Volume 1 May 7, 1887
The Cross Of The New Crusade
A sign is seen in the skies today,
And the stars in its light grow dim and gray
It blesses as sunshine and gladdens the sight
Of the hopeless sunk in the shades of night
Despair is banished, and sorrows fade
In the light of the Cross of the New Crusade
Here is hope for all; here is truth at last;
And the powers of evil stand aghast
And curse the emblem whose coming rives
Their vested injustice and legal gyves
They falter and palter and shrink dismayed
In the light of the Cross of the New Crusade
Long—ah! Long ago, the glorious sign
Was seen by the conquering Constantine;
And in later ages its radiance beamed
As crusaders through forest and valley streamed
But the light of their emblem was but a shade
To the light of the Cross of the New Crusade
For here is justice and brotherhood:
Love, Liberty, Peace, and the gladsome brood
Of joys that where truth is law increase;
Here social and credal hatreds cease
Their voodoo and fetish ghosts are laid
In the light of the Cross of the New Crusade
Hosanna! the day of oppression dies
And with it the hoary-headed lies
Made sacred by age. The “right divine”
To mountain and lake, to meadow and mine,
To enclose and to rob, is impotent made
In the light of the Cross of the New Crusade
The New Crusade
So great and so enthusiastic was the first meeting of the Anti-Poverty society, held in Chickering hall last Sunday evening, that it is impossible to characterize it by the use of hackneyed adjectives. Never before, the janitors said, had Chickering hall held such a mass of human beings, and never before had such storms of applause shaken the building. The best commentary is the fact that the proprietors of the hall refuse to let it again for open meetings of the Anti-Poverty society.
The hall, packed to the very outer doors, the thousands and thousands who were turned away, the frenzied storm of applause that greeted the appearance of Dr. McGlynn and punctuated almost every sentence of his speech, give significant answer, if any were yet needed, to those who said that the moment Dr. McGlynn became a suspended priest he would sink into significance, and in a fortnight be forgotten, and to those who thought that, even if he survived suspension, a refusal to go to Rome when ordered by the pope himself, would be fatal to his influence. Loved and honored as he was before, Dr. McGlynn is, by the great mass of American Catholics, loved and honored all the more because he has bravely stood for the rights of the priesthood as men and as citizens; because he has bravely stood for the rights of the priesthood as men and as citizens; because he has bravely stood for the rights of the priesthood as men and as citizens; because he has met with a quiet and firm denial the arrogant claim of ecclesiastical authority to dictate in American politics.
And beyond and beneath this sympathy with Dr. McGlynn in his stand against a tyrannical archbishop and a slavish system there lies something broader and deeper. The significance of the great meeting of the Anti-Poverty society at Chickering hall is the marriage again of what too long have been severed – the union of the religious sentiment with the aspiration for social reform; of the hope of heaven with the hope of banishing want and suffering from the earth. Never before in New York has a great audience sprung to its feet and in a tumult of enthusiasm cheered the Lord's prayer; but it was the Lord's prayer with a meaning that the churches have ignored. The simple words, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven,” as they fell from the lips of a Christian priest who proclaims the common fatherhood of God and the common brotherhood of man; who points to widespread poverty and suffering not as in accordance with God's will, but as in defiance of God's order, and who appeals to the love of God and the hope of heaven, not to make men submissive to social injustice which brings want and misery, but to urge them to the duty of sweeping away this injustice – have in them the power with which Christianity conquered the world. And in New York today, as by the sea of Galilee eighteen centuries ago, though the Scribes and Pharisees are filled with rage and the high priests and rich men are troubled and dismayed, the people hear them gladly.
On Monday evening a Jesuit priest, Rev. Father Francis T. McCarthy, formerly of New York and now of Boston, the superior of a band of Jesuit missionaries who travel around the country, concluded a mission in Danbury, Conn., by a lecture delivered in the Opera House, in which he denounced any attempts to abolish poverty as wicked and impious. He declared that poverty was instituted by God for the purpose of enabling those to whom he gave riches to exercise the virtue of charity in relieving it, and asserted that Christ gave his approval to poverty by doing nothing to relieve it, but that, on the contrary, He blessed and sanctioned it.
This is in definite form the degrading and blasphemous doctrine that, directly or by implication, has been preached to the people as Christianity by the majority of its official representatives, Catholic and Protestant alike. Is it any wonder that the masses have been slipping away from the churches, and that in many cases earnest men, moved by sympathy for the suffering they see around, should have come to look on the belief in a future life itself as but a lying device for making the credulous submit more tamely to oppression, and to deem the eradication of religious belief a necessary step in the emancipation of man?
Christianity has been losing its hold on the masses, and seems everywhere to be dying at the roots, simply because it has been distorted from a protest against social wrongs, into an endorsement and justification of those wrongs. In all its branches – Greek, Latin, English, Scotch and Lutheran – it has become the ally of “the powers that be,” the defender of “things as they are,” a stiller of conscience in the rich, a preacher of slavish contentment to the poor; and its divine message of the possibility of a Kingdom of Justice on earth like that which men picture in heaven, has been perverted with a promise of future bliss as a reward for the submission to wrong on earth. It is this that that has so largely driven into an attitude of bitter hostility to the church, and even to religion itself, those ardent, self-sacrificing spirits who, on the continent of Europe, have dreamed of universal peace and brotherhood – of a state unpropped by bayonets and a society in which there should be room and plenty for all – and that in England and Scotland and Ireland and America has so largely forced those who have become bitterly conscious of social injustice, to feel that it is only outside the churches, and against the influence of the churches, that any progress could be made.
Yet the religious instincts of man are the very deepest of his being, and among none is the natural yearning for the promises and consolations of religion more profound than among those who realize the wrong and the suffering that degrade and embitter human life in our society of today. If they are repelled into atheism by the picture of an Almighty Creator who sanctions injustice, they spring back into belief at the presentation of the idea of an Almighty Father, whose laws are the laws of justice and beneficence, and of a religion which in His name calls upon men to war against wrong. This was the significance of the enthusiastic shout that burst from the great audience as the real meaning of the Lord's prayer flashed upon mind and heart. It was indeed the “God wills it! God wills it!” of a new crusade.
“I am no longer an atheist and a socialist,” said one of the most intense of the leaders of the German socialists, as he left Chickering hall on Sunday night. “I am a McGlynn Catholic.”
The hope of the world lies in the revival of true religion, of real Christianity. The worship of the golden calf which has insinuated itself beneath the forms by which the living God is adored with lip service in our temples, the blank materialism which has become almost a part of the moral atmosphere of our times, must hurry our modern civilization to destruction all the quicker because of the mighty agencies that intellectual advance has enabled it to utilize. Steam, electricity, the marvels of labor saving ingenuity, serve, as we may already begin to see, but to engender disintegrating and explosive forces in a society based on institutions that ignore the moral law. And against wrongs entrenched in statutes, customs and habits of thought, and backed by powerful vested interests, appeals to the merely selfish desire of men to better their own condition, are, as Mazzini so eloquently pointed out, of but little avail. To fight the hard fight that must be fought to save modern civilization by carrying it to more splendid heights, only the religious sentiment can suffice. And it is to this, the greatest of all the forces that move men, that the Catholic priest become an apostle, made appeal and received response.
“Christ did nothing to abolish poverty.” That is the saying of those who crucify Christ while they profess to serve him. Christ struck at the very root of poverty when he declared to men that they should do to others as they would have others do to them. Carry this principle into laws and institutions and there would be no poverty. Our so-called Christian communities are a living slander upon Christianity, because they have degraded the teachings of Christ into a mere Seventh day code of personal ethics, which we are to make believe to obey in some of our relations, but are not to consider in the making of laws.
In a truly Christian community—a community in which the principle of doing to others as we would have them do to us, the principle of equal rights and equal freedom, permeated laws and institutions—there would be no poverty, no prisons, no monstrously rich and no monstrously poor. There would be no women toiling away their lives for a mere pittance, no children at work who ought to be at play, no able-bodied men vainly seeking employment, no idlers enjoying wealth of which labor had been robbed, and no prostitution of the highest talent to the greedy gathering of wealth that cannot be carried beyond the grave. In such a community there would be room for all, work for all, plenty for all, leisure and opportunities of full development for all that God's providence calls into the world. And the object of the Anti-Poverty society is to take the first step to the realization of this ideal of a Christian community by conforming the most important and most fundamental of human adjustments, that which governs the relations of men with each other in regard to the planet that they inhabit, to the fundamental law of justice—the doing to others as we would have others do to us.
The purpose of the Anti-Poverty society is not that of forming a new church. It will welcome to its ranks Catholics, Protestants, Spiritualists, Materialists, Deists, Atheists, Buddhists, Mohammedans and Mormons, if such there be, who desire to join it. It is not a political society, for though its aim may only be practically realized through politics, its purpose is that to which political action is secondary—to arouse conscience and excite thought. It is not a class society. Its object is to secure justice to all—to the capitalist as to the workman, to the employer as well as the employed, to the rich as well as the poor. It is not a charitable society. It does not propose to give alms or to attempt to alleviate poverty by half-way measures. It declares war against the cause of poverty itself; it aims to abolish poverty, and all the vice and crime and greed that flow from it, by securing the practical recognition of the truths that every child born into the world is by natural right entitled to the equal use and benefit of all that the Creator has provided for the satisfaction of human needs and the development of human powers, and that every member of society is entitled equally to share in all the advantages of social growth and improvement. On this broad platform men of all classes and all creeds may stand.
In speaking of his ideal democratic pope walking down Broadway with a stovepipe hat on his head and an umbrella under his arm, everybody saluting him with “Good morning, Mr. Pope,” and he returning the salutation with “Good morning to you, my son,” Dr. McGlynn put a great truth in somewhat facetious setting. Whenever the Catholic church will throw off the tinsel of royalty and the barbaric forms of inspiration, whenever it will abandon the alliance of its ruling officials with the rich and the powerful, it will again become what it was in its early days—the church of the people. Christ, in the Catholic view, could have commanded all the legions of heaven, yet He chose to come on earth, the son of a working carpenter, to consort with the poor and lowly and to be hated and despised by the rich and the powerful. He did not have a marble palace and $40,000 a year, like the archbishop of New York, still less did he surround himself with the splendor and ceremony that surrounds the pope. That the head of the church founded by Him should be environed by all the pomp and circumstance of kings, that he should be crowned with a triple crown, and be carried on the shoulders of men, with peacock fans held over his head, amid the glistening arms of mercenaries clothed in all the colors of the rainbow, and the drawn swords of Noble Guards, whose very name perpetuates a distinction at which Christianity revolts, and that the faithful should be called on to prostrate themselves before him and kiss his foot, is a burlesque on Christianity and a weakness in the Catholic church.
And this fatal weakness runs through all the machinery of the church today. The essential doctrines of the Catholic church are democratic, but its organization is aristocratic to the last degree. In New York the Catholic people who build and maintain the churches, and support the priests, and pay the archbishop his princely salary of $40,000 a year, besides providing him a marble palace in which to live, have no voice whatever in the selection of their own pastors or the disposition of their own property. The pastors in their turn have no voice whatever in the selection of their bishop, in whose hands is their living, and who may promote or degrade them or turn them out of their homes at his will. The archbishop is appointed in Rome, nominally by the pope, but in reality by a junta who know nothing of this country, and who consult neither priests nor people. The people himself is selected by a college composed of what are nominally the priests of certain Roman churches—a survival of the old usage of the Catholic church, when the people selected the pastors and the pastors selected the bishops. And this power of selecting the supreme head of the church, the fountain of all honor and source of all power, has been for centuries in the hands of a ring of Italians, who take such good care to preserve a majority of votes, that since the time of Adrian of Utrecht, over three centuries ago, none but an Italian has ever been made pope. So closely has this Italian ring kept the power in its hands that the people who have suffered most for their Catholic faith, and who are today the most Catholic people of the world, have never had a single cardinal of their own, the only two Irish cardinals ever appointed, Cardinal Cullen and Cardinal McCabe, being appointed at the instance of the British government and for the express purpose, which they faithfully carried out, of using their ecclesiastical power to keep down the growth of national feeling in Ireland.
If the heads of the church were to discard all this barbaric form and ceremony, which comes to him not as the successor of the simple fisherman Peter, but from the rotting heathen imperialism of the later Roman empire; were to dismiss the fat monsignori and clean out the rotten rings that surround him—rings so corrupt that the American bishops some years ago, according to clerical report, had to bribe the secretary of the propaganda in order to get consideration of an important matter concerning the council of Baltimore; were to leave off dreaming of temporal power, and were to become really the head of the great Christian church of the people, he might not receive costly birthday gifts from the sovereigns of the earth, but he would indeed become enshrined in the hearts of the people and give to the Catholic church a greater power for good than for ages it has had.
The undemocratic character of the ruling influence in Catholic officialism is to be seen even in little things in the United States.
Peter the apostle was simply Peter, and Paul the apostle was simply Paul, and Christ himself was to his disciples simply “the Master.” To this day the great missionary of northwestern Europe—the devoted priest and bishop who converted Ireland—is to the Irish peasant simply Patrick. It is not even “St. Patrick's church,” or “St. Patrick's well” or “St. Patrick's hill” that they speak of, but “Patrick's church,” and “Patrick's well” and “Patrick's hill.” Yet in republican America the Catholic hierarchy have accustomed democratic ears to such titles as “his eminence,” and “his grace” and even “my lord,” though to be sure, they yet put that in Italian.
These little things but indicate what is beneath. The real quarrel of Archbishop Corrigan with Dr. McGlynn is the quarrel of aristocracy with democracy, of vested wrongs with natural rights, of the friend of the rich with the priest of the poor, of the heathenish love of pomp and power of half-pagan Rome with the pure faith of Patrick.
The man who lives in a marble palace, who is accustomed to be called “Your Grace” and to have people kneel down and kiss his hand, who wields absolute power over hundreds of priests, and who receives, besides the maintenance of his marble palace, a private salary of over $40,000 a year, can hardly be expected to have much sympathy with the masses of his flock who fester in tenement houses.
The disposition to persecute any clergyman who openly takes the side of the right in the great contest to restore the land to the people, is not confined to the Catholic church, as Rev. Dr. Kramer and Rev. Father Huntingdon have both discovered. Of how much it costs a clergyman of Painsville, O., speaks in the Standard today. Nevertheless brave men among the clergy of all denominations are beginning to come out, and it will gratify the readers of the Standard to know that though he was blackballed by the minister's club, Dr. Pentecost's Newark congregation stand by him loyally. In fact, his outspoken course on the land question has proved so popular that the income from pew lettings this year will far exceed the last. Dr. Pentecost is expected to preside. The meeting will be held in the Academy of Music.
We publish today a striking poem which “the new crusade” has already called forth. The good cause needs songs. Will not some one furnish it with appropriate words to such well-known tunes as “John Brown's Body” and “Marching Through Georgia?”
A young man of twenty, James E. Duffy of 1589 Fourth avenue, was brought into the Yorkville police court on Tuesday morning charged with assaulting an officer. His head was swelled and cut, his jaw broken and his nose mashed flat to his face. A lady and gentleman who had witnessed the arrest appeared in court and stated that the young fellow with a companion was coming down the street playing an accordion. They saw, as they passed, the policeman evidently lying in wait for him behind one of the iron pillars of the elevated road. As young Duffy came up the policeman sprang out, struck the accordion from his hand with a blow of the club, then struck him across the face, and after beating him for some time, lugged him off to the station house. Justice Duffy discharged the lad, but did not, as he should have done at once, hold the policeman. Another case is reported in which a man named Edward Tully is said to be dying from a totally unproved clubbing by a policeman on Sunday. Just such outrages as this are constantly being reported in the New York papers, and it was such outrages that I declared last fall I would put a stop to if elected mayor—a declaration much misrepresented by the press. But it ought to be within the power of the mayor to put a stop to such brutality. If Mayor Hewitt cannot get the police commissioners to do their duty, he can at least provide counsel and push prosecutions against policemen who thus abuse their power. The sending of a few policemen to the state prison for too free a use of their clubs would have a most beneficial effect upon the discipline of the force. Too many of them now seem to believe that they have a perfect right to club anybody whom they think ought to be clubbed, thus constituting themselves at once accuser, judge, jury and executioner, and inflicting punishment which, no matter how much it may be deserved, is unknown to the laws. An unnecessary assault is more criminal in a police officer than in a private citizen, because he is a guardian of the peace, and being clothed by the law with authority, he ought to be held all the more responsible for any abuse of it. It is too a striking commentary upon our whole police administration that a young man, with a broken jaw and a nose mashed flat, should have been kept in a station house all night, and that a police justice should do no more than set him at liberty. Justice Duffy is probably no worse than the other police justices, but he is evidently unfit for a seat on the bench.
We publish another letter from H.M. Hyndman, the leader of the socialistic movement in England. Times have changed somewhat since the days when the St. James Gazette used to speak of “Mr. Hyndman, or, as he otherwise calls himself, 'The Democratic Federation,'” and the work he and other democrats have been doing is beginning to tell. Mr. Hyndman is an Englishman by birth, a man of university education, and originally of liberal fortune, a most striking writer, and one of the best informed men of current politics in England.
A large meeting was held in Brooklyn on Tuesday evening to protest against the Ives bill, for legalizing pool selling. If gambling of any kind is to be prohibited, this form of gambling ought not to receive legal sanction.
We publish this week the call of the united labor party of New York and Kings counties for a state convention. This it is proposed to follow by a national conference.
Mayor O'Brien of Boston attended the annual dinner of the Citizens' league of Brooklyn last Monday and made a speech, in which, after telling how non-partisan he had been as mayor, he is reported to have intimated that I should have been “thrown into the dark” for going to Boston and making a speech during his last campaign. This speaks badly for the champagne of the Brooklyn Citizens' league, for Mr. O'Brien at home bears the reputation of a very sensible gentleman, and it might furnish Dr. Funk with an argument for excluding strong drink from public dinners.
Such Was the Sorry Kind of Endorsement Given the Archbishop at the Demonstration in the Cathedral
The published accounts of the “totally unexpected” demonstration at the cathedral state that two hundred priests were present. The literal truth is that out of the four hundred and more priests of the diocese only 128 were present by actual count, and of these, a very large portion were monks and friars, chiefly Germans and Italians who represented nothing but the cracking of the whips of their superiors who sent them. The remainder of the clergy absented themselves in a manner that was perhaps even more “totally unexpected” than the presentation of the address. The total attendance at the cathedral was less than three hundred people.
Louis F. Post lectured on the land question before the land and labor club of Portchester, N.Y., on Wednesday night. Although an admission fee was charged, over three hundred people attended.
Dr. M'Glynn In Philadelphia
A Large and Attentive Audience Listens to His Lecture on “The Cross of the New Crusade”
Rev. Dr. McGlynn lectured before a big audience in the Academy of Music in Philadelphia on Wednesday evening last, taking for his subject “The Cross of the New Crusade.” Two hundred persons taking an active part in the new movement, among them the Henry George club, sat upon the platform. Chief among those present were: John J. Cummings of District Assembly No. 1, Rev. Dr. May, Universalist; Rev. J.R. Gates, Rev. Clarence A. Adams, Baptist; Rev. W. Swindells, Rev. Dr. Kynett, Rev. W.C. Robinson, Dallas Sanders, chairman democratic state committee; Clayton McMichael, Colonel Eldridge J. Smith, Rev. S. Morais, General William Brindle, of Gloucester City, N.J., Charles H. Litchman, general secretary of K. of L., Moses Stern, Thomas Phillips and G. George Franks. A number of Catholic clergymen were also present, among whom may be mentioned Fathers McDermott, Reilly, Brehony, McFadden, Lane and Hasson, all of whom at the conclusion of the lecture visited Dr. McGlynn at his hotel, the Lafayette, to shake his hand and say a word of good cheer.
Frederick Herwig, president of the Henry George club, which had the lecture in charge, introduced the reverend speaker, who quickly roused his audience to a high pitch of enthusiasm for the cause of the “New Crusade,” and held their close attention until the close.
Another Answer For Mr. Yeager
A Correspondent Tells How He Meets an Objection
Wakefield, Mass., May 2 – In the Standard of April 23, under “Queries and Answers,” Walter G. Yeager writes that when, in argument, he proposes to appropriate land values for public purposes by taxation, he finds it difficult to meet the objection “that the landlord would shift any tax that might be imposed and make the tenant pay more rent.” I have often had the same statement thrown at me, and I answer in this way:
A tax on buildings or improvements tends to limit the number of buildings or improvements, and whatever limits supply increases the cost of production. Consequently, the owner can shift a tax imposed on buildings or improvements to the user; or, in other words, he can charge the user to the extent of the rise in price. But a tax imposed on land alone cannot decrease the surface of the earth by one square inch, and it does not tend to raise the price. Consequently it cannot be shifted to the shoulders of the tenant. A tax on land values alone would, on the contrary, lower the price of land, and the tenant would benefit by a lower rent, so that a high tax on land values would not mean something added to the tenant's rent, but something taken away from it. Just in proportion as the tax on land values increased, speculation in land would decrease, and more and more land would be thrown upon the market and opened to use, until speculation would be entirely killed and tenants would pay what is called economic rent, which would be absorbed by the tax. Thus every man would virtually become his own landlord by paying the tax to the community.
George B. Sinclair
The Pope in a Stovepipe Hat
To a reporter of the Morning Journal, who invited Dr. McGlynn to explain precisely what he meant by his expression that he trusted some day to see a democratic pope walking down Broadway in a stovepipe hat, the doctor said:
“I made that declaration in a facetious way. There was nothing flippant in it. I meant it in all sincerity.
“Christ's apostles and coworkers were not the rich, nor the powerful, nor the aristocratic, but humble, unknown Gallilean workingmen. He was the friend, adviser and brother of all. He called the masses his brethren. He mingled with saints and sinners and by the beauty and simplicity of his life he won their hearts and consciences and he endeavored everywhere to inculcate the heavenly doctrine of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.
“As a humble follower and discipline of the Son of God I have endeavored to spread that great truth. In speaking of the pope walking down Broadway, I expressed my sincere desire to see the chief pastors of my church abandon their policy of seclusion and come out and mingle with the people, so that they may learn their wants and counsel with them.
“I long to see them win back the thousands of souls who have been lost to the church in France, Spain, Italy, Austria and Germany, South America and elsewhere. Many of those people have left the church of God because of an unwarranted belief that the church was the enemy of progress and popular government. The genius of Christianity is its simplicity.
“The church of God is essentially democratic, and in the providence of God the tendency of the age in both church and state is toward democracy.”
Sen. Cliff, L.I., Land and Labor Club
The Rev. Charles P. McCarthy will deliver an address before this club on Sunday afternoon, May 8, at 2 p.m., in reply to the recent utterances of Father Brann, which have been published in the Catholic Herald, and gratuitously circulated among the members of the club by some enthusiastic opponent of reform.
Mr. McCarthy will deliver the same address in this city at lower hall, 52 Union square, at 8 p.m., when Mr. Steers, delegate of the Twenty-third assembly district, will also speak on “Work and Gold.”
Questions will be answered and orderly debate invited at both meetings.
From Kansas City
Kansas City – Our men here all feel well pleased over the result of the elections, and we have already begun the work for another campaign. The influence of Henry George's visit here is apparent in the feeling that we ought not only to have something more definite in our platform on the land question, but that the fight for the future should be made principally on that issue.
Henry George at Danbury
Henry George lectured at Danbury, Conn, on Wednesday under the auspices of the Union club and Charter Oak assembly, K. of L. The audience was a large and most appreciative one.
The Great Demonstration At Chickering Hall
The Hall Crowded as Never Before – Dr. McGlynn's Address – What the Society Proposes to Do – A Whirlwind of Enthusiasm, and Liberal Contributions to the Cause
'No, sir! You gentlemen can't have Chickering hall for another meeting of the Anti-Poverty society, unless you'll consent to issue tickets and limit the attendance. Why, there hasn't been such a crowd gathered in the hall before since it was built. It was simply a crush, and we don't think it would be safe to have it again.”
So said the renting agent of Chickering hall to a member of the executive committee of the Anti-Poverty society who was endeavoring to negotiate with him for the use of the hall for a second Sunday evening meeting. And really it would have been hard for anyone to blame him who had looked upon the enormous crowd that filled the great room last Sunday—that packed seats, and aisles, and platform, and doorways, and overflowed down the stairs and into the street, where hundreds stood for hours, hoping for some lucky chance that might make room for them inside, while thousands had gone away disappointed.
What is The Society?
What is this Anti-Poverty society that has sprung so suddenly into existence with vitality and force enough to gather men and women by the thousands to its first meeting? When was it organized? What are its aims? How is it going to carry them out?
These are questions that have been asked by thousands since Dr. McGlynn announced the existence of the society last Sunday night.
On Saturday, March 26 last, a few gentlemen assembled in the office of the Standard. They were of various creeds and shades of belief. One was a Catholic priest, another a Congregationalist clergyman, another a Presbyterian minister; some were Catholics, some Protestants, some Agnostics, the strong bond of union between them all being a deep religious conviction that poverty, with its attendant evils of vice, and criminality, and greed, is not an unavoidable curse inflicted on humanity by a cruel and offended deity, but altogether the result of a neglect by man of the beneficent laws of God. At this meeting and by these gentlemen the Anti-Poverty society was organized, its principles and purposes being embodied in the following brief declaration:
Believing that the time has come for an active warfare against the conditions that, in spite of the advance in the powers of production, condemn so many to degrading poverty, and foster vice, crime and greed, the undersigned associate themselves together in an organization to be known as the Anti-Poverty society. The object of the society is to spread, by such peaceable and lawful means as may be found most desirable and efficient, a knowledge of the truth that God has made ample provision for the needs of all men during their residence upon earth, and that poverty is the result of the human laws that allow individuals to claim as private property that which the Creator has provided for the use of all.
The Rev. Dr. Edward McGlynn was chosen president, Benjamin Urner treasurer, and Michael Clarke secretary, and the Anti-Poverty society was launched. Weekly meetings were held thereafter, at which new members were admitted, and a plan of operations discussed and elaborated, and the 1st of May was finally settled on for the first public demonstration and the commencement of an active campaign.
The Story of the Meeting
A brief advertisement in the columns of the Standard and the Leader was the only announcement of the proposed meeting to the public, but it sufficed to draw together an assemblage worthy of the occasion. Before 5 o'clock a noticeable throng of patient waiters had gathered upon the steps of Chickering hall, content if by two hours' waiting they could secure a choice of seats. By 7 the crowd filled the sidewalk solidly to the curb, so that passers by were compelled to turn out into the roadway. As the time for the meeting approached, the throng grew denser and denser, and when, at 7:30, the doors were opened, the mass of humanity surged into the hall in one great wave, and within five minutes not a seat was vacant. Men and women stood in the aisles; they thronged upon the platform; they crowded the ante-rooms, they blocked the doorways; wherever space could be found for human feet they stood in a compact and solid mass.
At 8 o'clock precisely Henry George struggled through the dense throng toward the front of the platform, and was greeted with a whirlwind of cheers and applause, which brought to mind the memories of the great campaign of '86. With a few words of welcome to the audience on behalf of the society, he announced an organ solo by Mr. Welton, who had kindly volunteered his services for the evening.
A choir of sixty voices under the direction of Miss Agatha Munier then rendered a spirited anthem, in which many of the audience joined, and Mr. George rose to address the meeting.
“The presence of such an audience at the first meeting of the Anti-Poverty society,” said Mr. George, “shows that there is in this community a widespread sentiment responsive to its objects. (Applause) A society has been founded to combat the social crime of poverty (applause); or rather, I should say, is to be founded here tonight. A few of us have come together and mapped out a meeting and a course of action, and we look for the support now of every man and every woman in this vast audience. (Applause)
“In starting this society we do not propose to found a church. (Applause) There are churches enough already in this community. And if churches could abolish poverty and all the sin and crime that flow from it, there would be no poverty or crime here. (Applause) Yet this society is a religious society in one sense, rather out of the ordinary. In it there will be no question of faith or creed. There will be room in it for good orthodox Roman Catholics, Hebrews, Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Baptists”—
There was a movement among the audience, a murmur that swelled into a roar, a sea of waving handkerchiefs, a deafening clapping of hands and stamping of feet, as the dear priest of the people, the Soggarth Aroon, stepped upon the platform and made his way to Mr. George's side. And as the two men shook hands—the thinker and the priest—the enthusiasm broke forth with redoubled energy. Women wept, men cheered and shouted, hats and handkerchiefs flew up, and a hoarse murmur from the street told that the crowd outside were adding their voices to swell the chorus of welcome and of joy. For full five minutes the uproar lasted, and when, taking up the thread of his remarks, Mr. George commenced: “As I was saying when our president entered—” the storm of applause broke out afresh, and renewed itself at every mention of Dr. McGlynn's name. When at length he could make himself heard, Mr. George went on:
“We don't intend to pray to God, or to praise God, but we do intend to do God's work. We band ourselves together to do the work of God, to rouse the essentially religious sentiment in men and women which looks to the helping of suffering. We want to do what churches and creeds cannot do—abolish poverty altogether, to secure to each son of God as he comes into the world a full share of God's natural bounties, an equal right in all the advantages and fruits of civilization and progress, a fair chance to develop all his powers. (Applause)
“The poverty that festers in the heart of a great, rich city like this, comes not from the niggardliness of the Creator, but from the injustice of man, and it would be a sin in us and a shame if we did not try to strike at it at the very roots. (Applause)
“The churches have gone so far as absolutely to condemn and persecute the poor. So far from trying to obliterate poverty, they condemn and persecute the men who fight against it.” At this reference to the first martyr of the new crusade, the applause was deafening and long continued.
Mr. George then read the declaration of principles of the society as given above, and invited every person present to become a member and to contribute to the funds as far as his means might permit. Envelopes had been distributed among the audience, each containing a blank application for membership, which those who wished to join might fill up and remit to the treasurer by mail, or hand to the collectors who would go among the audience for that purpose.
Before closing, Mr. George paid a tribute of thanks to Miss Munier and her choir, to Mr. Welton, and to Signor Vincenzi, who had volunteered a vocal solo for the meeting. Miss Munier's name evoked a storm of applause, and the mention of the other artists was greeted with demonstrations of approval.
Mr. Welton then gave a magnificent solo upon the organ, after which Signor Vincenzi sang to an air by Gounod, Wesley's beautiful hymn on immortality:
Each night I pitch my moving tent
A day's march nearer home
Meantime twenty collectors were making their way, as best they could, through the closely-packed audience, and receiving in baskets and hats a shower of envelopes and money contributions. So far as could be observed, almost everybody gave something for the cause. The subsequent count of the contributions showed over ten dollars in one-cent pieces alone.
Then the music ceased, the collectors had completed their rounds, and the orator of the evening advanced and faced the audience, his eyes glistening with kindly emotion as the applause and cheers rang out to welcome him. Again and again the ladies waved their handkerchiefs, the men their hats, and voices, hands and feet joined in an irresponsible outburst of delight. Then the priest of the people raised his hand, and the great assemblage was stilled and hushed in listening expectancy.
We give the speech below, but no cold combinations of type can convey an idea of its delivery. For nearly two hours the speaker held his audience spellbound as he told them of the high and holy objects of the new society, of the dire need for its existence and labors, of the methods it intended to pursue, and the active part he proposed to take in its affairs. Every point was clearly made and comprehended by his eager listeners. His pathos moved to tears; his sharp flashes of ridicule and satire were received with bursts of merriment; his lofty flights of rhetoric were greeted with tumultuous applause; and when the last words were said and the last appeal had been uttered there was probably not one man or woman in the hall who was not ready then and there to take up the cross of the new crusade and do whatever in him or her lay to wipe out the crime and destroy the curse of that poverty whose causes and whose unrighteousness had been so eloquently exposed.
Dr. McGlynn's Speech
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen—I am intensely conscious that we stand here tonight upon an historic platform; that those who are the first to form this Anti-Poverty society will treasure as something exceeding precious the little bits of paper certify that they were among the first to conceive the thought and to carry into action the purpose of this society; and that you, who form this vast audience, will be proud to tell to your children and your children's children that you helped to encourage this work in its infancy. And conscious thus, as I am, of the importance of this platform; feeling as I do its sanctity and its dignity, I may well say without affectation that I am conscious of the difficulty of satisfying the expectations that such an occasion might well raise in the minds of all. And yet the name, the object, is full of eloquence. It contains in itself most exquisite and most touching poetry. It is full of pathos; it is all radiant with heavenly light. It tells us of what is best and tenderest and most humane. It recalls for us the precepts, the examples, the tender human love that was more than love and more than human, of the heart of the best and gentlest of men that also was a heart that translated into human emotions the very thoughts and the love of the Godhead. It is not amiss that I, a priest of the Christ, should stand here tonight to speak in behalf of the cause that aims not merely to diminish, to alleviate, to soothe, poverty as best we may, but to do something better, to pluck out the very heart of the horrid thing! Not to coddle and to pet it by merely applying here a plaster and there a poultice, but going to the very root of the evil, purifying the blood, purging the system, plucking out the accursed, the perennial and the fruitful rood of this horrid poverty—which is the injustice of man in violating the law of God.
It is, therefore, with more than my wonted diffidence, that I rise to address you; but I am emboldened by a sense of duty, feeling that I were recreant to my manhood, and, still worse, recreant to my Christian profession, and, still worst of all, recreant to my Christian priesthood, and, still worst of all, recreant to my Christian priesthood, if I should falter and speak in any uncertain sound the word I am commanded to utter. Surely, dear friends, it should hardly need an apology from a Christian priest to love the poor of Christ. Surely, I need hardly defend my position upon this platform, the one object of which is to abolish that poverty that Christ came into the world largely to abolish, that He sought to abolish by teaching men the new and the better law of perfect equality among men, because all are equally the children of one common Father. And by those lessons of righteousness, of justice, that He came to teach by word of mouth, and, still better, to inculcate by His most sweet and lovable examples, He sought to bring back man to a better knowledge of the law of his own being, of his origin and of his destiny. Man in primeval days, in the very beginning of creation, taught by the Creator himself with the fresh impulses of His heart, with the best energies of His mind, knew that he was the Lord of creation, that he bore upon him the very image of the King; that he alone of all created things was capable of reflecting a light that never was upon land or sea, the consecration and the poet's dream—the true, the good and the beautiful—truth, which is above material things; goodness, of which the beauties of all the wonders of the visible creation are but the types and symbols. And so man walked the earth in the dawn of creation with the conscious pride of the child of God, the heir of his father and the king of the world. And all men who came into the world came with these same godlike instincts, with this God-given knowledge of their origin and of their destiny; that, being endowed with the capacity to know the true, to love the good, to enjoy the beauty that is something more than the thing of sense, they were made for something higher and better than all these visible things.
With reverent submission to the will of the Creator, man acknowledged from the beginning that the visible works of God—all wondrous in their beauty, in their number, in their order, in their proportions—were but the school into which the Father had led His well beloved child; that learning to read aright the handwriting upon the rocks and upon the sea sands and upon the stars of heaven, he might at length say, with the sweet singer of Israel, “The heavens are telling the glory of God.”
Man felt, man knew, that he could well spurn the earth, because he was the child of the King; that the Father desired that he should earn the blessed reward of perfect favor and perfect love by working out his destiny; and so that this world was not only a school in which man might learn to read aright the Father's glory and will that is written in unmistakable characters upon all His works, but also a workshop into which the wise Father led His child; that by the proper, the reasonable, the proportionate exercise of all his faculties he might make out of these raw materials that God has placed in such abundance around him things new and strange, and thus proclaim also, in some measure, his likeness to the King his Father by exercising in some sense the creative faculty.
God gave to man then this power to know the truth, to discover the laws of nature, and from the laws of nature to rise to the knowledge of nature's God, to admire and to love all that is good in God's visible works, and in the wondrous beauty of the multitudinous works of God to discover a rhythm and a harmony and a charming melody, the harmony of the spheres.
And so to man was given—and man from the earliest day became conscious of the gift—the power to take of the crude things of the earth, and so to transform them that of the mere clays of earth he might make things of beauty that the tooth of time and the hand of man should scarcely dare to desecrate; that man should do something far more than merely feed the animal body, than merely shelter it from the winter's blast or clothe it for the necessary purpose of comfort or decency; that man with his aesthetic sense, making him like to God, should introduce the sense of beauty even into the feeding of the animal, into the clothing of the man, into his architecture; and that man should feel permitted, even here on earth, to use these material things with which to erect temples that should not seem entirely unworthy that God should be asked to call them His house and His home.
As a necessary consequence of this primeval truth that was impressed by the Creator upon the minds and the hearts of His children, came that other great truth that if God has made us His children by making us in His likeness, with the capacity to know Him and to love Him and to enjoy Him, then as we are all children of God, surely we are all brethren of but one family, and that regardless of differences of age, of race, of physical gifts, of mental endowments and acquirements; in spite of differences of color or of condition, all the children of men are equally the children of God, and therefore all brethren one to the other.
Another immediate and necessary deduction from these great primal truths is this: If God is a father, then he is not a stepfather. If God is a just God, if God is a wise God, if God is a good and a loving God, he cannot have sent the great mass of His children into this world to be cursed forever with something that He calls evil, and have sent a chosen few to be blest with the exclusive possession of those material things out of which all God's children are required or condemned, if you will, to work out their earthly salvation. It requires not the inspired word of the Psalmist of Israel to make us know, but it is the natural instinct of the mind and heart of man that as the heaven of heavens is the Lord's, so He has given the earth to the children of men.
The very laws of our nature require that we should labor. It were a mistake to say that labor is entirely a curse. The very muscular capacities with which we are endowed, our physical well being, the proper cultivation and the healthy enjoyment of our physical energy, require that we should work. Work, then, is not entirely a curse. Work, as God intended it from the beginning, was to be a necessary and a most useful and enjoyable part of man's education, to fit him, in God's good time, for a higher school; or, better still, to fit him at last equipped in the fullness of his stature of manhood to leave school, and after his day's work in the world, to return to the rest, the peace and the quiet, the calm of the blessed light of his Father's everlasting home.
Labor is not a bad thing; labor is not an accursed thing. It is a part of the very law of God stamped upon the nature of man. It arises from the very necessity of our condition here as part and parcel of his material world. It is stamped upon the very fibers of our being, in the fact that we are land animals, that every mouth that comes in this world is to be fed: that God has admirably provided in the world for the heeding of the mouth by the hands that he has sent into the world with which it shall be fed.
In the beginning man will find ready sustenance while the human family is still composed of but very small numbers, in the fishes of the streams, in the fruit that has grown without his culture; but that is not the highest and the best order for man. With increased population comes more and more the necessity that man shall make the earth fruitful; that by many devices he shall cheat the earth of her secrets and rob her of her treasures. The earth, the waters, the mines, all these general natural bounties were forming under the beautiful providence of God, by the magnificent laws of creation, in the silent ages before man was. And it was when the world was ripe for the habitation of God's best and noblest and latest work that man sprang into existence, not one moment before his time. And then it was that the visible universe at last found its purpose. Then, and not till then, did the material universe find a voice to praise the Creator; then, and not till then, was creation responsive to the voice, to the truth, to the love of Him who made it. And so, by a wondrous providence, has clod of earth become a being of which the psalmist truthfully could say, “Thou hast made him but little less than the angels.”
Now, just because we have been made with these animal as well as with rational spirits, it becomes our right, our duty, so to use these animal bodies and so to use their energies that we shall not fail to carry out the magnificent and beneficent purposes to which they have ordained by a wise and a loving Father. Labor then is good, labor is necessary, labor is the fruitful source of all the great things that enable man more and more to annihilate space and time, to discover the deeper depths of the mysteries of nature, to penetrate the heavens and to measure and to weigh the suns, to dive deep into the bowels of the earth and raise from them their treasures; that enable men who have been separated by vast distances, by wars, by prejudices, by hatreds, to annihilate space and time, to make the mountains that separate them no longer barriers, to hasten the day when thousands of millions of God's creatures shall be more truly one family than were the few men and women who at one period of the earth may have found shelter under a single shepherd's tent.
“The earth He hath given to the children of men.” He hath given it as a gratuitous gift; and he, I care not who he may be; the law, I care not what it be, or by whom it may have been written; the teacher or preacher, I care not of what church or sect, who would rob men of what God hath given them, is a sacrilegious thief, and all the more sacrilegious if he presumes to speak in the very voice and in the very words of God. The one truth that lies at the very bottom of this much mooted labor question, the one truth the teaching of which is the main object of this Anti-Poverty society, is contained in these truths which I have just preached to you: That all men are created by Almighty God with certain inalienable rights, that these inalienable rights are rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that life cannot be had without proper access to the materials of which this earth is made; and that therefore God has given an equal and indefensible right to each and every one of His children of access to these materials; that no prescription, no vested right, no law can deprive the child of a beggar that may be born in a barn tonight of the same right as the child that is born to inherit an imperial throne, to equal common proprietorship, or tenancy, if you will, of the natural bounties of God.
It is a part of the teaching of natural theology, it is in perfect consonance with the teachings of Him whom nearly all of us call our Lord and Master, that we should call all men equal before God our Father.
The poverty that we would abolish arises from the inability to get work, or from the low wages that are paid for work. The inability to get work arises from the lamentable fact that in most countries, in most civilized countries especially, and in those countries that have attained to the highest civilization and have the densest population, which is an immense factor in high civilization, the general bounties, which is an immense factor in high civilization, the general bounties of nature are appropriated as private property by a few—by a class, and the masses are literally deprived of their divine of inheritance. And so, instead of having the equal right to get at the general bounties of nature, and thus fulfill the duty, as well as exercise the right, of supporting themselves and their families—the same equal chances as every other man in the world may have, they have to go cringing and begging of the few—of the classes—who are the unjust monopolists of the general bounties of God, for the boon to labor. They have to crave as a blessing the chance to get work; and where there is an unseemly competition, a scramble like that of brute beasts at the trough, it rests with the monopolists to give the work to the one who will content himself with the least and the poorest fare of all—to the one who will content himself with the least and the poorest fare of all—to the one who will consent to live and reproduce his species with the least proportion of the products of his labor.
This is the result of the monopolizing by the few, by the classes, of the divinely given inheritance of the masses. Through their ignorance as much as through their cupidity; through their stupidity as much as through avarice, the classes fence in these general bounties. They exclude God's children from them; they appropriate to themselves, as if their fellow creatures had no existence, a large part of the bounties of God; they create an artificial scarcity of land by fencing it in, and allow no man to use it, though they are not using it themselves. They create an artificial scarcity of marble, or of coal, or of silver, or of gold, or of iron by shutting up or shutting down the mines, refusing to use them themselves and not allowing anybody else to use them. And so they deprive men of the opportunity to labor and reduce them literally to starvation. Then men are ready to work for little or nothing; they are willing to work for such little sustenance that they can only protract for a little while a miserable existence. Thus it is by a necessary law that wages have reached the very lowest point at which it is possible for men to exist and to reproduce their species. This is the necessary law that in every country, sooner or later, must be brought to bear with irresistible force upon the working classes; and during a good part of the time, by the commercial depressions that are brought about through the stupidity of the rich as much as by their cupidity, the masses are out of work, and must consume their slender savings. And while they are working, they are working in such conditions and with such reward as utterly degrades God's child from the noble thing that God intended him to be, in mind, in soul, in heart and in body, to a thing that often seems scarcely to bear any trace of the dignity of humanity.
And the men thus prematurely aged by want, by hunger, by exposure, by inhuman toil, transmit images of themselves to their children; and too many of the children of the poor inherit impaired constitutions—constitutions that by an almost irresistible instinct crave for a stimulant that shall enable them to forget their miseries, that shall give to them, for a moment at least, that energy and that sense of force that they have not inherited by nature or that they have lost through improper food, through improper air, through want of proper rest.
The solution of many moral questions, of all moral questions, must begin with the eradication of the wrong and the outrage, the blasphemy and the sacrilege that have been committed under the name of the law all the world over, and too often under the authority of sweet religion. And men living in palaces and guilty apparently of the self-same sin that Dives was guilty of, dining sumptuously every day and being clothed in purple and fine linen, find it in their hearts to condemn and almost to curse the preachers of the blessed doctrine—as we are preaching it—of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of men. Men who call themselves disciples and lovers and followers and even representatives of Him who loved the poor; of Him who said, “I feel compassion for them, lest they should faint by the wayside;” and invoked the power of His Father to work miracles to cure them of all their distempers, lest they should curse God and die:–men who call themselves friends and followers, and (God forgive them) even preachers of the Christ, find it in their hearts to tell us that we are sinning against God; that we are violating the teachings of religion; that we are sinning against that commandment which says, “Thou shalt not steal;” that we are guilty of the most horrible crime, apparently, that any being could be guilty of, in invading the sacred rights of property, when we—whether priests all shaven and shorn, or prophets full bearded and bald—(here the speaker turned and indicated Mr. George)—take it into our heads to say that this thing has been going on too long, and have the impudence to say to the land grabber: “Thou shalt not steal;” to the man that is robbing the poor of their legitimate access to the coal that would warm them, to the land that they should build houses upon to shelter them, “You shall not rob these creatures of God of their equal right with you to share that land, to share those bounties.”
It is a little strange that these people, who are so ready to preach resignation to the poor, to tell them that poverty is good for their souls, if not for their bodies, that they can save their souls rather better under a leaky thatch and on a mud floor and with only a little oatmeal, or, still better, a few potatoes, in their stomachs, than if they lived in palaces and fared sumptuously every day, it is a little strange, I say, that we who are every of our lives thinking of nothing but saving our souls, do not immediately go in for those things which are best for our souls. And so let us tomorrow or next day give up all our marble palaces, and all our purple and fine linen, and all our French cooks, and all these things, and let us go in for the work of saving our souls on a little oatmeal and potatoes, with a few rags on our backs and a leaky thatch over our heads, and a mud floor under our feet. “Consistency is a jewel,” and we are, or say we are, the disciples and representatives of a Man who envied the beasts of the field and the birds of the air, because the beasts had their holes and the birds had their nests, but the Son of Man had nowhere to lay His head. And while in the loving providence of God, to console the poor, who for many a day before had suffered, and for many a day before had suffered, and for many a day since then have suffered cruel injustice, it was well that He should suffer poverty, that He should be homeless, at the same time, He complained of his homelessness, and He accepted gratefully and lovingly the ministrations of Lazarus and of the loving women, Martha and Mary, who received Him into their homes and ministered unto Him; and He commended as a virtue the doing of hospitality, and He showed His solicitude for these bodily needs of our race, as the chairman of this meeting, has so eloquently already told you, by making the helping of men in their bodily needs the very test of fellowship in His kingdom. “Inasmuch as you have refused to do it unto the least of these my brethren , ye have refused to do it unto Me.”
It were a very great mistake for you to suppose, you would be doing us a very grave injustice if you should think, that we, who are among the first to raise the banner of this crusade against poverty, take a low, a gross, a mere material view of the subject. I can say safely for myself, and with equal safety I can say it for the man who presides here tonight, and I think I can say it for all of my fellow members among those who have signed the roll of the declaration of principles of this Anti-Poverty society, that we are attracted to this work largely, chiefly, entirely, I will say, by the religion that is in it. And so while it is entirely true, and it is extremely important that it should be made clear that we are not establishing a new church or a new religious society in the ordinary, hackneyed acceptance of the term—that we are not getting up a little bit of a church to make war upon existing multitudinous and warring churches (there are enough of them to fight already without adding to their number)—at the same time we are engaged in a movement the direction of which is chiefly religious, the needs and objects of which are chiefly religious; and I can say for myself and many another on this platform, that if it were not for the religious features of the movement, we should be counted out from the beginning. We are attracted to this movement because we find in it the very essence and the very core of all religion, the doctrine of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man; the doctrine that fills with divine enthusiasm the minds of those upon whom it has taken a firm hold; the doctrine that gives a divine poetic frenzy to the fancies of men; the doctrine that makes the hearts of strong men tender and soft as those of women to sympathize with the wronged, and courageous and bold as those of lions to do battle against the wrong.
This doctrine has all this strange potency and fascination simply because it is not of earth, because it takes the character of that light and that beauty that never was upon earth or sea—the consecration and the poet's dream, which is but a revelation of the ideal truth, and the ideal goodness, and the ideal beauty, of which material things are but the mere outward signs and symbols.
It is because this movement is all filled with the fire of a divine enthusiasm of humanity that it has for us the fascination and the attraction of sweet religion; and shall it continue to be necessary for us week after week to apologize for talking religion upon this apparently secular platform? While it were indecorous for us to intrude upon promiscuous audiences the dogmas that we know to be true of our holy religion, at the same time it should need no apology for man or woman anywhere to tell these great truths that are of the very essence of the dignity of human nature itself. And I can assure you, dear friends, from something more than mere speculative conviction—from actual experience—that the very movement in which we have been engaged for some time has proved its efficacy to bring men back to God. Men who were soured against what stood to them for religion, men whose lips were full of curses for systems held out to them in the very name of God, that outraged their natural sense of justice, have been brought back to a sweet and gentle sense of reverence, since they have learned from the man who presides here tonight, since they have heard from others engaged with him in the same great movement, the beautiful law of justice, and that the poverty that we would abolish, the misery that is in the world, the degradation of want and the still worse degradation of the fear of want; the avarice, the cupidity, the countless crimes of which poverty, bred of injustice, is the fruitful mother, are not the result of the laws of a beneficent Father, but of the blasphemous violation of them. And if we have had to bring this much of religion upon this platform in Chickering hall, it is because the ministers of the churches in too great measure refuse to preach it in their pulpits, and some of them, for preaching it, were no longer permitted to preach anything; but as, by long training and experience and force of habit they had got to be good for not much anything else than preaching, what would you have them do but continue to preach? and if, because they have ventured to preach on platforms the doctrine that God is the Father of all and all men are his equal children, and that his natural bounties were given by him equally to all—if for teaching such doctrines they are forbidden to preach in any pulpits, then small blame to them if they continue to preach the same doctrines wherever they get the chance, whether from the platform of Chickering hall, or from a boat by the sea sands, or from the midst of a crowd in the market place, or from the midst of a crowd in the market place, or from the tail of a cart. A good thing is a good thing, no matter where you find it; and if some of these pulpits have got to be so high and dry and musty and moth-eaten that a good breeze of fresh, healthy doctrine would blow them all to pieces, perhaps it is just as well for us to avoid that too, too unutterable calamity, and, leaving them to the enjoyment of those who like them, and to get down before audiences like this (I would not say congregations), to preach the truths that are the only salvation of the churches.
And now it occurs to me that it may not be entirely amiss for me to make a profession of faith:
“Is it true, Father McGlynn, that you had some notion of establishing a new church?”
“Is it true that you are going to turn Protestant?” “No!”
“Is it true that you are going to come out and preach a crusade against the pope?” “Oh, no!”
“But we have heard something about a crusade that you have been preaching; and there is a man over in Brooklyn named Justin D. Fulton, and isn't he preaching a crusade? Is your crusade the same as Justin D. Fulton's crusade?” “No. He is preaching against the pope, but I am for the pope!”
“So you are going to remain a Catholic, Father McGlynn?” “To be sure; do you mean to insult me by asking such a question as that?”
“Then why is it that you are not preaching in a Catholic pulpit?” “Because they will not let me!”
“And why is it that you are not saying mass?” “For the very same reason.”
“But why won't they let you preach in the pulpit and why won't they let you say mass?” “Because somebody has made a mistake; that's all. Some old gentleman in Rome has been told that there is a man in New York preaching all sorts of heresies. 'Is that so? Let him be suspended.' Then somebody got hold of some letters four years old. 'Why, this man was teaching heresy about some Irish land league, and this is the same doctrine now—let's suspend him.' The joke of it all is, that not long ago, I received a note from an American bishop in Rome saying that this self-same old gentleman in Rome acknowledges now that he never even examined the doctrine. Don't you see that it is all a mistake? And when he commences to examine it, probably he will be good enough to say that there is something in it. So the doctrine has not been condemned. Better still, it cannot be condemned.”
Yes, I am a Catholic, and I am going to live and die a Catholic; and, better still, I am going to be, as long as I live, nothing but a Catholic priest. In all seriousness I ask this vast audience to bear me witness that I give cach and every one of you permission to detest me with all the energy of which you are capable, as a man treacherous to what he holds most precious, if ever I shall raise my hand against what I hold to be the very Ark of God; if ever I shall be guilty of the crime and the folly of seeking to preach against one tittle of any of its sacred truths; if ever I shall be before the altar of the Catholic church anything else but a reverent and a most loving worshiper. And, if I shall not be permitted to minister at those holy altars, to the service of which I consecrated the enthusiastic reverence of my youth, and my dedication to which I have never for an instant repented of in my maturer years, I shall be before those altars ever, at least, an humble and a reverent worshiper. And if I shall not be permitted to minister to the souls of men those heaven-given sacraments—that divine food and medicine which I most profoundly believe is contained in the sacraments of Christ, I shall regret the privation; for nothing was ever dearer to my heart than to minister to the mind diseased—than to pour balm into the hearts that were bruised with sorrow and contrite sin. But if I shall not be permitted to minister those sacraments I shall to the latest breath of my life continue to be as I have been ever, a believer in their divine and perennial efficacy, and a frequent, and I trust a not entirely unworthy, recipient of them. And in order to make this still more clear I may mention what under other circumstances it might be perhaps a little indecorous to mention of one's private devotions, that this blessed Sunday morning I knelt reverently before a Catholic altar to receive the holy sacrament of the body of Christ, and I hope to do so tomorrow. And as I knelt there in meditation and prayer, before that altar of Christ, and reverently received that holy sacrament, I thought thought it no blasphemy and no sacrilege, with all the earnestness of my being to beg Him to bless His ministry in which I believe I am now engaged, and to bless my mind, and to give words to my tongue, and to give strength and attractiveness to my voice when I should stand here tonight upon this platform, to teach nothing contrary to what He has taught, but rather to seek to win the minds and the hearts of men to the love of the Father, and for the Father's dear sake, to the perfect love of all their brethren.
They were guilty of a strange mistake, and guilty of worse than a mistake, of a very serious calumny, who would say of us that we are setting up a new church against the church of Christ; that we, in raising the cross of a new crusade, are raising an ensign in hostility to the cross of Christ. We rather are raising a banner upon which we would impress the holy sign of Christ's redemption, in order to invoke most earnestly upon our cause and our banner his sweet benediction.
It is because we find in this gospel of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man—in the abrogation of the laws that sanction the cardinal injustice that gives to the privileged few the inheritance of all God's children—it is because we find in this gospel the very justice that comes from God, and that equal justice to and love of our brethren which was but the primal law of God, re-enacted by Christ with new force and fervor, even as it had been taught amid the thunders of Sinai and inscribed upon the tablets of stone, it is because of this that we may well, without seeking to establish a church, hold in the stillness of the blessed Sunday evenings the meetings of this Anti-Poverty society. If it is not a church there is much religion in it, and the day is not desecrated by the doings of this society. If it is not a church, there will be more of the essence of religion in the words which you will hear than in many of the high and dry pulpits that are, almost in mockery, called Christian. Ours is no gospel of hate for any man; our hearts are full of pity for the oppressor as well as the oppressed. We pity the poor rich men as much as we sympathize with the poor poor men, for we cheerfully acknowledge that the great majority of the wealthy who are enjoying as their private property what does not belong to them are themselves the victims of a horrid mistake, of a system of which they are not the authors, and for which, in but comparatively small degree, are they responsible. Have they not the sanction of your laws, laws that have been made and customs that have grown up the act of your chosen legislators, or by your tacit and equally criminal acquiescence? And so we have but little right and less inclination to curse the rich, and our hearts are full of sympathy and charity and benediction for the poor, even if they misunderstand us, even if in their ignorance they misrepresent and calummate us. If, like many a man sick with a distemper of mind, they would tear and bite the kind physician who comes to save them, we would be like Him whom we call Master—we would be full of compassion for the poor. And while He many a time uttered burning words of menace to the rich, it was chiefly to the rich, you may be sure, who were conscious of their own injustice, who became rich by the doing of wrong; but never do we find anything upon his lips but words of tenderness and pity and comfort and hope for the poor. And so, while establishing no church, I for one, and I am sure many of those who are associated with me would do so, too, would spurn as a calumny any assertion that we are anything but humble, reverent and enthusiastic followers of Christ.
One of the chief attractions that this movement has for us is that it will bring back religion to the world. It is a most notorious, and it is a most lamentable, fact that religion has been vanishing from the world; that in your so-called Christian countries of Europe, Protestant and Catholic, a very large portion of the people, the majority of them, I should say, are bitterly hostile to the church; and because the church in their minds seems to have been necessarily connected with religion, does it happen that many men in the bitterness of their hearts at the undue interference churchmen in all affairs, and especially in politics, and conscious of a great injustice supported by churchmen, have become embittered even against religion. It is by showing them that true religion has nothing in it contrary to legitimate national aspiration, to progress, to liberty, to the magnificent Christian doctrine of the equality, the liberty and the fraternity of men—it is, I say, by showing this that we shall soften hearts that have become hard, that we shall call to many an eye that has not known the solace of a tear the comforting dew and raindrops of sweet devotion in the silent closet or in the public temple. Many have said to me, as many have said to him who presides here tonight, that the words he has written and some words I have spoken have brought them back to God again; that they have plucked the bitterness out of their hearts and trampled it under foot; that they have regretted the curses that have risen to their lips; that where they once cursed they now bless; that where they were once defiant they now ask a benediction.
It was by preaching to the poor the glad tidings of redemption, the blessed doctrine of the fraternity and the equality of men, the beautiful fatherhood of God, that the Christ and His apostles and their martyred successors, century after century, went on conquering the Roman world with all its powers, subduing to the beautiful lessons of the gospel of Christ the subtle intelligence of Grecian sages and philosophers; calling into the temples of Christ the cultivated fancies of Grecian poets, and teaching the pencil and chisel of great artists to find new inspiration in the great lesson of Him who taught all men, regardless of whatsoever distinction, to look up and say, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; They kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
This is the gospel and the prophets. In the sublime prayer that He himself taught us, He has given us the epitome of all his teachings, of all the beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount that tells us of our Godgiven and Godlike capacities here, to which is added a Godlike life hereafter.
Religion will never be right until it conquers the world by precisely the same arts, by precisely the same weapons as those with which it conquered so great a part of it. You will bear with me if I repeat a somewhat facetious saying of mine, which bears, I think, repetition. Although it is facetious, it conveys a great truth. It is this: that religion will never be right until we shall see a democratic pope walking down Broadway with a stovepipe hat and a frock coat and a pair of trousers, and a umbrella under his arm; and in my poor opinion that man will be the greatest of all the popes; and instead of being carried on men's shoulders he will have the laugh on them, because he will carry them all in his heart, and they will carry him in theirs.
The gentleman who is presiding here has given me a hint that I have talked long enough, and I must now come to a close. I will close with a little poetic flourish, not my own, for any poetry I may produce will be all in prose. I shall read to you two stanzas of a poem by Mrs. Browning:
“Do ye hear the children weeping, oh, my brothers,
Ere the sorrows comes with years?
They are leaning their young heads against their young heads against their mothers.
And that cannot stop their tears.
The young lambs are bleating in the meadows,
The young birds are chirping in the nest,
The young fawns are playing with the shadows,
The young flowers are blowing toward the west;
But the young, young children, oh, my brothers,
They are weeping bitterly—
They are weeping in the playtime of the others,
In the country of the free.
“And well may the children weep before you!
They are weary ere they run;
They have never seen the sunshine, nor the glory
Which is brighter than the sun;
They know the grief of man, without his wisdom;
They sink in man's despair, without his calm—
Are slaves, without the liberty in Christdom—
Are martyrs, by the pang without the palm—
Are worn, as if with age, yet unretrievingly
The blessings of the earthly love and heavenly:
Let them weep! Let them weep!”
Let them weep—yes, let them weep—since it is their only solace, and it were cruel of us to deprive them even of the comfort of their tears; but just because the children are weeping, and while they are weeping, let their hot tears scald our hearts, let their inarticulate groans and wails stir up within us all that is manly and womanly and all that is Christlike, to do what we can to dry their tears, to stop the inarticulate sobbings of their breaking hearts. Let us, just because they are weeping, feel all the more impelled to heed the voice, to believe the words, to accept the call of the Master, stimulated by His example to do what we can to take away the cause of their tears. Let us, attracted by His powerful benedictions, encouraged by His promises, and awed by his menaces, do what we can to right the wrong and to cause the blessed day of justice to dawn. And the dawn of the day of justice will be the beginning of the doing on earth of the will of the Father as it is done in heaven. It will be the beginning of the reign of the Prince of Peace.
After The Meeting
A second anthem by the choir completed the exercises of the meeting, but the audience was in no mood for dispersing in a hurry. Hardly had the last notes of the music died away than they commenced to struggle toward the platform, eager to increase their contributions to the cause so ably advocated, and for ten minutes or more the officers of the society were kept busy receiving the money offerings and applications for membership.
Meantime Dr. McGlynn had withdrawn to an ante-room, waiting till the crowd should disperse and give him a chance to go quietly home. But the many ladies of St. Stephen's parish among the audience—the “tramp women,” as a Castle Catholic priest lately called them—were in no humor to be satisfied without a nearer sight of their beloved pastor. They hunted him up, and crowded through the little room in which he stood, entering at one door and passing out at the other. Just to grasp his hand, to look into his face, to assure themselves that he was not suffering in health was what they wanted, and they would not be denied. Mothers brought their little children, beseeching him to bless them. Old women thanked God aloud that they had seen him, and invoked the divine favor and protection on his head. For nearly half an hour the good priest stood there, his eyes most with emotion, giving kindly greeting and a brief word of cheer to each in turn. And when at last he left the building and turned his steps homeward, the crowd followed him for blocks, unwilling to lose sight of him till the very last. It was an ovation—a genuine outburst of love and sympathy, such as is given to not one man in a generation.
The Next Demonstration
The Academy of Music Engaged for Sunday Night—Henry George to Address the Meeting—The Membership Roll
The results of last Sunday's meeting were most gratifying in a pecuniary sense, and assure the firm establishment of the Anti-Poverty society. Nearly $400 was received in contributions and membership fees, to which additions are arriving by mail daily. Readers of the Standard who may wish to join the society can do so by forwarding their applications on the blank given in this issue, with membership fee of $1, enclosed to the treasurer, Benjamin Urner, 6 Harrison street, New York. The certificates of membership are now being lithographed, and will be sent to members as soon as ready, each one attested by the signature of the president, Rev. Dr. Edward McGlynn. Contributions for tract distribution, and other work of propaganda, are earnestly solicited from all who take an interest in the work of the society, and will be acknowledged through the columns of the Standard.
The next public meeting of the society will be held at the Academy of Music, in Fourteenth street, on Sunday evening, May 8, when Henry George will deliver an address. At the request of many who were unable to obtain admission to Chickering hall last Sunday, a limited number of seats in the boxes will be reserved for sale on the evening of the meeting, at twenty-five and fifty cents each, but seats in every other part of the house will be absolutely free. A collection will be made in aid of the work of the society.
The following is a list of members of the Anti-Poverty society to date:
Rev. Dr. Edward McGlynn
Rev. H.O. Pentecost, Newark, N.J.
Rev. Theodore C. Williams, 243 E. 18th st.
Benj. Urner, Elizabeth, N.J.
Henry George, 392 Pleasant ave.
Wm. McCabe, 236 E. 14th st.
Louis F. Post, 21 Park row.
James Redpath, 1676 Avenue B.
Gaybert Barnes, 357 Jefferson ave., B'klyn.
J.P. Kohler, 252½ 5th ave., Brooklyn.
Wm. B. Clarke, 27 Pike st.
Jas. O'Flaherty, 1633 Madison ave.
Henry George, Jr., 392 Pleasant ave.
Wm. T. Croasdale, New York hotel.
Augustus A. Levey, 347 Lexington ave.
T.L. McCready, 367 W. 23d st.
E.W. Chamberlain, 111 W. 42d st.
J.W. Sullivan, 325 2d ave.
Walter Carr, 406 Greene ave., Brooklyn.
John McMackin, 317 E. 38th st.
Rev. C.P. McCarthy, 25 E. 121st st.
Mrs. Florence E. McCabe, 236 E. 14th st.
Jas. J. Gahan, 73 Park row.
Tom L. Johnson, St. James hotel.
Edward Daniels, Washington, D.C.
John C. Fleming, 1640 Avenue B.
John J. Bealin, 426 E. 14th st.
Miss Helena McCabe, 236 E. 14th st.
Rev. C.A. Poage, Cosmopolitan hotel
A.G. Sullivan, 88 Herves st., Brooklyn
Herman G. Loew, 190 Monroe st.
Jeremiah Coughlin, M.D., 205 Henry st.
D. De Leon, 104 E. 89th st.
Abner C. Thomas, 135 E. 56th st.
A.M. Molina, 436 Pleasant ave.
Michael Clarke, 1996 Fulton ave., Brooklyn.
J.J. Henna, M.D., 125 E. 25th st.
John R. O'Donnell, 193 Bainbridge st., B'klyn.
Domingo Perazza, 301 3d ave.
John R. Waters, 57 E. 80th st.
F.C. Leubuscher, 38 Park row.
J.V. George, 392 Pleasant ave.
W. Lehmann, 447 W. 43d st.
Patrick Duffy, 307 E. 31st st.
Annie Dowan, 228 E. 27th st.
Mrs. A. Hunt, 212 E. 36th st.
George Warner, 637 W. 42d st.
Chas. McDonough, 16 Canton st., Brooklyn.
Dr. Philip Thorpe, 251 W. 15th st.
C. Dimick, 149 7th ave.
Ida Adelt, 31 Attorney st.
Chas. De F. Hoxie, 238 W. 13th.
T. Burke Grant, Glenmore Hotel.
John Morris, 320 E. 11th st.
Dr. W.S. Gotthiel, 78 W. 46th st.
Jas. P. Archibald, 1447 3d ave.
Mary Fitzpatrick, 443 E. 23d st.
Wm. J. Toeppel, 17 W. 134th st.
Herman Volk, 315 E. 5th st.
Patrick J. Raftery, 551 W. 48th st.
J. Bookbinder, 343 N. 2d st., Brooklyn.
Geo. E. Swain, 367 W. 23d st.
Edwin Dahlmeyer, 315 E. 5th st.
David S. Pope, 1300 Broadway, room 9.
Edward Johnson, 155 E. 77th st.
Ellie Mahar, 232 3d ave.
A.J. Hogan, 15 Stuyvesant st.
Bernard McCole, 149 W. 51st st.
Mrs. Waldron, 349 E. 41st st.
Thos. F. McGlynn, 130 E. 41st st.
Edward Malone, 111 S. 2d st., Brooklyn.
Joseph H. Carloce, 210 E. 96th st.
Joseph McKechnie, 512 W. 42d st.
George Seward, 203 W. 34th st.
Lucy C. Thomas, 135 E. 56th st.
P.F. Sheridan, 223 W. 60th st.
Patrick Fallon, 415 West 33d st.
Mary M. Lilley, 213 E. 36th st.
John Darcy, 328 E. 28th st.
C.F. Doody, 409 E. 122d st.
William Darling, 209 E. 20th st.
Wm. H. Faulhaber, 150 Stanton st.
Geo. Diesel, 331 E. 9th st.
Mrs. Mary Fulton, 313 E. 26th st.
Patrick McLoughlin, 251 E. 30th st.
Edward de Castro, 204 E. 118th st.
Mrs. E. Klauser, 142 E. 86th st.
R.T. Malone, 314 E. Broadway.
Frank G. Urner, Elizabeth, N.J.
Anne Duffy, 218 E. 18th st.
Rhoda Thomas, 135 E. 56th st.
J.P. Crawford, 16 Court st., Brooklyn.
H. Alden Spencer, 36 E. 14th st.
Joseph Silbermick, 251 E. 31st st.
Wm. J. O'Connor, 336 E. 24th st.
E.T. Havens, 212 Pine st., Jersey City.
D.J. Meagher, 240 Henry st.
W.O. Eastlake, 120 E. 122d st.
Clara C. Hackett, 109 E. 35th st.
W.L. Norris, 223 E. 23d st.
Mary A. Sullivan, 222 E. 82d st.
Herman Guthman, 313 E. 85th st.
Bridget Farrell, 30 E. 37th st.
Francis J. McKenna, 239 E. 14th st.
J.F. Darling, 42 Lexington ave.
Morris A. Geldreich, 38 Rivington st.
Katie Sullivan, 236 W. 37th st.
Edward J. Shriver, Metal exchange.
Joanna Roche, 212 E. 31st st.
Patrick Mulroy, 62 3d st., S. Brooklyn.
Lizzie Ward, 212 E. 25th st.
Mary Welsh, 4 E. 36th st.
Ellen H. Prentiss, 44 Commerce st.
Benedict F. Morossi, 229 E. 6th st.
Thos. M. Roberts, 160 W. 18th st.
Miss Celia Dunne, 284 3d ave.
Mrs. Julia Common, 471 E. 32 st.
George E. Little, Washington, D.C.
Ida A. Roberts, 160 W. 18th st.
B.M. O'Brien, 4 E. 46th st.
E.T. Monahan, 428 3d ave.
M.P. Lee, 508 W. 57th st.
James Barbour, 311 W. 29th st.
G. Cree, 311 W. 29th st.
Robert Cullen, 311 W. 29th st.
A.E. Smith, 212 W. 11th st.
John Couran, 403 W. 19th st.
Walter Moore, 285 E. 28th st.
Robert Fenn, 196½ Chrystie st.
John J. Leech, 162 W. 24th st.
Mary Malone, 239 E. 30th st.
William McKenna, 187 Columbia, Brooklyn.
Kate Kenny, 488 2d ave.
Margaret Stewart, 235 E. 29th st.
Adelaide C. Ryan, 410 3d ave.
Maggie Creegan, 107 E. 35th st.
Wm. Malone, 239 E. 30th st.
Katie Higgins, 323 E. 32d st.
E. Langerfeld, 169 E. 75th st.
T.E. Deegan, 401 E. 80th st.
Thos. Bishop, 115 Avenue B.
Wm. Klingenberg, 201 E. 14th st.
Richard E. Resler, 108 Washington pl.
H.G.G. Vincent, 51 E. 69th st.
Dr. Geo Ralph Bowen, 229 E. 19th st.
Isabella Mullen, 204 W. 49th st.
Carl Edward Morde, 627 Warren st., B'klyn.
Timothy O'Leary, 306 3d ave.
Nicholas A. Flynn, 209 E. 25th st.
Michael H. Dunn, 284 3d ave.
Michael Foley, 14 Catherine st.
Wilterwell Tieten, 137 W. 24th st.
James Christian, 204 E. 26th st.
Wm. J. Vitt, 72 E. 113th st.
Geo. Smith, 34 Oakland st., Greenpoint, L.L.
Edward Brown, 144 E. 22d st.
Mrs. E.S. Drone, 141 E. 22d st.
Kate Williamson, 256 W. 10th st.
Mrs. Eliza Cadigan, 203 E. 32d st.
Felix McGorry, 236 W. 54th st.
John J. McCarthy, 123 E. 29th st.
Geo. F. Walkinshaw, 262 W. 40th st.
Frederick Petrie, 63 Catherine st.
James A. Palmer, 49 University place.
Miss Clio Hinton, 116 West 61st st.
Michael Buckley, 436 2d ave.
Sam'l B. Weinstein, 125 Division st.
Alfred Bacher, 127 1st ave.
Bridget Conway, 210 E. 27th st.
Mrs. Carrie T. Lovell, 4 Lexington av.
J.W. Lovell, 4 Lexington ave.
Geo. W. Keyser, 99 Perry.
Miss Linda Gilbert, 426 W. 57th st.
Jerome O'Neill, 340 E. 117th st.
Miss Mary O'Neill.
Mrs. Annie C. George, 392 Pleasant ave.
Miss Jennie T. George, 392 Pleasant ave.
Miss Carrie L. George, Philadelphia.
Mrs. M.F. Sallade, 8 E. 18th st.
W.B. Scott, 112 W. 122d st.
Geo. L. Marsteller, New York.
John J. McNulty, 144 E. 47th st.
Mrs. M.A. Daly, 2015 Lexington ave.
Mrs. C.E. Carty, 138 E. 16th st.
Miss E. Malone, 216 E. 49th st.
Miss Annie McGrath, 548 3d ave.
John J. Doolin, 200 E. 27th st.
Osborne Macdaniel, 1 Nassau st.
Mrs. Maria D. Macdaniel, 1674 Broadway.
Miss Marion Dana Macdaniel, 1674 B'way.
Miss Frances Macdaniel, 1674 Broadway.
L.O. Macdaniel, 1674 Broadway.
S.E. Doran, 165th st. and Walton ave.
Jas. T. Coughlin, 524 8th ave.
Frederick John Haug, 327 5th st.
David F. Munroe, 14 Hamilton st.
Catherine Ann Munroe, 14 Hamilton st.
Terece Molina, 436 Pleasant ave.
C.N. Bovee, Wall st.
Edward C. Stone, 239 3d ave.
Mary Boylan, 324 E. 37th st.
M.R. Leverson, M.D., Burlington Vt.
John W. Pearce, Ringgold, Ga.
Thy Kingdom Come
“Thy kingdom come,” such was the prayer divine,
Taught by the Master in the days of yore;
And through the centuries, from shore to shore
Of every land, at many a holy shrine,
The self-same prayer was uttered o'er and o'er,
By consecrated priest, anointed king,
Peasant and beggar. And the words still ring,
And, with grand music, from all the voices pour,
“Surely the kingdom comes on silent wing!”
So cry the poor and needy, with hearts sore,
And bowed knees as the All Father they implore.
Grim answer comes to all their questioning
From stern Obstruction, striking worship dumb—
“This land is mine; the kingdom shall not come.”
Now rise the worshipers from prayer to work.
The people cry: “No more shall these things be.”
The light shoots through the land from sea to sea,
Revealing where all hidden evils lurk.
And Labor, soon from dark obstruction free,
Shall stretch in liberty the willing hand
And take God's bounty from the fruitful land.
Soon crime and hunger from the world shall flee,
God's children on His earth securely stand,
And avarice insatiable die;
For the All-Father hears his children's sigh;
The hour draws nigh to loose the unequal band.
Then forth shall burst the shout of jubilee—
“Now shall the kingdom come; the land is free.” —William H. Henderson.
Los Angeles, March 1887
Buckling On His Armor
Another Clergyman Feels Called Upon to Take up the Cross of the New Crusade
Painsville, O., April 25—You do not know how much it costs us men, ministers of the Lord Jesus' gospel, to take a stand openly for a truth which is unpopular with the mass of our members. Were we alone it were much easier; but there are little ones who have to feel the effect of our poverty consequent on our endorsement of the unpopular truth, and this makes it so hard. But He wills it, and it is well. Hence, please say publicly, openly for me, that I endorse and shall be found on the side of the poor, and henceforward will be an active member of the united labor party. I take this position after careful, prayerful reading of all your works, save on protection; but I am already a free trader. I do it to make actual in this world as far as I can the precept, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
The Religion of the New Crusade
New York, May 1—I am just back from Chickering hall, where I have heard Dr. McGlynn speak. I was born of orthodox Hebrew parents, and brought up in the religion of my fathers, which I love and adhere to. I have listened to a great many worthy Hebrew preachers of nearly all denominations; but never before have I heard the true essentials of all religions promulgated at one time by one preacher, and in so eloquent a manner as they were promulgated by the reverend doctor tonight. There was nothing in his address which any man, of whatever religion or creed, may not approve. It seemed to me as if thousands of people had once more been at the foot of Mount Sinai and heard the true principle of religion announced—“the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man”—and the most essential of all commandments, “Thou shall not steal.”
Sam B. Weinstein
The young men of St. John's lyceum, in Brooklyn, recently held a spiritual discussion on the subject of “Progress and Poverty.” President Gadley opened the debate, and Messrs. Thomas Patterson, A.G. Sullivan, Gross, Taylor and others took up various phases, for and against, and argued with skill, and in some instances with brilliancy. The discussion was listened to with much interest by a large audience. Some of the members of this organization have caught the spirit of the “New Crusade,” and in their zeal have prevailed on the other members to consent to further discussions on the doctrine that labor and capital should be released from taxation, which should be placed on land values.
They Know What Anti-Poverty Means
Vineland, N.J., May 3—I have heard of the formation of the Anti-Poverty society in New York. That is a first-rate name, for anyone can understand what it means; at least, what the organization aims to accomplish, even if they do not at first understand the methods to be pursued.
W. P. Nichols
The State Convention To Meet At Syracuse August 17
An Eloquent Statement of Principles and Demands—The Old Parties Denounced, and Living Issues to Be Framed
The following call for a state convention of the united labor party has been issued:
The undersigned, appointed by the general committees of the united labor party of the counties of New York and Kings for the purpose of calling a convention to organize the party throughout the state and to nominate such officers as are to be voted for at the election in November next, together with the central land and labor committee (invited at their request to act conjointly with them), hereby call upon all voters of the state of New York who are in accord with the essential principles of their platforms as hereinafter stated, to elect delegates to such convention, to be held at Syracuse on the 17th day of August next, the ratio of representation to be:
Three delegates and three alternatives from each assembly district, and one delegate from each land and labor club, in districts where there is no assembly district organization.
All voters who are in accord with these principles are requested, through organizations formed or to be formed, to send such delegates.
We see that the few who control the natural elements of production—the mines, the building sites of cities, the arable and forest lands, etc.—by taking advantage of the competition among men who without access to these natural elements cannot live, are enabled to lay taxes upon both labor and capital to the full limit of their endurance. We see access to farming land denied to labor, except on payment of exorbitant rent or the acceptance of mortgage burdens, and labor, thus forbidden to employ itself, driven into the cities. We see the wage workers of the cities subjected to this unnatural competition, and forced to pay an exorbitant share of their scanty earnings for cramped and unhealthful lodgings. We see the same intense competition condemning the great majority of business and professional men to a bitter and often unavailing struggle to avoid bankruptcy, and that, while the price of all that labor produces ever falls, the price of land ever arises.
We trace these evils to a fundamental wrong—the making of the land on which all must live the exclusive property of but a portion of the community. To this denial of natural rights are due want of employment, low wages, business depressions, that intense competition which makes it so difficult for the majority of men to get a comfortable living, and that wrongful distribution of wealth which is producing the millionaire on one side and the tramp on the other.
To give all men an interest in the land of their country; to enable all to share in the benefits of social growth and improvement; to prevent the shutting out of labor from employment by the monopolization of natural opportunities; to do away with the one-sided competition which cuts down wages to starvation rates; to restore life to business and prevent periodical depressions; to do away with that monstrous injustice which deprives producers of the fruits of their toil while idlers grow rich; to prevent the conflicts which are arraying class against class, and which are fraught with menacing dangers to society, we propose so to change the existing system of taxation that no one shall be taxed on the wealth he produces, nor any one suffered to appropriate wealth he does not produce by taking to himself the increasing values which the growth of society adds to land.
What we propose is not the disturbing of any man in his holding or title, but by abolishing all taxes on industry or its products to leave to the producer the full fruits of his exertion, and by the taxation of land values, exclusive of improvements, to devote to common uses those values which, arising not from the exertion of the individual, but from the growth of society, belong justly to the community as a whole. This increased taxation of land, not according to its area, but according to its value, must, while relieving the working farmer and small homestead owner of the undue burdens now imposed upon them, make it unprofitable to hold land for speculation, and thus throw open abundant opportunities for the employment of labor and the building up of homes.
We would do away with the present unjust and wasteful system of finance which piles up hundreds of millions of dollars in treasury vaults while we are paying interest on an enormous debt; and we would establish in its stead a monetary system in which a legal tender circulating medium should be issued by the government without the intervention of banks.
We wish to abolish the present unjust and wasteful system of ownership of railroads and telegraphs by private corporations, a system which, while failing adequately to supply public needs, impoverishes the farmer, oppresses the manufacturer, hampers the merchant, impedes travel and communication, and builds up enormous fortunes and corrupting monopolies that are becoming more powerful than the government itself. For this system we would substitute that of government ownership and control, for the benefit of the whole people instead of private profit.
Since the ballot is the only means by which in our republic the redress of political and social grievances is to be sought, we especially call for such changes in our elective and political methods as shall do away with that necessity for the use of money in elections which has made both of the old political organizations of nominations to the highest bidder, and has rendered political office inaccessible except to the wealthy and unscrupulous.
We denounce the democratic and the republican parties as hopelessly and shamelessly corrupt, and, by reason of their affiliation with monopolies, equally unworthy of the suffrages of those who do not live on public plunder; we therefore require of those who would act with us that they sever all connection with both, and insist that no candidate or person acting for any candidate to be nominated by us shall make any combination with any other party, their candidates or those acting for them.
In support of these aims, we solicit the cooperation of all patriotic citizens who, sick of the degradation of politics, desire by constitutional methods to establish justice, to preserve liberty, to extend the spirit of fraternity, and to elevate humanity.
Alvin T. Walsh
Committee on state convention of general committee, united labor party, Kings county.
Augustus A. Levey
Committee on state convention of general committee united labor party, New York county.
Central committee, land and labor
Augustus A. Levey
Secretary of the joint committee
Address: No. 28 Cooper Union,
New York City
New York, May 4, 1887
Dr. McGlynn's Lecture Engagements
Dr. McGlynn's will lecture in the Boston theatre on May 8, before the united Irish societies. On May 12 he will deliver an address in Pittsburg, Pa., under the auspices of the commoners' association and D.A. No. 3, K. of L. On May 15 he is to address a meeting in St. Louis, called by D.A. No. 17, K. of L. acting with Dr. Thomas O'Reilly.
Columbia College Lands
Money for the establishment of a college in New York city having been previously raised by a lottery, George II gave a charter to Kings college in 1754, and on May 13, 1755, the “rector and inhabitants of New York in communion with the church of England” conveyed to the governors of the college of the province of New York, for a consideration of ten shillings, a lot of ground now bounded on the south by Barclay street, on the north by Murray street, on the east by Church street, and on the west by the North river. Park place now runs through the center of the property. On a portion of this land the old college buildings were erected and they continued to be used for college purposes until the institution was moved to its present site in 1837. At the time of the grant by Trinity this land was valued at about £3,000, and it appears not to have been regarded by the early managers of the institution as an important source of revenue.
The first leases were for merely nominal sums. For instance, a number of lots between Greenwich and Washington streets were conveyed to Frederick Rhinelander forever, partly by the regents of the university, in 1786 and 1787, and partly by the trustees of the college in 1792, in consideration of a perpetual yearly rent of $371.59, to be paid to the college. How foolish a bargain this was on the part of the college is now too manifest for comment. In 1812 a lot 40×125 feet, near the corner of Murray and Greenwich streets, was leased for fifty-nine years for six peppercorns a year. Hence it brought to the college no revenue whatever until 1871. It was not until 1825 that leases began to be made that promised a substantial income to the institution; but even then the consideration was such that it would now be regarded as merely nominal. A lot 25×75 feet, on Murray street near College place, was leased at $150 a year. Two lots on the east side of Chapel street (now College place) were each leased for five years at $100 a year. In 1830 two lots 28×114 feet, on the north side of Barclay street, were each leased for twenty-one years at $300 a year. A 25×75 lot on the west side of College place was in the same year leased for $200 a year. It was these twenty-one year leases at low prices that made the college short of funds at the time of the legislative investigation in 1855, when this property, including that then occupied by the college buildings, was estimated as worth about $1,000,000.
By that time there had come a considerable increase in the rental value of land, and we find that in the rental value of land, and we find that in 1855 a piece of ground fronting 53 feet on College place and having a depth of 45 feet, was leased for sixteen years at $1,100 a year, and an adjoining lot of 25 feet front and but 44 feet deep was leased for twenty-one years at $840 a year. Considering the depth, these appear to have been good prices at that time. In 1854 two lots, each 29×75 feet on Murray street, east of College place, were leased for twenty-one years at $4,000 a year each. Next year a lot of 100 by 45 feet, at the corner of College and Park places, was leased for $5,200 a year. In general, rents were in 1855 more than four as great as in 1855, and the demand for lots was far greater, even at the enhanced prices.
It is difficult to ascertain the advance since that time, because of the systematic neglect of the college authorities to record leases. In 1872 a lot on Barclay street, running through Park place, 159×29 feet, was leased for twenty-one years from May 1 for $2,500 a year. In 1875 a lot 29×76 on the south side of Murray street was leased for twenty-one years at $2,000 a year. The average price for a 25×75 lot on this property appears to be about $1,200, giving an aggregate of $102,000 a year. This is, of course, an estimate based on the price of the small number of leases recently recorded. It is, however, believed to be quite within the mark, and in a very few years renewal of leases will increase the sum.
In 1814 the legislature gave to the college Dr. Hosack's botanic garden, acquired by the state in 1810. This property extends along Fifth avenue from Forty-seventh to Fifty-first streets and westward to a line parallel with and about 100 feet from Sixth avenue. For many years the college derived no benefit from this property, but at the time of the legislative investigation, already referred to, it valued it at from $350,000 to $400,000. In 1857 eight lots at the corner of Forty-eighth street and Fifth avenue were sold to the Collegiate Dutch church, the consideration named in the deed being one dollar and a mortgage for $80,000. The tract sold was 200 feet square, and hence included the whole avenue front from Forty-eighth to Forty-ninth streets and the Forty-eighth street front for 200 feet back toward Sixth avenue. The church occupies but eight of these lots, and most of the remained have since passed into the hands of private parties, and they have increased enormously in value. A single lot, from which the house has been removed, on Fifth avenue, just above the church, is now offered for sale, the price being $70,000. To appreciate this it must be remembered that the whole tract, containing 248 full lots, was vainly offered for sale at $18,000 in 1825, and that in 1854 it was estimated as worth $350,000 to $400,000, while, at the average price for all lots indicated by the price of that on Fifth avenue, the selling price of the whole tract would now be between $5,000,000 and $6,000,000. The college still owns three-fourths of the avenue front and all of the street fronts. The selling value of its property, then, must certainly be more than $4,000,000.
From 1860 lots were leased on this property, the first leases being for rents that would now be considered low. Lots 16×100 leased for $288 a year; lots 20×100 for $350; lots 22×100 for $400, and lots 25×100 for $450. As the region soon became thickly populated rents rapidly advanced, and now, twenty years later, the average ground rent on a 25×100 lot, the tenant paying all taxes, is about $1,000 a year, and its income from ground rents on the 248 lots still remaining to it on the Botanic garden property, must, at this rate, be $297,600 per annum. Adding to this, $102,000, which is a low estimate of its receipts from its downtown property, we have an aggregate of $399,600 as the probable annual income of Columbia from ground rents alone. To this must, of course, be added the thousands of dollars received from students in the academic, medical and other departments. Dr. Sears, writing of the college in 1869, spoke of its income at that time as “princely.” It would trouble him to find an adjective by which he could characterize its income today. It is possible that the income does not quite equal the figures given in our estimate, but if such is the fact, it is due to the failure of the management to get all that could be got out of the property. In many cases leases granted by the managers for twenty-one years have subsequently been sold for a large bonus. The money that thus goes into private pockets would, together with the Columbia rents, go into the public treasury under a system that placed all taxation on land values.
The trustees, however, are keenly alive to the advantages of land speculation, for we find that in 1872 they bought from Governor M. Ogden, Stephen P. Nash and Charles R. Swords ten acres of ground west of Eleventh avenue, in the neighborhood of 160th street, for $375,000. Perhaps it is the intention to move the institution to this at some future day, but land in that neighborhood is now advancing rapidly in value.
The most cursory examination of the facts shows that, enormous as is the income now derived by the college from its legal power to levy a tax on land in the most valuable business and residential quarters of the city, the managers of the estate have not wisely administered it. The leasing of property for so long a period as fifty-nine years at a nominal price, the permanent alienation of some of the most valuable of its down town property, for a mere bagatelle of a rent, and the sale of the Fifth avenue property to enable the trustees to meet embarrassments occasioned by these earlier blunders, all show that so long as land is permitted to be subject to private taxation for either personal or semi-public use the testators granting it for the establishment of trusts are wise to make it inalienable. A comparison of the management of the Columbia college estate with that of the Snug Harbor and Dutch Reformed properties makes this plain.
But suppose this property, all of which at one time belonged either to the English sovereign or to the people of New York, in their sovereign capacity, had never been handed over to private control, though set aside for the promotion of education. In that case none of the mistakes that have retarded the growth of Columbia college could have occurred. The right to occupation having been granted in consideration of the payment of a land tax equal to the rental value, such a bargain as that which has enriched the Rhinelander estate at the expense of the college would have been impossible. Furthermore, no necessity to provide for taxes would have arisen to even suggest the advisability of a sixty-nine years' lease for a nominal consideration. Public improvements being made at public expense, no assessments would have fallen on the Botanical Garden property, and for the whole period during which that property lay idle and a source of expense, it would have been yielding some revenue had it been open to the occupancy of whosoever chose to put it to use. But, most important of all, the natural operation of the law of rent would have given the institution a steadily rising income from the land tax absolutely proportioned to the increase in population that made new demands upon it for enlarged educational facilities.
Thus planted and nurtured it would have naturally become the real head of our system of public instruction, and would ere this have grown into a university overshadowing all others, as New York outranks all other cities in wealth and population. No cast iron rule made by men who have lain in their graves for a century could have subjected the college to the suspicion of sectarianism. No self-perpetuating board of trustees could have subjected the college to the suspicion of sectarianism. No self-perpetuating board of trustees could have deepened that impression by an act of bigotry and they have safely defied the law they had violated. With Columbia college recognized by the people as their own, and an object of pride and affection, the citizens of New York would not have voted in 1848 to establish the free academy that became in 1866, to the disgust of Columbia's trustees, “The College of the City of New York,” and the Normal college (for women) would only have come into existence as natural outgrowth of Columbia college. Nor is this all. The advantages of the wealthy institution would not have been open only to the sons of the well-to-do who can pay admission and tuition fees which, nevertheless, do not meet one-third of the expenses of their education, but instruction could have been free to all and would certainly have extended to the thousands of students who have graduated from the two city colleges within the past fifteen years, and better work could have been free to all and would certainly have extended to the thousands of students who have graduated from the two city colleges within the past fifteen years, and better work could have been free to all and would certainly have extended to the thousands of students who have graduated from the two city colleges within the past fifteen years, and better work could have been more economically done by the single university than by the three colleges separately. Columbia would have been a name to conjure with. The college would have possessed the support and affection of the people, and the celebration of the hundredth anniversary of its existence would not have been left to the fantastic folly of masquerading students and the dreary platitudes of dry-as-dust orators, enlivened by the usual solo performance of that professional comedian, the lily-handed and horny tongued son of toil, Chauncey M. Depew.
All of this might have been had the people retained and held inalienable their ownership in the land that from time to time has been held by Columbia and devoted its proceeds to higher education. Had the same policy been applied to all the land insanely and criminally given away by the people's representatives, Columbia university might have realized vastly more than has thus far been suggested. Free instruction under existing conditions might not bring to such an institution any larger number of students than now are found in its various schools and in the two free city colleges; but how would it have been had the monopoly of natural resources by the few never been allowed to impoverish the many? To the half-educated the wholly ignorant society savior this query will suggest nothing further than a sneer, but to those who understand the demands that labor makes for the exemption of children from work and the assurance of more leisure to the mass of men, it will call forth a vision of the possible that will fill their minds with pleasure. There is nothing more remarkable in the present labor movement than its steadfast recognition of the value and necessity of education. Even as it has gone along it has educated those concerned in it in political economy and political organization in a way that now and then astonishes the ignorant and self-sufficient society saviors, and yet the work has merely begun. Under the new dispensation of applied democracy, when the people enjoy their own and abject poverty shall cease, there can be no surplus of educated men, and a higher education will be sought, not for money-making purposes, but for the expansion of man's capacity for enjoyment. The necessary work of mankind can be done with ever-decreasing effort as invention perfects machinery under conditions that benefit all. Should the jocular story of a newspaper writer that a man down south is importing apes and training them to pick cotton ever come true, there would be no cause for anger and regret among any members of the human family. All would recognize in this utilization of the beast merely a new force added to the many already working for the public good, and thousands would see in the consequent further release of all from physical toil so much more opportunity for study. Nor would there be any lack of remunerative employment for educated men under such a system. The wants of man are multitudinous as the seas, and they increase by their gratification. If a land where no man was abjectly poor, where all had much leisure and an ever increasing number had cultivated tastes to be gratified, there could not be too many highly educated people, even if education were regarded simply as a means toward gaining a better livelihood Columbia college, as the chief institution of learning in the metropolis of such a nation, would be a university such as mankind has never seen. It halls would be thronged by eager tens of thousands of students, while its honors would be by the men and women of a regenerated republic that had at last succeeded in forming a perfect union of the people under conditions that established justice, ensured domestic tranquility, provided for the general welfare and secured the blessings of liberty to a people needing no defense against a foreign foe and having no enemies in its own household against whom provision need be made.
He Accepts the New Faith
Brooklyn, May 1—the Standard has led me into the ranks of the new crusaders. I have hitherto been a republican protectionist, for no other reason, perhaps, than ignorance of what “protection” meant. I have come to think that when a party ceases to represent principle, it is time to forsake that party. So I bid good-by to the grand old party in whose ranks I have been for twenty-five years, while it had a mission, and join in the work of the new cause.
The Need For a New Party
A monument to John C. Calhoun was unveiled at Charleston, South Carolina, last week. The demonstration was the greatest the city has ever seen, and the address of the occasion was delivered by Hon. L.Q.C. Lamar, secretary of the interior, who paid a glowing and just tribute to the ability, patriotism and sincerity of the greatest citizen and statesman that South Carolina has produced. Mr. Lamar reviewed Calhoun's career, and showed that he had been the logical advocate of a view of the relations of the states one to another, and to the general government, that had unquestionably been held by many of the framers of the constitution. Beneath all this, however, was the growing consciousness of the common interests and destiny of the Americans as one people, and the march of events worked an essential change in our government that destroyed the theories of nullification and secession and made the final triumph of the union manifest destiny. That such an address should be delivered by a southern member of the federal government to applauding thousands over the grave of Calhoun in Charleston is sufficient evidence that the question which divided our people politically from the beginning of their history is settled forever.
Calhoun made a manly fight for a political doctrine in which he and thousands of other good men sincerely believed. He was the ablest exponent of the rights guaranteed to the states by the constitution, and he was an earnest defender of African slavery. In this he was in accord with the public opinion of his time, and, like many others, he was moved by race feeling to exclude one body of people from participation in that liberty which he strenuously claimed for all other men. He was a more logical and consistent democrat than many who would even yet assail his memory, and it can be justly said in his defense that the system of slavery that he upheld at least cared for the sick and wounded, the aged and the infirm, and did not cruelly turn out to die those used up in its service. It was an evil system, but its advocates did not display the heartless inhumanity of the upholders of industrial slavery.
Out of the clash of the opinions so ably represented by Calhoun with those that finally triumphed at Appomattox were born the two great parties into which the American people have always been divided. The long debate has closed and the ceremony over the grave of Calhoun at Charleston fitly marked its everlasting ending. As well attempt to fit the skeleton beneath that monument to the infant John C. Calhoun born in this city within a few weeks as try to make the issues of that day the political dividing line between the people of this generation. Let the dead issues be buried as deeply and reverently as the dead men who debated them in the senate or fought over them in the field have been buried, but let the present generation prepare for the final struggle for the emancipation of labor from the slavery imposed upon it through the monopoly by some of God's gifts to all.
But even if there were no new issue such as that which now faces us, the necessity for a new force in politics is plain. In the national government we find common honesty lauded as the height of all possible virtue, and a questionable method for obtaining efficient clerks exalted into a great principle worthy of man's loftiest devotion. In our state government we find a republican legislature shamefully trifling with the expressed will of the people, and a republican senate neglecting its manifest duty in order to embarrass the ambitious schemes of a democratic governor, who is possessed by a hallucination that he is conciliating a party whose purposes he does not comprehend and whose leaders he does not even know. There is no pretense to principle on either side, and the contest is simply a game in which men unblushingly resort to tricks that would, if tried in a game of poker, banish those guilty of them from even the worst of gambling dens.
In this city justice and legislation are sold as pigs are sold in the market, and across the river in Brooklyn a democratic journal has recently declared that under its own party's management the civil service there is simple knavery, the health administration organized brutality and imbecility, and the district attorneyship a protector of privileged crime, while the local government of Gravesend is mere brigandage and blackmail.
The truth is, that since they are no longer divided on any living question, the people have practically abandoned public affairs to professional politicians, whose only quarrel is as to the respective share that each set shall have in that public plunder the prospect of which alone holds the machinery together. The time has come when a new party having ideas and a fixed purpose is an absolute necessity. All things point to the need for such a party, and the party and the issue are here.
The Czar's American Partnership
The cable informs us that one of the young men who have just been convicted of plotting the assassination of the czar, a student named Oulianoff, made a brilliant speech to his judges, in which he declared that neither he nor his companions feared death, and could imagine nothing more sublime than to die in an effort to deliver the unfortunate people of Russia from the tyranny of the czar. Hundreds of young men, he predicted, would imitate him until despotism was swept away from Russia.
He must know little of democracy who can find it in his heart to condemn this young Russian, and but little of the inevitable drift of republicanism if he ignores the young man's prophecy.
The so-called government of Russia is not a government. It is a nation of ninety million slaves and one master. There is no law, binding alike upon governor and governed. The only law is the caprice of the czar. At his will men and women are imprisoned in moldy dungeons, tortured in body and mind, barbarously exiled to Siberia, or put to death at home. A murderer so red handed as the czar of Russia never stood upon the trap of gallows. He is an irresponsible enemy of mankind—an outlaw whom to slay at sight would be a beneficent act. He is, doubtless, the victim of his own position, yet that position makes him an enemy of his people and of mankind. This is the sentiment that brings out in Russia such patriots as Oulianoff to brave the czar's power, and will, as Oulianoff prophesied, bring them out again and again until the people are freed from their bondage.
That is a false sentiment which would justify conspiracy against the Russian government, and even armed rebellion, while condemning a conspiracy against the life of the czar. The czar is the government, and the organization of tyranny is such that there is no hope of fighting it by open means. After his assassination a czar as tyrannical might take his place, one who would just as stubbornly refuse to concede a constitutional government; but absolutism would become weaker with each assassination. A blow at the person of the czar strikes at the root of political tyranny in Russia. Why should thousands of men throw away their lives in a duel between armies, when all the fruits of successful rebellion may be reaped by fighting the czar himself? Is it human life or only the czar's life that is sacred?
A conspiracy against the life of the czar is, in the present political condition of Russia, a political conspiracy, and it is not for the people of the United States to say that Russian patriots should not engage in it. The Russian people cannot vote and their petitions are unheeded. They have no recourse but to submit to oppression or to terrorize their hereditary oppressor. Even if to do this they rose in armed rebellion against the authority of the czar from an attempt upon his life as an individual. This is in practice impossible so long as the czar is a government and a law unto himself and the people of Russia his slaves.
But Mr. Secretary Bayard does not think so, or else he is guilty of trifling with the people of this country. In the extradition treaty with the czar, which he has just signed, while it is provided that fugitives shall not be surrendered for political offenses, it is also provided that the killing or attempted killing of the sovereign or any member of his family shall not be considered a political offense. This is a treaty, be it remembered, not between the people of the United States and the people of Russia, but between the people of the United States and the master—the absolute master even to life and death—of the people of Russia. It is a fit precedent for extradition treaties with the cannibal chiefs of central Africa. To surrender a fugitive to the czar of Russia, no matter what his crime, is bad enough; but to surrender one accused of plotting the life of the czar is worse than turning him over to the tender mercies of a band of Sioux Indians.
In practical operation, this treaty extends the jurisdiction of the czar over his rebellious subjects throughout the United States as completely as the fugitive slave law extended the power of slave owners to every commonwealth in the union. It is supposed that arrests of fugitives here, and the preliminary investigation into charges against them, are made by our own officials; but that is a fiction. The arresting officer, and even the judge who sits at the hearing, are employed and paid by the demanding government. Under the treaty in question, the czar would hire one of our United States commissioners, of whom there are many competing with each other for business. When hired, the commissioner would issue his warrant; then the czar would employ a United States marshal to make the arrest, which might be done anywhere in the country; the fugitive would be brought before the czar's United States commissioner by the czar's United States marshal, and certain papers sworn to in Russia would be put in evidence; the fugitive would not be confronted with adverse witnesses nor have any opportunity to cross-examine; he would be allowed to offer evidence in his own behalf, however, but experience proves that privilege to be an empty one in extradition cases. When these formalities were complete, the czar's United States commissioner would have the option of holding the fugitive for extradition to the gratification of the czar and his own pecuniary advantage, or of discharging the fugitive and never again getting a job in the judge business from the czar of Russia. It is needless to say that he would, under these circumstances, be very apt to hold the fugitive.
It is not difficult to see that America will be a very precarious asylum for the oppressed when this treaty goes into effect, if the oppressed happens to be a subject of the czar.
It is probably, however, that it is more the object of this treaty to discourage patriotism in Russia than to actually pursue Russian refugees here or our escaped criminals there. So far as we are concerned, the treaty can be of no service. Our criminals will not go to Russia while Canada affords a refuge so much nearer to home. But to the czar the treaty will be of immeasurable value as an index to American sentiment. Supposing that it is an expression of public opinion here—not knowing that it is a mere dicker between an estimable gentleman of aristocratic antecedents and habits of thought named Bayard and the czar's minister—the Russian people may be discouraged in their efforts to free their country of the tyranny of a hereditary outlaw. It will have the effect on them that consciousness of general condemnation always has on men. This is in all probability the real motive of the treaty.
But are the American people out of sympathy with the patriots of Russia? Do they regard the life of the czar as more sacred than the lives and liberties of his unfortunate subjects? Is it their desire that conspirators against the czar seeking an asylum here should be surrendered to the irresponsible power of the czar? Are they willing to make him a licensed slave catcher in their territory? Has the political liberty they enjoy made them blind to the oppression under which other people suffer, and against which other people struggle? We do not believe it. It is a libel on American sentiment.
An Aristocracy of Labor
Things are very much mixed in the town of Brookhaven, on Long Island. They are in a topsy-turvy condition—bottom side up, so to speak; and this is the way of it:
Two hundred years ago, under and by authority of a certain James, second of the name, king of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith and so forth, a patent was issued to the freeholders and commonality of the town of Brookhaven, granting them an immense tract of land, both wet and dry, some of it out of water and some beneath the surface of the Great South bay, and providing that for the proper administration and disposition of these lands a board of trustees should be annually chosen.
Boards of trustees in those early colonial times were pretty much the same as their successors of more enlightened days; and the early trustees of Brookhaven were by no means slow to imitate the example of their royal creator by giving away what did not belong to them. Tom, Dick and Harry, the whole tribe of trustees, and trustees' relatives, and trustees' friends, got slice after slice of Brookhaven lands, until finally the whole of the dry land was gone. As for the land under water, it never occurred to the trustees that that had, or ever would have, any value, and so they just left it alone, and allowed the common people, of the laboring or non-trustee class, to go out and tong for oysters on it at their pleasure.
And now, in 1887, the bad effects of this mistaken trustee policy are making themselves felt. The land under water, where the oysters are, being free or common land, the workingmen of Brookhaven contumaciously go to it and tong oysters to the tune of six and seven dollars a day, when they ought to be contentedly working for the trustees and other land owners for moderate and decent wages—say, $10 a week. As a result of this incendiary conduct there is a labor problem in Brookhaven, and anarchy impends.
However, the Brookhaven trustees consider themselves equal to the emergency. They have held a meeting and taken advice of counsel, and decided that to permit the oyster grounds to be enjoyed by the few who have special ability for utilizing their product, is to foster a privileged class—an aristocracy of labor. “These oyster beds,” say the trustees, “are the common property of the people of Brookhaven, and should be utilized for their common benefit. And the simplest way to do this is, manifestly, to rent them to the highest bidder and turn the rental into the town treasury.”
The Brookhaven trustees are logical enough, but we much misdoubt their wisdom. Ideas like these spread fast; and who knows how soon the common people of Brookhaven may begin to argue that if an aristocracy founded on the control of land under water be wrong, the aristocracy which controls the land out of water ought also to be abolished.
“The land question,” says the Herald, “is the live question of the day.” It is indeed, and we hope that before long the Herald will come to understand this live question more fully, and lend its powerful aid to its final settlement on the enduring basis of justice. “The salvation of the country,” continues the Herald, “is in its large area. We may not need it just now, but think of the great tide that is flowing in every year from Europe.” Where are these people to go, it asks, if the lands of the West are to be swallowed up by land grabbers and syndicates? Well may the Herald ask this question, but even if there were no immigration from Europe, the question would still apply to the vast throngs of people already in this country who are deprived of the opportunity to earn a livelihood through the very same monopolization of land that closes the west against European immigrants. New York, says the Herald, is already full. So far is this from being true that large tracts of land on Manhattan island are withheld from human use by grabbers and syndicates, differing in no essential particular from those in the west whose operations our contemporary regards as ominous of trouble to the American people. If it is right for speculators to buy land and withhold it from human use in the east it is right that the same should be permitted in the west, and if such conduct is wrong and fraught with danger to the republic when practiced in Nebraska or Montana it is equally wrong and dangerous in New York or Pennsylvania. The evil is in the system that permits private individuals under any circumstances to monopolize that which of right belongs to all, without making due compensation to the public. The Herald compares the growing indignation of the people against the land grabbers to a prairie fire that may be started by a single spark, but which, “when it gets under way, there isn't enough water this side of the heavens to put out,” and it declares that “the man who is in its track must not stand upon the order of his going, but go at once.” This is an excellent simile and we hope that our contemporary will not continue to stand pottering in the path with its little watering pot striving to confine this great movement to a few western states and territories.
Father Malone Writes to the Pope
Father Sylvester Malone, the venerable rector of St. Peter and St. Paul, Brooklyn, has thus given to a Herald reporter the substance of a letter he wrote some time ago to the pope:
“I began my letter by saying that it might seem anomalous to his holiness that a humble priest in the United States of America should address the head of a Christian church. If the case which I desired to bring to the pope's attention were a personal one and had simply a local significance I would not have presumed to write directly to his holiness. But I know its far reaching influence on the present deemed it in no way out of place to address the great Pope Leo XIII, to whom all have access as the infallible guide and teacher in Christ's visible church on earth. Before my letter reached the pope the case of Dr. McGlynn had engaged his serious attention. I said that a trouble of this kind should have arisen at the beginning of the rule of the young and pious archbishop of New York, Dr. Corrigan, was a great misfortune to religion, especially in this country.
“I said that Dr. McGlynn was the best known priest in America, the friend of the poor, the eloquent defender of the doctrines of the church, the advocate of temperance and of every good cause that works for the public good, and was one whom to censure, unless for a very grave irregularity, would put back the church half a century throughout the United States, for the doctor is a universal favorite. I told the pope that the archbishop himself had said to me that Dr. McGlynn was a pious priest, but that he had been too earnest in the advocacy of Henry George's theories of taxing land alone and not the fruits of labor.
“I went on to say that the exercise of ecclesiastical authority, at all times a subject of the gravest importance to the church, was never more so than when it involved the liberty of the citizen, and nothing could blight the future hopes of the church in this country more than any act of ecclesiastical authority that might raise the question of the rights of the citizen. I urged that to interfere with the civil rights of citizens or deny them freedom to give their views to their fellow citizens on all public and open questions would at once challenge this whole people to the contest, and bring about a state of public sentiment antagonistic to the best interests of the church.
“I informed His Holiness that the charges against Dr. McGlynn, as they are understood by the American people, raised this question of the right of the citizen to express his views freely and openly on questions that are non-essential. Nothing, I said, could alter this view of the case, and I asked was it wise to give our fellow citizens cause even for suspicion that Catholics are enemies of the principle of civil liberty held so sacred by Americans. I hoped that the wisdom of the holy Father would see at a glance the importance of this fact, for fact it is, as all the press, both democratic and republican, dwelt on this point—that civil liberty is trodden down in the person of Dr. McGlynn should Rome sanction his removal from the pastoral charge of St. Stephen's twenty thousand souls.
“I stated that I had this faith in Americans to believe that should there be any delinquency found in the life of the Rev. Dr. McGlynn they would be the first to uphold ecclesiastical authority in any penalty which might reasonably be imposed for his correction and improvement. His case, I added, ought to be considered apart from his action in the George movement, unless holy church condemned the principle upon which that movement was based, and taught that the state must hold that it is not true in morals that she can take into her own hands the dominion of the land for the benefit of all, the poor as well as the rich. I said that, as the case was understood in America, the nation was against Archbishop Corrigan's condemnation of Dr. McGlynn. As for the Catholic people themselves, they believed that Dr. McGlynn deserved well of the church because of the reticence and reserve he had practiced and the forbearance he had shown under the most trying circumstances.
“My letter continued that the poor of New York, the hard working people, would not be so reticent were an appeal made to them for an expression of what they thought of the eminent work of Dr. McGlynn as a great and good priest of twenty-six years' laborious service in one of the largest and most populous parishes in the United States. I felt confident that the holy father would never allow this good and faithful people to be put to so severe a test.
“I said: 'It were well for religion that this controversy were never begun, and now the best solution of the matter is to let Dr. McGlynn remain the honored pastor and friend of the poor. He is not one that will cherish resentment. For the sake of his church and his God he is capable of being forgiving and forbearing.'
“In conclusion I besought his holiness to consider the points I had desired to submit, and, unless I had failed to present them in all their inherent force, I doubted not his supreme judgment would prevent a great scandal in the great city of New York.
“I wrote in English because I was better able to express myself in my native tongue than in any other language known to me. I wrote without consultation with any one, solely of my own option and purely from a conscientious sense of duty.
“Finally I said my prayer would be constant at the holy mass to Jesus Christ and His blessed Mother to aid in bringing about a reconciliation between Archbishop Corrigan and Dr. McGlynn—two of the dearest and most esteemed friends I have in the priesthood in America. I besought the holy Father's blessing on the remnant of a long and I hoped not unprofitable life, much of which was spent in the hard working days of the church's early life in America.”
The First Recruit from South Carolina
Charleston, S.C., May 3—If you accept members from a distance, please have me enrolled as a member of the Anti-Poverty society.
The United Labor Party
The Interesting Events of the Week in the City—The Party Full of Vigor
Thursday, April 28—The Fifth assembly district gave an entertainment at Warren hall, corner Spring and Clarke streets. Notwithstanding the rain, the members turned out in sufficient numbers to show their lively interest in all that appertains to the organization. The assembly is arranging for a picnic at the Atalanta casino on June 20, and a committee composed of Messrs. Joyce, Kienle, Charles White, James H. White, Payant, Cassidy and Shanahan, has the matter in charge. The Fifth reports an increasing membership. Its meetings are well attended, and the fortnightly volunteer entertainments are a decided success.
The Seventeenth held a business meeting at Concordia hall, 747 Ninth avenue, which was well attended. The executive committee reported a plan for organizing the various election districts, and requested an appropriation to cover the expenses of circulars, etc., which was granted. The Seventeenth has turned the thousand corner in its membership, and is full of enthusiasm. The officers are James H. Magee, chairman; U. Kulm. Secretary, and Wm. Hotchkiss, treasurer. The next meeting will be held Tuesday evening, May 10, at Mannsman hall, 475 Ninth avenue. Subject for debate: “Resolved, That private ownership in land ought to be abolished.”
The bad weather did not prevent the members of the Seventh district turning out in force to do honor to their volunteer entertainment in the hall on South Fifth avenue and Fourth street; and quite a number of ladies showed their devotion to political reform by setting the rain at defiance. Mr. Charles Outhran gave an interesting account of the trade guilds of the middle ages. The lighter features of the entertainment were music and recitations. A committee of the district is arranging for a demonstration some time in May, which shall place the finances of the organization in a thoroughly healthy condition.
The Nineteenth added twenty-two names to its list at its fortnightly meeting. The committee on entertainment reported that it had secured Cosmopolitan park and casino for the 2d of July. Wm. Bayne's Sixty-ninth regiment band will furnish the music.
The German branch of the Fourteenth Assembly district organization met at 284 East Tenth street, Mr. Schaider presiding. The objects of the Labor party were discussed.
The Eighteenth held its weekly meeting at 161 East Thirty-second street, President Kelly in the chair, and transacted routine business. The district is organizing its election districts. It is putting a base ball team in the field with the hope of capturing the party pennant.
The new executive committee of the Ninth Assembly district met at the rooms corner Hudson and West Twelfth streets, and organized. The picnic committee met the same evening. The picnic will be held on August 9th at the Atlanta casino. Wm. A. Mass is chairman of this committee and J.J. Sweeney is treasurer. At the session of the organization a communication suggesting methods for strengthening the body was discussed.
Saturday, April 30—The Fourth had a large attendance at its meeting, No. 68 East Broadway. The business connected with the late lecture was wound up, and many members signed the roll. There was informal talk of a picnic, to be held in the course of the summer. A great deal of interest in the party and its work was shown by those present.
The Eighth met at 153 Forsyth street and transacted routine business.
The Twelfth met at 642 East Fifth street and heard reports from the election districts.
Monday, May 2—The regular monthly meeting of the Twentieth district organization was held at the new headquarters, No. 1058 Second avenue. The president, Louis Berliner, was in the chair. Owing to the unsettled condition of the body it was still unrepresented in the county general committee. The following gentlemen were, therefore, duly authorized: Samuel Keller, Edward Murphy, Hugh Whorisky, Frederick Rogers, August Williges, Joseph Zacharowsky, Thomas O'Neill, Ernest Bohn, H. Emrich, Edward H. Koniger, Charles Knell, Max Marx, Julius Glaser, Patrick Fenton, Louis Berliner, Joseph E. Nejedly and Mr. Kunzelman. Further preparations were also made for the Dr. McGlynn indignation meeting under the auspices of the club in Brevoort hall, Fifty-third street and Third avenue, on the 18th of May. The committee reported that John McMackin, James Redpath, James Haggerty, William Pursell and Joseph McDonald of Paterson had promised to speak.
The attendance at the Twenty-third district's rooms, Third avenue and 105th street, was large, but excepting the passage of a resolution denunciatory of the Sunday blue laws and the report of a committee having in charge the picnic to be held in Brummer's park, 133d street and Southern boulevard, on the 11th of June, only unimportant routine business was transacted.
Tuesday, May 3—The Third assembly district held a regular meeting at the rooms of the Toilers' literary league, 42 Great Jones street. The league resembles the Twenty-third assembly district “Progress and Poverty” club, and is composed entirely of members of the labor party. It has a suite of three rooms, and has a pool table for the use of the members. The district meetings and entertainments take place in the club's rooms. Vice-Chairman Reibertanz presided at the meeting. The committee on entertainment reported that on Tuesday, May 10, Dr. Robert A. Gunn would deliver an address, James P. Deghan, T.A. Unniver and “Doc the wizard” assisting in the evening's entertainment. There will also be zither and violin playing and singing.
The Second assembly district met for general discussion at their hall, No. 32 New Bowery. Matters of general interest to the party were considered and two baseball clubs were organized. The debate was presided over by J.A. Crowley. The platform of the party was discussed. The following gentlemen spoke: James Degnan, Michael Foley, Wm. Russell, Thomas Hassett, William O'Neill and James Conners. William A. Tucker, Jr., was elected baseball captain, and John A. Crowley was chosen as manager. All communications should be addressed to the latter, at No. 32 New Bowery.
Wednesday, May 4—The Sixteenth held a meeting at Clarendon hall to protest against the removal of Dr. McGlynn from St. Stephen's. Speeches were made by Everett Glackin, president of Typographical union No. 6, Wm. T. Croasdale, Dr. M.R. Leverson, J.J. Gahan, Wm. McCabe and John McMackin.
The committee appointed from the county committee to arrange for the call of a state convention has completed its work. Its report is printed elsewhere in this paper.
Editor Standard: It is seldom that the writer of this finds it necessary to take exception to statements appearing in the columns of the Standard, but the error in your last issue in the estimate of the condition of the Fifth district organization call for a slight alteration. It is that item under the heading, “Gathering As It Rolls,” which states that the Fifth districts needs help. Let us see. A permanent and commodious headquarters, an efficient and energetic board of officers, an industrious committee on organization, a hard working district committee, in which every election district has its representative; and, above all, a complete and fraternal spirit of harmony pervading the entire organization, is, or ought to be, a sufficient answer to the quoted statement; and if we are to be judged by our record on the 2d of November last, let it be remembered that the old Fifth, the rallying post of such corruptionists as Brennan, Purcell, Norton et al,; the home of Jaehne, the ex-boodle king, bore proudly aloft the banner of united labor, and captured almost one-third of the registered vote of its people. No, my esteemed Standard, no! we do not “need help.” Our entertainments are successful, our business meetings well attended, our exchequer not empty, and our coming picnic(June 25, Atalanta casino) will be an occasion of jubilee to the toilers of our neighborhood and elsewhere, and a challenge to those politicians who believe we expended ourselves totally in the last struggle to count our unbroken and serried phalanx. First Out
[With men in the district as enthusiastic as “First Out” is, the Fifth would stand No. 1 in the list. But any labor movement in the Fifth has always needed help, for it is, as “First Out” says, the abiding place of much that is corrupt in republican and democratic politics.]
The Progress and Poverty club of the Twenty-third district has adopted a new plan for the Thursday night meetings of its political economy class. A chapter of “Protection or Free Trade” is read section by section, leader of the class, A.M. Molina, commenting on each section. After the whole chapter has been read, questions are asked by the members and answered by Mr. Molina. On Thursday, April 28, the club decided to challenge the Young Men's Christian club decided to challenge the Young Men's Christian association to a debate on the land question.
The Henry George maennerchor meets at 1422 Second avenue on Friday evenings.
J.J. Bealin, who is traveling through New York state organizing land and labor clubs, writes that at a joint meeting last Saturday of the three local assemblies of Hornellsville, a committee of three, Messrs. Preston, Wakeman and George R. Knine, was appointed to arrange for the organization of a club, which they did. A general meeting was called, and resolutions were adopted endorsing the platform of the united labor party, and declaring that “in the Rev. Edward McGlynn we recognize the fearless advocate of the rights of a common people under all circumstances, and the self-sacrifice of a true priest; and that he merits our approval and united support, and that we do hereby tender him an invitation to speak before the people of this place and raise here the cross of the new crusade.”
Mr. Bealin has also visited, within the past few days, Corning, Middletown, Port Jervis, Deposit, Binghamton, Elmira and Canisteo. He reports the spread of radical ideas everywhere and has started organization.
Pittsburg has got into the swim of the new social and political reform movement, and has set about to organize a strong party. On the 26th of April the county committee of the greenback labor party of Allegheny county met, J.H. Stevenson in the chair and T.A. Armstrong acting as secretary, and formally dissolved the party in order that the members might join the commoner's association, which was organized last December by a number of greenbackers. The accession will give that organization from 5,000 to 6,000 votes in the county, and make it a power which in future political contests be respected. A platform has been drawn up calling for “the gradual shifting of taxation until land values bear all taxes, and then an increase of taxation until all economic rent is appropriated to public use.” The second plank calls for “the control by the general government of the railroads and telegraphs.” The last plank is for the establishment of a national monetary system.
D.J. Santry, Akron, O., April 25—We are working to organize a solid Henry George club, and have many good names signed. You will hear from us soon. the Standard is doing excellent works.
Robert T. Teamoh, New London, Conn.—A united labor club has been formed here, and has already begun active work. It is noticeable that many of its members are young men who are disgusted with the old parties. The officers are: President, Adam Marx; vice-presidents, Chas. Corning and Cosmos Unger; recording secretary, Robert T. Teamoh; financial secretary, Chas. De Avagnon; treasurer, George W. Comstock; executive committee; Adam Marx, George Richards, Abel P. Tanner, Edward Moriarty and Patrick Cahill. Reports from time to time will appear regarding the progress of this club. This is the fourth united labor club in Connecticut.
W.P. Nichols, of Vineland, N.J.—I am trying to organize a Land and Labor club here. I have been in correspondence with the central committee in New York, and I am determined to stir up a discussion on the land question.
Good Work in Chicago
Chicago, April 24—Every member of the land and labor clubs here reads the Standard and “Progress and Poverty” and “Social Problems” are being thoroughly discussed. Henry George's recent lecture here in Central music hall has made many converts.
God bless Dr. McGlynn! The cross of the new crusade is everywhere being shouldered, and the people of Chicago are eager to do homage to the first martyr to the cause. His case is discussed in most every assembly of workingmen, and he has their entire sympathy. There is a sense of pity also for the archbishop, who is owned and used by the millionaire Catholics of New York city.
One of the 68,000
That Poor Man's Little House and Lot
The kindly folks whose souls are disquieted for the poor man, lest when land values are absorbed by taxation his little house and lot should disappear, may take comfort from the records of the bureau of buildings. The poor man isn't getting hold of little houses to any marked extent. During the last week of April plans were filed for ninety-nine new buildings, to cost $1,741,250; an average of $17,588 each.
Guilford Miller has got his farm again, and the whole press of the United States joins in a chorus of approval of the president's action, and in denunciation of the wickedness of the land-grabbing corporation which came so near depriving Mr. Miller of his house and home. It is suddenly discovered that Miller's case is by no means an isolated one; that many hundreds of settlers besides he have under pretended forms of law; that the so-called “indemnity belts” are but traps in which to catch ignorant and unwary settlers, and the whole system needs such prompt and radical reform as will secure that the public lands shall be reserved for actual settler, and not be suffered to become the spoil of unscrupulous, and, in very many cases, alien land grabbers.
There is a deal of humbug about this talk, of course, and not a little foolishness. The humbug is that many of the papers which are shouting loud hosannas over the giving up by the Northern Pacific road of 160 acres out of the millions upon millions they have stolen under forms of law would be the first to fiercely challenge any executive action which might threaten real danger to the landed interests of the road. The foolishness is that many people fail to see that so long as the right to private ownership of land is recognized in any way, so long will those who can afford to build fences and wait idly for a living with hand or brain. If every railway grant were canceled and the public lands reserved would still grab as merrily as ever, changing nothing but the mere form of their grabbing. They might have to spend a trifle more money, and the price of “actual settlers” would advance, but the ultimate result would be the same.
Yet in spite of humbug and in spite of foolishness the outcry against the robbery of Guilford Miller shows that people are thinking over the “land question” as they never thought before.
Civilization has taken a stride forward. The lager beer saloon that has so long been an eyesore to the residents of Fifth avenue, in this city, is about to disappear, finally and forever. It wasn't a disorderly saloon by any means; it wasn't a “rum mill,” in the ordinary sense of the word. The beer it sold was good, and its assortment of more stimulating liquids was well selected, moderate in price and excellent in quality. It led no scions of our “first families” into temptation, for a vastly more gorgeous drinking establishment, against which no voice has been raised in complaint, stands within a block of it. The trouble was that it jarred with the fitness of things, so to speak. It was a common three-story brick house; the saloon proper was in the basement, and had painted windows, actually just like the saloons where common people go to get their beer; and it occupied one of the most desirable corners on Fifth avenue; altogether it was a sore trial.
The obstinate old Dutchman who kept this saloon was deaf to argument and proof against temptation. He owned the land; he had bought it to keep a saloon on it, and he kept the saloon to the day of his death, utterly careless of the shock he was inflicting on the aesthetic tastes of his neighbors, and utterly careless of the shock he was inflicting on the aesthetic tastes of neighbors, and utterly unmindful of the damage he was doing to the value of their lands. It was a clear case of the poor man's house standing alongside the rich man's mansion.
However, the old Dutchman is dead, the lager beer saloon has been sold and will be pulled down at last, and the neighboring property will appreciate to its proper value. And looking at the matter from a purely commercial standpoint, really the old Dutchman hasn't done so badly. He bought the lot, 25 feet by 100, from the city away back in the “forties” for $3,000. He built his lager beer saloon on sixty feet at auction the other day for $59,000, reserving a plot 40×25 on the cross street. The investment has “panned out” something after this fashion:
Paid to the city for the lot
Paid for building saloon, say
Interest for forty-five years on $10,000 at 6 per cent
Taxes for forty years at, say, $200 a year
The lucky Dutchman and his family have lived for nearly half a century, free of all expense for house or land room, and the heirs are now receiving:
Cash for land sold
Value of unsold land, at least
In plain English, the people of the city of New York, as a reward for condescending to live, and rear a family, and keep a lager beer saloon among them, have presented Christoph von Glahn with free house room during his life and $33,000 as a provision for his family after his death. And yet they say that republics are ungrateful!
The first of May is no longer the one great moving day for New York city. The landlords of the flats in which most landless New Yorkers are compelled to hive, found that when leases determined on May day, the tenants had an awkward habit of storing their furniture, spending the summer in the country and putting off the re-engaging of a flat until October or November, thus depriving the landlords of several months' rent. To counteract this evil, leases have been made to run from October to October, so that if the tenant chooses to go into the country for the summer he does it entirely at his own risk and expense; and New York now has two great lease anniversaries, or landlord days; the first of May and the first of October.
And as either one of these anniversaries approaches, and the demand for dwelling places becomes for the time more intense, it is interesting to notice with how much less house room and breathing room tenants are learning to be content. Forty years ago the family that could afford $500 a year rent demanded a whole house with a large yard in the rear; today a rent of $500 is considered cheap for a small, dark-roomed flat, ventilated by an “air shaft,” in which anything like a real home is impossible. And day by day the line of demarcation between the flat and the tenement house is becoming less and less distinct.
The coal dealers of the Ohio and Mississippi valleys are about to organize for self-protection. Not the retail dealers, be it understood; they can be left to the wholesome influences of competition, and must protect themselves as best they can by giving short weight and other self-protective contrivances. It is the wholesale dealers who are organizing. They propose to get control of all the two boats and to run out of business and utterly destroy any recalcitrant wholesaler who may decline to join them, and, in short, to have the coal markets of Cincinnati, Louisville, New Orleans and other river points completely at their mercy. They will “size up” the people of Cincinnati, etc., settle to a ton just how much coal they really need, and see that they get just that quantity, and pay roundly for it. In short, they will tax them scientifically, not making the burden unbearable heavy, but skilfully adjusting it to the back that has to hear it, and carefully increasing it as the back becomes broader.
It is worth noticing how the establishment of monopolies of this kind is rendered possible solely and entirely by the existence of monopoly in land. The coal dealers' pool is the natural outgrowth of the coal mine owners' pool. The ability to control and limit production—to say that of the coal provided by the Almighty for the use of man only so much shall be taken from the ground each month or each year—this it is which renders it possible for the middlemen who perform the function of distribution to combine against the consumer and refuse supplies except upon their own terms.
Birmingham, Ala., has shipped 500 tons of pig iron to England, and the statesmen, philosophers and editors who believe it possible for a man to lift himself into the air by pulling on the waistband of his own trousers are jubilantly over this wonderful proof of the benefit of a protective policy. Under the fostering care of the tariff the United States is actually producing all the pig iron she can use and has 500 tons to spare toward supplying the needs of the effete monarchies of Europe. It is not expected, of course, that these 500 tons of iron will return as much money to the Birmingham iron masters as if they had been sold in the United States; but what of that? the American demand is supplied, and whatever cash can be got out of pauper-laboring free trade England for the 500 tons left over is just so much in the pockets of American industry.
There was an eastern despot once who believed in the lift-yourself-by-your-own-waistband theory, and determined to give it a fair trial. Being an absolute monarch, he had no labor question to trouble him, and when he set up a cloth factory and ordered his subjects to come and work in it, they came obediently and worked for just such wages as he chose to give them, and the cloth industry was a great success. But somehow, though the cloth warehouses were filled to bursting, though no foreign made cloth was allowed to pass the frontier, though the price of cloth never had been so low before, the people didn't rush to buy it. The despot cut wages down and made cloth cheaper still, but it was just the same—the people went around half naked and shivering and crying with the cold, but they bought no cloth. Had the despot been a statesman, he would have sent his cloth out of the country and sold it to the neighboring tribes, and issued a report from the statistical bureau demonstrating by figures how by a wise protective policy he had fostered the cloth industry until it had not only supplied the home demand, but actually forced its way into foreign markets. Not being a statesman, however, he took an unrefined common sense view of the situation, and discovered that the reason why his subjects didn't buy his cloth was simply because they couldn't afford to—he kept them so busy in his mill that they had no time for any profitable work outside of it. And so he took a backward step in civilization, shut up his cloth mill, strangled his infant industry, withdrew his custom house police, and left his subjects free to make cloth, or buy cloth, or go without cloth, just as they pleased.
However, this has nothing to do with these civilized United States. Here, as everybody knows, we have all the cloth and shoes and metals and everything else we want; and the only reason why the Birmingham iron masters are shipping pig iron to England is because every one of us has so much pig iron that it is really a charity to send some of it out of the country.
In an article on “The Chemistry of Foods and Nutrition,” in the Century for May, Professor W.O. Atwater gives a scientific account of oleomargarine, and sums up the case, for and against it, as follows:
“This is a case where mechanical invention, aided by science, is enabled to furnish a cheap, wholesome and nutritious food for the people. Legislation to provide for official inspection of this, as of other food products, and to ensure that it shall be sold for what it is, and not for what it is not, is very desirable. Every reasonable measure to prevent fraud, here as elsewhere, ought to be welcomed. But the attempt to curtail or suppress the production of a cheap and useful food material by law, lest the profits which a class—the producers of butter—have enjoyed from the manufacture of a costlier article may be diminished, is opposed to the interests of a large body of people, to the spirit of our institutions and to the plainest dictates of justice.”
The city of Fostoria in Ohio is congratulating herself upon her good luck, and looking forward to an era of of unexampled prosperity. Natural gas in apparently inexhaustible quantities has been discovered near by, and Fostoria is to have flouring mills and rolling mills and nail mills glass factories and torpedo factories, and other blessings. The prosperity resultant on these blessings is to be purely local—very local indeed. The people of the country at large will not share in it, for flour and other things will be just about as hard to get as ever, notwithstanding the goodness of God in providing natural gas. The working people of Fostoria are not likely to be any better off, for any increase in their earnings will bring laborers in shoals from other cities; but the real Fostorians, the people who own Fostoria will make money hand over fist. They have organized a local gas company, and got control of four thousand acres of gas-bearing land near the city, and they propose to supply gas to the manufactories at actual cost. This will induce the manufactories to establish themselves in Fostoria, and then the prosperity will begin in the shape of increasing rents. Fostoria is in a fair way to develop a local aristocracy—if the gas holds out.
Mr. Goschen, the chancellor of the British exchequer, has scored a point with the taxpayers by announcing a reduction in the income tax, and there is little doubt that the concession will win no small amount of support to the tory policy that otherwise might have been scared away by the coercion bill. The well-to-do classes of Great Britain have a perfectly logical hatred of direct taxation, and were any increase of the customs and exercise duties possible, they would gladly consent to an unmeasured augmentation of them if only the hated direct tax upon incomes could thereby be abolished.
Mr. Gladstone and other statesmen of the old school are scandalized at Mr. Goschen's clap-trap bid for popularity. They point out that he succeeds in reducing the income tax only by putting a stop to the operations of the sinking fund, and they invoke that department of heaven's chancery which is devoted to finance to witness that in acting thus Mr. Goschen is laying a sacrilegious hand upon the very ark of British respectability—the national debt. The time will surely come, say they, and may even be near at hand, when Britain's resources will be no longer equal to the payment of the present immense annual interest, and if the coming of that time should find the principal of the debt undiminished, why—why some of the bondholders might have to go without their money, which would be a pretty state of things indeed.
This sort of talk sounds well and is effective with some audiences, but the fact is that the majority of Englishmen don't care twopence about the national debt, one way or the other; and a very large minority have absolutely not the faintest idea of its existence. Even to a large portion of the middle class the “funs” is simply a mysterious bank of England abstraction which somehow provides handsome incomes for a few lucky ones, but in which they themselves have no interest of conservation or destruction. And it is in the growing intelligence of these now ignorant classes that the real danger lies to the vested interests of Great Britain.
The British national debt is now about $3,500,000,000. Dabblers in political arithmetic and propounders of economic paradoxes are fond of presenting this vast sum to the imagination in various ways. They coin it into gold and pack the mass of metal into freight cars; they invest it in wheat and juggle with it in every kind of way; and one and all take a funny kind of pride in pointing out the absolute impossibility of its payment, and the strong testimony it bears to the advantages of a stable government as inspiring public confidence, with much other rot of a similar kind. But not one of them ever draws attention to the fact—probably it never occurs to them—that each successive generation of British subjects pays the whole of this enormous debt to the very last penny—bears the whole crushing burden of it within the short space of thirty-three years—and leaves still the same load to be borne by its successor.
This is what the people of Great Britain will find out some day—the fellows who work the mines, and plow the fields, and labor in the factories and shops. And when they do, they will probably announce that the wars of Queen Anne, and the American revolution, and the Napoleonic campaigns, and the emancipation of the West India negroes and other expensive pleasures of that kind were luxuries for which the dead and gone gentry who enjoyed them would have done well to pay spot cash. After which the British national debt will be referred to as one of the curiosities of history.
The New Party
How It is Progressing Throughout the Country—Encouraging Letters
Professor Richard Welton gives a favorable report from northeastern Kansas. Many of the students in the university at Holton sympathize with the George movement. The Holton Recorder, which referred to Professor Welton as an anarchist six months ago, has since received communications from him favorable to the land tax. The Recorder realizes that the land question is as of as vital interest to the western farmer as to any other citizen of the country.
D.L. Munro, Altoona, Pa.—A Canadian friend to whom I lent my copy of “Progress and Poverty” called my attention to the illustration that “the one who digs bait is in reality doing as much toward the catching of the fish as any of those who actually take the fish,” and says this is pertinent to the fishery question, wherein the simple perceptions of natural justice are set at naught for the purpose of causing a rupture between two neighboring English speaking peoples.
Charles F. Kipp, Columbus, Ohio—We are about to secure permanent quarters and commence an active campaign on the platform of “the land for the people,” for we believe nothing short of that is worth striving for.
J.C., Cincinnati, Ohio—Dr. McGlynn is the most lovable man it has ever been my good fortune to meet, and it is no longer a source of wonder to any of us that the congregation of St. Stephen has remained loyal to their old pastor. If it be that he is reinstated, I for one shall be strongly tempted to join that communion.
John A. Roost, Holland, Mich.—You will by and by see all who work with hand or head under one banner. May heaven send us more McGlynns “with enlargement of the heart.”
A.J. Houghton, M.D., Cincinnati, Ohio.—That grand man, whom we all learned to love, did noble work here, and I can see new evidences of it daily.
B.W. Waltham, Mass.—I am a real estate holder, and the fruits of my labor are invested in this way, but I am in sympathy with land reform, believing fully that our present system is unjust and that better conditions must prevail in the future. Even freedom of speech is imperiled today. In Worcester county, this state, a young man has been sent to the house of correction for calling out “scab.” That looks as if we were getting too much law. The worst feature of the whole matter is that the public sense is so blinded that nine-tenths of the community think the actions of the courts all right. Wendell Phillips once said that it was a sad sight to see people deprived of their rights, but a sadder sight to see people in ignorance of their rights, for if they only knew they were wronged there was some hope that they were wronged there was some hope that they might bestir themselves in their own behalf. It is in vain to look for aid or sympathy, in this region at least, from those who are above the necessities of wage earning. The well to do are bitterly and unreasoningly opposed to all movements for the relief of the masses. Keep up your good work, and if I do no more, you shall have my best wishes, and that is a great deal more than you will get from the most of my class.
Robert A. Whatley, La Bahia, Tex.—Land reform has four enemies—selfishness, ignorance, personal jealousies and ambitions, and party fanaticism. It is by these that “things as they are” are maintained. But it is a great thing to be planted squarely on a great fundamental truth. “Thrice is he armed that hath his quarrel just.”
Fred Lipscomb, Peirce City, Mo.—Among the many advocates of Henry George's theories in the west none is more earnest than I, and I am ready at all times to assist in spreading this great truth by every means I can command.
William C. Bohannon, St. Louis, Mo.—We are going to open an office and shall undertake to organize a club in every ward of the city.
E.J. Albany, N.Y.—I had serious doubts as to the wisdom of the Standard's attitude on the McGlynn question when it was first published, but my mind has been set at rest long since and I am more than ever convinced of the wisdom, courage, capacity and statesmanship of Mr. George in dealing with a subject that in any other hands would have brought to the party.
William E. Morgan, Syracuse, N.Y.—We now hold our weekly meetings in the Syracuse Laborer office. Our last meeting was very interesting. The opinion was unanimous that the time is ripe to organize the united labor party throughout the state.
H. Martin Williams, St. Louis, Mo.—I am in correspondence with land reformers in different sections of this state, and I find that our ideas are taking hold of the minds of the people.
Thos. B. Usher, Union Hill, N.J.—Our recent battle was fought upon the Clarendon hall platform. It was read and unanimously endorsed at our convention, in which all of the surrounding towns were fully represented by men of great intelligence.
Why Should He Be Robbed at All?
Louisville, Ky., April 28—I am continually in argument confronted with the inquiry: “Is it not true that laboring men get more for the same work in this country than they do in any other?” A reply which I have always found effective is this: That has nothing whatever to do with the question. The questioning is not whether a man in this country is by the unjust social laws deprived of a less share of the profits of his labor than he is deprived of in Europe. The question is, why is he deprived of any of it? If a man in Europe produces $10 worth a day and gets $3 worth of it, the question is not whether he is robbed wholesale in Europe and retail in this country. The question is, Why need he be robbed at all?
These Doctrines Invite Investigation
Birmingham, Conn., April 24—I am in hopes of forming a land and labor club here at an early date. I am confident of the success of this movement. The marriage of the two old parties in Milwaukie during the recent campaign shows that we are making it interesting for somebody, and the denunciation of the press excites the curiosity of the thoughtful man who thinks for himself. “That which will not bear investigation has no right to exist,” and we will prove to be the liveliest kind of a corpse yet.
John A. Butler, Jr.
An Opinion Of The Archbishop
“His Princeness” Called a Tyrant and a Traitor to the Church
If a meeting could be called by either of the old political parties, by any sect or creed or set of people having an important public question to discuss or a grievance to relate; if these political parties and so forth could get, by large advertising and almost endless personal solicitation, a thousand men and women—especially women—to attend; if the “better element” had some abuse of their privileges to lay before the public, and could get two hundred people to meet in a hall and listen to the story—then the daily press of this city would send relays of reporters to these meetings, and would spread before their readers on the following day a full and complete report of the proceedings, even to a description of whatever tawdry decorations might be hanging on the wall. But if meetings are being held by the “common people;” by persons so humble that they have no influence; by persons afflicted with the curse of poverty, but who have a grievance that affects their very souls, and who desire by mass meetings to lay the matter before the public, this same press is either as dumb as an oyster or has only a slurring sentence, in which it seeks to damn the people who are so presumptuous as to dare to try to explain to the public that they have any rights or grievances at all.
The pastor of St. Stephen's church was, about five months ago, suspended from his priestly functions for holding and advocating the principles promulgated by the new political party which has arisen in this community, and upon which they put a candidate into the field. This suspension caused great sorrow among those who had for many years set under the ministrations of, and received spiritual consolation from, this holy man. They felt that too great punishment had been inflicted upon their loved pastor, even if he had erred, which they did not admit. Meetings of these parishioners were called to enter their solemn protest against such tyranny, which were noticed briefly in the press at the time, but soon, as far as the press was concerned, the matter died out.
But the meetings continued. In spite of the press and the threatened displeasure of the prince of this diocese, in spite of the bulldozing of Tammany hall and the scheming of the “castle Catholics” of the city—worthy allies of the corrupt political ring on Fourteenth street—these protesting meetings are held once a week, and International hall is crowded to its fullest capacity, while hundreds who cannot obtain admission stand in the street until the chilly air warns them, in the interest of good health, to go home. Of these large meetings, larger than can be called by any political party in any assembly district in the heat of a campaign—the papers have little or nothing to say; it might displease “influential” people. These meetings are growing in earnestness; among the attendants can be seen some of the most responsible families in the district, people who will before long make themselves felt even on Murray hill. Every day's delay is loosening the ties which hold the parishioners to the faith in which they were born; in each day's delay lies danger that they may drift away from the religion which they have hugged more closely to their breasts through the teachings of the suspended Dr. McGlynn.
In point of attendance the parishioners' meeting last Friday evening was as large as any that has yet been held, and in enthusiasm and earnestness it surpassed all previous meetings. Immediately over the platform had been hung a life-sized oil painting of Dr. McGlynn, which had been loaned for the occasion by Miss Fanny Perkins. Miss Roedell unveiled it and decorated it with choice flowers amid the wildest applause.
Mr. Feeny, as usual, opened the proceedings by stating what the object of the meeting was, and introduced as the first speaker James J. Gahan, one of the editors of the Catholic Herald. The gentleman was in good form, and made a speech equal to his first attempt at Cooper Union on the occasion of the first meeting of the Catholics of the city to protest against the action of the archbishop in removing Dr. McGlynn for the part he took in the late campaign. Mr. Gahan said he despised a coward, a traitor or a tyrant. He was more than glad that he had been invited to attend this meeting, for he could set at rest rumors that he had not spoken in defense of the doctor for the past two weeks because he had been influenced by emissaries from the marble palace. The fact was, he said, that he had been ill; but now that he was again in condition he would show to his enemies—including the “cawstle Catholics” of New York—that he had the courage of his convictions. The speaker said that his definition of a “traitor” was a person who was false to his friends, his country or his religion. A “tyrant” was a person who used his power to crush whatever was good—crushed whomsoever stood in the way of the accomplishment of his will. Now, Archbishop Corrigan has been false to the Catholic people of this city; has tried to betray them into the hands of the “cawstle Catholics.” Failing in this, he has used his power as the prince of this diocese to crush the man who stood in his way and prevented him from betraying the people. “Therefore,” said Mr. Gahan, “I say Archbishop Corrigan is a traitor and a tyrant!” (Tremendous cheering, renewed again and again.) Speaking of the recent effort to coerce the Catholic Herald into silence, Mr. Gahan said that he denied the right of Archbishop Corrigan to rule a newspaper. So far as he was concerned he would sustain Dr. McGlynn, and so long as he followed in the footsteps of him who planted the cross of the new crusade, he held that he was right. He had the strongest faith in his course, which the peals of the archiepiscopal thunder, hurled from the palace, could not shake. “Canonical censures” would roll off him as water from a duck's back. He denounced the so-called Catholic papers which had been subsidized by the archbishop.
Mr. McDermott, one of the parishioners' committee of thirty-five, gave to the audience, clearly and succinctly, the reasons why Dr. McGlynn had been suspended, and then proceeded in an able manner to show that the doctor had but followed in the footsteps of his Master. “It is not,” said the speaker, “because our pastor participated in the last campaign that he has been suspended; it is because the cause which he advocated found 68,000 friends at the ballot-box last November.” The archbishop and those behind him thought that by crushing this Christlike man they could crush this mighty protest of the people against the wrongs that are being done them every day and every hour. Mr. McDermott believed that the struggle of the people for their natural heritage—the land—would end in their favor; and though possibly the good priest might not have justice done him here, yet before the Judgment Seat, where he and the archbishop must stand, the doctor would have justice done him, and so would the archbishop.
William McCabe was the next speaker. He read from the Standard the letter of Father Curran, in which he refused to endorse the latest address to the archbishop, which was frequently interrupted by enthusiastic applause, and also the sermon by Father Ballies, of St. Francis' church, Brooklyn, in which he stigmatized the women of St. Stephen's as tramps, and pitched into Dr. McGlynn, Henry George, the Standard, the Catholic Herald and the new crusade and its supporters generally.
Mrs. Margaret Moore was the last speaker. She alluded to the time when British influence at Rome sought to force on the Catholics of Dublin an archbishop they did not want, and said that matters were in the same condition here. The Castle Catholics had failed in doing there what “the rats of Tammany hall”were trying to do here—control the church for political purposes. She evoked a perfect whirlwind of applause.
Mr. Feeny, in closing, said that Mrs. Moore was a stanch worker in the Irish land league, and had been imprisoned in Tullamore when Parnell was in Kilmainham. Mrs. Moore was to lecture next Friday evening in Chickering hall—subject, “An Evening with the Irish National Poets”—and he hoped that all who could would attend. The meeting then adjourned until next Friday, at the same place.
A Ringing Letter From An American Priest
“German Priests” and Ecclesiastical Millinery—Corrigan Cannot Sweep Back the Ocean
The following letter is from a well known priest in a western city, the pastor of a large church. We suppress his name and even the place from which the letter is written, as in the present enslaved condition of the American priesthood any suspicion of its authorship would subject him to relentless persecution:
—, April 26—So the “German priests” of New York have proved their loyalty to the mighty little archbishop by signing their euphonious names to an “unsolicited” letter. It is well. Dr. McGlynn still lives, and Henry George seems to be doing as well as could be expected. Perhaps the only human creatures “moved” to anything but laughter by this most touching display of unasked and purely Germanic affection were the native American typesetters on whom cruel fate laid the task of putting its most loyal signatures in cold United States type. If this precious document, however, has done nothing else it has at least made strikingly manifest the curse of the Catholic church and priesthood in America—the spirit of nationality. If there were for five years in this country a homogeneous American priesthood, the literary delver in the mines of antiquity might at once bring out his immortal work, “The Last of the Corrigans: a tale of the days when there were German priests in the Catholic church in America.” And the day is coming—God speed it!—when there will be no “German element” nor “Irish element,” with their silly antagonisms, in the American church. Alas, in diebus illis, for their graces, their lordships and the monsignori! The church will still be in the business of saving souls, but the machinery will be worked by plain, unvarnished bishops and priests. The lordly title and the royal purple, and all the trumpery relics of barbaric splendor, will be consigned to the musty storehouse of the dead and gone. The shining helmet and glittering breastplate still shed the glory of the past on the knightly super of the modern stage; the wondering child still revels in the awe-inspiring pictures of mail-clad heroes who slaughtered the giant and the dragon; and who knows but the Barnum of the future will yet show to gazing multitudes, for the small sum of twenty-five cents, a gorgeous specimen or two of the extinct species monsignori—stuffed!
Good people talk of scandal, and lift their pious hands in holy horror when the fated hour brings about the inevitable conflict between might and right. Scandal there is, indeed, and more than enough; but who is to blame? Not the man who throws the bomb or fires the train is the author of revolution, but the men who reared and propped the scaffolding of tyranny. Not the man who stands upon his rights is the author of scandal in the church, but he whose injustice makes rebellion righteous. “For it must needs be that scandals come, but woe to him by whom the scandal cometh!” Christ was a scandal and a stumbling block. He taught a new doctrine without consulting the Sanhedrin. But, after all, the little great man is not so much to blame for abusing his power as the blessed system which produces him. When bishops are no longer hatched in a dark chamber, some scandals will be rarer.
If the German priests of New York will only read “Progress and Poverty,” they will never more be quite so unanimous in their love of a social system which deprives the vast majority of their people of the greater part of their honest earnings, nor so very ready to aid in crushing the man who, at great risk to himself, is doing battle in their cause, in the cause of all priests, in the cause of all men.
Whatever becomes of McGlynn and his immediate followers, the old woman was certainly a fool who tried to keep the storm-driven Atlantic in bounds with a broom. As well oppose the onset of the raging sea with rusty lance and battered shield, as try to quell by the mere word of authority the mighty storm Henry George has stirred up by the deadly shot he has fired at landlordism, the very citadel of tyranny. There is already alarm in the camp of Mammon, the money devil, and no wonder. If the teachings of “Progress and Poverty” are true—and nobody has yet proved them false—they will prevail in spite of the devil and all his fireworks and breastworks, ecclesiastical and civil. It will take more to stem the rising tide than the logic-chopping of a Higgins or a Brann. With the legions of unvested right on its trail no spider-webbed or word-covered lair will prove strong enough or dark enough to save the hoary scalp of vested wrong.
How many pages in church history are taken up in telling how a Roman congregation made a slight mistake in the case of Galileo. Those very good and conservative men had such a rooted dislike for revolutions of every kind that they even opposed and tried to stay the revolution of the earth! Archbishops are not infallible, any more than Roman cardinals. If the revolution is right, let it roll! If an archbishop gets crushed now and then into an unshapely purple mass, it will be because he needlessly stood in the way. History has its lessons for all, but the little great man is always slow to learn. Archbishops should read history—if for no other reason—because history is very purple.
Let the winds blow and the waves surge, until the last unsightly wreck of social wrong has gone down into the fathomless deep!
Some Park Row Rents
A Park row merchant has been speaking to a Standard writer about the rents of stores between the Herald office and the Brooklyn bridge. This gentleman has been on the row in business for twenty-one years. He says that rents there have steadily kept ahead of the advance of the profits of merchants. He looks upon his landlord as better than the average, albeit his rent for a single store room has gone up from $1,800 to $3,000. He had evidently been looking up the question of rents in his neighborhood, for he ran over the prices of a number of store rooms thus: “The cigar store close by the bridge there pays $6,000; the little candy store $2,500; the shirt store $2,000; the old Park house $7,000—it used to be $3,000. They asked $5,000 for that store room in French's hotel, and I believe they get $4,000—it used to be $1,700. I'm told that the tailor in the Potter building pays $7,500, and the cigar store on the corner pays $6,000. The old book store on the lower corner of Beekman street pays $3,000, Varian's liquor $3,700, the drug store below the World office $7,000, and the jewelry store $2,750. Rents in Park row have doubled in ten years.”
“Sure, the Lot Growed”
Philidelphia, April 25—I heartily pray that your theory may become a practice, not in this country alone, but the world over. My boy, ten years old, said: “Pop, how can that lady own that lot? She didn't make it. Sure, it growed.”
The Week In Wall Street
Wall street's moving day has again passed, and many changes have been made. Three very elegant office buildings have in the past year been added to the list of structures erected for the accommodation of those who do business in and near Wall street. The most magnificent of the three and indeed of all the office buildings in this country, is the Equitable life building, a mass of solid granite, covering an acre of ground and containing 600 offices, of which, according to President Hyde, less than twenty are vacant. Another, and next in importance, is the new Gallatin bank building at No. 34 Wall street, and still another is the new building of the Central trust company at 54 Wall street. The Gallatin national bank building is a massive nine story and basement brown stone front, fitted with every modern appliance that can be had for the accommodation of the tenant. The Central trust company building is a solid, imposing, pressed brick, with granite trim, structure, eight stories high. The Gallatin bank building stands on a piece of the earth's surface with thirty-four feet frontage on Wall street, and running back 105 feet. For this piece of ground the Gallatin bank paid the neat little sum of $400,000, which is a very fair illustration of land values in and around Wall street, and is, at the same time, explanatory of the cause of such an exceedingly high building. The purchasers of this piece of ground were obliged to become landlords on a large scale in order to earn a fair rate of interest on $400,000 which they were compelled to pay before they could get the ground for the erection of the building. The convenience of the location to the stock exchange assures them of sufficient income from the rent of offices to make the investment in the land and building a profitable one. Nevertheless, at six per cent the tenants of this building will be taxed $24,000 per annum for using this 34×105 piece of ground, and will, in addition, be taxed for doing business and for the consumption of articles necessary to themselves and to their business. The previous owner of this lot, made valuable by increase in population and the wonderful energy of our railroad and telegraph builders, will be able to retire on this neat income of $2,000 a month, which the law so wisely compels these tenants and business men to contribute to his support. Were it not for this tremendous legal blackmail, in the case cited, and in every case, the lower part of our city would long ago have been covered by office buildings even more magnificent than the three referred to. But the first cost of the land, the additional cost of the materials springing from the royalties going to the owners of granite and marble quarries and the tax on the building itself, after it is erected, have contributed to the maintenance of the miserable old structures that disgrace some of our principal business thoroughfares. But in spite of all this, some elegant buildings are erected at a cost fully double what in reason they should be.
The treasury officials are reported to have decided that $35,000,000 of bonds instead of $49,000,000 will satisfy the law requiring an annual purchase for sinking fund purposes, and that the $19,000,000 of outstanding three per cent bonds shall be carried over to the next fiscal year and be called then as a part of the required $35,000,000. This decision of the department has somewhat weakened government bonds, because it postpones indefinitely the day when the government may be expected to appear in the market as a purchaser of its own securities. The enormous revenue of $1,000,000 per day now flowing into the treasury and the comparatively slight expenditure resulting from the president's economy in the administration are looked upon as boding an extra session early in the tariff and internal revenues. The wisdom of such a policy is offset by the increased danger of tight money, a danger that Wall street is ready to gamble on, as is evidenced by the renewed rumors of tight money during the summer and the manipulation of money to eight per cent during the past week.
The interstate bill is the same knotty conundrum, both to railroad men and Wall street. Charles Francis Adams, president of the Union Pacific, characterizes it as “a scheme for the building of the Canadian Pacific railroad and in aid of the water routes to California via Panama and Cape Horn.” Mr. Adams evidently knows whereof he speaks, for with the reported default by the Union Pacific on the first quarter's interest on the bonds of one of its important feeders, comes a report of the handsome increase of $13,000 in one week's earnings of the Canadian Pacific, as compared with the same week last year. The Northern Pacific earnings have likewise decreased for the first quarter, and a heavy deficit is the result. The extraordinary preparations that have been made for lake and river traffic this season, show that the interstate law is fully appreciated by the vessel and boat owners; and should the commission revoke its suspension of the fourth section, made in favor of the roads that are obliged to meet river and lake competition, it would prove a rich harvest to these owners and a decided loss to the roads. Such suspension has been mooted by the commission, and pressure is being brought to bear upon them, not only by the lake and river men, but by an outside element that is primarily opposed to the railroads and to the granting of any concessions by the commission. It is no wonder then that Wall street looks upon the law as an unknown quantity, and, while assuming a waiting attitude until its provisions are more strictly and definitely construed, attributes to it the reported decrease in the railroad earnings now coming in.
It is unfortunate that this law is bound to complicate matters and to prove the scapegoat for the ills and disasters that should be attributed only and solely to the present real estate boom. Of thirty-nine reported increased earnings as compared with the same week last year, and of these twenty-nine the increase was considerably lower in the majority of cases than for any week this year. Twenty-nine in thirty-five would seem to be a very good showing, but we must remember that a few months ago it was a rare exception to find a railroad reporting a decrease in earnings. Accompanying this bear argument that a still larger number of roads will show decreased earnings, comes the report of decreased clearings throughout the country, the two together showing that from some cause or other business is gradually getting worse rather than better. Though the clearings are still far heavier than for the corresponding week of thirty-seven cities were $978,332,076 last week, as against $1,042,450,302 for the week before, a decrease of $64,118,246. This decrease will be attributed to higher freight rates under the interstate law, while the decreased railroad earnings will be attributed to the advantage given the lake and river routes under the long and short haul clause. Certainly there is something in this, but there is still more in the real estate boom, which is increasing enormously the cost of doing business on the one hand, and decreasing the purchasing power of the great masses of our people on the other.
The general passenger agents of the trunk lines are now considering the differential rates for the Baltimore and Ohio and the New York, Ontario and Western, a very important and far-reaching matter, as its unsatisfactory disposal may bring on a railroad war.
The English Revolution
H.M. Hyndman Says It is Near at Hand—The Movement Spreading Among the Miners—Parnell and the “Times” Letter
Special to the Standard
London, April 26—We are getting on nicely, don't you think? I should like, I must say, to see ourselves as others see us, for a few days. Which, being interpreted, signifies that I should like to look at the present agitation in Great Britain for a short time from the longitude of New York. Evidently the center of the revolutionary movement is passing from Paris to London, and the interest which Americans formerly took in French politics is being rapidly transferred to English. Naturally enough. We are no longer the staid, humdrum, dead-alive sort of people we used to be. The Chinas of Europe, the Rip Van Winkles of modern democracy, are waking up out of the slumbers of two generations. Who would have thought five years ago, in 1882, that the platform of the social democratic federation would be, by far, the most crowded at a liberal demonstration in Hyde park? Who would have thought that, on the very same day, at least 10,000 Northumberland miners would unanimously pass a resolution in favor of original socialism? Yet that is what occurred last Easter Monday in this sober, sleepy old England of ours, and “three cheers for the social revolution” rung out as lustily from the throats of the sturdy northern pitmen, who stood packed beneath us in the field at Horton, as they did from the 40,000 or 50,000 Londoners who gathered round the blood-red banners of the federation in Hyde park. What do you say to that, Mr. Editor? Of course, I know as well as you do that something more than demonstrating or shouting is needed before we can put this job through. I am well aware that men who come together to hear a popular orator will cheer nearly all he says, though they may go for something quite different the next day; and I am but too conscious that the education and organization of the English workers are very defective, that they are too much pressed down by capitalism and landlordism to make at once that resolute and intelligent effort which is necessary to bring about their enfranchisement as a class. Nevertheless it surely denotes progress alike deep and rapid, when we find that in such a stronghold of individualism and competition as Newcastle and its neighborhood, where Bradlaugh boasts that socialism can never have a chance, a vote in favor of social democratic collectivism should be passed without a single hand held up against it in a crowd of 10,000 men. Nor, in its way, is it less significant that in Northumberland, as in London, the strongest resolution against the coercion bill was carried unanimously.
I shall have a word to say just now about these Northumberland miners and their villages; but here I want to draw your attention to the fact, which means a great deal more than some imagine, that London at this moment leads England. The metropolis is the most advanced city in Great Britain. “What!” you say, “then how comes it that there are fifty-one tory members as against eleven liberal members for the metropolitan constituencies—fifty-one coercionists against eleven voters for freedom?” I cannot here go into the various causes which still practically disfranchise the greater part of the workers in London. One cause, however, their constantly shifting domicile is sufficient to account for much. But more important is the fact that Londoners have lost faith in the house of commons and in the liberal party. That is beyond dispute. The shopkeepers and villa dwellers are tory or moderate liberal; the workers are extreme radicals or revolutionists, who care little for the mere politics of faction. But that in spite of its reactionary representatives in the house of commons the metropolis is becoming revolutionary is easily seen. It would be quite impossible for any English orator, even for the G.O.M. himself, to carry a resolution at an open meeting in any part of London, against us, for instance. The mere middle class caucus has never got hold of the Londoners and never will. They have not—I speak of the mass of the people—so much to unlearn, therefore, as the men of the provinces, who are in the hands of the wire pullers and Methodists. Londoners demonstrated in earnest against the Gladstonian coercion bills, as you remember, though the caucus tried its best to stop any such untimely manifestation. Now they demonstrate against a tory coercion bill and cheer for the social revolution. In this change which has taken place in the last few years from apathy to growing vigor, I have the right to say that we social democrats have had a great share. I remember well when we began to agitate that, after we had been at work for a year or two, some among us, including Mrs. Helen Taylor and Herbert Burrows, held that we were giving too much time to London. They urged that more might be done with the same amount of work in the provinces. I always argued, however, that it was worth any sacrifice to stir the metropolis; for if London once took the lead of the revolutionary party, as she did in the seventeenth century, then the battle was half won before we entered the field. London, I argued, with its 5,000,000 inhabitants or more, is in itself a nation. The masses of men are so enormous that they could not be controlled by police or soldiers if once fired with the revolutionary ideal. London, too, is the center of the whole government system, as well as of the whole business of the empire. One great reason why the chartists failed was that they never got any hold upon London. A blow struck here resounds throughout the universe. Manchester, Glasglow, Birmingham, Liverpool, Leeds might all be in confusion and uproar, and still the world would wag on much the same. But “the social democrats are in control of the Bank of England,” “the mob is in full possession of the house of parliament,” “a great socialist meeting is being held in Westminster abbey”—eh! How does that read? I take it that if such genial items of news came tumbling if such genial items of news came tumbling by cable across the Atlantic, even Mr. Jehosaphat Goldcorner would fumble a little in his breeches pocket as he hurried off to Wall street to sell English stocks short. Just so. And that is just what we are after. In all great social movements you must ever aim at the popular imagination. For one man that can reason out an economical theory, there are twenty who can understand accomplished facts, which go, as it were, straight to their historical conscience. Windsor castle, by the way, will be a splendid palace for the reception of working delegates who come from afar to discuss the problems of industrial reorganization. About that time the house of Guelph will be living on a modest but sufficient pension at Brunswick.
You think I am joking. I was never more serious in my life. What is more to the purpose, we all think the time is coming. These very encounters with the police, which are being forced upon us by tactics that closely resemble those of continental despotisms, prove that, here as elsewhere, the class war has been begun by the confiscating classes. Not much more than a twelvemonth has passed since the so-called west end riots startled London. None who eyed the hopeless state of panic which afflicted the well-to-do inhabitants of the metropolis for two or three days after that accidental outbreak could doubt that if we had then been ready, had thought that the economical social position justified our action, and could have relied upon our comrades elsewhere—three hypotheses which are being rendered certainties as I write—the machinery of government could have been captured with ease. “As if,” said the sage to Alexander, “it were not harder to keep than to conquer.” That is the point. When we conquer we mean to keep. And that again is why we have devoted so much time to London and are now working so hard in Glasglow, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, etc. We have spread from the center to the circumference, and now begin to gather the fruits of our labors here and there, too.
Thus it has been among the miners of Newcastle and Northumberland. What with the reports of our doings in London in their local papers, what with letters and discussions in the same journals, what with letters and discussions in the same journals, what with the elaborate argumentations in their favorite weekly sheets, such as the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle and Reynold's Newspaper, scientific socialism has crept in among them before they were aware. The talk of Michael Davitt, who took my place on the platform of the social democratic federation in Hyde park, the recent lectures of Prince Krapotkin and the work which you yourself did in relation to the nationalization of the land, have all greatly influenced also the country people. Thus, when a few socialist agitators went down to the great coal districts of the north they found the people ready and even eager to listen to their doctrines. Eleven weeks of strike teaches men a good deal. The emptiness of the belly has a marked effect in convincing workers of the emptiness of the huckster political economy. The most thrifty members of cooperative stores find their little savings exhausted in such a struggle as this. Thin, pale-faced women and children crying for food in these pitmen's villages bring home the truth that men are robbed daily of three-fourths or four-fifths of the value of their labor to many a rough fellow who would before have refused to listen to mere theory. I might be writing of Pennsylvania instead of Northumberland and Durham, might I not? And the wages when men are in work are not dissimilar on two sides of the Atlantic. How the men stand it I can scarcely comprehend. Three or four days' work in the week at the outside for certainly never more than five shillings a day. Yet the workers above and below ground raised 350 tons of coal per head in the year 1887 as against 200 tons per head in 1877. But they get no benefit. Look at their villages—long lines of small, one-roomed cottages sandwiched in between other long lines of coal and dust heaps. What a life of endless toil, with danger in the pit, and no real pleasure out of it! Yet these men are well educated and intelligent, uncouth but courteous and hospitable. Is it not high time that they learned the necessity for combination? Should they not take a leaf out of the book of their Irish brethren and stand together against the landlords and capitalists who, for the sake of still further profit, or still larger royalties, dock their already starvation wages of 12½ per cent? A strike is useless. Something more than a strike is needed in these days of relentless class war.
And so the coercion bill passes its second reading in the house of commons by a majority of 101. The air is thick with accusations of assassination conspirators and dynamite plotters. A bogus letter of Parsell's takes up a square foot of the Times. Party bitterness exceeds anything which I can at all remember. I do not dilate on such matters, because you in America hear of them more in detail than even we do here. I shall only say now that the effect of the “revelations,” as they are called, and the promise of more from the same quarter, has been prodigious. And the greater that, of course, there are already threatenings of assassination and incendiarism in London now that the coercion bill has got through its stormy second reading. I should be saying what is not true if I were to state that the disclaimers of the Irish members of any friendship with the extreme Irish-American party are generally credited. They are not. Parnell's letter is so cleverly drawn to express what he was accused of feeling at the time with regard to the Phoenix park tragedy, that the rank and file of Englishmen believe it to be genuine. I don't. For whether Parnell considers assassination to be justifiable or not, when free speech and free combination are suppressed, he is, I should think, far too cautious a man to put such a direct approval of a deed which he publicly condemned in writing in a private epistle. But we are, as I say, promised more, and the Times is so furiously bitter against the Irish that you may be sure no effort will be spared to give force to the indictment.
How well I remember that Phoenix park affair! Such a shock went through London! Men were quite scared. At the meeting of the executive council of the democratic federation next after the event but one man made his appearance besides myself. We were to hold a demonstration against the crimes act two or three weeks afterward and some of us hesitated as to whether we should hold it. The feeling was strong for the moment against all sympathizers with the Irish. But I won't inflict reminiscences upon you at the end of a very long letter. Besides, Mr. Editor, you yourself were, if I mistake not, here at the time. Suffice it to say that all this feeling is now being stirred up afresh, and is, I regret to say, having a great influence on the political situation.
Spreading the Light
Sea Cliff, L.I., April 26—Rev. Charles P. McCarthy addressed our land and labor club last Sunday on the subject of land tax reform, and much good was done. He is to lecture here again on May 8.
New York to the Country
Headquarters Campaign Executive Committee, Central Labor Union, New York, November, 1886
To Organized Labor throughout the United States, Greeting:
The great moral victory which we have won in this city by the polling of 68,000 votes for our candidate in the campaign begun by the Central labor union, and the congratulations which the men of New York have received from all parts of the country, encourage us to believe that it is now within the power of organized labor to begin a national movement that shall carry to triumphant success the great principles on which industrial and political emancipation must be based.
This campaign has shown us that by ignoring minor differences it is possible to unite the political power of labor on a platform confined to fundamental principles. What we have done in New York has been accomplished in the face of greater obstacles than exist anywhere else in the United States. We see that it is only necessary to improve our organization here to carry this city, and we believe that general organization must result in the formation of a national party that will sweep the country.
We call on organized labor everywhere to form political associations based on the principles of the platform of the convention of trade and labor associations of New York, and having in view political action, local, state and national, at the earliest possible moment.
It is desirable that organized labor, wherever it exists, should take the initiative in this movement. But it is our opinion, confirmed by our recent experience, that the most effective organizations for political action are to be formed outside of labor associations, though as far as possible animated and controlled by their members. In this way we may avoid any conflict with the rules and regulations that forbid political associations, though as far as possible animated and controlled by their members. In this way we may avoid any conflict with the rules and regulations that forbid political action on the part of associations primarily designed for industrial purposes; may bring into our ranks a large class now outside of labor associations, but whose sympathies are thoroughly with us; may secure that organization by election districts which is necessary to efficient political work; and by means of reunions, lectures, the dissemination of literature, readings from sound works on social science, and debates, carry on the work of education. This is the course we have resolved to adopt in this city, and we commend a similar course to our brethren throughout the land. We believe the time has come when, for the accomplishment of its purposes, labor must step into the political arena, and, rallying all the forces that are upon its side, make an open fight for the assertion of those equal rights which the great charter of American liberty guarantees to us all, but which both the old political parties have heretofore ignored.
The difficulty which everywhere confronts us, in our efforts to raise wages and secure leisure, is the existence of an impoverished mass, forced by their necessities to accept work on any terms. Until we can lessen the intensity of that struggle for existence which makes so many men and women ready to do anything to procure the mere necessaries of life, the work of our labor associations must be conducted under tremendous disadvantages. Men who cannot find employment are everywhere the force which those who oppose us utilize to resist our just demands. It is therefore necessary that we should make war upon the great wrong which causes poverty—the primary injustice which makes the land on which and from which all of us must live the exclusive property of individuals, and denies to the rest of us the right to live and to work, unless we pay blackmail for the privilege.
We therefore ask you to form political associations based upon the principles set forth in our platform, and, through the central committee, room 28, Cooper Union. New York city, which has been appointed for that purpose, to put yourselves in communication with other similar associations throughout the land.
As soon as this work shall have gone far enough, a national conference will be called to organize the new party—a party powerful enough to re-write the laws and execute the people's will.
By order of the executive committee.
John McMackin, Chairman
New York's Gas Supply
There are four gas companies doing business today in New York city—the Consolidated, Mutual, Equitable and Standard. The Consolidated was formed in 1884 by the consolidation of the New York, Manhattan, Harlem, Metropolitan and Municipal.
In 1823 the first gas company was organized in New York, and was called the New York Gas Light company. Its capital, originally $1,000,000, was in 1871 increased to $4,000,000.
The Manhattan company began business in 1833 as a competitor of the New York. The two companies, however, soon agreed upon a division of their territory, and thereafter there was no competition between them or against them until 1858, when the Metropolitan entered the field.
The Harlem Gas company was organized in 1855, to supply that part of the city lying north of Seventy-ninth street. Its capital was $120,000; in 1884 it was increased to $2,000,000. By its charter, the municipality reserves the right to purchase its real estate and plant at a fair valuation and ten per cent in addition.
The Metropolitan company was organized in 1858, with a capital of $2,500,000.
The Municipal company, organized in 1876, with a capital of $500,000, increased its capital in 1877 to $1,500,000, and in 1880 to $3,000,000. A company called the Knickerbocker was organized in 1876 and was merged into the Municipal.
The Mutual company was organized in 1866. Its capital, at first $500,000, was increased in 1870 to $5,000,000.
When in 1884 a consolidation was agreed upon the Mutual was inclined in the arrangement. The capitalization of the Consolidated company was made through each of the old companies turning over its property. The act under which the consolidation took place permits such action, the joint capital to represent a fair aggregate value of the real estate, plant and franchises of all the companies. The allotted capital under the agreement made by the officers of the companies was as follows:
The Mutual company, however, did not join with the Consolidated.
The Equitable company was organized in 1882. Its capital was $3,000,000. It contracted to pay the city for certain of the privileges conferred upon it, and in three years it turned into the municipal treasury $47,000. By its charter it also agreed to furnish gas for at most $1.75 per 1,000 feet to customers and for at most $1.75 per 1,000 feet to customers and for special rates to the city.
the Standard gas company is the Standard oil company. It is just entering the field, possessed of the cheapest methods for making gas, and is establishing a plant on an immense scale, have portioned off the city so as to supply it from a dozen great gas works and storage houses. Its capital is $10,000,000.
When gas was introduced in New York its price was $10 per 1,000 feet. In the '40s it was down to $4, in the '60s it was $3, in the '70s $2.50 and $2.25. From 1880 to 1884, inclusive, it was $2.25. A few years ago it was reduced to $1.75, and, by act of the legislature, it was last year brought down to $1.25.
For nearly sixty-five years the gas consumers of New York have been waging war with the gas producers. The points in dispute have mainly been the measurements of the meter, the quality of the gas furnished, what the price should be per 1,000 feet, and, lastly, the extent to which the companies should be placed under public control. The scene of battle has shifted about, through the courts, the legislature, and the press. The history of the long struggle is to be gleaned from numerous suits at law, from many legislative reports, and from even larger volumes of scrap books prepared by organizations which have kept up the fight on the companies. The writer will chiefly confine himself to quotations from the report of the senate investigating committee of 1885, and from prominent New York newspapers.
The senate committee, in its report, brought out certain facts in connection with the history of several of the companies which they doubtless would have preferred to be forgotten. In the increase of the capital of the New York company in 1871 from $1,000,000 to $4,000,000, no money was contributed, the additional $3,000,000 merely representing accumulated values in real estate and earnings. The transactions of the Metropolitan company were complicated through large and frequent real estate purchases and sales having no connection with the gas producing business. When the Mutual company increased its capital stock in 1870, only fifty per cent was paid in. The president of the company, in testifying before the committee, said that he, with two partners, had charge of the construction of the company's works; his partners were both dead, and he could not give the cost of construction. After the Municipal company absorbed the Knickerbocker, the books of the latter company were lost. In none of the companies did the sum total of the certificates of stock bear any relation to the money capital paid in or the cost of construction of plant. Of the $5,000,000 capital of the Mutual, $1,500,000 was in bonds delivered to stockholders. Of the Equitable's $3,000,000, $1,000,000 was in bonds.
The president of one of the companies testified before the committee that during the five years, 1880 to 1884, an “honorable mutual understanding existed” with regard to rates between the Harlem, Municipal, Knickerbocker, New York, Manhattan and Mutual companies. Further testimony showed that the “understanding” was an explicit pooling arrangement by which it was stipulated that there should be no soliciting of customers, no special inducements given, no competing mains laid, and that a committee of supervision should be employed to enforce the provisions of the pool agreement.
The committee reported to the senate that in the ten years from 1875 to 1885, $74,656,885 had been paid by New York city gas consumers to the gas companies, and that of this amount nearly one-half, $30,074,715, was clear profit. In 1884 New York's gas bill was $9,000,000. In these ten years the consumers had paid ten per cent on the aggregate capital of the companies and a further amount nearly sufficient to duplicate the present gas system. Testimony was given before the committee that in six years the Municipal company paid to its stockholders in dividends $3,600,000 on $3,000,000 capital, though there were no means of finding out how much of this capital was fictitious. At the end of that time, moreover, the Municipal had $6,600,000 stock in the Consolidated company. Upon an actual investment of $750,000 in 1823 the New York company had paid $22,171,336, a rate of 47 6-10 per cent per annum for sixty-two years. In the Consolidated company its stock represented an annual dividend of its original stock of 70 per cent. The average dividend of the Manhattan for seven years was about 25 per cent on its nominal capital.
Other features of interest to consumers were contained in the committee's report. The multiplication of gas mains in New York was mentioned as an evil of consequence. At some points the pipes formed a network that left no room for improvements. The total number of miles of mains, according to the published report of the companies, was 877, while in the city there were only 442 miles of streets. The committee declared that competition of New York, resulted in combination and higher prices. There was no provision of the law prescribing the degree of purity of the gas supplied in the city, and no protection of consumers against the losses through inaccurate meters. The office of inspector of gas meters was adjudged useless. The cause of large gas bills with lower rates was greatly due to excessive pressure in the street pipes.
By the allotment of the capital of the Consolidated company to the six old companies merged in it, the increase in the capitalization of the companies was shown by witnesses to be from $17,000,000 to $39,000,000. The committee pointed out that, even to its legislative mind, $7,781,000 of the $39,000,000 was water. Experts, it reported, had shown that the value of a gas plant should be estimated in proportion to its capacity to produce gas, the ratio of capital necessary to produce gas, the ratio of capital necessary to produce 1,000 feet diminishing as the amount produced increases. Averages of capital to 1,000 feet had been found to be as follows: In Great Britain, $3.25; in London, $3; in France, $2, and nowhere in America was the average known to exceed $5. But the capital of the Consolidated company averaged $8.75 to 1,000 feet.
As has been said, the price of gas was lowered to $1.25 per 1,000 feet last May by act of the legislature. An officer of a gas corporation, an expert, told the writer that within forty-eight hours after the law went into operation the gas companies were manufacturing an impure quality of gas and had increased the pressure in the mains. In a news article published on the 3d ult., the Herald gave numerous instances of complaints of increased gas bills from consumers in many parts of the city. On the question of pressure the senate committee quoted Professor Presco-English, United States superintendent of gas at Washington, as saying: “An important fact with which every household should be made acquainted is that the quantity of light given off by gas burners depends very much upon the pressure with which it is forced through the jet.” Professor Horsford of Harvard was also quoted: “When gas rushes from the burner under high pressure it mixes quickly with the air and is consumed without time being given for the carbon to become luminous.”
The city directory gives the names of half a dozen gas consumers' protective or benefitiaries and companies. Their existence would indicate that there is a profit in watching gas bills.
It is comforting, in collating facts relating to reform to be able to quote from others working upon the same subject, even if one is often obliged otherwise to differ from them. Comprehensive statements of the broader facts relating to the subject of gas supply are ready to hand, and inferences of the most radical sort have been reached by authorities from some of whom thorough reformers usually expect but little aid. We can therefore safely glide to our conclusions by the easy route of quotation.
In a letter to the public, written in 1884, John H. Sherwood said: “The millions of money the New York gas companies have unfairly taken from the consumers in the last thirty years will greatly exceed the sum total heretofore gained by all other rings and monopolies in this metropolis. They hold charters and franchises, but they make no sworn statements to the public of earnings and expenses. The franchises should have yielded $30,000,000. By a cunning device which consumers do not understand bills continue to increase. These greedy sharpers make up their own bills and measure their gas with their own meters, and not one of ten thousand consumers understands enough of the mystery of the meter to know how to detect fraud or error in his bill.”
From a Tribune editorial, March 22, 1885: “For the past ten years a profit of $1.08 per 1,000 feet of gas has been made. In the case of the gas companies there seems no way of avoiding the conclusion that monopoly has been systematically abused. The gas companies certainly have forced upon the people the necessity of considering some means of restriction or regulation, since it is obvious that their own method has more resembled pillage than the responsible transactions of legitimate business. That the situation is intolerable is, however, far plainer than the way to amend it. The people of New York have had good reason to shrink from any suggestion of municipal control in such matters, and yet it is doubtful whether the most corrupt and inefficient public administration could have taken as much out of the pockets of the taxpayers as these private corporations have done. In all between $30,000,000 and $40,000,000 more than was reasonable appears to have been extorted from the consumers, and it is difficult to believe that any public bureau could have squandered or stolen as much as that, even with far more laxity than is now possible.”
From a Times editorial, Nov. 26, 1885: “When several gas companies exist and are consolidated together, and in the process the aggregate capital on which dividends are to be paid is raised from $17,000,000 to $39,000,000, there is not much prospect that gas will be cheapened. Low prices can be looked for from a monopoly only in case it is held under a strict public supervisor; and control, and is compelled to diminish its dividends and its prices to reasonable figures. Kept to itself it will be guided by the ordinary selfishness that leads corporation managers and others to take all they can safely get.” The Times then proceeds to show that the capital of the companies was increased so that a property that had been yielding a twenty-one per cent dividend would appear to be yielding but seven per cent.
In its issue of Jan. 25, 1886, the Evening Post, in an editorial, reviewed in general the question of the gas supply for cities, copiously quoting statistics. In 1853 it said London had thirteen companies. In 1883 there were but three, the rest having been absorbed by those in existence. Even before the gas companies were finally recognized to be practical monopolies, an attempt had been made to regulate the maximum price of gas and its quality. A sliding scale of prices is now in force, the consumer being benefited according to the amount burned. The city of Birmingham bought its gas works from a private company in 1875. Since then it has lowered the price, improved the machinery in use, and doubled the earnings, the latest dividend mentioned being thirty-five per cent instead of seventeen, the first one made. Nottingham took possession of its gas works in 1875. It has in ten years reduced the price from 3s. 4d. To 2s. 2d., and its profits have risen from £6,000 to £32,000. Leeds has a record still more striking, the price per 1,000 feet having been as low as 1s. In England city after city has taken possession of the gas supply, until, in 1884, 160 towns and cities were owning and managing their own works. The Post cited the opinion of Arthur Silverthrone, an expert, as follows: “The event has proved that nothing could be more felicitious than the way in which the municipal authorities have managed even the largest gas undertakings confided to their care, and I fearlessly assert that these unpaid bodies have achieved far superior results to those obtained under the directorate of private companies.” In Germany, in 1860, there were 266 gas companies, sixty-six being municipal, and 200 private. In 1883 there were 600 companies, 200 public and 310 private. Of 164 leading companies, eighty-eight were public. More than 7,000,000 inhabitants were supplied by public works, while 4,500,000 were supplied from private sources. The cautious Post thought that municipal gas works “seem destined, in Europe at least, to supplant entirely private undertakings.”
From an editorial, Brooklyn Times, Dec. 21, 1885: “The cure is simple. Let the city—every city in which it is not done already—take charge of the manufacture and distribution of gas. The management of the water bureau of Brooklyn is economical, efficient and satisfactory. There ought to be a gas bureau equally well managed.”
From an editorial, Journal of Commerce, January 5, 1886: “The private citizen who hates sumptuary laws cannot find a sound objection to the manufacturing of gas by cities, towns and villages, and its distribution to the inhabitants, like water, at cost. Herein is the best remedy for the extraction of gas companies.”
The argument need not be lengthened. Nothing more need be said to convince the fair-minded reader that New York is prepared for city ownership of its gas works.
Landlord and Tenant in Texas
Correspondence Toledo Industrial News
I would like to speak of the renting system in Texas. Falls county is one of the leading cotton raising counties in the state, but most of the farmers are renters. If a landlord has a large farm, say 1,000 acres, to rent, he asks a cash rent of $5 to $8 per acre. If he rents on shares, he furnishes team and seed and gets one half. Many of those who work on shares have to let the landlord do all the selling until he gets his share of the crop. The majority of the renters have to get their supplies on time, either by giving a mortgage on their stock or by getting the landlord to stand for it. When a renter buys a sack of second grade flour, 149 pounds, he pays $1.50 cash; if he buys on time they add twenty-five cents for interest. One old colored renter who bought on time had to pay $300 for bacon in one year, but that was on account of short weight, large profit and eighteen per cent interest. I was told of one farmer who had his horses, grain and cow levied on because his landlord claimed he owed him $7, but the strangest part was that the goods were sold before judgment was rendered.
The renters say they raise from $300 to $700 worth of cotton to the family, but it would be a hard matter to find $5 in cash in their homes on the 1st of January.
One of the rich merchants of Marlin, the county seat, boasts that if he was to close the mortgages he has on the stock in Falls county there would not be a half crop raised. The landlords say that the knights will have to farm post oak lands and ant hills next year, but they are still organizing and making the best members we have. We are also on good terms with the alliance and hope to do good for the cause.
A Landed Aristocracy in Cleveland
Cleveland Labor Herald
Only eight per cent of the voting population of this city own their own homes or a board or a shingle they can call their own, and this arises from the fact that opportunities for owning land are cut off, and the ability for retaining it is only possible to the exceptionally favored few. The taxes are enormously high and pauperizing on the little homestead, and nominally light on the large estate. Thousands of acres are held without improvement and almost without tax, waiting for population to give them increased value. Great, broad tracts meet the eye all over this city everywhere one looks, waiting for the presence of more men and women to increase their value, while the owner is resting in an easy chair watching their coming with an eagle eye.
This may be all right, but our sense of justice does not so teach. Society gives the land value, and society should have the benefit. What a man earns by labor, industry and saving from it is his own, and he should be protected in its absolute possession, but the value which society gives, by the simple act of coming together, is not his, because he has done nothing to enhance its value. Society owns the increase because it causes the increase.
We Think So, Too
Santa Barbara (Cal.) Herald
There is no denying the fact that the land theories of Henry George are gaining ground very rapidly among the masses. There are evidences that the civilized portion of mankind are preparing to enter upon a revolution of opinion that is going to effect marked changes in the world's social fabric. When this revolution comes, as it seems certain to come, no other question will be affected as that of land values. It is only a short time since the teachings of Henry George were treated with derision, and were laughed at as vagaries. It was not dreamed that his theories would ever gain a foothold among the people. But George's land theories have grown until they have grown into a great issue. The eagerness of the masses to hear George and read his writings on the subject is evidence of the rapid spread of his doctrines. His teachings are no longer derided. His theories of land ownership are no longer ridiculed. The weapon of ridicule only rebounds against those who attempt to overthrow George by its use…The land question is destined to become a leading question in our national politics before many years, in our judgment.
The Berkshire Life
In conjunction with the thirty-fifth annual statement of the Berkshire Life Insurance company, and in accordance with annual custom, the directors have made the following report to the members of the corporation:
The thirty-fifth annual statement of the treasurer, covering the business of the year 1886, is herewith submitted.
The continuing prosperity of the company is shown by its gains in assets, income, surplus, the number of its members, and in the amount of insurance outstanding.
The policy account shows that 7,822 policies were in force December 31, 1886, for $17,877,227. The increase during the year has been 735 policies for $1,667,613.
The treasurer's statement has been examined and approved by the auditors appointed at the last annual meeting.
During the year the Hon. John K. Tarbox, insurance commissioner, made the triennial examination required by the statutes of the commonwealth. He allowed as reasonable the claimed market value of the commercial securities owned by the company, and was satisfied with the sufficiency of the collateral held as security for personal loans. The valuation of the company's real estate he thought reasonable, and that the mortgage loans had been placed with judgment and care. He concluded his report as follows:
“The wholly satisfactory condition of the affairs of this company, found by the triennial examination three years ago, is fully sustained by the present examination.”
The aggregate of payments made to policy holders during the past five years is $3,082,727.60.
This is brief, but it is a telling document. It is full of pith and marrow, and abounds in comforting assurance to the friends and policy holders of the Berkshire. Not that such assurance was needed, or that anybody for an instant thought of questioning the financial condition and progress of the Berkshire, but it is pleasant to have a reaffirmation from authoritative sources. It is pleasant to have one's good opinion confirmed and strengthened.
There are certain obvious and noteworthy points in the history of the Berkshire to which we call especial attention.
One of them is the excellence of its management. That this management is characterized by remarkable prudence and care as well as skill and ability is shown in its low ratios of mortality and expense. The Massachusetts life reports show that during the last ten years the average ratio of mortality to amount at risk in the Berkshire has been one-quarter of one per cent less than that experienced by the companies doing business in that state as a whole; a difference which represents $4,750,000 per year during that period, or a saving in death claims of $47,500,000 by these companies, had their mortality been as low as that of the Berkshire.
The Massachusetts companies are all noted for economical methods, and yet the Berkshire's ratio of expenses of management to income was last year 4.3 per cent less than the average experienced by the Massachusetts companies.
The ability and skill of the Berkshire management are strikingly shown by its interest account, which has exceeded its total death claims from organization of the company to date. The assumptions of the company, as well as the laws of Massachusetts, called for $132,894.64 in interest earnings by the Berkshire in 1886. Its actual interest earnings receipts were $188,615.70, or $33,721.06 more than solvency required. That is, for each $1 of interest the company was called upon to earn it received $1.42. The company's assumptions and the laws of Massachusetts require an interest earning of four per cent upon the company's reserve fund. The company actually received, within a fraction, six per cent. The favorite investment of the Berkshire is mortgage loans, and six per cent upon its investments of this class will alone meet the interest earnings which solvency requires. How well placed is the company's confidence in this class of securities is attested by the fact that its mortgage account as a whole during the thirty-five years of the company's history stands without the loss of a dollar of either principal or interest. The company has paid to its policy holders in the last seven years a sum greater than its present net assets, and yet it has continuously increased its membership, its income, its surplus, its dividends to members and its assets. Its investments are in the best of securities, without a dollar in speculative stocks, and its surplus is all that can be desired. Its managers are proved by a continuous record of duty well done to be men of sound business judgment, able financiers and faithful and conscientious trustees of the charge committed to their care.
What better can be said of any life company?
For rates and circulars descriptive of the new five-year dividend policy now being issued by the Berkshire, address George W. English, manager for New York and New Jersey, 271 Broadway, New York.
Peonage In Mexico
Correspondence Hackettstown, N.J., Gazette
The citizen of the United States who fondly fancies that since the emancipation proclamation slavery has ceased to exist on this continent, has only to come down here to El Paso, look across the narrow ribbon of the Rio Grande and see the institution flourishing in all its pristine ugliness. The only difference between the system of peonage of Mexico and negro slavery is altogether in favor of the latter. There were kind masters in the south, of course, plenty of them, but that does not alter the fact that when slaves received good treatment it was, in most instances, because they were “property.” A “likely” negro, worth all the way from $1,200 to $1,800, would no more be mistreated or overworked than a thoroughbred horse of similar value.
Peonage (pronounced, by the way, pea-own-age, accent on the first syllable), is simple in theory and complex in practice. It is the attaching of labor for debt. A species of judgment is obtained, and a man's services belong to the creditor until the debt is wiped out. So far it might be worse, but(and here is the rub), the obligation does not end with the debtor, but, like the witch's curse in “Ruddygore,” becomes hereditary and descends from father to son until satisfied. This fact, and the further fact that the bulk of Mexican peons are not the original debtors, but the descendants of debtors, would seem to indicate that a race of active prodigals had once existed in the land; but, on the contrary, most of the debts are under $50. The incredible poverty and ignorance of the masses is the only explanation of this state of things. Not one in 500 can cast up the simplest form of accounts. A peon is allowed at best only a few chackos a day, and a chacko is about a cent and a quarter. Out of this his food and clothing are charged up, and occasionally interest is added to the original amount. So it can be readily seen that instead of decreasing, the debt is gradually growing larger and larger, and the condition of the poor wretch more and more hopeless.
Such is peonage, compared to which Russian serfdom was a pleasant state of society. The further inland the more peons, and the arable lands of Sonora and Chihuahua are tilled almost exclusively by them. A large farm in these districts resembles a slave plantation, except that no care whatever is paid to the condition of the people. They are not worth it. At the mines the same state of things exists, and whether in the shaft or chili patch the peon works on, doggedly, hopelessly, helplessly, born to it and knowing nothing better or beyond. Food and clothing are kept near the vanishing point. A little maize and a few chili pods suffice for one, and a pair of overalls, a cotton shirt and straw sombrero for the other. A pair of cowhide boots are a usual reward of merit, and as they are used only on feast days, they will last a peon all his life, and probably descend with the peonage to his son. The women wear cheap calico dresses, and the children nothing at all. An outlay of a few dollars will clothe a whole family for a year, and an actual calculation shows that they consume about eight cents' worth of food a week per capita.
Women can be peoned as well as men, and the wife and children of a peon, regardless of sex, share his burden of bondage. The rich old Mexicans are generally on the lookout for special victims, and if they take a fancy to any pretty girl, lose no time in peoning her nearest male relatives. A good many of them are notorious for this sort of thing. “Honi soit qui mal y pense.” It is ostensibly done in the letter of the law, but the heartbreaking stories of all human ties dissevered, would make many a sad volume if half the truth were told.
The first peon I ever saw was at Paso del Norte, the Mexican town opposite El Paso. I was talking to a ranchman when his wagon was driven up by a native, the most wretchedly clad that I have ever seen. The weather was rather raw, but all the man had on was a pair of ragged and blue cotton overalls, a “hickory” shirt and a hat. He was bare footed and breathed into his numbed hands to warm them while he waited. I had known the rancher as a liberal man and bad no hesitancy in expressing my surprise that he should allow one of his servants to go so dressed.
“Pshaw,” he said, laughing, “he isn't a servant: he's a peon.”
“He's dressed all right. Look at that sombrero. I paid $3 for that.”
The shivering wretch had on a gaudy felt, trimmed with imitation bullion.
“Confound his pants! I tell you these Mexicans are like ostriches; as long as they have something on their heads they don't care for their bodies. Give a man a sombrero with a few rosettes on it and a woman a shawl to wrap over her head and it's all one to them whether you give them anything more or not. Here Pedro,” he added, speaking in Spanish, “have you enough clothes to keep you comfortable?”
“Si, senor,” replied the man, with a grin.
I had no more to say. In the interior no effort is made to treat peons like human beings. If the smallpox, a common disease there, breaks out in a colony of them, they are driven off into the mountainside to die. At the mines the barbarities are hideous and revolting. A good deal has been told and written of the cruelties in subterranean of any convict chained in an underground gallery is nearly as appalling as that of hundreds and hundreds of these Mexican slaves, toiling within a day's journey of the land of the free. I do not say that this is true of all mines; at many of them, and particularly those owned by American or English companies, the management is humane and admirable in every particular; but it is true of some. In these it is no unusual thing for a peon to be murdered by some cruel taskmaster, in plain sight of his wife, who works by his side, hears his dying shriek, and is powerless to raise her hand to save. This is no fancy picture, but a dreadful and repeated reality. It is surprising how little is known in general of interior Mexico. There are thousands of square miles where peonage is a sacred institution and a “white man” is as great a curiosity as a hippograff or a unicorn would be. There whole families are wearily grinding away at debts they had no more to do with than with the deluge. Some ancestor they never saw or heard tell of, drank too much mescal one day or lost a few dollars at monte, or was tempted to buy a gilded sombrero on credit, and the mischief was done. That they live in the darkest sort of ignorance and misery goes without saying, else some fine morning they would simply quit being peons and all the powers that be, at least in Mexico, could not re-establish the old regime. It is like Mark Twain's bandit, who languished in a dungeon for eighteen years before he thought to see whether the window was fastened.
The wage question is everybody's question; it is the question of national prosperity, for the more wage money paid weekly the more goods of every kind are purchased. Money is the blood of trade; when it circulates through the arteries of the wage earner, the storekeeper, the manufacturer, it is the bright red blood of trade, and trade is spoken of as healthy. When it flows sluggishly through the veins of banks into vaults and coffers, it is the thick, blue, venous blood of trade, and trade is spoken of as dull and congested.
Going Into Business
The Profits Of The Retail Grocer Going To Enrich The Landlord
A Hardworking Class of Storekeepers—Long Hours for Employers and Clerks—A Union with Many Objects—Fighting Food Adulteration
A writer of the Standard's staff spent a half hour the other day in conversation with Mr. Charles F. Bussing, president of the central association of retail merchants of New York and vicinity, and learned a good deal about the life of the average New York retail grocer. the Standard's man, with his land reformer's instincts, wanted to know how many grocers were in business in the city, to what extent they felt the lines of competition that are tightening in every business, and, moreover, how the landlord is regarded by the grocer.
Mr. Bussing soon showed that he was the right man to answer such questions, for he had been in the grocery business more than a quarter of a century, was possessed of all the documents of the Retail Grocers' Publishing company, of which he is treasurer and manager, and is thoroughly acquainted with the work of the Retail Grocers' union. The facts imparted by him are in substance as follows:
In New York city there are nearly 5,000 retail grocers. The cost of grocery stores ranges from $500 to $5,000. On the avenues the corner grocery stores rent, on the average, for between $1,000 and $1,500, while the smaller stores on the side streets rent at from $500 to $800. The leases are usually for three years, though occasionally they are for five. As to the question of rent, Mr. Bussing had no hesitation in saying that it was almost invariably the case that if the tenant could stand an increase, the landlord insisted on having it. He was in business for himself for many years, and his landlord gave him his place at a lower rate than it could have been rented for another business. He was not unmindful of that fact, but he answered the question as a general question. There was a complaint among grocers that rents which liquor stores paid. A grocer might be doing a fair business and be able to pay a pretty high rent; but if a liquor dealer bid against him for his corner he would not be able to get the place. He knew of a case in point occurring lately. A grocer who had built up a trade on a corner in the course of a five years' lease was told by his landlord that the latter could get $500 more than the grocer was paying. The grocer replied that he could not afford to pay that much more; that, in addition to his living, he was not making more than $500. The landlord, of course, took the offer made him, and the grocer had to move away. It turned out that the man who obtained the new lease was simply a speculator, not intending to occupy the premises himself. He took a three years' lease of the place and sold it for $1,400. Mr. Bussing, continuing, disposed of the next questioning higher; that landlords took good care to get whatever they could, as was to be expected, and that agents or speculators were in the real estate market ready to tempt landlords by offers of higher rents than they were obtaining.
In New York there are more grocery stores than ever in proportion to the population. There is not much encouragement for clerks to enter the business, the gains being but small, while competition is of the keenest. Still, in no business do a man's own qualities count for more than in the grocery line. Constant labor and close supervision will bring to one man a paying custom where another could not make ends meet. The dealings are on small margins, and small leaks have to be watched. In the course of a week a grocer works on the average sixteen hours a day. On Saturday many a grocer rises at 3 a.m. and is at work until midnight.
Competition is forcing many grocers to cutting rates to an extent that can be looked upon only a foolish. At one store a “leader” will be sold at wholesale rates. A grocer had lately said to Mr. Bussing that he could take a market basket and go from one grocer's to another, purchasing “leaders,” and fill it up with articles bought at prices as low as the grocers themselves had paid for them.
Five years ago the retail grocers' union was formed, and it now has a membership numbering eight hundred. It has aims and objects enough to make it a very live association, for it is intended to foster a social feeling among the members of the trade, bringing manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers together “on a platform that shall guarantee their equal trade rights and mutually adjust the different questions which may arise on that broad platform by arbitration.” It also aims at preventing wholesale houses selling at retail to private families; at keeping a blacklist of “beats;” at maintaining an intelligence bureau; a headquarters for the buying and selling of stores, and a library containing books useful to the grocer and clerk; at reforming address abuses in the present system of inspecting and sealing weights and measures; watching legislation affecting the trade; regulating peddling, buying and selling vegetables and fruits by the weight instead of by the measure; at protection against adulterations; shortening the hours of labor and establishing a fund for the benefit of the windows and orphans of deceased members. Lastly, at trade arbitration.
The retail grocers' union issues a weekly publication, the Retail Grocers' Advocate. It is a handsomely printed magazine of forty-eight pages.
At the headquarters of the union at 213 East Twenty-third street, a few doors east of Third avenue, there are many evidences of the energy and prosperity of the union. A printing office and the manager's room are on the ground floor, while the upper floors are taken up with the bureau of intelligence, the library and the hall of the union. Through the bureau last year nearly 500 clerks obtained situations.
Ninety per cent of the grocers of New York, Mr. Bussing says, are Plattdeutsche. Fully one-half of them have been grocer's clerks. The clerk usually receives about $25 a month and his board and washing. Some of the more frugal among them save $200 a year out of their earnings. In the case of an industrious, economical clerk who desires to go into business his “boss” will usually recommend him to the wholesale dealer and endorse his notes.
The prevention of the adulteration of groceries is a very important question with honest grocers everywhere. A national pure food convention was held last January in Washington and was attended by many of the leading wholesale and retail grocers of the country. The convention urged the passage by congress of a bill preventing the hurtful adulteration of food and drugs and the regulation of adulterations not detrimental. The retail grocers' union of New York was represented at the national convention is the same as that of the men who formed the convention. What the grocers are willing to do with oleomargarine serves as an example of their attitude on the question. They will not countenance the selling of oleomargarine as butter nor the preparation of oleomargarine so as to resemble butter. If oleomargarine can be sold simply for what it is, at prices which show what it is, and without any attempt to counterfeit butter, the grocers think it is a proper article for sale. As a matter of fact, however, in the present state of public opinion, Mr. Bussing says that the grocer who should stamp his oleomargarine as such and sell it for such would find it trying to his butter trade.
Probably more than any other business, the grocers preserve the old-time relations between employer and employed. The factory system, or great central store system, has not superseded the small concern, and yet there are large grocery houses in New York doing business with all parts of the city and cutting in on the trade of the small local grocers. Still, in the grocer store there are ordinarily the proprietor of modest means, the one or two men hired for wages who may entertain a hope that their small earnings may some day bring them to the possession of a little place of their own, and the one or two boys as beginners. But the odds against the success of each class are great and increasing.
This is, of course, but a hasty glance at the state of the grocery business in New York. Yet it shows in a broad and general way a few of its leading features. We are seeking information as to the relations of this line of business to our social organization, and to us it seems that the points most prominent are, (1) the right—and the custom—of a landlord to compel a hard-working tenant to surrender to him a part, and often a large part, of the proceeds of the tenant's industry; (2) the lengths to which competition has gone; (3) the diminishing opportunities for clerks either to go into business for themselves or enter into any other occupation which will give them and their families a decent living, and (4) the formation of a union by the retail grocers. Never have men of a trade, either as employers or employees, been brought together, either socially or for business purposes, without some discussion of every phase of their interests and grievances. The retail grocers have many published aims for their union, but they will unavoidably fall into the discussion of others not published. As the landlords' exactions increase with diminished profits, and the grocers find themselves as a body almost reduced to servants of landlords, they will find themselves seeking the underlying cause of their troubles. The doctrine of men's natural rights to land are now everywhere agitated, and those of the grocers who have not already looked into the question will be urged to its discussion by their necessities.
A New Church Minister Speaks
Rev. Gustave Reiche of Wellsville, Mo., Thinks “the Standard” Preaches the True Doctrine
Wellsville, Mo., April 23—About one year and a half ago I read with great interest, pleasure and profit your useful work on “Progress and Poverty.”
I think the position taken by you is the sine qua non of all true and lasting social and political reforms. You avoid in your proposed reform, the unjust and self-destructive features of the theories advanced by the so-called socialists, by which all proper individuality is doomed to destruction. But your system would call into play, and into the fullest possible development, all the different features and faculties peculiar to each individual. You guarantee to every one a full reward for his labor, which he can use as his own property as he pleases. According to this—having in view the abolishment of all unjust monopolies—every individual would be poor or rich, according to his idleness or diligence, and each would find his proper place in his community, according to his powers, capacities and requirements, physically, intellectually and morally. Our present labor organizations are also nothing but temporary makeshifts. They are the extreme opposites of heartless and unjust monopolies and suffer in themselves from an unjust deprivation of a proper individual freedom. Every labor union should study “Progress and Poverty” in order to find the correct solution of all labor troubles and riddles.
the Standard has reached me, and I like it very much. Your reform views are here only known in the form of a caricature or a bug bear from misrepresentations. I will find opportunities to correct them by means of papers and the speaker's rostrum. Only the useless drones in the beehive of mankind who subsist and fatten on the work of other men can object to the free soil theory.
Large Measures for the Knights
Livermore, Me—I was much pleased with your article in the Standard of April 23, entitled “The Knights and Politics.” I believe that the knights are fast causing the living ideas to become laws of the land, and also are studying those economic principles which cannot fail to lead them to that large measure of legislation to which you refer. I see you have printed that principle in our preamble which relates to land. That is the living idea, but is not all that is taught me in regard to our natural birthright to land. That is the living idea, but is not all that is taught me in regard to our natural birthright. In the preamble to the constitution for local assemblies of the K. of L. the following appears: “Among the higher duties that should be taught in every L.A. Are man's inalienable inheritance and right to share, for use, of the soil, and that the right to life carries with it the right to the means of living; and that all statutes that obstruct or deny these rights are wrong, unjust, and must give way.” Also in article XI is found: “Political economy should be freely and exactly where we stand and where we consistently belong.” This is the large measure of legislation which we are bound to demand when we can as a whole see into the beauties of “Progress and Poverty.”
Baltimoreans Discussing Economic Questions
Baltimore, Md., April 25—The Henry George social science club met last night. The attendance was encouraging and the discussion able and spirited. It was decided that charitable institutions were palliatives of distress, and that the true aim of the well disposed should be to abolish poverty by seeking and abolishing the cause. It was resolved that “the projectors of the proposed steel works at Tivoli have an opportunity to do incalculable good by instructing the people in the only true and natural method of raising public revenue—that is, a tax on land values. That a suggestion is made that the promoters of the steel works apply to the legislature for a town charter, the main provision of which shall be that all improvements in said town shall be forever exempt from taxation; that this is the only method by which capital and labor can receive just rewards, and that the object of passing the resolution is a hope that other towns may follow suit if one town is started upon a land value tax basis.”
John Salmon, vice-president
Can Stand the Present System
Hutchison, Kan—The reading of “Progress and Poverty” has been worth many thousands of dollars to me, as it showed me the importance of making investments in land under the present social system. This has caused me to make investments and these investments have grown upon my hands in value. Since coming here I have made twice as much by the rise of land as by the practice of my profession, and every dollar of this is made at the expense of the poorest people. I now feel that personally I can stand the present system if others can, but will always rejoice in the triumph of truth and justice. the Standard is doing a very great work, and a good many are read in this city.
Queries And Answers
Interest and Usury
Bloomfield, N.J., April 27—In the Answers to Queries in a recent number of the Standard it is affirmed that the premium upon money is usury, but that interest for the use of capital “can harm no one”—“diminishes no one's wages.” Being in some doubt as to what is the Standard's distinction, definitely, between the terms “usury” and “interest,” I would inquire: What specific rate of interest per annum do you think would be just to borrowers and lenders—alike equitable to capitalist and laborer? I have myself quite positive opinions, based upon the writings of Proudhon, Kellogg, and others who have investigated the subject more thoroughly than most of us. Mr. Kellogg, in his profound work, written after ripe years and large experience as a business man, came to this conclusion: “However fertile a country may be, interest, even at two per cent, will inevitably oppress the producers.” Was he not correct, and are not his predictions, as they seem to have been, coming to pass in the experience of the American people? It seems to me it is “lawful interest” that is hurting the producers—not as yet, in this country, land monopoly. If I could borrow of the government $2,000 upon as favorable terms as the national banker can get his money, I could soon put myself upon the land if I desired to farm, and could stay there without fear of eviction by any money order.
We could no more undertake to fix a specific rate of interest than a specific rate of wages, a specific rate of production or a specific rate of rainfall. Your difficulty, as well as that of the authors you cite, lies in treating interest as an incident solely of borrowing and lending, whereas it is an incident of exchange. Suppose you have a dollar's worth of wheat, and that in a given time you may, by planting it, receive two dollars over and above wages and rent; then to induce you to turn that wheat into flour and to keep the flour for the same period of time for the convenience of the consumer, you must also receive two dollars over and above wages and rent. If, in the ordinary course of trade, the consumer would take the flour in less time you would accept less interest. But suppose some one wants to borrow your dollar for the period that it would take the wheat to grow and ripen; then he must pay you the increase, over and above wages and rent, that you could get by sowing the wheat or by making and storing the flour. Interest is the economic increase of wealth which arises in a condition of absolute free trade between nations, states and individuals; usury is a premium paid by a debtor for the use of a legal tender with which to liquidate his debt, under circumstances respecting the creation of legal tender which permits of “cornering” it.
When Mr. Kellogg says that “interest even at two per cent will inevitable oppress the producers,” he may be right or wrong, according to circumstances which he does not state. If there is absolute free trade, two per cent, or ten or twenty per cent, if such a rate prevailed, would not only not oppress the producer, but would be evidence of his prosperity, because the rate would be the net increase attaching to capital and would be accompanied by a corresponding increase of wages and diminution of rent. Under such circumstances if a man borrowed capital at twenty per cent it would prove that he could make more by borrowing capital at that rate than by making his own capital. But, though twenty per cent interest would not oppress if it were a deduction from wages. To say that “interest, even at two per cent, will inevitably oppress the producers” is like saying that wages, even at a dollar a day, will inevitably bankrupt the employer. Interest, after all, is only a form of wages. It is the product of a product, the wages of wages, and is governed by the same law, rising as wages rise and falling as wages fall.
There is no such thing as “lawful interest” except between borrower and lender, and then only in exceptional cases. When economic interest is high, interest laws do not make the lender's interest low. They only incite to law breaking and perjury. And when economic interest is low the legal rate, if higher, does not prevail among borrowers and lenders. But outside of borrowing and lending there is a vast field upon which interest laws cannot intrude. The merchant receives interest as part of his profits which no legislature can regulate; and with the merchant are the farmer, the stock raiser and all that host of producers who are engaged in exchange.
If the government came into the market as a general lender of capital, lending it for producing purposes only, at a low rate of interest, it would have the effect of reducing all interest, and, along with interest, wages also; and all that the producer gained as a borrower he would lose as a producer. No one would benefit by it but landowners, whose rent would go up at a bound, in response to the greater demand for land that would immediately result. The farmer—as a farmer, and not as a landowner—would gain nothing if, indeed, he did not lose. He would get less compensation for the element of time that enters into his productions, as would every other producer of capital in its vital forms, and consequently, under the economic law of interest, producers of inert forms of capital; and everyone would find it so much more difficult to get land on account of its higher value that there would be a vast accession to the wage working class, in which competition for employment would be so much more intense that wages would fall. For the government to lend any application $2,000 at low interest would have much the same effect on industry as if it provided every applicant with laborers at low wages. Times of prosperity are marked by high wages and high interest; in periods of depression wages and interest are low.
If you will divest your mind of the notion that interest attaches only to borrowing and lending, and carefully read every chapter of the third book of “Progress and Poverty,” you will better understand our reasons for these views.
More Light on This Subject
Pottstown, Pa., April 26—the Standard is certainly an adept in successfully answering the numerous and knotty questions constantly presented for its consideration and explanation. Especially are its comparisons excellent and well fitting except in answer to “H.L.P.” last week in regard to the wickedness of taking interest or usury, as he evidently believes it to be. There the comparisons, instead of being in the nature of “parallels,” appear more like “angels;” and while I am open to conviction in this, as well as all other matters, I feel more inclined than ever to take sides with “'tother fellow.” What I object to is this, that you compare an animal, bird or growing grain with an inanimate dollar or sum of money, which in the case alluded to does not convey the proper idea, because to the labor given by man to the raising of an animal, bird or quantity of grain, there is an additional labor bestowed thereon by an unseen power, which we call “nature,” and which undoubtedly adds to the value of the same. It is not thus with the inanimate thing called “money,” the representative of values; and said representative of values cannot be increased nor diminished by any process generated within itself. Only as that which it in a peculiar way represents—the labor of mankind, or of man and “nature” combined—is multiplied, or destroyed, so can this representative of the value thereof be properly and justly increased or diminished, although the aggregate of money in proportion to the value of the aggregated products of labor is very insignificant.
This is written to have you give a further elucidation of the subject, for I am not entirely sure that all interest is unjust, especially after reading the Pentateuch of Modern Reform, the five books of Henry George.
You are right in your idea that inert labor products do not increase in value without labor. But you should not regard money as an inanimate product of labor; it is not a product of labor at all. It is a medium of exchange adopted by the common consent of a community, or, as we should say, a product of law. As a medium of exchange it represents all forms of labor product, vital and inert alike. Therefore, he who today lends a hundred dollars in money, receiving it back with an increase two months hence, has in effect done the same thing as if he had with his hundred dollars bought a field of growing grain today, to sell two months hence for what he paid and an increase. Unless he could get as much by lending his money as by buying the grain he would not lend. He would buy the grain.
Exchange tends to an equilibrium. One transaction must yield, all things considered, the same profit as another. If any kind of transaction yields extraordinary profit it becomes a favorite investment until competition brings its profit to a level with ordinary profit. So, if it be more profitable to produce or deal in the vital products of labor than in the inert products, the drift of industry will be toward the production of vital things, until from greater competition the profit of producing them falls, and from less competition the profit of producing inert objects rises. Inert products do not produce interest naturally as vital products do; but by reason of the interchangeability of all forms of wealth there is a tendency to a common level of profit, in consequence of which inert products produce interest commercially. But this commercial or economic interest is not at the expense of wages; it is at the expense of natural interest, of the interest that vital products produce.
Read again, and with care, chapters three and five, book three, of “Progress and Poverty.”
The Logical Outcome
New Orleans, April 10—I am much interested in the study of the land question. Is not the logical outcome of the doctrine socialism? The greater includes the less, consequently land must include its products, such as corn, wheat, cotton and rice—the human factor being entitled to his labor only. More rigidly, man himself is a land product, and consequently owes to society his efforts, and in return society owes him his needs. Or, as Louis Blanc puts it: “From each according to his ability; to each according to his needs.” Is not the capitalist who in famine corners rice in India just as deadly a foe to humanity as the noble lord of England, who evicts his tenants to make a deer park?
The idea of taxing land values leads to socialism—to a better social condition; but it does not lead to state socialism, nor to your idea of socialism. In this connection you would find the twenty-eighth chapter of “Protection or Free Trade” interesting.
It is quite true that the greater includes the less, in a sense, “its products, such as corn, wheat, cotton and rice,” and even man himself. In the same sense water includes, in a sense, “its products, such as corn, wheat, cotton and rice,” and even man himself. In the same sense water includes all water, that which has been conducted to a reservoir as well as that which is in the natural spring; that which has been conducted to a reservoir as well as that which is in the natural spring; that which in the form of vapor drives a railway train across the continent as well as that which flows over the bed of a river. But there is a great difference between the natural spring and the water in the reservoir, between the flowing river and steam in the boiler of a locomotive. That difference is due to labor. So with the soil and its products. One is the natural source, the other is the labor product—the thing brought forth or produced from the source.
You say the human factor of production is entitled to his labor only. But the human factor does not labor for his labor; he labors for the product of his labor, for the thing which his labor brings forth from the common source, and which in time returns to that source again and again. When the human factor brings forth food, which consists of a combination of labor and land, he does not separate the labor from the land and eat that; he eats the whole product, land and all. If it were otherwise, he might better eat the labor in the first place, and save himself the trouble of combining it with land.
We do not believe that society owes any man anything, nor that any man owes his efforts to society. Man comes into society with a birthright—the right to equal natural opportunities during his lifetime, the right to an equal participation in the value of the land on which his maker places him. Society has no right to deprive him of this, but it does not owe him anything he does not earn.
The man who corners food is a foe to humanity; but private ownership of the natural source of food is an essential prerequisite to cornering food. No one can corner steam so long as natural water fountains and fuel are accessible; but if they are cornered, then steam may be cornered, too.
Eight Questions Answered
Champion, Trumbull Co., Ohio—Please answer a few questions for one who knows the farmers as a class have very hard times, and believes they have more reason to complain of their lot than any other class of laborers, and sees no hope from either of the old parties and pledges his hearty support to the one of united labor. (1) Does not a tax upon any article increase its price to the consumer? (2) Can you tax the farm more than it is now taxed without increasing the price of food? (3) Will any man care as well for a rented farm as he would if it were his own? (4) Does not our foreign commerce prove that any class of laborers in our land, for do we not already compete with the pauper labor of the world and our young men crowd every branch of labor in the nation? (5) If it was not for their love of home and a life of independence would not the farmers in a mass leave their homes for other occupations? (6) Should we not encourage ownership of homes and to that end exempt them to a certain amount from all debts and taxes? (7) Is not a direct tax the most just one? (8) If so, why exempt billions of dollars of aggregated capital and tax bread, for should not aggregated capital and not labor bear the burden of taxation?
(1) Upon a commodity produced by labor, yes.
(2) A tax on the value of land of a farm, as distinguished from the value of its improvements, would not increase the price of food.
(3) No. Most farms now are rented, or what is much the same thing, mortgaged. A land value tax would abolish this condition and give to every one who wanted it a home farm under a lower tax than tenant farmers now pay.
(4) The tariff is specially burdensome to farmers.
(5) They are leaving now as rapidly as they can be driven out.
(6) Yes. It would not be necessary to make such exemptions from taxation, however, if all taxes were placed on land values, for that would make free and accessible land so plentiful that any one could have a home without tax.
(8) A tax on capital of any kind is not a direct tax. It is ultimately paid by the consumer.
Cost of Taxation
Providence, April 26—Will you answer, as near as you can, the following questions:
(1) Under the present system of collecting taxes or revenues, how many officeholders are there, and what does it cost the government?
(2) About how many office holders would be needed under your system?
(1) There are a great variety of federal officers, a large number of state officers in each state, some in every county and one or more in every township and municipality, all engaged in the business of laying and collecting taxes. We cannot undertake to ascertain the number or their cost.
(2) All federal officers now engaged in collecting customs and internal revenue duties would be no longer required, nor would there be any need for state, county, township or municipal officers, who are exclusively engaged in laying and collecting personal property taxes, while the duties, and consequently the expense, of officers whose functions relate to the revenue generally would be very greatly diminished.
The Relations of Employers and Employed
Chicago, March 24—You teach that the real conflict is between land owners on the one side and labor and capital on the other. In other words, rent, by reason of private ownership of land, increasing with production, swallows up the right share of capital as well as of labor. This is reasonably true, but would not the present relations of capitalists and wage workers be unchanged, or would not the laborer be as much as ever at the mercy of employers?
No. Speculative land values would disappear, and free land would be so plentiful everywhere that no man would be compelled to work for another for a living. Whoever worked for another then would do so because he wished to avoid the responsibility of management, or because he could make more in that way, or for some similar reason; no one would do it for a mere living, as so many are forced to now. This would thoroughly deplete the glut in the labor market. And while the supply of men seeking employment would be thus diminished, a new and growing demand for laborers would arise from a cause which would still further reduce the supply. Many men of moderate means who now work for wages would go into business for themselves, thus at once diminishing the number of wage workers and increasing the number of employers. No amount of immigration—land values being taxed away and an adequate supply of accessible free land thus kept up—could counteract the effect of this in making working men free contractors and raising wages. The present relations of employers and wage workers would be nominally unchanged, but the laborer would be no longer at the mercy of employers. Industry then would be cooperative in distribution as well as in production.
Read chapter two, book nine, of “Progress and Poverty.”
Conway Springs, Kan., March 21—I have worked and saved $500. If I lend that money to a present land owner, secured by mortgage, how will my claim be affected by the carrying out of the principles of the new party of land reformers? I can see how the new system would abolish poverty and raise wages, but I do not see exactly how it would affect savings invested in loans on land.
If you see how this method of taxation “would abolish poverty and raise wages,” do you not see enough? If you could buy the abolition of poverty with your $500, would it not be a good investment for yourself and your children? How else could you invest that sum so as to secure protection from the miseries of poverty or to be insured against low wages while you work?
The tax would affect savings invested in loans on lands precisely as it would affect savings invested in the purchase of lands. If the lands were improved, the improvements would stand as security; but as for the land itself, if the tax were imposed to the full limit of value, the owner would probably let you foreclose, in which case the land would come into your possession, while the former owner might take up a piece of free land in the neighborhood. The investments of savings in mortgages on land values is the same in morals and law as investments of savings in mortgages on “nigger” mortgages were affected by emancipation, save this, that the agitation preceding the adoption of this tax will tend to reduce land values more and more as it adoption approaches, and the subsequent extension of the tax to the full value of land will be gradual, in consequences of which losses on investments in that kind of “property” will be so distributed that no one will lose in great degree.
The Same Price for the Same Privilege
Hamilton, O., April 8—Suppose I purchase a lot for $500 and put $1,000 in improvements upon it; then suppose another buys a lot right alongside of mine for $500 and is not able to build on it. Now, according to your views, I should pay no more tax than the man that does not improve. Is this your principle in regard to this tax business?
Yes. The man who is unable to improve can have no other motive in buying that lot than to make a profit out of the artificial scarcity of a creation of the Almighty—land. Whether he be poor or rich, he is in this relation a mere speculator in the necessities of the community. He has no more right to keep that land vacant, thus depriving others of their natural right, without paying the value over the community, than he would have to keep a theater seat vacant, thus depriving others of an opportunity to see the play, without paying the manager the price of the seat. And as a manager would rather fill his theater at a moderate price than to have it continually empty, though every seat were paid for at a good price, so it would be better for the community to make your tax less than that of your dog in the manger neighbor. By improving you confer a benefit on every class in the community; you help to make business brisk, employment regular and wages high. But your neighbor curses the community; he helps to reduce opportunities for employment to make trade stagnant and to reduce wages. If he had made that lot or bought it of some one who did make it, he might do as he pleased about using it. If he refused to use it or to sell it, any one who wanted it might make another one, and no harm would be done. But as the Father of all made the lot for those who need it, and as the process of manufacture has not yet been discovered by man, and so far as city lots are concerned will not be until a fourth dimension of space is demonstrated, harm is done by his attempt at speculation. Since he has the same price for it; and as that price belongs of right to the community, it is equitable to tax you and him alike.
A Good Scheme
Cannon Falls, Minn., March 24—I still insist that a company organized for the purpose of holding real estate and leasing out on life leases is a good idea and can be practicable. If not, why not?
It is an excellent idea—for the stockholders—and that it is practicable admits of no doubt. It is not even necessary to make the leases for life. Sailos' Snug Harbor and the Collegiate church of New York have proved its excellence in the case of leases that run no longer than twenty-one years.
There Will Be Enough
Brooklyn, March 30—Would not the taxing of land values alone so reduce the value of land that the revenue derived therefrom would be insufficient to meet the requirements of government? I can, of course, see that this would do away with a vast army of government leeches, but even then it would require a very large amount to carry on the national, state and municipal affairs.
You are right in supposing that the land value tax would greatly reduce both land values and the expenses of government. A large proportion of land values now are speculative, while a vast proportion of government expense may be traced to our land and taxation system. Your letter shows that you understand this without further explanation. But your fears that there would not be enough values left for public purposes are unfounded. There is probably no county in the United States, and certainly no state, where there is not enough land offering exceptional advantages to the occupier to pay any legitimate public expense.
Read the two articles, “Sailors' Snug Harbor” and “Randall's Farm,” in Nos. 13 and 14 of the Standard.
“the Standard” in California
San Francisco, April 23—the Standard comes to me every week with a new feast of fat things. We are having a surfeit here now of journalistic “enterprise” in the shape of immense blankets of papers every morning filled with the most nauseating rot. We have dished up to us whole columns of stuff, which I have in my disgust christened “hogwash.” It is not elegant, but it expresses my feelings. The people are dying for want of knowledge, and that is the stuff that is gathered out of the gutters of thought and carried around the world on the electric wires. What a desecration of the gifts of God! When our glorious martyr Dr. McGlynn went to Cincinnati the only item of news we got here about him was the episode in which the crank Byrne figured. When you spoke there we never heard a word of it until the Standard came. We still continue our weekly meetings here and read a chapter of “Progress and Poverty” at every meeting. The interest is increasing. Judge Maguire is receiving a good many letters from different points in the interior of the state, and I believe we shall be able to make a good showing a year from next fall. In my own experience, men who could not be induced to think on the land question a few months ago, are now inquiring the way to Zion, with their faces thitherward. I had a talk on the street today with a man who told me a few weeks ago that he did not believe in Henry George's theories. When I left him today he asked me to let him have some of our call and get it, and if he does not come I will send it to him. We have just had printed a declaration of principles and a form of constitution and by-laws for clubs. Our friend Barry, of the Star, is a thorough land man of our club. What wonders have the last nine years wrought! I tell you, the God of hosts is with us. I wish we had about $10,000 to evangelize this state with. I often regret our lack of means to carry on our work with. But we are the Lord's poor, and He will take care of us.
Louisville Has a Club
Louisville, Ky., April 24—A Henry George club was organized in this city last night. We hope to do some good. We are in earnest. We intend to have a library of Henry George's works, to study these doctrines carefully and then teach them to others.
What Business Men Say
The Land Doctrine Rapidly Gaining Ground with Thinking People
Scores of letters are received every day at the Standard office from people interested in the progress of the land movement. Some come from men and women who have been pushing the ideas of radical land reform for years, and many are written by people representing all stages of mental progress toward an acceptance of them, and who ask for more light. Very frequently the writers desire to know if the truths at the bottom of the great question—the economic laws of wages, rent and interest, and the justices of the remedy advocated—are making much headway with the public. Will men study them? Can they be fixed in the minds of men of average intelligence? Will men doing business on a moderate capital be able to see any relief in the land doctrine to them? Do they not regard it, rather, as a part of the distinctly wage workers' agitation, and the sort of impractical theory that ignorant and reckless men wildly snatch from the air to support communistic schemes? Are they not almost entirely under the influence of the old party press, which professes to have the opinion that “George's theories are exploded,” that “the land question is an Irish question brought to this country by demagogues,” that “honest business men will never tolerate such doctrines for a moment!” etc., etc.
As the Standard's columns have shown, one of its writers has spent a good deal of time lately in interviewing New York business men on, in brief, the subject of their getting along in the world. He has found a cordial reception in nearly every store which he has entered. the Standard was known to all, and even those who had not read it had heard good reports of it and believed it was doing commendable work in agitating against monopolies. The number of storekeepers who said they had voted for Henry George last fall was surprisingly large. That this class of the community is deeply concerned with the industrial situation is shown in many ways. An expression of some of their views may throw some light on the queries alluded to as made by correspondents of this paper.
A gentleman who has held one of the first positions in the city government, and whose name is known to every citizen of New York, said this week to the writer: “George is undoubtedly right. People who don't understand him now will do so before long. The wealthy land monopolists of this city are taxing its labor and capital to a point beyond all reason. There should be no such fortunes as we see invested in land speculation. The man who looks forward to having $40,000 or $50,000 accumulated in a lifetime is the best man for the community.”
A bookseller and stationer said he was “a George man” of long-standing, and discussed the land question whenever a customer showed a disposition to engage in a talk on the subject. He had found that the tax collector was a man watched by all property holders, and that they were familiar with the indirect forms of taxation. He easily made converts to the proposition that men should not be taxed for their improvements. If a house is to be taxed as soon as it is put up on a vacant lot, why not tax the furniture and pictures by an assessment similar to that put on the house? He was confident, that the land value tax was obtaining numerous new supporters in his quarter of the city.
The editor of a trade newspaper was asked by the writer about a month ago for some information for the Standard, and, after giving it, said: “What is it, anyhow, that George wants? Tell me plainly, in as few words as you can. With all the racket about it and about the labor question, I really do not know why George wants the land, or exactly what the land has to do with hard times, according to the theory of land reformers.” A start being given him on the spot in the right direction, the editor looked further into the subject, and put a “feeler” in his paper to see what his readers thought. The result has been such a volume of correspondence favorable to the land doctrine that the editor is convinced that his readers as a body are ripe for its discussion.
Frequent mention is made by men who are well-to-do of the fact that the influence of the multi-millionaires is being felt in every avenue of trade or investment. The value of land near all the business centers of the country is affected by the great syndicates that have actually taken up the whole United States as their field of operations. Investments are being made in vast areas of land near the cities with no thought of improving them, but only with the intention of holding them for sale or rent in the future. The sort of speculating in land that was done years ago was entirely different, and a fall in land values quickly precipitated the financial failures of over-venturesome speculative capitalists, but many of those now investing are the monopolists who are simply putting away portions of their surplus profits, irrespective of the smaller ups and downs of real estate, with confidence that years hence good value will be coming from the investment. A citizen of Harlem pointed out a tract of about 150 acres in the city, which he said was owned by a millionaire family, and which would not be improved until the surrounding neighborhood was well built up. “That family,” said he, “can afford to let that land lie unoccupied for thirty or forty years. But they will be winners in the end.” A wholesale dealer down town advanced a similar conviction. He said that in his part of the city rents were directly influenced by the princely fortunes of monopolists, for the investments made by them in real estate were rather for their descendants than for themselves. Land ownership they looked to in order to guarantee perpetuity to their fortunes.
“The power of landlords to impose a tax upon active capital and labor,” said another gentleman interviewed, “comes from their ownership of the land and not from the ownership of property in general. The landlord is given the privilege of taxing the two active factors in production, just as George says. The landlords, taken as a class, enjoy a monopoly. The men of New York who use their capital in carrying on business and the men who have their labor only to support themselves with must pay the landlord whatever he can get out of them; and in these days of competition it is about everything except a living. It does not matter whether the business done is large or small, the effect is the name on the man conducting it. The small cigar dealer, who clears a few dollars a week in his little place, gives the landlord almost as much as he makes for himself, and the tenant occupant of a first-class hotel uptown finds his rent going up in proportion as he increases his business. Of two cases with which I am acquainted one was such a cigar dealer. He closed up because of the landlord's exactions. The other was a keeper of a hotel, who paid $58,000 a year rent at a stand that had done but an indifferent business before he took possession of it. When his lease expired the landlord put up his rent to $80,000.”
“Here are some statistics from Bradstreet's,” said a business man when asked about the drift of affairs as he saw them. “The failures in the first three months of this year in the United States have been 3,128, and the liabilities $29,591,989—less than an average of $10,000—and the actual assets $15,260,630—less than an average of $5,000. Does not that show who are failing? It is the small business men. And it must be remembered that there are thousands of men who are pinched out of business who wind up without owing anything to creditors; and of course Bradstreet's does not count them. In New York city these statistics give 113 failures for three months—152 in a year. Taking in the small fry not used by Bradstreet's and I believe that the would be 1,000 for this year. Surely, this shows a maladjustment of social organization and a tendency to grind out the race of small business men.”
An up town retail dealer said that his landlord had increased his rent, and that he had had a sober talk with him about it. The landlord said he could get the rent he demanded, and the storekeeper saw that the argument was ended, so far as the landlord was concerned, with that statement. The storekeeper said his business was one that added character to the neighborhood, that he was himself financially a responsible man, and that a newcomer might not be able to raise the money to pay the advanced rent. The landlord replied that he would take the risks, as a tenant would pay the rent if he could possibly raise it. This storekeeper voted the George ticket last fall.
“This land reform,” said a business man connected with the building trades, “is by no means a question of the poor against the rich. The votes cast, when the matter goes to the polls, will not be a census of the poor on the one side and of the property holders on the other. Far from it. There are thousands of the moderately rich who are considering the justice of the land doctrines advanced by the Standard. These men love justice for itself. Moreover, the most selfish men think of the welfare of their children. A man with, say $100,000, has a family of half a dozen children. He knows he cannot leave them all rich. Some of them must go out in the world and struggle. That man sees that it is to his interest to open up opportunities for his children to have work always. What is to the interest of one should be to the interest of all. Natural rights, justice to every human being—these are aims such a man should share in common with all citizens, and as a matter of fact he often does. Put me down a George man.”
The writer has had many interviews of a tenor similar to these. His experience in getting material for these articles has brought him in contact with much that is best in human nature. The evident desire of the class of men under discussion is to succeed in life through their own industry. They demand a fair field and no favor. They do not blindly worship wealth. They are doing their own thinking.
The Czars of Hazle Brook
Mauch Chunk Watchman
The Freeland Progress says: “The operators at Hazle Brook have forbidden outside merchants to enter that place with goods for the company's employees. Next they will forbid any one carrying a package through that place without a private mark of the operator. From what we can learn Hazle Brook must be the meanest place to work at in the Lehigh region.”
The Hazleton Semi-Weekly Standard says: “A similar report came from Silver Brook owned by the Hazle Brook company.”
And yet there is no need of a land question in this “free” country. Pshaw! we can twist the tail of the British lion all out of shape at our indignation meetings to protest against landlord despotism in other lands, but for the millions of landless serfs in America we have only studied indifference. The “owners” of only studied indifference. The “owners” of the roads, lands, etc., at Hazle Brook, are as despotic in the assumption of their “vested interests,” in the land that has been stolen by law from the people, as any foreign potentate or prince could possible be. Here is a case that comes right home to the people. Have the people of Hazle Brook any rights which the czars of Hazle Brook are bound to respect? If they are correct in the position they take, what is there to prevent them from practically owning the workers living on “their” land?
Where Is the Confiscation?
Winnipeg Industrial News
By the creation of the city of Winnipeg and the influx of population the lands near to it have increased in value from fifty to one thousand per cent. How? Not by one single day's labor on the part of their owners, not by any monetary outlay by no exertion whatever on their part—but by the creation of a populous center in close proximity—by the arrival and settlement of the people in that center. Consequently the people made that increased value, and the people should reap the reward that their presence and their labor in building up that city have created. Is there any robbery or confiscation in that? Is there any socialism in it? Is it right or just before God or man that the lazy holder of land should be made rich by the toil of those who earn their bread by the sweat of their brows? All that the theories of Henry George ask is that the lands made valuable by this means shall be taxed according to a value assessment and the proceeds be devoted to the common good.
What Rent Means
Adelade (Australia) Our Commonwealth
Besides the £40,000 which the people are at present unjustly assessed for the payment to some of their number for the land which they use, we have to provide by taxation for the interest on all the enormous sums of borrowed money (about £20,000,000), as well as to provide for the cost of government. We have stated, and shall continue to repeat until some of our “eminently respectable” friends can prove our statements to be incorrect, that the whole of the burdens imposed unjustly on the toilers of this colony by the land owners is more than equal to the maintenance of the people as they at present have to live. The rent roll of England and Wales amounts to some £6 10s. per head of the population. In a family of seven this would be £45 10s. Query, how many thousands of industrious laborers have to live on much less?
The Scramble Among the Oppressed
The scramble for a chance to live among those dispossessed of land, machinery and means of life is becoming so intense that when once beaten down they are crushed beyond any hope of revival. The struggle is certain to become more and more intense, and more and more human beings become hopelessly crushed, until they demand their rights, the natural gifts of earth, the full products of their labor, the tools to work with, and equal opportunities with all other men. There is little hope or satisfaction to offer those, to whom doing deeds of charity is so sweet; they may relieve hunger for a time, while a hundred more starving ones are being pushed on, impelled by the hidden forces so few care to examine. But they cannot stop the misery. That will go on until we learn a truer and higher civilization than any the world has ever known.
Why the Anti-Poverty Society Exists
Washington National Republican
If the present condition of society fairly represented its normal state, and if grinding poverty is to be always the lot of so large a number of our fellow creatures as the New York researches of Mrs. Campbell find existing proportionately at present, then Christianity is a ridiculous falsehood; art, science, literature and mechanical invention are as important as a Chinese puzzle; “ale and cakes” are the supreme good; Schopenhauer's pessimism is the only rational creed, and universal suicide offers the sole remedy for the intolerable misery of an accursed human race.