica's church, called the pastor of a prominent church who was formerly an assistant under Dr. McGlynn, and asked him to sign the pledge to the archbishop, telling him that “all the priests had signed it except two.” “If that is the case I'll sign,” said the priest. On discovery afterward that the statement was not based on fact, the priest erased his signature, saying as he did so: “I once had a little disagreement with Father McGlynn. I regret it, and now think he was in the right as between us. I'll now make amends by erasing my name from this paper.”
In another case the same Father Dougherty invited a young priest to sign the paper he was carrying around. When asked what it was he said it was a little testimonial to the archbishop, and the young man, trusting to the honor of the older priest, signed it.
Rev. Gabriel A. Healy, pastor of St. Bernard's, Fourteenth street and Eighth avenue, called on a young priest and made the request that he sign the document. The young man hesitated. Father Healy said rather perumptorily, “Say yes or no.” “Suppose I say no,” was the response, “what will be the consequence?” “You'll be under suspicion.” “Under suspicion of what?” “Of disloyalty to the archbishop.” “Well, if that's the meaning of it, if my loyalty is suspected without reason, I've manhood enough to say no. I'll not sign. Nobody has any cause to doubt me.”
Rev. Nicholas J. Hughes, pastor of St. Mary's church, on Grand street, went to one of the archbishop's six councilors, a prominent pastor, and showed him the secret document. The councilor said, sharply: “I'd be ashamed to be seen on the street with that in my hand!” Father Hughes went away, and called on another councilor. His petition for the reverend gentleman's signature drew forth a lecture from him, ending with the words, “Do you mean to insult me? Do you, yourself, intend to sign that?” And Father Hughes replied, a good deal abashed, “I don't think I shall.” The young priests generally regard this as a good story on Father Hughes.
Rev. John Edwards, pastor of the church of the Immaculate Conception in East Fourteenth street, put the document before a young priest for his name, but was met with a refusal and such an expression of views as astonished him. Father Edwards said, “I am a priest of many years and would not dare to speak so freely.”
The reluctance of many of the priests to have their names made public is the cause of the suppression of other facts relating to the subject. The priests of the city seem to have been generally approached and pressed to place their names among those of the archbishop's friends. The “testimonial” is, however, a failure. It was stated in a morning paper on Tuesday that a declaration favoring Dr. McGlynn was to be made out and passed round among the Catholic clergy for signatures. One of his friends, a priest, said yesterday, significantly, that such action was unnecessary.
At St. Stephen's
An Interview With Dr. Henry Carey – Dr. McGlynn's Friends Steadfast
Dr. Henry Carey was seen at his residence, Thirteenth street and Second avenue, and asked what was the present feeling of St. Stephen's parishioners in relation to Dr. McGlynn's case. Dr. Carey said that International hall, 207 East Twenty-seventh street, had been engaged for Friday evenings in future as usual. No meeting had been held on Good Friday evening, and nothing had been done in the way of agitation during holy week, and this gave rise to the newspaper rumors about this gave rise to the newspaper rumors about the abandonment of the policy of Dr. McGlynn's supporters. The statement that the collection on Palm Sunday was as large as the average one taken up on the first Sunday of the month in Dr. McGlynn's time was far from true. The doctor had seen the baskets going around through the church, and knew that the collection was a very small one. There has been no opposition to continuing the weekly meetings shown by any of the congregation who have taken part in them. The friends of Dr. McGlynn believe he is in the right, and they will uphold him to the last. If he has done wrong, he should be condemned at Rome; and if his course has been right, he ought not to be punished. His friends think he has been unjustly evicted without a hearing or trial, and that his convictions on social questions are right. Some have asked why the reverend doctor has gone west on a lecturing tour. Dr. Carey said he told such inquirers that Dr. McGlynn went west to tell the people there that he is a Catholic priest and to give them the real facts in his case. He will clear the atmosphere where it has been befogged by falsifiers. Dr. Carey then referred to Dr. McGlynn's character. He never knew a man more sincere, devout and charitable. His acquaintance with Dr. McGlynn had been but slight previous to his suspension. The priest had never crossed the threshold of his house. But when he had been struck down Dr. Carey believed it to be his duty as a Catholic and a citizen to go forward and assist in his defense. The same feeling is shared by a large majority of the congregation – they who for years have admired and loved their pastor. The influence of Dr. McGlynn over his assistant priests, and his example to them were well known. Dr. Carey said he looked forward in confidence to the time when Dr. McGlynn would be reinstated. The church could not afford to lose the services of such a man. What nonsense it was to say he would leave the church. He would be a good priest to the last. His flock asks his reinstatement and nothing else. The doctor concluded by saying that every meeting at International hall had been an overflowing one; holy week was over and the war had been begun again.
Lead the Way, Dr. McGlynn
New York, April 11 – I have read so much about Dr. McGlynn in your paper that I want to say something, and I voice the feelings of hundreds who are too poor to do much more than feel sorry for a fellow man.
Church dignitaries will decorate statues with gold and jewels, while God's children are starving. Statuary looks better than hungry, ragged children. So the ecclesiastics shut their eyes to the children and dress up the statues; and when a brave, good man tells them that the children of God are dearer to his heart than their glittering images, that flesh and blood are better than marble, he is looked upon as one gone mad; and when he steps to the front and reaches out his hand to the poor workingman, an humble follower of the Lord, and tries with all his strength to raise the burden which bears him down, then a cry goes out and he is dismissed his parish. Dr. McGlynn has now but to proceed on his crusade and he will have many followers who, though they have not wealth, have each of them a voice and a vote that “My Lord” Preston or Prince Corrigan cannot take away.
Dr. McGlynn's Mission
Chicago, Ill., April 8 – It seems to me the Lord allowed Dr. Edward McGlynn to be thrust out of St. Stephen's church that he might go through the length and the breadth of the land, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, to preach the doctrine of the new crusade of the “land for the people,” as set forth in his magnificent lecture.
Mary A. Mackay
A Word From England
London, England, March 21 – All honor to Dr. McGlynn and to those who are so nobly supporting him in New York. I am much pleased with The Standard. I pass it on to the Enfield radical club every week, where I think it is appreciated. On this side of the Atlantic the doctrines of “Progress and Poverty” are making way, if slowly yet surely, and the light is spreading.
What English Catholics Think
We feel some reluctance in speaking of the McGlynn case. A Protestant journal in a Protestant country, yet imbued with the deepest respect for the historic church of Rome, we feel a delicacy in approaching any subject that seems to cast any reflection upon that church. In reality, however, this is not a matter of church; it is a matter of men who hold a position in the church, that should be held by men of higher feelings and abilities. A parish priest, who is far-famed for his ability, his learning and his zeal, writes to us: “This is not a question of Rome, but Simeoni.” That is the case in a nutshell. Dr. McGlynn is the pastor of a huge church in a poor parish of New York. He is a very father to his people. Out of his little income, he gives the greater part to the poor. Loving the poor he has found that the cause of their poverty lies in the abominable land laws that oppress all countries and reduce all countries to the extreme of poverty. Therefore Dr. McGlynn supported the cause of land restoration, and therefore he supported Henry George. The archbishop under whom this parish priest so nobly worked forbade him, as all good men doing good work have been forbidden. But this priest – as noble and as famous as little Blue Mantle of Paris – preferred duty to interest. He would obey his superiors in all that his superiors had a right to demand, but his conscience was his own. He believed in God and in God's great gift of the land. There and by that he would stand. Yet he followed in nearly all matters the exact commands of the archbishop. Few men have ever been so obedient. But evil has been determined against him. He was dismissed from his charge, and he was summoned to Rome. The treatment that he has received is deeply resented by nearly all English speaking Catholics.
The Volks-zeitung Was Wrong
Whitman, Mass., March 26 – Your answer to the Volks-zeitung in The Standard of March 26 gratifies me. You say that if all taxes were shifted on to land values, speculators would drop unimproved land as they would hot potatoes. You are right. And this great truth is like a hot potato to such landed proprietors as the Duke of Argyle, and, for the most part, to the newspaper press (the Volks-zeitung excepted, of course), which feeds upon privilege. Go on in your good work. Use the ax as did Abe Lincoln. This upas tree must come down. May God defend the right.
Woman Suffrage Convention
The New York state woman suffrage association will hold their annual convention at Masonic temple, corner of Twenty-third street and Sixth avenue, on Thursday and Friday, April 21 and 22. The public sessions will be held at 2 and 8pm, and the executive sessions for business at 10am. Addresses will be delivered by Matilda Joslyn Gage, Mary Seymore Howell, Caroline Gilkey Rogers, Marguerite Moore, Annie Jenness Miller, Isabella Beecher Hooker, Clara Neyman, Kate Palmer Stearns, Rev. Amanda Deyo, Lillie Devereux Blake, and others.
How the Landless Workers Manage to Live
Low Wages for Workingmen and Clerks-Postmeu Working for $2.75 a Week – Facts About Population – A Hue and Cry Against Foreign Labor
Bordeaux, April 2 – The weekly wage of the workingman in France, even in the large towns and cities, rarely exceeds $5, and it is very often no more than $4. In not a few instances men work seven days a week, or, at all events, for half the day on Sundays, making six days and a half per week, and they are occupied for ten and a half hours per day. When we come to persons employed in shops, we find they often work twelve or thirteen hours a day, and the shops are either the whole or half the day on the Sabbath. It is not customary to give any holidays other than the regular days that are officially laid down as public holidays or fetes. I venture to think that your American workingman would not support such a system for a single month. French clerks are paid about on a par with men of the same cloth in England, viz., $5 a week; but the higher officers, such as cashiers, managers, etc., are not paid so well as in Great Britain. Perhaps those who are most favored in the matter of salaries are the English correspondents of the larger firms, while the Germans command little better figures than the French themselves, by the reason of the large number of them that can be found on every hand, and also from their willingness to accept low rates of pay. Some of these men are capital linguists; but, on the other hand, many of them possess a singular amount of exaggerated self-confidence, as I have known men apply for the post of English correspondent in French houses who have positively not understood me when I have said: “How do you do?” I know of young man who actually obtained such a post, and it was three or four weeks before his employer, who was ignorant of the English language, discovered the linguistic deficiencies of his clerk.
Postmen in cities and large towns earn four dollars a week, but not so in the rural districts. I know an intelligent man, six-and-thirty years of age, of fair average education and obliging manner, who gains the magnificent stipends of $2.75 per week. He has a scattered district, and as he has two deliveries of letters to make per diem, the whole of his time is occupied in his duties. He has a wife and two children to keep, and what is more, lives in a decent, humble dwelling, which costs him nearly one dollar a week. How can such folk exist? Twenty-five cents a day to provide food and raiment for two adults and two children, barring, of course, the postman's uniform!
I observe a paragraph in the Gironde, which states that “several wealthy landed proprietors in the Medoc have just reduced the wages of their laborers from 2 francs 50cs, to 1 franc 75cs for the men, and from 1 franc 75cs for the women. The unfortunate people who have not accepted the reduction have been summarily dismissed.” Now, the Gironde is the most widely circulated newspaper in the south of France, of thoroughly republican views, and not likely to misrepresent the wage-earning capabilities under the republic of France. In American money, therefore, the agricultural laborer of the Medoc will henceforth receive for his labors, that, it must be remembered, endure from sunrise to sunset, the liberal sum of $2.38 per week, if he works seven days a week and never has a moment, not even on the Sunday, to call his own, or $2.04 per week if he has his Sabbath, and even then he has no half holiday on the Saturday. Shorter hours ought to be in vogue, a Saturday afternoon half holiday, less taxation and protection and similar nonsense, and larger wages. And yet I am bound to admit that the people are fairly content; there is little grumbling, no poor rates, and much, very much less poverty than in England.
Government and ecclesiastical appointments are by no means the fat sinecures that they are in the British Isles, and were I to give a detailed list of the salaries paid to high government functionaries, not only in France but often in the deadly climes of her distant colonies, I imagine that many of your readers would con the figures with unfeigned surprise. Take, for example, the cardinal archbishop of Paris, the highest ecclesiastical dignitary of one of the largest and fairest cities of the earth; a man of distinguished piety, high intellectual culture and exalted rank. He has the princely revenue of $2.00 per annum. Though it may not be necessary that a follower of the lowly carpenter's son should be a duke with £15,000 a year, like his grace of Canterbury, England, surely such a man is entitled to receive a respectable income. With almost every article of diet dearer than in England, with lower wages and higher rents, it surely is a great credit to the French nation that so little actual poverty exists, and that so many of the laboring classes manage to build themselves a house and acquire a plot of ground.
The French chamber of deputies on Saturday last, decided to increase the import duty on foreign oxen from twenty-five to thirty-eight francs, on cows from twelve to twenty francs, on calves from four to eight francs, on wethers and ewes from three to five francs, and on fresh meat from seven to twelve francs per 100 kilos.
The minister of the interior has just caused to be inserted in the Journal Officiel a table indicating by departments the total of the population, and the total is divided into two headings, viz., the French themselves, and the foreigners permanently inhabiting this country. These statistics form an interesting study. They prove, on the one hand, that the French population increases in an almost imperceptible degree, and, on the other hand, that the number of foreigners is constantly on the increase. There is evidently some connection between these two phenomena. The insufficiency of the native population favors the influx of strangers – it might almost be said, renders such an influx necessary. It is none the less true that in certain departments the influx of foreigners has assumed the character of a veritable invasion, an invasion which goes on slowly and peacefully, and which has undoubtedly certain advantages, but which is capable of assuming certain aspects of danger in the coming time with which it is not unnatural that the legislators should seriously occupy themselves.
The departments which are specially invaded are, first the Seine, because of the special attractions Paris possesses for the foreigner, and next the departments which are situated upon the frontier, or in close proximity to the frontier, such as Nord, Bouches-du-Rhone, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Ardennes and Alpes-Maritimes. The Germans regard themselves as being at home at Nancy, the Belgians at Lille, the Italians at Nice and even at Marseilles, these towns being so, near their respective countries. There are so many of the Belgian laboring classes, workmen in the manufactories and mines of the Nord, who every day perform their laborers and take their dejeuners upon French territory, and who recross the frontier and take their evening meal in Belgium, where they can live more cheaply. The table inserted in the Journal Officiel, which is to be entirely relied upon, inasmuch as it bears the signature of M. Goblet, president of the council, informs us that out of 38,218,903 human beings who reside in and pay the taxes imposed by France, there are 37,103,689 French subjects and 1,115,214 foreigners.
In certain towns, and more especially among the working classes the hue and cry has been sent forth against foreigners, who are stated to be formidable competitors in the race of national labor. It has been remarked that it is as logical to impose restrictions upon the import of foreigners as it is to impose restrictions upon foreign products. A proposition has been made that it would be advisable to place a tax upon foreigners residing upon French territory. Such a tax would assuredly possess a protectionist character, though it could hardly be said to be prohibitive. It is contended that the object would not be to prevent strangers from coming into France and settling here, but simply with the end of making them pay for the benefits of French civilization which they enjoy, and which have been cumulating for generations past. A writer calls this a “droit compensateur.”
The Soleil favors such a tax upon two conditions: First, that the tax be moderate in amount and not more than from one to two per cent of the net income earned by foreigners; and second, that they should be “compensated” by laws which should facilitate or even impose upon them in case of need, the act of naturalization. It is contended that the invasion of France by strangers would become a source of strength rather than a source of weakness, if it were possible to make the said foreigners into French citizens. The course recommended is that it should be to the interest of foreigners to demand naturalization, and that they would thus be absorbed into the great French nation. The Soleil thinks that the imposition of a special income tax would be a powerful means of bringing about what is desired, for many foreigners would declare themselves as French citizens in order to escape the payment of this odious tax. The article in question continues:
“It is certainly unsatisfactory that the population of the French should remain stationary, while all the great countries which surround us, England, Germany, Italy, should see the number of their inhabitants increase with rapidity. But what can be done? It is no easy matter to change the maeurs of the French nation. People cannot be forced to marry on attaining a certain age, and any measures which might be proposed upon the subject would be treated with universal ridicule. But in according naturalization to foreigners who reside in France, who gain their livelihood here, who are dependent upon us for their means of existence, and who, in consequence, have the same interest as ourselves in the maintenance of the tranquility and prosperity of the country, the French population might be increased by a million people. It must be understood that strangers are welcome and will be received with open arms, but on the condition that they do not remain isolated in the midst of us.”
Rents On The Bowery
The Views of a Man Who Pays $6,000 a Year to a Landlord
L. Schackman, tailor, Bowery near Broome street, was interviewed a few days ago by a Standard reporter in regard to Bowery rents. He said there was, as a rule, hardly a living to be made by Bowery storekeepers on account of excessive rents. After a man had a business established the landlord ran the rent up on him every time his lease expired. It was very seldom a lease could be had for more than three years, and in most cases the lease was but for one year. The rents on the Bowery he regarded as more unreasonable than in any other locality in New York. It was a good retail business center, and that made it the field for agents and for shrewd men of some capital watchful for paying investments in real estate. He knew of several persons who were going out of business this spring, as they did not make their rents. One was himself an owner of real estate situated in another part of the city, and as he expressed it, was well enough off to live without working for another landlord. Mr. Schackman thought that the average rent of a store on the Brewery, 22×80 feet, was $3,000 a year. This was without a basement or other room in the building. With short leases tenants put very little money on improvements and disregarded sanitary conditions. The pace at which landlords went in putting up rents was much faster than the advance in desirability of Bowery stores. The sole question was, what could the tenant pay. Mr. Shackman believed that in general the storekeepers tried to do as well as possible by their employees, but the enormous rents had to be met on the first of the month. This was what made retailers open shop on Sunday against the law, and caused them reluctantly to promise early closing to the labor unions. He himself pays $6,000 a year for one room, 40 by 60 feet, on the ground flavor. Mr. Shackman is himself a house owner and a close observer, and he believes he can look on the question of rents without bias in either direction. He says that if the working people can find means of reducing the rents paid by businessmen, they will get some of the money now going to landlords. A man in business paying $6,000 a year rent would, if it came down to $3,000, be in a position to give him employees better wages.
Chattanooga, Tenn., April 3 – A singular difficulty has arisen here as the result of the real estate boom which has prevailed for three months. Some time since a syndicate of capitalists purchased a large tract of land almost in the center of the city called Stone fort, which on account of its rock and uneven condition has been allowed to become occupied by negro tenants, at least two hundred small houses having been put up for their occupancy. These two hundred families since the new purchase have been notified to vacate this property at once, and they will have to leave. There is not a vacant house in the city that they can get, and Chattanooga is now confronted with the problem of what to do with 200 families who are turned out of house and home.
The purchasers propose to improve the property, level it off and make it available for business and residences. The poor people will have to do with them nobody knows. In several other portions of the city where property has heretofore been occupied by poorer classes, and which property has passed into new hands, the tenants have also been ordered off to make room for improvements. It is safe to say that during the coming week, if these notices are insisted upon, there will be hundreds of homeless families in Chattanooga, with no homes that they can rent.
The Snug Harbor Trust Years Ago
New Orleans, La., April 6 – The returns from Cincinnati and Chicago are grand. If the land reform movement continues to gather headway another year as it has done in the past we shall be victorious.
Ten years ago I published in the American Ship, a newspaper of New York, an exposure of Sailors' Snug Harbor similar to yours in the last issue of The Standard. I published one of Greenleaf's financial statements, and showed that they only expended seventy-eight thousand out of a quarter of a million income in maintaining beneficiaries and the rest went to swell the capital fund, and at the rate they were going on it was only a question of time when they would own the whole city. The result of my agitation was to cause them to provide for double the number of inmates. I see by the statement you publish they are investing in government bonds. I was a government official then, and they went to Washington and demanded my head.
Rack Rents in Chicago
What the Proprietors of Boarding Houses and Furnished Rooms are Forced to Pay
There is a system of rack renting practiced upon a class of people in Chicago, which for cold-blooded robbery and inhuman ghoulishness equals in horror even the eviction scenes over which the humane element of all classes of people are so justly indignant. It seems that the class of houses in Chicago used for furnished rooms and boarding houses are almost as completely under the control of the moneyed aristocracy as the farming land of Ireland is domineered by its land robbers. It seems almost incredible that there should exist in a civilized country a class of people who could become so utterly lost to every sense of justice or consistency as those who own and rent out the houses to which I refer. The rent of these houses has been placed at such unreasonable figures, and is so entirely out of proportion to the earnings of the business of the renters as to render it impossible for such people to carry on their business with any hope of success or even the prospect of a bare existence. I know a lady who has been keeping a flat of furnished rooms for four years on a prominent street in the city, who expended at the beginning of her term $600 for furniture, and in addition to four years of laborious work in taking care of her rooms, which have been occupied for the most part of the time, she has been compelled to draw upon other resources to keep up her expenses until several hundred dollars besides her earnings have been absorbed by the exorbidant rent she has been compelled to pay. Another lady who has been renting a flat in a very favored section of the city, which she furnished at a cost of $700 about four years ago, is paying more rent today than she is receiving from her rooms, and tells me that she has often been compelled to do sewing to make up the deficit in her rent bill, which the business fails to supply. I know another family keeping roomers where the lady and her three children are kept constantly at work in the business, and the rooms all occupied, and yet she is often compelled to draw for rent on the salary of her husband.
But the most startling feature of the business, and one which humanity shudders to contemplate, is the fact that thousands of these furnished rooms are occupied by girls who work in factories and stores, whose wages are utterly insufficient for their support; many of them being driven to prostitution, thus converting a great number of places, even in respectable parts of the city, into secret houses of assignation. A lady has told me this of a highly respectable gentleman who owns the entire block in which her apartments are situated. She complained to the gentleman of the high rent she was forced to pay for her flat, and told him frankly that it would be impossible for her to rent from him at such figures, and keep a respectable house, and that she would keep no other kind. The gentleman, or rather the fiend, coolly informed her that she was too particular, and that he could give no reduction in rent, as much as to say: You must concede to my unreasonable demand for rent even if you have to avail yourself of the fruits of prostitution to obtain it.
The Right Gospel
The Royalton Minn., Banner, pointing out what would follow if land values were taxed, says: “As fast as the landowner can make his land into grain, into cotton, into hemp, into vegetables, into sheep and horses and cattle and houses and barns and pianos and organs, that fast does he approach the goal of his youthful dreams of comfort and prosperity. He will, rather than permit any of his land to go to tax sale, employ three men and teams where he now employs one. His land will be made to produce thirty and forty bushels of wheat to the acre where he now barely squeezes out ten or twenty. He will pasture one cow on one acre in place of one on four acres. The whole ingenuity of the farmer and the inventor will be devoted to that idealistic agricultural task, getting a little out of the most ground. The millions that are invested in real estate, which in the hands of speculators retard the growth of every country, straggling “settlements” from New York to Portland, would be thrust into the channels of trade and become living arteries, carrying the life blood of employment and prosperity to every part of the body politic. The man who has a lot of unproductive real property will either let it go to tax sale, or else he will build on it or garden it. He will have to make it produce something. Instead of hunting out objects for taxation, strike the shackles off both capital and labor by making them free from taxation.”
Keep on Thinking, Canada
Toronto (Ont.) Daily Globe
In the discussion of Mr. Balfour's bill respecting line fences between farms the “prejudice of county and township councils against absentee owners of unoccupied land” was mentioned. It was said that local feeling would utilize the proposed act to force the fencing of vacant tracts, and thus put the absentees to expense. To us it seems that the local feeling is entirely right and sound. The county and township councils would receive power to levy special taxes on unoccupied tracts if our system of taxation were not radically wrong. The absentees are speculating in the unearned increment, i.e., in the work and outlay of wealth-producing farmers. The value added to vacant land by adjacent settlement goes to reward holders who positively injure the neighborhood. They pocket as speculators a profit which becomes a tax for all time on those who make the land productive. An effective remedy for the grievance of farmers in this respect would be to take all municipal taxes off improvements and put them all on the value of land minus improvements. When farmers get their eyes wide open they will combine to impose land taxes in such a way as to destroy land speculation.
God's Goodness to Mr. R.M. Todd
St. Paul, Minn., Globe
Albert, Lea, March 26 – R.M. Todd, president of the Albert Lea steam mill company, is the recipient of a stroke of good fortune which he will sensibly and generously use, but which the most lucky favorites of fate would consider themselves fortunate to secure. Several years ago he bought a tract of land in the mountain wilds of Arizona which gave some indications of silver bearing, and for the past year has been prospecting it, the results of which he communicated to ex-Senator Tabor and other bonanza millionaires of Colorado. They sent their experts to examine, and the report was so certain of the richness of the rock that on a visit to Denver last week they closed a bargain with Mr. Todd by which he has their notes and bonds for $250,000, payable monthly within one year. Ex-Senator Tabor is the leading purchaser, and his is the first name signed to the notes and contract, which are now on deposit in the bank of H.D. Brown & Co., in this city. Besides this, Mr. Todd reserved an eighth interest in the mines. Experts report that at least $1,000,000 of silver-bearing rock is in sight.
Organization in Minneapolis
Minneapolis, Minn., April 4 – Our object is to organize a central Henry George club and then an auxiliary in every ward after the coming election to prepare the way for 1888. I have already got my own ward organized.
An Anti-Rent Agitation
Excessive House Rents Receiving the Attention of New York Wage Workers
A few weeks ago the Bakers' progressive club passed a resolution by which its members pledged themselves to demand of their landlords, on the 1st of May, a reduction of 15 per cent in rents, providing the other trades represented in the Central labor union would do the same. Since that time the subject has been up for discussion before several of the sections of the Central labor union. The matter has also attracted unusual attention among wage workers generally, and as a result the relations of New York tenants to landlords are seen today by thousands of the occupants of tenement houses in a light more clear than ever before. With some of the more active labor union men the agitation has shaped itself into a proposition to strike against landlords, the plan – so far unofficially discussed – being for one organized trade at a time to take up the movement and assist those members to find cheaper quarters who may be unsuccessful in inducing their landlords to reduce rents. Another proposition that finds some favor among those talking it over informally in workingmen's places of resort, is that several blocks of houses be set apart in a tenement district rented mostly by men in labor organizations, and that all concerned living in the area selected shall simultaneously give notice to the landlords that the rents must be reduced or the entire neighborhood will be deserted. If this move should be successful another series of blocks could, according to the plan, be operated upon in a similar manner, and then another, until the tenement house districts of the city were worked over. The opinion prevails, however, that it would require a long time to organize such a campaign of house boycotting, though some who are pushing it believe that it has merits which a strike against an employer has not, for the workingmen need not stop work to engage in it; there need be no fear of violence in connection with it, and the usual arguments against strikes which are employed by those who will not strike cannot very well be brought into play with regard to it. Moreover, a movement of this character, it is said, would not be for the purpose of taking from any one, employer or employed, anything that he had ever earned, for New York landlords with few exceptions are regarded as taking advantage of the growth of the city to exact from tenants every cent the latter can pay, and they do this without any regard to merely fair returns for the capital invested in their real estate. Whenever a locality becomes a center of increased population rents are put up by the landlords, and the same course is followed in consequence of any improvement that should be of general benefit. This is to be expected, but those who approve of the plan in question for fighting landlords desire to try whether an artificial depopulation of a locality would not have as good an effect for tenants as would not have as good an effect for tenants as a genuine increase in the number of people seeking homes in the same locality has for landlords. The building trades organizations, however, see in the idea a detriment to their occupation, as it might deter capital from house building. The fact, also, that fair minded landlords might be made to suffer with the rest is also looked upon as a drawback to the plan. Whatever the outcome of the discussion, members of labor unions acquainted with the land doctrines are pleased to see the drift of thought in the direction it is taking. When the plan of taxing land values is thoroughly understood it will be seen that the building trades, and all other trades, will receive an impetus from its operation that can hardly be estimated. New York rents are everywhere much on a level with respect to the people who must pay them. If rents are apparently low anywhere it is because the locality is poor and the surroundings intolerable to all except those who must tolerate anything, no matter how bad. Everywhere in the tenement districts the landlords have pushed up rents to the largest sum that the laboring classes can pay, and everywhere in the rental business districts the storekeepers work for the man who takes the rent and puts it higher as they increase the volume of their business.
Out of town readers of The Standard who are interested in the question of rent, may see, by the instances herewith given, which have been collected at random, how the working classes of New York struggle for the landlords:
In the crowded Tenth ward, in tenement houses which are in fair repair and have two families on every floor, the rents usually range from $17 for apartments of five rooms on the top floor. It is not unusual, however, for a store to bring $50 a month.
In Forsyth street, near Delancey, a second floor in a three-story house rents at $25 a month. The poorer class of “double decker” tenements in the neighborhood have apartments at $17, $15 and $13.
At No. 56 West Broadway, a rather dilapidated twenty-five foot front house, the plumber shop occupying the half of the ground floor rents $30 a month. A cooper shop and blacksmith shop are in the basement, and each pays $8 a month. For a room and bedroom in the upper floors of this house $12 a month is paid. Back of a narrow yard on the same lot there is a rear building. A room and bedroom in its rents for from $6 to $8. In this neighborhood there are some old private houses. In one of them a clerk pays $11 a month for three small rooms on the third floor, and for a room and a pantry in the same house an aged couple pay $9 a month.
A half basement on West Broadway in the same locality brings $14. At No. 75 West Broadway a barber pays for a half store room, 30 by 7 feet, $35 a month. The liquor store at $2 West Broadway, corner Leonard, pays $2,000 a year. A bedroom and pantry in a building close by brings $12, and a basement $12.
A newsdealer and stationer, formerly on Pike street, paid $30 a month for a storeroom on the ground floor and two living rooms in the rear. His drawer receipts averaged $60 a week, but his profits, when the rent was paid, amounted to only $5 a week. For a third floor in a flat, corner of Seventh street and Second avenue, the rent is $49 a month. A two story and basement house in Fourth avenue near 112th street, costs $45 a month. Before the elevated roads were built the rent was $25 a month. A four story and basement house in the Seventh ward brings $2,400 a year.
This score of instances samples the city. There are what are called low rents far up town, but car fares and the time consumed in going and coming bring the money put out monthly for shelter to a point equal to that paid for down town apartments. That scientific and practical body, the landlords and the house agents, fix rents, and they do it by adjusting them with an instrument as true as a spiritual level – the tenant's pocketbook.
The Party of the Future
New Orleans, La., April 4 – I trust that this question of human rights will be agitated until justice is done to the most humble in the land. Let us devoutly hope that the dominant party of the future will have a proper regard for human rights. Neither of the present ones can be trusted. They will make fair promises, but, like an old toper who has “sworn off,” as the first favorable opportunity they lapse.
Going Into Business
Employers and Employees in Ben Franklin's Trade
The Printing Office of 1820 and That of 1887 – What Are the Chances for Printers' Talent in New York – Old Saws That Will Not Answer at the Present Day
A gauzy little story, with its big moral, written in the vein of the fictions printed in the Sunday school papers, was republished in last week's Standard from the Independent. A Deserving Poor Workingman was walking homeward from work with a Shiftless and Envious Workingman, when a Wealthy Gentleman rode by in a splendid carriage. Deserving Poor admired the turnout, and declared that he, too, should one day ride in his carriage. But Shiftless and Envious asked what right the Wealthy Gentleman had to live in such luxury and idleness, while he, who worked so hard, had nothing, and he said he believed he would all his days be next to a beggar. And Deserving Poor managed well, lived on less than he earned, became an honest contractor, and finally accumulated a large fortune. And Shiftless and Envious always kept himself poor by spending all his earnings. Then follows the moral of universal application: “Workingmen in this country, if they will practice industry and economy, dispensing with all unnecessary expenses, and living on less than they earn, will gradually become capitalists, to a moderate extent, at least, and some of them will become rich.” Lastly, a slap at the labor organizations.
Miss Pennyalmsgiver might spin this little yarn to Polly Drudge and the simple young lady might believe it to be true, and the ignorant menial might fall into a fit of penance over it at the thought of that dime which she spent for the only ribbon she bought last season. Or, old Professor Philanthropist might relate the story while visiting a charity school, and the boys there would be edified by it and make good resolutions on the head of it. But in the workingman's workaday life will it stand sifting?
The inquiry as to whether skill, industry, sobriety and enterprise, unaided by patronage or capital, have a fair chance for reward in this country, could be answered completely by taking up the list of occupations as they are printed in the census reports and ascertaining the relation of the wageworkers in each to the employing and wealth holding classes. In most of the mechanical occupations it would be seen that the factory system has superseded all other systems, and that the factory hand is generally no more than an attendant at a machine or a worker at some subdivision of a branch of what was formerly a trade. The production of nearly all kinds of goods is in the hands of combinations of manufacturers or monopolized by large firms possessing superior facilities for placing their articles upon the market. Labor saving machinery is taking the places of mechanics and driving them into idleness or reducing them to the level of the unskilled.
Let the printing business be taken for an example. There hangs on the walls of the office of the typographical union in New York the painting of a printing office of the year 1829. A pressman is at work on a Ramage hand press, and about the room are seen the appliances of that day for setting type, binding books and ruling blank books. Perhaps all the plant of such an office could have been bought for $2,000, and the pressman at work was capable, no doubt, of performing every process in the production of a book or newspaper. The man who made this sketch of the office in which he worked in 1829 is still living. The walls of the office of the typographical union are not large enough to contain a pictorial gallery of the many branches into which the trade of printing is now divided, and pictures would have to be added constantly to depict the rapidly changing processes in connection with the business.
In 1870 the eight, ten or twelve cylinder press was used in the press rooms of the daily newspapers was considered a marvelous machine. To feed the cylinder presses and the folding machines there were then employed in a daily newspaper office in New York from twenty to fifty persons. The press now used in such an office feeds itself, prints, cuts into sheets, folds and counts the papers. The scores of feeders who were formerly employed in press rooms are now earning and saving, in order to become employers, in that indefinite haven of those ousted by machinery – “some other occupation.” If, as is a common argument, machinery usually creates more employment, this class of operatives have not found it to be so in their own business. Machine makers have not found a greater demand for their handiwork, either, in building new presses, for the machines of the latest design are more simple in construction than the older ones, and turn out many more finished sheets per hour.
In the book printing offices the presses of the new make are also capable of being run with less labor and of doing better work than those of the style in general use twenty years ago. New folding machines and new sewing machines in the book bindery are throwing girls out of work and performing in a day a quantity of work that formerly took up a week. In large binderies the work of binding books is subdivided to such an extent that an operative working at the trade toils for years at a single subdivision of it, such as embossing, rounding, backing, cutting, pasting or sewing. Forty years ago a bookbind could have set himself up in a business with $150. Today the necessary machinery for a modest bindery costs at least $5,000. In blank book manufacturing, improvements in machinery have been made within ten years that render it unprofitable for some machinery constructed previously to be worked at all. In other words, the owner of a small blank book factory, operating with his old style machines, would lose more money the more he worked, and if he had the energy, skill and business talents of a tiptop captain of industry, he would go to ruin so much the sooner. It would be as if a man were to start to ride on horseback to San Francisco in order to save car fare and put up at the highest priced hotels on the way.
Type composing machines are in use in half a dozen large offices in New York. While it is a faster compositor who can set 10,000 ems a day, a team of three machine operators can average 60,000 ems a day if working on reprint copy and not required to change the length of the lines. The first cost of the composing machine and its liability to get out of repair stand in the way of its general adoption, but compositors generally take it for granted that a machine or a process may at any time be invented which will take the place of the hand compositor in plain type setting.
There are establishments in the city where nothing but presswork is done. Scott's running through from Spruce to Frankfort street, has presses by the dozen at work night and day, the forms being carted there from numerous composing rooms scattered about the lower part of the city. It would be a smart pressman who could run off work on a single press in a small office at as low a rate as one of Scott's presses can do it.
All who know anything at all of the weekly press of the country are aware that hundreds of the smaller papers are printed on one side in a large city establishment and supplied to their proprietors at a cost but little above that of white paper, as the same “matter” appears in many of them, and the advertisements inserted by the wholesale house printing these papers repay the cost of the work. This class of newspapers are known to the trade as “patent insides.” Within five years another process has played havoc among compositors. Stereotype plates are sent by express from several cities to the country press, the plates being but the eighth of an inch thick, and fitted into the forms on movable and adjustable bases. Telegraphic news matter is thus prepared and forwarded in the morning for points within 150 miles of New York, arriving in time for use in the evening papers. Miscellaneous matter goes more slowly, but reaches many more papers. This plate matter is recognized by the union printers as capable of irretrievable damage to the craft both in diminishing wages and lessening opportunities for obtaining work. There have been many newspapers started in small towns through the means of plates. These little towns will soon be sending out a horde of half-taught and low-priced compositors, for small country offices but rarely have employment for journeymen. The larger weeklies and the daily papers of the third-rate cities also use plate matter, the effect being to increase the size of the papers somewhat, but at the same time to lessen on the whole the amount of work for compositors. Another use for plate matter, and one which is a menace to the scale of wages, is that in case of strike it can be relied on to fill up the forms.
In addition to the changes in the New York printing office growing out of new methods and improved machinery, the work of the trade has been split off into many divisions, and, with few exceptions, each of these divisions is monopolized by a few houses, the monopoly being established and controlled through the possession of facilities not attainable by a beginner. Who would think today of entering into the business of manufacturing school books in the face of the pool supplying the country with them and employing the usual modes of a pool in crushing opposition? What working printer would dream of starting a daily newspaper or a monthly magazine after looking over the list of failures in these lines during the past ten years? The savings of a printer's lifetime would be unequal to the purchase of a single press in a daily newspaper office. No combination of merit and genius can cope with the problem of competing with the four large theatrical printing offices of the city, its three color printing firms, its half dozen law printing establishments, or its three railway printing houses. Once or twice in a decade talent, character and capital unite and successfully build up a new printing office in New York. This is usually done, however, through large capitalists seeking investments for their money and compelling offices already established to yield a share of their patronage and in part release their grip upon the increasing volume of work in the way of printing. Again, some enterprising persons may perceive apart from the common line of work a little need for a new office that may in time grow to be a great office. This is in the direction for the exercise of a business talent that is much vaunted and flattering to self – foresight – and the printers who have believed that they had that talent and had discovered a need are surprising in number. As a consequence there are ex-proprietors of printing offices at the case in every office in the city. Taking the waste of capital and the wages that might have been earned if these ex-proprietors had never made their business ventures, the aggregate loss to the working members of the printing fraternity, through unsuccessful attempts to become employers, will bear comparison with what has been thrown away by the shiftless.
Several managers of printing offices have lately been interviewed by the writer in relation to the question of building up a paying establishment. Mr. T.J. Rooney, manager of the Concord Co-operative company, 49 Centre street, pays $900 a year rent for an establishment now having about $5,000 worth of material in it. He had lately sought better quarters in his neighborhood, but found nothing that rented under $1,200 which answered his purposes. He had had his eye on a new building near by, while it was in course of construction, and he thought he might take in it a room 25 by 75 feet. But its rents turned out to be $2,000 a year. Mr. Rooney thinks that $30,000 is required to set up an office which can expect to compete in any of the larger lines of the printing business. Mr. McWilliams, of Elm street, said that he thought $50,000 might start a book printing office. The smaller offices generally made barely a living over their rent, which was sure to rise if the office depended on its locality for its good will. He had once gone to a place that was worthless for any one else, but as soon as he had made it pay the rent was run up to a point that compelled him to remove. Mr. C.G. Burgoyne, whose large business has been built up in the past fifteen years, said there was $80,000 invested in his office. An office that could bid for work of any class might be established for $150,000; but in order to do all kinds of work a quarter of a million would be needed. The day of the small printer had gone by. He had a number of ex-proprietors working for him. He made money by doing quick work in a “flexible” office. His hands could be transferred from one department to another, and thus an immense amount of work done at a low cost. He does work for a dozen smaller offices. His landlord had raised his rent promptly on the expiration of his leases. Mr. William J. Kelly, the publisher of the Model Printer, thought that it was hardly practical to decide upon any figure as the amount necessary to set up the plant of a complete printing office. The division of the trade into branches prevents any one from attempting to follow them all, either as employer or employee. Nearly all the owners of small offices are at a standstill or going backward. Rent takes their profits.
In all, there are about 200 printing offices in New York, a large majority of them, however, being small concerns, doing commercial printing and employing only a few persons.
In New York the compositors number about 4,000. The piece hands in the book trade do not average $13 a week the year round. The morning newspaper piece hands average $16 a week, and before getting a regular situation a compositor will very often wait two years in the position of a substitute. A large proportion of printers do not obtain work regularly.
The complete printing office of 1829, with its few primitive tools, is no longer in existence. From it have sprung daily newspaper offices, book printing offices, job offices, binderies, blank book factories, lithographing, engraving, label and color printing establishments. The wage worker is now seldom successful in becoming an employer. The men are as good as they were in old times, but conditions have changed. But in 1887 the goody-goody press and public teachers who are either ignorant men or falsifiers are still telling the pretty little stories and repeating the stale and inapplicable maxims of 1829.
An Organization in Portchester
A number of citizens of Portchester, N.Y., in sympathy with the great reform which The Standard advocates, recently associated themselves into a club for mutual intellectual improvement, and will shortly open a room where entertainments and debates can be held. John McMackin has recently visited the town and made a stirring speech before the association. The officers are: Andrew Moore, president; William Coddington, secretary and John Wasson, treasurer. The executive committee are: Thomas Whaler, Michael McCoy, James Roach, Thomas Burke, John Lyon, J. Henry Schmell and Fred Huppert.
Plantation Life Today
Industrial Slavery Far More Cruel Than That Existing Before the War
A short time ago the writer visited a large sugar plantation called Cote Blanche, situated upon an island of the same name, in St. Mary's parish, La., which may be taken as a fair specimen of existing plantations in Louisiana.
Cote Blanche is owned by a resident of New Orleans, who leases it to another resident of New Orleans, who in turn employs an overseer, who directs the laborers. The overseer lives in a large frame dwelling near the hovels of the laborers.
These hovels are arranged on both sides of a long street. Each consists of two rooms, one used as a kitchen, dining room, and, in fact, general living room, and the other for sleeping. They are built of ordinary boards, loosely put together, whitewashed on the outside, and dirty as pigstys inside. Some of them are occupied by negroes; others by white men. Most of the occupants have their families with them, and as many as seven or eight human beings live in a single hut, together with dogs, pigs, turkeys and other animals. The exact wages paid to these people it is impossible to state, but that their earnings are small may be inferred from their way of living. Their clothing is mainly rags; their food is pork and black bread and a mixture called coffee, a diet one does of which would kill a millionaire. Their only luxury consists in smoking vile tobacco. Their privileges are working all day when in health, being kicked out when sick, and buying, on pain of instant dismissal, everything they use at the plantation store, which is owned by the master. Their liberty consists in freedom to die wherever and whenever they elect, this being a matter of the most absolute unconcern to any one in the world except the immediate families of the poor wretches, while it is a matter for rejoicing on the part of the starved creatures who fill the vacancies.
Before the war slaves had a value. They were often beaten and ill-treated, and in many instances had to be goaded to their work by the slavedriver. But generally speaking, the slaves enjoyed life. They had no cares; they were housed, fed, clothed, and when sick taken care of until their recovery. The master was to some extent responsible for their well being. Each one was personally responsible for their well being. Each one was personally known to him and his family, and in their old age they were not worked. Their life, compared to that of those who today take their places, was as heaven to hell. The difference is that those today have no value; the desire on the part of the master to get a comfortable living out of their exertions has given place to a rapacious greed to get all out of them that the limit of human endurance will allow; no need now to flog them; the fear of starvation is a sufficient incentive. Every avenue of escape is so monopolized that countless numbers stand ready at a moment's notice to step into vacant places. Now the ownership is not personal. The master does not know his slave by face or name. If the slave falls sick and can pay for a doctor himself, well and good; if not, it would be preposterous to expect the master to pay for one for him. And then again, it is a philanthropic action on the part of the master to give employment to the workman and thus offer a fellow being the opportunity to avoid death by starvation!
The owner of this island lives in New Orleans. He receives a large rent from the man who leases his land. The latter also lives in New Orleans. Neither does a stroke of work. Both live handsomely, surrounded by every luxury. The slavedriver or overseer, employed by the man who leases the land, receives a compensation, but does no work except to direct the slaves. Where does all this wealth come from? A child whose ideas were not all confused by the modern political economy would say it is created by the laborers in the hovels. The law of the land says it does; the law of God says no!
The two absentee landlords are indifferent as to how their money comes, and they leave everything to the slavedriver, whose position, in part, depends upon his cruelty. But the responsibility is clear enough. It rests with the people of the United States, and unless they look into these matters and do something to eradicate the evils that are now rapidly eating away our institutions and making the emancipation act a shallow joke, there will be a reign of terror in this land; for men can be goaded to desperation now just as they were in the last century!
John S. Walters
A Slavery That Society Condones
Cincinnati, O., April 6 – Here is a part of an interview with ex-Governor Bookwalter of Ohio, by Gath (George Alfred Townshend), as published recently in the Enquirer of this city:
“How came you, as an Ohio man, to be interested in Kansas and Nebraska?”
“It is a matter of speculation, or rather of investment, for I never sell anything. A good deal of that land was for sale very cheap. Much of it cost no more than seventy-five cents an acre. It was not inviting looking land, because it seemed to be a light sandyish soil. That was my first impression, and therefore I did not buy above 20,000 acres of it. Looking up the question of soils, however, I found that beneath the sandy surface was the primordial or basic soil, which is the richest on the globe. I hastened to buy some more land, and when I got about 60,000 acres they shut down on me and would not sell any more. The railroad companies found that they had too good a thing.”
“How do they manage that land?”
“I keep an agent there all the time, who looks after nothing else. I put out the land on leasehold; some of it pays me $2 an acre per annum, which did not cost that amount.”
The naivete with which Bookwalter narrates how he has an income of $2 per year per acre from land that cost him less than half that is simply charming! It fills one with chagrin to think that society can look on such a system with admiration. If Bookwalter published to the world that he owned a lot of slaves, who are working his western lands for him, and that off their labor he and his family lived, society would be shocked at the heartlessness and brutality of the thing. But this is different!
B.C. Keeler of Chicago
Land Reform in New Zealand
Charles Clayton of Westport, New Zealand, an ardent advocate of the common right to land, recently sent a letter to Robert Stout, the premier of the colonial government, requesting him to introduce a radical land reform bill into the house of representatives, having for its purpose the destruction of land monopoly and the abolition of all taxes save a single land tax. The premier replied that it would be impossible for him to draft such a bill and said: “The subject is one that cannot be settled in an off-hand manner. It requires grave consideration, and it wants more; it requires the popular mind to be trained to the fact that land is not like other property, and that the state has rights over land which it cannot possess over personal property. No doubt the agitation which is going on by Henry George and others, however one may differ with them, will be productive of good.”
A Plan for Political Organization
Uriah B. Thomas of San Francisco has issued in handy book form a proposed plan for political organization in the form of a party constitution, the provisions of which may be usefully consulted by political organization committees.
The Small Tradesman
How He Is Crushed to the Wall by the Increase of Rent
San Antonio, Tex., April 4 – There is a class of people who, as a body, are as much interested in the struggle for social reform as are the toiling masses below them. I refer to the small tradesmen. For a number of years, through personal contact and community of interest, I have had an opportunity of witnessing their hard struggle to keep their heads above water. Yet few realize what the real cause of their trouble is. They ignore the fact that as the opportunities of finding employment are diminishing and the return for such exertion decreasing year by year those who would be their customers have less and less with which to make purchases. Here and there, one more intelligent than another, has found that he is paying a rent out of proportion to the business he is doing; that the interest on borrowed money is too high; that the overcharge on goods he is compelled to buy on credit, is enough to prevent him from ever making any headway. But the majority seem to have no idea of the fundamental causes of their endless slavery. Some even imagine that the workingmen's fight is not theirs. “If the laborer would only quit striking and keep at work,” they say, “our business would not be so bad.”
As things are now, the small tradesman is very much overworked and care laden. From fourteen to sixteen hours a day he is obliged to be at the orders of any five cent customer, and he has no time for regular meals. His profits are not fixed, and he is unable to say what will be left to reward his exertions until close on to rent day, as much depends on the state of business during the last few days. Business may not come, but rent day surely will come. The landlord in the meanwhile watches keenly how his tenant improves his business, and does not fail to take advantage of the first opportunity to raise his rent. The wholesale dealer will only consent to renew his mortgage on the retailer's stock at two or three per cent advance, and so the fines increase as the unhappy small dealer becomes more helpless. But they are still blind to the cause of their troubles, and hope that times once more will become flush, though in what way they cannot tell. Some would like to get out of business if they could and go back to their craft, but the ranks are overcrowded. Some would like to till the soil, but the prices at which speculators hold land prevent them. Every natural opportunity is cut off from the needy, everywhere toll must be paid to somebody. So the man remains in his store trying to increase his profits by selling adulterated goods or cheating on the weight.
God knows it is not always cupidity that makes him do that. It is a matter of “to be or not to be.” He wants to keep his name out of the bankruptcy court; he wants to pay the exorbitant rent; he wants to pay the additional two or three per cent on the note he must renew; he wants to prevent the jobber from selling him out and putting his family in the street. For much of that poisoning, for much of that cheating they are responsible who have enclosed or barred the avenues to nature's riches.
As long as some have the land for which others are compelled to compete so long will this grinding of the small dealer continue, and as the competition becomes more intense so will his position become more and more precarious. His salvation lies in studying the great economic questions and in making common cause with the labor party, which is really fighting his battle.
Landgrabbing In Dakota
A Land Owner Tells How Speculation is Going on There
Lynn, Mass, March 31 – I have resided for the past ten years in Dakota territory. For two years I was clerk of the court for the Fifth judicial district, county of Walworth, and I can testify that the hand of the land speculator is heavily felt in all parts of that great territory. All along the lines of the railroads there are little villages and towns surrounded by thousands of acres of rich, unoccupied land, and the emigrant is told that he must move on further west if he would find free land. And so the great crowd of hunters after government claims travel over hundreds of miles of unused land lying near churches, schools and settlements, until the end of the railroad is reached, and even then they must go some distance before they find themselves beyond the jurisdiction of the speculator. In the spring of 1883 I went into central Dakota, a part of which was then unsettled and almost unknown, and selected Walworth county, facing the Sioux reservation on the Missouri river, as my place of abode. There were forty inhabitants in the county, which had been organized the fall before. The county is a large one, containing about 700,000 acres. At the present time there is not a railroad within its limits; there is not a settlement containing 100 inhabitants, and the population of the whole county is less than 1,400. You might say “here is an excellent opportunity to obtain a fine choice of land.” But this is not so. Of the 700,000 acres there are but about 125,000 acres left, and this is the forest land. Speculators, scattered from St. Paul, Minn., to Portland, Me., own the greater part of the county, and are quietly waiting for the railroad, the settlements and the population to put a value on their now worthless ground, and so the poor land hunter must travel through this sparsely settled country before he can find land which is still in government hands and which is fit to live upon.
A copy of the records of the county clerks' books of many of the counties would make interesting reading, and would show with what rapidity Dakota farms are passing into the hands of speculators “in futures.”
The Testimony of a Builder
The Washington, D.C., Star prints the following interview with a prominent builder of that city, C.C. Martin: “I don't think,” said Mr. Martin, “the prospects for this year are as good as last. Why? Well, it may be that the weather has something to do with it, but the real reason is – the speculators. Why, they've tied the builders hand and foot. They have bought up everything. Builders today can't buy any land in this city for a price that would warrant them to build a decent house upon it. There's no profit for us in twenty-five thousand dollar buildings, because the people won't buy. There's little or no demand for them. Yes. The poor people are being crowded, gradually, into the outskirts of the city. It is not because there are more rich people coming here to live, but that speculators are holding land at twice the price it is worth. I have seen this coming on for years. There is no way it can be remedied unless there should come a panic and force these people to sell. No, they don't confine themselves to any particular section, but they buy everywhere. You can see this plainly in the northwest. Where fifty buildings were built there several years ago, you will only see one or two going up now. Take Sixteenth street, from Massachusetts avenue to the Boundary, for instance. It has been sold and resold several times in the last year, but you see but very few buildings being put up. We builders can't do anything. A moderate house should cost about $4,000, but the lot nowadays costs $3,000, and when, as we must, we ask $7,000 for the house, the people won't buy. They think we are swindling them, but it is not our fault. It's the speculators.”
What Will Certainly Cause Trouble
The Great Prosperity of the South Goes to Enrich the Land Owners
Chicago, Ill, March 26 – The Morristown (Tenn.) Pilot reprints from another paper:
“There is one danger that may possibly cause some trouble in the growing industrial centers of the south, unless steps are taken to prevent it. The rapid rise in the value of real estate and the large increase in consequence in house rents must necessarily be very seriously felt by mechanics. Either their wages must be proportionately increased, thus enlarging the cost of manufactured goods, or they will be driven to seek work elsewhere, unless a remedy can be found. To secure a prosperous and contented laboring class there must not only be cheap rents, but also the opportunity of purchasing homes at moderate prices. The south cannot afford to ignore this question. If real estate is to continue on the upward move within the limits of these cities, then there must be provision made for reaching the suburbs by cheap transportation, and there arrangements must be made whereby the workmen can secure homes.”
Here is a note of alarm right from the center of that new south, whose amazing prosperity of late is a subject of constant comment; and it serves as an excellent illustration of the effects of private ownership of land. Here is a town favorably situated and enjoying a boom; population is increasing, factories are starting, business is flourishing, land values are rising and everything is lovely; but it looks as if the land monopolizer was going to get all the benefit. Land has been valueless, living cheap and labor cheap. Capital comes in to take advantage of these conditions, to benefit itself and to benefit the laborer, who in turn will benefit all industries with his increased expenditures, when the landowner steps in and wants the greater part of the fruit of that increased industry; not for any good which he does the laborer, but simply because he has exclusive control of that without which capital and labor cannot engage in production – the land. The injury to the town is manifest. Arrangements must be made for cheap homes for the workingmen in the suburbs. This will be a good thing for the suburban land holder, but in what way will the conditions be changed? Perhaps the editor thought that the suburban land owner, not being so favorably situated as his city rival, would be contented with a smaller blackmail upon the laborer for granting him the privilege of sufficient land on which to build a home. The time will come when people will understand that high prices of real estate do not constitute prosperity, and they will take land out of the speculative market.
Taxes In New York City
Speculation in Vacant Lots Aided by Low Assessments – How Enterprise is Punished
On Monday of last week eighteen vacant lots belonging to the estate of Chester A. Arthur were sold at auction in the real estate exchange. These lots are on the north side of 147th street between Ninth or St. Nicholas avenue and Tenth avenue. They were sold in pieces to suit, from one lot up to seven, and brought a total of $95,475, or an average of $5,300 per lot. They stand in the assessment books in the tax office as being today worth $1,500 apiece or $27,000 in all, and on this amount, twenty-eight per cent of their real value, the city and state collect taxes.
A few days later fourteen vacant lots on 135th street, from Fourth to Madison avenues, sold for $49,000, or say $3,500 per lot. They are assessed at $18,000, an average of $1,285, or say thirty-seven per cent of the value as shown by the sale. Looking now at the sales of improved property auctioned last week, it appears that on Thursday several parcels belonging to the Hopkins' estate were auctioned, among them a six-story brick and iron store on the northeast corner of Grand and Mercer streets. It brought $121,000. Turning to the assessment books, this property is found to be valued and taxed at $65,000, or say fifty-four per cent of its real value. Another piece of property, also belonging to the Hopkins estate, being the five story brick store 25×100, No. 81 White street, between Elm and Cortlandt alley, brought $49,900. It is assessed at $25,000, or say fifty per cent of its value. The same day a four-story brick and stone dwelling, 20×99, at 110 East Thirty-seventh street, between Lexington and Fourth avenues, was sold for $35,000. It is assessed at $16,000, or, say forty-six per cent of its value.
The cases instanced are fairly representative. On the one hand business buildings, improved real estate in the heart of the business and improved part of the city and a dwelling in the heart of the residence part; on the other hand, empty lots in parts of the city already in demand for residence purposes, but held out of use on speculation. The builders or buyers of the houses are taxed on the value of their land and again on the value of their houses, the assessed value being about fifty per cent of the real market value. The men who own the empty lots have no building tax to pay, and in assessing their lots the assessors further encourage them to hold their lots out of use by valuing them at, say thirty-three and one-third per cent only of their market price.
Now is the Time for Education
Evansville, Ind., April 9 – When I left the republican party in 1874, I did so fully convinced that there was no hope of correcting abuses within the party. And this I believed to apply with equal force to the democratic party.
Since then I have done all within my power to promote the interests of the producing classes by working for the success of the greenback party. But as long ago as 1884 I advocated the adoption of the following national platform: “Free land, free labor, free currency, free commerce.” And I am of the opinion now that if the land reform party will go into the campaign of 1888 with a platform incorporating these four planks and no more, adopting the name of “national free soil party,” it will pull over a million votes, and in 1892 will elect the president of these United States and take control of the government. But before we can do this we must concentrate all our efforts for the agitation of the land, labor and currency question. I find that a great many landless laboring people are fighting this new land gospel on the ground that it is a confiscation scheme by which they will lose their all, notwithstanding the fact that they have nothing to lose. But who can blame them? For generations our present false system has been taught until it is looked upon, not only by the unthinking masses, but the so-called educated classes also, as the best and only safe system of governmental economy conceivable.
That Chicken Soup Spring
Brockwayville, Pa., March 28 – In The Standard of March 26 is reference to a chicken soup spring in the west, which some one tells of; and the inference is made that were such springs plentiful and thus bubbled forth nutritious chicken soup, the poor and hungry would not be better off if some one could stand by and say, “This is mine. Pay me before you take any of this chicken soup.”
Now there is a fact to substantiate this inference. At Carson, Nev., is a spring, twenty feet square from which flows a hot mineral water, which, seasoned with pepper and salt, is, by many, said to taste like warm chicken broth, though the chicken part seemed to me somewhat imaginary. And there is an owner of the spring, who really collects a fee from visitors for the privilege of drinking from the spring which nature supplies.
Socialism In Germany
Rapid Spread of Socialistic Doctrines – Bismark's Intellectual Opposition
Special to The Standard
Bordeaux, April 2 – The last elections for the reichstag have gone to prove that socialism has made considerable strides in Germany since the war of 1870-71. The number of votes obtained by the members of the socialist party in Berlin only amounted to 2,058 in 1871. In 1887 the number has been increased to 94,259 and it is asserted that in connection with the elections of Feb. 21 last the votes given to the socialist candidates throughout Germany attained a grand total of nearly a million. It can be safely said that socialism, already master of the capital, is firmly rooted in the great industrial centers of Germany, and is daily gaining ground.
The socialist deputies will not be more numerous in the recently elected reichstag than they were in the old one. The group may, perhaps, even be numerically weaker. But what is worthy of remark is the progress that socialistic doctrines have taken a much firmer hold – this is now clearly demonstrated – upon the working population in Germany than has been the case in any other country in Europe. What will be the upshot if the progress of German socialism continues in the same proportion, and if the rural population, following the urban population, give their active support to the same principles? Will the empire remain secure? Will not the politicians of that country find that the danger from within will become in the near future greater than the danger from without?
Prince Bismark, with his accustomed penetration, has long seen the importance of the socialistic movement in Germany, and has endeavored to deal with it. It was with the view of quieting the demands of the socialists that he enacted the law of the 21st of October, 1878. Believing that a purely defensive policy would not be sufficient to allay the feeling that existed he sought a means of giving satisfaction to the working classes in ameliorating the conditions of their existence. He first turned his attention toward the industrial and commercial policy of the nation, and in pursuance of his plans brought about the revision of the treaties of commerce. An impulse was thus given to every branch of industry. Wages rose, and the laboring people necessarily felt the benefit. The chancellor desired not merely to advance the financial condition of the working classes, but also to insure their security by guaranteeing them against the risks which might arise in the exercise of their calling. In the message addressed to the reichstag in November, 1881 – a message which was inspired by Prince Bismarck – the emperor announced that a law was to be introduced which would insure workmen in case of accidents arising in connection with their work, and which was also destined to give relief to those who, and which was also destined to give relief to those who, in consequence of old age or infirmity, were unable to earn their daily bread. An elaborate system of social reforms was submitted to the representatives of the German empire. The project was eventually voted, after a long discussion, and in 1884 a compulsory system of insurance against accident was enforced upon the laboring classes. At the present moment this law relating to accident insurance is operating in 243,974 establishments, in which considerably more than three million workmen are employed. The task of organizing a truly effective system was a most difficult one, but, owing to the activity of the German administration, the legions of difficulties were overcome, and the law rendering insurance on the part of workmen obligatory is now in operation in almost every town throughout the empire.
But the question may be asked, Will this law give satisfaction to the people interested, and will it produce the magic social effects which M. de Bismarck hoped for? Actual facts do not seem to support this view. The employers of labor seem to meet the charges which they are entitled, and which is only sufficient to prevent their dying of hunger, as being totally inadequate. They long for the times when, in case of accident, they could bring an action against their employers and obtain substantial damages. Formerly an accident was a means by which a workman could obtain a small capital sufficient to establish him in some modest business. This chance no longer exists; and it is questionable if the compulsory insurance clauses have not been the means of spreading discontent. One thing is certain, since this bill was passed in July, 1884, the cause of socialism has exhibited symptoms of rapid development.
How Land Speculation Is Encouraged
And the Way in Which Thrift and Industry and Discouraged
Chicago, Ill., April 2 – As showing the extent to which speculation in land is encouraged by our present system of taxation, the figures which I have just received from the county tax collector are interesting and instructive.
I live in a suburb near Chicago, in a house worth about $2,200, standing on a lot worth $500 in the market. There are but three houses in the block, the remainder being held for speculation. My property is assessed for purposes of taxation at $270, which is about one-tenth of its value. The taxes for the current year thereon are $24.66, more than 9 per cent on the assessor's valuation, but only about nine-tenths of one per cent on its real value. I do not complain of the amount of the tax, but the system of assessing is idiotic and absurd.
The vacant lots lying around me are worth as much as mine – fully $500. The valuation placed upon them for purposes of taxation is just $14. My house is assessed at about one-tenth of its value; the vacant speculative property adjoining is assessed at about one thirty-fifth of its value, a marked discrimination in favor of the poor speculator, without which, perhaps, he would have to sell off some of his lots at their present value. In other words the rate of taxation on the $1,000 of real value on vacant lots held for speculation is $2.64; on homes, $9.13. I wonder they don't take the whole tax off the vacant property and put it on houses. This would be certain to please the land speculator, enabling him to hold his land indefinitely, without any inconvenience whatever and the whole system seems to be run in his interest.
It is time a change was made in our system of raising revenue, and Cook county is ripe for it.
The True Religion
Camden, N.J., April 11 – By the article published in The Standard containing the sentiments of Rev. C.M. Morse of New Castle, Pa., I feel drawn to him as if we belonged to the same house, and more especially so as I have been a Methodist from my youth; and when I see ever so small a spark of true gospel light break in upon our woefully priest-ridden Methodist Episcopal church I cannot but say “amen,” for I feel as though another Wesley was coming to the front. I, therefore, want to hold up this minister's hands in the good work.
And also, since the display of nobility in Dr. McGlynn's setting his face against oppression in favor of the common brotherhood of man, the Catholic church has a warmer place in my heart than ever before; and though quite on the western slope of life, I feel and hope that I shall live to see the gospel of Christ become a verity in one broad church, when, like old Simeon, I can say, “Let thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.”
Justice To The Archbishop
The scandal which Archbishop Corrigan is causing by his attempts to reduce to slavish submission the clergy of his diocese; his evident determination, as far as in him lies, to crush out among the priests of New York all freedom of political conviction, and to use the authority of the Catholic church to support corrupt political cliques and to prevent any questioning of social wrongs, ought to arouse among Catholics far more serious thoughts than those which find expression in condemnations of the conduct of the man. That the individual who now holds the position of archbishop of New York is too little a man for such an important place – that he lacks the intellectual grasp, the keen sense of justice and the popular sympathies needed in the official head of the Catholic church in the largest of American dioceses; that he displays the vindictiveness of the spoiled and petted miss, instead of the calm and kindly discretion of a manhood ripened by experience of the struggles and trials of life, and by realization of the vanity of selfish aims; and that he, by virtue of his office, a chief shepherd, seems anxious only that the wolves who fatten on his flock shall have full meals, is all true enough. But the important question is, how did such a man get into such a place? The Catholic church in New York is preeminently the church of the poor. How is it that the local head of that church is such a sympathizer with the rich that he wrenches authority to prosecute those among the priests who dare to claim for the poor equally with the rich their heritage of God? These are questions of an importance that go far beyond any matter of individual action or personal character.
The original constitution of the Catholic church is intensely democratic. Primitive Christianity was essentially a revolt of the poor against the rich, an assertion of the equality and brotherhood of all the children of a common Creator. It did not appeal to arms; it made its appeal to something more potent, the consciences and the hearts of men. It was this that made the Roman masters of the world, with all their philosophical indifference to what their subject millions believed as to the nature of the gods or the destiny as to the nature of the gods or the destiny of the soul, persecute so bitterly the adherents of a faith which taught that the one true God was no respecter of persons, but that in His sight and in respect to His bounty the poorest plebeian and the richest patrician, the meanest slave and the proudest emperor, stood on an equal plane. To those whose ruthless luxury was fed by the sweat and blood of embruted millions, this was “socialism, communism, and anarchism” of the most dangerous sort, and men and women who professed such “destructive doctrines” as that of the common fatherhood of God were torn to pieces, fed to lions, done to death in all the most cruel ways that a devilish ingenuity could conceive. But the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church, and at last Christianity emerged triumphant from the long struggle. Then the rich and the high born made haste to profess it, and began to intrigue for its dignities, often so successfully that, while the working priesthood still sprang from the people and remained in sympathy with them, the high places of the church, where the spirit of aristocracy was powerful, came too often to be deemed the prerogatives of noble birth, and even when a man of the people rose to ecclesiastical rank it was but to be received as a member of a ruling class.
Against the long dominance of aristocratic ideas the spirit of democracy has slowly made its way; but it is a remarkable fact that in the country where democratic ideas have reached fullest development the organization of the Catholic church is proven yet more essentially aristocratic than in the Catholic monarchies of Europe.
Two American bishops have recently been made cardinals – members of that body which elects the head of the Catholic church. Those who have read the newspaper accounts of their installation will have noticed that each of these bishops on becoming a cardinal was required to take the titular pastorship of a parish church in Rome. This was something more than a mere form. It is as pastor of parish churches in the diocese of Rome that the cardinals are entitled to a voice in the selection of a bishop of Rome, who, by virtue of that office, becomes the head of the church. This assumption of Roman pastorships by Cardinal Gibbons and Taschereau is a survival of the ancient democratic usage by which the bishop was chosen by the priests of his diocese.
But in the United States, where political institutions are based upon democratic ideas, the priests of a diocese are as completely ignored in the selection of their bishop as though they did not exist. Just as the Catholic laymen of the United States are powerless in the selection or retention of the priest whom they support, so in their turn the priests are powerless in the selection of the bishop to whom they are subject.
Thus does it come about that a man of such ordinary capacity and of antecedents so undistinguished as the present incumbent has become archbishop of New York. Such a man could never have selected him to succeed Archbishop McCloskey than the parishioners of St. Stephen's would have chosen Father Donnelly to succeed Dr. McGlynn.
Archbishop Corrigan has never worked his way up the rounds of the ladder of ecclesiastical promotion in which he stands so high. He has never been a parish priest, or even a curate. He has never had the opportunity to acquire the practical knowledge of human nature and the warm sympathy with the poor and lowly that come to the priest whose daily life and ministrations bring him close to the hearts and lives of the people. His experience until he became a bishop was merely that of the schoolroom. From the life of the pupil he passed to that of the schoolmaster, with all its narrowing tendencies of undisputed sway over inferiors; and from a ruler of boys whose unquestioning obedience had accustomed him to regard himself as a superior being he was inflicted upon the diocese of Newark, whence he was at length transferred to the devoted diocese of New York.
If Archbishop Corrigan is a sympathizer with the rich, it should in charity be remembered that this life has been such as to make that natural, if not inevitable. But further than this, he himself, as archbishop of New York, is not only a prince in the power he exercises over his ecclesiastical subordinates, but is in the receipt of princely revenues. It is but natural that he should have a fellow feeling for the rich, since he is one of their number.
The priests of New York receive salaries ranging from four to eight hundred dollars per annum. But the official income of the archbishop of New York, it is hard to say what it amounts to?
In the first place he is furnished with a marble palace, equipped and maintained free of cost to him.
In the second place, he receives from the funds of the cathedral a salary of $5,000 a year.
In the third place, he receives from each church in the diocese what is called a cathedraticum, being an annual payment of $200 a year each from all but the poorest churches. This cathedraticum probably aggregates not less than $15,000 a year.
In the fourth place, he receives a fee of $1 for every interment in Cavalry cemetery, the great burial ground of the Catholics of New York. According to the official statistics there were in Cavalry cemetery last year 14,374 burials from New York city alone, while from Brooklyn and other cities the interments in this vast cemetery during the same time must have aggregated at least half as many more. Thus the income of the archbishop from this source alone must be over $20,000, which added to the two previous items, gives him at least $40,000 a year – the income, calculated at four per cent, of a millionaire.
But this is not all. Besides this $40,000 a year which Archbishop Corrigan draws mainly from the hard earnings of the poor, and especially from the tax for burial in consecrated ground, which falls so ruthlessly upon them in their hour of sorest distress, he is continually in receipt of large fees and gifts from the wealthy.
In view of these figures, it is hardly to be wondered at that Archbishop Corrigan, in a recent pastoral, should liken himself to a “sentinel on the ramparts of a city under siege,” and deem it his duty to sound this alarm:
“Therefore, we command you, brethren, to be zealously on your guard against certain unsound principles and theories which assail the rights of property.”
Forty thousand dollars a year, besides a marble palace and items not easily ascertainable, certainly tend to make even an archbishop zealous for the rights of property.
It is worth the consideration of Catholics who have been scandalized by the recent course of Archbishop Corrigan to ask themselves whether there is not fault in the system as well as in the man.
There is certainly nothing in Catholic faith to require the selection of a bishop without regard to the judgment and wishes of those whose experience is most valuable and who are most vitally interested in the choice. And while it is proper that a bishop, like a priest, should be maintained in comfort and with a decent regard to the dignity of his station, yet to permit him to take the income of a millionaire is certainly to dull his sympathy with the sufferings and trials of the toiling men and women who constitute the great body of the Catholic fold, and to dispose him to look with complacency upon the monstrous inequalities in the distribution of wealth which shame our so-called Christian communities.
The Lesson of Convict Idleness
The first month of enforced idleness in Sing Sing prison is over, and the deficit to be provided for by the taxpayers of the state is nearly $8,000. This deficit will probably increase month by month for some time to come, as existing contracts for prisoners' labor expire. The voters of the state have found it to their interest to support prisoners in idleness rather than permit them to compete with honest laborers by working for a living. It is as though a hard working family should find it more desirable to support one of its members in idleness than to allow him to share in the common labors.
Facts like this are the sort of files which our social system presents for our gnawing. What can be more absurd than to say that it is better to maintain a convict in idleness than to set him to work? what more clear than that if he is set to work he will inevitably throw some honest man out of employment? A logistical conclusion and an undeniable fact – there they are, face to face, and what can we do to reconcile them.
There is in mathematics a forcible method of negative demonstration, known as the reductio ad absurdum – if a certain proposition be true, then of necessity something else, which is absurd, must be true also, therefore the first proposition is, and must be, false. The present prison labor is the last term in just such a chain of demonstration.
Let it be granted that certain individuals, be they many or few, have the right to refuse other men access to the natural material of production – that they have the right to fence in land and hold it unbuilt on and untilled; that they may monopolize water power and other natural forces – and what follows?
It follows that the mass of men, cut off from access to the natural material of production, will compete together for the privilege of doing such work as the “owners” of natural elements and forces will permit to be done. And it is a fact that they do so compete.
It follows that in this fierce competition men can frequently get no work except as a result of other men getting less work; and that at all times the fewer men there are competing the more favorable will be the terms on which the “owners” will grant them the privilege of work. And this also is a fact.
It follows that as a result of providing productive work for 1,500 convicts, an equal or a greater number of honest men must be deprived of work, or find their privilege of work endangered; and this also is a fact.
Therefore, as an act of justice to honest workmen, the state should (and does) support its convicts in idleness; which is absurd.
Some years ago the Pennsylvania legislature passed a law prohibiting manufacturing and mining companies from paying their laborers in store orders. It was the purpose of this law, by enabling laborers to buy wherever they saw fit, to secure them the benefit of competition in prices; but the supreme court of Pennsylvania has recently declared the law unconstitutional. It says:
The law is an attempt by the legislature to do what in this country cannot be done – that is, to prevent persons from making their own contracts. The act is an infringement of the rights of the employer and employee; more than this, it is an insulting attempt to put the laborer under a legislative tutelage, which is not only degrading to his manhood, but subversive of his rights as a citizen of the United States. He may sell his labor for what he thinks best, whether money or goods, just as his employer may sell his iron and coal; and any and every law that proposes to prevent him from so doing is an infringement of his constitutional privileges, and, consequently, vicious and void.
This is a sound exposition of fundamental law; but it falsely assumes that employer and employee contract on equal terms, and is not in accord with adjudications of analogous questions. We should like to believe that the supreme court of Pennsylvania has risen above expediency and, even at the expense of robbed and impoverished workingmen, gone back to first principles, as fare as the issues of particular case would permit. We might then hope that when some corporation came before it, claiming the ownership in fee of part of God's earth, this same supreme court would, with equal independence of judge-made law, declare that any and every act of the legislature that proposes to deprive the humblest human creature of his equal right to the soil upon which he is born: “is an infringement of his constitutional privileges and consequently vicious and void.”
But we suspect that the supreme court of Pennsylvania was actuated by another motive than judicial longing for first principles. Courts are not apt to override established precedents to get at first principles. And we trust we are not uncharitable in supposing that in this case the court was just a little influenced by the vast business interests which cluster around “store orders” in some parts of Pennsylvania.
Usury laws, though obviously wrong in economic and legal principle, are maintained by precedents without end, every one of which is a case-law rebuke to the Pennsylvania court. Usury laws are as much attempts as the “pluck-me-store law” to do what the Pennsylvania court says cannot be done in this country — “that is, to prevent persons from making their own contracts.” Usury laws are infringements of the rights of lenders and borrowers as certainly as the “pluck-me-store” law was an “infringement of the rights of employer and employee.” Usury laws are insulting attempts to put borrowers under legislative tutelage if the “pluck-me-store” law was “an insulting attempt to put the laborer under a legislative tutelage.” The legislative tutelage is in one case quite as much as in the other degrading to manhood and subversive of the rights of citizens. If a laborer may sell his labor for what he thinks best, why should not a man borrow money for what he thinks best? and if a law that proposes to prevent him from doing the one is void, why is not a law that proposes to prevent him from doing the other void also? There is no escape. The analogy is perfect.
The truth is that the landless cannot contract with freedom. They are easily victimized whether they want to sell labor or to borrow money; within certain limits they must accept the terms of the other party to the contract. In cases of borrowing and lending, the legislature puts the borrower under tutelage, and the courts sustain the law; but in cases of sales of labor the supreme court of Pennsylvania suddenly discovers such a high and mighty admiration for the dignity of labor as to nullifying a law which degrades the manhood of the laborer, subverts his rights as a citizen of the United States, and puts him under the legislative tutelage by making it a crime for corporations to rob him of his wages under the cloak of contract.
Landlordism The Same Everywhere
The Herald recently printed a special dispatch from Dublin giving an account of the performance of Chief Secretary Balfour's father as an evictor in Scotland, the purpose doubtless being to give its readers an idea of the school in which the young man was trained for his present cruel work.
The elder Balfour was, by English law, the owner of an extensive tract in the Highlands inhabited by people native to the soil, whose ancestors for countless generations had held it as tribal property. Balfour, says the Herald, “was no half-hearted evictor. Even in the history of Irish landlordism few more iniquitous exterminations have been recorded.” At the time he began his evictions Strathconan was thickly populated, many of its inhabitants being comparatively well to do. Balfour began, say the Herald, by “depriving them of the hill pastures, held in common. At one blow he thus reduced them from independence.” He next deprived them of their arable lands and finally evicted them, converting the depopulated glens into sheep walks and deer forests. Eight districts were thus successively cleared, and the landlord rejoiced when he had made a once populous glen a solitude and forced hundreds of Highland families into the festering slums of great cities or driven them from their native land.
The Herald sees clearly the bitter injustice of this – in Scotland – yet it fails to see the same injustice in the system of absolute property in land which we of the United States are extending over a new continent. Yet landlordism is not one thing in Scotland and Ireland and another thing in the United States. It is the same the world over, and always carries within it the possibility of just such cruelties as were practiced by Balfour at Strathconan. If the claim is allowed that land is private property, just as the products of human labor are private property, the land owner has a right to do what he will with his own. A Scotch restaurant keeper in this city bluntly told a Herald reporter, some weeks ago, that his paper was making a fool of itself by protesting against the action of Scotch landlords in driving men and women off of their soil to make way for brutes. The land is their own, the Scotchman declared, and it is nobody's business whether they turn it into deer forests, sheep walks or a howling wilderness.
If land can be justly made private property – if the land is really the land owner's, is not this Scotchman right? But if, on the contrary, no human being can acquire any exclusive right of property in the land from which other human beings must live, then this must be as true in the United States as in Scotland.
General Master Workman Powderly's pulling of an American flag out of his pocket at the Knights of Labor convention in Harrisburg last week and his exuberant professions of loyalty to it were hardly needed. Mr. Powderly is an American citizen, and the great order of which he is the official head is made up of American citizens; and for him to seek an occasion to avow loyalty to the symbol of American nationality, either for himself or for the order, is a work of supererogation. As for the red flag, in so far as it represents the recognition of universal brotherhood and the aspiration for universal fraternity, it stands for the highest of sentiments and the noblest of causes; and in so far as it has been made the symbol of violence and destruction, it stands for something which a man like Mr. Powderly and an order like the Knights of Labor can have no possible sympathy with.
It is also to be regretted that Mr. Powderly so far fell in with the campaign slanders of the monopolistic press as to assume that the united labor party of Chicago represented anarchistical sentiment, and to rejoice at its defeat in the recent election by a combination of the two old parties. There could hardly be a greater slander upon the citizens of Chicago and the American people generally than the American people generally than the assumption that nearly 30,000 votes were polled in that city for anarchy; and it is, in fact, about as destitute of truth as were the similar campaign slanders indulged in by the “saviors of society” in this city last fall. Mr. Nelson, the candidate of the Chicago labor party for mayor of that city, is a district master workman of the Knights of Labor, and a man whose character for probity and common sense stands high among all who know him. He was supported by many men who in all that constitutes the good citizen rank second to none in Chicago, and had he been elected the peace of the city would have been at least as safe as in the hands of his opponent. That some avowed anarchists (using the term in its common sense) voted for him is doubtless true; but it is also true that the “boodlers,” the blacklegs and the gamblers of all degrees voted against him.
The net result of the western local elections is to show unmistakably the breaking down of old political lines and the coming into the political arena of a new and real democracy. The labor movement in politics is as yet ununited in organization and vague in aims. But it represents a growing conviction that the redress of social grievances and the lessening of that intense struggle for existence for which trades unionism, strikes and boycotts can at best afford but partial and temporary palliatives are to be sought by means better adapted to the character of our institutions and the genius of our people – that is to say, by an appeal to the ballot for the changing of unjust laws.
As this movement grows, for grow it must, the discussions to which it will lead will exert a more powerful educational influence than any number of organizations like the Knights of Labor, useful as that has been and yet is. And as this movement grows it must become broader in its spirit and more definite in its aims. The initiative comes naturally from the workingmen whom the assemblies of Knights of Labor and Central labor unions have been training to act in concert, but as the impulse spreads it must bring into cohesion men of all vocations, and weld them into a party which will probably take for itself some name less subject to narrow interpretations than that of labor party – a party which it is already clear will have for its definite purpose the assurance to all the people of their natural and equal rights in the land. This is the great issue of the future on which political lines will ere long be drawn and political battles fought. Here is the heart of the great labor question, and to this in the nature of things the labor movement in politics must steadily converge.
In the meantime, if there are among us any who dream that social reform is to be brought about by the burning of houses and the bursting of bombs, nothing will render them so innocuous as the turning of the laboring masses to the ballot as a means for the redress of grievances. This the real “anarchists” know, and none are so bitterly opposed to political action as they.
We print on another page a chapter from “Social Problems,” entitled “The American Farmer,” which explains at length the vital interest which the working farmers of the country have in the shifting of taxation to land values. The great class with which the working masses of the cities, where the labor movement has its beginnings, must unite in order to control the law making power, are the farmers of the country. This union cannot be effected on small amelioration in the condition of certain classes of wages workers. But it can be effected on the land question. When the farmers come to understand this, as they will as the discussion goes on, they must see that to abolish taxation on the products of industry and to raise further revenues by the taxation of land values is as clearly for their benefit as it is for the benefit of the workingmen of the cities.
The fisheries dispute affords an excellent illustration of the principles and results of a protective policy. The people of the United States are forced to pay higher prices for fish food in order that American fishermen may make more money, and the much-talked of “nursery for seamen” be maintained. This is the theory: the facts are hardly in accord with it. The so-called American fishermen are born and live in Nova Scotia, whence they come to compete with Americans who would like to be fishermen, but can't afford to do it for the wages; and the only nursery maintained by our fish-taxing laws is a nursery of Massachusetts vessel owners who profit by the fact that our tariff drives Nova Scotia fishermen out of business to employ these same Nova Scotians at lower wages than American citizens will work for.
The people of New York, in whose name laws are made and franchises granted, are not likely to derive much benefit from the adoption of any new system of rapid transit in this city. The chief result of the building of the elevated has been an advance in rents in the upper part of the city; and the mere agitation for new lines has already had a “beneficial” effect on the prices of uptown lands and made it more difficult than ever for New Yorkers born and bred to live within the limits of their own city. But if these roads were built and run at the expense of public revenues derived from a tax on land values, as was proposed by the platform of the united labor party, then indeed would they make it easier for the masses of New York to find homes.
Governor Hill's message vetoing the high license bill is a statesmanlike document. Nothing can be clearer than that to permit the representatives of the rest of the state to make special laws for two cities is to violate the first principle of democratic government, while his showing that New York and Brooklyn have not nearly as many licensed saloons in proportion to population as a number of the smaller cities and villages destroys the very ground on which this piece of special legislation was asked. It is to be hoped that one of the effects of this veto will be to induce the well intentioned people who have united in the support of this makeshift of high license to begin to consider the whole question in a broader light.
A Young man in this city, having a little capital and intending to open a store, found a suitable place and offered to rent it, but the landlord would not let the premises unless the tenant would take a lease for three years. The store project was given up, for, said the young man, “If my business does not pay, I will be loaded for three years with a lease at high rent, and if it succeeds my rent will be raised as soon as the lease expires. In either case I am likely to be ruined.”
Miss Agatha Munier, lately the leader of the choir of St. Stephen's church, has entered on the work of organizing and instructing choruses of male and female voices for active work in the next political campaign. Applications for admission may be made to Miss Mumier, at 223 East Thirty-second street.
Not Forced To Resign
The Position of Rev. Thomas W. Illman Toward the Land Doctrine
A rumor was afloat during the past week that Rev. Thomas W. Illman, pastor of the Third Universalist church, in West Fourteenth street, had been forced to resign on account of strongly urging the election of Henry George last fall. Mr. Illman, on being asked by a Standard reporter if the report were true, denied it. He had never announced himself as a supporter of Mr. George's teachings, but he had read “Progress and Poverty,” and had repeatedly said that the views of the writer of that book ought to be the subject of open and fair discussion, notwithstanding the war cries of the men opposed to them. Mr. Illman also said he sympathized with the movement of the masses of this country and of the world in their instinctive efforts to better their condition. Justice was at the bottom of their demands, and was bound to work itself out sooner or later. The press does what men do if a thing is unpopular; it has a good deal to say in opposition to new and radical teachings, but in time it will give them a fair argument. He was on the side of Dr. McGlynn on the ground of liberty of action; there should be no condemnation of political opinions. As Dr. McGlynn believes, social matters are to be adjusted on the principles of human brotherhood – on the principle of justice right straight through. The permanent welfare of one citizen is bound up in the welfare of all. The question lies in learning how to work together for the benefit of all. Mr. Illman said he opposed boycotting and similar forms of force. He could not declare himself a convert to the position of Mr. George, but he would say that the spirit in which Mr. George's works were written ought to be recognized by all right minded men, just as his thoughts must be considered by the economists.
Dr. M'Glynn In Cincinnati
An Immense Audience, a Profound Interest Shown by All Classes, and an Enthusiastic Support Given to the American Priest
Special to the Standard
Cincinnati, April 13 – The lecture of Dr. McGlynn at the Music hall last night was attended by 2,500 persons. In the gathering were a large number of well known business and professional men, who listened with the closest attention to the words of the eloquent speaker. Several priests were also among the audience, their presence rendering them conspicuous in view of Archbishop Corrigan's recent attempt to punish the clergy of New York for a similar offense. The audience gave marked evidence from the beginning to the end of the evening of an intelligent interest in the economic teachings of the lecturer, and many of his declarations were greeted with enthusiastic outbursts of applause.
The beneficial effect of the lecture has been already apparent in the treatment of Dr. McGlynn in the morning papers of today. They all give accurate and even glowing accounts of his address and minutely describe the incidents of the evening. They agree that he has enlarged the conservative and valuable following of the land doctrines in this community. The evidences of respect for the distinguished lecturer and of admiration for his commanding talents are abundant. Today, on all sides are heard words of praise for the first martyr of the new crusade, and many expressions of a determination to support the cross of the new crusade.
Aye, What Do They Say?
London Christian Socialist
What do those who blame socialists for the hard things they say of capitalists and for their bitterness against the present commercial system say to the evidence of Colonel C.E. Stewart as to the state of things among the Staffordshire chainmakers? What do they say to a hard working, industrious man being only able to make at the most 6s 4d a week? Or to women and girls being compelled to work at the forge with the men for the magnificent sum of 3s 6d a week? Three shillings and sixpence! Conceive it, your majesty! Conceive it, ye dainty dames, silk clad and jewel bedecked, who crowded to the queen's drawing room the other day! These, your sisters, have to toil at their hard, unwomanly work at the forge for 3s 6d a week, while ye lounge through life with luxuries and comforts innumerable as your reward for doing nothing. Have ye no remnant of shame left?
Who Pays This $300,000?
In 1863 William Pitt Kellogg traded a pair of horses for ten acres of land near Omaha. In a few months after he purchased six acres more at $100 an acre. He has held on to a part of that land with great persistence since that time, parting only, under pressure from his agent at Omaha, with occasional sales of small portions. His holding last year was a little over three acres. He sold seven-eighths of an acre out of this tract for $38,000. He took that $38,000 and invested it in a piece of property in the northwest of Washington, known as the Widow's Mite property. He paid $2,000 more, making $40,000 as the purchase price. He was offered a few days ago $100,000 in cash for this Washington purchase. He can sell out the balance of his real estate tract in Omaha at any time for $200,000. So the team stands him today a clean profit of over $300,000.
A Live Paper
No. 2 of Dawn, a paper published at Binghamton, N.Y., in the interest of the land and labor movement, has appeared. In the first number the editors said they would issue it regularly only if they received sufficient encouragement, whence it is to be inferred that as No. 2 has appeared, the reception was worthy of the cause. Dawn is preparing the good people of Binghamton for the coming day, telling them how to hasten its approach and asking them to welcome its advent. This number is full of good things and promises to be a strong paper.
A Prosperous Merchant's Question
New York, April 12 – What availeth our boasted advance of civilization and all of our modern improvements if the great majority of mankind – the great army engaged in productive employments – is to be sacrificed to them? The things of common interest that do not benefit all mankind may be set down as a curse to the race, the enemy of humanity and food for selfishness.
Professor Thomas J. Middleton of Mount Peak, Texas, writes that “in bearing my testimony of the great merit of your 'Progress and Poverty' and other books, as well as The Standard, I did not wish to be understood as teaching that the land belongs to all the people.”
William Schwalb, of the firm of Schwalb & Page, china decorators, New York, writes to his brother: “You must be hardly aware what pleasure you give me by sending me The Standard so promptly. I have not cared to read any other paper since I read it. Such literature is worth saving, and I do not wonder that you want to keep them. I shall soon send you a letter, showing how clearly I understand the justice of the new cause.”
The history of legislation presents few instances of failure to accomplish a desired object by legal enactment more complete than the interstate commerce act. The intent of the law was plain. It was to relieve the commerce of districts accessible by but a single railway line from the intolerable exactions to which it was hitherto been subjected. It was taken for granted that where the roads had been in the habit of carrying freight a thousand miles to a competing point for far less money than they charged for transporting the same goods five hundred miles to a non-competing or local station, the effect of the law would be to reduce the local station rate. Instead of this, the railway managers have calculated the competing point rates upon the same basis as the local, and then, pointing out to the commissioners that such an enormous increase would be simply prohibitory to all commerce, they have applied for a suspension of the law, generally with success. It seems likely that the whole effect of this legislative experiment, from which so much was expected, will be to provide a few gentlemen with well paid offices, and a good many lawyers with more or less considerable fees.
The truth is that the measure of railway charges, like the measure of all other taxes imposed on the community by private individuals under the sanction of law and custom, is not the needs and deserts of the tax collectors, but the ability of the community to pay. The landlord does not fix his rent according to the price he paid for his land; but estimates the value of the land according to the rent he can command for it; and in the same way the proprietors of a railway, instead of so adjusting rates as to pay simple interest on the cost of their road, reverse the process, and making rates according to what the traffic will bear, figure out the value of their road accordingly. Let a manufacturer start some new enterprise at a local station of the greediest road in the country, and he will need no special legislation to secure him low transportation rates; the railway will encourage his enterprise with all sorts of concessions. But let him succeed and develop a profitable business, and the rates charged him will be the highest that can be demanded without driving him out of business. His freight rates are not a charge for service done, measured by the cost of the service, but a tax upon his enterprise and industry, measured altogether by his ability to pay. And this tax, though collected from the manufacturer, falls largely upon the wage workers who perform the actual labor of production; their wages are reduced that their employer's capital may still earn the interest which alone induces him to continue in business; and these wages are still further cut down by the growing rent tax imposed on them by the local land owner.
The lesson of the failure of the interstate commerce law is simply that it is impossible to allow individuals or corporations to retain a taxing franchise and at the same time compel them to use it with discretion. A law providing that railways shall measure their charges by the cost of service performed is about as logical and as likely to be obeyed as an enactment that rents in the Mulberry Bend should be measured by rents in Podunk Four Corners.
A series of statistics of labor and wages published in Bradstreet's of last week, shows that there are probably at least 400,000 more industrial employees at work now than in 1885, and that, as a rule, a moderate gain in wages has been made. Unquestionably, trade and manufacturers are slowly beginning to recover from their long stagnation. Some of the people who have been going without the fabrics and shoes and other things that manufacturers wished to sell are now able to buy them, and the era of what is euphemistically termed “overproduction” seems to be drawing to a close.
The strongest evidence, however, that the country is enjoying a brief season of industrial prosperity, is to be found in the marked increase of immigration and in the marked increase of immigration and in the amazing advance of land values. The landlord and the immigrant are two unfailing commercial barometers. The first sign of increasing business activity is necessarily shown by an increased demand for land on which to work and live; the storekeeper must have his store, the clerk his boarding house, the laborer his tenement; the higgling of the market settles the amount which each can afford to pay as a tax to the landlord and still retain enough to live upon, and this amount is certain to be exacted to the uttermost farthing. In much the same way does any fresh demand for labor, or, what is the same thing, any increase in the wages paid to labor, operate to increase immigration. The immigrant of last year, provided with work himself, advises the coming of his brother, or his cousin, or his friend; the ticket agents at European ports take care that the demand for labor in the United States is made known as widely as possible. Employers themselves import laborers under contracts more or less flimsily disguised. In a hundred different ways are the greatest unemployed masses of Europe encouraged to fling themselves upon our shores, and then the reaction begins. The constant competition for the privilege of work enables employers to reduce wages. The constant urgency of landlords to exact the last possible cent reduces alike the net wages of labor and the net profits of capital, and the inevitable result is that industry becomes choked and strangled, employers finding it impossible to sell their produce at prices within the means of wage earners, and wage earners finding it impossible to live on the scanty margin of earnings left them by the landlords. Another season of overproduction ensues, mills and factories are closed one after another, wage earners fall out of work by the thousand, a certain amount of wealth has been produced, and the land owner has got the most of it; and so the round begins again.
Some centuries ago the then king of England, having, as Diedrich Knickerbocker puts it, equal rights over all things that didn't belong to him, signed and sealed a piece of parchment certifying that thenceforth and forever certain individuals, whom he christened the Lords Proprietors, their heirs and assigns, should “own” the land since known as the state of New Jersey. The Lords Proprietors by degrees gave away or sold to other people as much of this land as they knew anything about; but their descendants kept up the organization and amuse themselves in this nineteenth century of grace by keeping up a constant search for New Jersey land, whose giving or selling by the original Lords Proprietors was attested by a pen scratch too much or too little, or otherwise invalidated.
The Lords Proprietors have made a find, and a pretty valuable one. They have found a piece of land in Newark which was once a churchyard; but it is a churchyard no longer. The original Lords Proprietors gave it to the church to be used as a burying ground. The church so used it for two hundred years, until the beginning of the present century, and then disposed of it to the city of Newark. The city of Newark built upon it, and leased it to private individuals, who also built upon it. The present generation of Lords Proprietors now come forward, and pointing triumphantly to the word “forever” in the original parchment signed by their dead and gone ancestors, say that the land belongs to them, and they want it. And the present prospect is that they will get it. Perhaps after they have got it and sold it and put the money in their pockets some antiquarian will discover that the dead and gone king of England's Lord Privy Seal's chief deputy's first clerk's assistant forgot to put the proper stamp on the wax attached to the parchment which “gave” New Jersey to the original Lords Proprietors. What would happen then?
The grand old republican party continues in business at the old stand, and will in the future, still more than in the past, strive to be all things to all men. Senator John Sherman has been announcing this fact lately in divers places and with variant verbiage. This is the style in which he states it to the young republican club of Philadelphia: “What you have to do is still further to develop and diversify American industry. It should be our aim to produce everything in this country for which the God of nature has given us the raw materials, or which are suited to our soil and climate… The equal enjoyment of every civil and political right given by the constitution should be secured by every legal and constitutional means. The shadows and prejudices of the past should be lifted by the lights of modern civilization. The workingman in every condition and employment of life should be encouraged, protected and assisted by every reasonable means to advance his condition and to open up to him, by honest labor and enterprise, all the avenues of wealth and honor.”
These be brave words, my masters, and if Mr. Sherman and the rest of the republican party would but act up to them there would be mighty little room for any other political organization. But when Mr. Sherman speaks of the raw materials given to “us” by the God of nature, and talks about “our” soil and “our” climate, he does so with the mental reservation that his pronouns refer, not to American citizens in general, but to the select few among them, of whom he is himself a shining example. And when he says he intends to maintain the right of the workingman to sit on the fence and watch John Sherman and the rest of the lucky ones go by along the avenues in question.
On the whole, we incline to the belief that there are certain possibilities of reform outside the grand old party, in spite of all Senator Sherman may say to the contrary.
Of the motherless babies under the care of the commissioners of charities and correction of this city fifty-eight out of every one hundred die. So says Mrs. Butler, president of the New York county committee of the state charities aid association. Mrs. Butler proposes a remedy for this state of things, and says that if the children were boarded out among the respectable women near the city the slaughter of the little ones would be diminished.
Judged by the principles so widely accepted among modern theologians and legislators, Mrs. Butler is a highly irreligious person, who proposes nothing less than a flying in the face of providence and an attempt (necessarily futile) to defeat the operation of a law ordained of God. The loving kindness of our Creator has provided that population shall constantly press upon subsistence, and in order that the pressure may not become ruinously great and reduce us all to a general level of semi-starvation, He has decided that if we contumaciously persist in having more children than we ought to He will kill off the extra ones. And, of course, these wretched little ones, squeezed out of society into the almshouses, are the extra ones, whom, if Mrs. Butler succeeds in saving from death, some other children must suffer in their places.
The Illinois legislature is doing a patriotic thing. It is considering, and will probably pass, a bill to make the notorious Mr. Scully, the rack-renting landlord of Tipperary and Illinois, a citizen of the United States. It doesn't say this in the title of the bill, nor in the discussions over its passage, but that is what it is doing all the same. The proposed law provides that all aliens who now hold land in Illinois shall become citizens within three years or forfeit their lands to the state; and it is not at all likely that Mr. Scully will give up his grip on the people of Illinois for the sake of remaining a subject of Queen Victoria. How much better off Mr. Scully's rack-rented Illinois tenants will be for Mr. Scully's citizenship remains to be seen. Probably they will discover that the taxing power of a naturalized landlord is at least as great as that of an alien.
The protectionist theory of lengthening the blanket by cutting strips off one end and sewing them on to the other leads to queer social complications. The French republic has just arranged to add millions to her annual wealth production by taking money out of the pockets of consumers and putting it into the pockets of certain producers in the shape of protective duties. And now come the Paris workingmen – the fellows who eat and pay for, or help eat and pay for, the wheat and rye and beef and bacon whose value has been increased by the new duties – and they want a little protection too. Their demand is logical and modest. They say they have just as good a right as the landowners to have the rest of the community taxed for their benefit; and so they ask to be incorporated into guilds, each with an exclusive franchise of working at some particular trade – no man to be a painter, or a glazier, or a plumber, or a carpenter, or any other kind of a handicraftsman, except by permission, duly certified and paid for, of the guild having proper authority. “What is the use,” say these keenly logical Frenchman, “of protection that doesn't protect. You cut us off from the land and make us pay an extra tax to the people who 'own' it. And then as soon as we get a little compensation in the shape of advancing wages, along comes a lot of Italians and other foreigners to compete for work and take the bread out of our mouths. No, no, messieurs of the government! If you're going to protect anybody, protect us, or –.” And what “or” stands for the French authorities know by oft repeated experience. Really, there's a coarse grained sort of sense about these Frenchmen.
In England, too, the blanket lengthening process seems to be somewhat of a failure. The landlord's fences have been built high and strong, and the pressure of population against them has been relieved by the workhouse, and of late years by emigration. Emigration, voluntary or involuntary, at the emigrant's expense, at the government's expense, at benevolent societies' expense, at the expense of whomsoever could be got to pay, has been the patent remedy whereby England should be saved for Englishmen – that is, for some of them. But it doesn't work. The benevolent societies say it doesn't work. The official returns say it doesn't work, and when a British official return says a thing doesn't work, that settles it. The native English men and women and children are emigrating fast enough; but alas! as fast as they go, the wicked Poles and Germans and Italians crowd in to take their places and keep up the pressure upon the fences. Listen to the wail of Mr. Arnold White, a philanthropist engaged in the noble work of tearing Englishmen away from their native soil: “Will you permit one who shortly leaves England with a colony of English families to point out on colonization are wasted in the absence of drastic, prompt and permanent measures for preventing the places of people who leave being occupied by paupers from abroad? Colonization is changed from a remedy to a poison by the free ingress of persons whose efforts to land in any British colony or the territory of other European powers would be forcibly prevented.”
They manage these things differently in Ireland. Father Keller of Youghal, who carried his advocacy of the wicked theories of land reform so far as to bring himself within the compass of the law, and to lead to his lodgment in Kilmainham jail, has been appointed canon of Cloyne by the sympathizing bishop having spiritual jurisdiction over him.
The town of Basle, in Switzerland, is largely engaged in the manufacture of knitted goods. The people of the United States unpatriotically buy these goods and are duly punished for their economic short-sightedness by being compelled to pay, first, an import duty fine, and second, a profit to the importer on the amount of this fine. The manufacturers of Basle, perpending this condition of affairs, see no reason why, if we are fools enough to insist on fining ourselves for the privilege of wearing knitted goods, they should not profit by our stupidity. So they are going to move their factories and operatives over here, where they can personally collect the import duty fine and profit thereon for their own benefit. Then the newspapers will chronicle an increase in our manufacturing interests under the fostering care of a protective tariff, and express their astonishment at the foolish complaints of the “laboring classes,” who somehow won't be satisfied though they are given more work to do all the time.
The tendency of modern invention to minimize human labor as an element of production has recently received a fresh illustration. An ingenious Englishman, observing that a great many poor people in London make a living by the sale of cigarettes and other small wares, has invented and put into practical use what he terms an “automatic vendor” – a machine, namely, which collects money and delivers good automatically. A traveler by rail or in a cab, or a guest at a hotel, wanting a cigarette, has merely to drop a halfpenny into a convenient box, when a compartment opens and a cigarette of excellent quality is presented to him. The machine discriminates between good and bad coin, and the quality of the goods furnished is guaranteed by the proprietors of the invention. Thus far the system has been applied only to cigarette vending, about 7,000 boxes having been placed in railway carriages, cabs and elsewhere; but it is in contemplation to extend it to the sale of ounces of tea, bottles of perfume, voice lozenges, matches, mineral waters and other matters. That the machines will be introduced into the United States goes without saying, and within a few years we may be able to make the majority of our minor purchases in this noiseless and labor saving manner.
A large number of small capitalist wage earners will thus be crowded out of business, and forced into the ranks of unemployed labor, and whose will be the benefit? The manager of the London automatic vendor company answers this question. He says: “We will pay fifteen per cent on the takings to the railway companies, which we estimate will, in course of time, be equal to £20,000 per annum.”
So the work goes on. Day by day the marvelous inventive faculties of the human mind tend to render labor less and less necessary to human comfort and enjoyment, and humanity, instead of being happier for each lightening of the primal curse, is made only the more miserable. Men and women who enjoy the privilege of existence on this planet only on condition that they find somebody to buy their labor, can hardly be expected to welcome inventions which, by lessening toil, lessen also the demand for the one thing they have to sell. The automatic vendors will be a boom to landlords and an injury to capital and labor.
The last issue of the London Spectator contains a bit of friendly advice to young Englishmen “of the better class,” who may be thinking of coming over to the United States in search of an easy road to fortune. These youngsters, according to the Spectator, are dreaming of cattle ranches, horse ranches, orange groves, vineyards, etc., all to be had for little or nothing, and all certain to make their possessors rich within a few years. But alas! the Spectator tells them, things aren't as they used to be. “All the best ranch grounds are in the hands of large and rich companies or millionaires, with whom no newcomer can compete;” there is some land left fit for orange groves, but the best is all occupied; all the choice vineyard lands are taken; in short, the present generation of “better class” young Englishmen is just a day behind the fair, and “though it is quite possible to do well in other industries and in ordinary farming, nothing beyond a decent living can be earned.”
Utterances like this in English journals are good food for American thought.
Facts and Thoughts From a Trade Paper
St. Louis Age of Steel
We are not in our province in this paper to particularize or define the claims and facts pertinent to industrial agitation. We can, however, summarize the problem as being resolved into a claim for the principle of distribution as against and corrective of monopolization. This is the kernel of the nut. We quote the following figures from a paper prepared for the Commercial club of Chicago as illustrative:
The machinery of this country is controlled by 21,000 men, there being 10,250,000 men affected and governed thereby. Two million seven hundred and fifty thousand hands receive a wage of $346 a year. Of these, 532,000 are women and 182,000 children. The average wage of farm hands, of which there are 8,000,000, is $289 a year, or less than 80 cents a day. Vanderbilt made more from 1880 to 1885 than a million farmers. The profits of 500,000 farmers; the net gains of 100 railroad companies to the earnings of 2,500,000 farmers; 290,000 stockholders in railways owning 170,000 miles of road, representing with equipments about $8,000,000,000 charge for service $800,000,000 and pay some 300,000 employees about a dollar a day.
We are no guarantee for the absolute truth of these figures; there is, however, no disputing the fact that the increasing power of wealth and inequalities in its distribution have a tremendous emphasis in labor discontent. As an adjunct and logical consequence we find ourselves nearing the point in wealth in which luxury makes pleasure the object of life and labor its worst misfortune. We are paying $500 for a dress, $5,000 for a pair of earrings, and going to the White house with some $30,000 of jewelry adorning five feet and a half of ordinary humanity. We give $1,000 a night to an opera singer, whilst in the same city some poor seamstress is earning 25 cents a dozen working at button holes, and men are glad to pick a herring's bone in sight of a palace where others are banqueting on wine $16 a bottle and strawberries 30 cents a piece. If history has a lesson for us on this matter, it has an unpleasant significance.
Greece was in its noon of art and luxury when Phidias was filling the Parthenon with immortal sculpture, but the stamina and vitality of the people was gone and left them an easy prey to the ruder races who fought well and knew nothing of luxury. Rome went the same way. The Pantheon was but the tomb of a degenerated race. France was a banquet hall for its nobles when the volcanics of revolution inaugurated the reign of terror, and just as surely as we run the same way we will fall over the same stump.
The New Crusade in Brooklyn
A number of citizens in the Bedford district in Brooklyn intend to meet Saturday evening, April 16, in Theyer's hall, corner of Bedford and Fulton avenues, to organize a land and labor club. Louis F. Post, James P. Kohler and Rev. Chas. P. McCarthy will address the meeting. A large attendance is expected, and a vigorous propaganda of the truths of the new crusade will doubtless be started.
The Week In Wall Street
The observance in Boston of the Massachusetts fast day and the partial observance of Good Friday in New York, together with the Easter Monday holiday in London, gave dullness to the tone of the speculation and a downward tendency to prices. Money on Thursday was bid up to fifteen per cent, but the banks soon had their brokers on the floor offering round lots on call at six per cent. The weekly bank statement showed an increase in loans of $5,000,000, with but little over a quarter of a million decrease in reserve. This discrepancy is to be accounted for by the fact that in times of stringency the clearing house banks borrow largely from the savings banks of the city. They borrow on their governments at three per cent and discount or loan on the street at from six to ten per cent, in this way bridging the chasm while making a handsome profit off the deposits of the laboring population.
The market has fluctuated somewhat while exhibiting a strong undertone. Realizations have been very heavy, but the believers in higher prices have absorbed stocks without causing a very marked recession in prices. The commission houses believe that speculation will be encouraged if a slight drop takes place, so that while the cliques are booming things the slumps and bulges will not be infrequent. Jersey Central has marched right along, scoring a five point rise in one day, while governments continue still to be a feature.
The temporary suspension, in favor of the southern system of roads, of the long and short haul clause has led the street to believe that the interstate commission will throw no very formidable obstacles in the way of Wall street interests, so that the congressional railroad legislation will, for the present at least, be counted out so far as its direct effects on speculation are concerned.
Indirectly, however, the law may have a tremendous influence on quotations. The Grand Trunk of Canada, for instance, does not come within the purview of the bill, and, as this road has a longer route than the other trunk lines, if no provision is made for differential rates in their behalf, it may kick up a rumpus by getting what business it can on whatever terms it pleases. If it turns scab the Baltimore and Ohio and the Ontario and Western (which has lately hung out its sign as a competitor for through business) will probably also jump the traces. And if these three lines begin a little war of their own the stronger roads, to save themselves, will certainly enter the ring. Once begun, this fight will not end until the stronger roads have forced either bankruptcy or submission on the weaker. The one thing that Wall street hates more than a strike is a railroad war, and it will require no little tact and not a few concessions to avert this dreaded calamity. Some of the roads are decidedly opposed to granting any concessions to the Grand Trunk on account of her disadvantages, and the Grand Trunk has not decided yet to be governed by the rates made by the shorter lines. The Pennsylvania and the Lake Shore have taken a decided stand against the paying of commissions to agents on through tickets over other roads. They stopped it on their own roads, and are boycotting the western roads that continue to allow a commission by refusing to sell tickets over their lines. The Pennsylvania holds that this in the only way to stop rate cutting and discrimination, as the agent can divide his commission with the purchaser, and the only thing necessary to undersell a competitor is to increase the agent's commission.
The directory of Western Union have authorized a further issue of 12,000 shares of stock to cover scrip dividends, and also an unlimited amount of five per cent bonds to cover their guarantees of dividends on companies controlled by Western Union. There is a law in this state against stock watering, the object of which is to prevent the payment of dividends on any but actual capital; but Western Union, in its palmier days, found a way to get around this law. It was just as much to its purpose to organize new companies and guarantee dividends on their stock as to issue stock of its own. It organized too many of these bubbles, and now, that is down in the hole under free telegraphic competition, it is to fund these obligations in a five per cent bond and pump still more water into its already dropsical corporosity. The court may intervene and enjoin Mr. Gould from playing this old trick of his to add a still greater burden on his already overwork and underpaid employees.
Local improvements are getting their share of attention in financial circles. Investors have not overlooked the fact that New York, with its rapid increase in population, offers to capital as good a field as any in this country, and there has been lately considerable talk of extensions of old lines and buildings of new – both elevated and surface. A petition to the assembly for a Broadway elevated franchise is being circulated, as is also one headed by President Hyde of the Equitable building against granting such a privilege.
Cyrus W. Field often boasts that the Manhattan elevated franchise is alone worth $50,000,000, and a Broadway franchise on this basis ought to be worth half as much. These valuable franchises, taxed at six per cent, would yield to the city treasury nearly $5,000,000 per annum, and cause a reduction of taxation on business that would be quite perceptible. The comptroller is advertising for bids for a right of way from Fulton and Forty-second streets, from river to river, and the Manhattan company is clamoring for more room at the Battery, while the elevated railroad organs are laying great stress upon the sufferings of the poor public, resulting from the unavoidable (?) overcrowding on its lines. Apropos of all this, it is proposed to relieve the competition for standing room on Manhattan island by building at once the East river Blackwell's island bridge, for which the present company has long had a charter. No less a personage than Mr. Austin Corbin is behind this scheme, and as the company has in its plans wisely provided to scoop all the traffic, by loading on cars goods, passengers and wagons, it is likely this will also be a valuable franchise. It will have the effect of booming the north shore of Long Island, and making millionaires of some of the water front landowners.
Brooklyn continues its usual flurry about its elevated system, and its stocks and bonds are already talked about on the street. It is also to have a cable railway on Montague street from the ferry to Court street. Montague street hill has always offered such repugnance to the heights' residents that long ago a company was organized to run a cable road through it, but capital and enterprise met an obstacle in the person of J.J. Pierpont, who owns considerable land on the heights, and commands the only road to the river between Fulton and Schermerhorn streets. He set his face solidly against the building of a cable road on this street and he prevailed against his enemies who intended to give to Brooklyn better transportation facilities. Mr. Pierpont, it seems, has been bought off, for a new company, with him at the head, is soon to commence the work that twenty years ago he forbade.
A member of a Boston banking house, commenting on the prosperity of the south, which he lately visited on an inspecting tour, spoke of the tremendous strides made in the erection of factories and the building of railroads in that region. Winding up the interview, he remarked sententiously that the real estate boom had skimmed the cream off the present milk pot of prosperity and that capital down there would have to wait some years for any return. He doubtless reflected that about the time capital begins to get that return another real estate boom will step in and scoop it also. This gentleman has departed for Europe, where, if his observations are as fruitful as in the south, he will learn that for many, many centuries real estate has lived on the cream of European industry and has driven millions and millions from its shores, who found the skim milk altogether too thin to sustain life.
A Young Man's Experience
How Land Speculation Prevents His Building a House
New York, April 10 – I would like to say a few words to show the injustice of our present land system. Some time over a year ago I was seized with a sort of panic when reading in the daily newspapers of the immense transactions in real estate by speculators of the Astor kind, who bought up whole plots, containing acres of land, and I began to think that if I did not hurry and buy a piece they would gobble it all up, and make me pay a price for a part of it, when I would want it, altogether beyond my means. So I took time by the forelock and bought a plot in the annexed district, not for the purpose of speculation, but to build a house on it for a home when I should have enough money saved for the purpose. In other words, if I now had the money that I paid for the ground a year ago I could, with what I have since saved, under the proposed new system, commence to build. As it is, I will have to wait another year before I shall have enough to do so, and in the meantime pay blackmail to some hoggish land speculator. It is the same hoggishness in land speculation that has gradually permeated all business transactions, and is causing the trouble between employers and employees.
Robert Schwalb, 141st street and Tenth avenue
Would the Christian Union Have Paid for the Slaves?
Christian Union, April 7
We publish on another page some account of the latest phase of the case of Father McGlynn. It is evident that the end is not yet come. In his address, one of remarkable power, in the Academy of Music last week, he reasserted in the strongest terms not only his allegiance to Christianity but to the Catholic church. He at the same time drew sharply the distinction between the political and the spiritual realms, and reaffirmed the doctrine that the infallibility and authority of the papal church does not extend to political opinions, but is confined to spiritual truth. He then proceeded to expound and defend what has come to be known as the George land theory. If we may trust the imperfect reports of the daily papers, he would not only propose to transfer all taxes from personal property and real estate improvements to the land itself, but he would propose to do this at once, without notice, without previous preparation, and without compensation to the landowners. As we have repeatedly said, the question whether taxes shall be levied on all property or exclusively on real estate is a question, not of morality, but of expediency. But the proposition to inaugurate so radical a revolution without notice to those who have invested their all in land on the faith of the implied understanding that land is a proper subject for private ownership, and without compensation to them, would be, in our judgment, a flagrant and public dishonesty, to which the American conscience will never give its consent. Archbishop Corrigan's action in discipling some priests who ventured to be present on the platform and listened to Father McGlynn will do more to recommend Father McGlynn's revolutionary doctrines than his own specious and eloquent defense of them. It is not our function to define the ecclesiastical limits of a Roman Catholic ecclesiastic, but if Archbishop Corrigan has not overstepped them, he has certainly overstepped the bounds of a sound discretion in the use of his authority.
The Kind of Education Some American Citizens Get
New York Times
A citizen from whom he had solicited alms brought Charles Albrecht, a lad twelve years old, to the Twentieth precinct station house Thursday evening. The lad was hungry and cold, his clothing was in rags, and his appearance indicated that he had been living on short rations. He was fed and cared for, and yesterday morning he was taken before Justice Duffy at the Jefferson market police court. The lad said he thought his father, Jacob Albrecht, and two sisters lived in this city. For two years and a half he was an inmate of the New York juvenile asylum. A year ago he was indentured to a farmer near Joliet, Ill. He was badly treated and ran away. His second master also ill treated him. Three months ago he tramped to Joliet. There he boarded a freight train and rode under the trucks for half a day. He made his way eastward, walking a good portion of the time, until he reached this city in January. Since then he had been supporting himself selling evening papers, sleeping in lodging houses when he had money and in the streets when he had not. This was his condition Thursday night.
Justice Duffy committed the boy for examination, and directed an agent of the Society for the prevention of cruelty to children to investigate the case.
The Old Politician
Now that Tom Dunstan's cold,
Our shop is duller;
Scarce a story is told,
And our chat has lost the old
Red republican color.
Though he was sickly and thin,
He gladdened us with his face;
How, warming at rich man's sin,
With bang of the fist, and chin
Thrust out, he argued the case!
And the money bags he bled.
“She's coming, she's coming!” said he;
“Courage, boys! wait and see!
All day we sat in the heat,
Like spiders spinning;
Stitching full, fine and fleet,
While the old Jew on his seat
Sat greasily grinning.
And there Tom said his say,
And prophesied tyranny's death,
And the tallow burnt all day,
And we stitched and stitched away
In the thick smoke of our breath,
With hearts as heavy as lead;
But, “Patience, she's coming!” said he;
“Courage, boys! wait and see!
And at night, when we took here
The pause allowed to us,
The paper came with the beer,
And Tom read, sharp and clear,
The news out loud to us;
And, then, in his witty way,
He threw the jest about –
The cutting things he'd say
Of the wealthy and gay!
How he turned them inside out,
And it made our breath more free
To harken to what he said
“She's coming, she's coming!” says he;
“Courage, boys! wait and see!
But, grim Jack Hart, with a sneer,
Would mutter, “Master,
If Freedom means to appear,
I think she might step here
A little faster!”
Then it was fine to see Tom flame,
And argue and prove and preach,
Till Jack was silent for shame
Or a fit of coughing came
O' sudden, to spoil Tom's speech.
Ah! Tom had the eyes to see
When tyranny should be sped;
“She's coming, she's coming!” said he
“Courage, boys! wait and see!
But Tom was little and weak,
The hard hours shook him;
Hollower grew his cheek,
And when he began to speak
The coughing took him.
Ere long the cheery sound
Of his chat among us ceased,
And we made a purse all around,
That he might not starve, at least;
His pain was sorry to see,
Yet there, on his poor sick-bed,
“She's coming; in spite of me!
Courage, and wait!” cried he,
A little before he died,
To see his passion!
“Bring me a paper!” he cried,
And then to study it tried
In his old sharp fashion;
And with eyeballs glittering,
His looks on me he bent,
And said that savage thing
Of the lords of the parliament.
Then, darkening – smiling on me,
“What matter if one be dead?
She's coming, at least!” said he;
“Courage, boys! wait and see!
Ay, now Tom Dunstan's cold,
The shop feels duller;
Scarce a story is told,
Our talk has lost the old
Red republican color.
But we see a figure gray,
And we hear a voice of death,
And the tallow burns all day
And we stitch and stitch away
In the thick smoke of our breath.
Ay, here in the dark sit we,
While wearily, wearily,
We hear him call from the dead,
“She's coming, she's coming!” said he;
“How long, O Lord, how long
Doth thy handmaid linger –
She who shall right the wrong,
Make the oppressed strong?
Sweet morrow, bring her;
Hasten her over the sea,
O Lord, ere hope be fled;
Bring her to men and to me;
O slave, pray still on thy knee,
Men And Women
It was Father Sylvester Malone of Brooklyn, who, when news came the morning after that Sumter had been fired on, without waiting to hear what the world would say, immediately had the national flag hung to the breeze from his church steeple, and his congregation, though many of them were “copperheads,” were compelled to come to mass under those stars and stripes in which this fiery abolitionist and unionist gloried.
The many friends and admirers of James Redpath will be glad to learn that he has so far recovered from his recent serious illness as to be about again. He has strapped the harness on his back to go into the “new crusade.”
Major John Byrne, whose name is mentioned in connection with a slight said to have been offered to Dr. McGlynn in Cincinnati on Tuesday, is evidently the identical major who denounced Patrick Egan and the Irish national league some time ago. The major is well known in Irish circles as a crank and sorehead of the first water. Pretending to be disgusted with the manner in which the Irish national movement was carried on in the United States, he issued a circular to the best known Irish Americans in the United States calling upon them to meet in convention for the purpose of taking into their own hands a movement which, controlled by the Irish National league, had, according to the major, become an absolute failure. When the “convention” met there were three present – the major and two cranks like himself. This gallant free lance also made vigorous, but ineffectual war on the Clan na Gael. He now turns his attention to Dr. McGlynn, a fact upon which that reverend gentleman is to be congratulated.
Henry George has returned to New York from a lecture trip through the west, during which he addressed audiences at Chicago, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Peoria, Burlington, Oberlin, Ann Arbor, Madison, Battle Creek and other places. On the 15th he speaks at Naugatuck, and on the 17th lectures at the Windsor theater.
It Only Needs a Funeral
New York, April 11 – The World of today says: “The democratic party needs an issue for the next campaign.” The Standard can give it a good issue – can suggest just what it needs; but never mind, for the democratic party is dead already; it only needs a funeral!
Queries And Answers
The Mortgaged Farmer
Laverne, Minn – I am a western farmer. My condition is not a happy one. I am working and all my family are working for a capitalist that holds a mortgage on my farm. When I got into debt farm produce was high and land was high; now farm produce is low and land is low. The amount of my debt and the interest on the same – they don't follow down; on the contrary, they have a tendency to get bigger and bigger. My only hope at present is that there will again come a time of higher prices, when my earnings will be larger, my land higher, and I may get out of debt. I am firmly convinced that if land was taxed for its rent value and everything else was free, my condition would be better, for so much land would come into free use that I would have no rent tax to pay at all. But here's the rub: my improvements, my stock, my tools, all I've got, in short, would have to go to pay the mortgage debt. The capitalist would lose something, but I would lose everything, and how could I then take advantage of the free land that would lay all around me? My case is one of thousands, and while we can see the advantage of the George plan, it seems as though we would have to pay more than our fair share to bring it about. What do you think of it?
It is indeed your only hope that there will come a time when your earnings would be larger. Should that time not come your mortgagee will in form as well as in effect own both your land and your capital, and you and your family will be working as hired servants. Could the taxation of land values possibly put you in a worse plight than that you face now?
You must have contracted your debt before the contraction of our national currency. Your statement that the price of land is less now than when you got into debt would indicate that. Local causes have shrunk land prices here and there, but land prices generally have not diminished since what are commonly known as “inflation times.” Having contracted your debt then, the effect of a shrinkage of the debt, and you are now bound to pay your mortgagee considerably more in labor products than you borrowed; and although your interest is nominally the same or less than you contracted to pay, it is, in products, much more.
You are probably right in supposing that the land of your farm has no real value, but only a speculative value, and that if land values alone were taxed, so much farm land in your neighborhood would be free that you would have no tax to pay; and since you are so firmly convinced that this would improve your condition, we are at a loss to understand your fears.
Let us endeavor to look at your case with the eye of prophesy. You understand, of course, that the shifting of taxes from products to land values will be a gradual process. Where it will begin no one can yet tell; but let us suppose, for illustration, that it begins in congress with the abolition of the tariff and the raising of federal revenues by a direct tax apportioned among the states according to population, but levied upon land values alone.
How would this affect you?
You would have a direct federal tax to pay, which you do not pay now. How much that would be we cannot undertake to say; but you can figure it out approximately by ascertaining about how much federal revenue would be required, about what proportion the value of your land bears to all the land values of your state bears to the population of the United States. It must be evident to you without calculation that it would be a trifling tax. That would be the extent of your loss, or investment, as it would be more correct to call it.
Now, what would be your gain?
At present on most articles of foreign production that you buy you pay an indirect tax to the government. Your village storekeeper is the tax collector. Of that tax you would be relieved.
You also pay on such articles something more than the tax, namely, interest and risk of loss on the capital invested by the storekeeper in the tax. If an article could be imported and transported to your village for $1, your storekeeper would require but a dollar of capital to bring the article within your reach, and the interest and insurance you would have to pay him for holding that article in readiness for your demand would be based on a dollar only. But if there is a sixty per cent ad valorem revenue tariff on such goods, you must not only pay your storekeeper $1.60, but also interest and insurance based on $1.00. To take an arbitrary example for illustration (omitting the storekeeper's wage for simplicity), let us suppose that average interest and risk would give the storekeeper ten per cent for interest and five per cent for insurance. Then, if there were no tariff, you would have to pay him $1.15 for the imported article; but if there were a sixty per cent tariff you would have to pay him, not $1.75, but $1.84, or nine cents in addition to the tariff. Of this expense you would also be relieved.
But the tariff casts on you a heavier burden still. You are taxed on very many articles of domestic production, as well as on foreign articles, and this tax does not go into the public treasury, but into the pockets of privileged manufacturers. If, for instance, an article made abroad can be brought to your village store for a dollar, and a tax of 60 per cent is laid on it, your storekeeper cannot sell it for less (excluding his wages, interest and risk) than $1.60. Taking advantage of this, manufacturers of domestic goods of the same kind fix a price on their products that compels the storekeeper to charge for the foreign article. This is a disadvantage to the storekeeper, for he could do better through quicker sales and better wages by investing his extra sixty cents in other goods than by investing it in a tax on goods he has already bought, and it is certainly a disadvantage to you, for you must foot all the bills. Of this private tax for the benefit of a privileged class, which the tariff imposes, and of interest and insurance on that tax, you would also be relieved.
Besides these absolute savings, you would enjoy a great advantage in the impetus that free trade accompanied by higher tax on land values would have a tendency to bring more land into the market, in the city as well as in the country, to lower the value of land and to reduce rents. As you own land this might at first blush seem injurious to you, and if you expected to pay off your mortgage by selling your land it would be so, temporarily. But as your interests as a laborer and capital owner, and as you prefer no doubt to pay off your mortgage out of your earnings, it could not but help you greatly. Your land would be just as useful, just as productive, just as desirable to you as it is now, and the net product, as you have seen, would be greater. The only difference to you would be that you could not get so much for the land if you sold it; and to that difference you would be indifferent, as you could get land just as good in every respect for the same price. If you wanted to trade land for land you could do as well as you can now; if you wanted to trade land for labor products you could not do so well; but if you wanted to trade labor products for labor products you could do better.
The reduction of land values would in itself encourage production, as you already understand. The abolition of tariff taxes would revive international commerce and open the markets of the world to your produce, while greater consumptive power at home, consequent on better wages, would quicken your domestic markets; from which, as you must see, the larger earnings on which you rely to lift your mortgage would speedily come. Before any further step was taken in the direction of shifting all taxes to land values, your mortgage would be worked off and your condition would be a happier one.
Do you think that, thus far, you would have to pay more than your share to bring about the change?
Without speculating as to what might be the next step, let us suppose that it were the shifting of all local taxes to land values. Much the same effect, only in greater degree, would be produced. The consumer would no longer pay for the support of the state. Its revenue would be derived from men who occupied or kept out of use land that other people wanted. Production would be multiplied, exchange would be active and prosperity would depend upon industry instead of speculation. Meantime your wages would be higher, the returns to your capital would increase, and only the value of your land, the basis of your taxes, would diminish. Would that condition make you pay more than your share to bring about the change?
When the movement had reached this stage, the speculative value of land would be practically killed. The better lands would still have a value, but only for use, since few would care to pay the tax in hope of profiting by a rise. This value would be ample for all purposes of government, and as values increased from this solid foundation, as they would, a gradual increase of taxation for public use might be instituted which would ultimately leave to the occupier the full fruit of his labor and capital, and secure for public purposes that increment of value which public demand creates.
There is probably no class in the community that would sooner realize the advantages of this land value tax than farmers who, with their families, are working for mortgages.
Overproduction – Middlemen – Railroads
Boston, Mass – (1) If taxes were on land values only, would there be too much wheat corn, etc., produced, so glutting the market and causing a stagnation of business and lowering of the price of farm produce, cattle raising, etc., as to drive a great deal of capital away from that line, and to leave little, if any, renumeration for the poorer farmers?
(2) How would the middlemen, who make the great profits, be driven out that the farmer might receive a fair share of the profits of his labor?
(3) How would railroad corporations be taxed? Their rolling stock, road, in fact the entire plant, is under the head of improvements, according to your classification, and is therefore exempt from taxation, although the colossal fortunes of this country today were mostly made through this system.
(1) When production and exchange are free all kinds of production tend constantly to an equilibrium, as water tends constantly to an equilibrium, as water tends to a level. Overproduction in one direction is the correlative of underproduction in other directions, just as congestion of blood in one part of the system is the correlative of insufficient blood in other parts; and as tendencies to congestion in the human body are overcome by free circulation, tendencies to overproduction in the social organism are overcome by free production and exchange. By placing all taxes on land values we secure this freedom. The producer then pays nothing on his products or for the right to produce, but only for superior advantages, and for them he pays to the community, of which he himself is a part, instead of paying, as he does now, to some privileged member of the community.
If, with a tax exclusively on land values in operation, an overproduction of anything, whether of wheat, corn, cattle, houses, watches or machinery, was indicated by declining value, labor and capital would drift at once into those employments in which there was an underproduction, and speedily restore the equilibrium. But this drift of labor and capital would be a drift and not a leap. When a dam backs the water of a stream up over the banks and upon the level land beyond, the level land may be reclaimed by tearing away the dam. But if that be done the atoms of water on the level land will not leap away; they will drift away as the atoms nearer the dam make room for them. So in free production and exchange. The farmer whose products were becoming a glut, for example, would not leap from farming to the making of silk, but at one extreme some cloth makers would turn their attention to silk, and at the other some farmers would go into a more advanced order of agriculture, while between these two extremes there would be a similarly partial and slight shifting of vocations – the whole tending to the equalizing of values.
Political economists recognize this law; but what they fail to recognize, and what makes it appear that the law does not exist, are the barriers with which private ownership of land obstructs free production and exchange.
(2) The middleman would not be driven out. The middleman who brings articles from where they are produced to where they are needed for consumption, or who gathers various articles of consumption and holds them in store so as to supply consumers from time to time, according to their demands, is as truly a producer as the man who makes the articles. He, like the farmer, is a public servant, and should not be driven out. Nor is that necessary in order to give the farmer “a fair share of the profit of his labor.” Middlemen – some middlemen – make great profits now because they have special advantages directly conferred by law, as in the case of railroads; or control great capital in a state of society which makes it impossible for the mere laborer to accumulate the capital he creates, as in the case of merchant princes; and farmers make small profits or none because they are burdened with enormous taxes and their independence is destroyed by our system of private land ownership. Let taxes be shifted to land values and the farmer's burden would be lifted and his independence restored; the same benefits that he enjoyed would be enjoyed by the middleman of small capital, and the middleman of great capital would no longer be able to take advantage of his unfortunate neighbor.
(3) Railroads cannot be operated without a taxing franchise conferred by the state. The state has no right to confer such franchises. It has no right to farm out any of its functions. Therefore, railroads should be managed by the state. But you are mistaken in supposing that railroads privately owned would escape taxation. The land values they appropriate are enormous.
An Outlet for Surplus Labor
Hinsdale, Ill – In the great towns of this continent millions of people are already crowded, fiercely struggling for subsistence; and still the herdsman deserts his pastures and the farmer his fields to gather where the strife has become intense and exhausting. Would it not be well to carefully consider, for the sake of humanity, the question. Why do people flock into towns to suffer loss of comfort, independence and self-respect while vast areas of fertile land lie available but unused by man? Within a day's easy travel from any one of the great cities of the Union land may be bought for a price per acre that is less than the rental of a modest house in those cities for a single month. The whole population of the world might find homes and sustenance within the borders of two or three of the states of the Union. If all the inhabitants of the earth were divided into families of five, a single state would afford half an acre of land to each family; and that state would then have millions of acres unoccupied. The United States could furnish food enough for the whole human race, and not use a tenth of its land for growing the food required. Probably not a country on earth has ever been cultivated to its utmost capacity of food production.
It has been asserted that the land belongs by God given right to all men equally, and that millions have been robbed of that birthright by men whose only title to more land than is needed for their own support is that they have power to hold that land, a power created and sustained only by complicity of other robbers operating through what are called laws. These assertions are made in face of the known fact that many countries will give to any man who wants it a farm of ample size. The only conditions are that the receiver shall occupy and make productive the land and shall pay the small fee required for recording his right to possession and furnishing evidence and protection of that right. In America the man who chooses to secure his share of the land held in trust for him by the government, is limited in his choice of location by only the one condition that he shall not dispossess any one already holding the land rightfully. First come first served is the law in this as in all other business affairs. Millions of acres of rich land are still offered by this nation to any who will take them on the easy terms which have been gladly accepted by toilers discontented with the old world – workers who have on such lands already made themselves more truly independent than are any of the princes whom they once obeyed.
There will not soon be a lack of fertile un-tilled land in the world. Careful estimates place the total population of the world at 1,400,000,000 people. If all the land of the United States were occupied by industrious families, the new world would still afford ample room for as many people as are now on earth. Over an area extending a thousand miles or more northward from our northern boundary grain can be grown successfully, and men live in comparative comfort there. In Central America are lands of surpassing fertility under a climate as salubrious as any ever known, and within a week's ride from the wharves of New York. There all necessary food, clothing and housing can be got by a minimum of labor. The grand breadth of South America, most of it of exceeding richness, is practically unoccupied, and will yet support millions of men in ease and plenty. Australia is a new and comparatively unknown country, scarcely and hundredth part of which has been surveyed by white men. In central Africa lie immense plains and broad valleys, where vegetation flourishes most luxuriantly and domesticated animals thrive, and where mighty nations may yet have their homes in the midst of abundance. In Russia are vast regions which are destined to support immense multitudes, for they are even better adapted for that use than are the prairies of our own western states and territories; and the list of free lands is by no means exhausted.
It is said that those who now cry out against the oppression of the capitalist cannot use the opportunities given by the land laws of the various countries mentioned, because money is required to enable them to even reach the lands offered. Is not sufficient answer given to that by the example of hundreds of pioneers who shouldered ax and rifle and boldly trudged away to the unbroken wilderness, there to face the Indian and other savage enemies while conquering new fortunes? Those hardy men cleared the land of heavy forest, built cabins and planted and harvested their crops, often without the aid of so much as a single dollar of money. They braved obstacles and dangers that can scarcely be found in this country today, and they developed their manly independence. A few weeks ago the papers told of a young man and his wife who together walked from Canada to Wisconsin, sturdily trudging over the long way that they might save money the long way that they might save money with which to pay for land. Is it likely that people of such grand spirit will soon be complaining of oppression? Will help be refused to them if they ask it?
“But why should we be driven into the wilderness,” I have been asked, “to live deprived of every comfort and advantage that other men enjoy? Why should our children go without schools, our wives without schools, our wives without churches, and we without the pleasures of association with our fellows and friends?” To these questions there may be many answers; but is it necessary to do this to become independent? Would not the money now spent for amusement, for dissipation, or lost to wage workers through strikes and their consequences, be sufficient to pay in a few years, at the average price of lands east of the Mississippi river, for ground enough to furnish employment and a comfortable living to the families of half the wage workers in the land? Would not the savings of a few months even suffice to carry the head of the family to the free lands offered for his acceptance, where he might make a home for those dependent on him?
It is declared that employers, by combinations of one kind or another, rob the workingman of a large part of his fair share of the results of his toil. Is it not rather the workingman who robs his fellow, who in turn robs the robber by overstocking the labor market? Is it not to control this keen competition in a market badly glutted that labor unions of various kinds have been formed? Has not the result of the efforts of the labor unions as a whole shown that the attempt to control the price of labor, by any means other than by regulating the supply, must be as hopeless as would be an effort to stop forever the flowing of water in the bed of the Mississippi, without first cutting off the inflow from its tributaries? Would not all the purposes of the unions be better served if one in five of those who now crowd the ranks of the so-called working classes were to leave his present condition, to make a home on his own soil? Would not they who do this at once relieve themselves and their fellows from oppression by unjust employers, and, by so doing, themselves become the most independent of men? They who will do this will have no need to ask favors of any employer. Then there will be no need of contributing to the support of costly organizations and scores of men whose only industry lies in defrauding the honestly industrious under the pretense of fighting for them their battles against the oppressors. Withdraw one-fifth of the toilers in every field of industry except agriculture and capital will eagerly solicit the help of the wage worker and yield to all reasonable demands of the skilled. No time need then be lost in strikes; no starving women and children need then wait in the heartsickness of hope deferred while the breadwinner seeks for the employment that cannot be given. Then the laborer will safely demand all the hire of which he is worthy, and it will surely be given, for the civilized world has firmly bound itself in the fetters of luxurious habits, and may be made to lie at the feet of the producer if the latter have but the courage and good sense to secure the fruits of the victory with his reach.
If the working people who herd in cities were to go upon agricultural land in the west, and were fortunate in selecting a place, their condition would no doubt be improved. They would be independent, their wages would be somewhat better, and some of them would get rich by the rise of land values as population increased about them. Nor would those who emigrated be benefited alone. By their withdrawal from the struggle for opportunities to work, competition among workingmen would be modified and wages in the settled sections of the Union would rise. But as soon as that occurred, not only would Europe inundate our settled sections with emigrants seeking high wages, but the very people whose exodus had produced the rise in wages would be influenced to return until wages here fell again. Wages are like water; they cannot remain, all things considered, higher in one place than in another. They persistently seek a common level.
But the difficulties in the way of such an emigration as you propose are not so slight to the impoverished as they appear to men in comfortable circumstances. A day's easy travel would be very far from a pleasure jaunt to a man who supports his family on wages that are exhausted in living at almshouse rates, even if certainty of a home at the end of the journey awaited him. But when to expense of travel are added cost of land, ignorance of the country, uncertainty of tenure and necessity for tools that he cannot buy, and when a burdensome mortgage would be bailed as a godsend, you might better propose his emigration to central Africa, where land at least will cost him nothing, and there is no subsidized railroad to dispute his title. Besides, many of these people have already emigrated from afar to find relief from grinding poverty. Are they to be kept forever moving on? Human nature is a factor in this problem, and if you think that density of population, which in any normal condition of society would be a blessing, is a curse, you must disperse the homeless by law; you cannot entice them away from the habitations of men by romantic pictures of pioneer life.
Nor is it necessary for the poor of cities to go even a day's journey for “available but unused land.” There is available but unused land within an hour's journey which most of them could use to better advantage than any of the land of which you speak. Why should they not emigrate to that? There is but one obstacle. It is owned and kept out of use by the class whose vested interest in a piratical privilege you indirectly defend. Let these owners rather than the workers emigrate to the west. Cities can dispense with their useless presence to better advantage than with that of men whose only complaint is that they are prevented from working part of the time and robbed of their wages the remainder.
And if the poor did emigrate, as you propose, what would be the ultimate effect, other than to make land owners in the new district wealthy and impoverish those who had no land? If the Knights of Labor and all trade unions were to colonize their members in Texas, the relief would only be temporary, and the only persons ultimately benefited would be the owners of Texas land and their retainers. The very proposition, seriously made, to send so many people to Texas would make a “boom” in the Texas land market. If all the inhabitants of the world where to settle in the United States, it is true, as you say, that there would still be room for many more. But it would be true only in the sense that there is now room in New York city for many times its population. In New York there are only about forty-five people to the acre, and yet there is hardly an acre of ground in the city limits worth less than $2,000, and some of it runs up to $1,000,000 and more. This is not because it is all in use, but because more than half of it is kept out of use. The area of the United States is about thirty-five acres to each individual of the population, and yet there is hardly an acre that does not command a price, while most of it commands a high price. This is not because it is in use, but because what is not in use is fenced out of use on speculation. If the population of the world were to settle here, there would be but little more than an acre to each individual, and the poverty now just beginning to be felt would be widespread and intense, not because an acre for each individual is not enough, but because some would have no land at all, nor access to any except at a ruinous price. What would you advise the impoverished to do, then? Emigrate back to Europe, where land, in consequence of sparse population, would be cheap? And how long would you keep up this economic teeter-totter before recognizing the truth that land values are a mere tax on the people, which takes from the producer and gives to the idler, and by encouraging land speculation reduces opportunities to work, and in all populous communities makes the mere laborer a dependent beggar for a job.
It is true that “the whole population of the world might find homes and sustenance within the borders of two or three states.” They might find homes and sustenance in the state of Texas alone. But they would not be allowed to. The state of Texas would accommodate about eight people to the acre if the population of the globe settled there and everyone took an equal share of the acreage. But just as it is in London, in New York, and even in Texas, a few people would own the state, and everyone else would have to pay their price or leave. The consequence would be that even with every human being on earth living in Texas a large part of Texas would be unoccupied. No one would be allowed to use that vacant land except for a price that a laborer could not pay, and laborers would be forced to compete for work until wages were forced to compete for work until wages were forced to the minimum and the specters of poverty and anarchy hovered over the feasts of the privileged. By the way, have you considered the fact that some thousands of people already in Texas, sparsely settled though it is, are unable to make a living and go begging for work? What kind of a place is that to invite the impoverished of New York to emigrate to.
And what of Central America, South America and Australia? Do you not find involuntary poverty there also? These may be good places to go to for the purpose of buying up land and growing rich on the labor of the inhabitants; but they offer no inducements to the mere laborer. Market wages are always the general measure of returns to labor. It is the wages market that workingmen consult before emigrating. If population is increasing, wages falling and rents rising in any place, that is the place for your investor, but not for your laborer. It is only the place where wages are high or advancing that the laborer seeks. This you will agree to and no doubt acknowledge that it embodies sound business principles. A seller of commodities must seek a market where his commodities are in demand and command high prices, and as the laborer's commodity is labor, his choice market is that where high wages are paid. Now, where in the world are wages enough higher than anywhere else, all things considered, to make it greatly worth the while of a laborer to emigrate? Tell us of a place where wages are materially higher than in New York, with any reasonable prospect of remaining higher or advancing, and we will agree to depopulate New York of workingmen so rapidly and so completely as to create the worst panic in our real estate market that it has ever experienced.
You may say that a man must not always expect to be a workingman. He must look forward to a time when from the fruits of previous labor judiciously invested in land he can live without working. But this implies that somebody else must work for him, and, if wages are to be kept down, that there must always be a large class that not only supports itself but also the class of judicious investors. Somebody must always be under the harrow, somebody must always be in poverty, until every man can be assured a right to work and be secured in the full enjoyment of the fruits of his toil.
But through the darkness in which your letter shows you to be groping, you catch a glimmer of light. It is true, as you claim, that “the attempt to control the price of labor by any means other than regulating the supply must be as hopeless as would be an effort to stop forever the flowing of water in the bed of the Mississippi without first cutting off the inflow from its tributaries.” To raise and maintain wages we must either limit population and improvement, or open an outlet for “surplus” labor. And in a vague way you suggest the true relief. We should not limit population; the globe is big enough and in natural resources rich enough for all who come upon it. Nor should we limit improvements; the more labor saving machinery we have, the more the arts advance, the more leisure from drudgery we secure, the better. Let us not for a moment think of “cutting off the inflow.” Let us on the contrary open the outlet. Let us invite men to go directly to the soil for opportunities to work. Not alone the poor of cities; not alone the mere laborer; but everyone. Then the population of villages and cities will spread and that of the country will come together, not by jumps from one extreme to the other, as you propose, but by an almost imperceptible dispersal of the units, as the waters of the Mississippi above the dam in your analogue would fall and those below would rise when the dam was torn away. This can be accomplished by taxing land values so that the value of valuable land would go into a common treasury, where it rightfully belongs; so that labor and capital would be freed from taxes, and so that unused land everywhere would be thrown open without tax or rent to whomsoever chose to use it.
We suggest that you carefully read the four chapters of Book four, and chapters one, two and three of Book nine of “Progress and Poverty,” and as you read them, to justify to your own conscience, if you can, a system that gives the soil of a community to any set of persons to the exclusion of the humblest human being born upon it.
Teuple, Texas – Is there a list published of missing and unknown heirs to property in Germany and France? If so, where can I procure such a list, and the price? I read The Standard regularly and heartily endorse its principles. Please reply through its columus.
Fred C. Wagner
We know of none, and if we did should earnestly advise against your placing any confidence in the publishers. If you know of any property in France or Germany to which you believe yourself to be entitled, the best man to consult is a trustworthy lawyer in your county. He can advise in a general way as to the probabilities of your claim being good, and direct and protect you in any subsequent steps you may take. Concerns that advertise lists of unclaimed property in foreign countries are apt to be frauds.
A Southern Man's Experience
Every Man Who Understands the Theory of Appropriating Land Values for Public Purposes Believes in It Save the Selfish Man
Mobile, Ala, March 28 – Last week one of the largest manufacturers of goods in my business of sheet music visited me from the north, and on my asking him if any advantages to business or to society generally would ensue from the adoption of Henry George's theories, he said no; that these theories were impracticable. He at first claimed to have a thorough understanding of these doctrines, and stated that the idea proposed was for the government to condemn all land, eject holders, and then, having become owner, let the land out. On my stating that he was entirely wrong, that all that was proposed was to allow land to remain in present hands, and simply to take its value by taxation for public uses he exclaimed: “Is that all? will that bring about the great change you speak of? The plan then is merely to remove all taxation from capital and labor and place it on land values, and then to increase this land tax until the full retail value is taken by the government? Well, if that's what it means, I am a Henry George believer.”
I wish to emphasize this point, and it is one doubtless noticed by all who are interested in the agitation of the land question, viz: Every man one meets who understands the theory of appropriating land values for public purposes believes in it, and only those oppose it whom ignorance or self interest control.
Begin With the Forests
St. Paul Pioneer Press
As long as the land about the headwaters of the Mississippi was set aside for the Chippewas, it was free from the invasion of the lumberman. Let these forest tracts be disposed of as is contemplated, let the woodchoppers go in freely and the timber be fed to the great lumber mills below, and the inevitable result is such a diminution of the Mississippi in the dry season that the mills of Minneapolis will stand idle for months at a time.
This is the thing which must not be permitted to happen here.
Its prevention is a matter entirely simple. When the Indians are removed from these lands, let the latter be put under the charge of the government, and watched over by an officer whose duty it shall be to preserve the forests, as is done in Europe, where the immense material importance of forestry has come to be understood and acknowledged. The woodlands, by the removal of a certain quantity of timber each year, but only in proportion to the growth of young trees, could be made perennial, while a good revenue might still be derived from the sale of the surplus timber. The system is one which has been urged over and over again by the friends of forestry in this country.
No “Boom” in Louisville
Louisville Labor Record
Louisville real estate owners are trying to get up a “boom.” We hope they will succeed in making a real one, as it is badly needed. We warn workingmen to stay away from here, however, as there are hundreds of idlers here already. It will require a pretty good “boom” to give them work and a living. Workmen elsewhere are advised not to be deluded by glowing descriptions of Louisville's growth and prospects to come here, unless they want to tramp. Especially carpenters, printers, molders, coopers, bakers, furniture workers, stonecutters and laborers had better stay away.
Jeremiah And The Chipmunk
Faraway Moses Consoles His Dog for Having Lost His Dinner
Well, well: so you say the big bulldog took the chipmunk away from you after you had dug it out and killed it! He claimed the game on the plea that he owned the hole, did he? And the other small dogs stood by looking wishfully at the juicy tidbit, but admitted that the big dog owned the hole and you had no business to dig there!
Bless my soul, Jeremiah, dogs are getting more human in their views every day. I suppose dogs have as much right to monopolize chipmunk holes as men have to claim whole counties. If the big dog hadn't been there and you had eaten the chipmunk, that would have ended the affair; whereas, among men the case wouldn't have ended there, but all the big dogs and little dogs (I mean men), would have hunted up the man that swallowed the chipmunk and forced him to throw it up again. So you see, my long eared friend, dogs are not as grasping as men, because they have no laws to help them reclaim a chipmunk after it has been eaten.
Eh? You think in a similar transaction, among men you would have been allowed something for your work? You think if men done business on the bulldog plan a great many people would starve? Bless your dear heart, Jeremiah, did you never read the history of Ireland and India, where the bulldoggish landlords took all the chipmunks, as it were, and left millions to howl and starve around the empty holes, while they sat down on their lazy haunches and ate themselves fat, and returned thanks to the Lord for his love and generous mercies?
If you will just look around you, you will see lots of bulldog men guarding chipmunk holes of natural wealth, while thousands of poor and unfortunate beings are dying in crowded cities, because they have no chipmunk holes to dig a living out of.
Why don't you call all the dogs together and state your grievance to them, and demand justice? Ah, I never thought of that; I had forgotten that you are small and shabby looking and cannot boast of being the owner of two whole townships of chipmunk holes, and, therefore, have a mighty small voice in the laws which govern your race. You're a dog-gone sight worse off than I thought you were, and I believe our corresponding positions are as near alike as two stale eggs.
And this big dog took a home from you at another time, did he? Bless my silly old noddle, such work as that is going on among men all the blessed time. Not exactly by force, but we have a something, full of crooks and technicality, called “law,” which none of the big fellows can afford to handle. And by this subtle power the big ones smother the little ones into subjection. The little ones never help to make the law, because it takes votes to gain that position, and the little ones are too blind to support one of their number, but go on blindly elevating the big ones into positions, and then growl afterward about God's world being so unequally divided.
I never expect to see the little dogs unite to protect their interest, and it will be just about as big a miracle and robust surprise to see the poor men do their own thinking and voting.
I have often seen you, Jeremiah, looking enviously at my old bald noddle and wishing you possessed half the wisdom and subtle knowledge it contains. Bless your dear heart, if you had it all the other dogs would never suspect it. Here I have been going through the world making splint brooms and feeling proud of my wisdom, and all this time I have been assisting to keep me poor, miserable and ignorant. You, no doubt, thought that deep thinking caused my hair to peel off, when, in fact, there wasn't substance enough in my pate to give it nourishment. It's a great and terrible wonder to me that the poor have any hair at all. They are only handing onto existence by a single hair, and that's a mighty short one and split at both ends – a mighty, awful short one!
Just look at the situation, Jeremiah. When any deep-thinking and honorable man figures out the wrongs of the poor people and points out to them the road to travel in order to win a share in the chipmunk holes, as it were, all the argument the big fellows use is: “Pooh! nonsense! anarchy! socialism! tomfoolery! no good! vote the old ticket and trust in providence.” and every mother's son will allow the land grabbers to pull the political wool and shoddy over their eyes, and they will go to the election with their eyes shut and mouth open and vote against their own interest as often as the board will allow them.
That's the kind of an old seed I am. Do you still envy my gift of baldness and massive intellect? If we were to swap brains, and my intellect would play the same pranks with you as it has with me, it would take two weeks to teach you how to dislodge a wicked flea with a simple twist of your hind heel and a magic flirt of the leg.
No, Providence is not to blame; I have simply been too mentally lazy and worthless and dilatory to think. I have been working my body almost to death to feed my stomach, and allowed my mental faculties to shrink and dry up, like a coon skin tacked to the gable end of a smoke house.
The same natural law that makes your nose smart when you dab it against a hot stove, makes the poor man smart and squirm with poverty when he dabs his vote against his own interest. The man that will turn a hog into his garden is not to be pitied when he discovers that it has rooted out all his onions. And if he sticks the onions back in the ground again, he will resemble the common voter more than anything I can pick up at present.
I have always stumbled along life's pathway, grumbling about affairs, and laying the whole blame of poverty at the door of greed, and it has only lately crawled into my meditation box that ignorance and stupidity on the part of most voters is feeding up the present system of “All to a few, and nothing for the many.”
Poor people are always ready to say they are willing to fight for their rights and die for them, but they foolishly neglect to vote for them. The man who thinks his vote is worth no more than a sack of flour, a quart of whiskey or a pound of coffee, has no more right to handle a ballot than a crank has to handle a dynamite bomb. And the men who purchase those votes are no more fit to govern a great nation than a ward politician is to carry the keys of heaven.
So come along, Jeremiah; misery loves company, and if you are a dog, gone down on the under side of life's battle, why, I'm not a doggone sight far behind you, if I do walk up on one end like a man.
And Los Angeles Congratulates Itself
Los Angeles, Cal, Letter
Land speculation is booming, and the fever spreads like an epidemic. Real estate is constantly changing hands, and always at increased prices. I heard of one piece that passed through three hands before the first purchaser had paid a dollar down. One lovely homestead sold not long since for $85,000, and a pretty cottage with a very small lot was offered last week for $11,000. One man receives $10,000 a year on a building let out in offices. All rents are high and houses scarce in winter, and very few families but rent one or two rooms to lodgers, and at good round prices, too. People are glad to pay $15, $20 and $25 a month for a large, well furnished room in a good location, and the cheaper rooms rent from $10 to $12 a month.
The American Farmer
“Social Problems,” Chapter XX
…The average farmer may at first start at the idea, but given time for discussion and reflection, and those who are already trying to persuade him that to put all taxation on the value of land would be to put all taxation on the farmer, have as little chance of success as the slaveholders had of persuading their negroes that the northern armies were bent on kidnapping and selling them in Cuba. The average farmer can read, write and cipher – and on matters connected with his own interests ciphers pretty closely. He is not out of the great currents of thought, though they may affect him more slowly, and he is anything but a contented peasant, ignorantly satisfied with things as they are and impervious to ideas of change. Already dissatisfied, he is becoming more so. His hard and barren life seems harder and more barren as contrasted with the excitement and luxury of cities; and the great fortunes accumulated by men who do nothing to add to the stock of wealth arouse his sense of injustice. He is beginning to feel that he bears more than his fair share of the burdens of society and gets less than his fair share of its benefits; and his thought, with the decadence of old political issues, is more and more turning to economic and social questions.
It is clear that the change in taxation which I propose as the means whereby equal rights to the soil may be asserted and maintained, would be to the advantage of farmers who are working land belonging to others, to the advantage of those whose farms are virtually owned by mortgagees, and to the advantage of those who are seeking farms…The farmer who cultivates his own farm with his own hands is a landowner, it is true, but he is in greater degree a laborer, and in his ownership of stock, improvements, tools, etc., a capitalist. It is from this labor, aided by this capital, rather than from any advantage represented by the value of his land, that he derives his living. His main interest is that of a producer, not that of a landowner.
There lived in Dublin, some years ago, a gentleman named Murphy – “Cozy” Murphy, they called him, for short, and because he was a very comfortable sort of a Murphy. Cozy Murphy owned land in Tipperary; but as he had an agent in Tipperary to collect his rents and evict his tenants when they did not pay, he himself lived in Dublin, as being the more comfortable place. And he concluded, at length, that the most comfortable place in Dublin, in fact the most comfortable place in the whole world, was – in bed. So he went to bed and stayed there for nearly eight years; not because he was at all ill, but because he liked it. He ate his dinners, and drank his wine, and smoked his cigars, and read, and played cards, and received visitors, and verified his agent's accounts, and drew checks – all in bed. After eight years' lying in bed, he grew tired of it, got up, dressed himself, and for some years went around like other people, and then died. But his family were just as well off as though he had never gone to bed – in fact, they were better off; for while his income was not a whit diminished by his going to bed, his expenses were.
This was a typical landowner – a landowner pure and simple. Now let the farmer consider what would become of himself and family if he and his boys were to go to bed and stay there, and he will realize how much his interests as a laborer exceed his interests as a landowner.
It requires no grasp of abstractions for the working farmer to see that to abolish all taxation, save upon the value of land, would be really to his interest, no matter how it might affect larger landholders. Let the working farmer consider how the weight of indirect taxation falls upon him without his having power to shift it off upon anyone else; how it adds to the price of nearly everything he has to buy, without adding to the price of what he has to sell; how it compels him to contribute to the support of government in far greater proportion to what he possesses than it does those who are much richer, and he will see that by the substitution of direct for indirect taxation he would be largely the gainer. Let him consider further, and he will see that he would be still more largely the gainer if direct taxation were confined to the value of land. The land of the working farmer is improved land, and usually the value of the improvements and of the stock used in cultivating it bear a very high proportion to the value of the bare land. Now, as all valuable land is not improved land, to substitute for the taxation now levied upon improvements and stock, a tax upon the naked value of land, irrespective of improvements, would be manifestly to the advantage of the owners of improved land, and especially of small owners, the value of whose improvements bears a much greater ratio to the value of their land than is the case with larger owners; and who, as one of the effects of treating improvements as a proper subject of taxation, are taxed far more heavily, even upon the value of their land, than are larger owners.
The working farmer has only to look about him to realize this. Near by his farm of eighty or one hundred and sixty acres he will find tracts of five hundred or a thousand, or, in some places, tens of thousands of acres, of equally valuable land, on which the improvements, stock, tools and household effects are much less in proportion than on his own small farm, or which may be totally unimproved and unused. In the villages he will find acre, half-acre and quarter-acre lots unimproved or slightly improved, which are more valuable than his whole farm. If he looks further he will see tracts of mineral land, or land with other superior natural advantages having immense value, yet on which the the taxable improvements amount to little or nothing; while, when he looks to the great cities he will find vacant lots twenty-five by one hundred feet, worth more than a whole section of agricultural land such as his; and as he goes toward their centers he will find most magnificent buildings less valuable than the ground on which they stand, and block after block where the land would sell for more per front foot than his whole farm. Manifestly, to put all taxes on the value of land would be to lessen relatively and absolutely the taxes the working farmer has to pay.
So far from the effect of placing all taxes upon the value of land being to the advantage of the towns at the expense of the agricultural districts, the very reverse of this is obviously true. The great increase of land values is in the cities, and with the present tendencies of growth, this must continue to be the case. To place all taxes on the value of land would be to reduce the taxation of agricultural districts relatively to the taxation of towns and cities. And this would be only just; for it is not alone the presence of their own populations which gives value to the land of towns and cities, but the presence of the more scattered agricultural population, for whom they constitute industrial, commercial and financial centers.
While at first blush it may seem to the farmer that to abolish all taxes upon other things than the value of land would be to exempt the richer inhabitants of cities from taxation and unduly tax him, discussion and reflection will certainly show him that the reverse is the case. Personal property is not, never has been and never can be, fairly taxed. The rich man always escapes more easily than the man who has but little; the city more easily than the country. Taxes which add to prices bear upon the inhabitants of sparsely settled districts with as much weight, and in many cases with much more weight, than upon the inhabitants of great cities. Taxes upon improvements manifestly fall more heavily upon the working farmer, a great part of the value of whose farm consists of the value of improvements, than upon the owners of valuable unimproved land, or upon those whose land, as that of cities, bears a higher relation in value to the improvements.
The truth is, that the working farmer would be an immense gainer by the change. Where he would have to pay more taxes on the value of his land, he would be released from the taxes now levied on his stock and improvements, and from all the indirect taxes that now weigh so heavily upon him. And as the effect of taxing unimproved land as heavily as though it were improved would be to compel more holders to sell, and to destroy mere speculative values, the farmer in sparsely settled districts would have little or no taxes to pay. It would not be until equally good land all about him was in use, and he had all the advantages of a well settled neighborhood, that his land would have any taxable value.
What the farmer who owns his own farm would lose would be in the selling value of his land; but its usefulness to him would be as great as before – greater than before, in fact, as he would get larger returns from his labor upon it; and as the selling value of other land would be similarly affected, this loss would not make it harder for him to get another farm if he wished to move, while it would be easier for him to settle his children or to get more land if he could advantageously cultivate more. The loss would be nominal; the gain would be real. It is better for the small farmer, and especially for the small farmer with a growing family, that labor should be high than that land should be high. Paradoxical as it may appear, small landowners do not profit by the rise in the value of land. On the contrary they are extinguished. But before speaking of this, let me show how much misapprehension there is in the assumption that the small independent farmers constitute, and will continue to constitute, the majority of the American people.
Agriculture is the primitive occupation; the farmer is the American pioneer; and even in those cases, comparatively unimportant, where settlement is begun in the search for the precious metals, it does not become permanent until agriculture in some of its branches takes root. But as population increases and industrial development goes on, the relative importance of agriculture diminishes. That the non-agricultural population of the United States is steadily and rapidly gaining on the agricultural population is of course obvious. According to the census report the urban population of the United States was in 1790 but 3.3 per cent of the whole population, while in 1880 it had risen to 22.5 per cent. Agriculture is yet the largest occupation, but in the aggregate other occupations much exceed it.
According to the census, which, unsatisfactory as it is, is yet the only authority we have, the number of persons engaged in agriculture in 1880 was 7,670,493 out of 17,392,099 returned as engaged in gainful occupations of all kinds. Or, if we take the number of adult males as a better comparison of political power, we may find, with a little figuring, that the returns show 6,491,116 males of sixteen years and over engaged in other occupations. According to these figures the agricultural vote is already in a clear minority in the United States, while the preponderance of the non-agricultural vote, already great, is steadily and rapidly increasing.
But while the agricultural population of the United States is thus already in a minority, these men who own their own farms are already in a minority in the agricultural population. According to the census the number of farms and plantations in the United States in 1880 was 4,008,907. The number of tenant farmers paying money rents or share rents is given by one of the census bulletins at 1,024,601. This would leave but 2,984,303 nominal owners of farms out of the 7,679,493 persons employed in agriculture. The real owners of their farms must be greatly less even than this. The most common form of agricultural tenancy in the United States is not that of money or share rent, but of mortgagee we can only guess. But there can be little doubt that the number of mortgaged farms must largely exceed the number of rented farms, and it may not be too high an estimate to put the number of mortgaged farms at one half the number of unrented ones. However this may be, it is certain that the farmers who really own their farms are but a minority of farmers, and a small minority of those engaged in agriculture.
Further than this, all the tendencies of the time are to the extinction of the typical American farmer – the man who cultivates his own acres with his own hands. This involvement has only recently begun, but it is going on, and must go on under present conditions, with increasing rapidity. The remarkable increase in the large farms and diminution in the small ones, shown by the census figures of 1880, is but evidence of the fact – too notorious to need the proof of figures – that the tendency to concentration, which in so many other branches of industry has substituted the factory for self-employing workmen, has reached agriculture. One invention after another has already given the large farmer a crushing advantage over the small farmer, and invention is still going on. And it is not merely in the making of his crops, but in their transportation and marketing, and in the purchase of his supplies, that the large producer in agriculture gains an advantage over the small one. To talk, as some do, about the bonanza farms breaking up in a little while into small homesteads, is as foolish as to talk of the great shoe factory giving way again to journeymen shoemakers with their lapstones and awls. The bonanza farm and the great wire-fenced stock ranch have come to stay while present conditions last. If they show themselves first on new land, it is because there is on new land the greatest freedom of development; but the tendency exists wherever modern industrial influences are felt, and is showing itself in the British Isles as well as in our older states.
This tendency means the extirpation of the typical American farmer, who with his own hands and the aid of his boys cultivates his own small farm. When a Brooklyn lawyer or Boston banker can take a run in a palace car out to the new northwest, buy some sections of land, contract for having it broken up, seeded, reaped and threshed, leave on it a superintendent, and make a profit on his first year's crop of from six to ten thousand a section, what chance has the emigrant farmer of the old type, who comes toiling along in the wagon which contains his wife and children, and the few traps that with his team constitute his entire capital? When English and American capitalists can run miles of barbed wire fence, and stock the great enclosure with large herds of cattle, which can be tended, carried to market, and sold at the minimum of expense and maximum of profit, what chance has the man who would start stock raising with a few cows?
From the typical American farmer of the era now beginning to pass away, two types are differentiating – the capitalist farmer and the farm laborer. The former does not work with his own hands, but with the hands of other men. He passes but a portion of his time, in some cases hardly any of it, upon the land he cultivates. His home is in a large town or great city, and he is perhaps a banker and speculator as well as a farmer. The latter is a proletarian, a nomad – part of the year a laborer and part of the year a tramp, migrating from farm to farm and from place to place, without family or home, or any of the influences and responsibilities that develop manly character. If our treatment of land continues as now, some of our small independent farmers will tend toward one of these extremes, and many more will tend toward the other.
But besides the tendency to production on a large scale, which is operating to extirpate the small independent farmer, there is, in the rise of land values, another powerful tendency operating in the same direction.
At the looting of the summer palace at Pekin by the allied forces in 1860, some valuable jewels were obtained by private soldiers. How long did they remain in such possession? If a duke of Brunswick were to distribute his hoard of diamonds among the poor, how long would would the poor continue to hold them? The peasants of Ireland and the costermongers of London have their donkeys, which are worth only a few shillings. But if by any combination of circumstances the donkey became as valuable as a blooded horse, no peasant or costermonger would be found driving a donkey. Where chickens are cheap, the common people eat them; where they are dear, they are to be found only on the tables of the rich. So it is with land. As it becomes valuable it must gravitate from the hands of those who work for a living into a possession of the rich.
What has caused the extreme concentration of land ownership in England is not so much the conversion of the feudal tenures into fee simple, the spoliation of the religious houses, and the enclosure of the commons, as thus the effect of the rise in the value of land. The small estates, of which there were many in England two centuries and even a century ago, have become parts of large estates mainly by purchase. They gravitated to the possession of the rich, just as diamonds or valuable paintings or fine horses gravitate to the possession of the rich.
So long as the masses are fools enough to permit private property in land, it is rightly esteemed the most secure possession. It cannot be burned or destroyed by an accident; it cannot be carried off; it tends constantly to increase in value with the growth of population and improvement in the arts. Its possession being a visible sign of secure wealth, and putting its owner, as competition becomes sharp, in the position of a lord or god to the human creatures who have no legal rights to this planet, carries with it social consideration and deference. For these reasons land commands a higher price in proportion to the income it yields than anything else, and the man to whom immediate income is of more importance than a secure investment finds it cheaper to rent land than to buy it.
Thus, as land grew in value in England, the small owners were not merely tempted or compelled by the vicissitudes of life to sell their land, but it became more profitable to them to sell it than to hold it, as they could hire land cheaper than they could hire capital. By selling and then renting, the English farmer, thus converted from a landowner into a tenant, acquired, for a time at least, the use of more land and more capital, and the ownership of land thus gravitated from the hands of those whose prime object is to get a living into the hands of those whose prime object is a secure investment.
This process must go on in the United States as land rises in value. We may observe it now. It is in the newer parts of moderate means living in their own houses. Where land is more valuable we find such people living in rented houses. In such cities block after block is put up and sold, generally under mortgage, to families who thus endeavor to secure a home of their own. But I think it is the general experience, that as years pass by and land acquires a greater value, these houses and lots pass from the nominal ownership of dwellers into the possession of landlords, and are occupied by tenants. So, in the agricultural districts, it is where land has increased little if anything in value that we find homesteads which have been long in the possession of the same family of working farmers. A general officer of one of the great trunk railroad lines told me that his attention had been called to the supreme importance of the land question by the great westward emigration of farmers, which, as the result of extensive inquiries, he found due to the rise of land values. As land rises in value the working farmer finds it more and more difficult for his boys to get farms of their own, while the price for which he can sell will give him a considerably larger tract of land where land is cheaper; or he is tempted or forced to mortgage, and the mortgage eats and eats until it eats him out, or until he concludes that the wisest thing he can do is to realize the difference between the mortgage and the selling value of his farm and emigrate west. And in many cases he commences again under the load of a mortgage; for as settlement is now going, very much of the land sold to settlers by railroad companies and speculators is sold upon mortgage. And what is the usual result may be inferred from such announcements as those placarded in the Union depot at Council Bluffs, offering thousands of improved farms for sale on liberal terms as to payment. One man buys upon mortgage, fails in his payments, or gets disgusted, and moves on, and the farm he has improved is sold to another man upon mortgage. Generally speaking, the ultimate result is that the mortgagee, not the mortgageor, becomes the full owner. Cultivation under mortgage is, in truth, the transitional form between cultivation by the small owner and cultivation by the large owner or by tenant.
The fact is, that the typical American farmer, the cultivator of the small farm of which he is the owner, is the product of conditions under which labor is dear and land is cheap. As these conditions change, labor becoming cheap and land becoming dear, he must pass away as he has passed away in England.
It has already become impossible in our older states for a man starting with nothing to become by his labor the owner of a farm. As the public domain disappears this will become impossible all over the United States. And as in the accidents and mutations of life the small owners are shaken from their holdings or find it impossible all over the United States. And as in the accidents and mutations of life the small owners are shaken from their holdings or find it impossible all over the United States. And as in the accidents and mutations of life the small owners are shaken from their holdings or find it impossible to compete with the grand culture of capitalistic farming, they will not be able to recover, and must swell the mass of tenants and laborers. Thus the concentration of land ownership is proceeding, and must proceed, if private property in land be continued. So far from it being to the interest of the working farmer to defend private property in land, its continued recognition means that his children, if not himself, shall lose all right whatever in their native soil; shall sink from the condition of free men to that of serfs.
Cigar Dealers and Others Working for Their Landlords
New York – When I see calculations made by “eminent statisticians” relating to the wonderful increase of wealth in this country, and read that wages are so much higher than they were a quarter of a century ago – twice as high, I believe, one of them says – I think of what rents used to be and what they are now, and ask myself why these statisticians do not give us some comparisons in regard to rents. I will give an example of what rents were in New York thirty odd years ago. In 1852 an acquaintance of mine opened a cigar store next door to the corner of Canal and Centre streets. He paid as rent for it $12 a month — $144 a year – and the rent remained at that figure until 1858, when it was raised to $240 a year. In 1864 or '65 he vacated his old place and took the store on the corner at a rental of $1,000. At the end of a year he enlarged his business and took the old place next the corner again at a total rent of $1,500 on a three years' lease. When the lease expired the landlord asked $1,800, though there were no improvements made on the property, and the rent was continued at this amount through the panic of 1873 and along through the years of business depression until 1875. Meantime business had gone to pieces and tenants of stores were consuming their capital. In 1875 the rent of the cigar dealer was reduced by the landlord $100. This was by no means what the reduction should have been to meet the reduction should have been to meet the necessities of the tenant; nor was it such as would have been for the benefit of the landlord in the long run. The tenant was at last forced to move. When he left the premises the rent fell, a lease being given on it for three years at $1,000, $1,100 and $1,200. The cigar dealer for many years gave his old services as a business man to a landlord, the rent he paid being a fine on his success. When, on his leaving the place, the rent fell, it was even then far higher than when he started in business.
Old New Yorker
A Harlem Storekeeper's Experience
Harlem – The article on retail storekeepers in The Standard attracted my attention, especially because I had lately witnessed a case in which a landlord had been prompt cutting into a tenant's income. Two years ago two young men opened a store near 113th street, their business being in bedding, blankets, quilts, ticking, etc. They were industrious and enterprising and built up a pretty fair trade, notwithstanding the competition in the business. They had a year's lease at $1,000. A few months ago the landlord told them the rent would be $1,300 next year. They gave no answer and he now informs them that another firm in the same business will pay him $1,400. Before the young men opened up their store they had the whole place fixed up anew for their business they were doing and induced the landlord to look for an increased rent.
Taxes Upon Truth
How the Rich Men of Chicago Compete for the Rewards Offered for False Swearing
The concealment of personal property appears to have been most flagrant with the very elements of society to which we have been accustomed to look for the honorable discharge of public obligations. In the investigation of the subject it has been disclosed that the magnificent houses of the wealthy classes of Chicago are brownstone or marble palaces on the outside, but inside they are fitted up after the similitude of hovels. At least it so appears by the sworn schedules of their occupants. Men who ride down to business behind $1,000 teams in $1,500 carriages have scheduled the contents of their stable at $50 for horses of all kinds, and $50 for carriages, etc., if at all. Men whose daughters' fingers run over the keys of $1,600 pianos have scheduled their pianofortes to the assessor at $50 if at all. Ladies who step upon old rags worth $500 to $1,000 apiece that cover the barrenness of their pauper floors have scheduled their entire household furniture and property has led them to dispense with doors in order to hang $1,000 portieres in the openings have failed to reckon them in their sworn schedules. In short, millionaires, merchants bankers, brokers, manufactures, pork packers, lawyers, ministers, commission men, and board of trade speculators – men who sit in $200 chairs at $500 tables; who stand upon $1,000 carpets and look out through $200 window curtains; who hang their hats upon $200 racks, and put their umbrellas in $100 stands; who loll on $400 lounges and gaze at costly bric-a-brac and rare china in $400 cabinets; who sleep in $1,000 bedsteads under $200 cider down quilts and dress behind $500 screens, who eat off of a $2,000 service upon rare viands prepared upon a $500 kitchen range, who dine at a $400 solid hardwood table around which are ten $100 chairs, while a $100 sideboard looms up richly behind them; who count their treasured volumes, reposing in $500 book cases, by the thousand; who own paintings, statuary, etchings, engravings, and the Lord knows what not, costing anywhere from $1,000 up to $500,000 – men of such character and possessions have scheduled all their household furniture and property at less than $2,000 and some as low as $300, and sworn to it. The writer has gone through 2,300 schedules, covering the wealthiest residence portion of the south side, and failed to discover a single return where the entire household outfit, including horses, carriages, pianos, plate, jewelry, etc., has exceeded $3,000.
A Land and Labor Club in Boston
Organization has begun in Boston. A large number of prominent labor men met last Thursday evening in Preble hall, 176 Tremont street, and organized land and labor club, No. 1, of Boston. A temporary organization was effected by the choice of Andrew Garbutt – as president, John J. Kelleher as secretary, and Thomas Collins as treasurer. As soon as a charter is obtained from the central committee in New York a permanent set of officers will be elected and constitution and by-laws adopted. It was decided to have addresses and essays on the land question read at each meeting, after which a discussion will take place on the important points brought up. A committee was appointed to take this matter in charge, as well as to provide for musical selections as a variation to the usual program at such meetings. Among the members of the new organization are D.H. Biggs, president of the Central labor union, as well as the secretary of that body.
Taxes Levied in England for Private Benefit – Coal Duties Exchanged for Land Rents – Selling Pensions
St. James' Budget
The earliest of the hereditary pensions which have come down to our own time were created in the reign of Charles II; no very remote antiquity this, when it is remembered that there is a little town in Switzerland which had paid until the other day, when the last heir died, a pension created more than 500 years ago, to the descendants of a citizen who had saved the town from being seized by an enemy. The total annual amount of the pensions of which any return has been made is a little under £40,000; but it is to be remembered that £16,216, or close upon one-half of this sum, is, strictly speaking, not a pension at all. It is an allowance to the receiver-general of the duchy of Cornwall, by way of compensation for loss of duties on the coinage of tin. This allowance has been paid since 1838. The oldest of all the pensions dates from 1662, amounts to £672, and stands in the name of the earl of Kinaoul. Originally the amount was £1,000, and the allowance was granted to the Lord Kianoul of 1662 as the representative of James, first earl of Carlisle of the Hay creation, to whom Charles I gave the revenues of the island of Barbados. The pension was paid for several generations out of the Barbados export duties; and it has only been paid from the consolidated fund since those duties were repealed some fifty years ago. The pension was long since sold by a former Lord Kinnoul, and, after passing through several hands, it is now the property of a family named Carr, by whom it was purchased in 1835.
The second pension in point of antiquity is that of £500 per annum which stands in the name of “the heirs of Sir Thomas Clarges,” and is received by Lord St. Vincent. It was granted in 1673, and was charged upon the duty of one shilling per chaldron upon coals exported from the River Tyne for consumption in England. At that same time these coal duties, which even then were valuable, were received by the crown; but three years later Charles II granted them to the Duke of Richmond, his son by “Madam Carwell.” At the end of the last century the duties were abolished, and a pension of £19,000 was granted in exchange for them. Between 1801 and 1824 over £480,000 was received in commutation of this pension, and was ultimately invested in land in names of trustees, of whom the first lord of the treasury for the time being is one. Should male issue fall to the dukes of Richmond, the land purchased with the commutation money would revert to the crown. Sir Thomas Clarges was a confidential messenger between Charles II and General Monk, afterward created duke of Albemarle, whose cousin he was. The only other pension which had its origin in the time of Charles II is one of £843 paid to the duke of Grafton as compensation for the abolition of the sinecure office of comptroller of the seals in the courts of queen's bench and common pleas. Four or five other pensions formerly received by the dukes of Grafton have been either commuted or sold.
The largest remaining pension is the £5,000 per annum received by the persons “to whom the title of Earl Nelson shall descend.” This pension was never received Nelson himself, but was granted to his brother and successor and his descendants shortly after the battle of Trafalgar. There are only four others which run into four figures. The largest of these until lately was £4,000, received by a gentleman named Stuart as one of the heirs of William Penn, “in consequence of the meritorious services and family losses from the American war” of the Penn family. This pension was granted as recently as 1790 – presumably in consideration of the loss of Pennsylvania, notwithstanding that the proprietary rights of the family, or some portion of those rights, had been previously purchased by the state which William Penn founded. It was commuted not very long ago. Then there is a pension of £3,000 a year created in 1803, and received by Lord Amherst as compensation for an inoperative grant from George III of the Canadian estates of the Jesuits. To the pensions of £2,000 a year each to Lord Rodney and Viscount Exmouth, in consideration of the services of the first holders of those titles, it seems hard to object. The only other pension of any magnitude is the £1,200 per annum now paid to the heirs of Captain F. Garth. This pension was created in its present form some thirty years ago, and is a moiety, after deductions, of a perpetual pension of £3,000, granted by William III out of the revenues of the duchy of Cornwall to John Granville, earl of Bath. The continuance of the pension, no doubt, indicates that it was sold by Lord Bath, since he died without issue. One-half of this pension was received by Lord Melbourne. The duke of Marlborough's pension of £4,000 a year (to which it was reduced from the original £5,000 by the deduction of land tax) was commuted very recently.
The pension created by William and Mary, and payable “for ever” to the duke of Schomberg and his heirs male, has now been reduced by successive commutations to £984. A moiety of £720 per annum was commuted in 1855 for £19,339; the duke of Leeds commuted his moiety of £1,080 in 1876 for a payment of £29,101, and another moiety of £96 was commuted in the following year. The Schomberg peerage has been extinct since 1719; and although the pension was limited to the heirs male of the original grantee, three out of the six persons among whom the present total of £984 is divided are ladies. The remaining pensions present no features of interest; but it is curious to note that the duke of Norfolk still receives £60 and the duke of Rutland £20 per annum as “ancient fees.”
Several of the still existing hereditary pensions, or moieties of them, appear to have been sold; and it is obvious that either abolition or inadequate compensation would be unjust to those who have purchased what are really perpetual annuities guaranteed by the state. There can, however, be no objection to compulsory and equitable commutation. There is reason to believe that a few perpetual pensions which have never appeared in any returns are still paid; but the reason why no particulars regarding them have been published probably is that they are secured in such a way that they are beyond the control of parliament. But it is understood that the crown has a revolutionary interest in most pensions of this character, since it was customary, at all events in the time of Charles II, to insert in the letters patent a provision that in default of heirs the sum secured were to revert to the crown.
Observe that a duty on coal levied for the support of the “Richmond family” has been, quite as a matter of right and justice, exchanged for land rentals. Suppose we in the United States were to reverse this process, and, taking for the community the ground rents now set apart for the support of the Astor, or Rhinelander, or Goelet families, were to give these privileged ones the right to collect a duty on coal? Would that be considered fair?
Truth Told in Jest
“Do you know, my friend,” said a very solemn political individual, “that when you silently drop that snow-white ballot from your fingers it floats down in rhythmic grace and settles the destinies of a nation?” “No, sir, I don't,” replied the impecunious voter; “but I know when I drop it into the box it settles my bargain with the dimmicratic boss o' this 'ere ward.”
What Material Progress Brings
The Present Situation Viewed from the Standpoint of the Landless Factory Operative
Galveston, Tex., March 20 – When all taxes shall have been taken off the product of human labor and placed upon land values, we may hope likewise to see all means of transportation come into the hands of the people and managed in the interest of the people. The improvement such changes would make in the welfare of all those who labor in factories is not easily overrated. Under the conditions that now exist the location of a factory at a given point, if sometimes determined by the greater or less proximity of the raw materials, is more often a question of having close at hand a great number of human beings who will compete with each other in order to obtain the scanty wages offered. Therefore, factories are situated in centers of population where they offer the boon of work to landless thousands driven from agriculture by landlord rapacity. But the poor devils are not many weeks at work in the factory before they find that the wages that allured them are wholly inadequate to provide for the new wants which city life has created. Their dreams of comfort and social enjoyment give place to the harsh reality of ten or twelve hours of grinding work in some huge building, where air and space is measured by the inch, and making a home in the uncongenial boarding house if single, or two rooms on a flat if married. I don't know at what to marvel most, the ignorance or profound hypocrisy of editors of local newspapers when they announce with great flourish of trumpets that the benevolent Mr. So and So is going to build a large factory in their town, which will bring great advantages to the poor laborer.
Advantages, indeed! Before the building of that famous factory the poor laborer managed to keep body and soul together. This he will be allowed to do, but no more. He may possibly nominally increase his earnings by a few dollars a month, but what comfort will that give him when the increase in rent and other costs of living are deducted? The only advantage the poor laborers will derive from “the prosperity of the town” is that they will be more crowded, a fact which will not fail to bring about a certain amount of moral and physical corruption. Possibly the fact of the town becoming a manufacturing center may add a few subscribers to the local newspaper; a few tradesmen may derive benefit, because the workingman must spend the little money he has somewhere; but one moral certainty is that rents will be raised to the extreme limit, and the little house in which the sober, hard-working man lived will have to make room for large tenements. So much for the share the poor and landless get out of the so-called material prosperity as understood now.
No reflecting man on passing through the great industrial centers can have failed to notice the miserable conditions in which the workers live, even when the works are situated outside the city. Last year I visited the large iron works and furnaces at Newburg, just a few miles out of Cleveland. From 2,000 to 2,500 hands are employed at those works. On inquiring where all those people lived, I was shown a few hundred frame houses in rows, making so many streets about the works. Each house had from three to four small rooms and a summer kitchen, but a more desolate picture could not be seen. No fence surrounded the plot of ground, no more was there a sign of a tree or even of a blade of grass, as the poisonous chemicals used at the works killed vegetation.
I asked a man who kept a grocery in the place why those people lived there. “Well, you see,” he answered, “they cannot afford to pay car fare out of their wages; besides no employment is given to those who will not live near the works in the company's houses.” At a distance of half a mile perhaps, on a gentle elevation, I could see a fine mansion, surrounded by a large park and plenty of shade trees. I thought what a blessing our present civilization is for directors of large works.
It is rather useless, under the present laws, to try to palliate these monstrous social injustices; a radical change must take place first. The natural sources of wealth must be restored to the people, and the ownership of all means of transportation must be assumed by the public. Then, with cheap rents, free transportation and high wages, the factory operative could enjoy some of the real comforts of life.
Many reforms are necessary and urgent, but very little can be done until all taxes which at present burden industry are shifted on to land values. This is as much primordial to all other reforms as the laying of a strong foundation is to the subsequent building of a structure which is to endure.
Even the Sands of the Sea Belong to Them
New York Herald, March 28
After what seems a ridiculously long time in bringing such a negotiation to a close, Seven Mile beach, the last undeveloped island on the New Jersey coast, has been sold to a syndicate of New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore capitalists. H.B. Kibber and Col. E.C. Ingersoll are heavily interested in New York, and in Philadelphia William Massey, the millionaire brewer, is said to be one of the principles.
There have been persistent efforts made for the last ten years to purchase the land, but without success, notwithstanding that enormous sums were offered.
Seven Mile beach is situated half way between Cape May and Atlantic City, and it is presumed that it is the intention of the projectors to establish a seaside resort on a larger and more liberal scale than any of the ventures made in recent years. It is said that the price paid was $280,000, although for many years $500,000 was quoted as the lowest figure.
Worthy of Edward Atkinson
A Philadelphia economist figures out the reduction of car fare in that city from six to five cents as a positive loss to poor people. He says that when they walked before they saved six cents, and now they only save five cents.
Political Economy And Politics
Working Toward the Light Through Continuous Organization
Thursday, April 12 – The general committee of the united labor met at Clarendon hall, John McMackin in the chair. The executive committee congratulated the party on the rapid and complete organization that had been going on in the city. The Sixteenth district introduced resolutions denouncing Attorney General Garland for his decision in the case of the Northern Pacific railroad company against Guilford Miller, whom the corporation had driven from his farm in Washington territory. The Fourth district introduced resolutions denouncing the British government for the oppressive coercion acts it is trying to enforce against the Irish people. Resolutions were read and ordered sent to the labor parties of Cincinnati, Chicago, Milwaukee, Dubuque and other cities, congratulating them on the splendid records they had made for labor during the past week. The First district offered an amendment to the constitution of the party that neither officially nor personally should the party make any “dicker” in the coming elections with the republican or democratic parties, which was adopted. The constitution upon which the general committee has been debating for three months was adopted as a whole, and ordered printed. The Twenty-third introduced a resolution demanding that the legislature pass a law giving to the united labor party of New York city the representation it was entitled to in the election precincts. On the recommendation of the executive committee a committee of five was appointed to arrange for a state conference of all who were in accord with the principles of the united labor party, with a view to organizing the state of New York in time for the November elections. The chair appointed the following: Jeremiah Murphy of the First district, William McCabe of the Fourteenth, Augustus A. Levey of the Eighteenth, Matthew Barr of the Twenty-second and Henry Emrich of the Twentieth. The committee was instructed to commence correspondence immediately with friends throughout the state. The general committee then adjourned until Thursday, May 5.
A business of the Fifth district was held at Warren hall, corner Spring and Clark streets, to arrange for an entertainment to be held Thursday, 14th inst. The club expects to make the entertainment a success.
The executive committee of the Eighteenth district met and heard reports on the condition of the election districts.
The Twenty-third district listened to a lecture on the labor question by A.M. Molina.
Friday, April 8 – The Twelfth district met in two parts – one part at Wilzig's hall, Fifth street, near Avenue C, and the other at 220 Second street. It appears that the club used to have their meetings held a week ago a motion was made to move to Wilzig's. The split in the club was ostensibly made on the question as to whether the motion was carried or not. It is to be presumed that it was, for the officers and delegates and a large majority of the membership filled the new meeting hall, while the Second street meeting was sparsely attended, and had not a single officer of the club among them. At the Fifth street meeting reports were heard from the standing committees, and from the captains of the election districts as to the political condition of the organization, which was found to be satisfactory. At the Second street meeting the session was occupied mainly in criticising the action of that portion of the club which had gone to the Fifth street hall. The executive committee of the general committee can easily heal the breach – which, after all, has not been caused by any difference in principles.
The Eighth district club met at 153 Forsyth and completed arrangements for their entertainment at Walhalla hall next Thursday evening.
The Ninth district met at their hall, corner of Hudson and Twelfth streets. They are arranging for a lecture by “Yankee Schoolmaster” Potter at Cooper union.
Saturday, April 9 – The Monarch social club of the Fourteenth district had a picnic at Jones' woods, which was largely attended. Among those present were M. Glynn, E. Connors, W. Miller and lady, F. Wagner, B. Hembreck and sister, G. Bolemann and lady, John Plum and lady, Henry Gurlman and lady, John Shrub, M. Dunn, Thomas Smith, Louis Meister, John Flanagan and lady, John Lachermeyer, Frank Street, and Mamie Laundrigan, R. Hill and Maggie Laundrigan, W.B. Saulsberry, John Meyers and lady, Thaddeus Wasserman and Annie Kane, J. Wilson and Tillie Brown, P. Manning and Abbie Hannigan, D. Lennon and Norah Hannigan, J. Kelly and Lizzie Wilson, Robert Kraft and lady. The officers of the club are John H. Plum, president, and Frederick J. Weigand, corresponding secretary.
A large and enthusiastic meeting of the Fourth assembly district was held at their hall, 68 East Broadway. Encouraging reports were received from the various election districts. The entertainment committee is hard at work preparing to greet Mr. Henry George with an immense and appreciative audience at the Windsor theater, on Sunday evening next, the 17th. Persons desirous of securing tickets had better do so at once, as the supply is almost exhausted. The success of the lecture is fully assured. In fact, the indications are that the theater, capacious as it is, will be crowded to such an extent as to compel the turning away of hundreds of people from the doors.
The Progress and Poverty club of the Twenty-third district had their usual reading from “Protection and Free Trade,” after which the tariff question was freely discussed by the members and their friends.
Monday, April 11 – The committee appointed at the last session of the general committee of the united labor party of New York county to correspond with friends in the interior, with a view to calling a state conference or convention, met at 28 Cooper union, and organized by electing Jeremiah Murphy chairman of the Kings county general committee, Mr. Wilder, and two other members of the committee were present. A discussion was had as to the best means of opening up correspondence, during which Mr. McMackin gave the committee an idea of the condition of organization throughout the state. A subcommittee was appointed to draft a circular letter, which will be acted on by the full committee before being sent out, after which an adjournment was had to next Friday evening at the same place.
The Second assembly district club gave a ball at Clarendon hall. Dancing began about 11 o'clock.
The Fourteenth district met at 257 East Tenth street. Preparations are being made to have primaries in all the election districts, so that the district can be organized under the rules adopted at the last meeting of the general committee. The proper committees were appointed to carry on the necessary work for the club's picnic, which takes place at Sulzen's casino, Saturday, July 30.
Tuesday, April 12 – The Third district club gave an entertainment at 42 Great Jones street. Messrs. Miles and Doody delivered addresses and the balance of the program was made up of songs and recitations.
The Eleventh district has advertised that it holds business meetings twice a month and entertainments and lectures on alternate Tuesdays, at 510 Sixth avenue. A visit was made to that number, but no meeting could be found. The people in charge of the hall said that no meetings had been held for some time, and that there would be no further meetings until next fall. Meantime, where is the district organization, which is represented in the general committee? This district of all others should have thorough work done, and to adjourn till the fall means disbandment, virtually.
The Fifteenth district club held a session at 475 Ninth avenue. The club is proceeding with election district organization, and have matters now in a very satisfactory condition. The bi-monthly meetings are very largely attended, and the outlook for the next campaign is cheering. This is one of the four districts carried for the labor candidate last fall. Among the membership are many of the old wheel horses of the labor movement of this city. The club has engaged Lion park for a picnic on Aug. 19.
At the meeting of the Sixteenth district, held at 350 First avenue, after the routine business was finished, addresses were delivered by Mr. Brophy, of the Thirteenth; Mr. Searing, of the Seventh, and Mr. Oppenheimer. Preparations are being made to hold a meeting in a fortnight at Clarendon hall, to protest against the treatment of Dr. McGlynn.
The Twenty-fourth district met at 151st street and Third avenue, and heard the report of the entertainment committee. Matters political are in a satisfactory condition.
Wednesday, April13 – The Sixth district club met at 412 Grand street. By May 1 this club will have its permanent headquarters ready. Next Wednesday evening an agitation mass meeting will be held, when a number of well known speakers will deliver addresses.
The Tenth district club assembled at 197 East Fourth street. The organization of the election districts is proceeding. The entertainment and ball lately given by the club at Germania hall was not as great a success as the members had anticipated, on account of its coming off in Holy Week, and for other reasons; but Mr. Meyer and the members of the committee have secured the hall for Saturday, Oct. 1, about four weeks before election, when they can reasonably expect a very large attendance, which goes to show what shrewd calculators there are in the Tenth. Adolph Keep was elected treasurer.
The men of the Thirteenth district club were on hand in full force at 208 Eighth avenue. Reports were heard from the captains of all the election districts. The burden was that the enthusiasm aroused during the last campaign had deepened into a settled purpose to carry the Thirteenth into the ranks of the winning districts for the the united labor party in the next election. When the routine business was finished a general debate for the good of the party took place.
The meetings, etc., for the coming week are as follows: Friday, April 15 – Eighth, 158 Forsyth; Ninth, corner Hudson and Twelfth. Saturday, April16 – Fourth, 68 East Broadway; Twenty-third (Progress and Poverty club), 1897 Third avenue; Second, 32 New Bowery. Sunday, April 17 – Lecture by Henry George, for the benefit of the Fourth district, Windsor theater. Monday, April 18 – Twentieth, 1058 Second avenue; Twenty-third (English), 1897 Third avenue. Tuesday, April 19 – Third, 42 Great Jones; ball of the Washington association (shoemakers), Turn halle, Fourth street. Wednesday, April 20 – Sixth (mass meeting), 412 Grand. Thursday, April 21 – Fifth, Warren hall, corner Spring and Clarke; Eighteenth, new headquarters; Twenty-third (lecture), 1897 Third Avenue. Friday, April 22 – Ninth, Potter's lectures at Cooper union.
Messrs. McMackin and Bealin will shortly start on an organizing tour through the state. They report, as the result of their previous trips, general enthusiasm and a desire on the part of the people to take a hand in the new party movement.
How to Get Rich
Mount Vernon, NY – Mr. William Nelson Black, the gentleman who recently made the discovery that land has no value that can be taxed, continues his good work to help Brother Dana smash the labor party in the interest of pure Jeffersonian democracy. He has been looking over the census returns, and finds that, if every man, woman and child in the United States had an equal share in the wealth estimated to be produced yearly, he or she would have $180 in money, which is, as he says, “a startlingly small allowance for an adulthood in good physical condition.”
He further finds that, within the last twenty years, while the population has only increased from thirty to fifty millions (sixty-six per cent), wealth has increased from sixteen to forty-five thousand millions (nearly 300 per cent). He therefore concludes that “somewhere in the recesses of nature a very Vulcan of production is engaged in the fabrication of wealth.” To find this Vulcan is Mr. Black's task, and he states that he has found him at last, as will be evident from this luminous sentence, which we quote verbatim. Mr. Black says: “The man who gives a mortgage for $20,000 has added more to his resources, at one stroke, than he could have won by a lifetime of industrial labor.”
That this illustration shows the true secret of wealth Mr. Black proves by the example of the railroads, all built on “mortgages of the future,” and to the blessings which have accrued to the United States through the four thousand millions of national debt. In fact, Mr. Black shows conclusively that the true way to get rich is to borrow money, and ends with this concentrated essence of political wisdom, which I commend to all, free of charge: “If workmen would cease quarreling over a bone which is evidently without meat” – this is the $180, equal share, by the census – “and learn to use their unions as a means of placing the members in such relations with capital that they could obtain credit and secure possession of the property they need, the labor problem would no longer be an element of disturbance.”
I agree with Mr. Black. Such a course would settle the question forever. All the workmen have to do is to borrow money and mortgage themselves to capitalists to secure it. Having no land on which to borrow they must offer what security they can, themselves and their families. They must mortgage their futures, and pay their interest promptly, or the capitalist will have the right to foreclose on them and sell them at auction to the highest bidder, just as he does the land of a delinquent mortgageor today.
To be sure, this is what is called “slavery,” and open to sentimental objections; but there is no doubt of one thing, it settles the labor problem wherever it is rigidly enforced with the strong hand of the law.
Another Real Estate Paper Sees the Reform Coming
Real Estate Record and Guide
It is about as idle to object to a current speculation as it is to an earthquake; for they both are matters which are beyond human control. Yet we should be disposed to regard an extravagant enhancement of vacant lot values as being as great a calamity as an earthquake. It would check building, tie up money and lead finally to a crash in prices. Then at this particular time it would be unfortunate as it might make converts to Henry George's theories that all taxation should be levied upon the holders of unimproved property. This idea is not only becoming popular among the working classes, but, as we have shown, is advocated by the economists who represent the holders of personal property. In other words, the entire capitalist class which is not interested in real estate is ready to join the landless working people in throwing all the burdens of the state on landholders.
An Influential Worker
Professor Richard Welton of Campbell University, Kansas, Joins the Crusade
Holton, Kas, April 4 – I have always been a democrat. I have appealed with pride to the traditions of the party to justify my adherence to it. That no longer furnishes a reason for adherence. The democratic party of today is recreant to its past and gives no hope for the future. It has no principle but the wish to get office, no policy but evasion of public questions. I do not withdraw from it. It has withdrawn from all honor, truth and sympathy with the poor man and I am no longer in it. I offer my vote and my voice to the united labor party. I, a teacher in the university, am as much a laborer as any of you, and I call on every democrat who loves honest labor better than dishonest monopoly to leave the so-called democratic party, which the latter rules, and join the party in which the people really do rule.
Something to Interest Kansas City People
Minneapolis Evening Journal
The building corner of Sixth and Main streets, in Kansas City, where the union ticket offices now are, is owned by William Long. Do you know how Mr. Long got that lot? Mr. Long, in the olden days, kept a blacksmith shop down under the bluffs that hold up one end of the town. A gentleman with a prairie schooner drove up to his shop one day and got him to fix a tire or shoe a mule, or do something of that sort. Anyhow Long did the job and presented a bill for $14, but he said he had acquired a lot up in the town, and if Long would accept that lot in payment he'd give him a quit claim deed to it. Long called in a lawyer, had the deed made out and signed on his anvil, paid the lawyer a small fee, and then, putting the document into his pocket, took the captain of the schooner by the rear of his neglige turn down collar and kicked him out of the shop. Result, Long was arrested and convicted of assault and battery, and the judge fined him $10 and costs. They say that Long was a very mad man when he found that he had to pay that fine, but he was a rather happy looking individual when I saw him yesterday standing in front of his building, which, with the lot, is worth over $350,000.
It is an illustration of the carelessness with which the census reports have been shoveled together, that although the Compendium (Table V) gives the urban population, no information is given as to what is meant by urban population. The only clew given the inquirer is that the urban population is stated to be contained in 286 cities. Following up this clew through other tables, I infer that the population of towns and cities of 8,000 people and over are meant.
Comparing the returns as to occupations for 1870 with 1880, it will be seen that while during the last decade the increase of persons engaged in agriculture has been only 29.5 per cent, in personal and professional services the increase has been 51.7 per cent, in trade and transportation 51.9 per cent, and in manufacturing, mechanical and mining industries, 41.7 per cent.
Could the facts be definitely ascertained, I have not the least doubt that they would show that at least fifty per cent of the small farm ownerships in the older states are merely nominal. That that number, at least, of the small farmers in those states are so deeply in debt, so covered by mortgages, that their supreme effort is to pay the constantly accruing interest, that a roof may be kept over the heads of the family – an effort that can have but the one ending.
In the newer states is found a similar condition of things. The only difference is, that there the small farmer is usually compelled to commence with what, to him, is a mountain of debt. He must obtain his land upon deferred payments, drawing interest, and can obtain no title until those deferred payments, with the interest are paid in full. He must also obtain his farm implements on part credit, with interest, for which he mortgages his crops. Credit must help him to his farm stock, his hovel, his seed, his food, his clothing. With this load of debt must the small farmer in the newer states commence, if he is not a capitalist, or he cannot even make a beginning. With such a commencement the common ending is not long in being found.
In traveling through those sections, one of the most notable things that meets the attention of the observer is the great number of publications, everywhere met with, devoted exclusively to the advertising of small farm holdings, more or less improved, that are for sale. One is almost forced to the conclusion that the entire class of small farmers are compelled, from some cause, to find the best and quickest market that can be obtained for all that they possess.
The entire agricultural regions of our country are crowded with loan agents, representing capital from all the great money centers of the world, who are making loans and taking mortgages upon the farms to an amount that, in aggregate, appears to be almost beyond calculation. In this movement the local capitalists, lawyers and traders appear as active coworkers – Land and Labor in the United States, by William Godwin Moody, New York, 1888, pg. 95
According to Macaulay, at the accession of James II, in 1885, the majority of English farmers were owners of the land they cultivated.