Volume 1 April 9, 1887
The Randall Farm
The eloquence and logic of Dr. McGlynn's recent address at the Academy of Music, and perhaps also the number and enthusiasm of his hearers, caused a profound impression on at least one of the papers that have hitherto attempted to ignore the great cause in behalf of which the orator asked his audience to take up “the cross of a new crusade.” That paper acknowledges that the “address is entitled to rank with those great orations which, at critical times and from the mouths of men of genius, have swayed the course of public opinion and changed the outward movement of nations.” After such a declaration and in the face of such a speech, animated by the loftiest Christian feeling, the attempt to stigmatize the doctrine of the land for the people as immoral was necessarily abandoned, but the journal in question attempted, in a patronizing way, to show that the money necessary to accomplish the objects sought could not be obtained through the taxation of land to its full rental value. The argument put forth is that the annual expenditures of our city government “are about $32,000,000, while the aggregate value of all the real estate within the city limits, improvements included, is $1,257,275,903. Deducting only half of this amount for the value of improvements, which is much too little, there remains $628,637,951, and a rental of even four per cent of this sum, which would be more than could be obtained by the city government, would be only $25,145,518, or nearly $7,000,000 less than we now obtain.”
It is certainly a great step forward to have thus had the cant and moral false pretense of the opponents of reform in taxation brushed aside and the discussion transformed to the economic aspects of the measures proposed. But in this, the first attempt in this direction, the unfairness that has marked the advocacy of the existing conditions in the earlier stages of the discussion is still displayed. No one having the slightest knowledge of the taxing system imagines for a moment that the figures of the assessment above quoted represent the selling value of the land and buildings within the city limits. On the contrary, it is universally acknowledged that the assessment does not aim to include more than sixty per cent of such value. The figures given above are, therefore, intentionally misleading, and if all of the other assumptions in the calculation quoted were admitted, the corrected figures would give a total value of $1,760,186,264. The half of this would be $880,093,132, and a tax of four per cent on this would yield $35,203,725, bringing in a handsome surplus over the present expenditures as stated. Thus the argument absolutely fails the moment that one of the false premises on which it is based is corrected. But this is by no means the only false premise in the quoted statement. Not only is it a notorious fact that the assessment is designed to cover but sixty per cent of the selling value of improved property, but it is equally well known that the assessment is proportionately much lower on unimproved lots, and hence in any attempt to make it the basis for a valuation of the bare land within the city limits, it is a gross error to assume that the buildings are equal in value to the land, or even nearly equal. Again, the assumption that four per cent is the highest rental value that could be obtained by a great and growing city from the ground included within it is mere guess work, and entirely without foundation in fact. Few if any ground rents are now fixed at so low a rate, and yet occupants of property thus leased pay this rent to private claimants, and, in addition, pay to the public the full taxation imposed by the city on the land and also on the buildings that they have erected on it.
What Randall's Farm Rents Demonstrates
This is not a matter of mere argument or opinion. The old Randall farm, owned by Sailor's Snug Harbor, described and illustrated in the last number of The Standard, is in the heart of this city. It contains property valuable for business purposes on and adjacent to Broadway, and other property available for private residences and boarding houses. It is a fairly representative tract of the city. Its ground on Broadway will not rent anything like the sum easily attainable for Broadway property down town, or even for property on the same street between Fourteenth and Thirtieth streets. Its land occupied by the handsome residences on Fifth avenue and Washington square cannot be compared in value with land further up Fifth avenue, while the remainder of the land, occupied by less pretentious dwellings and small stores, certainly does not yield rents equal to the average for all that portion of the city lying below Forty-second street. This is no assumption resting on guess work, but an obvious fact that will be admitted by every honest man whose avocation makes him familiar with real estate values. This estate, as has already been shown, has already been shown, has increased in rental value more than seventy fold during a period occupied in increasing our population to twenty times the number it had when the growth of the town toward the Randall farm began. It has been shown that this tract occupies but the one hundred and eighty-sixth part of the area of the city below Forty-second street, and that its owners, starting with practically nothing but the bare ground, have, in eighty years, been able to establish and support an extensive home for sailors, acquire many of the buildings erected by others on these lands, create a surplus of nearly a million dollars, and bring their rent roll up to $276,196.71 in 1886, and to estimate an increase to more than $300,000 for the present year. It is furthermore shown that this splendid revenue has been derived solely from ground rents until quite a recent date, and that such additions to it as have since been made arise from a surplus accumulated through ground rents.
A Hundred Millions A Year
No better basis than this can be found for making a moderate estimate of the rental value of bare land in New York city. Of course, in many cases the owner of the ground also owns the building. In no such case, however, does the selling value of the bare land fail to become an important factor in fixing the rent, while the shorter leases in such cases enable the owner to tax the increase in value more frequently than is possible under the long Snug Harbor leases. It is therefore certain that such owners obtain a higher ground rent than is yielded to the trustees of the Sailors' Snug Harbor by the five per cent paid to them on valuations of their land made every twenty-one years. The estimate based on their experience must therefore fall short of the total amount of ground rents derived by private individuals, estates and corporations from the possession of the soil of New York city. Taking, then, as the basis for such calculation, the actual rents from the Randall farm for 1886 and omitting all other income, it is clear that the ground rents for that portion of this city south of Forty-second street were at least, for year, 186 times $276,191.71, or $51,072,588, or, taking the whole revenue as a basis, over $55,000,000. This is no guess work, but a safe and moderate calculation based on actual business experience. For reasons already given it is manifest that this is much below the amount for the whole of that area. It is therefore clear a ground rent on the bare land of the lower half of Manhattan island can and does yield to somebody more than $50,000,000 a year, an amount to be increased for the present year (1887), according to the Snug Harbor estimates, to $55,451,715. But large as are these figures they fail to indicate what it is possible for the city to derive from a tax that shall appropriate to public use the full rental value of land. The people who paid the sums to the Snug Harbor trustees as a five per cent rent on the values of the Randall farm, also paid the city taxes amounting to about half as much more. It is therefore evident that the city and the owners together are able to obtain fully $75,000,000 out of the land of this island below Forty-second street; and it is certainly a moderate estimate that the land above that street would, if thus taxed to its full rental value, yield half as much more, and thus give to the public $100,000,000 a year, $32,000,000 of which is now taken by the city and $68,000,000 by private individuals. However great an allowance may be made for a reduction of rental values through the stimulus given to building by the encouragement given to the use of land now held vacant, the necessary remainder will still be great enough to show how absurd is an estimate of $25,000,000 as the full ground rent of this city, while actual experience shows how erroneous is the declaration that four per cent is the maximum that the city could levy as a land tax.
Future Increase of Revenue
The advocates of the land for the people doctrine are not, however, to confine themselves to the consideration of present land values. There is not a land speculator in New York who does not know that the marvelously rapid rise in these land values in the past is sure to continue in the future. So certain is this that millions of dollars have been unhesitatingly staked upon it. The income from the Randall farm has increased more than seventy fold during the past eighty years. The testimony of the late Edward H. Ludlow, recently quoted in The Standard, showed that the gross value of the land of this city had increased more than a thousand millions of dollars during his lifetime. The total income of the Snug Harbor estate has increased over one hundred and thirty-eight per cent during the past sixteen years, and the last annual report of the trustees contains an estimate of income for the present year showing that the increase in rents for 1887 over that of 1886 will be more than 7½ per cent, a ratio but little below that of the past sixteen years. If so much can thus be done under private ownership, how much more can be done when the vast revenue derived from the land shall be expended in public improvements and in other additions to the comfort and attractiveness of city life? “Cold arithmetic,” so far from playing havoc with the attractive picture drawn by Dr. McGlynn in his address on “The Cross of a New Crusade,” fortifies all of his statements, and opens up a vista that even enthusiasts may well hesitate to attempt to describe.
How the System Works
The history of the Randall farm answers most of the queries propounded by the ignorant and incredulous as to the practical working of the proposed system of land taxation. It proves that men will not only build upon and improve property not their own, but that they will contract in advance to pay rental, in time, on the increased values created by themselves and others, and to surrender at an appraised price the improvements that they have themselves made. Here is a copy of a clause that appears in the Snug Harbor leases:
It is hereby mutually covenanted and agreed, that if, at the expiration of the term hereby granted the said parties hereto shall agree upon a renewal of this lease for a further term of twenty-one years, and shall by mutual consent fix upon the annual ground rent to be reserved in such renewed lease, then the said parties of the first part, their successors or assigns, shall and will execute to the said party of the second part his executors, administrators or assigns, at his or their expense, a new lease of the aforesaid premises for the further term of twenty-one years, and after the expiration of the term hereby granted at the annual ground rent, payable half yearly, agreed upon between the said parties aforesaid. But if, at the expiration of the term hereby granted, the said parties shall not agree upon a renewal of this lease or upon the amount of the rent to be reserved for such renewed term, then each party shall choose a disinterested person, who shall be the owner, in fee simple, of one or more lots of land in the neighborhood of the premises hereby demised, and the said persons so chosen shall under oath appraise the land hereby demised, considering it as a vacant lot at its full and fair worth at private sale, and they shall also under oath appraise the building now erected on the said lot or any other building of like description as its substitute, which shall cover the whole front of such lot, be constructed of brick or stone, two or more stories high, and covered with slate or metal, with its front finished in such style as may be approved of by said parties of the first part, their successors or assigns, at its then actual worth, without reference to the ground on which it stands; and in case the said appraisers shall differ in their valuation or appraisement, either of the lot or building, they shall then choose an umpire qualified as aforesaid, whose decision under oath shall be final and conclusive, and the said parties of the first part, their successors or assigns, shall have the full liberty and choice either to pay to the said party of the second part, his executors, administrators or assigns, the value of the said building, so determined as aforesaid, or to grant a renewal of this lease unto the said party of the second part, his executors, administrators or assigns, at an annual ground RENT OF FIVE PER CENT on the value of the said lot, so determined as aforesaid. And it is further mutually covenanted and agreed that at the expiration of each and every term which may be thereafter granted by each and every subsequent renewal of this lease, the said parties of the first part, their successors or assigns, shall still have and retain the full liberty and choice either to grant a further renewal for the further term of twenty-one years, at such annual rent, payable half yearly, as shall be ascertained and determined in the manner aforesaid, or to pay unto the said party of the second part, his executors, administrators or assigns, the value of the said building or its substitute, to be ascertained as aforesaid. And it is further mutually covenanted and agreed by and between the parties aforesaid that whenever the said parties of the first part, their successors or assigns, shall refuse to grant a renewal of this lease as aforesaid the said building or its substitute shall be valued and paid for as aforesaid.
Provided, always, that the said party of the second part, his executors, administrators or assigns, shall not be compelled to surrender the premises until such payment be made as intended.
The party of the second part to pay and discharge all duties, taxes and assessments during the term hereby granted.
Thus it appears that numbers of people have been found willing to agree to erect houses of a style prescribed by the lessors, paying for the ground a rental of five per cent on its value at private sale and giving the lessor at the expiration of the lease full liberty either to take their buildings at an appraised value or to renew the lease at five per cent on the value of ground at the time of such renewal. This is a conclusive answer to one of the objections most frequently urged against the proposal to concentrate all taxation on land values. The tenure of land under such a system would be much more secure than it is under the Snug Harbor leases, which give the lessee an assurance of but twenty-one years' possession, and obligate him to surrender his building at an appraised value if the trustees demand it, even though the tenant be willing to pay the increased rent. Under the system of taxing land values advocated by the united labor party of New York the occupant would have full liberty of choice as to whether he would pay the increased tax or sell his building (probably at its appraised value) to some one else, and so long as he chose to pay the tax he would hold the land, not on any twenty-one years' lease, but in fee, by a right perpetual and transferable. Again, when rental values shall have been fully ascertained under the new system it is not likely that the increase in taxes will be any more rapid than it has, under the existing system, been on this Randall farm, all of which increase has been met by the tenants and not by the owners of the property. It is folly, then, in the face of such an experience to say that the levying of all taxation on land values would prevent building.
The Increase In Rents
The rapid increase in the total income from the Randall farm has already been shown. A few examples taken at random from the recorded leases in the register's office will show how this has affected individual properties during the past forty or fifty years. A plan showing the size and location of each lot referred to is herewith given. The first is a lot 25 by 92 feet, situated on the south side of Tenth street, 100 feet from Broadway.
This lot was leased May 1, 1844, to Asher Kursheedt for twenty-one years at $200 per year. The same lot was leased May 1, 1865, to John Thornley for twenty-one years at $500 a year, and at the expiration of that term it was leased again on May 1, 1886, to Jefferson M. Levy for twenty-one years at $650 a year.
The next lot is on the south side of Ninth street near University place.
It was leased May 1, 1884, to Charles B. Hatch for twenty-one years at $175 a year. Leased again May 1, 1865, to Alexander Van Rensselaer for twenty-one years at $400 a year, and again on May 1, 1886, to Louisa Van Rensselaer for twenty-one years at $500 a year.
The next lot is in the same block, a few doors east of the one last described.
This was leased May 1, 1844, to Barzilla Deming for twenty-one years at $175 a year; on May 1, 1865, to Hiram Geer, executor of Margaret Geer, deceased, for twenty-one years at $400 per year, and in May 1, 1886, to Sarah A. De Venny for twenty-one years at $500 a year.
The next lot is at the corner of Clinton place and University place.
It was leased May 1, 1835, to Edgar Jenkins for seventeen years at $168.50 a year; on Nov. 1, 1852, to Morgan L. Smith for twenty-one years at $300 a year, and on Nov. 1, 1873, to the same for twenty-one years at $750 a year.
The next lease is that of a lot on the south side of Ninth street.
It was leased May 1, 1833, to Gordon Burnham for twenty-one years at $100 a year; on May 1, 1854, to Ross W. Wood for twenty-one years at $200 a year, and on May 1, 1875, to the same for $500 a year.
The next property is on University place.
It was leased Nov. 1, 1841, for thirteen and a half years to Anson Baker for $72 a year; on May 1, 1855, to the same for twenty-one years at $600 a year.
The next lot is on the north side of Ninth street, near Broadway.
It was leased May 1, 1855, to Marcius S. Hutton for twenty-one years at $200 a year, and again leased to him May 1, 1876, for twenty-one years at $500 a year.
The next lot is on Clinton place, near University place.
It was leased May 1, 1855, to Ann Bunker for twenty-one years at $200 a year, and again on May 25, 1885, to Albertina Matthews and Caroline Homer for eleven years eleven months and five days at $500 a year.
These leases are representative of the less valuable property of the estate, and do not include any property on Broadway or Washington square. They show that the rental value of the land has tripled during the past forty or forty-five years, the increase varying with the location. In a few instances the same person has held through a twenty-one years' lease and made a renewal, but usually death or some other cause has prevented this. It appears, however, that no serious difficulties have been encountered in such cases in making transfers, since the property was taken at the expiration of the lease at as high a rental as was paid by those who held on through a period of twenty-one years and then renewed the lease.
On Broadway the advance in rents, through not proportionately so great, reaches figures that enable one to understand the enormous growth in the income of the estimate. The block bounded by Ninth and Tenth streets, Broadway and Fourth avenue, was leased to A.T. Stewart on May 1, 1869, for twenty-one years, with the privilege of renewal, at an annual rent of $12,000 for the first four years, and at an annual rent of $36,000 for the remaining seventeen years. At the time this negotiation began there were some twenty odd leases of lots on this block made to divers persons from 1848 to 1852, yielding to the trustees an aggregate rent of $5,220. Mr. Stewart bought these leases up and surrendered them to the trustees, and then received a lease for the whole block on the terms stated. The trustees, it will be seen, did nothing, but the tenant rendered an enormous service to the estate and agreed to a great increase of rent for the mere privilege of occupying the bare ground.
A lot one hundred feet deep, having a front of twenty-five feet on Broadway, was leased in May, 1850, to James Blackstock for twenty-one years at $275 per annum, and this lease was renewed May 1, 1871, for twenty-one years at an annual rent of $3,700.
The lot at the southeast corner of Broadway and Ninth street, having a front of 23 feet 4 inches on Broadway and of 93 feet 11 inches on Ninth street (now occupied by Fredericks, the photographer), was leased Nov. 1, 1852, to George P. Parker for twenty-one years at an annual rental of $600. It was again leased Nov. 1, 1873, to Elizabeth M. Campbell, administratrix of George P. Parker, for twenty-one years at a rent of $3,500 a year.
A lot 100 feet deep, with a front of 23 feet, on the east side of Broadway, above Eighth street, was leased in May, 1850, to Samuel R. Johnson at an annual rent of $225, and the lease was renewed on May 1, 1871, at a rent of $3,250 a year. Large as the increase on the rental of the ground occupied by Stewart's store appears, it was not proportionately so great as the increase of rent on these small lots, on which rent advanced tenfold in twenty-one years.
Buildings On The Property
New Yorkers are familiar with the many conspicuous buildings on the Snug Harbor tract, but readers outside of the city will be interested in knowing that some of the finest buildings in the city have been erected on this old farm, on which the bare ground of a single lot, 25×100 feet, now rents for more than a fair-sized farm devoted to agricultural purposes and improved by buildings. On Broadway, occupying the whole block from that street to Fourth avenue, and from Ninth to Tenth streets, stands the great iron building erected by A.T. Stewart, and still commonly known as “Stewart's up-town store.” A block below, on Broadway, stands the Sinclair house, a well known hotel, and adjoining it is the handsome and costly building owned by Mr. Potter and occupied as a large clothing house. Opposite the Sinclair house is the handsome building erected by the Snug Harbor trustees and occupied by Dodd, Mead & Co., the publishers. On the same side of Broadway are the well known retail dry-goods houses of Daniels & Son and Kaughran & Co. On Waverly place, between University place and Fifth avenue (known as North Washington square), stands a solid and handsome row of dwelling houses, in what was some years ago the most fashionable residential part of New York, and which is still one of the most desirable and costly places of residence in the city. On the Fifth avenue front of the Randall farm stands the famous Brevoort house. The Church of the Strangers on Mercer street, half a block from the New York hotel, stands on the property, as does also the building on University place formerly occupied by the Union Theological seminary. Clinton place (Eighth street) and Ninth street, from Broadway to Fifth avenue, run through the property, and are lined with dwelling houses from three to four stories in height and very largely used as boarding houses. In fact, this little farm now has a population of thousands, and in numbers, business activity and in the style of buildings surpasses many of the smaller cities of the country. Not a foot of this land has ever been sold to any of the occupants who have covered it with fine buildings, and, of course, no such sale can be made. Had this unearned increment gone to the people who created it, not only in this but in all cases, this city would have been burdened with no debt, no taxation could have been borne by its inhabitants beyond an amount equal to that which they have paid as rents to private individuals and the activity and enterprise of the metropolis would have made it not only the greatest city, but the most comfortable place of residence on the continent.
How This Increase In Values Is Brought About
The increase in the value of the Randall farm has been manifestly brought about solely by the pressure of population, supplemented by the labor and capital of the tenants. There is not as much as a peg on which to hang a doubt in the case. An old man about to die, some eighty years ago, was in doubt as to what disposal he should make of his property, He accepted the suggestion of his counsel that he should devote its income to the maintenance of disabled seamen. He named as his executors and trustees a number of men occupying positions to which they were appointed without any thought that they would be thus associated in the control of this property. Many of them are men having no claim to special sagacity in business or to any peculiar fitness for the management of real estate. The claim of prescience or shrewdness often set up in behalf of private owners of land cannot be made here. All that these men had to do was maintain their grip on twenty-one acres of Manhattan island and wait for the community to do the rest. They made no outlay on the property. They opened no streets, graded no lots, built no sewers, paid for no light or water. All of that, by the terms of every lease, they made their tenants obligate themselves to do. The owners of the property built no houses on the land. That also was done by the tenants. As soon as these tenants had built so many as ten houses every remaining vacant lot on the Randall farm had an increased rental value, which went, not to the builders of the houses, but to the owners of the land. Without ceasing, though varying from time to time, this increase has gone on, and the estimates for the coming year show that it is still going on. The people who cause it do not obtain one cent of the increase in rental value of this land. It all goes to the trustees, who make no pretense of doing anything to bring it about, and through them, ultimately, it goes to the sailors who are so comfortably taken care of down at Snug Harbor. It would be difficult to find a more perfect illustration of how the whole community causes the increase in land values, or one more fully demonstrating how a few landowners, who render no service whatever in return, absorb the whole of such increase. In this case the revenue thus obtained is devoted to a charitable purpose. But this is but the one hundred and eighty-sixth part of Manhattan island below Forty-second street. From the vast remainder of the area now included within the city limits thousands of private land owners, who, as such, render no service to the community, draw yearly tens of millions of dollars of income from values created by the whole community, just as existing values of the Randall farm have been created by the community. Every consideration of justice, equity and social progress demands that this process shall be stopped, and the advocates of the new system, so far from being subject to the reproach of a immoral attack on the rights of property, may justly claim that they are the only people having the sagacity to perceive and the courage to oppose the continuance of a system that enables a favored class to appropriate that which it has no hand in bringing into existence, and to rob others of the fruits of their labor. The injustice that has been done cannot now be undone, but every delay that greed or ignorance is able to interpose to the recovery by the people of that increase in values, which they are still creating from day to day, is a crime against the most sacred rights of property and a blow at the rights, the happiness, the freedom and the prosperity of generations yet unborn.
Mr. Wilson Barrett's Hamlet
How Its Presentation Affected One of the Audience – A Master Impersonation
The time was Monday night last, the place the Star theater. I was one of a large audience gathered to see Wilson Barrett play Hamlet.
The curtain rose and showed the stage dressed to represent a platform before the Castle of Elsinore. A shifting of scenes, and an apartment in the palace was before us; another shifting, and we saw the platform once again. The scenery was the perfection of illusion, the players were perfect in their parts, but there was with me a constant sense that it was scenery and play acting I was looking at. I saw an actor playing Hamlet on a stage, and my mind was critically questioning, Would the real Hamlet have behaved thus in presence of the ghost? or would the real Polonius have so delivered himself of those parting words to his son!
The curtain fell and rose again, the scenes shifted, the action of the play proceeded, and gradually there stole upon me a feeling as though the whole thing were real. I ceased to question whether Shakespeare's Hamlet would have done so – the real Hamlet was before me, and could have done no other than he did; and when he drew near Ophelia, with words of tenderness just trembling to his lips, and glancing at the arras that concealed the spics, knew himself betrayed and mocked, and burst into that agony of gibing self tormenting scorn – ah! then my soul went out to him, as to a man whose torn, bleeding, grieving heart was bared before me – and the stage vanished, and thenceforth Hamlet was a living presence.
It was not Shakespeare's Hamlet? And pray, good critic, how know you that? It may not have been the Hamlet of Johnson, or of Malone, or of you, fair sir, or me; but Shakespeare's? – who shall say? And if it were not Shakespeare's, what matters it? It was Hamlet's self I saw, not a portrayal of some other man's idea of him. Hamlet himself, the proud, high-spirited, honest-hearted gentleman, to whom a friend's lightest treachery was as a whip of scorpions, and the thought of his love's trifling with him as a dagger in the heart. Hamlet himself, a joyous-hearted youth, transformed by one rude stroke of destiny into a self-appointed, self-tormenting minister of justice, dreeing his weird and shaking off his life as gladly as a tired man his clothes. And having seen him, shall I criticise and carp at the man who in his own proper person showed him to me? As soon would I think of abusing you, good sir, because some friend to whom upon request you introduced me should prove to differ somewhat from my preconceived imagining.
T. L. McCready
The Bill Giving the Labor Party Its Rights at the Polls
The bill giving the labor party of New York city an inspector of election at each poll was considered by the assembly judiciary committee at Albany on Wednesday. Abner C. Thomas, as counsel for the executive committee of the party, demanded that the bill be passed. He said that he had no favors to ask and no pledges or promises to make, but was there to demand that a party casting next to the highest number of votes should have the same right at the polls as the parties polling the highest and lowest votes. At present the republicans are allowed two inspectors, Tammany one and the county democracy and Irving hall factions one. The new bill gives the labor party one, the democrats one, the republicans one, and allows the police commissioners to award the fourth to whichever party they select. Mr. Irwin had the impudence to suggest that the party ought to be satisfied with a poll clerk, but Mr. Thomas resented the suggestion. No action was taken on the bill by the committee.
Wang Sao Chuen's Discovery
Wytheville, Va. – In your issue of March 19 appeared a very remarkable solution of the “labor problem;” remarkable for its peculiarity, no less than its brutality. If the idea could be improved on so as to take out the entire brain and render the laborer a thorough machine, what a benefit it would be to the race! I do not remember ever having seen so thoroughly cold blooded and heartless a theory advanced before. Indeed, I could scarcely determine whether the writer was in earnest or in jest. The idea is as inhuman as it is impracticable – a very fit emanation from the brain of a celestial.
Everett P. Wheeler to Discuss the Tariff
Everett P. Wheeler will deliver an address under the auspices of the New York free trade club on “The Story of a House; how the tariff affects rents.” The address will be given next Thursday, April 14, in room 21 Cooper Union.
Land and Labor in Mauch Chunk
A strong land and labor club has been formed in Mauch Chunk, Pa. This organization has secured the services of Dr. Chas P. McCarthy of New York for a lecture-meeting to be held shortly.
Warning Dr. M'Glynn's Friends And Sentencing Dr. Curran
Archbishop Corrigan Rapidly Alienating the Priests who Stood in Awe of His Office – Father Curran not yet Convinced of Any Error in His Political Ways – Brave Words from Rev. Sylvester Malone – “The Priests Think the Archbishop's Conduct is Outrageous” – Catholic Priests are American Citizens – Another Overflowing Meeting of St. Stephen's Parishioners
Those of the Catholic clergy under Archbishop Corrigan's jurisdiction who have exhibited their courageous and independent character and devotion to American citizenship by attending the reverend doctor's lecture at the Academy of Music have been either admonished of what is termed their contumacy or subjected to a more severe form of punishment. There has also been a threat of a further exhibition of ecclesiastical authority in St. Stephen's parish, which, however, has only had the effect of intensifying the feeling of opposition there to the archbishop, and increasing the number of Dr. McGlynn's friends. It was not to be expected that any punishment that the archbishop could inflict would convert to his views the priests who testified to their sympathy with Dr. McGlynn by their presence at his lecture. Not only do all of them still hold the same opinions that they did before being made to feel the weight of the archbishop's hand, but it may be said without much risk of exaggeration that the priests of the city almost as a body have been ranged on the side of Dr. McGlynn through the persistence of their prelate in his determination to smother the rising flame of discontent by the high-handed exercise of ecclesiastical police powers. In interviews with reporters for the press, and in conversation with members of their congregation, a large number of priests have shown that they are reflecting on the possibilities that they may be called on to face should they ever feel it their duty to differ in political opinions with a narrow-minded superior in the church, and the reflection seems to be not a comfortable one. The uneasiness thus caused among the priesthood disinclines them to exert their authority to subdue the serious agitation prevailing during the past week in the local Catholic world. The course that the archbishop has laid down for himself, and the effect it has upon the Catholic laity and his subordinates in the church, can be readily seen by reviewing the experience of Dr. Curran for the week.
On the day after Dr. McGlynn's lecture at the Academy of Music, Rev. Dr. James Curran returned to Ellenville, Ulster county, the village to which he had been sent by the archbishop's orders when the latter discovered that Dr. Curran had not been sufficiently disciplined by being transferred from St. Stephen's to St. Patrick's parish. At Ellenville the doctor was performing temporarily the duties of pastor, the priest regularly in charge of the parish being absent. Ellenville, Liberty and Wutsboro are all attended by one priest, mass being celebrated in the three places on successive Sundays. The congregations are small and the importance of the work to be done is not to be compared with that engaged in by Dr. Curran in assisting in the administration of St. Stephen's. The interition of the archbishop in sending Dr. Curran to a rural parish was no doubt to humiliate him. It seems, however, that honors, instead of disgrace, awaited the doctor, for arrangements had been made by the Knights of Labor of Ellenville and the vicinity to attend in a body the doctor's services of the stations of the cross on last Friday evening. There were indications, also, that other public demonstrations of the good will of the people would follow. But the archbishop's action of Thursday put an end to the proposed visit of the knights, or postponed it, at least, for a time. Dr. Curran, on receiving on that day the fatherly instruction of the archbishop to go into spiritual retreat at the monastery of the Passionist Fathers at West Hoboken, immediately repaired to this city, and early on Friday evening the doors of that religious house closed upon him. Since that time he has not been outside its walls.
The doctor has not suffered, however, for company or sympathy. He seems not to have been considered a culprit in the eyes of the good monks, the father provincial having invited him to celebrate the community mass soon after his arrival. On Sunday morning the street car lines running to the monastery from the Hoboken ferry carried crowds of visitors to the reverend prisoner. At the monastery there are two reception rooms, one on each side of the entrance to the building Dr. Curran, after repairing to one of these rooms to meet the first of his friends to arrive, was kept in one or other of them receiving visitors almost every day. He would barely have time to greet one room full of people and say a few words to them, when he would be called to see a host of friends in the other room. The first would then be vacated, to be quickly filled with another crowd. Many of the visitors brought flowers. Among those who called were a party from Ellenville. Some of the visitors had believed exaggerated stories of the doctor's punishment. “Oh, father,” said one sympathetic woman, “do they make you sleep on a cold stone for a bed? I heard that you had two rough stones for pillows, too, and that they whipped you with a strap over the back every night before you went to bed.” But the doctor declared that he slept very well on a good bed and was subjected to no physical discipline. “Let me look at your hands!” said a doubting woman, who expected to see the marks of a whip on them.
The doctor's friends have continued to call on him during the week. They saw one whose cheerfulness and buoyancy of spirits were not easily to be disturbed. In speaking of the archbishop the doctor uniformly exhibited a proper reverence for his superior's authority in those respects in which the prelate is his superior, but in regard to what he may do in exercising the rights of a citizen it is plain that he acknowledges no higher authority than his own will and conscience. Indeed, he looks upon the archbishop's attitude on the question at issue as ridiculous, and refers to it, if at all, in a humorous vein. He has no thought of looking upon the archbishop as one wielding the thunders of a Jove or seriously regarding himself as a martyr. He is a secular priest. His obligations to his archbishop are well defined. He is under no vows of domestic discipline. He has confidence that his will be the winning side in the end. Moreover, he feels that his congregation, the great majority of the Catholics of New York, and the mass of his Protestant and Catholic fellow citizens throughout the country, are in sympathy with him. While the doctor will not view his persecutions in a dolorous way, it is evident that accompanying his good humor and serenity there is a firm will and an intelligence that make him the philosopher and man that he is, and impart to him a supreme confidence that he and his fellow rebels of the priesthood will achieve the success at which they aim.
What The Priests Say
Chafing under the Archbishop's Tyranny and Looking to Rome for Relief
Although there has been no public demonstration of the clerical opposition to the archbishop, it is by no means difficult to cite facts tending to show what the majority of the priests of the archdiocese think of him. A priest of the church was speaking of the archbishop's course last week with the bishop of a diocese in a neighboring state. The bishop said: “I never thought that Bishop Corrigan was so simple.” “Why do simple?” asked the priest. “I did not think he would go so far. Well, some people seem to lose all common sense when they get any authority.” Another priest was traveling last week in a railway train and found that the treatment of Dr. Curran was an absorbing topic with the passengers. One of them said to him: “Do you know that that Dr. Curran is worth a hundred thousand dollars to your cause? He is, and the reason of it is because he never gets angry.” The reporters are spoken to freely by the priests, but they have not yet accustomed themselves to publicity save in connection with their pastoral duties, and usually request that their names be withheld from print. The Morning Journal of last Saturday stated that a reporter of that paper had found men in St. Stephen's parish who had not taken any part whatever in the controversy up to that time who characterized the last move of the archbishop in the strongest of adverse terms. “Many of the Catholic clergy in the adjoining parishes did not scruple to say that the archbishop's action afforded ample cause and excuse for a revolt on the part of his priests. One of these gentlemen even hinted to the reporter that a petition protesting against what they consider arbitrary conduct and demanding the removal of the archbishop from the diocese will be prepared for the signature of the clergy and forwarded to Rome.”
The Star of Saturday reported a Catholic clergyman as saying: “The time has come when Catholics throughout the country should take the matter in hand and refuse to tolerate such arbitrary conduct, and further let me say that it is the duty of the priests of New York, if they love their church, to come forward now and take a stand one way or the other. For my part, I consider the archbishop's usefulness is past and the sooner he retires into private life the better.”
The Herald of Tuesday in a news article said: “Strange to say, Catholic laymen, whose names are more or less well known to the public, while speaking freely on the subject, have winced at the thought of having their names published in connection with the interview. A Jesuit priest to whom the circumstance was mentioned said that these gentlemen had not the courage of their convictions, and regretted that they did not show the same independence of character as their Protestant fellow citizens. If they had, he added, the Catholic church would be more respected in this country than it is.” In the same article an interview with Rev. Sylvester Malone was published and the statement made that a number of priests spoke in a strain similar to that of Dr. Malone, but only on condition that their names should not be published. On the day following the same paper contained the following: “The article in yesterday's Herald seems to have given great satisfaction to numbers of the Catholic clergy. Said one of them to the reporter: 'It is hard to condemn us for not expressing our opinions over our own names. But let the public take into consideration that we are poor and powerless, and outside the press have no help, no one to plead our cause. No curate in this city gets more than $600 a year, and only that after three years' service. No rector has more than $800 a year. We have to live and cannot afford to antagonize our superior. The priests the Herald interviewed yesterday voiced the sentiments of the majority.”
The collections at St. Stephen's church on Palm Sunday have always been large, the money being appropriated to the liquidation of the church debt or to some other specified purpose. On last Sunday the usual efforts were made to raise a good collection, but the total sum taken up was less than four dollars. In the galleries, where several priests personally carried the baskets, only four cents were collected. The congregation usually contributed about $3,500 on this day when Dr. McGlynn had charge.
The story that Archbishop Corrigan hastened to St. Patrick's church on last Friday evening in order to rescind his order directing Dr. Curran to go to the monastery, and that, not finding the doctor there, “his grace trotted off to one or two other places” to find him, is certainly true in so far as the fact that the archbishop made a hasty call at St. Patrick's on the evening in question. The dignity of the archbishop continues to suffer through his pedagogic methods.
A “down town Catholic clergyman” has been quoted in the Herald as saying that a party of Catholic priests opposed Father Tom Burke in 1873 because he was an Irishman and a foreigner. One of the priests mentioned in the article says that the statements are untrue.
The Wisdom Of A Sage
Words of Truth Falling Like Pearls From the Lips of Venerable Sylvester Malone
Rev. Sylvester Malone of Brooklyn occupied a front seat in one of the proscenium boxes during the lecture of Dr. McGlynn at the Academy of Music, and applauded lustily the most radical utterances of that fearless speaker. So far from being daunted by the persecution of Father Curran and the reproof of the other priests within the jurisdiction of the archbishop of New York, he is hotly defiant, and brands such actions as unjust and tyrannical.
Father Malone is one of the patriarchs of the Catholic priesthood in Brooklyn, and no priest is more respected for independence and courage in delivering his opinion upon matters, civil or ecclesiastical, where it does not conflict with the doctrines of the church. He is, and has been for more than thirty years, pastor of St. Peter and St. Paul's church in Brooklyn, E.D., and has, since the days when Williamsburg was a separate town, been a leader of public opinion in that locality. The reverend father talked freely to a Standard representative relative to the policy pursued by the archbishop of New York in dragging polities into religion, and said, substantially, what follows:
“Archbishop Corrigan has no right whatever to interfere with Dr. McGlynn in the exercise of his political opinions, freedom to express which his American citizenship entitled him, and it appears to me that there are enough Catholics in the United States to sustain Father McGlynn. This they can do without compromising themselves as Catholics. As for sentencing Father Curran to ten days' discipline in the Passionists' monastery, the people have expressed their just contempt of such ecclesiastical rule by stigmatizing the institution by naming it 'the bastile' – a strange name, indeed.
“What do the priests think? They say that such conduct is outrageous. Why, a young priest came to me and deplored the fact that fifty priests had not sat upon that platform when Father McGlynn was stating those great principles. They feel highly indignant and talk very forcibly among themselves; and this feeling is not only held by the priests but also by the laymen. I am receiving many marks of approval for my public expressions of dissent from the actions of Archbishop Corrigan. A priest said to me yesterday, 'Father Malone, your denunciation was like a bombshell in the enemies' camp'
“You may say that I dread this policy pursued in New York the more, as I have grave apprehensions of the return of know-nothingism. In 1854, while a mob here was twisting the cross off the iron fence before my church I was in Rome, and in a conversation with Mr. Frederick Lucas, editor of the London Tablet, I said that this know-nothingism which was sweeping this country was a great political movement which Catholic institutions would survive. I knew public temper, because I went personally among the people and learned their views and reasoned with them. And I now recognize a great political and social movement in the rise of the Knights of Labor, in the growth of the labor party, and in the widespread, intelligent and temperate discussion of the first principles of law and order. By narrow and ignorant opposition to this vast movement much injury can be done the church, and I may say that Monsignor Preston has already done us more injury than he could have done had he remained a Protestant. I fear the return of know-nothingism, and if the priests here do not petition Rome to change this policy they will discover that every day alienates Catholics from the church.
“But,” he continued, “great movements must go on in spite of individuals. There were always extreme men; even Wendell Phillips proclaimed the constitution in league with hell. There are always weak-kneed men who drag back. But what is such opposition to a great, honest movement of the masses of the people? Great changes are sure to come.
“What is now required,” continued the reverend father, “is to break down prejudice, and those who were in sympathy with the conflict for the freeing of the negroes will, when they come to understand it, give their hearty sympathy to this cause, which has for its aim the lifting up of the poor and humble class and the elevation of American citizenship. I urge this among my people and especially on the rich, who have peculiar advantages, and I urge them, as a duty to themselves and to their country, to study these matters. I believe all that Dr. McGlynn uttered in his address all the other night, as it is founded on truth: and I look upon Henry George as translating into political economy and civil government the doctrines always inculcated by my church; and I hold that the rich man is a steward under almighty God, and that he will have to render an account of his stewardship, that is, the use he has made of the natural opportunities that God put in his hands. I see a very rapid progression in popular ideas everywhere, and look for a great change very soon. For instance, in talking the other day with a distinguished citizen of Brooklyn, he said to me: 'I believe God made the whole world for all of his children;' and I told him that that was the primary principle of our belief, and that he would soon be a good George man. He takes the Standard and is giving attention to the subject. I am not astonished at this, as he is a young man of means who has always used his advantages to benefit his less fortunate fellows, and it is natural that he should be attached to these great reforms.”
Father Malone said there were many men like this gentleman who were thinking, and they would soon come to see that until capital and labor understood and accepted the policy of Henry George, Dr. McGlynn and other priests would continue to suffer. As for his own affiliation with the “new crusade” he said: “If I gave so much energy of years ago for the liberation of the negro from slavery, should I not now do the same for my own people? Should I not strive in the land of my adoption, to which my sympathies go out in love, for the removal of all those evils which subject the masses to misery? This, he said, he was doing, and this he would continue to do. “If before or at the beginning of the war, when I stood all but alone for abolition, I had been interfered with or knocked down,” said he, “the cause with which so many now sympathize would have suffered to the extent of my influence; and so now, to oppose those who lead in this movement of the masses will be to deter a cause which will, when it is understood, call for widespread approval.”
Angry Parishioners of St Stephen's
Renewing Their Pledges to the Suspended Priest – Dr. Curran's Case
Friday Evening, March 31 – By half-past 7 o'clock International hall, Twenty-seventh street and Third avenue, was packed with the parishioners of St. Stephen's who sympathize with Dr. McGlynn. Although the weekly meetings of the rebellious parishioners have been very largely attended, on this occasion the news that Dr. Curran had, for the third time, been subjected to punishment because of his affection for Dr. McGlynn, brought out hundreds who had not therefore attended the meetings, and until after 9 o'clock those men and women who were unable to get into the halls stood out in the street and expressed their opinion of the archbishop's tyranny in language always forcible and sometimes hardly polite. Monsignor Tammany Servitor Preston was not forgotten, and will probably get second place when the indignant Catholic women and men of this city settle matters with the bishop.
In the hall, after Mr. Feeney had wedged his way through the crowds and landed on his hands and feet on the platform, and when he had called the meeting to order, it was soon seen that the temper of the audience was a reflex of that of the people outside. Every reference to the suspended priest was greeted with tempests of applause, and the audience rose, as it were, in a blaze of indignation when told that the story that the Murray Hill archbishop had sent Dr. Curran in the Hoboken monastery was true. One of the speakers called attention to these coincidences: When Father McGlynn was suspended and Dr. Curran refused to take his place, he was “promoted” to St. Patrick's; for standing beside Dr. McGlynn at Jones' woods and giving renewed pledges of affection for his late pastor he was “promoted” to Ellenville; for being present on the occasion of Dr. McGlynn's lecture at the Academy of Music he was “sentenced” to ten days' prayer on bread and water at Hoboken. The comments of the audience on the archbishop punishing Dr. Curran by “sentencing him to prayer” during the last ten days of Lent were amusing, as it had always been supposed that that period was one of voluntary prayer and meditation. “But,” as was remarked by a woman standing near the writer, “perhaps the little scut (meaning Corrigan) didn't know that!” In answer to a question as to the right of the bishop to send Dr. Curran into retreat, Mr. Feeney said that in countries where the canonical laws prevailed an archbishop had no such authority; but the United States was a missionary country, classed in Rome with the South sea islands, and its inhabitants regarded as savages or cannibals, and therefore not competent to manage their own affairs – so the bishops in this missionary wilderness of the United States (compromising perhaps fifteen or twenty million Catholics) had the same authority to suspend, remove or punish as has only the pope in the countries where savagery or cannibalism is supposed not to prevail – Italy, for instance, from which this missionary country of savages draws its most degraded servile laborers.
Dr. Carey, treasurer of the parishioners, made a neat speech – which had the virtue of being short and to the point – which was interesting to his listeners. He told them “two secrets.” One was that the bishop had sent out a letter calling on the various pastors to take up as large collections as possible on Easter Sunday. The doctor hoped that all Catholics would button up their pockets on that occasion. The second secret was that the bishop's kitchen cabinet had discussed the advisability of inviting Dr. McGlynn to appear before them to talk over his case, but that “My Lord” of St. Ann's and Tammany hall had roared out his dissent, saying that if the priest of the people were permitted to appear before them he “would talk them all down.” Dr. Carey then divulged another secret or two, one of which was that the archbishop was much “displeased” at the rebellion against “his authority” on the part of the St. Stephen's parishioners, and had covertly hinted that he might go to the extreme of “excommunicating” them. This raised a roar of sardome laughter, and a number of angry women threatened dire things if he should take such a step.
The impression prevailed among the audience that the archbishop had gone about as far as decent Catholics should let him go; some were of the opinion that he had gone farther, and if Rome were not heard from within a few days after Easter they would give the archbishop all the fight he wanted.
The probabilities are that after Easter the St. Stephen's parishioners will carry their tight against the hierarchy to all the parishes of the city. The women, especially, are up in arms, and act as if they mean to carry this fight even to the gates of the Vatican.
Messrs. Bealin and Gahan delivered the addresses. It was decided to not hold a meeting on Good Friday. The next meeting will be called by the chair.
In The 17th Assembly District
A Mass Meeting Held to Protest Against the Archbishop's Tyranny
On Tuesday evening a meeting of citizens of the Seventeenth assembly district was held in Wendel's assembly rooms in West Forty-fourth street, near Ninth avenue. Mr. James A. Magee opened the meeting and introduced the speakers, who were Rev. Charles P. McCarthy, John J. Bealin, Dr. Daniel DeLeon of Columbia College, Mr. John McMackin and Louis F. Post. The case of Dr. McGlynn was reviewed by the speakers from various standpoints, and the audience indicated by its bearing and an appreciation of its significance to liberty loving American citizens. Points in the speeches which elicited the greatest applause were as follows: By Mr. McCarthy – “Monsignor Preston is really the mischief maker in this whole matter.” By Mr. Bealin – “If the archbishop continues to oppress the champions of the people among the priesthood, the Catholics of the city will unite and place a perpetual boycott on the collection box.” “A bill of indictment should be issued by the grand jury against the archbishop for his interference with the rights of American citizens.” By Dr. DeLeon – “Dr. McGlynn is not a disturber of the public peace. He is a man who seeks to soothe the agitated minds of the oppressed by proclaiming the universal brotherhood of man.” By Mr. Mackin – “It is said that religion and politics should not mix. Why, then, did the archbishop cause to be distributed, on the Sunday before last fall's election, a document fresh from the pen of the Tammany politician, Frederic R. Coudert? and why the influence of John J. O'Donoghue at the archepiscopal palace? Democratic politicians in this community have an influence in the church through the members of their families that are in the priesthood. The prominence of the Corrigan family in Newark is based on wealth largely accumulated through liquor dens in Newark, and the Donnelly family drew money from a like source in Beaver street, New York. Rev. Mr. Donnelly's brother was treasurer of Tammany hall for years. Class rules the machinery of the church in many instances in this city.”
Views Of The Priesthood
The Talk About Dr. McGlynn Being Outside the Pale of the Church All Nonsense – At Least a Hundred Priests Believed to Indorse His Stand – “His Suspension Astonished Us All.”
There has been a marked revival of public interest in the Knights of Labor and the case of Dr. McGlynn during the last week. The advanced position taken by Cardinal Gibbons at Rome in regard to the order, the vigorous indorsement of his views by Cardinal Manning and the appearance of Dr. McGlynn at the Academy of Music in the role of a public lecturer in his own behalf and that of laboring men generally, are the three most conspicuous incidents that have drawn general attention again toward these interesting and peculiar matters.
The case of the suspended pastor of St. Stephen's church and that of the Knights of Labor are associated in the minds of most people, and not without some degree of reason, since it is almost certain that if this organization is approved or blessed by the pope Dr. McGlynn will hardly be condemned. On the other hand, should the party represented by Cardinal Taschereau prevail at the Vatican, it is hardly possible to suppose that such an ecclesiastical champion of the knights as the doctor has been, and still is, will come off victorious. Besides this, it is now pretty well understood that the same prelates, or many of them at least, who are pleading for the knights are also advocating the doctor's cause before the holy see. In other words, both subjects are practically involved in the great labor question upon which the Roman Catholic church is expected to define its position clearly, when once the matter has been fully investigated and passed upon by the council now deliberating in Rome.
“Cardinal Gibbons' plea for the knights expresses my views completely,” said one of the best known priests of the city, who seldom consents to talk for publication, “and I think I may say, those of the great majority of the most intelligent Roman Catholics, both clerical and lay, of America. I have studied what he said carefully, and agree with Father Ducey in saying that there is nothing in them contradicting the safe and conservative spirit of the church. They are Catholic to the core and thoroughly American as well. There is not the slightest taint of demagogy about them, and to attribute any unworthy motive to their distinguished author is simply contemptible. The fact is that Cardinal Gibbons has been studied by few American prelates. He appreciates that it is the great problem of the century, and that much of our future progress depends upon a wise solution of it. The church is capable of assisting in this solution, and I believe she will do so. I have no doubt that Cardinal Gibbons' views will be adopted, at least substantially, especially now that they have received such an emphatic indorsement from Cardinal Manning, who, as you notice, wants to become a knight himself. It is hardly necessary, for he has been one of the truest knights that labor has ever had.”
“What about Dr. McGlynn? Will he be sent back to his parish?”
“It certainly looks that way no,” he replied. “The fact that his suspension astonished us all. We look upon the labor question as we do the tariff and free trade, and we think that it may be discussed by any priest and his conclusions concern no one above or below him in authority. The talk about Dr. McGlynn having put himself outside the pale of the church is all nonsense. Why, there was not the first un-Catholic sentiment in his lecture the other night, so far as the reports of it show, and I have read them all. Strictly speaking, the doctor can secure his reinstatement any time. He has been dismissed without a trial, and any time he demands a trial he will have to be first reinstated. The case in a sense is in his own hands. Why does he not appeal to Rome? 'Because, I judge, he intends to let the other side act first in the matter. He is waiting to see what they do. Dr. McGlynn knows what he is about, I assure you, and when his case has received a full examination at Rome I am confident that he will be reinstated.”
Similar views were expressed by others in sympathy with Dr. McGlynn, one of whom claimed that there were at least a hundred priests in this diocese who indorsed the stand taken by the doctor, but avoided expressing their views through fear of causing trouble to themselves and the church.
Dr. Curran Not Deeply Penitent
He Talks With a “Sun” Reporter About His Case and Dr. McGlynn's
The Rev. Dr. James Curran, formerly the assistant of Dr. McGlynn at St. Stephen's, is not repenting very vigorously in the monastery of the Passionist Fathers at Hoboken, to which he has been sent for ten days because he appeared on the platform at the McGlynn meeting in the Academy of Music last Tuesday evening. There is a popular notion that connects penance in a monastery with fasting, seclusion and silence, and even occasional resort to a leather scourge. No doubt a penitent might adopt all these things if he wanted to, but Dr. Curran does not consider himself a penitent, and he came down into the little reception room at the monastery looking as hale and pleasant as ever, and talked for an hour with a reporter of the Sun.
“I am not doing penance,” he said, “for I do not consider what I have done wrong. This retreat means nothing more than a voluntary retreat. My time is my own. I shall use it for study and reading and religious exercises. I said mass this morning in one of the little chapels, and I am sure there is nothing in this little stay here the least bit disagreeable. It is a punishment, certainly. I am sent here to give me a chance to reflect on my conduct, and I have always tried to be a good priest and to do my duty. I willingly obeyed the order to come here, but it is a question whether the archbishop can be justified in ordering me here. The question is one that has a broader application in the case of Dr. McGlynn, and how it will be settled I don't know.”
“Do you expect to see Dr. McGlynn reinstated?”
“I hope to. Dr. McGlynn would have gone to Rome the moment his health permitted if he could have gone as a reinstated priest. There is where the trouble is.”
“Will he go at all?”
“It is reasonably certain that he will not go until he is once more a priest in status quo.”
Dr. Curran then returned to his own case, and told the story of the discipline he had incurred at the hands of the archbishop. He said that his removal from St. Stephen's, where he had labored for twelve years, was due to his friendship for Dr. McGlynn.
“I was sent to St. Patrick's, in Mulberry street,” he continued, “and I was happy there and tried to do my duty. Father Kearney and all the clergy there were, I thought, very kind to me. One evening, it was March 25. Father Kearney met me in the hall and said the archbishop wanted to see me. 'Very well,' I said, and I told him I would go up to the archbishop's house that evening, and I did. The archbishop came down and greeted me pleasantly, and surprised me by saying that he heard I did not get along well with Father Kearney. 'That is a revelation to me,' I replied. 'He says you are away from the house too much to attend to your duties,' said the archbishop. 'That is a lie,' I said, just as much emphasis as I say it now. Father Kearney had never said a word to me about his dissatisfaction. I could think of only one thing that would justify Father Kearney in his assertion. He has a rule which I think is not in use in other churches, that the outside doors shall be fastened at 10:30 every night. He has an immense key which locks the door, then a great bolt is pushed, and to cap it all, a great chain is drawn across and hooked. When I was in nights and heard that bolt and chain grate and rattle I felt as if I were in the Tombs. I admitted that I had subjected myself to the accusation of being out after the doors were locked, but I am a secular priest, not a monk, and am considerably over twenty-one years of age, and know of no rule that would require me to be in every night at 10:30.
“Well, the archbishop thought that so long as they were the rules I should have obeyed them. The archbishop said it would not be pleasant for me to go back to St. Patrick's anyway. He also referred to my appearing at Jones' wood on St. Patrick's day. He told me to go up to Ellenville for a while, and I suppose it was a sort of punishment to be sent up to the country, but I had a very pleasant time. The archbishop said I need not go until the next week unless I wanted to, but I found out that there would be no one there to say mass Sunday, and I started the next day, Saturday. I missed the Ellenville train, and there was no train to take me there that night. I was determined to get there, and went to Kingston and got a team and a driver to drive thirty-two miles to Ellenville. We started at midnight; the roads were very bad, and we reached the church at 6 o'clock that morning. I said mass at 11 o'clock.
“Last Thursday I received a letter from the archbishop ordering me into retreat for going to New York on Tuesday night to the Academy of Music meeting. He implied that I had neglected my duties in going there. I came and here I am.”
“Where will you go when you leave this place.”
“I don't know. I have not yet been removed from St. Patrick's. My effects are there. But it is doubtful if I am returned to that church.”
“The archbishop is quoted as saying that if you persist in your conduct severe measures will be used.”
“Well, I have a conscience, and I must do what I think to be right. I will obey my superiors at all times if I can. I cannot yet see the error of my ways.”
Opinions Cannot Be Imprisoned
Dr. Curran Thinks Rome Will Settle the Question
The Star of Monday contained the report of an interview with Dr. Curran, of which the following is an extract:
“Archbishops and bishops,” said Dr. Curran, “have a certain amount of authority over priests, and have a perfect right to order them wherever they choose, and have also the right to exercise the powers in the matter of discipline conferred upon them, provided the offending priest has committed some offense. So far as my case is concerned, I have committed no offense, and do not think I deserve my punishment.
“But,” continued the reverend gentleman, “while the archbishop has that power to change my opinions, nor can he do so. I am of the same mind now as ever.”
“In the event of Dr. McGlynn delivering another lecture,” asked the reporter, “would you attend it?”
“Most decidedly, if there was nothing in the lecture against the teachings of the Catholic church, and any one who knows Dr. McGlynn could not believe anything of the kind could be said. Where my conscience believes a doctrine is right and for the benefit of religion, no bishop could deter me from advocating it.
“A bishop,” the doctor added, “may order a priest to do certain things and order certain punishments, which the priest may consider unjustifiable, and ought not to be obeyed, but the priest will obey through a religious motive, or to serve some good purpose. This retreat of mine, for instance, is no punishment; I was invited here and I came because I believe a retreat is good at any time.”
“How do you regard the threat of the archbishop that the parishioners of St. Stephen's church are liable to excommunication for their hostile attitude toward the present pastor?” asked the reporter.
“Well, I could not pronounce a definite opinion unless I had the order of the pope before me, but from what I can understand I do not think it applies to them and was only intended for kings, princes and potentates who confiscate church property and expel nuns and priests, as in France. But these people at St. Stephen's are only showing the love they bear to their pastor and do not look upon it in the light of an offense against the church.”
“Have your opinions changed in any way toward Dr. McGlynn.”
“Not in the least,” replied the young clergyman. “Dr. McGlynn has committed no fault, nor has he even disobeyed the archbishop, as he was too ill to go to Rome in the first instance and was not asked again except in the character of a suspended priest.”
“What hopes do you entertain of his reinstatement?”
“I had hopes that the archbishop would settle the matter, but his action in sending me here does not look as if he would. There are other ways, however, in which the matter can be arranged, and I firmly believe that the authorities in Rome will speedily settle the question.”
Besides the parishioners of St. Stephen's, Dr. Curran was visited by several members of the church at Ellenville, where he made many friends during his brief pastorate. Several ladies from St. Patrick's church also called, and it looked as if there was a gala time at the monastery. Every horse car was crowded and deposited its load at the entrance to the monastery.
Dr. Curran has made many friends among the clergymen attached to the monastery, and as a special mark of recognition he was requested by the provincial to celebrate mass and administer the sacrament to the novices at half-past 6 o'clock yesterday morning.
Another Interview with Father Malone
Brooklyn Eagle, Sunday
To the reporter's question if he had been “warned,” Father Malone replied:
“Oh, that is nonsense.” Then, after a pause, in which his face showed agitation, he exclaimed, “Are we in Russia? Can't a man attend a meeting without being seized and 'disciplined?' If this were the first day of April instead of the second, I would say this whole affair was an 'April fool.' I have never agreed with Archbishop Corrigan's methods, but I cannot understand him now. His behavior is tyrannical, inhuman and totally without reason or excuse. What has young Father Curran done that he should be put on a diet of bread and water? Father Curran had been with Dr. McGlynn for eleven years. He had seen him for hours at his private devotions, and knew many of the secrets of his godly life. Why should he forsake him now? If I found a poor friend in the gutter and did not help him, would I be acting like a Christian? And now this young man, for simply attending this lecture by his old friend and colaborer in God's work, is 'disciplined.' It is a crime! Father Curran came from my parish. I baptized him, and know that he is an intelligent, honest priest of the church.”
Father Malone paused for a moment and then spoke of his faith in the future of the George movement. In his opinion Henry George's theories of land tenure were destined to find a complete acceptance among the intelligent people of the country. He regretted that he had not time to study the question more thoroughly and take a more active part in the movement. “If I were twenty-five years younger,” he added, “I would go into it with my whole heart.” He then returned to the subject of the disciplining of the young priest of St. Stephen's.
“It is the work of a madman,” he said. “Archbishop Corrigan is so excited that he is no longer to be reasoned with. Nothing but the power at Rome can touch him. There are a hundred thousand Catholics in New York who hate the little archbishop. His usefulness is practically gone. The very idea of his attacking Dr. McGlynn's position in 1882 in lending his voice to aid the famishing people of Ireland! In this whole matter the archbishop has been wrong as wrong can be. I think it will end in his removal. The priests ought to have courage to take sides on this question and send to Rome their opinions for or against the archbishop's position. But they lack independence.”
“Do you think Dr. McGlynn should go to Rome?”
“Why, no: why should he? He is not accused of any fault as a priest. He is not accountable to Rome for his opinions on political economy. He believes in a tax on land, but what reason is there in that to subject him to a call to Rome. Dr. McGlynn has been faithful to his church, to his God and to his country. He will, if need be, suffer unto death. If he yielded to the effort to establish one man power in New York, how do you think we could answer such antagonists as Dr. Fulton? He must stand as the champion of the church. Dr. McGlynn has powerful friends. He has the support of Cardinal Manning and Cardinal Gibbons. His speech for three hours on Tuesday night was the grandest from both a political and a religious standpoint I ever listened to. Providence has destined him to lead in a great reform. He is the man to convert the atheists in social and religious life, the anarchist and the nihilist. He speaks burning words of truth. The placing of Father Donnelly, a man of brutal manners, in his place at St. Stephen's was a sad mistake, but it may have been for the best in one sense, as it crystalized the sentiment in the parish quickly. I understand that this latest action of the archbishop has caused the greatest excitement yet known in Dr. McGlynn's old parish, and that even those who place pence on the plate to be boycotted. It is a sad state of affairs.”
A St. Louis Pastor on the Case of Dr. McGlynn
Rev. W.W. Boyd, pastor of one of the largest congregations in St. Louis, recently delivered a sermon upon the case of Dr. McGlynn, which is interesting as showing the view taken of the points at issue by one of the best known and most eloquent clergymen of the west.
“The controversy between Rev. Dr. McGlynn and his ecclesiastical superiors,” said Mr. Boyd, “presents one of the most important issues ever offered in American church history, commanding the attention of thoughtful people on two continents and involving in its decision, as I believe, the future of a great church in the United States and great interests in our free government.
“McGlynn's troubles began when he publicly advocated, in 1882, the cause of the the Irish land league. Doubtless his well known views concerning public schools and other independent opinions may have excited antagonism against him, but it was not until he pleaded the cause of Ireland that he was censured by the propaganda.
The reason for this censure is plain. It was in 1882 that the English agent, Errington, was in Rome and exercised great influence over the Roman authorities. His aim was to secure the interference of the propaganda in Irish affairs, so as to restrict the right of priests to aid the nationalists in Ireland or their sympathizers in America. He had almost, if not quite, won over the propaganda to his views when the pope, as in the present case, took the matter into his own bands, and instead of placing an ultra-English bishop at Dublin, appointed to that see, in the person of Dr. Walsh, a man who was in hearty and patriotic sympathy with Ireland in her struggles for home rule. This action of the pope virtually ostracized Errington in Rome, and as virtually exonerated Dr. McGlynn from the censures which no doubt the influence of Errington had inspired. Now in Archbishop Corrigan's statement there is no attempt to conceal the fact that he strongly sympathized with the views urged at Rome by Errington. At heart he was opposed to the Irish home rule wing, and in the defeat of the English intriguer's plans he was himself defeated. It was not unnatural, therefore, that he should bide his time for a better opportunity to silence Dr. McGlynn. That occasion came in the recent effort to elect Henry George mayor of New York. Dr. McGlynn not only espoused Mr. George's candidacy, but indorsed his peculiar views on the ownership of land. This was the archbishop's opportunity. He ordered the priest to keep silence.
It is not my purpose to discuss the truth or falsity of Mr. George's theories… “But the question is not has Dr. McGlynn spoken well and wisely, but had he the right to speak at all? Does the fact that he is a priest of the Roman Catholic church deprive him of the fundamental rights of an American citizen, namely, the right freely to express his opinion of men whom he regards best fitted to rule? Must an American citizen because he is a clergyman answer for his political conduct to an ecclesiastical court in a foreign land, thousands of miles away? That is the question, and, as can be readily seen, it is very important and far-reaching one, affecting, not a single priest, but 10,000 priests, and thus materially influencing the destinies of the nation.
The status of priests as American citizens must be defined. Let it be once authoritatively of Catholics in America is not free, but controlled by propaganda or pope, and the doom of the Catholic church as a missionary body in the United States is sealed. Thousands of patriotic citizens would leave its ranks at once. Cardinal Gibbons is fully aware of all these elements in the problem, and in the present crisis he will demand for the clergymen of the United States freedom in political thought and action, and he will urge this just demand in as unequivocal terms as did Archbishop Croke and Bishop Nulty of Ireland, who, in plain words, “told the Roman authorities that the course to which they were prompted by the English government and the castle Catholics would inevitably lead in Ireland to just such a revolt of the masses from the church as had already occurred on the continent.
“And the Roman authorities, we may be very sure, will heed Cardinal Gibbons.
“It is certain, as we believe, that whatever decision the people may arrive at concerning Mr. George's theories, some way will be found of restoring to Dr. McGlynn his priestly functions and thus emphasizing the point that the Catholic church is not inimical to American institutions and ideas, and, though claiming absolute obedience in matters of faith and discipline, guarantees to the individual his inalienable rights in a republic. And if such a verdict be given, Dr. McGlynn's refusal to go to Rome to answer for his political conduct as an American citizen will work one of the grandest epoch's in the nation's history. His name might then well be linked with those noble, great, God-fearing men who helped to found and have perpetuated religious liberty on this western continent.
Sir Oracle on Dr. McGlynn
New York Real Estate Record
On Looker – What is your general judgment of the whole McGlynn matter?
Sir Oracle – That the Catholic church will make a concession to the McGlynn sympathizers and may reinstate him, although he confessedly holds views on the land question which are not in accord with those maintained by the Catholic church in its past history. Old Mother Church is supposed to be very rigin in its doctrines and discipline, yet really that great organization in all ages has been forced to tolerate differences of opinion within its own fold. Every order within the church was a departure from the general custom which had to be tolerated. It was an eminent Roman Catholic who uttered that noble sentiment: “In things essential, unity; in non-essential, liberty; in all things, clarity.” Hence I am inclined to believe that the final victory will be with Priest McGlynn and not with Archbishop Corrigan, and I also judge that the Catholic church of America has taken a new departure; that hereafter the priests will have more liberty and the prelates less authority. But, of course, it does not follow that the church as an organization will ever countenance Henry George's theories about land, which seem to have bewitched Father McGlynn.
A Tribute to Dr. McGlynn
Lime Creek, Mo., March 28 – I wish to say that I for one, although not a Catholic, or, indeed, a professor of any particular religious faith, am an appreciator and defender of that great and good man, Dr. McGlynn, has been subjected to an unjust treatment. If this nation has reason to be thankful for anything, in my humble opinion, it is for the gift of “Progress and Poverty” and such pure and earnest advocates of the doctrines therein elucidated as Dr. McGlynn.
The Priest of the New Crusade
New York, April 5 – I notice in your editorial on Dr. McGlynn in your issue of the 2nd inst., a lapsus scribendi as to the number of years he has been in the ministry. You say seventeen instead of twenty-seven. My admiration of the man prompts me to this correction. All honor to the champion priest who has dared to unfurl the banner of a new crusade, and who has spoken so openly on behalf of the poor he loves so well. Long may he live among us, and I hope the day will not be long distant in which he will arise from this crucible a yet more perfect light, a yet more shining ornament to that church which can ill afford to lose such men.
East Orange, April 5 – The recent magnificent effort of Father McGlynn is attracting wide-spread attention, and should by all means be printed in cheap pamphlet form. Who will be the first in starting the new order – “The Crusaders?” The men who accept the name, daring and enthusiasm of that ancient and noble order will become a great power for the furtherance of justice.
A Dr. McGlynn Meeting
A mass meeting of citizens of the Eastern district of Brooklyn to sympathize with Rev. Dr. McGlynn will be held next Thursday evening, April 14, in Grand Army hall, of that city, on Bedford avenue, corner of North Second street. A number of prominent speakers will address the meeting and ladies will be invited.
The True Doctrine
New York, April 6 – In spite of ecclesiastical opposition the George doctrine will succeed. All hail to the great and noble Dr. McGlynn.
From a Real Estate Organ
Brooklyn Review and Record
Dr. McGlynn is one of the most pleasing orators of the present time, thoroughly devout and in earnest, and convinced that he has found a remedy for the evils of property, and misery and wretchedness, in the abolition of the private ownership of land. He has raised the cross of a new crusade, and his eloquence and his subtle arguments will bring him many followers.
Common Sense in Canada
Land Rent Can Be Appropriated Without Any Infringement of the Constitution
Hamilton, Ont., Evening Times
The Toronto Mail says: “In the first place, the maintenance of the Upper Canada college costs the province nothing. Its endowment – originally something over 60,000 acres of land – was a part of the grant of lands made to the province by the crown in 1798 for educational purposes. Of this grant King's college received one-half and Upper Canada college one-eighth, the remaining three-eighths being applied toward the maintenance of the common schools. In all the legislation affecting the university and the college, the endowment of the latter has been recognized as being wholly separate from that of the former, and the province has never been asked to supplement it in any way. Upper Canada college, therefore, is not a source of expense to the province, and the latter has no moral and possibly no legal right to take its endowment away from it.”
Here is a flat contradiction of the Jeffersonian doctrine that the land of a country belongs in usufruct to the living. Because “the crown,” representing the people, in 1798 granted 60,000 acres of land for a specific purpose, the people who live in 1887 have no right to resume possession! Where was that doctrine concealed when the people of Canada, through their parliamentary representatives, took possession of the one-seventh of the lands of Upper Canada which had been granted for the support of the Protestant clergy? As a matter of fact, the people of any generation cannot give away in perpetuity the land which the people of another generation will require to use. The right of eminent domain remains. It is not the people who lived in Canada in 1798; it surely is not King George III who earns and pays the $13,000 or so that is annually expended for the maintenance of Upper Canada college in addition to the sums received as fees from the students. The money comes out of the earnings of the present generation of Canadians, and the present inhabitants of the province have a right to withhold it if they think proper to do so. George III had no right to give away the earnings of any people yet unborn for any purpose.
If there are, among the staunch defenders of Upper Canada college, any graduates of that institution who agree with the Mail's statement that “the maintenance of the institution costs the province nothing,” they must have studied history very superficially during their school days. Under the old feudal system the old feudal system the king portioned the land of the country among the nobility, and the nobles gave permission to the common people to live upon it, the latter paying rent in produce or in labor. When the king wanted to carry on a war, the nobles had to equip and maintain soldiers at their own expense. The king's ordinary revenues came from fees for wardship, marriage, etc. Thus the land rent went for the support of the public service. By gradual innovations, the public revenue came to be collected in other ways, until the main portion was derived from customs and excise duties, and the nobles were thus enabled to appropriate land rents (which came to be paid in money instead of produce or services) to their own use. The commons took the regulation of taxation into its own hands, and used it to compel concessions of the royal prerogative. The people make the legislature, and used it to compel concessions of the royal prerogative. The people make the legislature, and the people have never abandoned the right to appropriate land rent for public purposes. The Canadian house of commons will meet next month. It would be quite within the right of that body to take up the customs tariff and repeal every duty on the list, from “absinthe, $2 per imperial gallon,” to “zucure, 20 per cent.” The excise duties could be abolished in the same way, and all public revenues could be raised by direct taxation; that is, by appropriating land rent, without any infringement of the constitution. The provincial legislature now in session, could so amend the municipal law that all taxes on goods, money and houses should be repealed, and land rent taken exclusively for municipal and provincial revenue. It is idle for the Mail to say that the province has no legal right to resume possession of an endowment which consists of land rent.
In 1670 Charles II granted to Prince Rupert and fourteen others the land known as the Hudson bay territory. In 1869 the people of Canada paid £300,000 to get seventeen-eighteenths of it back, and individual Canadians have been buying back portions of the remaining one-eighteenth ever since. Early in the present century, a large tract of land, compromising Huron and the adjacent counties in western Ontario, was granted to the Canada land company. The people of Canada have had to earn and pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to get that land back, and some of them are paying yet. In 1881 a large grant of land was made to the Canada Pacific company, and in 1886 no less than $10,189,000 of the people's money was paid to the company to get 6,793,014 acres back. But in 1854 the parliament of Canada quietly resumed possession of the 3,400,00 acres set apart in 1791 for the endowment of rectories, by the simple expedient of an act of parliament, just as the Ontario legislature is at liberty to resume possession of the endowment of Upper Canada college at any moment, when, in the opinion of the people, it is expedient to apply that portion of the people's earnings to some other purpose. The people of Ontario, not the teachers or the students or the graduates of Upper Canada college, own Upper Canada college and all pertaining to it.
Public Agencies for Public Work
Real Estate Record and Guide
Private companies for doing public work having got into such discredit, and perhaps with reason, why should not the city have its own street cars and gas factories, just as it now supplies water with so much economy and success.
We, like the flowers, are
Dependent on the earth,
And, like the flowers, grow
In plenty or in dearth.
In two worlds flowers live,
One earthly, dark and cold,
The other sunny, bright,
Yet the flower loves the mold.
From thence it draws its power
To spring into the air,
To seek the sunshine's glory,
And grasp the treasures there.
We, like the flowers, are
Deprived of mother earth;
The glories of the higher life
Escape us from our birth
Marlboro, N.Y., March 22
How the Landlord Shares In The Business Man's Prosperity
Lying in Wait Snugly While the Tenant Toils for Success, the Landowner Appears When it is Achieved and Reaps Its Fruits
The rent paying part of the New York business community is by far its larger part. As a field for gleaning facts showing the avarice of landlords it is apparently inexhaustible. During the past week a writer for The Standard has pursued a course of inquiry among business men in relation to rents and the tendencies of trade similar to that described in a late of the paper in the article on retail storekeepers. While facts in abundance are easily obtained, the statements cannot be substantiated by publishing the names and addresses of the persons giving them, simply because in the case of every interview the request was made that the name of the tenant spoken with should not be published.
The proprietor of a coffee and cake saloon doing business in a basement near the post office paid, a few years ago, $125 a month rent. His customers increased in number and his rent to $140. He paid the additional $15 a month as a penalty for his success; but when, a little while later, the rent went up to $175 a month he moved away. Since that time the place has either been vacant or drawing less than half the rent he paid.
A single store room on the ground floor of one of the smallest and shabbiest buildings in Park row was rented a few years ago by a retail liquor dealer at $3,000 a year. His landlord is an [text missing] who rents the whole building from the owner and sublets it. On the 1st of May [text missing] year the liquor dealer’s rent was raised to $4,700 – an advance of $1,700 at a single bound. He was a three years’ lease, [text missing], however, in the meantime at the landlord's option at sixty days' notice. The curious lease places him in the position of a monthly tenant. Some of the customers of this dealer discuss George's theories occasionally, and he is said to listen with deep interest to what they say about the “law of rent.”
A retail merchant doing business in the vicinity of Wall street said that, according to his experience, the average landlord did not build or buy a house, figure as to what would be a fair interest on the investment made, and adjusts rents so as to get a return amounting to that interest in the aggregate. The only question with him was as to how much rental he could get, and that was answered by finding out how high a rent the tenant would stand. The principle in operation between the landlord and tenant in county Cork was the same as that in Wall street. The business man here, like the farmer in Ireland, often had to choose between paying a rack rent or vacating the landlord's premises. In Ireland, however, there was a land league, while in New York there was no retail storekeepers' league, and there was not likely to be any, for the retailers based their business on competition. He regarded it as an inconsistency that there should be laws against a capitalist's putting $25,000 out at usurious interest, yet he could take the same $25,000, invest it in a building, and if the tenants built up a good trade, force them to pay a rental or perhaps fifty per cent. He had at one time been in business in the same building with a guerrilla real estate agent, one of whose tricks he described. The agent would ascertain what rent a retail storekeeper paid, and then seek out another retailer in the same branch of business and find out if he thought he could afford to pay a higher rent than the first paid. If so, the agent would wait on the landlord of the first retailer and offer him the sum the second thought he could pay, and thus either drive out the first or compel him to pay the advanced amount, and in either case get a commission for himself. The gentleman said that rents in the Wall street district had been steadily advancing for a long time. He told the writer on parting that he had no more sympathy with George men than he had with anarchists.
Another Wall street business man said it was undoubtedly the experience of nearly every retailer who built up a fine business to have his rent raised at the expiration of a lease. He thought that men starting in any retailing business in New York seldom made any money the first year. Landlords fix the highest prices they can induce incoming tenants to pay for store rooms in new buildings, and if the tenants prosper the landlords find it out and as soon as possible – as soon as a lease runs out – take a large share in the prosperity. But let the business turn out to be ever so poor, the landlord reduces the rent only when he can find no one else to take the place off his hands. The speaker had been in business in the neighborhood of Wall street for a quarter of a century. He knew at what a great rate rents would naturally have advanced, considering the increased desirableness of Wall street for business. They had not only gone up in that proportion reckoned upon, but had been pushed higher by artificial means and by the dread entertained by business men of losing the trade that they had built up and that belonged by right to them individually. He knew of one case in which the rent of a tenant had been doubled in about seven years. The increase had been made only because the landlord thought that the tenant would pay it rather than move away. The business that the tenant was engaged in was much more cut up now than it was seven years ago. This gentleman seemed inclined to inquire what it was that the George men wanted.
Several merchants were seen in the butter, cheese and egg district near Washington market. But very few of them own the buildings in which they carry on business. Last year there was a strong effort made by landlords of the locality to increase rents materially wherever leases then expired. But the tenants resisted the “squeeze,” there being no reason for an advance other than that the landlords had the inclination to take all they could make the tenants pay, and leases were consequently obtained at old rates, but the leases given were short ones, made so in expectation of rents going higher. The merchants of the locality are convinced that rents should be lower, in view of the present condition of business, and that there is every prospect that the trade of the vicinity will in future be of such a character as to require a smaller amount to be paid in rent, or else business men will be reduced to the position of mere servants of the landlords. One of warfare between the real estate owners and tenants of the district. A great deal was being said and done by tenants that indicated the awakening of new principles in their minds. In their discussions the merchants of the trade, who are on closer terms of acquaintanceship than is usual among business men, frequently mention the teachings of Henry George. This gentleman said: “Landlordism is made more apparent in this city this spring than usual, because of an effort made by the landlords to establish rents to correspond with the high purchase values created by the rapidly increasing aggregation of rich men in this country, and especially in this city, who are competing to invest their money wherever they think it will be a certain mortgage on the people – not only of those now living, but of future generations. This tendency of landlordism is now rapidly developing in thriving cities on account of the unfortunate tendency of population to concentrate.”
A Sixth avenue druggist had no fault to find with his landlord. He rented from a large estate, and he thought that the large owners of real estate were usually less exacting than small ones. But in relation to getting along in the world he had been making some observations of his own. Competition in the drug business had reduced profits to a low point. Of the owners of the 700 drug stores of New York, he doubted that two-thirds made more than a mere living. He had a clerk in his store who was competent to manage a place of his own, but the prospect was not encouraging for the best of clerks and managers to set up for themselves. Salaries in drug stores are usually small, the business was overdone, and it seemed that there should be some outlet from it for industrious, capable men so that they might do better than they can within its limitations. In other branches of business there had been great changes on Sixth avenue since he began business, about twenty years ago. The great dry goods marts were swallowing up the smaller – or rather had swallowed up nearly all of them. The druggist had been thinking over all these things, and asked what the George men proposed to do to remedy it all. He had never read The Standard nor any of Mr. George's works. The writer gave him a brief outline of the subject, and left him, if not a convert, an inquirer.
The case of an Eighth avenue clothing house was mentioned by a gentleman interviewed. The stand has been occupied for many years by father and son. Costly improvements have been made by both in the part of the building which they have occupied. They have added to the store and stock and pushed their sales until their business is one well known in that quarter of the city. But the rapacity of the landlord has been felt every year, through ever-advancing rents, and the stand will be vacated by the firm on the 1st of May, as they have decided, as they have decided that they will not become merely rent-making agents for the man who owns the building. They intend removing down town and engaging in custom work. They have been rack-rented away from a stand, the value of which their exertions have largely created.
It was the custom in the early days of telegraphy for hotel proprietors and the managers of exchanges to give free to the telegraph companies sufficient room in their building for an operator's booth. In hotels this was regarded as one of the accommodations to which people staying at them were entitled. But this view has been changed, and hotel keepers have adopted the custom of imposing heavy rents upon the companies. In New York city the Western Union telegraph company has from 250 to 300 branch offices, and an operator long in the service of that company expressed it as his belief that it pays nearly half a million dollars in rents for them. For one of the smallest branch offices $500 a year is paid, and for the branch at the Produce exchange $24,000 is the annual rent. The estimate of half a million, therefore, cannot be far amiss, and Mr. Gould may be able to sympathize with those who cry out against the extortions of the landlord.
The exchanges are unconscionable landlords. While the produce exchange charges the Western Union company $24,000 for its booth space, it takes from the Baltimore and Ohio company $14,000 and the Postal telegraph company $8,000. It gave the last named company a small booth on the floor of the exchange on condition that it would also take two large rooms on the lower floor. In the course of some litigation these large rooms were thrown up by the company and they have since been vacant. The telegraph company had been obliged to rent of the exchange what neither it nor anybody else wanted. The stock exchange has a system in dealing with the telegraph companies which doubtless had its origin in the brain of a sharper who believed it to be in the nature of things that big fish should eat smaller ones. They fix a monthly rental for a telegraph booth on the floor of the exchange and then charge two cents and a half for each message sent or delivered at the booths, the exchange furnishing the messengers. In the case of the Postal telegraph company the cost is $125 a month rent and from $1,300 to $1,500 a month for messenger service. Five boys are detailed to perform the work of messengers for it in the board room. Each would be paid about $18 a month by the company. Thus the exchange makes about twenty times its investment on the boys. The superintendent of the exchange lately reported that the money paid by the telegraph companies for privileges in the exchange canceled the sum of its pay rolls. A man with a bell punch in his hands stands in front of the operators' windows on the exchange floor and registers every dispatch sent or delivered, so that the exchange is certain to collect its tax on the amount of work done by each company.
A few general conclusions: There are many immense fortunes invested in New York real estate which are never heard of by the general public. But few large landlords are in commercial life. The custom of short leases and rack rents is growing. The business man is often subject to the landlord to a greater extent than the workingman is to his employer. The business man frequently stands in greater fear of the landlord than the wage worker does of his boss.
Had Fish Once Last Summer
A student in one of the New York medical colleges tells a story that proves the mutual ignorance of the fashionable and the unfashionable halves of the world. The student class was deep in a clinic conducted by one of the most noted physicians in New York, a man who has much wealth, as well as much learning. The subject was a little girl who came from one of the poorest, wretchedest, and filthiest quarters. The doctor questioned her concerning her malady, and what she had been doing to cause it.
“Perhaps you have been eating strawberries,” he said.
March winds were blowing through the streets, and strawberries were one dollar a box. The wretched little specimen of humanity, who would probably think herself favored by the gods if she could find a half dozen decayed berries on the sidewalk during a whole season, shook her head in a dazed sort of way, as though she didn't know just what he meant. He went blandly on:
“No? Ah, then you have probably eaten some fish?”
Her face brightened now and she drew herself up.
“Yes, we had fish once last summer.”
But even then the doctor did not see it.
Spreading Very Rapidly
Jackson, Mich., Tribune
The Henry George theory to place all taxes on land values is spreading very rapidly. That the increase in land values should belong to the whole people and not to individuals is beginning to be understood as a self-evident fact. The course of events is marching on, and it will be but a few years when this economic theory will become an established fact. While it is probable that the acceptance of this theory will not do all that is claimed for it, it is certain to go a great ways toward ameliorating the condition of the poor. It will tend to bring the whole people nearer to a common equality by lifting the very poor out of their degradation and poverty. It will reward all persons according to the labor they perform, and not as now give to those who hold natural opportunities, but do no work, the lion's share of the product, while those who are dependent on the will of others for the opportunity to labor, and do all the work, receive only just sufficient to keep themselves from starvation.
Affairs In France
A Protective Policy Adopted
The Passage of the Cereal Bill – What it May Lend to – A Curious Law Against Prodigiality
Special to The Standard
Bordeaux, March 26 – The passage of the French cereal bill is the most retrograde step taken by France on economic questions for forty years. The majority in its favor has consisted of the 180 reactionaries and of about 130 republicans of various shades, the radicals excepted. The main argument of its supporters has been that manufacturers having already obtained protective duties, agriculturists were equally entitled to them. But for the commercial treaty with Belgium, and its extension to other nations, the manufacturers would doubtless begin to clamor for increased protection, on the ground that bread will become dearer, wages will consequently be higher, and the cost of production will therefore be increased.
The five francs per 100 kilograms on foreign cereals was voted by a majority of seventy-nine, which was greater than was anticipated. In the debates on this vital subject the active influence of the government was thrown on the side of the extra duty. The free traders attempted to arouse public opinion on their side, but failed. The republic seems resolved to copy Prince Bismark and try what a turn of protection will do for it. One of the arguments adduced in support of the five-franc duty is that it is only the equivalent of the premium on East Indian corn caused by the depreciation of silver. Baron de Soubeyran made the most of this plea in his speech, which was mainly intended to be an appeal for the double standard, in default of which he contends that the commerce of the whole world will continue to be deranged. But he did not anticipate any benefit for the French corn grower from the impost. It was also argued that a country with an annual charge of five milliards could not compete on equal terms with rising countries like the United States, Australia, and the territories of the River Plata.
The Lanterne has an angry article on the subject of the new legislation, which is headed “L'Engrenage.” The writer says that France is now in the possession of the protectionist party. Everything will be sacrificed – liberty of labor, liberty of transport; after the grain, it will be the land that produces the grain; after the bread, meat; and then severally each of the necessities of life and society will be attacked. “This is not all,” says the article. “How can they now refuse to protect labor? What reply can be given to the laborers who desire that work may be assured to them, as the sale of their produce has been guaranteed to the holders of the soil? The promulgation of the rights of labor is the logical and inevitable consequence of the vote of the French chamber.” The writer goes on to assert that this is nothing else than a triumph of state socialism, and that state socialism leads straight on to “Socialisme Cesarien.” The abolition of economic liberty means the abolition of political liberty, for each species of liberty depends upon the other; when death is dealt out to one phase of liberty, all others will speedily suffer. It is asserted that the political and social consequences of the alliance which has been got up among the French deputies will be much more disastrous than is generally imagined at the present moment. A holy indignation will be created among the workingmen of this country at the increased price which they have to pay for their daily bread.
A recent case tried before the French courts has revealed the fact that the government has the right to interfere when a spendthrift is bent on dissipating his patrimony to the detriment of the next heir, in the case of the said heir making suit in due legal form to have a curator or conseil judiciaire appointed by the courts of law. The judgment given in the case in question has caused a considerable sensation in this country, as the majority French citizens were not cognizant of the existence of any such law upon the statute books. It appears that this power of interference is a peculiarity of the French law, adopted or inherited from the Roman legislative code. If a man squanders his money and the inheritance of his children, his next of kin are empowered to apply to the judicial authorities to deprive him of the administration of his fortune, and transfer it to a lawyer or notary public. It is immaterial what his age may be, for the person thus dealt with is reduced to a state of legal infancy, and after due notice has been given in the ordinary way through the press, no debt he may contract is recoverable in law, unless the sanction has first been obtained of the trustee appointed by the courts; and the knowledge of the existence of this provision will doubtless have the effect of restraining unprincipled tradesmen in their endeavors to entrap into useless and reckless extravagance men who are possessed of more money than capacity to use it wisely. The case I have referred to is that of a member of a well-known family of bankers and army contractors, the application being made at the suit of his brother. The evidence adduced disclosed the fact that this middle-aged man of forty had contrived to run through a fortune of $2,400,000 within twelve years; and, in addition, he had contracted loans for no less a sum than $1,000,000. A creditor opposed the granting of the application on the ground that the intention of the plaintiff was simply an attempt to assist in evading the payment of just debt. A singularity reckless state of things was disclosed, and after hearing the arguments, the court promptly granted the application.
Platitudes in Place of Argument
Two workingmen, as they were returning home after the close of their day's labor, happened to meet a wealthy gentleman riding in a splendid carriage. One of them said to the other: “That is a nice turnout. Well, some day I will have my horse and carriage too.” He was right in his prediction; for subsequently he became a wealthy man himself. The other replied: “What right has that man, who does no work, to live in such luxury, while I, who work so hard, have nothing? I shall all my days be next to a beggar.” He was right, too, in his prediction, since he lived and died in poverty.
Both of these men at the time were engaged in the same kind of employment, and received the same rate of wages. They did not, however, possess the same sort of skill in the management of their affairs. One of them had the good sense to live on less than he earned, and after a while he ceased to be a wage earner and became a contractor, and finally accumulated a huge fortune. The other spent his wages as fast as he earned them, and consequently never had any surplus of earnings above his expenses. He always kept himself poor by spending all his earnings. Each fulfilled his own prophecy by the manner and habits of his own life. Here, then, was a broad difference in the men themselves, and this led to a corresponding difference in results.
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 than all the labor organizations in the land. Acting upon these principles, they will need no such organizations to protect their rights.
How Her Merchants are Robbed by Land Monopoly
A writer in the San Francisco Star treating of the direct interest of the mercantile class in the concentration of all taxes on land values, says:
Ground rent, as I have shown, results from general enterprise and in a very great measure from the enterprise of merchants, and personal property taxes are only necessary because the public allows its own rental values to be appropriated to the private use of non-producing landlords.
In good times rents are carried to the highest point which merchants will consent to yield and continue in business, and in dull times the landlords take advantage of the merchants' temporary necessities to compel them to pay the same rents, until they have yielded up, at least, all of the profits which resulted from their business during good times, thus making of the merchants mere hewers of wood and drawers of water for this idle and useless landed aristocracy, which, like a band of weasels, is constantly sucking the life blood of trade and industry, and yielding no return for the infamous privilege.
Landlordism shares the prosperity of merchants, and in their adversity it devours their substance. This needs no further proof than is furnished by the daily experience of all observing men, for, though no merchant in San Francisco has been making more than expenses during the past year, there is not one, so far as I know, whose rent has been reduced one dollar in consequence of the depression.
The landlord shares neither the toil, nor the risk, nor the misfortunes of the merchant, but, clothed with the legal right to collect the fruits of public industry, he stands like the unnatural toll gatherer that he is, reaping where he did not sow and darkening the decree of misfortune when its shadow falls upon those whose enterprise made it possible for him to get any rent whatever for his land.
Nearly every merchant in San Francisco is under the iron heel of this crushing power today, for, though the fact may seem at first incredible, as it is indeed terrible, the greater part of all that is earned in good times by the enterprising, toiling, business people, who throng the great thoroughfares of this city and make them hum with the activity of commercial life, flows into the coffers of idle landlords, who, as I have said, take no part in the toil, or the care, or the risk, by which those earnings are produced.
Considering these facts, should any one be surprised (as the statistics of trade show), that ninety-five per cent of all who entermercantile pursuits fail? They work for landlords, and their task masters grind them to the last penny.
I am tolerably familiar with both sides of Market street from Second to Seventh street, and among the thousands there I know of only three who do not pay rent to landlords for the premises on which they are doing business.
I am also familiar with the business of Kearny street, and I do not know of any person or firm, doing business on either side of that street, within the eleven blocks lying between Market and Broadway streets, that does not pay a heavy rent to some landlord, who has no interest in the business further than to get his rent out of it regardless of its success or failure.
These are terrible facts, and their silent but indisputable evidence conclusively points out the great social wrong by which industry is robbed to fatten idleness. They reveal the vortex into which the fruits of public enterprise are being poured, while the heads, and clothing, and furniture and houses, and capital of the people, are being taxed to provide funds for public purposes.
The remedy for all of these evils lies in adopting a standard of simple natural justice, by relieving commerce of all burdens of license and taxation, and paying all public expenses out of the land rents, which result entirely, as I have shown, from public enterprise and industry.
This remedy would clearly produce these four results:
- It would relieve the merchants and the people who purchase their goods from the burden and annoyance of licenses and taxes.
- The exemption of improvements from taxation would encourage the building of houses and stores, which, being brought into competition for tenants with existing houses and stores, would force a reduction of rents.
- The heavy taxation of vacant lots would compel their owners to improve them, thus increasing the competition for tenants and further reducing rents.
- By forcing speculators to bring their idle lands into use, population and enterprise would be vastly increased, thus greatly augmenting the number and purchasing power of consumers and consequently increasing trade.
Reason, Justice and Expediency concur in recommending this reform. How long will an intelligent public remain blind to its highest interests and stubbornly persist in oppressing industry and smothering enterprise for the benefit of land gamblers?
The Insurance Combine
“I used to pay $14.50 insurance here,” said an officer of a corporation the other day to a Standard writer, “and when the policy ran out I talked with a broker about a renewal. He said it would cost $24. I was indignant, and said I would certainly stop doing business with his company. He asked what I would do. I said I would go to another company. He asked what I would do. I said I would go to another company. He told me that every other company would charge precisely what he had asked; all the companies were combined, and there was no difference in rates. And so they are. Well, is not this a trades union? Are the companies not making a big 'strike' in this community for an 'advance in scale,' such as a workingmen's union would not think of trying to enforce? Is there not a 'leveling downward' to the plane of the weakest company, and are they not employing the machinery of a union to carry out their rules? And I haven't observed that the officers of these companies have been characterized as anarchists by the press? Pshaw! pshaw! young man. There is going to be an awakening in New York in the ranks of business men in regard to monopolies. Take my word for it.”
Slaves Cost More Than Free Men
Portland, Ore., March 19 – On page 212 of Horace Greeley's “Overland Journey to California” this sentiment, attributed to Brigham Young, is found:
“I regard slavery generally as a curse to the masters. I myself hire many laborers and pay them fair wages; I could not afford to own them. I can do better than to subject myself to an obligation to feed and clothe their families, to provide and care for them in sickness and health.”
The True Evangel
Great truths dawn slowly on the willing mind;
God's fairest flow'rs, tho' set in richest soil,
Demand the husbandry of care and toil
To reach perfection. And if thou would'st find
A cure for evils that beset mankind,
Withdraw from out the blatant multitude.
Thy soul will teach the more in solitude
Thaa sophistry, which only serves to blind!
Heed not the sorrowful optimistic roar
From those whose souls lie grov'ling on the sod,
That we must change man's nature for the cure!
Are we not fashioned from the mold of God?
Ring out the false, ring in the true evangel
That man is “little lower” than the angel!
This Week's Elections
Even the willfully blind cannot shut their eyes to the significance of this week's local elections in the western states. In Cincinnati the united labor party, which fought against enormous odds, probably elected its candidate for mayor, though the suspiciously “revised” returns show a majority of about 500 for the republican candidate. The new party had against it a hostile and mendacious press, the prejudice and money of the wealthy class and the unscrupulous arts, the intimidation and bribery, of both of the old political organizations, while it was finally excluded from any participation in the count of the votes. In the face of all this the vote conceded to it by its opponents is a substantial triumph. In Chicago the labor party met a defeat doubtless partly due to imprudent leadership. Remembering the falsehoods of the newspapers concerning the labor movement in New York last fall, we give but little credence to the sensational stories concerning the anarchist sympathies of those engaged in the movement in Chicago, but we, nevertheless, cannot shut our eyes to the fact that many of the utterances of those claiming to represent the party were unwise, and this doubtless contributed not a little to their defeat, though there, as in Cincinnati, the money of the monopolists and the corrupt practices of the politicians played an important part in achieving success for the republican party. In Dubuque, Iowa, where the labor party stood practically on the Clarendon hall platform, it elected every one of its candidates and distanced both of the old parties. In Milwaukee the democrats and republicans placed a fusion ticket in the field against the labor party, but despite this the latter carried the city.
All of this demonstrates that the new party has already become a serious factor in politics, and that the days of political organizations having neither purpose nor convictions are numbered. The inevitable contest between the masses and the classes has begun, and one or the other of the old organizations must go down, leaving to its opponent the task of fighting monopoly's battle against the people. In New York last fall it looked as if the democracy would undertake that task, but in the west it is the republican party that comes to the front as the champion of money and privilege. In Chicago the democratic party committed hari-kari in advance, and federal officeholders saw no offensive partisanship in leading the democratic stampede into the republican ranks. In Cincinnati the democratic party was simply overwhelmed, and the republican organization posed as the only champion of the “saviors of society.” In Milwaukee the two parties fused, and, thus united, failed to win success. All of this is useful in clearing the ground of dead issues and obstructive organizations, and thus preparing the way for the battle that is to come. The name of the new monopoly combination is a matter of indifference to the united labor party; but, if the organization representing privilege and monopoly desired it, Tammany hall can readily find in its lumber room, among other titles that it has cast aside, the name “democratic-republican,” which will doubtless be as pleasing to those concerned as it will be inappropriate and absurd.
It is probably useless to attempt to warn the leaders and press of the old parties that they are doing all that lies in their power to give to the new movement the very direction which they profess to fear that it will take. Perhaps they seek that very result in representing the workingmen as anarchists and proclaiming their peaceful victories at the polls as triumphs of lawlessness. But it does concern the men engaged in the new movement to frown down any attempt to rob it of its peaceful and thoroughly American character. Nothing that we can do will save us from misrepresentation at the hands of our enemies, and such misrepresentation has ceased to injure us. But we do need to take care that we do not alienate those disposed to be our friends. The working people of America are the enemies of lawlessness and misrule. Native or naturalized, they love their country and its flag, and will not march under the blood-red banner of European revolution nor tolerate interference in American politics by any foreign prince or cardinal. In this last respect, as well as in its faith in the will of the people, the labor party is now the only one entitled to call itself American. Nor is the new party composed alone of those ordinarily called laborers. It seeks the support of all who do useful work with hand or brain, and its fight is not that of honest labor against useful capital, but that of the producer against the monopolist.
Nor is it sufficient that the new party shall refrain from offending those whose votes it needs and whose cause it represents. The work of education within its ranks must go hand in hand with that of organization. It is not sufficient that all who are discontented with things as they are shall join in expressing their dissatisfaction at the polls. Such a party could win but the triumph of a day and then fade away like frost on a window pane, leaving behind it naught but disappointment and despair. The party that seeks the emancipation of all men from industrial slavery must have as clear cut a purpose and as well defined a leading principle as that which accomplished the emancipation of the black man from chattel slavery. It must offer a remedy, not a mere palliative, for the evils that it attacks. Otherwise its victories will be fruitless and it will fall into the decrepitude of the purposeless political organizations that it contemptuously brushes aside as it has the republican party in New York and the democratic party in the west.
This is the time for the consideration of such questions. The vote cast in the west assures the permanence and national scope of the movement so auspiciously begun in New York last fall. At a single bound the new party has reached a position that enables it to laugh at detraction and rebuke slander. It must now concern itself with its own affairs rather than with the vagaries of its alarmed and demoralized enemies. The time is approaching when the voters who have achieved these results will naturally seek to form a representative national organization. Before that is attempted they must consider what remedy they have to offer for the ills that they complain of and prepare to assert the principles that they represent. Let the good work of organization go on, as it has gone on here in New York from the hour that the polls closed at the last election, but let there be no sacrifice of principle through haste to win victories. There is a remedy for the wrongs to which labor is subjected, and no party that is not prepared to apply that remedy can accomplish any more, in the long run, for workingmen than has been done by the effete parties now tottering to their final fall.
Will Mr. Black Please Call?
Mr. William Nelson Black, in a recent lengthy communication to the Sun, has knocked the plan of taxing land values endways, so to speak. For to make a tax renumerative there must be something to be taxed; to collect a tax on land values you must first have land values; and Mr. Black demonstrates that there is really no such thing as land value.
Mr. Black doesn't require us to take his unsupported word for it. He cites history. He tells us how a certain Mr. Beard bought a lot of land at the mouth of Gowanus creek, in New York harbor, for $60,000, dug it out to make the Erie basin, erected warehouses, filled in the adjoining lots, and enjoyed the fruits of his labor to the tune of $6,000,000, all of which millions, as Mr. Black says, are due to the improvements, because if there hadn't been any improvements the land would have been still useless and idle, and consequently couldn't possibly have advanced in value.
We thank Mr. Black for the flood of light he has shed on a great question; and in return we propose to make his fortune. If we will call at his office we will tell him, in strict confidence, of a lot of swamp land we know of bordering on a beautiful bay down south. He can get just as much of this land as he wants for $500; and, having got it, all he need do will be to dig out a duplicate of the Erie basin, fill in the adjoining lots and have a $6,000,000 property of his own.
Possibly Mr. Black may despise this offer of ours, and say that an Erie basin three hundred miles from New York would be of no use to him or any one else. It will be a pity if he should, for such an admission would knock the whole bottom out of his argument. It is the quality of nearness to New York – not to New York as a territory, but to New York as a populous center – that creates the land value of the Erie basin.
The Bad Trade Union
Now that trades unions have by the law against importing laborers carried the protective theory a step further toward its logical conclusion, they are assailed for their imprudence and blindness. The Times is accounted a free trade paper, but it is no more a free trade paper than a colonizationist in the fifties was an abolitionist; and what it has to say is as good protection opinion as any protection organ could utter, and is indeed about the same in sentiment and tone.
The theory of trades unionists, it says, “is that the quantity of work to be done is relatively fixed, and that the fewer there are to do it the greater will be the share of each.” The Times insinuates that this is a fallacy; and in the abstract it is. There can be no relative limit to the quantity of labor to be done so long as every one wants something that somebody else can make, and is willing to make something in exchange. But, as a concrete fact, the quantity of work is relatively fixed. This the trade unionist, though ignorant of the economic abstraction, sees, and the Times, stupefied by the abstraction, does not see. No one can make anything unless he has something to make it from; and as this something, in the last analysis, is land, a withdrawal of that from use tends to limit the power of men to make things to exchange for other things. Consumption is thereby limited, and that limitation, reacting, limits the quantity of work to be done so that it may fairly be said to be a fixed quantity. From this it follows that the fewer people there are to do the work the greater will be the share of each; or, what is the real point, the greater will be the wages of each. The same principle applies when many own the land, if any considerable number are excluded.
But the greater complaint of the Times is that trades unions limit apprenticeships. Of course, this is essentially false. There are few trades any more in which there are apprentices in any proper sense. But this fact is not due to trades unions; it is due to the division of labor, which the Times would no doubt applaud, since that in the abstract is an excellent thing. At one time there were trades for apprentices to learn; but now, except in a limited number of vocations, the apprentice has only to get the knack of some fraction of a trade, such as setting type in a printing office, to be as useful to the employer as the journeyman, though his wages be less. Trades unions have been driven on this account to limit apprenticeships as well as their power would allow. If they had not done so the work of a good many trades would be wholly done by “apprentices,” until the wages in these trades touched the line of unskilled labor.
The difficulty with all these critics of labor unions is that the “monopoly” of labor, as they delight to call it, interferes in some degree with a monopoly of their own; and while they talk glibly enough about interfering with freedom of employment, they are master sticklers for the one monopoly that interferes with all freedom of employment – unqualified ownership of raw materials.
Philanthropy By Proxy
Dr. Henry D. Cogswell of San Francisco is one who, like Abou Ben Adhem, loves his fellow men. Seeing the wretchedly underpaid condition of labor in San Francisco, and observing also that skilled labor commands higher wages than unskilled, Dr. Cogswell has decided to increase the number of skilled laborers by founding and having maintained in San Francisco a poly-technic college, where boys and girls shall obtain practical training in the mechanical arts and other industries. To this end Dr. Cogswell has availed himself of the powers vested in him by the laws of California, and has ordained that henceforth and forever a constantly increasing number of residents of San Francisco shall devote each year a constantly increasing number of days' labor to the furnishing of all things needful for the college – buildings, books, apparatus, food, clothing, and luxuries for the teachers, and, it may be, the support of the gentlemen who will see that the proper number of days' work is faithfully performed. This is generous on the part of Dr. Cogswell, because it is quite within his power, under the laws of California, to make any other use he pleases of all this labor of the future. He might utilize it for his own support in luxury, or he might exchange the privilege of commanding it for a lot of present wealth in the shape of houses, or cattle, or ships, or anything else – labor, present or prospective, will always bring its price. But it involves no generosity on the part of the people who are to do the work which shall support the polytechnic school, because they can't help themselves; the laws of California provide that they must labor gratis for Dr. Cogswell or his assigns, whether they like it or not; and what Dr. Cogswell does with their labor is simply none of their business.
The San Francisco papers in their record of Dr. Cogswell's philanthropy employ a pleasing euphemism. They put it that Dr. Cogswell has conveyed to trustees, for the benefit of the college: A block of land bounded by Sixth and Seventh and King and by Townsend streets; a block bounded by Sixth and Seventh, King and Berry streets; a piece of land at the southeast corner of Shotwell and Twenty-sixth streets; a piece of land at the southeast corner of Folsom and Twenty-sixth streets; a piece of land at the southeast corner of Front and Clark streets, and a piece of land at the southeast corner of Broadway and Ohio streets.
This, however, is immaterial. The good people of San Francisco will do the work just the same.
The Land Value Of A Soul
The congregation of Christ church will continue to worship God in their present building, and on the corner of Thirty-fifth street and Fifth avenue, for some time to come, at least. The interests of the church, it is stated, would be subserved by a removal further up town; but nobody is willing as yet to pay $225,000 for the land the present church edifice stands on; and until that sum is offered no removal will take place.
This is a queer commingling of Christianity and real estate, and suggests a curious train of thought. The interest of the church is, of course, to save souls; a removal up town would confessedly enable it to save more souls; the reason it doesn't move is because only $207,500 is offered for its land, against $225,000 asked. Now what number of souls must go in peril of damnation, while the church's land is acquiring that lacking value of $17,000? or, in other words, what is the land value of a soul? It is a pity that St. Paul, or, be it reverently spoken, a Greater than Paul, is not here on earth to ask and answer that question.
The Times says that John Most, while in prison, was “compelled to learn how decent men and women behave, and to understand, if not to acquire, their sentiments by following their observances.” Surely decent men and women could be put to better use than sending them to prison to teach Most how to behave.
M.M. Trumbull, a writer in the Open Court, has made the remarkable discovery that “to make unskilled labor skillful is the true policy, so that the product of labor may be greater and its reward higher in money.” According to this, if every workman were highly skilled every workman would be better paid. If every fireman were a competent engineer, firemen would get as much as engineers get, and if hod carriers could lay bricks, they would receive bricklayers' wages. Yet, every observer knows that an increase in the number of engineers or bricklayers tends to lower wages in those occupations, and it requires no very vivid imagination to see that if every workman could do any kind of work as well as any other workman, all wages would fall to the lowest point, notwithstanding that production would be immeasurably increased. Mr. Trumbull's stumbling block is that of most dabblers in the “labor question.” He fails to note the difference between production and distribution. Seeing that greater skill produces greater results, he infers that it secures higher rewards to the producer. In any normal condition of society this would be so. But it is not so when society has established artificial dams to obstruct and divert the natural flow of wealth in distribution. It is not so, for example, when the worker is a chattel slave. It is not so when he is a convict. Nor is it so when he must compete with an army of men in enforced idleness for lack of opportunities to work. In such competition the skilled get better wages than the unskilled, not because they produce more but because competition for opportunities to work that does not require skill is keener than competition to do work that does require skill. If all were equally skilled, in high degree (Mr. Trumbull's ideal), the competition for opportunities to do skilled work would be as keen as it is now to do unskilled work, and the wages of skilled and unskilled laborers would be about alike, not on the higher but on the lower plane of industrial reward. If there were any difference it would most likely be in favor of unskilled work as the more disagreeable.
“Legislators could serve the public in no way so well as [text missing] framing a law which would fairly [text missing] the burdens of government,” says the [text missing] Commercial. Just what we say. And what other way can that be done than by taking land values, which, after all, are only what some of us pay others of us for the privilege of living? When you tax labor products, laborers bear the burdens of government; but when you tax land values everybody, as John Stuart Mill truly said, escapes taxation, because then the government takes for public use only what privileged idleness would otherwise take for private use. The very best possible method of equalizing public burdens is thus to practically abolish taxes and meet public expenses with an income that belongs of right to the public which creates it.
All but privileged classes suffer in greater or less degree from the same cause. The reason that the greatest outcry comes from those who are distinguished as the laboring class is that this class suffers in greatest degree.
How common the expression: “I am working for my landlord!” and yet how few who use it appreciate its significance!
John Most has just been released from the penitentiary. Most made a speech about a year ago, in which he urged his hearers a year ago, in which he urged his hearers to arm and drill in preparation for a bloody conflict of classes which he predicted, and for this he was sent to prison. Men like Most are the outward manifestations of social disease. Society is not to be saved by punishing them, but by removing the cause of that discontent and bitterness which they roughly express. If there was any danger in his appeal it was because there were hosts of men so oppressed, imbruted and embittered that they might respond. If there were such, the fault was with institutions that transform free born citizens with noble institutions that transform free born citizens with noble instincts into blind and furious beasts. Most men might have urged men with all the eloquence and power of oratory to hang themselves, but he would have urged in vain all to whom life had not become a burden. And his appeals to arm and destroy would have been like the chatter of gossips against the wind if a large fraction of society had not been restive under an injustice that they felt but did not understand. Thirty years ago such talk as that for which Most was condemned would have been laughed at; but if he had urged an armed attack upon the slaveholders he would have been promptly punished. But now to urge an armed attack upon slaveholders would be laughed at, while language that would have been ridiculed thirty years ago is declared a crime. The reason is the same in each case. Thirty years ago the evils of landlordism had not come to the surface and no general discontent existed, but now they have came to the surface and fanatic appeals to murder are raised in public sentiment from the grade of foolishness to the attitude of sedition. As when society fostered slavery it shuddered at every ambiguous phrase about slavery, lest it might be a spark to a powder mill, it shudders now at any words which may excite the disinherited to rise up and destroy. Its danger lies in its own crime; its fear is inspired by its own conscience. Insurrections may be kindled among slaves, but not among freemen, and when we fear the agitator we may be sure that there are slaves among us, whatever may be the name by which we know them. The fear that the fanaticism of men like Most excites in the courts, in newspaper offices and among the saviors and butterflies of society, is the best possible evidence that society is aware of the discontent of those who bear its burdens and is vaguely conscious of its own crime. It is the criminal who sees an officer in every bush. If we fostered no wrong we should fear no avenger.
The Week In Wall Street
Notwithstanding the still further decrease in reserve, as shown by the bank statement of Saturday, leaving but $4,000,000 above the required twenty-five per cent surplus, the stock market has shown decided strength. In anticipation of monetary stringency it seemed to waver up to the hour that the statement was published. But Saturday afternoon it took a new lease of life, and during the fore part of this week the “bulls” have had their own way. With the higher range of prices an increase in the volume of business has also appeared, so that the complaints of dullness heard on all sides a few weeks ago have, to a great extent, ceased.
The fear of tight money has almost completely vanished, and along with the disbursement of $31,000,000 in April, it is expected will come much lower interest rates. This loosening of rates will aid the bulls in their present effort to lift the market to something approaching the attitude of last December, which will allow those who took on stocks at the highest prices of the present boom to get rid of their stocks and get back their money.
Nothing is more evident than that this is the aim of the cliques. With the exception of Mr. Cammack, who is at present but a lukewarm opponent of the present upward movement, all the large operators are “bulls.” Chicago has sent some of the biggest operators to help swell the bubble; and Deacon White and Mr. Gould vie with each other in their expressions of hopefulness. But the market is not a broad one, nor has the public evinced any great eagerness to get in at these “bottom prices.” The specialties will be the features for a while, and the market will be advanced in spots until about the time the public again takes hold, when a general leveling up will follow, and the burden of carrying stocks will be shifted from the cliques to the innocents, who invariably buy when stocks are high and sell when they are low. Probably the only advances resting on merit are those in the coal stocks, consequent upon the late advance in the price of anthracite. The Jersey Central has developed a marked upward tendency, the result of the heavy buying by the syndicate that has taken its reorganization in hand. Reading has led the list in activity, not on the ground that its complications are nearer settlement, but partly as the result of the increased tax on consumers of anthracite and on the theory that whatever helps Jersey Central will help Reading. Poor Reading! Once so prosperous and still so magnificent, and yet hopelessly bankrupt. Plastered all over with mortgages. Liable at any moment to go under the hammer; and should she escape this it will be as by fire. She epitomizes the history of nearly every railroad in the country. Pushed forward by an ambitious president, Reading sought to control the majority of the coal lands in Pennsylvania. The other roads followed largely the policy of paying to the owners of coal lands one ton for the privilege of taking out five, that is, twenty per cent of the take; but Reading, not content with paying his rent, sought to buy out the landlord and own the coal itself, and in its turn to play the landlord and have a host of tenants of its own. But it paid too much for its whistle. Running wild with the spirit of speculation prevailing previous to the '73 panic, it paid whatever price was asked for coal lands, and the company, formed to pay for these lands, known as the Philadelphia and Reading coal and iron company, the greater part of whose stock the Reading owned, has been the great burden that has kept Reading on her knees. She mortgaged herself up to her eyes to pay for these lands, and all her enormous earnings have not been sufficient to pay the interest on the bonds. Later, when she thought to lighten the burden by extending her lines and opening new markets, she was met on all sides by the blackmail of high prices for land. In some of the Pennsylvania towns, for the privilege of passing across the foot of ordinary building lots, she paid a sum large enough to enable the owner of the lot to erect a handsome house. This meant more mortgages, heavier fixed charges and a larger debt. To get her once again on her feet has been the problem with some of our greatest financiers for several years.
The Cincinnati and Chicago elections elicited no little comment in Wall street. That the labor party has come to stay is admitted on all sides, and what a year or so ago was derision and contempt has, with the growth of the labor movement, been changed into either fear or respect. Wall street has always taken a deep interest in politics and in all important governmental measures, so that it is not surprising to hear now and then some shrewd financier or railroad king predict the ultimate amalgamation of the two old parties in order that the new political forces may be kept in subjection. And yet a considerable element will say: “Go in, boys! Here is the ballot box, find out what your grievance is and have it redressed there.” The convictions is strong that labor has a grievance, but that a clear statement of it cannot be made; and until the grievance is comprehended clearly Wall street will continue to congratulate itself upon labor's defeats, if for no other reason than that the unknown is still further delayed. When the tape on Tuesday reversed the Cincinnati election news contained in the morning papers and brought the republican ticket out ahead, the “street” manifested a somewhat easier feeling. The railroads took so much interest in the Chicago contest as to contribute $500 each toward the defeat of Nelson. The probable success of labor at the polls has the same disquieting effect that a strike or the prospect of a strike has. But a strike always benefits trade if it is successful, and labor's victory at the polls would bring first, cleaner government, and second, higher wages. Both of these would would act beneficially upon all legitimate interests. With higher wages would come increased consumption, strong demand, heavy and continued railroad traffic and general prosperity. The very things the railroads strive for in contributing to the defeat of labor, they would more than gain were labor's aspirations realized. Capital and labor are aspirations inseparable. They march together, whether to defeat or to victory. The greatest idleness of one means the greatest suffering to the other, and when labor is constantly employed at high wages capital is reaping its most profitable reward. Financiers feel and see this truth, yet they shy away when labor makes advances. One thing is certain, when Wall street sees clearly that land, the land system and landlordism forbid the bans and stir up these conflicts, so wasteful to both capital and labor, then will such impetus be given the new movement, by the acquisition of this business element, that defeat will be next to impossible.
Prices for government bonds show a still further advance, and activity in them has scarcely lessened.
The stock market has had several feverish spells, so with every fractional advance it is obliged to absorb great quantities of stock. But the cliques are undaunted, and seem to be afraid of nothing. The real estate activity will eventually put an end to their dreams and give the “bears” ample opportunity to go short and cover with heavy profits.
A New View of the Causes of Poverty
The rich grow richer, and the poor poorer, not so much through the operations of existing laws as their mal-administration. When it shall have been demonstrated that human misery goes hand in hand with wisely administered laws, it will be time to invoke the measures advocated by Messrs. George and McGlynn.
A New Kind Of Politics
In Which Men and Their Families Attend Meetings and Entertainments
Thursday, March 31 – The Fifteenth assembly district of the united labor party held a mass meeting to protest against the action of Archbishop Corrigan in suspending Dr. McGlynn from his pastorate of St. Stephen's. Addresses were delivered by Messrs. Gahan, Post, Croasdale, Clarke and many others. The temper of the meeting was that, if the doctor was not soon restored, the church would lose a considerable membership.
The Twenty-second and Twenty-third districts also held a largely attended meeting at Parepa hall, Eighty-sixth street, near Third avenue, which was addressed by Messrs. McCarthy, Fields, Schevitch, Gahan and others. A.J. Steers presided. The audience, composed largely of ladies, was very enthusiastic. Resolutions denouncing the outrageous suspension of Dr. McGlynn by the “Tammany hall hierarchy” were unanimously adopted, as was also a resolution pledging to the doctor the moral and financial support of the Catholic citizens of the two districts forever if necessary.
At the meeting of the Eighteenth district club, 235 East Thirty-fourth street, two new members were elected to represent the district in the general committee, and $25 was donated to the Leader.
The Fifth district club met at Warren hall, with Francis P. Nichols in the chair, and transacted routine business in the interest of the party.
Friday, April 1 – In the Ninth district the session of the club, at Hudson and Twelfth streets, was mainly taken up with a debate on questions of interest to workingmen, in which William A. Maas, A.J. Sweeney and Williams, “the boy orator,” participated.
Saturday, April 2 – The Progress and Poverty club of the Twenty-third district met at 105th street and Third avenue. The proceedings were opened by reading the second chapter of Henry George's “Protection or Free Trade,” after which there was a long debate on the merits of each proposition, in which a number of members of the united labor party from other districts took part. One of the audience remarked that Mr. Senator Sherman was traveling over the country explaining to the benighted workingmen the beauties of protection, and the club thought they would like to hear him on the question, so they resolved to send a committee to the Twenty-third district club of the united labor party and ask them to invite the senator to come to New York to settle several points over which some of the members of the Progress and Poverty club had their doubts. If the senator will consent to come to this city, the club will ask the assembly district organization to invite some gentleman from the free trade side to discuss the question with Mr. Sherman from the public platform. Lectures and debates are given by the Progress and Poverty club every Saturday evening.
The Fourth assembly district club had a large and enthusiastic meeting at 68 East Broadway. The reports from the election districts show that the united labor party is in a fine condition. Many new members are coming in. The headquarters of the club are open every evening except Sunday, and any one in the Seventh ward who wants to know what is going on in labor politics can find out by calling. Mr. Henry George will lecture at the Windsor theater for the benefit of the club, Sunday evening, April 17.
Sunday, April 3 – The primary election, picnic and conference committees of the Fourteenth assembly district met at Clarendon hall. Arrangements were completed for immediately reorganizing the district under the laws of the general committee now pending, and which will probably be adopted at the next session of that body. The committee to confer with the German members of the party in the district declared in favor of the proposition to organize agitation clubs in the various languages, these clubs at all times to be subject to the laws governing the party. The picnic committee was organized by electing M.J. Murray chairman, Franz Koenig secretary, and John J. Murphy, Sr., treasurer. The committee will meet next Sunday at Clarendon hall and appoint all the necessary sub-committees.
Monday, April 4 – The Twentieth district club opened permanent headquarters at 1058 Second avenue. There was a regular old time house warming, singing, etc., and congratulatory addresses, all of which, so a little bird says, lasted till 3 o'clock in the morning.
The Tenth district club gave an entertainment and ball at Germania hall, 201 Bowery. The entertainment was furnished by the Carl Sahm club of musicians, Socialistische leidertafel, Arbeiter fortbildungs-verein and Prof. Roberti in a sword-swallowing and glass-balancing act. The dancing began at about half-past 11 o'clock under the direction of of Messrs. Charles Ubelbor, floor manager, and Louis Weiss, assistant. This district was carried by the united labor party in the last election. The present officers are: August W. Mayer, president; Ed Goldsmith, vice-president; William Gerner, English recording secretary; B. Wiedekampf, German recording secretary; D.I. Jacobs, corresponding secretary; Robert Berggreen, treasurer; Vincent W. Woytisek, sergeant at arms.
The Twenty-fourth district club gave an entertainment and ball at 151st street and Third avenue. This paper was promised a report from one of the members, but it did not arrive.
Tuesday, April 5 – The Seventeenth district club had a large meeting at Wendell's assembly rooms, Forty-fourth street, in the interest of Dr. McGlynn, a detailed report of which appears elsewhere.
The Third district met at 42 Great Jones street and elected the following as officers for the ensuing year; Wm. J. Miles, president; Fred Rerbedanz, vice-president; Wm. Osborne, recording secretary; G.H. Robinson, treasurer; John J. Shine, financial secretary; Arthur Ware, corresponding secretary; David Kronberg, sergeant at arms. The club will hereafter have entertainments and debates on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month, the first to take place April 12, at the rooms of the Toilers' library league, 42 Great Jones street. Mr. Miles will deliver the address on that occasion.
Meetings were held at 510 Sixth avenue (Eleventh district), 1897 Third avenue (Twenty-third – German branch), and 151st street and Third avenue.
Wednesday, April 6 – The Sixth district club met at 412 Grand street and, in addition to routine business, ordered that a mass meeting in the interest of the party be held on April 20. This district polled nearly 3,200 votes on the last election, and the endeavor is to be made to get a large portion of those who voted to take an active interest in strengthening the organization. The club has secured permanent headquarters, which they will have open to all friends and the public in a short time.
The entertainments for the coming week are as follows: Monarch social club's picnic at Washington park this (Saturday) afternoon and evening; Eight assembly district, entertainment and ball, Walhalla hall. Thursday, April 14. Meetings: This(Saturday) evening – Fourth district, 68 East Broadway; Twenty-third (lecture), 1897, Third avenue. Monday, April 11 – Fourteenth, 257 East Tenth street; Twenty-first, Seventh avenue, corner Forty-seventh; Twenty-second, 1422 Second avenue; Twenty-thirty (English), 1897, Third avenue. Tuesday, April 12 – Eleventh, 510 Sixth avenue; Third, 42 Great Jones; Fifteenth, 475 Ninth avenue; Sixteenth, 350 First avenue; Twenty-third (German), 1897, Third avenue. Wednesday, April 13 – Sixth, 412 Grand street; Tenth, 197 East Fourth; Thirteenth, 208 Eighth avenue.
The only victory of any importance won by the democrats at this week's elections was that in Rhode Island, and there the party represented a principle and pledged itself to amend the constitution so that it shall no longer deny to foreign born citizens not owning property the right to vote. Where the party has offered practical help to the working people it has gained strength; where it has turned its back on them it has been annihilated.
The interstate commerce law went into what is called operation on Tuesday last, and the operation it has gone into threatens to be as effective as that of the usury law in New York. For the railway managers and counselors have been thinking the matter over, and when they lay their heads together the result is generally to their own advantage.
The law forbids the issuing of passes. Well, the roads will stop the issuing of passes. Of course they will. They make a point of obeying the law whenever possible, and it is eminently possible in this case. So there will be no free travel! Well, technically speaking, within the meaning of the act, you understand, none whatever. Of course, large shippers, influential drummers and other people who can control business must conciliated; but there's no difficulty about that. Isn't it easy enough to make them employees of the roads that want to favor them and pay their salaries in tickets! Does the law forbid a railway to hire what men it pleases and pay them what salaries it has a mind to? No indeed!
And the long haul and short haul provision. How can that be evaded? Marry, thus. John Smith of New York ships two lots of goods by the same line, one to Buffalo and the other to Chicago. He pays lawful rates on both, but when his shipment reaches Chicago there comes into play a perfectly legitimate contract by the railway people to deliver the goods within a certain number of hours under a penalty which, curiously enough, amounts to just the difference between what the Chicago rate is under the interstate commerce law existing. And even this transparent evasion seems likely to be rendered needless by the action of the commission in “temporarily exempting” certain roads from the operation of the provision in question.
The lesson of all this, as of the non-enforcement of the usury law, the Sunday liquor law and other enactments of that kind, is simply that when our forefathers declared that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, they enunciated a truth and not an idle platitude. The words of the declaration mean something. If a legislator is willing to be bribed, and a citizen is willing to bribe him, no law against bribery can do more than make them careful not to be found out; if one man wants to buy whisky on Sunday, and another wants to sell it him, the whisky will surely be sold, and if a railway wants to give a free pass or a reduced rate, and a traveler or shipper wants to get it, the pass will be issued or the low rate charged though a thousand laws forbid.
The Albany legislature has under consideration a bill, introduced by Senator McMillan, to amend the statute relative to the employment of women and children by, among other things, increasing the age at which children may be employed from thirteen to fourteen years. The arguments of the senators who oppose the measure are worth attention. Senator Low is satisfied that the danger to children is not from work, but from idleness and going in the streets. Senator Plunkitt expresses his belief that, as long as school facilities are so generally lacking throughout the state, it is better to have children at work than in idleness in the streets. Moreover, the passage of the bill will throw out of employment, in New York alone, more than 8,000 thirteen-year old girls. Ultimately, the prohibition against the employment of girls under fourteen has been stricken out, and the bill is recommitted.
It would be interesting to know if our Albany solons apply in their own families this newly discovered sociological principle that it is better for a child of thirteen to work ten or twelve hours a day than to waste the shining hours in “idleness.” It would be well, too, if they would reflect a little on what kinds of a civilization it is that confessedly compels American citizens to choose between forcing their children to work when they should be at play and exposing them to the degrading influences of “the street.” One would think, listening to the prattle of these Albany gentlemen, that God had made the earth too small and the children too many.
Practically, of course, it makes little difference whether the lawful age at which children may be set to wage earning be fixed at one figure or at another. Children don't go to work as a refuge from the evil associations of “the street.” They go to work because poverty compels them to; and the chief effect of an attempt to limit the age at which poverty shall get in its work is to make the younger among them liars as well as slaves.
The proposal to tax deposits in savings banks and trust companies finds few defenders; indeed, it is probably safe to say that were there any real danger of the bill passing into a law, the few who now advocate it would be found among its bitterest opponents.
And yet the measure is a severely practical one and is not at all likely to fail of accomplishing its objects. Its real object is to tax the savings banks, not for the benefit of the community, but for the profits of a few individuals; and in this it will probably be successful. It is a bit of practical politics; in other words a “strike.”
It is curious to remark, however, how quickly public sentiment is aroused in opposition to a proposal to levy a tax upon industry and thrift in this particular manner, and yet how acquiescent the same sentiment is in the imposition of much heavier burdens, provided only they are imposed in other and more orthodox forms. To fine John Smith for depositing his savings in a bank is immoral; but to punish him for investing them in any other way is perfectly proper. To tax John Smith's money out of a savings bank for public purposes is a thing not to be thought of; but to compel John Smith himself to draw his own money out and pay it over to an Astor estate, or a Rhinelander estate, or a Sailors' Snug Harbor estate, as a price for the privilege of living, is so eminently proper to suggest the contrary is to strike a blow at the foundations of civilization and religion.
“What man,” remarks one of our New York papers, “possessing brains and honesty, would favor any policy calculated to discourage the spirit which prompts the workman to put by his small savings for a rainy day.”
Some of the corporations to which the legislature of this state has at various times granted the right to collect taxes from the people of New York city are finding it difficult to enforce their rights, not as against the people – whom, as a practical matter of fact, have no recognized rights worth speaking of – but as against each other. The Arcade road puts in a claim to Broadway and has a sacred piece of paper to show for it, but the Metropolitan transit company has another piece of paper, equally sacred, by virtue of which it claims Broadway. The cable company has a documentary right to some seventy miles of streets, and the Manhattan railway company modestly claims them all. So a new rapid transit commission is to settle, not what the people shall pay, but whom they shall pay it to.
The fire insurance companies' union shows signs of dissolution. The smaller companies are discovering that under the rules of the association it is impossible for them to secure their fair share of business, and one of them, the Williamsburg City, has notified the pool of its intention to withdraw. This example will unquestionably be followed by the other minor companies, and the continuance of the combination will then become impossible.
The theoretical object of this union was to put an end to competition among the companies, and thus enable them to reduce brokers' commissions. Its actual purpose and effect was to secure higher rates of premium from insurers. The heavy commissions to brokers really meant lower rates of insurance, since it was the well-settled custom that commissions were divided between brokers and insured, thus enabling the latter to secure lower net rates; and when, on the formation of the pool, the commissions were reduced, it was really the policy holders who suffered by the confiscation of their share of the commission. The smaller companies, who foresaw the injury which the pool would inflict on their business, were dragooned into submission by the threat of ruinous undercutting. A brief experience has sufficed to show them their mistake, and the public will be the gainer by it.
Register Murtha of Brooklyn has invented and put into operation a little eight hour law of his own, which seems to work fairly well. The Title Guarantee and Trust company has been endeavoring to secure copies of the records of Kings county real estate titles. To this Mr. Murtha at first objected in toto; but when the Title company threatened suit he modified his objection and suggested a compromise. He couldn't allow the Title company's clerks to copy records during business hours, but he had no objection to their doing so in the evenings – for a consideration. For the modest sum of $190 a week he would have the office kept open for a few extra hours each day, during which they might copy all the records they pleased. Mr. Murtha could afford to name so low a figure, because, as appears from the evidence before the investigating committee, the register's office is kept open nights anyhow, the clerks doing a great deal of their copying and much of their searching after official hours.
For more than a year past the department of agriculture has been investigating the subject of food adulteration. The department is by no means ready yet to tell us all it has discovered, but in a recent report it lifts a corner of the vail that hides its knowledge, and tells us what it knows about spices and condiments.
Of the twenty samples of ground cloves examined by the department expert only two were pure. The others had suffered the extraction of their essential oils and had been polluted by the addition of clove stems, allspice and husks of various kinds. Of eight samples of cayenne pepper only one was pure, though several had only suffered the loss of their fixed oil; the others contained quantities of wheat flour, the spurious matter being in some cases two-thirds of the compound. This made it necessary to add tumeric acid (harmless) to restore the mustard color. Ten samples of allspice were examined, eight of which were pure. Four samples of cassia were all pure. Of ten samples of ginger, four were pure. Only one out of thirteen samples of black pepper was found to be what it purported to be. Two samples of white pepper out of five were pure, two samples of mace out of five were pure, and of three samples of nutmeg examined all were pure. The expert incidentally mentions a New York spice grinder who within a New York spice grinder who within a short time worked off five thousand pounds of coconut husks.
What will be done about it? Well, some state legislatures will probably pass laws providing that hereafter there shall be no adulterations, and the majesty of law having thus asserted itself, the adulterations will go on as merrily as ever. For above the statute law against dishonesty is the more powerful social law which, by granting to individuals the power to tax and curb production, forces producers into an unnatural and unwholesome competition, in which the most shrewdly unprincipled competitor is safe to win.
Meanwhile, disclosures like this are wholesome though food for the clamorers for government on “business principles.”
The Pennsylvania legislature is determined to let its good deeds shine before men, and especially before railroad men. Under the laws of the state no company doing business in Pennsylvania as a common carrier may own land except for the purpose of its regular business. This is an inconvenience to the Erie railway, which has a title to 70,000 acres of coal land in the western part of the state, valued at $4,000,000, and forces it to adopt one of two courses: either to hold the land in some other name or to “arrange” with the legislature for a suspension of the law. Apparently it has found the second course the most desirable, for a bill is now pending at Harrisburg providing that what is law for everybody else shall not be law for the Erie, which, if the bill becomes a law, will be enabled to hold its coal lands in its own name, anything on the statute books of Pennsylvania to the contrary notwithstanding.
The government in England is doggedly pressing forward its preparations for the passage of the Irish coercion act. It has managed to get the closure through parliament, and is remorselessly applying the gag law to its opponents. Public indignation has, however, had sufficient weight to compel the practical abandonment of the clause authorizing the removal of accused Irishmen to England for trial. The English radicals are making a vigorous fight against the measure outside of parliament, and public meetings will be held in every town in the kingdom to denounce the tyrannical bill. It is believed that the parliamentary tactics of the Irish members will enable them to delay the passage of the bill for six weeks, and meanwhile the agitation throughout the country will be preparing the way for the overthrow of the tory party at the next election, and the bringing of the liberals back to power on a square issue of home rule for Ireland.
In Ireland there is a rapidly growing feeling of bitterness, and the nationalist newspapers are printing the record of Balfour's father as an evictor in Scotland. The young man appears to have received early and practical training in the brutality he is now upholding, and he is proving himself to be an apt pupil. He has a chipper insolence that is peculiarly aggravating, and he apparently considers wholesale eviction rather amusing than otherwise. A man who thus makes game of a people's sufferings is likely to find himself made game of by somebody in a vastly different sense.
It is so much the custom of a certain portion of the press of this country to treat this Irish question as though it were something abnormal to the modern system of civilization, the like of which never by any possibility could occur in these United States, that it is worth while to consider briefly what the Irish question really is.
Certain people, chiefly non-residents of Ireland, are endowed by social usage and statute law with the right to claim as their own a certain portion of all that Ireland produces – pigs, linen, grain, butter, eggs, everything, in short. This they do without making any return whatever, simply because society says they may. The Irish people who produce the pigs and lines and butter and other things are strenuously objecting to this condition of affairs, and, in point of fact, are keeping their pigs, etc., for their own use and declining to part with them except for value received. And the Irish question, which has revolutionized the British parliamentary system, is the question of what is to be done under these circumstances. The dominant party in parliament insists that Irishmen must give up their pigs, etc., under penalty of imprisonment or death; and the present prospect is that what they say will become law. To what extent the law can be executed will then remain to be seen.
Meantime, if the journals which so ardently sympathize with the oppressed Irish would but analyze the condition of affairs here in the United States, they would discover that no small portion of the pigs and other produce of this country is taken by people whose claim to it has no foundation in equity, but rests, precisely like the claims of the absentee landlords of Ireland, upon social usage and statute law, and upon nothing else.
Queries And Answers
Special Pleas in the Forms of Questions
New York – Please answer the following:
- Why should not the state wherein improved property is located be benefited by the imposition of an additional tax upon such improved property, when the improvement is partially, if not principally, attained through the safety and protection given the one benefited by the operation of universal law, which, to successfully maintain, causes in each state great public expenditure?
- How would any state thrive by the imposition of an equal tax on land values, when one man, fully protected by the universal laws of the land, and his rights at all times preserved to him, accumulates vast wealth through industrial effort, pays the very same money tax as an adjacent property owner whose land remains uncultivated, and which requires no cost whatever on the part of the state to protect?
- Why should not the wealthier of the two be willing to pay increased taxes to the state, for the reason of the state, by the due administration of equal laws, costly to maintain, which the property owner may have been twenty or more years in collecting?
- Should not that enriched man pay an additional tax, not forgetting that in the same space of time his neighbor's property has not been cultivated one iota, the latter thereby being in a measure an injury to the state and to its welfare?
- If all lots were taxed equally, as Mr. George maintains should be done, how should a poor tradesman compete with the rich one in the same business, on the same thoroughfare, when the rich man has vast means and magnificently appointed buildings to promote his success – and not taxed for the same – and the other, having but limited means, and say, if you please, but mere sheds to spread his wares in? The proposition is to tax both tradesmen the same, millionaire or bankrupt. Is this just?
- A, having a large cultivated property with many servants in his employ, is asked by the county tax commissioners to subscribe toward maintaining the fire, police, school, poorhouse and canal tax in the county; the canal, built by the state, by reason of its close proximity to his land, enhances it fifty per cent. He answers that he will subscribe, but on the same basis of taxation as his less fortunate neighbor, whose property is unimproved, through cause or otherwise, and not contributing to the support of a single soul. Should not the one reaping the advantages of protection, the advantages of protection, the advantages which education affords to his children and to his employees' children, the bettering of their social and moral condition, pay more than one owning property in the same county but who asks none of these favors from the state? George says no.
- A has 5,000 employees (the Pennsylvania coal company, John Roach, Krupp, the gunmaker, and the United States government have more), and A's aggregate wealth is estimated at $5,000,000; supposing through one single accident, caused through the negligence of the hirer, 500 men are maimed and permanently disabled, more or less, and 2,000 dependents are made homeless (this occurs very often, as you know); many are necessarily sent to asylums, almshouses and other kindred institutions. Would it be just to impose the same tax to maintain these institutions upon the adjacent unimproved land owner, who did not, through business or other sources, contribute in bringing about the unfortunate condition of affairs alluded to? Having in view constantly that the latter owns the same amount of property in land, say, as Krupp, but not the immense number of improvements as the latter, making him enormously wealthy, George says both men should be taxed equally. Would you not take it that Krupp should contribute more more to the support and maintenance of the government and its institutions, many of whose employees are dependent upon the state?
You use so many ambiguous terms and exhibit so vague a knowledge both of what Mr. George proposes and of the economic principles underlying his proposition, that it is as difficult to answer you as it would be to explain a problem in geometry to one who was ignorant of the rudiments of the science. If you are really seeking information, and not inventing conundrums for pastime, you should read “Progress and Poverty” – really read it, not skip through its pages. Your letter indicates that you have not read even the Answers to Queries preceding your own. Nevertheless, we will briefly reply, rather by way of suggestion than otherwise, to the questions you put, trusting to a further investigation on your part to make the replies clear should they seem at present to be insufficient.
- By “improved property” we must assume that you mean improvements on land as distinguished from the land. Otherwise there is no point to your question. The state cannot be benefited by taxes on improvements. The state – that is, the people – is benefited by improvements, and as taxes on improvements tend to discourage the making of improvements, a tax on improvements, so far from benefiting the state, injures it. Improvements are neither partially nor principally attained through protection. They are attained through labor. It is true that it producers are denied the enjoyment of their products, production will be discouraged. But the great expense of securing that enjoyment is because our social system, by denying natural rights to land, makes thieves of honest men. What you call protection operates in a circle. First, it protects a few in their exclusive possession of industrial opportunities, thereby making the others dependent on them for a living; and from among those who, under such disadvantages, find it difficult to get an opportunity to make a living, comes a regular supply of social birds of prey, against whose depredations producers are, after a fashion, protected. If every man were free to work, getting the full product of his labor, there would be very little necessity for protection. Those who fence in land create the necessity and should pay the bill.
Moreover, while there is a common fund, the cost of protection should be paid out of that and not out of private funds. The right to protection is equal. Every man is entitled to whether he be rich or poor, and whether he be a quick and skillful worker or a slow and blundering one, without a penny of expense so long as there is a common property to pay the expense. Land values are common property and are ample to pay for all that good government requires.
- Such a state would thrive exceedingly well. The “adjacent property owner whose land remains uncultivated” would make haste to cultivate it or sell it to some one who would. Then a valuable piece of land, instead of remaining idle and not only useless but detrimental to the community, would afford an opportunity for the accumulation of an additional supply of “vast wealth through industrial effort.” The industrial effort would be encouraged by exemptions from taxes, the value of the land itself would go into the public treasury, idle labor would find a new outlet, and the community would be benefited by a new improvement. That is the kind of state to which anyone wanting to work for good wages and anyone having capital to invest in industrial enterprises would emigrate, and which only the parasite who thrives by buying up and holding vacant land for a rise in value would want to avoid.
- Because he has an equal right to the land values of his community and is entitled to have public expenses paid out of that common property before being forced to make a contribution from his private purse.
- We cannot understand why a man who has used his land so as to benefit the state should pay a greater tax on that account than the man who, by not using his land at all, has injured the state. If each appropriates the same land value, each should pay the same tax, just as two people would pay the same price for the same kind of seat in a theater, though one enjoys the play more than the other, or even stays away, leaving his seat vacant. It is the value of the opportunity a man appropriates for which he should pay, not the use he makes of the opportunity.
- Mr. George does not propose to tax all lots equally. He proposes to tax all land values at an equal rate. If the poor tradesman occupied a lot of equal value to that of the rich tradesman, he would compete with him very much as he does now, plus many advantages which need not be enumerated here. Under present conditions the poor tradesman must pay his land value tax to a landlord either in ground rent annually or in ground rent capitalized in a purchase price. Under the conditions proposed by Mr. George he would pay it annually into a common fund belonging to himself and the rest of the community. As a tradesman he would be better off. It is only as the owner of a piece of the terrestrial globe, which would rise in value as the community grew, that he might lose something. In respect to all that he earned his condition would be improved, and only in respect to his right to tax others for his own benefit would he experience any disadvantage.
- The question is not clear; but we infer that you want to know whether it is just to tax a rich man, whose improved land has been enhanced fifty per cent in value by public improvements, no more than a poor man whose unimproved land of equal value has also been enhanced fifty per cent in value by the same public improvements. Suppose A to be the rich man owning land worth $50,000 and improvements worth $50,000. Suppose B to be the poor man owning unimproved land worth $50,000. Now suppose that in consequence of the erection of school houses and poorhouses, the establishment of fire and police protection and the construction of a canal, land values are enhanced fifty per cent. Then A's land would be worth $75,000 and B's $75,00, while A's improvements would still be worth only $50,000, since public improvements do not add to the value of natural opportunities. We have here an increase of land values amounting to $25,000 in each case. Did either A or B individually produce that extra value? Of course not. Then would there be any injustice in taxing, for the benefit of the community, the entire increase? You cannot say there would be without setting up a claim on behalf of A and b to the free enjoyment of other people's property. This disposes of the fifty per cent increase. What then of the original value of $50,000 in each case? Can you show that it was produced by A and B individually? Certainly not. Land values are not produced by what any man does, but solely by demand for land – by growth of population and general industrial advance. Would there be any more injustice, then, in taking that value for the benefit of he community than in taking the enhanced value produced by public improvements? Thus far A and B are justly taxed equally on the basis of the land values they appropriate to their individual use, and only the $50,000 of labor product value belonging to A remains to be considered. Assuming that he came by this honestly – that is, that he earned it, or that it was voluntarily given to him by some one who did earn it, by what right do you take the smallest fraction of a cent of it from him for public use? If he did not come by it honestly, there is a better way of reaching his case than by a tax on labor products, which would bear with equal if not greater severity upon those who have produced their wealth than upon those who stole theirs.
If land values were appropriated to public use by taxation neither A nor anyone else would have 5,000 employees unless he paid them all they earned, for opportunities to labor would be so plentiful that employers would have to complete for workmen instead of workmen competing for employers. In that case few would be so dependent on what they earned from day to day that an accident would throw them into asylums and almshouses, and the less fortunate ones could be well taken care of out of common funds.
A's personal liability for negligence is quite out of the question. We would not undertake to regulate negligence by taxation.
Much of your confusion of thought is due to neglecting the very obvious economic distinctions between land and things produced from land by labor – between the spring and a bucket of water taken from the spring. The law may call both property, but that does not make them so economically or morally. The law has called men property.
Rack Renting and Fixity of Tenure
Dunsinnan, Perth – Having read “Progress and Poverty” with much interest, I wish to ask how, were the state to become landlord, rack renting could be avoided and how fixity of tenure could be secured. A rack renting landlord is simply one who takes the highest bid for his land. How could the state help doing that? Again, if a man offered higher rent for a piece of land than the occupying tenant was willing to pay, the occupying tenant would have to go, of course getting the full value of his improvements. But that would not be enough to compensate for disturbance. Sympathizing with you entirely in your efforts for effecting a fairer distribution of wealth, I am yours sincerely.
If the state were the only landlord, rack renting would not be oppressive. No one would bid anything for land which was not at the same time exceptionally desirable in consequence of density of population or public improvements. All bidding for land on speculation would cease. No one would hold land for a future value, because when the value came it would be appropriated by the state. Therefore, all land having no present value would be vacant, and, being common land, would be open to free occupation. This condition of things would keep land down to its normal value, beyond which rack renting could not force it; and the highest bidder for valuable land would pay no more for his exceptional advantage than that advantage was worth – that is, no more than the difference between that land and the least valuable land to be had for nothing. And this he would pay into a common fund. If A and B owned a tract of land, one half of which was worth $500 a year and the other half nothing, and A took the better half, paying its value and leaving the poorer half to B, their advantages would be equalized. With the same labor and capital A would produce $500 more than B, which would be divided between the two. Then if B should outbid A for the better land – should offer $600, say – they would change places as to the land they occupied, but each would be better off by $50 a year than before. What you call rack renting by the state would operate similarly. It might displace occupants at times but never to their disadvantage, since every one would be both a landlord and tenant; what one lost as a tenant he would gain as a landlord. In practice, however, there would be very little displacement of occupants against their will, for it would seldom happen that the occupant of land of increasing value could not better afford to pay the increase than a stranger. The occupant would in most cases be the highest bidder.
But it is not necessary that the state should own and rent land to realize the advantages of common ownership, nor is it proposed. It is only necessary to shift taxes from products of labor to land values, and then gradually to increase these taxes until practically the whole value is absorbed. Then every one would nominally own the land he occupied, while in fact he would only own the improvements. There would be no bidding at the instance of the state. The bidding would be as it is now, between occupiers on the one hand and persons desirous of occupying on the other. This bidding would fix the market price of real estate, as it does now, and by deducting the value of improvements the land value, which would be the basis of taxation, would appear. Payment of the tax would secure occupancy and fixity of tenure. At the same time there would be vast areas of land in or near every community for which no one would bid, the element of speculation in land being eliminated, and which would, therefore, be free of taxes. This would afford an outlet to labor and capital and tend to constantly preserve the normal equilibrium between wages, interest and rent.
Portland, Me – I can easily see that what is called the unearned increment of land belongs to the community collectively and not to the holders of the land; but I do not like the word unearned, because it is earned or produced by the community, and to them it justly belongs, and taxing land values returns it to them.
But how is it with the unearned increment of wealth, or wealth which the holders never produced, but has been produced or created by the community and transferred into the hands of a class by false and unjust laws, just the same as has the land – wealth in the form of stocks, mortgages, municipal, state and national bonds, which return to the holders an enormous income, the holders of which do not own or hold a foot of land (and should your principle of taxing land values only prevail, probably never will), but are holding and enjoying that which just as surely belongs to the community as does the unearned increment of land? Now, how do you propose to transfer or return this wealth and its incomes to the rightful owners? I know of no better or surer way than by a graduated income tax. I know it must go back to the rightful owners in some way before a solution or permanent settlement can be made of this great reform movement, upon which we have entered.
The “unearned increment” of land is precisely what the term implies – an unearned value. It is the price of a natural opportunity. Take three farms, two of equal fertility and one less fertile than the others, and suppose that there are but two men in the community. The none of these farms will have a value. Each man will take one of the more fertile farms, and no matter how much they produce there will be no “unearned increment.” Now, let a third man come into the community. He must either take the less fertile farm or pay for the privilege of occupying one of the better farms, and whatever he is willing to pay rather than resort to the poorer land is the “unearned increment” – the value – of the better farm. He does not produce this value. Neither do his associates. Nor the three together. It is not a product at all. It is simply what any of the three is willing to pay out of his earnings for the privilege of producing in a particular place. It is the price of a natural advantage fixed by competition.
There is no such thing as “unearned increment of wealth” which is not wholly dependent upon private ownership of land. There is, however, “wealth which the holders never produced,” ranging all the way from the petty plunder of a pickpocket to the loot of privileged classes obtained through unjust laws. And we should as soon think of a graduated income tax for the purpose of restoring the plunder of pickpockets to its rightful owner as for the purpose of reaching the loot of monopolists. A graduated income tax, if it could be honestly enforced, would affect the just and the unjust, the producer and plunderer alike; and while it does not prevent stealing it interferes with production.
When land is made a commodity, the possession of great wealth, though not invested in land values, enables its owners to enjoy an unearned income which may be likened to the unearned increment of land. But when land is free, or what amounts to the same thing, when it is taxed to its full value, there is no “unearned increment of wealth;” for the possession of wealth then gives no power to command the wealth then gives no power to command the wealth or labor of others except in fair exchange. Free land tends to reduce the market supply of labor below demand, and consequently to keep wages at the point of earnings. Therefore, no one can accumulate wealth at the expense of others. If he increases his wealth by using his wealth, the increase hurts nobody. It only tends to make wages still higher by the greater demand for labor. To impose a graduated income tax for the purpose of getting back a little of the loot of the privileged classes is like burning a barn to catch a weasel.
Your references to national and other bonds and stocks are fully considered in the sixteenth chapter of “Social Problems,” entitled “Public Debts and Indirect Taxation,” and in book 3, chapter 4 of “Progress and Poverty,” entitled “Of spurious capital and of profits often mistaken for interest.”
Importation of Laborers
Kingston, NY – To what extent is immigration restricted by law and the reason why it should not be restricted?
Paupers and exiled criminals are not allowed to land here. There is also a law prohibiting the importation of workingmen under contract. It is to the latter law that you probably refer.
This law is in harmony with the pretended object of the protective tariff. The privileged few for whose benefit protective tariffs are maintained, defend them on the ground that they protect workingmen from competition with foreign pauper labor. This is a transparent fraud so long as foreign labor is permitted to come here. The tariff keeps cheap goods out and lets cheap men in, thus securing to the privileged manufacturer low wages in production and high profits on his products. The law against the importation of contract labor is not objectionable as a defensive measure, though it would be more effective if the laborer and binding on the employer, even to the extent of making him pay the stipulated wages whether the stipulated work was performed or not.
Protection or Free Trade
Hornellsville, NY – The readers of your paper here cordially approve and fairly understand your land theories, except as they relate to the tariff. While we know that the present protective tariff protects the monopolist rather than the workingman, will not free trade, even with land value tax, be more detrimental to American labor than a land value tax accompanied by a prohibitory tariff. You will, perhaps, say that such a tariff would practically confine us to a home market; but under free trade would we not import far more of the results of foreign low-priced labor than export products of our own industry?
Mr. George, in his examination before the senate investigating committee of 1883 instances the fact that we can manufacture watches cheaper in this country than they can abroad while paying better wages. But is this not one of the few exceptions to the rule; if so, what will other trades do? We cannot all be watchmakers.
Will not manufacturers ship raw material to Europe or, still worse, to China and manufacture with pauper labor and undersell home manufacture in the markets of the world, bringing our wages down by their competition to a minimum?
What avails it that we can buy cheap if business is stagnant.
These difficulties might adjust themselves in time, but could American labor tide over that period? If you can show us immediate and lasting benefits from free trade, you will settle a much vexed question, which stands between the Standard and ourselves.
After you read “Protection, or Free Trade,” we shall be glad to answer any questions that may occur to you. Chapters 12, 19, 23 and 24 bear specially on your inquiry, but you would do well to read the book through. It is not to avoid answering you that we make this suggestion, but because your letter indicates that your thought is running upon objections to free trade that are well justified by the experience of workingmen, and which cannot be clearly explained except at length. We hope to hear again from you soon.
How To Increase Profits
The Sure and Easy Way to Lessen Merchants' Expenses and Increase Their Sales
To the merchant of limited capital, to him who belongs to the vast middle class, about to start business for himself, or who perchance has been carrying on business on his own account, the query, How many profits be increased? will appear of a certain interest; and if we assure him at the outset that the plan we propose is certain to do what we promise – viz., to increase profits – he may think it worth while to read our method and weigh its value.
“A penny saved is twopence gained,” is a wise old saw. First, then, we propose to increase profits by diminishing expenses.
“A nimble penny is better than a slow six-pence,” is another equally valuable adage. Second, we propose to increase profits by making more and quicker sales.
Is it within your power, oh, citizen merchant, to decrease your expenses and add to your sales by one and the same method?
It is! And, as before said, the method is certain; and, unlike most now followed by the ordinary trader, it is perfectly just. It will harm none. It will benefit all. What is it?
Abolish all taxes save one upon the values of land. But that is Henry George's theoretical humbug!
Yes, friend! and it is a sure and certain remedy for your lack of business and for the numberless failures of men who, like you, with limited resources, have started to build up a business in the midst of our merciless modern competition.
Listen, then, to how we propose to diminish expenses.
What is your largest single expense? The rent of your store, is it not? Well, we propose to lower that rent. Is that practical enough for you? How? Well, thus. The rent you now pay is of two kinds; one on the store building you occupy and the other for the land that building stands upon.
The first it is perfectly just you should pay; but the last, that paid for the land, is not just – at present.
Now if you and others like you would join with the other workers of the city or town or village where you live and labor, and instruct your legislative representative in congress and in the state legislature, to so modify the present methods of taxation that all the taxes should be placed upon the values of land irrespective of improvements, you can easily see that values of land would fall.
No one who held land would continue to hold it without using it; for if he did, the tax upon its value would soon eat him up. Land would under such a condition be a useless thing to the holder unless he used it. Every owner of land would either put it into use himself, or, perforce, dispose of it to somebody else who would.
New buildings, new dwelling houses, new stores for selling and dealing in, would go up wherever they could be put up – and coming into the market and competing with the stores and dwellings now built and in use would cause rents to fall. And as this would be a general state of affairs it would affect all buildings and every neighborhood. So we should diminish your main expense – rent.
Next, by the same means, we would increase your sales.
For, if taxes were gathered alone from the values of land, as has been before stated, no man would hold land unless he used it. Improving, building, employing of labor in some way upon the land would at once become the necessary condition of affairs.
Everywhere builders would be at work – painters, bricklayers, masons busy at all times.
But workmen won't work unless they are paid? True! therefore as the same condition that compelled their employment would cause money to circulate that is now locked up, capital would flow out into building and the various ways of improvement of land, and the pockets of the workers would be filled with wages.
Now, as you know, these workmen need for themselves, their wives and children, the goods in which you deal. When they had full and steady pay they would buy more generously of you, and when your store was always full of customers your sales would increase, would they not?
So, then, by this same means we would increase your sales and diminish your expenses.
Merchant, storekeeper, worker of the middle class, is not this true?
Do you know that in our country between 1870 and 1885 – fifteen years – of every 100 men who went into manufacturing or storekeeping, 97 failed?
Do you know that in that same fifteen years ninety-five per cent of all the failures in business that took place, were of men of $5,000 capital or less?
Knowing these things, if you are a member of either the worn out and decayed republican party or the dishonest and rotten democracy, neither of which attempt to give a reason or a cure for such a truly damnable condition of affairs, is it not time you put on your thinking cap, and asked yourself, What are you going to do about it?
Mr. N.N. Hyndman Describes The Gathering Storm
How the Queen's Jubilee is Being Boomed – Masses Against Classes – The Irish Party's Duty Toward Workingmen in Great Britain
Special to The Standard
London, March 24 – It is a commonplace nowadays to say that the telegraph has destroyed correspondence; and no doubt it has, so far as mere news and freshness of matter is concerned. The writer whose comments upon what is passing before him lag ten days behind the reports of events themselves, is no doubt placed at a great disadvantage in some respects. Yet I am not at all sure that the very knowledge that what eh himself is dealing with will be ancient history by the time his letter reaches its destination does not give greater sobriety to his judgment, if it do not at the same time render him anxious to put what he has to say in a more readable, yet more permanent, form than that of a mere hand-to-mouth epistle. At any rate, in any letters which I may send to The Standard in answer to the kindly request of my friend, its editor, I shall do my best to place before American readers some phases of English life and thought which, perhaps, are too often overlooked in the hurry and scurry of ordinary newspaper work. It is astonishing, indeed, how much does escape notice, even in these days of microscopic records. Louis Blanc, for example, used to send letters to the Temps during his long exile in England which were eagerly read in this country and all over Europe, as well as in Paris. Yet he never so much as noticed, republican semi-socialist as he was, those terrible Blue books on the condition of the working classes, whose very frankness will constitute such damaging evidence against our rulers in the eyes of posterity. The tone of “society,” the views of political men, are caught and transmitted fairly enough, but the changes in the mind of the mass of the people are rarely given with accuracy, while frequently facts are deliberately distorted.
I have just had personal experience of what may be done in the way of journalistic misrepresentation – one out of many such experiences. There can be no doubt whatever that the feeling of the workers is turning against the monarchy. I do not mean that there is any vehement disloyalty to the queen at the present time; but already people are heartily sick of the jubilee, and wouldn't care if they heard the word mentioned again. It is generally recognized that, so far, at any rate, as England is concerned, the queen has lived the life of a selfish and rather ill-natured recluse, neglecting most of the duties she is paid to perform, and showing the world clearly that if a dummy were set up at Osborne or Balmoral such an effigy would serve our purpose as well or better than this well-born old lady, with such an interminable array of stuck-up and poverty-stricken German relations to provide for. The way in which the hat has been passed round lately has also produced a sensation of disgust. A tribe of royalist collectors has been let loose upon the public, and word has gone forth that all the world should be taxed for this memorial and that, until now very strong language is used concerning such shameful mendicity. A black mark, as is well known, is out against any man in the army or navy who fails to proffer his “voluntary” subscription. All this, combined with a strong savor of jobbery, has turned men's stomachs, and there is a vast deal of downright lying as to the way in which loyalist proposals are received in London and the country.
This brings us to our own experience. Tomorrow, March 24, the queen goes down to Birmingham – the private preserve of that quintessence of capitalism, Joseph Chamberlain – to lay the foundation stone of the new law courts. Now Birmingham, albeit that it now returns six unionists or tory-and-water members, has always had the credit, since the days of Dr. Priestly, of being a republican city. But it has spent the sum of £10,000 in receiving her majesty. This seemed to a great many a most lavish outlay for such a purpose, seeing that Birmingham has suffered terribly from the long depression of trade, and that only a little while ago, when an attempt was made to raise a fund to feed and clothe the hundreds and thousands of starving, ragged children in the city, not £500 was forthcoming. The local branch of the social democratic federation, therefore, resolved to hold three meetings of protest last Sunday against this waste, which in such circumstances seemed nothing short of criminal, and invited me down to speak. I went, and at all three meetings the resolution condemning the expenditure, and the slavish kowtowing to royalty which it betokened, was carried. At two of the meetings the vote was unanimous; at the third there was a trifling disturbance by a handful of youths, who were attacked by the crowd and driven away; but there also the vote was carried by an overwhelming majority, and the conveners of the meeting, including myself, strolled peacefully away after the crowd had given three hearty cheers for the social federation.
On my return to London I found that the meetings had been grotesque failures, and that at the principal one, where the lads made a little fuss, we had been completely outvoted, and I should have been seriously injured but that the police rescued me from the hands of a furious mob. This is the sort of foolish lying which is deceiving the royal family and the wealthy classes as to what is really going on among the people. I do not mean to say that there is any very strong republican sentiment at present. I do not even state that the queen is personally unpopular. But I do say that there has been an extraordinary change during the last few months, and that there is literally no enthusiasm for the jubilee or for the monarchy among the great majority of laboring Englishmen. The queen, like Louis Phillippe, is essentially a middle class monarch, fond of money and hankering for good investments. It is quite possible, if things go on as they are going, that she, too, will take her departure in a hack cab. That I should be sorry for. I would even stand my share of barouche and four for the occasion.
Meantime, however, you are doubtless receiving glowing accounts of her most gracious majesty's unbounded popularity with all classes of her subjects and imagine that she is mistress of all hearts.
I am writing on the day following the all-night sitting in the house of commons. The tory government has resolved to carry matters with a high hand, and last night undoubtedly succeeded in doing so against the Irish members and their radical friends. But this sort of victory is really more dangerous than defeat. No one would accuse me of any regard for the liberal party. That faction is as much a wire-puller's machine as either of the discredited parties in the United States. But a little more of such insolence as that which has been recently shown by the aristocratico-plutocratic gang, led in the house of commons by Smith and Goschen, with their cohort of young lordlings, and supported by Hartington and Chamberlain, will serve to weld together every progressive element in Great Britain into one solid revolutionary force. Salisbury is assuredly no Strafford, and that insufferable prig, Balfour, is as certainly no Ireton. Even if they were, we are not in the days of Charles I or Cromwell. Things do move slowly no doubt; but they have moved since the seventeenth century. The tories are not stong enough for this sort of work. They have no orator in the lower house now that Lord Randolph has gone, and to carry on a policy of repression requires not only an orator in these democratic days, but an imposing personality, such as Bismarck's. The liberals, with all their shortcomings, have both an orator and a personality in Gladstone, and he will be a terrible antagonist in the path of such blundering coercionists as these. By the way, I believe Balfour is that member of his family to whom the late Dr. Thomson of Trinity, Cambridge, addressed one of his famous sarcasms. Balfour was as conceited and supercilious ten years ago as he is today, and he had been delivering himself, though he had only just taken his degree, with an air of dogmatic assumption altogether insufferable. “After all,” murmured Thompson as he had given vent to some self-sufficient dictum, “we are none of use infallible – not even the youngest of us.”
But Balfour has no doubt about his own infallibility still, and it is just this which will wreck him. Moreover, the attempt to apply “thorough” in Ireland and a vigorous “closure” in the house of commons may yet be turned against the tories themselves. “No quarter” is a very ugly cry to rouse in the presence of an enemy who is gaining strength every day, and can on an emergency move the passions of the people as the reactionary party never could and never will. The great mistake being made at present by the anti-coercion side is the attempt to sever home rule and the cause of the Irish generally from the cause of the English democracy. I have been a home ruler for years, not because I believe in the empty nationality cry, but because in that way alone can the Irish begin to deal with their social difficulties, apart from the interference of English soldiers and English constabulary. But I have never ceased to urge upon Irishmen, when I was a member of the central executive of the land league of Great Britain, and ever since, the absolute necessity, if they wish to win quickly, to make common cause with the mass of Englishmen and to demand measures which will improve the lot of their own working countrymen in Great Britain itself at the same time. This they have always refused to do, and are not doing now; though the Irish workers in our great cities are worse off than any other portion of the whole population, and they number from 1,500,000 to 2,000,000. This blunder cost them dear at the last election, and notwithstanding liberal support, may cost them dear at the next. A man may have little faith in parliamentary methods. I confess I have not a very great deal myself. But as parliamentary methods are being used, no effort should be spared to bring the English voters to the poll by offering them, in addition to home rule – which the mass of them care not two straws about, I am sorry to say – some benefits which will touch them at their own firesides. The action of Cox, Arthur O'Connor and Blane in bringing forward the question of the unemployed in the debate on the address did more to breed a good feeling among Englishmen than any step yet taken. This I know. Why not go on, then? It may be said that I am arguing from a selfish point of view, and that the English ought to oppose tyranny in Ireland on principle. Very likely. We social democrats have always acted on principle, and we opposed liberal coercion applied by Gladstone as vigorously as we shall withstand tory coercion applied by Salisbury. But that will not take great multitudes of men to the poll who care no more for Father Kelleher than they do for – saving your presence, Mr. Editor –Father McGlynn. The truth is that the Irish are relying upon Schnadhorst and the wirepullers instead of upon the genuine democratic sentiment of Englishmen and Scotchmen. This sentiment can only be aroused by showing that the cause of the people of Great Britain is at one with that of the people of Ireland, that the cause of the people of Ireland, that the Irish are ready to help forward English measures as well as their own until home rule is gained. At present this is not being done. Consequently, whatever sanguine Irishmen may tell you, I will stake my reputation that there is no enthusiasm for home rule among the rank and file of working class voters in England and Scotland. That is a serious matter when the reactionary feeling among the middle class is growing as it is among so many of the shopkeepers today.
Take an instance of neglect of opportunity. The coal mining industry is here, as in all great manufacturing countries, the bed rock basis of the whole productive system, aside from agriculture. In Great Britain some 500,000 men are employed. Lately we have had a succession of those isolated and hopeless strikes, which from the waste which they entail and the certainty of defeat make one little short of despair of the future of the pitmen. In Lanarkshire the Scotch miners have been out. Poor devils! they have been earning on an average a net wage of nine shillings, little more than two dollars a week! The masters wished to reduce even that and the men struck. Insulted, bullied and maligned, they were driven into rioting. The police and military were called out; many were hauled into custody. No one denies the miserable condition of the men; and that profits, including middlemen's commissions, etc., amount to royalties and wages together. Here was a chance for the Irish members. Englishmen and Scotsmen in parliament dared not stand up for the oppressed miners. The so-called laborer representatives sat silent and cowardly – Broadhurst, Burt, Howell, Smith, Rowland, Cremer, Bradlaugh – the whole self-seeking, contemptible clique were as mum as mice concerning the suffering of their fellows and the starvation of their wives and children. Would it not have been politic as well as generous for some of the Irish members to have risen and demanded justice for these oppressed workers, who are in as bad a plight as the peasants of Kerry? I say it was their duty to shame the craven “representatives” of labor and to show that they as Irishmen did not allow St. George's channel to limit and narrow their sympathies for the sorrows of mankind. They let the opportunity slip. But similar ones are occurring every day. There is another great strike among the Northumberland miners going on at this moment against a reduction. They will fail. But they are home rulers to a man. Could not the eighty-six Irish members have deputed one of their number to ask a question, at least, on their behalf, and thus proclaim to the world that democracy knows no national prejudice; that the home rule party has a wider view of the relations which should subsist among civilized men? Nothing of that kind is done.
While, however, I make these criticisms, it is impossible to question the good which is being done in England by the continuous agitation of the Irish question. Men begin to see the absurdity of dealing with a great class question of property in land, railways, mines, machinery, as if it were some paltry political issue. They note that directly breeches pocket interests are openly threatened the tory, whig, liberal, and radical millionaires gather together in one camp. Therefore the people are slowly mustering their forces over against the classes! The fight has already begun. At present the latter have the advantage. They may even win the opening skirmishes. But in the great campaign for an educated, organized democratic, industrial social republic now opened in Great Britain, the ultimate victory will to a certainty rest with the people. Even our enemies themselves feel that. They can hear that, as we hear, the trump of the innumerable battalions of the workers as they marshal themselves for the conquest of the future. In this great conflict even the Irish struggle for home rule is but an affair of outposts.
Antagonisms In The Social Forces
An Analysis of Society Into Toilers and Non-Toilers – How the Few Are Able to Live at the Cost of the Many
When Adam Smith pointed out what a vast advantage accrues to mankind from the division of labor, he first gave a clear indication of the grand harmonies existing in society. Other writers have followed in the same direction, and with much beauty and eloquence have pointed out what an inestimable blessing society is to itself. This department of economics has received very ample treatment. Indeed, so much has the attention of writers been fixed on these harmonies that a very large majority teach either explicitly or by implication that harmony prevails throughout all our social organization, for they make no mention of antagonisms.
Some writers, indeed, go so far as to deny that there are antagonisms, and the few who have noticed and pointed out their existence have done so in a manner much more brief and meager than their importance deserves.
In his celebrated illustration of the pinmakers, Smith showed that by the subdivision of labor the product was increased between two and three-hundred fold. In the same way the nailmakers' product is also increased. When, therefore, the pinmaker exchanges with the nailmaker each gives more and each receives more, each enriches and each is enriched – the benefit is mutual. This is harmonious trade – toil for toil, burden for burden, service for service, reward for reward, enrichment for enrichment.
I shall endeavor to show (first) that there exists another kind of trade, not harmonious – mutually enriching, but antagonistic – enriching one by the impoverishment of another; and (second) that the antagonistic trade is one of the most important factors in determining the condition of the bulk of humanity.
To prove the existence of such antagonism I ask attention to the following question:
In what length of time could society, by the utmost exertion of industry and frugality, accumulate sufficient supplies to maintain all succeeding generations free from toil? Obviously never. Each season brings its share of toil, and each year we consume the bulk of the product. Wonderful as have been the applications of steam and electricity, we have no indication that humanity will ever be exempted from toil. The physical law is inexorable: “By the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread.” But a sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread.” But a portion of the race now enjoy incomes which exempt them from toil, and with every guarantee, so far as our laws and customs can guarantee anything, that such exemption shall continue to the end of time.
What are the only conclusions from these two considerations? First – One part of society now enjoys the privilege of appropriating an amount of wealth which could not by any possibility be the result of its own productive efforts. Second – This portion enjoys privileges from which the rest of society, by inexorable physical law, must forever be excluded. One part of society is exempted from toil; the whole cannot by any possibility obtain such exemption.
Whence comes this extraordinary division of society into toilers and idlers? This I shall try to explain.
Let me first state that distribution does not take place according to production. It is not “to every man according to his work.” The real law of distribution recognized by our statutory laws is in accordance with the “growth or production of values.” To understand the laws of distribution, therefore, we must examine the nature of value.
Why has a fresh egg value and an unseasonable egg none? Because the former possesses that quality called “utility;” the latter does not.
Why has air, which has much utility, no value, no value, while a diamond, with little utility, has very great value? The air is superabundant and immediately accessible, while diamonds are scarce.
Value, therefore, may arise in two ways. First, it may come by the production of utilities that are scarce, or second, it may arise from the scarcity of certain utilities.
Machinery is scarce. Toil takes the ore and converts it into a machine. This is one way of acquiring value by the path of utility.
Let a drought come until water sells, as it has sold sometimes in Australia, for three shillings a bucketful, and the value arises from the increased scarcity.
In the first case increased value is the sign of increased wealth. The first value requires toil; the second value requires no toil. To distinguish these two kinds of value, let us call the former “toil produced value,” and the latter “scarcity value.” The commodities included in the former are our food, clothing, buildings, machinery, etc., while the scarcity values include minerals, forests, water power, land, etc.
As distribution takes place according to the “production or growth of values,” and as values arise in two different ways, there are two different ways in which a person may acquire wealth:
- By producing utilities, as houses, clothing, etc.
- By holding some natural commodity that acquires value by becoming scarce, such as land, mines, etc.
The first method requires toil. We can convert crude ore into a machine, the raw cotton into a garment, only by toil. But the increased value of the town lots, the increased value of mines, or at least a large portion of these values, is due in no way to the labor of the holders of these lots or mines. Here, therefore, we may notice the most momentous result of this method of distribution, namely, the division of society into toilers and idlers; or, what is the same thing, the imposition of the whole toil of maintaining society on one part of the population, allowing the rest to enjoy a share of the product to the production of which they have contributed no effort.
Labor-produced values are transient. The food of this season will be consumed by the next, the clothing will soon be worn out, buildings will crumble and decay, our dwellings and clothing will quickly become soiled, machines will rapidly wear out. To replace the worn out or consumed, to repair the broken or decayed, requires toil, and we have no evidence that we can ever be free from the necessity for toil.
But some of the scarcity values do not possess this transitory character. The value of a city lot continues as long as the population clusters round that spot. It requires no effort to maintain its value, for it is not subject to decay or consumption, like other utilities. To allow such values to be appropriated by individuals, therefore, allows them not merely to become rich without effort, but allows their wealth to continue undiminished for ages. The division of society into toilers and idlers is thus perpetuated.
Let a drought come till water becomes a salable commodity, then the populace become poorer in water. If a few individuals possess some unfailing springs, then the increased value of water would render these persons richer. Let population increase till land becomes relatively more scarce, the people are poorer in land; but values advance and the holders become richer. Here we notice a movement in society not mutually enriching, but enrichment of one part accompanied by, and as the consequence of, the impoverishment of the rest of society. This is a movement not harmonious, but antagonistic, enriching one by impoverishing another.
Scarcity itself is a calamity. To be cooped up in tenements is not the kind of life that is resorted to of free choice; a breathing space would be no small fortune to many in our most congested centers of population. But by our present system this calamity is not simple, but compounded and intensified.
Let population become dense, and we must not only crowd each other to the degree of discomfort and inconvenience, but we must furnish the owner of the land with wealth, in some cases to an enormous amount; we must board, lodge and furnish him and his family, it may be in princely style. Two calamities – first, crowding; second, tribute to idleness. First, impoverishment in space; second, impoverishment in surrender of product to a non-producer. The calamity is compounded.
But this is not all. The division in society is still further intensified by another characteristic of the law of values. With increased population there is diminished competition for the sale of lands, forests, mines and water privileges. But increased population facilities production of some commodities in two ways – first, by permitting the more extended use of machinery. Hence, in the sale of labor-produced commodities there is intensified competition. The holders of scarcity values become richer in a compounded degree – first, by the advanced price of their own possessions, and second, by the diminished price of the commodities with which they are paid. As the brokers say, the market is “balled” when they sell and “beared” when they buy. Thus is still further widened the breach between the toiler and the non-toiler.
Let me summarize this analysis. Value being the basis of distribution, and value, depending on two conditions, may arise in two ways – first, production of utilities; second, scarcity of utilities. The former requires toil, the latter does not. Hence the division of society into toilers and idlers. Labor-produced values are transient, some scarcity values are permanent. Hence the perpetuation of the division of society into toilers and idlers. Scarcity is poverty, hence scarcity tends to depress society; but scarcity causes high values, hence the holders of these values become rich – a movement depressing one part of society and elevating another. The calamity of scarcity is compounded – first scarcity, a simple calamity; second, tribute to idleness, an additional calamity. This again is intensified by diminished competition in land sales and intensified competition in the sale of fabrics.
Alas! how little knowledge of these simple but far-reaching principles has been manifested by those in whose hands have been entrusted the destinies of nations. In the settlement of the new territories of this continent one of the grandest opportunities ever offered to mankind to lay the foundation in such a way that society would develop harmoniously has slipped by. But what do we witness everywhere? The obligation of the toiler to yield up his product to a number of his fellow men, who are thus relieved more or less from the necessity to toil. As population increases this obligation increases; the mortgage on labor becomes greater and greater. Is it not true that labor is now mortgaged to the finger ends? And is it not also true that no amount of industry, frugality, improved education or better organization can remove this obligation? The only means of escape is by the resumption of the scarcity values by the public and thus cutting off the possibility of any able-bodied man escaping his fair share of toil. To obtain our method of distribution we must abolish the law of “distribution by values” and substitute the true law, “to each according to his work.”
Real Estate Booms
A Western Man Shows How They Rob Labor and Capital of Their Reward
St. Paul, Neb., March 21 – In a conversation a few days ago concerning “real estate booms,” I remarked that I thought it was a good time for men to exercise caution by putting their affairs into good order and preparing for a financial whirlwind that was sure to come after one of these “real estate booms.” I have since then read in The Standard the article reprinted from the New York Stockholder, in which a similar view of the matter is taken; and the effect is seen to be an increased tax on industry and commerce imposed by the landlords in the shape of advanced rents. The principle is well illustrated in the western railroads, which charge “what the traffic will bear,” and advance the rates for carrying produce as the price of the product advances in the eastern markets.
While this increased tax on industry would seem to be of all sufficient importance, there are still other evils to be seen in the real estate boom, which may appear more significant from a western standpoint. Take as an instance the Omaha and Council Bluffs boom, which, presumably, is no more important than many now in progress. At Omaha speculation has been rapidly increasing for two or three years, till now it seems to be at the height of extravagance, and real estate firms have multiplied into legions. Council Bluffs, which is on the opposite side of the Missouri river, and until within a few months has been looked upon as an “old fogy” place, is now let into the Omaha boom by the project of an immense bridge which will connect the two cities.
The Omaha boomers have now let loose on Council Bluffs, which is rapidly filling up with real estate firms from Omaha, and they make the old town lively with their noise and the parade of their brass bands. Everybody who is able to raise enough money to put up a “margin” can secure a lot, and prices advance so fast that everybody is apparently getting rich.
All classes of people are real estate speculators – professional men, tradesmen and merchants; and the people for hundreds of miles around flock in to secure some real estate and improve the golden opportunity before it is too late.
I take this to be merely an instance of the “booms” at large through the country, and which of necessity must require a large part of the surplus capital of the country. Thus many who are engaged in some line of legitimate business are tempted by the general excitement and the prospect of large returns to invest money that will be needed to meet coming obligations, and capital that should be used in commercial and industrial enterprises is diverted from its legitimate channels in the strife of men to become landlords.
Legitimate lines of business are too slow when fortunes are made in a single venture by the real estate speculator.
The day of reckoning will come, there will be a lag, then some one will need to realize some cash, and unless the boom is kept up many will find that their real estate assets are not convertible and that their investment never had a real value, but rested on speculation. The weaker ones will give way, and, pulling down the strong ones, there will come a crash. The innocent will suffer with the guilty. Many trusts will have been betrayed, and no one will know in whom to trust. Confidence gone, and nothing talks but cash.
The great crash of 1837 and the great panic of 1857 were both preceded by “real estate booms,” which absorbed much of the capital of the country from legitimate business. And these financial and industrial depressions must continue under our present system of permitting land to be held as private property. As we shift taxation from labor and capital and place it on land values there will be less and less speculation in land, until, when all the value of land is absorbed for public uses, speculation and “real estate booms” will have ceased utterly.
The Railways Accept the Bill, But Will Fight It if It Does Not Suit Them
In one of the early numbers of The Standard the declaration was made that congress must either exercise the power granted to it by the constitution to regulate commerce between the states, or else acquiesce in the unauthorized exercise of that power by a few railway magnates. It was the growing perception of this fact by the people that led to the passage by congress of the interstate commerce bill. The effort to enact such a law had been kept up for years by Mr. Reagan of Texas, and others, and the powerful railway interest in and about congress had been persistently used to prevent its success. It is probable that when the measure came up at the last session the railway congressmen and lobbyists saw that public opinion would demand the passage of some measure, and hence they offered little opposition to the pending bill after the corporation-ridden senate had, so far as possible, reduced it to what the president would call a condition of innocuous desuetude. The bill accordingly became a law, and the president has since named a commission composed of men who are generally conceded to be honest and capable and not likely to willingly betray the public interests. Whether the commission will regard the whole public rather than that portion of it which calls itself “the business interests of the country,” remains to be seen. In a country where a vast majority of the people are engaged under difficulties in the arduous “business” of making a living, it seems peculiarly absurd to set apart a small fraction of the whole number as the only “business men” having interests deserving of the fostering care of the people's representatives.
The apparent apathy of the railway people led many to suppose that the new law was by no means adverse to their personal interests, but there is hardly a doubt that these men would have preferred that no law whatever should be passed. Their attitude was one of enforced acceptance of the inevitable, and of hope that the measure might prove ineffective and thus throw discredit on all efforts to restrict their absolute control of the public highways of the country. As soon as the statute was printed many railway magnates declared themselves utterly unable to understand its provisions, and some of them insisted that it could work only harm, and that the people would be the chief sufferers by the legislation for which they had foolishly clamored.
The new law applies to all common carriers engaged in the transportation of passengers and property wholly by railroad, or partly by rail and partly by water, from one state or territory to another, or from such state or territory directly into a foreign country, or to any port for transhipment to a foreign country. The term “railroad” is made to include all bridges or ferries used in connection with such interstate or foreign transportation, and all instrumentalities of shipment or carriage. The act requires that all charges shall be reasonable and just, and that no discrimination shall be made for or against persons in charges for like service, and that no undue or unreasonable preference shall be given to any individual, firm or corporation. It also prohibits discrimination in charges between connecting lines. It forbids any company to charge more for a short haul than for a longer haul over the same line in the same direction, and declares that this clause shall not be interpreted to authorize as great a charge for a short haul as is made for a longer haul. The commission is given authority, however, to relieve a company, after due investigation, from the operation of this provision. Pooling is positively forbidden. Companies are required to print and keep for public inspection schedules showing their rates and fares, and they are prohibited from making any advance in such printed rates until after ten days public notice, though reductions may be made without reductions may be made without previous notice. Such reductions must be at once publicly announced, however, and the printed schedules must be promptly altered so as to show the change. Schedules of rates and copies of all contracts with other public carriers must be filed with the railway commission, and where two or more companies have made joint tariffs, these likewise must be filed. It is made unlawful for any companies to enter into a combination through changes of time schedules or other devices to prevent the continuous carriage of freight from the place of shipment to the place of destination.
Companies violating the law, or permitting it to be violated by their servants, are made liable for damages to individuals injured by such violation. Individuals thus claiming to have been damaged may bring suit before the courts in their own name, or they may make complaint to the commission, but they must elect which remedy they will pursue, and they cannot pursue both. The court before which such suit is brought may compel any director, officer, receiver, trustee or agent of the defendant company to appear as a witness, and may compel the production of books and papers at its discretion. Officers of railways violating the act, or willingly suffering it to be violated, are made subject to prosecution for misdemeanor, and are liable to a fine not exceeding $5,000 for each offense. Refusal to print schedules will be treated as contempt of court, and in case of pooling, each day of the continuance of such pool must be deemed a separate offense.
The commissioners may be removed by the president for inefficiency, neglect or malfeasance, and no one pecuniarily interested in any company subject to the act shall be a commissioner. The commissioner has authority to inquire into the management of the business of all common carriers subject to the act, and it is given power to require the attendance of witnesses and the production of books, papers, tariffs, contracts, agreements and other documents, and the United States circuit courts are authorized to enforce the right thus conferred. The commission is empowered to investigate any complaint made to it by any person, firm or corporation, or by any state railway commissioner, and it may of its own motion institute such investigation. The commission is authorized to require a common carrier to desist from any violation of law discovered by such investigation, and if its demand be not complied with it must apply in a summary way to a United States circuit court in the judicial district where the company complained of has its principal office, or in the district where the violation occurs, and such court is authorized by writ of injunction or other proper process, mandatory or otherwise, to restrain such common carrier from continuing the violation or disobedience. For violation of such writ or injunction the circuit carrier or person concerned a fine of $500 for each day of continued disobedience after the designated day. Provision is made for an appeal to the supreme court of the United States when the matter in dispute is of the value of $2,000 or more.
A proviso declares that the act shall not prevent the carriage, storage or handling of property free or at reduced rates for the United States, state or municipal governments or for charitable purposes, fairs or expositions. The issuing of excursion and mileage tickets and of tickets to clergymen at reduced fares is permitted, and a company may carry its own officers and employees free, while the exchange of passes between the principal officers of companies is not forbidden.
Despite the profession of railway officers of inability to understand these provisions, a prominent corporation lawyer has just shown that the leading features of the law are well understood and bitterly resented in intelligent railway circles. John R. Dos Passos, in vol. XXXVIII of G.P. Putnam's Sons' “Questions of the Day,” (1) offers a pungent and hostile criticism of the new law, and plainly intimates a belief that the act is against public policy, violating the rights of property and defying the federal constitution. It is, he declares, the first attempt by the national government “to regulate, if not control, a private commercial business.” The capital invested in railways is, he says, “generally furnished by individuals, and the business, in its financial features, is conducted purely for private gain.” The legislatures of various states have, however, for some years been encroaching step by step on the prerogatives – mark the royal term – of railway companies, until finally congress has, by a single leap, sought to absolutely direct the whole business of railroad transportation in the United States. This he declares is entirely novel, and when the act comes, as he does not doubt, it will, under the review of the United States supreme court, the author says that it will be found, “that outside of some disjointed dicta of judges, there is no precedent for it in the decisions of the United States courts.” The act is one toward further centralization of power in the federal government, and if it is sustained Mr. Dos Passes thinks that “the next natural step must be the purchase and absolute control, by the same power, of all this vast railroad property.”
The author makes an elaborate legal argument designed to show that the power to “regulate” commerce does not give congress the right to “control” it, as it will by this act. He declares that the constitutional guarantee of a right to trial by jury and prohibition of the taking of private property for public use without due compensation appear to be violated, and he questions whether congress, even if it has the power assumed as the warrant for the passage of this law, has any right to delegate its powers to the railroad commission created by the act. To these constitutional objections Mr. Dos Passos ads others based on apparent inconsistencies between the provisions of the act, while on general principles he objects to the legislation as a whole. He says:
The fundamental principle on which courts act is that no person can invoke their aid or use their processes unless he has some personal interest in the subject matter involved. That principle is entirely set aside by this law, and the commission is authorized to begin investigations at the instance of anybody who chooses to inaugurate them; and it is, moreover, enjoined to dismiss no complaint “because of the absence of direct damage to the complainant.”
He complains that the powers conferred on the commission in respect to the method of investigating charges are extraordinary and singular, and after reciting them, says:
Considering all these things together, it is impossible to conceive of any branch or element of the business of common carriers that this commission may not inquire into, interfere with and supervise. The commission is practically clothed with the powers of conducting and controlling the business of all the interstate common carriers in the United States, and any statement short of this fails to convey an adequate idea of the authority which this extraordinary tribunal possesses.
This is doubtless a fair representation of the fact from either the railway standpoint or that of a lawyer governed by old legal and political traditions. If, however, Mr. Dos Passos will endeavor to understand growing public sentiment, that must soon dominate this government, and to which the interstate commerce bill is a concession, he will discover that the old traditions to which he so confidently appeals are losing their force. The system of checks and balances, of strict definition and rigid limitation of governmental powers was, for good or ill, broken down during the civil war. The sacredness of the old interpretations of the constitution, then destroyed, can never be restored. It was even more completely destroyed at the south than at the north. Since that time men have grown accustomed to look upon government as a human instrumentality to be used, rather than as a sacred institution to be regarded with reverent awe. No people have gone further in in accepting and acting upon this view than the railway managers, who have made states their provinces and used the public powers of the federal government to promote that business which the author admits has been “conducted purely for private gain.” As the old reverence for the constitution has been weakened men have come to see that restrictions imposed upon the government as an instrumentality for public advantage even more freely than it has been used by monopolists in the past for private advantage. As resentment against the greed of monopoly has grown, the disposition to use the machinery of government to crush monopoly has likewise increased. The green-backers look to governmental action to increase the volume of the currency. The granger seeks just such public control of railways as the interstate bill grants. The Knights of Labor demand legislative regulation of the hours of labor. The protectionists have long enjoyed exorbitant profits as the result of undisguised governmental assistance to their private enterprises. The united labor party openly demands “the abolition of the system which makes such beneficent inventions as the railroad and telegraph a means for the oppression of the people and the aggrandizement of an aristocracy of wealth and power.”
When, in the face of all this, Mr. Dos Passos demonstrates that the new legislation violates old precedents, that it opens the courts to those who seek public protection rather than some personal interest, that it endows public officers acting for the people with the power he ascribes to the interstate railway commission, and, above all, when he draws from this the interference that the next natural step is the ownership and control of the vast railway property of the country by the federal government, he does not secure that certain condemnation of the bill which he manifestly seeks. Of course there are many to whom such a presentation will be a conclusive argument against the bill, but there are many others to whom such a demonstration will prove an equally conclusive argument in its favor. It is, in fact, a serious question whether Mr. Dos Passos has not in this monograph given the best of reasons to the majority of American voters for the earnest support of the interstate commerce bill as the first great step in the right direction. The various classes of voters already mentioned are divided by varying opinions and prejudices, and a vast number of men in sympathy with one or the other class are held back from effective action in behalf of their views through their connection with the old political parties, representing the opinions and traditions of the past; but were it possible to present to the whole American people the naked question of maintaining the interstate commission with precisely the powers attributed to it, and as a result of the very tendency that Mr. Dos Passos deplores, it is more than probable that a majority would vote in the affirmative, entirely indifferent to all considerations of close constitutional construction, the law's traditions and the danger of centralization.
Wm. T. Croasdale
How to Become a Banker
Louis Seasongood of Cincinnati is about to move to New York city and start a bank. He came to this country penniless and friendless, and trudged westward with his peddler's pack on his back. He opened a small clothing store in Cincinnati, which led to his becoming the leading clothier in that city. He made real estate investments in New York, which have doubled in value and enabled him to become a banker.
Sir Optimus Rapace's Opinions
The rummaws lately current heah
Have caused the deepest consternation:
The universal atmospheah
Is rife with social innovation.
How Henry Geogge his lance has sent
To ancient pwivilege's vitals,
And put attainder's bwand on Rent,
And smirched the genesis of Titles.
I'm shocked – I'm weally quite aghast
To heah time honawed, social pillahs,
By Bwadlaugh and Labouchere classed
As merely social cattawpillahs.
Our social savioh, Malthus, saw
And awdained stwuggle faw existence,
And fabwicated God's gweat law,
Which pwesses Hodge against subsistence.
Vile socialists would interfeah
With the deewees which gall and waste them;
And thweaten to subvert the spheah
In which the clevah Malthus placed them.
Tis lucky the Malthusian “law”
Fits Evolution's “Fittest” so well;
Gweat binary cweeds, meet for the maw
Of plutocwats – or wit of Lowell.
The social pwoblem cawnot rise
Above this abswact fawmulation:
How can we furthaw utilize
The pwoletawian perpiwation?
The gweat wepublic of the West,
In statecwaft's sorcery can surpass us;
Where Fiat Fweedom mawks the cwest
Of her political Pawnassus.
Where e'en the sterile “right” to chase
Acwoss Illusion's vast morasses
To ignis fatuus, Happiness
Suffices the bamboozled masses.
Where Patwiotism's spectwal flahs,
Blown by Chicanewy's well masked bellows,
Make spoilsmen's lucwative desiahs
O'erwule the soveweign – suffwaged fellows.
Westminstaw's weally quite abaft
Washington's legislative schemaws,
Where astute twaders in statecwaft
Pose as Society's redeemaws.
Where gainful Humbug floods the land,
(Like lava fwom Kilawea's cwataw)
Fwesh as a nutmeg fwom the hand
Of its Connecticut cweataw.
Heah, Jingo's bwazen wataplan,
Fwom Wall stweet's supple Senate's wostwum!
The Colonel Sellers once again
Vending a Cweossus-bweeding nostwum.
Steel forts they hasten to ewect,
That Jobbewy's Millsmay fawge the awmaw;
And floating battawies to pwotect
The much impewiled Kansas fawmaw!
With mawtial alderman to wawd
The tweasure of each fwontier village,
Their common-illth they're bound to guawd
'Gainst Quixote's lance or Kanuck pillage.
These twans-Atlantic social signs
My class regawd with much complacence;
For there, Pwogwession's caste-spwung lines
Augur the Old World's caste wenaissance.
Gwoth of estates in Land – of mobs –
Indifawence to mob-conditions –
Paupawism – venal jurists' jobs –
Society-Saviohs' fat commissions;
The rage faw titled vagwants – cwests –
Livewies – yachts – dog-cawts – cockney culchah
“Widing to hounds” – each cwaze attests
Ithe instincts of the elite vulchah.
When, lately, to our social dwegs
I lectchawed for the mob's diversion,
The mob, with pwe-histowic eggs
Bespattawed my patwician person.
Should England gwow too twopical,
And Misery's wail much furthah vex us,
Fwom my ancestwal Greyfraud Hall
I'll migwate to my wanche in Texas.
But, sanguine yet, my twust remains!
In the Old Alchemy's persistence,
Which around Ceres' bounteous plains
Still rear's the “bahwiers of subsistence.”
And the hoar, cabalistic cant –
The Economic Cult of ages –
Which most develops Wealth and Want,
And atrophies the “fund of wages,”
Will hold the hungwy hawdes in thwail,
And, in its caste-embwacing gwaces,
Heedful but of the cawmowant's call,
Pweserve the genera Rapaces.
Hites, Allegheny County, Pa.
It is a curious fact that I became interested in her utterly against my will, and while making every effort to be rid of her, and to pass by, like the priest and the Levite, on the other side. Not that I am naturally hard-hearted, nor that I would refuse a helping hand to a child, but because I had my honest doubts about its being help, in any substantial sense, to make it easy for them – the children – to enter the factory doors as laborers in any capacity whatever. Hitherto I had used all my influence against their being there, made a granite law that I would have neither part nor lot in the matter, and then – well, I did think up to a certain day that the most inexpressibly painful sight I had ever seen was an old woman, “seventy past,” thanking God with tears rolling down her wrinkled cheeks that Pfaelzer & Co. would give her work to do – she “could sew right goodly,” she said; but I had yet to behold something more painful and, in its way, more wonderful. It was the evening of the same day, in early spring time, and the bell was ringing for dismissal, when a mere wisp of a child took her station on the broad stone step at the factory door. She seemed to have been lurking about previously, for from my place at the head of the stairs I remembered having seen the fantastic hood and calico slip flit by twice or thrice before she finally settled at the threshold. She was a genuine Cinderella in air and attire, but so intent upon her errand, so frowningly anxious as to brow, so determined as to mouth and chin that, after all, she might have been her own godmother, bent on working metamorphoses without a wand. As the crowd came thronging out she scanned the various faces passing her wistfully and eagerly, but apparently unsatisfied with her inspection. She lifted her hands several times and reached up in a futile attempt to detain one or two who, unaware of her presence, rudely jostled her, but they did not feel so light a touch in the rough pressing around them; they were tired and hungry, glad to escape the hard day's thrall, and so slid through her fingers. Parting to the right and left they mingled swiftly and inextricably with other foot passengers who were homeward bound, and, until I came down the stairs, she had not gleaned a single word nor glance. It was certainly my intention to get by if I decently could do so; I had had my own troubles to bear that day, and I could not forget the old woman with streaming eyes lifted to heaven fervently thanking God that she had at last procured work. She was so feeble, poor soul! that one of the hands carried her bundle down the narrow stairs for her, and said pityingly as she followed him, “You're all right now, mother!” and she laughed as cheerily as if she had found a treasure in the wretched stuff she was going to strain her sight and waste her strength over. It fretted me to remember her, and I was resolved to get by the sorrowful, tattered child if I possibly could, for my cup was running over and the taste of it was bitter. “Destitute old age! What could be worse than that?” I had said to myself, not knowing that the answer was waiting for me beside the door.
It had been a dark, drizzling morning with a sullen sky, but when my foot touched the last step and while the little creature below stood staring disappointedly down the street, the settling sun suddenly pierced the watery clouds and struck in brilliant rays along the wet sidewalk, burnishing and glorifying everything upon which they fell, from the mud puddle left by the rain to the white spire of Christ church. They shone upon the slender child and beautified her also, changing the very texture of her mean clothing and the expression of her face. The sternness of the mouth, the meditative lines upon her forehead, were softened and smoothed into a semblance of patience pathetic enough in one so young. Her flimsy dress of pink cotton, rustling in the bleak breeze sweeping from the river on the east, grew luminous in the rosy light, and outlining her limbs proved how few garments she had beneath it, and this was March weather. The wavy locks of her neglected, curly hair were lifted from her eyes in a halo of bright gold. The change in her was so striking and so unexpected, it appealed so strongly to the imagination, that it made me pause for a second – no longer than that – to look at her. If among the fallen angels there were any whose years, reckoned by earth's calendar, were few as hers, she might have been a poor lost seraph babe, with drabbled wings, who had fluttered to rest upon the dirty step at the factory door; and, but for this foolish fancy, I might have slid by her unobserved; but it was not to be; I was too late by half a second. She had not noticed me at first, the yellow splendor blinding her so suddenly, but she wheeled about, looked up at me, and stretched out a desperate hand to hold me. This was no seraph-child; far from it; she was a mere daughter of the gutter in her rags and proper guise, and at the touch of her elfin claw upon my arm I waited, with an inward groan, to hear what her question or request might be.
“Say,” she exclaimed with a glance of shy and yet daring eagerness, “Oh, say!” In her breathless haste she was unable to find any other words than those, her chief business being to detain me.
“Well, Cinderella, say on,” I replied gravely. “Do you want a model?” she asked, nodding toward the door behind me. She lifted her brows most expressively and fixed her dark eyes on mine.
“Do I want a model?” I repeated in feigned surprise. Anxious as I was to get rid of her I could not bear to say bluntly “No,” at least, not with that suppliant glance forecasting my answer, so I weakly temporized.
“Not you, of course,” she answered, “but them in there; Pfaelzer's, I mean,” very elaborately explaining.
Nothing in the whole range of child labor that she could have picked out suited her so badly as the occupation of model. Such little ones must be stout, well developed, passably clad, and besides, they had enough hired already; that I knew. She was ill-fed, ill-dressed; the contour of her face was too sharply oval, her figure too angular to display to advantage the coats, cloaks and costumes happier children were to wear. Her case was hopeless from the start, and yet, coward like, I could not give her a repulse and be done with it; it seemed almost brutal not to soften the blow; therefore, I kept up the pretense of not understanding.
“A model of what, pray, was it your modest ambition to be?” I asked lightly; but she took me to task at once, crying reproachfully, “You know, you know very well!” and drew herself up frowning as if she were teacher and I the stupid scholar who would not say a very plain lesson. It might have asumed me under other circumstances, the innocent assumption of waiting dignity, this determination not to be trifled with, in a person hardly as high as my waist, but I was very desirous indeed of ending the matter, and still reluctant to say “no,” the earnest eyes searching mine, and the little claw, blue with cold, just dropping from my arm, so I moved on a pace or two, remarking:
“You gypsy! you ought to be at school or at play, not at work. Seems to me you are aspiring rather early to become 'the glass of fashion and the mold of form;' don't you think so?”
I did not suppose she would comprehend all I said, still I hoped she might, with a child's keen intuition, infer my disapproval, and run away abashed at the tone, if not exactly at the words, thus relieving me of the embarrassment of dismissal. She had no such intention, and it became evident she understood my meaning perfectly.
“I'm done school,” she returned quickly, “and I've got no time to play. They did want models here yesterday, from two to fourteen years old, and I'm almost ten. I saw the card myself on this very spot,” pointing to the nail upon which a placard had swung the day before.
“Then why didn't you drop in yesterday if you were in the neighborhood?”
For the first time her manner became childishly confused; she glanced shyly up at me, blushing furiously, then looked askance, with an air of intense mortification, at her feet, and stammeringly replied:
“I would have come – but – but – I hadn't my shoes on.”
“And why,” said I severely, “do you run about the streets without your shoes? It is not for want of them, for you have a pair on.”
The impulse of self-defense shot from her large eyes and indignantly tore the drooping lids apart. I was afraid she would begin to cry, they sparkled so saltily; but if her tears distilled it was inwardly, and she swallowed them in an audible gulp and answered:
“My little sister, she goes to school yet, and she can't go barefooted; they wouldn't let her in if she did; so she wore mine,” with another shamed look and burning cheeks.
“Oh, I see, she ran off with them and left you without; was that the way of it?” hastening to repair the injustice I had done her.
“I let her wear them,” she answered with proud emphasis; “I told her to take them; I didn't know I would need them myself.”
We were walking slowly away from the factory, talking as we went, and I intended to bid her “good bye” at the corner and tell her to run home before it grew dark. She was so very small as she trotted beside me that the desire to address her as a mere baby in age was irresistible; and I said gayly, pitying her from the bottom of my heart, “You and your little sister remind me of three funny sisters I used to read about when I went to school. They had but one eye and one tooth between them – what do you think of such a state of affairs?”
She was still so childish that she laughed, and the cloud lifted for a second from her brow. She was so long past her childhood that the cloud descended again, darker than before, in the recollection of her old corroding cares, and she made me this remarkable rejoinder:
“If they had only one mouth to feed when there was three of them, that was a big saving of victuals.”
“But my dear Cinderella,” I remonstrated, “don't you know that the one mouth really must have had three appetites?”
She stopped then and there, looking up at me with such an expression of disgust, weariness and trouble as I never before saw in so young a face (and the children at Pfaelzer's, with whose expression I was familiar, were all prematurely worried and prematurely wise), then answered curtly:
“Seems to me if the one mouth with three appetites had only one throat to it, somebody'd better have cut it at once and been done with it. It is bad enough,” she cried, breaking out without warming into anger and rebuke, “it is bad enough as it is, without 'magining it any worse!”
Seventy years ago my old woman of the morning had been a happy child. She told me so herself. “I was raised in the country, my dear, an' never knowed a care while my father an' mother lived.” She had had her “lamb's days” in clover fields; her remembrances of daisy wreaths and apple blossoms; of “full and plenty;” but here was something more dreadful than gray-haired misfortune. The child in the dull twilight – for the sunshine had faded almost as quickly as it came – spurning resentfully my playful fancies and crushing my fairy love beneath the hard, unlovely knowledge that death is preferable to life. If it had been my business to hold up to an enlightened and Christian community “a model” of innocent childhood with a despair of a world-old sorrow shining in its eyes, straightening the curve of its baby lips, contracting its brow, blighting all that was sweet and good in its tender heart, I might have closed a bargain with her then and there. We were almost in the shadow of the church whose divine head once “took a little child and set him in the midst,” but that was so long ago that his child might have been born in the heart of Africa for any gracious word or care she – not a stone's throw from the altar – had ever received from its ministers or its people. Meanwhile, what should I do with her but dismiss her to the gathering night and to her fate?
“Yes, it is bad enough; that's a fact,” I assented; “but talking of appetites reminds me that I'm as hungry as the bear – or was it a wolf? – that ate Red Riding Hood. Not that there'd be much picking on you if I should fall to eating you, but I do want my supper. You want yours, too, I suppose?”
“Yes, I want it,” she said in a tone most significant of the differences between desire and fulfillment, “and guess I can keep on wanting it. Do you think they would take me tomorrow for a model?”
She waived Red Riding Hood, the bear and the wolf with a shrug of the shoulders and a contemptuous drawing down of her lips, returning to her purpose with inexpressible earnestness of tone and manner. Here was the corner, and here I must send her off, the quicker the better, for she clung like a nettle to the thing she had in mind. If, however, my own meal that night was to have salt or savor, I must believe that she was not thoroughly truthful about hers. To satisfy myself, I said, incredulously:
“Honor bright, gypsy, do you mean to tell me that if you run right straight home to your mother, she won't give you your supper?”
“The idea!” she ejaculated, disdainfully, “of course she would if she had it!” A whole flood of bitter remembrance seemed to overwhelm her at the mention of home, and she uttered a cry that startled me. Not that it was so loud or so shrill, but that it was the concentration of despair.
“Oh, to think,” she mourned, “if I could only have came yesterday you would have took me, and now it is too late!”
Not a word did she say of the generous sacrifice of her shoes to the little sister; she was face to face with the irrevocable, and the puny soul wrung her fingers and shook her head like an old crone; she turned away from me, but her tears springing irrepressibly to her eyes and childishly overflowing, she flung them off with angry vehemence, as if she scorned them, and said with amazing energy and a stamp of her foot, “Cry, you fool, cry till you die! Will that help your mother?” and then rushed away as if she had wings.
How was I to eat or sleep, thinking of the little figure tragically flinging the salt drops from her finger tips, and berating aloud the weakness to which they were owing? It was impossible to leave her so; she was running riverward, too, as I though with a shiver, the woman in her taunting the child, and the child fighting a man's battle. Right or wrong, I dashed after her, laid hold of her, and after a few words more we walked off in the darkness, hand in hand.
If I pick up a grain of corn from this mill of the gods that grinds so slowly, individualize it, separate it from its fellow grains so effectually that it may never return to them again, and then write its story, could it be, after all, so very different from the countless grains that are crushed to death between the upper and the nether mill stone? The home history of my waif was too commonplace to bear repetition; there are thousands like it with no more romance or sentiment environing them than there is about a handful of grain flung into the hopper. A dead father, “killed dead,” the child declared, by a something her faulty pronunciation set forth as “an alleywaiter” – a cross between an elevator and an alligator – leaving me free to choose; a sickly mother, whose life spring seemed to have been broken by her troubles; a newsboy brother; a baby, of course; the little sister and the energetic child herself rendered desperate by her terror of the drunken tailor, in whose attic they all lived, and who threatened every rent day to spit them like blackbirds upon his long shears if the money were not promptly forthcoming. There was no use of argument; ordinary as these conditions were, and as I knew them to be, to the brave-hearted child who had them to master they were mountains of difficulty which she must level by the labor of her hands. I cast about, and seeing no other way than that, set to work to obtain for her a foothold in the factory. With inward qualms and outward cheerfulness I did what must first be done – procured a decent garment or two and a pair of shoes, carried them to her one evening, and, untying the bundle, expected radiant-eyed thanks at sight of the pretty plaid skirt and neat jacket it contained. All children love to be “dressed up,” and naturally I supposed she would; but here was a character full of incomprehensible hitches. She could not hide her dissatisfaction, she begged to be allowed to wear her “own things,” and wept bitterly when assured that she could not come to the factory at all unless she wore the clothes provided for her. It was in vain her mother weakly cried, “Shame on you!” and quite in vain that I coaxed her into trying them on. She touched them as if they were toads, nor had I the remotest idea of what was in her mind until she followed me down the twisted stairs and whispered, in such an agony of wounded pride and shame as certainly amazed me, “Don't tell the other children, will you?” I read her no lecture, made no remonstrance; her quivering mouth, her red eyes and stained cheeks bore their testimony to the struggle she had undergone, and it was not my part to add one straw's weight to her burden. I told her that hot irons should not draw the secret from me, and bade her be readily bright and early on the morrow.
When I took her hand in mine and went with her to Pharaoh Pfaelzer, the senior partner, he had his joke, to be sure, that I, of all the rest, should come to him such a favor.”
“I thought you were down on child labor, down on the whole system, root and branch,” said he, with a laugh, “and here you come to me with a scarecrow like that!”
“So I am 'down' on it, and 'down on myself worse for countenancing it, but 'needs must when the devil drive.' I met this child in the open street; there appears to be laid upon her the fatal necessity of labor. She is not yet ten years old, but she talked so frankly of suicide – under certain circumstances – and the river was so close by that of two evils I could but choose the least, and brought her to you.”
“Is it possible?” said he, scrutinizing her as she stood at a short distance. “Well, take her around the factory; begin at the fifth story and see if you can find a corner for her. But stop a bit,” he said suddenly, “are you sure she's not a thief?”
I placed my hand upon her shoulder, and answered:
“If she's not an honest girl, you may send me to jail for her; and if she does not do her work faithfully, you may order me out to instant execution.”
“All right,” she returned, emphatically, “We shall see what we shall see!”
We began at the beginning, she and I; that is, we ascended to the rooms below the roof, where the little pressers, the little lace workers, the little rufflers, were. The foreman was savagely gruff, but most of his savagery was assumed for disciplinary purposes, and he declared that one more child in his department would cause him to “go crazy and brain the whole raft with great volubility at the laziness, carelessness and loitering with which he taxed his young subjects.
“Why!” said I to a patient-faced child in a nook who looked up at me, “don't you get tired of that man's scolding?”
“We only hear it when he stops,” she answered naively, and dropped her eyes again over her work. To be just to him, he never dreamed of touching them; he simply drove them from sunrise to sunset, and his business must have been as irksome to him as to them, but he had not originated it and he also was subject to the proverb I had quoted to Mr. Pfaelzer in the office. It was the same wherever we went, the child and myself; they wanted no more embroidery cutters, nor makers of bows, nor button sewers, nor errand girls; there was but a ghost of a chance among the models; “Number Nineteen” was absent, had been absent for a week; “the stranger might fill that chink for a while till something else presented itself,” or “Number Nineteen” returned, and there I left her, with her fingers trembling, her cheeks scarlet with hope and fear and excitement, her heart beating loud and fast, but her head erect and her shoulders straight, as she fancied a model's should be. I kept my eyes upon her for some days after, fearing she might lose even that slight coign of vantage, when I was told that the child whose place she was holding had died, and so the peg on the wall, the number on the pay roll, the dark little scat in the corner and the dollar and a half per week belonged of right to Cinderella, and I left her to plod her way alone. I heard of her fitfully as doing “pretty well,” and sometimes “very well,” but no complaint ever reached me until one morning in the fall, when Mr. Pfaelzer himself sent for me, for “Number Nineteen,” alas! had fallen into disgrace. Woebegone enough she stood before him, shaking like an aspen.
“You'll have to go to jail first,” said he to me, “and then have your head cut off afterward. This girl not only lags and plays, but takes what does not belong to her. See here! I caught her in the very act, fooling away her time with these.” He held a cast-off pasteboard box in his hand, and it was full of bits of gilded papers and bright tickets off the goods, and colored bands with tinsel threads in them, such as lay in the litter upon the workroom floors. Their gaudy show had proved too much for her; she had garnered them up in the corner and stolen away at intervals to feast her childish eyes upon their – to her – wonderful splendor. He told her it was stealing to take them, and loafing to look at them, and when she was half frantic with terror and remorse and misery, she begged that he would send for me, and, being there, what could I do but press the little hand that clung to mine and say sorrowfully, “Oh, Number Nineteen, Number Nineteen! Why weren't you good?” If I had blurted out what I thought in my indignation he might very justly have wondered at me, if he did nothing worse than that. How was the business of the country to go on if the children might shirk and play when they pleased? It could not go on; he was not a brute nor a slave driver, but he had told me hundreds of times that there was “no sentiment in business,” and I could not contradict him, having both logic and the facts against me. I made peace then between Number Nineteen” and him for that time, renewed my responsibilities, and after hearing him quote to her for her edification the lines:
“In God's pure eye it is a sin
To take a penny or a pin,”
while he threw her treasures in the fire, we went back to work, both of us. But her face haunted me, it was so peaked and thin, and the danger of expulsion over, she seemed to turn so deadly white, so languid and faint. “I'll walk home with her tonight,” thought I, “and have a talk with her;” but long before it was night they summoned me again. “Number Nineteen” was missing – had been missing for an hour or more. When last seen she was softly crying among the packing boxes at the back end of the room below that in which her duties lay. Her hat and coat were on their peg, but she was gone, as if the earth had opened and swallowed her, and though the children ran hither and thither, called and rang, she never answered, nor could they find a trace of her.
“Didn't you say she talked queer talk for a child?” said Mr. Pfaelzer, an ashy hue overspreading his swarthy cheek. “You don't think it possible that she –“
I shook my head and shut my teeth tight together; for too many things were possible in this world for that to be impossible, and just now it was better to say too little than too much. I went to the child, “Number Seven,” who had seen her last, and my questioning brought out a curious and pitiful state of affairs. “May be she's dead,” said she, “because she was so hungry. Yes, 'deed an' double, I seen her my own self eating the crusts and scraps what the other girls throwed into the waste box. She had no dinner this long, long time, and I did want her to have part of mine, but she got mad, and wouldn't even touch it nor look at it, so she wouldn't. She never knowed I seen her eating scraps, but I watched her, so I did, and I seen her tuck them in her pocket. Her mother is sick in bed, I know she is, because 'Number Nineteen' told me so, an' that's why she never brung any dinner.”
Would it have been a very great wonder if she had in her weakness, and shame, and trouble, thought of the river in that dusky hour before the bell rung? I went straight down the narrow lane between the packing boxes, intending to go out the back door and down the dark alley, as she probably had gone. In my haste my foot stumbled. I reached out a hand to save myself, and it pushed aside an empty case, which stood close to another which was not empty, thank God! for within it, her head upon the shavings and old paper it contained, lay “Number Nineteen” where she had crawled in her exhaustion and disgrace, and she was fast asleep.
“And they all lived happily ever after” – so a story should end, but whoever likes may end this one, according as they are gentle, or pitiful, or cynical, or just. I myself do not know how it will ever end, for “Number Nineteen” still plods upon her thorny road. I saw her only yesterday.
Australia Wants It
Adelaide (Australia) Our Commonwealth
A property tax, which is now finding so much favor in certain quarters, is a miserable expedient by which those who should pay the greatest share of taxes to the state may escape; it is not in the true sense of the word a direct form of taxation. The persons upon whom it is levied will not pay it. For instance, if a tax is imposed on a merchant's goods, he will certainly charge an enhanced price for them. If a man own a number of houses he will charge an increased rent, so the tax will fall on the occupier. It will be the greatest deterrent to improvement; people are not likely to improve their property, thereby giving employment to the workers, if they are to be heavily fined for it. And the industrial classes will be much worse off than they are at the present time.
The only just and equitable tax that can be imposed is upon the unimproved value of land. The land in every country, no matter how it may have been disposed of, belongs to the whole of the community. It is the only means by which people can live, and from which the necessaries of life are drawn, and unless men have free access to soil they are denied the right to live. By imposing a tax on land it embraces everything else, as it is the foundation from which everything in the shape of wealth is drawn. It cannot be hidden, and its value can be easily ascertained. The notion that pervades the minds of some people that the occupier of land will be taxed in proportion to the improvements he places upon the land is ridiculous. The assessment is not based upon the value of every particular block, but upon its situation and accessibility. If a farmer, by dint of hard labor and the expenditure of capital, improves his land by draining or irrigation or any other means, he will pay no more taxes than those in the immediate vicinity who choose to let their land lie idle.
Canada is Thinking
Hamilton, Ont., Evening Mail
The reason that people who have to depend upon their labor for their bread are not so hard put in Canada as in Ireland is not that the Canadian land laws are more favorable to the workers than the Irish land laws, but because there are fewer people to the square mile in Canada than in Ireland. That is a difference which only requires time for its removal. Canadians are multiplying in geometrical progression by natural increase, and they are inviting immigrants to settle among them. In course of time there will be urgent competition for land in Canada. Even now the prices and rents of agricultural land are so high that many farmers' sons hie away to the cities or emigrate to the United States in search of the means of livelihood. The Canadian land laws enable capitalists to hold town and country land idle for speculation, just as the Irish land laws permit the holding of wide tracts for parks and game preserves.
The same remedy which would solve the land question in Ireland would solve the land question in Canada. The abolition of all taxes on goods, houses and improvements would make every dollar earned country, and the taking of the land rent by the state as a tax for public purposes would make it unprofitable for landlords in either country to keep land out of cultivation for purposes of speculation or of pleasure.
A Talk With My Neighbor
Faraway Moses Tells His Friend All About It – The Right Sort of Religion
So you think an old splint broom maker like me oughtn't to have anything to say about social and political affairs, do you, Mike? You've got one of your particular feelings on, have you? Think we ought to just sit down and grumble about the hard times, without stating our grievances in the papers! I don't get my shirt starched in that style, and when I get an idea in my head I generally dig it out and ask the public whether they can see any sense in it. I have just as much right to point out the evils of an unjust system as any other man. There is a class of people – and you are one of them – who think there are no great truths uttered, unless some great general or ex-president, or a venerable-headed judge gives birth to them. Don't I stand just as good a chance to wobble into a little wisdom here in the backwoods as some fellow who gets shaved by a professional barber and drinks old wine?
Such men as these have been doing the thinking for us at a fat salary long enough; and what have we come to? The thinkers have enriched themselves, and we poor fellows who have laid our thinking apparatus up in the garret and depended on our muscles, are coming out at the contracted nozzle of the public horn.
The man who knows all about theology or medicine or astronomy perhaps can't run a government any better than a man who can pick out a good broomstick or lay the corner stone of a four-story house.
I don't pretend to know anything medicine, and it makes no difference to me if a man's entrails are forty feet long and the doctor's physic at the rate of five cents an inch. I never figure this up to see how much it will cost to cure a bilious attack, because I know the doctor will get there with his bill, let the world wag as she will.
But the distress in this country, which no doctor can cure, and no minister, can ameliorate, and no statesman bothers his pate about, is a subject on which we should all spend a few thoughts.
These great men on whom you place your reliance don't belong to the distressed crowd. You have employed them to think for you, but they seldom think about you. Oh, yes, they are thinking for you, but their thoughts are all about themselves. The present system hasn't snatched the clothing from their backs or the roof from their family, and they can still go to bed and thank God they are not like other men.
If you are not going to use your own brains, Mike, you may as well put them up in tinfoil and save them for a Christmas gift for your grandchildren.
“What good will thinking do,” did you say? Why, it will teach you how to vote and who to vote for. Your vote is the essential little thing that will help solve the great problem. We're not going to take this country across our knee and fan the foundation with blood and thunder, and have a grand jubilee of wine and plunder. That's bad enough for unthinking men to do.
That would be about like cutting a heathen's head off to teach him Christianity. (This has often been done, but the poor heathen is seldom benefited by this vigorous treatment.)
This new theory will not look so doubtful after it has come into practice. Nobody is going to be robbed. Man's greed will merely be bridled, and the weak will be protected by the strong arm of a sensible government.
Any man that doesn't want the whole earth will be pleased with the situation after everything is adjusted, and happy homes spring up where now is poverty and crime.
Do you remember when you and I used to go in swimming in Bladgot's mill pond, and would always hesitate about jumping into the water, till one would give the other a push and he would go in swearing and come up laughing? That's about the way this thing will work. Of course, there are some who hate to see the poor get a share of God's blessings, but their number is not near so great as one would imagine at first glance.
I tell you, Mike, if there was less ignorance among the rich, as well as among the poor, brute force and swinish greed would ooze out of existence like steam from a roasted potato. Brains and money are not half as near related as cucumbers and cholera morbus – not half, Mike, by a durned sight.
You think because I spring from an inferior family and wear trousers with patches on the rear, like precincts of a county map, I have no right to condemn a system upheld by my financial superiors. You like to applaud the man with the high hat and fancy watch chain; to drink whiskey from a fancy bottle; kiss the girl in a silk dress, and vote for the man who counts his wealth by the millions.
There is nobody good or great in your eyes unless he is surrounded with the glitter of wealth and pomp and is satisfied with the unjust system which gives him a royalty in a land supposed to be free and equal to all. You want to look at the world from a different standpoint, my smiling pilgrim. You want to get inside of a man's clothes when you are searching for principle, or you will wake up some fine morning and find yourself deceived, and discover that life is a long-and-go-hungry season for the men who toil.
Some of our good men say that Christianity is the only remedy for the strife between the rich and poor, and I sort of believe it. I believe that if we had some of the good old brand, some of the genuine God-is-no-respecter-of-persons religion, sown broadcast over the land, people would not risk their souls' salvation for the selfish pleasure of lording it over the poor. Some of the religion we have now hardly fits men for this life, and I doubt it very much whether they will make ornaments in the sweet by and by. I feel almost certain that they will be a gigantic failure in the ornamental line.
Whenever Christianity steps in and takes the poor man by the hand, and stands between him and the greed of those who have gobbled up all the loaves and fishes, then skepticism will have nothing to feed on and religion will be established in its original purity.
The man who is not willing to fight the battle of life on equal footing with the most humble toiler is a coward at heart and a glutton by nature, and his religion only includes himself and family.
Is it possible, Mike, that men can find nothing higher and nobler in this world than to work and strive and grab for wealth? Does greed blind our eyes so that we cannot see the hardships of the struggling poor, and only death loosen our grasp on our hoarded treasures?
If this is the case, Mike, I believe it would have been money in our pockets not to have been born at all. If this is all man amounts to it seems like a waste of raw material, and I believe nature could make more in raising pork for the foreign market.
Dakota Should Not Complain
Merricourt, Dak. – Congress has adjourned and once more Dakota has failed to receive justice at the hands of our nation's lawmakers. A disenfranchised people, half a million strong, plead for statehood – and must continue pleading. The republicans will admit Dakota to statehood only as two states, because it is republican; the democrats will not admit it as one for the same reason. The exigencies of party are greater than the rights of citizenship nowadays. But then Dakota should not complain. Congress has granted two of the great railway corporations additional privileges within the territory; and of course railway corporations are of more importance than the poor people!
Fanlay A. Grant
How Women in England Get Through Life
Thankful for the Poorhouse – Rent Must Be Paid First of All – Two Dollars a Week for Sixteen Hours a Day – “Meat I Do Not Taste for Weeks”
Correspondence New York Herald
The wretched pay of the London female workers and the crowds of vicious women who throng the London streets every evening are closely related as to cause and effect.
Any one inclined to impute the vice to natural viciousness can in half a day's inquiry among needle workers easily convince himself that this evil is largely due to poverty.
A more hopeless, helplessly wretched life than that led by an honest London needle woman is hard to imagine. The only cause for wonder is that any woman will stand such a life while she has it in her power to get even a few months' indecent comfort.
In describing the lives of these needle workers I have chosen with some care typical cases from all of the branches – fur sewers, book-binders, dressmakers, upholsteresses, shirt-makers and tailoresses. With scarcely an exception the cases are taken from among workers in Oxford and Regent street shops, well known to all American visitors.
As a good type of the best style of living which can be expected by a London shirt and collar maker living entirely by her own labor take C.O. of Stanhope street, Regent's park. She is a widow, fifty-three years old, and has never been a week out of work for thirty-three years. She is so good a workwoman that she has scarcely changed her shop for twenty-three years: She said: “I am very fortunate, as I get steady work. I live alone in this little hall bedroom, for which I pay three shillings (seventy-five cents) a week.”
“I have never earned more than fifteen shillings ($3.75) a week. This is just enough to support me, and I can save nothing. I do not bother about the details of my spendings. I would go out of my mind if I tried to plan ahead.
“I breakfast at half past 7 on bread, butter and tea. I have never had anything else for breakfast. If I had I could not have brought up my children. I have a twenty-minute walk to my work, which begins at half-past 9. I have never eaten lunch in my life. Dinner is from 12 to half-past 12. In my shop there are about thirty women. We each give 3d (6 cents) to a woman, who buys meat and vegetables for all. The janitress of the building does the cooking. In other shops they have to pay as much as sixpence (12 cents) each for dinner, but in our shop we are more like friends. We have all worked there for eleven years together.
“Tea is from 3 to half-past 3, and consists of bread and tea. I stop work at 7. My supper is of bread and butter, with tea or coffee. I never have more than one hot meal a day. Working women can't afford more, you know.
“When my work is done I must go to the poorhouse, but I shall work as long as I can move arms and legs. My sons have families and will not be able to help me. The prospect of dying in the poorhouse does not trouble me. It's very good that there is a place for poor people to go when they are past work. I wasn't quite so well satisfied with the prospect when I first thought of it. I used to have many a bitter cry by my bedside about it; but I am quite reconciled now.”
From a member of the Shirt and Collar makers' society I get the following facts:
“Poor pay rather than lack of work is the crying evil of the trade. Pay is by the piece generally, and ranges from 12s to 15s ($3 to $3.75) per week in the west end. Shirts are made in the east end for 2d (4 cents) each, from which cotton must be found. Six shirts make a long day's work. Button holes (in shirts and collars) are made at from 1d (2 cents) to 4d (8 cents) a dozen. The average earnings are 8s per week for from twelve to sixteen hours a day.”
Of the one thousand shirtmakers known to my informant not one has saved anything.
Among the fur sewers I found great misery. E.S. of Buckland street, Hoxton, and her sister, a girl of sixteen, will serve as samples. E.S. is a widow, twenty-nine years old, of thoroughly good character and a hard, steady worker. She lives in an eight by twelve foot back bedroom. This is her workroom, kitchen and living room. For it she pays 3s (75 cents) a week. The furniture is scant and shabby. Fur clippings fill the room.
E.S. said: “I have worked at my trade since I was eleven years old, and have done all kinds of fur sewing. We get six months' work in summer, but in winter, from lord mayor's day on, there is almost no work. My highest wages during the past year were 8s ($2) a week. My average earnings would be 5s per week. Formerly trade was very good. I used to think nothing of earning as much as 12s to 14s ($3 to $3.50) a week. When I earned 10s a week I could save for the dull season.
“My breakfast, lunch, tea and supper are of bread and tea only. For dinner I get half penny piece of fish. Meat I do not taste for weeks. People say you can't live without meat, but I know I can. A penny's worth of potatoes make a nice change from bread when I can afford it. Rent must be paid first of all. Of course, if I get any money I think of my rent first of all, as I can't live on the streets. My food has cost me as low as 1s 6d (35 cents) a week. I don't know how I lived on this, but I did. My clothing never costs me over £2 ($10) a year. I paid 16s for the stuff in this dress and 6s 6d to my sister for making it. I paid her 1s per week until I made up the 6s 6d. I have worn this dress for two years. It's the only one I have. I pay 6s 6d ($1.30) a pair for boots. There is a place where they let you have the boots for a shilling down and a shilling a week afterward. That is, of course, when they know you. Hundreds of women buy their boots in this way. I don't know how I could ever get boots any other way. I never could save 6s.
“I don't know how I shall live this winter. I never have starved to death yet. Perhaps I shan't this winter, but I have never had so little work and such bad pay. I walk and walk, but nobody wants a hand.”
The sister, a pretty girl of sixteen, is entirely without money or work. She has worked at four trades, all sewing, but can now find no work of any kind.
M.K., of the Minories, is a good instance of a “city” sewing woman. She is unmarried, and lives alone in a room, for which she pays 2s 6d (60 cents) a week.
By looking over her employer's books I found that her average wages for the last three months had been 7s 6d ($1.90) a week. She has had ten weeks' work out of the last twelve. She spends under £2 ($10) a year on dress, and lives on 6s 6d a week all told. She managed, therefore, to save 1s (25 cents) a week when in work, but spent it all when out of work. She eats on meat. Tea and bread are eaten twice a day. Tea, bread and either fish or cheese form the other two meals when finances allow the latter luxuries. She goes to church on Sunday but has no other relaxations.
Among the upholsterers I found a decided unwillingness to describe their work and pay, because “some one will know I told you, and then they won't give me no work any more,” as one upholsterer said to me.
A.M., of High street, Camden Town, will serve as a type of best hand worker. She is unmarried; has worked for twenty-six years for prominent West end dealers. She said:
“I have these two rooms, for which I pay 6s a week. My mother, who is seventy-five years old, lives with me, but earns nothing. I earn 15s ($3.75) a week, and on this we both live. For twenty-six years I have never had a week's holiday. As a result of twenty-six years' work I have saved nothing, and now owe £5 for rent. This is in spite of the fact that I have sold from time to time part of my mother's household goods to pay rent. Trade is bad but not at its worst. January to the 1st of March is the dull season, and it is a frightful time for upholsteresses. I live as all other sewers live – largely on bread and tea. Work is becoming hard to get. Young women with young eyes are preferred by employers, even when they have had no experience. When we are old we must go to the workhouse. I expect to go to the workhouse myself, although I would rather go to the bottom of the canal. I have kept my mother away from the poorhouse, however.
“I am glad the socialists smashed the store windows last fall. It did more good than harm. People do not object to our starving so long as we starve quietly. So it is well to make a row once in a while.”
Dressmakers and Milliners
The society of dressmakers, milliners and mantlemakers has only thirty-four members, and has never had more than one hundred. A forewoman who has spent her life in efforts to aid the workers in these trades has given me the following facts:
“We are the largest body of female workers in London, but we are so split up into sections by class feelings and jealousies that we cannot organize any large union. 'Indoor workers' will not associate with 'outdoor workers.' Workers on fine goods despise workers on coarse goods, and will not even belong to different branches of the same society.
“Indoor workers are those women who live in barracks provided by the firm. They are paid by the year from £16 to £22 ($80 to $110), with boards and lodgings. They work from half-past 8am to 8pm, with considerable overtime during the ball season. Insiders are fairly well fed, and the dormitories are comfortable enough now. From four to ten women sleep in a room. Many large shops provide a sitting room with a piano and library. The sexes are not allowed to mingle at all in these rooms. Most of the large shops on Oxford and Regent streets are managed in this way. Their workrooms are often unhealthy and badly lighted, but their employees have constant work, with some amusement and comfort. It is the outworkers who suffer most. Outworkers either work by the week in the shop, sleeping at home, or else take piece work to their homes. They earn from 8s to 20s a week.
“Germans have lately introduced the sweating system into the west end, and wages have begun to fall in consequence.”
“Indoor workers are those women who live in barracks provided, by the firm. They are paid by the year from £16 to £22 ($80 to $110), with board and lodgings. They work from half-past 8am to 8pm, with considerable overtime during the ball season. Insiders are fairly well fed, and the dormitories are comfortable enough now. From four to ten women sleep in a room. Many large shops provide a sitting room with a piano and library. The sexes are not allowed to mingle at all in these rooms. Most of the large shops on Oxford and Regent streets are managed in this way. Their workrooms are often unhealthy and badly lighted, but their employees have constant work, with some amusement and comfort. It is the outworkers who suffer most. Outworkers either work by the week in the shop, sleeping at home, or else take piece work to their homes. They earn from 8s to 20s a week.
“Germans have lately introduced the sweating system into the west end, and wages have begun to fall in consequence.”
The tailoresses have 150 members in their society, but their east end branch has only eight members. Trade is in a wretched condition, and foreigners working under the sweating system have reduced wages almost to starvation point in the east end. In the west end it is said to be the best paid woman's trade in London. Wages there run from 9s to 25s a week. Rents are very high, however, and the women must live near their work. The progress of a tailoress or shirtmaker from fine work and short hours, while her eyes are good, to coarse work and a wretched lodging house as she grows old was quite graphically told to me by a woman who knows the ins and outs of these trades. This is said to be the universal history of London needle women. There is no place in the business for women or old eyes, so it is a progress from bad pay to worse, and from discomfort to wretchedness, with the workhouse as an ending.
The women bookbinders also live wretchedly. The work is mainly piece work, and is done under a middleman or sweater. The pay ranges from 7s to 18s a week. Fifteen shillings a week is the average through the trade.
[Readers of The Standard who imagine that the misery depicted by the Herald correspondent has no parallel in this country will do well to read Helen Campbell's reports on the condition of the poorer workwomen of New York, recently published in the Tribune under the title “Prisoners of Poverty,” and shortly to be issued in book form. They will find that in “protected” America, as in “free trade” England, women by the hundred thousand are working like slaves for the privilege of starving in the midst of plenty; and if they will push their investigations farther, they will find that there is one thing, and one thing only, that England and America and every other country or community cursed with poverty have in common – the institution of private ownership of land.]
Side Lights on Protection
Dickinson (Kansas) Enterprise
If I am a laborer I pay $12 for an overcoat; $5 of it is tax, but you say we must have protection in this country to foster our manufactures and protect us from pauper labor. I go to the manufacturer that made my coat, I ask for employment. He asks me how much wages I want; I tell him. “Whew!” he says, “I can get an Italian or a Chinese for less than half that wages to do my work; you can go.”
( 1) The Interstate Commerce Act. An Analysis of its provisions. By John R. Dos Passos, author of “The Law of Stock Brokers and Stock Exchanges.” New York and London. G.P. Putnam's Sons. 1887.