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Morgan, W. Scott. History of the Wheel and Alliance and the Impending Revolution . Ft. Scott, KS: J.H. Rice & Sons, 1891. [format: book], [genre: history; narrative; proceedings]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
THE intelligent and observant reader has, doubtless, to some extent, already anticipated a remedy for many of the evils discussed in previous chapters. The practical, intelligent and unprejudiced man or woman would suggest a remedy in a very few words. It would be to "abolish the evils and false systems which prevail, and establish a government and enact laws founded upon humanitarian principles." But it is much easier to suggest a remedy than it is to apply it, or reconcile it with existing conditions and suit it to the exigencies of the times. While the great masses of the people agree that the only remedy for their wrongs is to abolish unwise and oppressive laws and false systems, and to restrain the aggressive and unjust encroachments of the strong against the weak, they, unfortunately, disagree as to the plan or manner of accomplishing this. This, in a great manner, is due to selfishness, jealousy, envy and ignorance. What the people need is education. The great necessity of the times is agitation. In this, and this alone, is the only hope of a peaceable solution of the labor question.
Popular government is only possible when founded on intelligence, honesty and patriotism. The people ought to be thoroughly enlightened on all questions relating to their interests. We desire to state in the outset that we are not of that class of reformers who believe that the foundation of a new party, the adoption of a new system of finance,
and the abrogation of all class laws would be a cure-all for every evil with which society is afflicted. While we sincerely believe that the State can do much towards alleviating the present depressed condition of the laborer by extending the arm of protection over his interests, there is much that would remain which he alone can accomplish. Intelligence and honesty is the basis of prosperity, and while the State or society can do much towards corrupting the morals of the people by bestowing the highest honors and rewards upon its most unscrupulous citizens, the only hope of reform lies within the citizen himself. It remains for him alone to cultivate intelligence and encourage honesty. The State or government is never better, and seldom as good as the society which composes it. Our political institutions are founded upon our social system. If the latter be corrupt the former will necessarily be so; and while our political structure may become much more corrupt than our social system, it can never rise above it in moral purity any more than water can rise above its own level. One of the greatest obstacles in the way of industrial reform is a want of confidence among fellow laborers. This is wrong. It should be remembered that in addition to honesty there is an identity of interests which should be a never-failing bond of unity among laboring men.
We, as farmers and laborers, are, to a great extent, to blame for the wrongs we have to endure, inasmuch as we have within our power the means of redress and reform. If we ever expect to better our condition and enjoy the full reward of our labor, we have a plain duty to perform. And when I say we, I don't mean the officers and committees of the different labor organizations, but every man, no difference how poor, how ignorant, or how little influence he exerts, it requires the united efforts of the entire labor force to lift the
burdens which depress them in every industrial pursuit. And, it should be borne in mind, that whether you are in fair circumstances or poor as a church mouse, this question is fraught with the utmost importance, not only to yourselves but to the generations yet unborn. Another thing which we must understand sooner or later is, we have got to do away with sentimental politics before any great strides can be taken in the way of reform. We must view everything from a practical standpoint.
"The growth and arrogance of combinations of corporations of aggregated wealth; the steady, rapid and defiant encroachments of monopoly upon the agencies of production and distribution; the greed, avarice and selfish ambition of the rich, spreading like a pestilence among the masses; the deep-seated disappointment and discontent prevailing among the masses of the toilers, who produce wealth but can't possess or enjoy it; the wide-spread corruption and venality in public life; the alarming and rapid increase of social vice and crime against person and property; the limited knowledge on the part of the masses ‘as to the true causes of these evils and the best remedies, are all sure indications of the presence of the disease which destroys republics."
Hen. Evan Jones, President of the Farmers' and Laborers' Union, in a speech at Albany, Texas, referring to the encroachments of organized capital against the interests of labor says:
"The United States in this line is accomplishing in a few years, under her system of corporate powers, what it took Rome centuries to wrest from the people. In order to bring this matter before you in its true light it is necessary to state that land, labor and capital constitute the three great sources from which the government draws her support. If land is getting more than its just or pro rata share, labor and capital will become poorer. If labor is
getting more than its just or pro rata share, land and capital will become poorer. If capital is getting more than its just and pro rata share, land and labor will become poorer. There can be no war between capital and labor if each get their share of what is produced from mother earth. If there is a just distribution of the wealth that earth produces there can be no antagonism.
"While the laboring people are being oppressed, money influences are fattening on the general disaster. Take from idle capital its profits, and make it as unprofitable as idle labor, and there will be no conflict between them. But the industries of the country are growing under the iron heel of monopolies, and the people need another such man as "Old Hickory" Jackson to regulate our finances as he did in opposition to the United States banking system, for there is but little difference in the way our present banking system is oppressing the people and the system then proposed.
"The farms of the Northwestern States valued at about $5,000,000,000, are mortgaged for about $3,000,000,000. This means that we are drifting in the same channel that led to the downfall of the Roman empire. And I warn you that it is a duty which every citizen owes to his country, to his family and to himself to investigate this question."
He thought it was useless for him to say there were railway pools combinations of the railways to control the transportation of the United States. He was here to tell the people to-night that the vast railway corporations were binding the industries of the people in the iron chains, notwithstanding some statesmen say, that railroads are built by private capital, and ought not to be interfered with by legislation. Railways cannot be built without the sanction of laud, for they could not secure the
rights of way over the people's lands, much less receive grants from the government and the States of large bodies of the people's lands. In fact, the people build the railways and furnish the produce for transportation that returns a revenue to the stockholders. The interests of the railways and the people are mutual, and there should be no discriminations in rates.
"The theory of over-production is false. If the cotton producer, who raises the surplus of the staple, is not able to furnish his family with the articles he produces, there cannot be an over-production of cotton. If the pork producers are told that there is an over-production of pork, and, in consequence thereof, prices are low, and at the same time the producer is not able to supply his family with pork, there is no over-production in pork. The same may be said of the cattlemen. There can not be an overproduction in anything when the people who produce it can not supply their families with the article. Then these are the questions that every American citizen, regardless of party, must investigate, and unless we do, the time will come when this government will follow in the wake of other republican governments which have fallen under misrule.
"All wealth is based on the production of mother earth, and when that is oppressed the people must suffer. The farmers pay for all furnish the wealth for all. In the bosom of the earth we find that which gives employment to all."
"Five-sixths of the bonds of the government are owned by capitalists, and they necessarily control the system of finances. This system of finance is based on ironclad mortgages on the lands of the people. This system has also contracted the circulating medium until there is not, enough money to carry on the business of the country, and, in all candor, I state to you that it demands the careful
attention of the people. Georgia, Louisiana and Texas are plastered all over with mortgages owned by foreign capitalists 50 per cent. at least operated by loan associations.
"It is a shame for a country that can boast of so much skilled labor and rich material to be compelled to give its subsistence to foreign capital. They already own 22,000,000 acres of our lands.
"The time has come when we are called on to act, and not stop and investigate the condition of foreign nations, for their subjects already own too much of our territory to be wholesome for the growth of our Republic. When a republican form of government oppresses the people they lose respect and interest in its institutions that will tend to its downfall. There is opposition now and it is tending to dissatisfaction among our people, which demands that our statesmen come forward and do something to relieve them, or the people must look around for a Jackson to lead them out of the dilemma."
It is an axiom as true as if it was capable of mathematical demonstration, that the "vitalizing power of labor produces all wealth." How, then, is it possible for one man to accumulate one, ten or fifty millions of dollars worth of property within the brief space of a lifetime, without absorbing the just reward of the labor of others? What is a civilization which produces such results worth? Under it, and aided by its laws and systems, one in ten thousand accumulates a vast fortune from the labor of the other nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine, and these are reduced to a condition of semi-slavery. Necessity is a harder master than he who wielded the lash in the days of chattel slavery. Necessity possesses no heart, knows no law and fears no consequences. It is no respecter of persons, but imposes its burdens and inflicts its sufferings on all alike; the aged and young; the weak
and strong; the sick and well; male and female; black and white; all are subject to this stern master which Shylock has placed to rule over the working people of America. No one can for a moment doubt that the tendencies of the times is to concentrate wealth. The property is fast passing from the hands of the many into the possession of a moneyed aristocracy. The same system prevails which wrenched the lands from the possession of the English farmers.
Eighty years ago there was one farm owner in England for every thirty-seven of the population, while now there is but one owner in one thousand of the population, and the ratio of the landlords is increasing year after year, placing the great mass of the people beneath the reach of hope and tending more than any other cause to the development of the merely animal passions.
The condition of the English and Irish peasantry today truthfully mirrors the near future of American farmers if land consolidation and landlordism is not abolished. Already one-fourth of American farms are cultivated by tenants who pay rent to masters of the soil. Million-acre farms as naturally absorb hundred-acre ones as large bodies at ract smaller ones. The result is inevitable.
We clip the following from a Kansas daily paper :
"Here is the condition of Cowley county, Kansas, on October I5th, 1888. It does not include railroad mortgages or bonds, but straight-out farm mortgages unsatisfied:
Making a total interest-bearing bond and mortgage indebtedness of $7,750,399. The mortgages average $1, 442 each. There is no use quibbling over these figures; they are matters of record, and until the records can be made to show differently this table will hold the floor."
Says J. H. McDowell, writing from Kansas: "Eighty farm mortgages were foreclosed at the last term of court, and there are 800 mortgage foreclosure suits on the docket of the district court for Sedgwick county. This county adjoins Butler, and when in that county we are told that eighty mortgages on farms were foreclosed at last court term, and in another county we noticed there had been 151 farms closed out under mortgages. In several States we learn that almost the same state of affairs exist. One thing is evident, if some relief is not found through our combined efforts to remove oppression and prevent corners which rob farmers of their labors, in a few years a number of States will be in the hands of foreign and eastern capitalists and the tenant system of slavery established similar to that which exists in the monarchical countries of Europe, where the lands are owned by a landed aristocracy, and the people are mere serfs."
Says the Labor Journal:
"The case of Sillars, a man hunting work and out of money, who asked for a cup of coffee, and was arrested and sentenced to thirty days' imprisonment and a fine of $30, is attracting much attention. It transpires that his wife is working for $4 a week to support herself and child. That he had been out of work for months, and had walked from New Jersey to Connecticut seeking work, having only forty-five cents when he started, living on bread and water until the forty-five cents was gone, when he was arrested as a vagrant, fined and jailed. Verily, this is a grand country for rich men."
Millions of men are out of work, and poverty casts her gloom into the homes containing once happy families. "Poverty is the general term of a condition that has many phases and shadings between the unrelieved horror of the black hole and the debatable land bordered by needed comfort on one side and dispensable luxury on the other. Poverty what a blanching, chilling, fear there is in the word. It is HELL, become visible to the eye. It stands for the superlative of shame and agony possible to man on earth. To avoid it, to so entrench themselves behind bastions of gold, that even the remote peril of it will be banished from this life, many men stand ready to trample on every law of natural right, and ignore every Divine precept.
"When threatened with judgment and punishment beyond the grave, they cheerfully respond by act and word. Well, that may be so, but you are only guessing at it, and we know nothing about it, for we can see nothing, but we do know that poverty is a palpable HELL on this earth before our eyes, and we propose to keep out of it, and will trust to luck and shrewd management to beat the hell in the next world if there happen to be any next world, and it happens to have a hell ANNEX. With these two big ‘ifs’ in the way we shall not worry much over our possible fate in a problematical future existence.
"That this is the conviction and impelling sentiment of the ruthless and successful men, who are now bossing trusts, monopolies, and great corporations in this country, is amply evidenced by their conduct in the practical affairs of life. It is manifest that they regard poverty as the only HELL in sight, and feel that the only Heaven worth working for is here now, and can be bought with gold. The universal terror of poverty has in it something more horrible than physical death, for it dwarfs and shrivels up the immortal soul. It makes tender-hearted men cruel, and
the just unjust. That they may keep poverty far off from themselves, and those they love, men toil from youth to old age. No time for mental or spiritual culture. Oh no! We must keep busy striving to put ourselves out of reach of poverty's skeleton fingers, and how often rich old curmudgeons are haunted to the grave by phantasmic poor houses.
"This universal shrinking from a poverty against which such desperate war is waged, is not a figment of imagination, or silly illusion of the popular mind. Poverty is an awfully real thing. No curse launched on man by an Omnipotent devil could be more devastating to his comfort and happiness. Poverty is the serpent mother of crime, and hence the most dangerous foe of organized society. A government of the people, by the people and for the people, should recognize the extirpation of poverty to be its supreme duty.
"‘The greatest good to the greatest number’ is the primary aphorism of a true republic. Laws that are rightly equal and just nourish hope in the hearts of the laboring masses, and stimulate them to industry and frugality. Contrast the condition of the Irish in Ireland and the Irish in America, if you would see the logical fruitage of two antagonistic theories of human government.
"England guards the privileges of a favored few at the expense of the rights of the many, and for hundreds of years has treated Ireland as pirates do a captured ship, while the ‘American idea’ has been to conserve the interests of the producing millions.
"Please to note the abject destitution of the Irish in Ireland, and mark how millions of them have come into prosperity in this land.
"Our old ideal of a righteous state, that once shone down on us with the brightness of the sun, has grown dim and shadowy of late. Somehow the corroding essence of
monarchical theory that was left behind in Europe has slily crept into this country. Its old aristocratic designations and flashy garniture are absent, for ‘vested privilege’ with its haughty power, now masquerades in strange garments, and is known by new names, but the vile thing itself is unchanged and robs the many for the benefit of the few just as it always has done since tyrants first began to enslave their fellow-men.
"Does any order of nobility in the Old World hold sterner sway over the lowly producers than is exercised by our trust and monopoly aristocrats? Name and rank are nothing; it is the substance of power and authority that counts. We have to-day in America five hundred men who are richer than any five hundred nobles that could be selected from all the nations of Europe. The world has not seen so many enormously wealthy families in any one country since Rome entered upon the era of corruption and profligacy that preceded her decline and destruction. If five hundred rich schemers and idlers under specious laws and unjust institutions can take to themselves one-half of all the wealth annually produced in a country, it naturally follows that the remainder of the people will be compelled to live off the other half.
"The reign of justice must be brought back to this Republic if we would have both people and Nation prosper, and that can only be accomplished by going back to first principles and the rule of righteousness laid down by the man of Galilee, and have the government administered for the benefit of the many and not the few. Railway monopoly, land monopoly by great corporations, capitalists and English lords, money monoply by cliques of favored bankers, and the trust monopoly of all good things which men need, must one and all be shorn of their malign potency to work evil. Who shall do this mighty task?
The ‘great plain people’ with their brave hearts and strong hands." Farmers' Voice.
Arrogance and inhumanity widen the breach between the people and the vast corporations and combinations which seek to plunder the industrial masses.
When a railroad king was solicited to consider the rights of the people he said: "The public be damned." When another was asked by the complaining employees to consider their grievances and submit them to arbitration, he said: "Strike and be damned."
While we believe that employees frequently have just grounds for complaint, we are of the opinion that strikes are not only unwise but positively injurious in a large majority of instances. We are led to believe that there are other methods of redress that can be applied which will be more satisfactory, inasmuch as it will remove forever the cause for which strikes are precipitated. The deplorable and wretched condition of the people frequently induces them to strike. Poverty, suffering and distress hang like a pall over the land. What do the people propose to do? Is there no remedy? "Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?" Laboring men of America! What are you protesting against? What are the wrongs of which you complain ? They are plainly embodied in your demands. Where is the remedy, and how shall we apply it?
The day for sentimental politics is passed. Sentimental politics has cost this country rivers of blood and billions of treasure. The sentimental politician is a fraud, a snare and a delusion. Practical politics, business, common sense, is the greatest need of the hour. That which is not good business is poor politics. Sentimental politics means passion, envy, hatred, strife; practical politics is business, and business means charity, love and harmony. Sentimental politics means division, distress and poverty.
Practical politics means unity, happiness and prosperity. Sentimental politics harbors jealousy, engenders sectional strife and teaches men to hate one another. Practical politics creates brotherly feeling, leads to unity and teaches men to love their fellow man. Unity of action is as indispensable in obtaining recognition of our demands and accomplishing political reform, as it is in a successful co-operative business enterprise. To pass a resolution demanding certain reforms in the economic system of government, and then vote for men and parties that persist in ignoring the demands, and the reforms which they would accomplish, is sentimental politics.
It is asked, then, what are we going to do? Some say we had best seek these reforms through the Republican party, since it is the party in power, and is the only one able to help us. Others say, that the Republican party has shown no disposition to aid us and it is better to seek these reforms through the Democratic party, as our demands are in line with the principles of the old constitutional democracy as held by Jefferson and Jackson. There are yet others who think it is best to seek relief through both of these parties, the Republicans acting with their party and the Democrats with theirs. While we respect the opinions of those who advocate each of the above methods, we are compelled to ask, is either one of them practical? There are few, if any, but would gladly accept reform and relief from any source, but to effect this, we have heretofore remarked, there must be "unity of action upon the part of the laboring classes;" and this "is imperatively demanded." Everything short of unity will fail of success. Our enemies are well aware of this fact. It is their object to keep us divided. It has been the successful policy since the creation of the world. Napoleon employed it in those military campaigns, the success of which astonished the world and made Europe tremble.
Frederick the Great, employed it and laid the foundation for one of the greatest empires in the old world. This is the one thing we must guard against. If we present a solid front, we will be as successful in sustaining every attack of the enemy, as the English squares were in repelling the assault of the French cavalry which Napoleon hurled against them with the force of a thunderbolt, on the field of Waterloo.
Let us now proceed to subject the above mentioned methods to the calcium light of calm investigation. With regard to the first, will Democrats who belong to labor organizations, vote with the Republican party? The well known answer at once disposes of that method as being entirely impracticable, and for reasons so obvious that it is unnecessary to name them. As to the second method, will Republicans vote with the Democratic party? For obvious reasons, this method must also be laid aside. As to the third method proposed, that the members of each party labor within their party to secure the reform needed, while it appears very plausible on its face, is nevertheless subject to some very serious objections, the most prominent of which is, that from its very nature it implies a division of our forces. This one fact alone is sufficient to condemn it as impractical. "In things essential, unity," is our watchword.
We are aware that it will be said, that this is not a division as to purpose; that we only divide in order to exert our influence upon two other forces which are not in sympathy with our demands, a fact which, as has been shown, is well outlined in the policies of the two great political parties. Admitting it to be a fact, that we are not divided as to purpose, we are divided in our action, and it is our action, after all, that must accomplish our purposes. Again, in adopting the latter method, while it may be true, that we are united in purpose, we are divided
in our action against two forces that are united in purpose to defeat our demands. In making this remark, we do not mean to say that there are not thousands of men in both parties who are in sympathy with us; but that the leaders who fix the policies of those parties, and who manipulate and control conventions, are united in their purpose to defeat the demands of labor. That there may be localities where this method could be made successful, we have no reason to doubt, but it has never yet been able to exert any perceptible influence in our National conventions, or in the policies of the two political parties. As evidence of this, it is only necessary to refer to the fact, that in 1876, although quite a number of States demanded in their platforms the abolition of the national banks, they failed to obtain a recognition of their views in their National convention, or to obtain a plank to that effect in the National platform.
Not only unity of purpose, but unity of action "is imperatively demanded," if we expect to be successful in obtaining recognition of our demands. Then the logical result of this would be the formation of a new party ? No, it does not necessarily follow. As far as the new party is concerned, it already exists. Parties are not formed; they form themselves. The millions in this country who are demanding political reform already constitute a new party, inasmuch as they are a new factor in politics. The only thing wanting to make them a new party, in fact, is coherence. And this will not be wanting when there is occasion, apparent to all, that the needed reforms cannot be accomplished in any other way." Mankind are more disposed to suffer evil, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed." Men are slow to believe that the party which has such a grand record in the past has outlived its usefulness, and that it is necessary for them to seek reform
from other sources. "The ticket that daddy voted" has a strong influence on the modern man. And while men will admit that the policy of their party antagonizes their interests, they "hope the necessary reforms may be accomplished through it."
Parties seldom, if ever, do as much as they promise in their platforms, it is folly to expect them to do more. This is eminently true, and history records no great reform or revolution accomplished through the agency of an old existing organization. We had as well set out our old corn-stalks in the Spring and expect them to yield a bountiful supply of ears because they had done so the year before. The present policy of the two great political parties is similar to the action of a conceited old maid, who admires herself for what she once was and the conquests she had made. The history of the nations of the world teaches us, that, while principles never die, the lives of parties are of short duration. In the ever-changing circumstances of life, new issues are rising, which give vitality to new organizations.
The Republican party was born of the spirit of opposition to chattel slavery. It was this principle that gave it life, vitality and power. While this contest was waging it was grand in its conception of right and justice. It taught the inconsistency of slavery growing on the tree of liberty; that the two could not be blended in one harmonious setting; that the cries of the mother who was compelled to part with her child did not harmonize with the songs of heaven; that the groans of the woman compelled to become a mother without being a wife, were not consistent with the teachings of Christianity; that this was intended by the fathers of American liberty to become, indeed and in truth, a free land; that it was a Union of States having a common interest, that it was a land of free churches, free schools and free men. When the contest for these principles
was over, and chattel slavery went down amid the boom of artillery, the rattle of musketry and groans of the dying, the Republican party emerged from the conflict with a prestige and glory that commanded the admiration of the world. Flushed with victory, they said in the pride of their heart like the king of Babylon see, we have done all this.
Then the work of despoiling began. The issue, the principle which had given them vitality, had been brought to a successful termination. They had accomplished the work which had called them into existence. The people had done this. In the meantime, while the people were engaged in the struggle, corrupt men had obtained control of much of the political machinery of the government. On the plea of the necessity of the hour, false systems, burdensome laws and gigantic corporations had been created. Before the smoke of the contest had cleared away the immortal Lincoln, who saw with gloomy and prophetic vision the-danger to be encountered, said: "I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country." Late on, Stevens, Wade, Morton and other patriots uttered their warnings against the tendencies of the times. But they were powerless against the maelstrom of corruption which prevailed in every part of the government. The glory of the Republican party has departed. Their bright sun has set in the hopeless misery which their financial policy has entailed upon an enterprising people. Their record on contraction of the currency, national banks,, back salary steals, credit strengthening act, funding schemes and demonetization tendencies should have consigned them to political oblivion long ago, and would, but there was no power that promised any better, and the people were in the hands of corporations and combinations.
Not less grand and magnificent was the record of the
Democratic party. Born of the spirit of the Revolution; imbibing the independence of the Fathers; opposed to ostentations and concentrated power; believing in the sovereignty of the individual, and of the State; opposed to monopolies and the concentration of wealth, it stood out in bold relief and was the admiration of the free States of the world. But in an evil hour, when the advanced intelligence and enlightenment of the people, keeping pace with the civilization of the world, formed a sentiment in opposition to chattel slavery, they espoused the cause. They became its champion; they taught that it was right and proper; they became arrogant, and when slavery went down, amid the clash of arms and the horrors of war, the glory of the Democratic party departed. Since the war they have aped the policy of the Republican party on every issue of vital interest to the great masses of the people. They have voted for contraction; they have favored national banks; they have aided the Republicans in their funding schemes; they have helped themselves to the back salary; they have voted and worked to strike down silver; they have bowed to Baal; they have worshipped Mammon; they have built unto themselves false Gods, and set them on the hill-tops of freedom; they have courted aristocratic establishments; they have partaken of the spoils; they have received bribes; they have neglected the people; they have forsaken their principles, and their glory is departed from them forever.
"Can the leopard change his spots, or the Ethiopian his skin?" Can we sue the devil and hold the court in hell, with a reasonable hope of obtaining a judgment against him? "Then," says one, "what would you have us to do?" Let us look for a moment and see what we are ready to do. Are we united? No; only in purpose. What, then, is in the way? Prejudice; selfishness; cowardice; sentimental
politics. Too much, sentiment and not enough, sense. The first thing to do is to remove all these obstacles. How is it to be done? By education. Suppose a man, driving along the road with a loaded wagon, should get into a mud-hole, and his team be unable to pull it out. Directly another man comes along, and is requested to help pull the wagon out. Now, suppose they differ as to the best method of getting the wagon out, one wanting to pull it out backwards, and the other forwards. Would it not be foolishness for each one to undertake to carry out his plan? Common sense would teach that they must both pull the same way. Yet the farmers and laborers of America have been pulling against each other for years. The politicians and "bosses" have them hitched up to different ends of the wagon, and continue to apply the party lash whenever they undertake to unite and pull the same way. This is what we call party prejudice. A better name would be tomfoolishness.
"If ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another." Galatians v: 15.
Abraham Lincoln said: "The money power will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and liberty destroyed."
The immortal Washington, in his farewell address, uttered the following warning:
"I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them upon geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you, in the most solemn manner, against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.
"This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists in different shapes in all governments
more or less stifled, controlled or repressed; but in those of the popular form it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.
"The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which, in different ages and countries, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual, and, sooner or later, the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation on the ruins of the public liberty.
"Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which, nevertheless, ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and the duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it. It serves, always, to distract the public councils, and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosities of one part against another; foments occasional riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds facilitated access to the government itself, through the channels of party passion. Thus the policy and will of one country are subject to the policy and will of another.
"There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of government, and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This, within certain limits, is probably true; and in governments of a monarchial cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a
spirit got to be encouraged. From the natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose, and there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be, by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume."
The fears and predictions of Washington and Lincoln are being realized. While nearly every act of Congress has been in favor of capital, tending to the concentration of wealth, the pretense has always been to benefit the laboring man. When the Contraction Act was passed, it was claimed it would give the laboring man a "good dollar." When the Credit Strengthening Act was passed, it was claimed it would give the laboring man an "honest dollar," and the platforms of the two parties echoed back "honest money." When the Resumption measure was passed, it was claimed that it would give the laborer a "sound currency." When the funding schemes were resorted to, it was claimed that it was in the interest of the "public faith," and the grand old parties echoed back "the public faith."
Through party prejudice the people have been misled and deceived. It becomes, then, the duty of every patriotic citizen and member of labor organizations to discountenance partisan spirit and prejudice. The following little poem is so applicable to the position which prejudice will lead men to assume, that we give it to our readers:
To settle some disputes
That they had among themselves
Concerning men and brutes;
And as I chanced to pass that way,
I felt an inclination
And got an invitation
To take a seat among the rest
And make myself at home,
Among my old relations
That in the forest roam.
Explain it if you can
Do you me for a monkey take
Or call yourself a man?
Says he, "my friend, there's no mistake
As far as we're concerned;
This question rose among you men,
And men that you call learned;
And this is why we meet to-day
To talk the matter over;
So hear what we have got to say,
And do not feel so sober."
I felt a little queer
To hear what monkeys had to say
Regarding men's career;
And what I saw and heard them say
I'll tell it, verse or prose;
I'll let the muses settle that,
No matter how it goes.
I'll tell the truth the same,
And if there's aught to give offense,
You'll not have me to blame.
'Tis always best to tell the truth,
No matter who it hits
You need not put the fool's cap on
Unless you find it fits.
Of Darwin's famous plan,
That from their ancient sires had sprung
The present race of man.
They sent a delegation out,
To learn more of this race,
And found a slight resemblance,
But only in the face.
What he had learned of men,
And if my friends all think it best
I'll tell it o'er again.
Says he, "I've traveled far and wide;
I've seen wise men and fools;
I've seen them in the churches pray,
And seen them in their schools.
And tear each other's eyes;
I've heard them tell for solemn truth,
The most blasphemous lies;
I've seen men do a thousand things
Too foolish to be told.
And yet they claim to be as wise
As Solomon of old.
Did many a foolish thing,
But people called him very wise
Because he was a king.
A king, though he be born a fool,
Or stupid as an ass,
Will find his most obedient tools
Among the working class.
To put oppression down;
Yet crawl and cringe before the king,
Because he wears a crown.
They toil and sweat from morn till night
Until they fill their graves,
To feed a pack of titled drones
Who use them as their slaves."
And thus addressed the crowd:
"If Darwin's story be correct,
You need not feel so proud
To learn that men were monkeys once;
They act like willing asses,
Who carry burdens all their lives,
As do the working classes.
And with their cringing tools,
I came to free America,
Where boasted freemen rule;
Where Yankee Doodle fought and bled
To free themselves from kings:
I found that their degenerate sons
Were ruled by thieves and rings.
To settle their disputes,
The workingmen will rush pell-mell,
And play the human brutes;
The knaves will then divide the gold,
The fools divide the lead;
And then they shoot each other down,
'Till half the fools are dead.
And work like willing slaves,
To help to pay the war fraud off,
And then fill pauper graves.
When workingmen were in the field,
And fighting brave and bold,
The Wall street thieves like fiends of hell
Were gambling in gold.
And boast of their free schools;
But if we monkeys acted so,
They'd say that we were fools;
And I would say the same myself,
In fact I'd hide my face,
If we should ever act like men,
I'd cease to own my race.
The workingmen will act;
I scarcely could believe it myself,
Until I proved the fact.
They spin, weave and make fine things
For lazy drones to wear;
They plow and sow, they reap and mow
And lead unceasing lives of care.
With scarcely room for more,
The drones will take and pile it up
And keep it all in store.
The workingmen will stand and gaze
And raise the silly cry:
‘Because we have produced so much,
We've got to starve and die.’
Have plenty and to spare;
They seem to claim a lawful right
To other people's share.
Where e'er I went the workingmen
Ne'er stood compact together.
But, ruled by knaves, in party droves,
Made faces at each other.
And sends abundant fruits,
We don't go round and cry ‘hard times,’
We don't, you bet your boots.
We go to work, as monkeys should,
And gather in our store;
Each monkey gets what he has earned
And does not ask for more.
They plunder one another;
Each one stealing all he can,
And brother robbing brother.
And then they go to church and pray
For God to give them grace;
‘If not, O Lord, then give us gold,
We'll take that in its place.’"
In such a crowd as that;
But knowing that they told the truth,
I felt a little flat. The meeting was adjourned sine die
And I was left behind
To ponder o'er what I had heard
About the human kind.
This moral fits the case:
Let workingmen CO-OPERATE
And free the human race.
Co-operation leads the way
The only way to freedom
The way to rid the earth of drones,
The world no longer needs 'em
And stand erect like men!
And if you stumble by the way,
You'll soon get up again,
And if we all co-operate
For labor's true salvation,
The joyful sound will then resound:
"A free and happy nation !" From The People.
James Russell Lowell, speaking of "political bosses," which are the natural outgrowth and result of partisan prejudice, says:
"Could we only have a traveling exhibition of our bosses and say to the American people, ‘behold the shapers of your National destiny!’ A single despot would be cheaper and better looking. It is admitted on all hands that matters have been growing worse and worse for the last twenty years, as it is the nature of evil to do. It is publicly asserted that admission to the Senate of the United States is a marketable thing. * * It is notorious that important elections are decided by votes bought with money, or by the more mischievous equivalent of money, places in the public service.
"What is even more disheartening, the tone of a large part of the press in regard to it is cynical or even jocular. Parties refuse to see, or, if they see, to look into vicious methods which help them to a majority, and each is thus estopped from sincere protest against the same methods when employed by the other. The people of the Northern States thought four years' war not too dear a price to prevent half their country being taken from them.
But the practices of which I have been speaking are slowly and surely filching from us the whole of our country all, at least, that made it the best to live in and the easiest to die for. If parties will not look after their own drainage and ventilation, there must be somebody who will do it for them, who will cry out without ceasing till their fellow citizens are aroused to the danger of infection. This duty can be done only by men disassociated from the interests of party."
The spirit of partisanship is the greatest obstacle in the way of reform. When labor organizations have educated their members to lay aside all partisan prejudice we can then take a calm survey of the situation.
Closely connected with partisan prejudice and largely dependent on the latter for its successful existence, is party slavery. This feature, which predominates largely in both political parties, is a serious obstacle in the way of economic reform. Thousands of men who, between the periods of political excitement attending elections, are apparently divested of every form of prejudice, and imbued with a spirit of reform, will, under the methods so well understood and employed by those who make politics a profession, go to the polls on election day and vote for men who they know are not in sympathy with their interests. A genuine reformer is true to his interests and those of his fellow man 365 days in the year. It is not sufficient to be true 364 days, and then when the time comes to forsake our interests and violate every profession we have ever made in the interest of reform. It is useless to repeat, in detail, the various methods used by the political "bosses" to accomplish their objects. Every expedient is resorted to, and effort exhausted to sow seeds of discord among the ranks of labor organizations. The most outrageous plans are resorted to to create division, strife and dissension. These efforts are only too often successful. Men are coaxed,
cajoled, ridiculed, scared, bought and bull-dozed. Dead men's bones are resurrected from their long-time graves and held up to the gaze of the public to fire their passions. The cries of women and children maltreated by midnight marauders during the years following the war are recounted to appeal to their sympathies. The "bloody shirt" and "rebellion" on the one side, and "reconstruction" and "negro domination" on the other, is sufficient to license men to commit atrocities of the most damnable character. The past with all its bloody deeds is pictured in glowing colors to an already excited public mind, and under this excitement which is wrought up to its highest pitch by the inflammatory speeches of the tools of monopoly, the thieves get in. The following unique production from the pen of R. J. Burdette, graphically describes the situation:
And scooped in the silver, and greenbacks and gold;
From the town on the lake to the town by the sea,
They raked in the ‘boodle’ from A unto Z.
And the ‘boodlers,’ the cheekiest thieves ever seen;
In the street, in the office, by night and by day,
They grabbed what they wanted and took it away.
And they winked in the face of the judge as he passed;
For they knew while this land should be peopled with men,
That ‘boodlers’ who'd boodled would boodle again.
Elected new boodlers to keep up the game;
From Tweed to McGarigle who, but believes,
It's the fate of the land to be governed by thieves.
Ex-convicts and sluggers, bartenders and roughs,
Forgers, fencers and liars and confidence men,
We've elected to office again and again.
There's a chance for the thief in the land of the free;
Long live St. Barrabas! a pledge let us borrow
To the health of good Sodom and righteous Gomorrah."
The party of the people is the party that serves their interest. There is no party of the people, yet the people have constituted the authorities and clothed them with power. "I don't indorse the action of my party, but I hate the other part, and choose the least of two evils," is a common expression. A compromise with the devil! The same principle would have made the Apostles either Pharisees or Saducees; Jews or Gentiles. There would have been no Christian religion. A thing is either right or it is wrong. There is no half-way ground. The policy of the two political parties is against the interests of the masses. If we act and vote with a party whose policy is wrong, we indorse that policy. As long as the people continue to do this there will be no change in the policy of either party. There will be no reform. Under the existing methods a man who is not in sympathy with the policy of his party stands no show of election to any position of trust. The highest reward is held out to the most unscrupulous rascal who is ready to do anything for his party's sake; no conscience to check him; no care for the rights of the people. He is a good Democrat or a good Republican. That is sufficient. It covers up a multitude of sins. If the honest, conservative portion of the party protest, they are soundly thumped to bring them back into the traces. If they don't come they are read out of the party; called "mugwumps," "traitors," and every other vile epithet to be thought of.
Directly after the war, John A. Logan started out to defend the people against the financial schemes of Wall street, which have wrought ruin to so many homes and industries over the land. But his words fell on deaf ears. The people deified the Republican party. His eloquence was like sounding brass to the masses. They gave no heed to his warnings, nor seemed to care for the calamities which he predicted. He saw he was sowing seed on stony ground and on sandy barrens, where no harvest could be expected,
in his day at least. Years after, when asked why he had changed his policy, he replied: "The masses don't hold state and national conventions. The masses don't elect Senators and Presidents, and I WOULD BE LEFT IF I DID NOT WORK WITH THOSE WHO DID THESE THINGS." If the people do not sustain the men and papers that represent their interests they are responsible for their own condition. Party slavery is the most baneful condition that has ever cursed American institutions. It is founded upon ignorance, selfishness and moral cowardice. Having dwelt at considerable length on the principal obstacles in the way of economic reform, we will now proceed to discuss a remedy upon which, we think, all can agree. This brings us to a consideration of two problems.
First What the remedy shall be; and
Second How shall we apply it?
The first embraces a wise and equitable system of laws, and the second the method to be pursued in securing them.
"When the natural reward of labor is secured to the laborer, poverty cannot exist in a family whose members are willing and able to work. And those who can so easily provide for their own wants, will cheerfully contribute to the support of the sick and needy. They will be able to supply themselves amply with the comforts of life, and have an abundance of time for intellectual and moral culture. The distribution, then, being according to justice, strife will cease, because a man having his own rights respected and protected, will naturally respect and protect the rights of others. Make the laws a standard of right, and their benefits must secure an improvement in the morals of the people." Edward Kellogg.
"In a country like ours, above all others, will this truth hold good. If the people can obtain fair compensation
for their labor, they will have good houses, good clothing, good food, and the means of educating their families. Labor will be cheerful and the people happy. The great interest of this country is labor, labor, LABOR. Daniel Webster, in 1837.
"I affirm it as my conviction that class laws, placing capital above labor, endangers the Republic more fatally at this hour than chattel slavery in the days of its haughtiest supremacy. The effort to place capital above labor will shake the Republic, and when the attempt grows into law it will be used to fasten still greater burdens upon the people until all liberty is lost." Abraham Lincoln's letter to Ellis.
The above quotations from eminent authorities emphasize the importance of enacting laws for the protection and encouragement of labor as well as the important relation which labor bears towards the prosperity of the country and the perpetuation of its free institutions.
"It now remains to discuss and indicate such measures as would renovate our resources and re-establish industrial prosperity. We are well aware that in the discussion of this subject we have many opinions to combat which honestly differ from us, among which is the one prevailing sentiment, due to the teachings of politicians and a partisan press, that the tariff question is the "great and overshadowing issue," and that upon its adjustment depends the weal or woe of the American workingmen. This theory we feel we must successfully combat before we can make any perceptible advance towards political reform. That the tariff question is one of very grave importance we do not pretend to deny. We do not intend to again attempt a discussion of its merits here. That has been done to some extent in another chapter. But we do believe that the leaders, the controlling influence of both of the great political parties, have conspired to press this
question upon the people, magnifying its importance for the express purpose of attracting their attention from other and more important measures. And the same pretext is now used which has ever been employed in enacting every measure of class legislation that of its being in the interest of the laboring man. Is it not passing strange that it has taken the two political parties so long to learn that it is the greatest and most important issue? But it is pliable, adjustable and portable. It can be so worded that it will mean high protection in the East, low protection in the West, and free trade in the South.
"The old parties seem determined to ignore every other question, and at the same time make no advance towards a proper adjustment of the tariff. In 1868 we had practically the same tariff we have now, though times were good and the people prosperous. In 1873 we had about the same tariff, and had a great industrial collapse. Did the tariff produce either one or both of these conditions? It is poor argument for one to say that because we had a high tariff and prosperity in 1868, that we owe that prosperity to the tariff; or, because we had a high tariff and industrial prostration in 1873, that the condition was produced by the high or protective tariff. How will the tariff give us relief from excessive transportation rates? Or, how will it relieve us from the consequences of a money monopoly of contraction and resumption? True, it might have the effect of breaking up some of the gigantic trusts which have formed under the shadow of its protection. But, have we any guarantee that other and larger trusts will not be formed, through a conspiracy of the capitalists of Europe and America, and involving every article, the value of which is now enhanced by these unholy combinations? How will a readjustment of the tariff schedule aid us in securing higher prices for the products of labor?
The American people are in debt almost to the verge
of bankruptcy. To pay these debts requires money. To obtain money requires a sale of the products of the farm. While the debts are nominally to be paid in money, they are practically to be paid in labor or the products of labor. The relative value between money and the products of labor has been changed. The value of money has been increased while the value of the products of labor has been decreased. But the terms of the contract stipulates that these debts must be paid in money. As a new and reduced value has been placed upon the value of the products of labor by reducing the volume of currency, it requires more labor to meet the terms, than it does the equity of the contract. In other words a debt of one thousand dollars contracted when wheat was worth $2. 00 per bushel, is now required to be paid in the same number of dollars when wheat is worth less than $1. 00 per bushel, and the farmer is compelled to part with more than double the amount of wheat to obtain the money to meet the terms of the contract than would have been required at the time the contract was made.
The exports, which represent the surplus productions, for the fiscal year ending in 1888, amounted to $687,000,000. At the prices ruling in 1881, they would have brought $820,000,000; and in 1867 almost double that amount. In other words, had the volume of the currency remained stationary, or increased with the population and business of the country, the people would have had double the amount of money to have paid on their debts. One man comes round and tells the laborer that he is better off than the serfs of India, or the shepherds in the Campagna and that he ought to be thankful and vote the Republican ticket; that a protective tariff is what the laborer needs and that this is the issue between the two parties, and the only issue worth mentioning. Then another set of men come round and say that protection is robbing the laborer
of millions of dollars every year, and that what we need is a slight reduction of the tariff, say five per cent., and this will afford the necessary relief and make the people happy and prosperous. If such nonsense as this was talked to the newsboys in our cities they would say "rats."
The following from Coleman's Rural World briefly states the manner in which the people are misled, and offers some wholesome advice:
"Much of the advice given to farmers in this, the Presidential year, partakes very largely of a political character. Men's eyes are perfectly blinded under the influence of prejudice. They are unable to think correctly, or see to walk straight; how, then, can they direct others? The most superhuman efforts ever made are now being put forth to convince the farmers that black is white, and white is no color at all. Our own best word to the readers of the Rural World is to avoid being led into a mistake by these clever but unscrupulous demagogues. Neither party will enable you to raise figs from thistles, or to make bread out of a stone. They are particularly anxious, impressively solicitous for the farmers' welfare just now, and the latter can afford to accept anything they say, no matter how plausible or on what subject, with a good many grains of allowance. Hold your own. Bide your time. Keep your own counsel, and finally, when the time comes, do as you think best."
In referring to this question, the Southwest says:
"The partisan press and partisan politicians, in their eagerness to make political capital for party purposes, are ever prone to exaggerate and distort the facts of history and experience. In the present effort to push and keep the tariff question forward as the only issue before the people, the methods of distortion, exaggeration and suppression are resorted to with more than usual audacity and recklessness
Both sides fairly revel in figures and alleged facts to prove how beneficial has been their theory when in practice in the past, and how prosperous the people were under its operation. Hearing the partisan orators to-day one would be led to suppose that the people of the United States have been blessed since the formation of the government with uniform and superlative prosperity. And especially are the free traders and low tariff men loud and lavish in sounding the praises of the glory and grandeur of the free trade eras. When was this wonderful prosperity and how did it manifest itself? Was it in the first years of the Republic when according to the historian McMasters, ‘A man who performed unskilled labor received two shillings per day?’ It was only by the strictest economy that the half-starved mechanic could raise his family. He was lucky if he tasted meat once a week. The clothing of the citizen was such that no tramp would wear them now-a-days. When the gloomy wretchedness and misery of the people became so intolerable that in some places they rose in armed rebellion that had to be suppressed by military force? Was it when some years later, according to a writer of that time, the people were so wretched and ragged that men who were starting manufactories had to actually take the boys and girls who were running around naked or almost naked and get them suits of clothes so that they could set to them work in the factories? Was it when the country was not able to pay President Tyler his salary and he had to beg the brokers for a temporary loan in order to live? When the desolation and wretchedness of the people were so great, and the credit of the country so low that the government could not obtain a small loan either in this country or in Europe, although the little, insignificant kingdoms of Europe could borrow all they wished? Was it under President Buchanan, when the country was blessed with low tariff and a Democratic government? Let Mr. Buchanan
himself speak. In his message December 8, 1857, he says:
‘In the midst of unsurpassed plenty, in all the productions and in all the elements of National wealth, we find our manufactories suspended, our public works retarded, our private enterprises of different kinds abandoned, and thousands of useful laborers out of employment and reduced to want.’"
There is too much sentimental politics manifested in the discussion of this question. Let us look at it a moment from a practical standpoint. The following table and remarks from the Missouri World reduces to figures the effect which the proposed reduction of the tariff would have on the laborer:
"Take the wages of the day laborer at Carnegie's great steel works, Pittsburg, recently increased to $1. 10 a day, and figure out the prosperity of the American workingman. If he works every week day his wages will amount to $28.60 per month. We will suppose he has but two children depending on him:
"We have made no allowance for fruit; none for pie, cake; none for any luxuries; none for extra expenses during visit of friends; none for railroad or carriage hire in going out to visit friends; nothing for holidays; nothing for furniture; nothing for doctors' bills or medicine; nothing for church contributions; nothing for dozens of items of expense of a family in moderate circumstances and living economically.
"One of the great parties propose to leave this man in his present condition. But the other claims it offers relief. It proposes to reduce the tariff and thus relieve him. Looking over the list of his expenses we see the item of sugar (50 cents) would be reduced some 15 cents by the Mills bill, The item of clothing ($2. 63 ) would be
reduced say 20 per cent. by the bill, a saving on the item of 53 cents a month. The reduction of tax on tobacco would not help him, as it will be seen from his expense account, nothing is counted for tobacco or strong drink. No other reduction would reach him.
"Now, just how this is going to bring prosperity to him is more than we can understand. What he wants is fifty or sixty dollars a month, instead of $28. 60, and under the law of supply and demand, the only way to give it to him is to increase the supply of money."
This table would apply equally well to the farmer. Let every farmer take the tariff schedule or the rate of reduction proposed by the Mills bill, and apply it to such things as he buys, which are effected by the tariff, and see what it costs him. Then let him count the difference in the price of what he has to sell, when money was plenty and now, and determine by that test which is the greatest issue. Twenty years ago money was plenty and prices good. The people, individually, were practically out of debt. The mortgage was a rare thing. We had as high a protective tariff then as now. Why was it not felt then? We paid much higher prices for goods then than we do now. If a tariff keeps the price of goods up, why is it that they are much cheaper now than then? Although the price of everything that the farmer had to buy was much higher then than now, we did not feel it to be a burden. Why? Because with a sufficient volume of money in circulation we got a just reward for the products of our labor.
Why was it not said then that the tariff question was
the great issue? The tariff question is an issue, but its importance sinks into insignificance when compared with the currency question. There is another obstacle which we should, perhaps, speak of in this connection, and which is a serious drawback to the proper enlightenment of the public mind on questions relating to devising a remedy for existing evils. It is the custom of charging all the evils to which we are subject to the opposite party. In order to obtain a clear view of the situation, we must first "cast the beam out of our own eye." It has been shown in previous chapters that both parties are responsible for the ills we have to endure. The Washington correspondent of the Louisville Courier-Journal of March 7, 1887, says:
"The session of Congress which has just expired has been a complete and miserable failure. Not one single law has been passed in the interest of good government or for the benefit of the masses of the people. I would like to speak well of the dead but in this case it is an impossible task. The blame for the failure of the forty-ninth Congress to pass a few wise and just measures of relief for the whole people, rests upon no party organization. It is simply a case where servants are delegated to perform a duty and shamefully neglect it. The Democratic House is as guilty as a Republican Senate, for neither body brought forth any good, and in this respect the discredit is even."
James Russell Lowell, in an address delivered before the Reform Club in New York, said: "What will be of immediate advantage to the party is the first thing considered, what of permanent advantage to the country the last. I refer especially to neither of the great parties which divide the country. I am treating a question of national history. Both parties have been equally guilty, both have evaded as successfully as they could the living issues of the day. As the parties have become more
balanced, the difficulty of arriving at their opinions has been greater in proportion as the difficulty in devising any profession of faith meaningless enough not to alarm if it could not be so interpreted as to conciliate the different factions of the country."
In the U. S. Senate in 1888, Senator Reagan, (Democrat) of Texas said:
"History will write it down that the policy of the government from 1869 to now, so far as the executive is concerned, and so far as the laws were concerned, up to 1879, has been distinctively a policy in the interest of the money lords of this country and of Europe, a policy distinctively at war with the best interests of the people of this country. I know that the present administration has taken up and maintained the policy of its Republican predecessors.
"I am a very good party man, but being a party man does not require me to sacrifice the interest of my country and be faithless to the duty I owe to those who sent me here.
"Remembering the duty I owe, so far as MY ACTION is concerned, without reference to what those in higher places may do, I propose to stand by the interest of the people and insist upon their rights, and to insist that this government shall be conducted in the interest of the people who support it, instead of the interest of special classes, who live by robbing both the government and the people."
George William Curtis says : "The great parties are now only the shadows of great names, and represent no definite and distinct policy upon any of the exciting questions of the day."
Speaking of the degraded condition of politics the Rev. T. D. Talmage, in a recent sermon, says:
"We recently passed through a national election in which it has been estimated that $30,000,000 were expended. I think about $20,000,000 of it were spent in out and out bribery. Both parties raised all they could for this purpose
But that was only on a large scale what has been done on a smaller scale for fifty years and in all departments.
"Politics, from being the science of good government, has often been bedraggled into the synonym for truculency and turpitude. A monster sin, plausible, potent, pestiferous, has gone forth to do its deadly work in all ages. Its two hands are rotton with leprosy. It keeps its right hand hidden in a deep pocket. The left hand is clenched, and with its itchorous knuckle it taps at the door of the court room, the Legislative hall, the Congress and the Parliament The door swings open and the monster enters, and glides through the council chamber as softly as a slippered page, and then it takes its right hand from its deep pocket and offers it in salutation to judge or legislator."
We now have a clear field for the discussion of the first problem. The first great need of the people is more money a greater volume of circulating medium. The reasons for this have been fully discussed in another chapter, and we shall only allude briefly to some of the effects it would have on American industries. It is safe to estimate that three-fourths of the producers in the country are in debt.
"All writers of political economy admit that the value of money is established by its quantity, not by the material of which it is made. The war of the creditor class against silver is because the supply is supposed to be inexhaustible, and the more money there is in circulation the less of the products of labor will a given quantity buy.
"A has a farm worth $2,000 mortgaged for $1,000 to B. Now both are really owners of an equal money interest in the farm.
"Double the amount of money in circulation and you double the value of A's farm, so that A has at least $2,000 in the farm, while B's interest remains at $1,000. A's
products amount annually to $1,000. He pays for labor $250, interest on his mortgage, $100; freight on products sent to market, $150, leaving for his own labor and the use of farm, tools and machinery, $500. Double the volume of money, and his farm products would be worth $2,000, the pay for labor would of course be double, or $500, interest on mortgage would remain at $100, freight on the products would remain the same as it goes to pay fixed salaries and interest, which would leave for the use of the farm and the labor of the owner, $1,250 instead of $500.
"But suppose that A is a laboring man instead of a fanner, and that he works by the day. He has two hundred day's work in the year at $1,25 a day, earning $250. He pays $100 of this for clothing, shoes, sugar and school books, $60 of which is the price of the goods and $40 is tariff tax he pays. Then he has rent to pay $5 a month $60, leaving the princely sum of $90 for all other expenses of himself and family. But in doubling the quantity of money in circulation, the speculative spirit of men having money, or the ability to obtain it, has been stimulated and A gets three hundred and twelve days work in the year, if he desires it, and $2 a day, giving him $624, an increase of $374. His bill for clothing, shoes, sugar and school books would of course be increased but his tariff and other taxes levied to pay interest and fixed salaries would remain unchanged, so that after paying all these increased expenses, he would have remaining about $300 instead of $90.
"It should be remembered that there are at least 1,600,000 laboring men constantly unemployed in the United States, because of the insufficiency of money employed in the active industries to give them work. If the million and a half of men had work every day, at only one dollar a day, it would be $9,000,000 a week paid to labor,
which is now unemployed, and tramping or living at the expense of employed labor. This $9,000,000 a week would, or nearly all, be expended for food, clothing, fuel, school books, etc., thus stimulating these industries by the addition of $9,000,000 a week, or about $450,000,000 a year.
"The interest of all classes of our people demand this increase except the ones owning the mortgage debts of the country and those holding public office with fixed salaries. These small classes of persons would of course be compelled to give more of their salaries for the means of living or more of their blood-money for their food and clothing; and these are the reasons which prompt them to oppose all increase of the money supply of the country, without regard to the material of which it is made.
"A financial policy that will add a million and a half of profitable consumers will be worth more to the farmers manufacturers and merchants of the United States than all the fine-spun theories of protection to American industry through tariff legislation, even if those theories were true. Adding four hundred and fifty millions of dollars annually to the consuming capacity of a class of people who now wear cast-off clothing, and feed upon the refuse thrown from the rich man's table, is what more money and higher prices will do."
The following table, clipped from Fair Play, shows the effect which more money will have on the farmer:
"When there were $50 of money per capita in circulation, a farmer could take a load of wheat of fifty bushels to town, sell it, and with the proceeds pay:
"Now there is less that $9 of money per capita in circulation, and a fanner can take a load of fifty bushels of wheat to town and sell it, and with the proceeds pay:
"How do you like it, Mr. Grangers?
"These are painful facts, than cannot be soothed by the sophistry of over-production, or by the forthcoming danger of free trade."
The people are in debt beyond all hope of ever paying out under the present financial system. They must be aided to pay their debts. "But," says some one, "how is this money to be got into circulation?" Nothing is easier. Let the general government issue the money and loan it to the States as it now does to the national banks at one per cent. interest, but without the bond basis. This loan to the States would be based upon all the property of the people. Let the States loan it to the counties, and the counties to the people on real estate security. "Oh, you want to turn the government into a loan agency!" says Shylock and his minions sneeringly. The government is already in the loan business. It has been loaning money to national bankers for twenty-five years. In addition to this it has given to bankers the use of millions
of dollars without any charge. We ask simply to change, for a while, at least, the class of individuals who are the recipients of the government gratuity. The government has a better right to loan to the States than to the unscrupulous corporations. The States have as good alright to borrow from the general government as from individuals. The government has the right to issue it and the people need it to save them from general bankruptcy and ruin. It interferes with no one except those who have already enjoyed the benefits of government favors for years. It is perfectly proper for the States to loan it to the counties and the counties to the people. This whole business could be regulated and restricted so there would be no risk whatever.
The general government could tax the States 1 per cent., the States could tax the counties 2 per cent., and the counties charge the people 3 per cent. This tax would pay all expenses attending the system. It would not only increase the value of every man's farm, and the products of his labor, but would enable him to lift the mortgaged indebtedness now drawing from 8 to 12 per cent., with money borrowed from the government at 3 per cent. The enhanced value in the products of labor, caused by an increased volume of currency, would enable him soon to pay his obligations to the government. The amount of money thus returned could then be loaned to some one else, and by this means the volume could be kept uniform with the growth of business and population, and would adjust itself to the wants and necessities of the people. There can be no practical, common sense reason given why the government has not as good right to loan money to the people and save them from financial ruin, as it has to loan it to rich capitalists for purposes of speculation. Real estate is better security than government bonds, for the bonds are based upon the real estate and other property in
the country. This plan would reduce the interest on all loans to 3 per cent., and ungodly usury be banished from the land. Men would actively engage in new enterprises. The resources of the country would be developed, and labor remuneratively employed.
National banks should be abolished and the money be issued and its volume controlled by the general government. This would insure approximately uniform prices. With this assurance capital would undertake many enterprises which they dare not under the present system. Labor would be in good demand and well paid. For the same reasons we should have free coinage of silver, and the national debt be paid as rapidly as possible.
Laws regulating transportation and communication should be enacted and steps taken to obtain government control of the railways and telegraph lines in the United States. For various reasons, which we have neither time nor space to discuss here, this is a much easier task than is generally supposed.
The vast systems constituting the great public highways, and clothed with the power to levy tribute upon the products of labor would be much safer in the hands of the people than when owned and controlled by combinations of unscrupulous capitalists who boast of the power their money has over the people's representatives and over the courts of the country. It is much better for a government to own and control the railroads than for the railroads to own and control the government. While the ownership and control of these vast systems by the general government would be attended with difficulties, opening up avenues for corrupt uses of official influence and patronage, as does the postal system of the United States, yet, we believe that with the proper safeguards thrown around the system, that the abuses attending it would be immeasurably less than the corruption which the
money and influence of these corporations obtain under the system now prevailing.
The most stringent laws should be enacted prohibiting the formation of trusts and combines for the purpose of obstructing the natural laws of trade. Make it a felony for the violation of this law.
Eliminate the tariff question from partisan controversy and appoint a commission, composed of statesmen of all parties, permitting all occupations to be represented before the committee, and adjust the tariff laws as near as possible in the interest of all classes. These are the issues which should engage the attention of every patriotic citizen. They may be briefly stated as follows:
First Increase the volume of circulating medium.
Second Abolish National banks and let the government issue and control the volume of currency.
Third Have free coinage of silver, and pay the national debt as rapidly as possible.
Fourth Control transportation and communication, and make it a beneficent agent for the distribution of the products of labor.
Fifth Abolish trusts by making it a felony to engage therein.
Sixth Adjust the tariff laws in the interest of labor employed on the farm as well as that employed in manufacture.
To prepare to do this it is necessary:
First To do away with party prejudice.
Second To teach men independence from party slavery by admitting the truth, that both parties are, to the extent of their opportunities, responsible for the depressed condition of labor.
This brings us to a consideration of the second problem, "How shall we apply the remedy?"
We have already shown that to accomplish the reforms
necessary, it requires "unity of action" upon the part of the laboring classes. We have also seen that it is hardly possible to unite the labor forces, composed of persons of all political parties, under the banner of either one of the existing political parties. We should, perhaps, qualify this by saying that this is true while the present policies of these parties are persisted in. We have also stated that it was not necessary to form of the labor organizations, a third party. We have intimated, however, that a third party already existed, inasmuch as a new factor had arisen in the domain of politics. A factor that can stand on a platform embracing the just demands of labor as contained in the six propositions above set forth. The test is yet to be made whether there exists a political party that will not only embrace the demands of labor in their platform, but use every effort in their power to enact them into laws. The result of this test will determine the future action of labor organizations. The time has come when these organizations feel that they have a right to be heard, and that they are the best judges of what they need. The silly objection that their demands are unconstitutional is the worst kind of demagogy.
Constitutions were formed to protect the rights of the people. If time and experience has proven that they are not broad and liberal enough to do this they may be changed, and one of the demands of the hour is, that they shall be changed to suit the exigencies of the times. It is right and proper that labor organizations should not assume the character of a political party. But it is also right and proper that they should contend for their rights. This they will do if there is patriotism enough left to inspire them to act as American freemen. "But how are they going to do this if they do not form a third party?" Simply by holding and exercising a balance of power. This power to-day is wielded by the money kings of
America. This is made possible by the nearly equal division of the labor forces between the two great political parties. This power dictates the policy of these parties by threatening to withdraw its support from the one which refuses to accede to its demands. They must yield or suffer defeat. The people are influenced by prejudice; and the representatives of the people, by the money of corporations and the emoluments of office. To influence legislation the people must grasp this balance of power and drive King Mammon from his stronghold. To do this they must surrender their political prejudices. They must be ready to act, as the money power is, with any party that will serve their interests. They must be judges of what measures are best for them, and once agreed on these measures they must be a unit in their efforts at having them enacted into law. The demands of labor should be presented to the dominant party in the county, district, State and Nation, with the demand that they shall be incorporated into their platform, accompanied with the pledge to use every effort to carry them into effect. This pledge should be accompanied with the nomination of men who are known to be honest and upright, and whose interests are identical with those of the laboring masses. No equivocation should be allowed; they should be adopted as a whole and without reservation. If rejected by the dominant party, whichever it be, the labor organizations should then, either take independent action or submit them to the minority party, as they deem best. This would not be forming a third party, while, at the same time, it would be putting a test which, if the existing political parties refused to accede to, would present the occasion of giving coherence to the independent element, which would eventually result in the disintegration of the existing parties, and the formation of a new one, founded upon principles of justice and equity, and willing to espouse the cause of oppressed labor.
It is not within the power of labor organizations to form a third party, unless through the neglect of the existing political parties to serve the interests of the people, they, themselves, furnish the occasion and the necessity for such action.
Men do not leave parties in large bodies for trivial causes. It is only when these parties are actuated no longer by pure motives, become corrupt and fall under the management of unprincipled and unscrupulous politicians that disintegration sets in. While we do not believe it is possible to obtain the reform, which labor demands, through either one of the existing political parties, we are perfectly willing and anxious that the experiment shall be made, provided it is made in good faith; that is, if they refuse to accede to our demands, that we shall withdraw our support. Whatever the result of this test, it will hasten the day of reform.
If, as we think it is barely possible, either one or both of the existing parties would accede to our demands and carry them out in good faith, we will have accomplished that which we set out to do. If, on the other hand, they refuse to do so, it will hasten that disruption of the existing parties which we think is necessary before any great advance is made in the direction of industrial reform. A large body of men, composing the Democratic and Republican parties, are united in opposition to most, if not all the measures for which labor organizations are contending, while on the other hand the majority of laborers are united in opinion on their demands. The present party lines will eventually be broken, and these two elements form themselves on opposite sides on these great and vital issues. This will take place when these issues are forced to the front and the final struggle comes to test whether this is a "government for the people, of the people and by the people," or a rich man's government. Any plan that will
hasten this event will bring the needed reform. "Oh, it will never do," says one, "to leave our party, for that will let the other party in." Well, suppose it does? It cannot well make it any worse, and if it did make it worse, it would only prove the necessity for independent action upon the part of the people, and hasten the day of reform. If the administration of the opposite party made matters worse, it would only result in the disintegration of that party.
It should be remembered that as long as we support a party we practically support its policy, and there is no inducement for the leaders to change that policy; but fear of disruption or loss of power and prestige may lead them to change. In thus acting, the labor organizations become an independent element, owing allegiance to no party, but ever vigilant of their rights, guarding their own interests, and presenting a factor in politics that can shape the policies of the political parties or defeat them at the polls. This is co-operation in the fullest sense of the term, and the author believes that it is equally as necessary to act together and co-operate in measures of political economy as it is in matters of trade. We are aware of the fact that for contending for these principles and the adoption of these methods we will be "dubbed" by the "political bosses" and a partisan press as disorganizers. But we care nothing for that.
"We want to disorganize that spirit that has too long prevailed in this country, that it is the duty to support party nominees, regardless of their fitness for the offices to which they aspire, and organize all men to vote for those only who are honest, competent and sober.
"We want to disorganize the old fogy and mossback sentiment, and organize a sentiment that says, push forward, keep moving and be fully up with the progress of the age.
"We want to disorganize the old anti-bellum opposition to free schools, and organize a sentiment that urges their establishment and support in every district in the South.
"We want to disorganize that small band of old mossbacks that oppose immigration, and organize in their stead a band of patriots who will welcome all who come to assist in developing the great resources of the State.
"We want to disorganize old fogyism and organize into one grand body, the progressive, go-ahead elements, who do not think that we should follow in the same old ruts that were traveled fifty year ago.
"We want to disorganize sectionalism, and in its stead organize the whole people into one grand phalanx that recognize the American flag as waving over one grand and independent people, who know no North, no South, no East, no West.
"We want to disorganize that horde of chronic office-seekers who have so long sucked at the public teat, and organize in their place a big support that will elect worthy and progressive men to office.
"We want to disorganize that political serfdom that will follow bossism, and organize an independent sentiment that will assert its manhood, and vote the dictates of its own conscience."
To quote from the Journal of United Labor:
"As an Order we have a higher mission to serve than the forming of a mere political party. Any one reading our Declaration of Principles will see that, while we are seeking reforms that must in some instances come through the ballot box, yet by far the highest motive that concerns us is the education of the masses to that point where they will fully see and know not only their own wrongs and degradation, but see a full and final solution of the labor problem, and when this is attained, each will see clearly
for himself, in his own way, the only path that leads to liberty and equality. When this advanced point is once attained, then will the party that is to carry the desired measures to success be evolved. It will be evolved slowly and imperceptibly almost. But that such will be the final outcome of organization and education, is the silver lining of the cloud that now lowers so threateningly above us. When such a party does come, its name will not be the laboring man's party, or the bondholder's party, but the party of the people, for the people, and by the people.
"A party refusing to receive special privileges, or grant them.
"A party that will not sit idly by, and do nothing, or worse than nothing, when thousands and hundreds of thousands of honest men are tramping our streets, wanting to work, willing to work, and none to be had at any price without employment at home and a ‘Tramp Act’ threatening them if they dare to seek it at a distance.
"A party that will not permit a set of politicians to so manipulate the finances of the country that ten thousand four hundred and seventy-eight business men in one year are thrown upon the streets penniless and without a home, at a loss to the country of $234,383,132, involving 693,420 traders, or, in other words, catching one business man out of every sixty-four.
"A party that will declare in tones of thunder just what kind of metal or paper shall constitute the money of this country, and thereby prevent a lot of Shylocks and sharpers of all descriptions from declaring that one kind of money is worth $2. 60, and another almost worthless, yet all the money of the people.
"A party that will demand and establish labor bureaus.
"A party that will declare and enforce a law declaring that not another foot of public lands shall be GIVEN to railroads and corporations.
"A party that will insist upon exact equality before the law.
"A party that will be humane enough to believe that pure air should and must be found in our mines and factories, if scientific research can devise ways and means for providing it, and that all buildings where men are employed are well supplied with fire escapes and other means of safety.
"A party that will abolish the contract system on all work done for the people for the use of the public.
"A party that believes that if we are to have a free country, that it can only exist by reason of the intelligence of its citizens, and if intelligence is to be the base of our continued existence, the child must be educated and fitted for the, position he is to occupy in the future. This can only be done by prohibiting our children from going into our workshops and mills before attaining their fourteenth year.
"A party that will not confine a man in prison because he is unfit to associate with his fellow man, and then tax the community to board and lodge the criminal free, and sell his labor so as to enter into competition with the same labor of the honest, law-abiding citizens.
"A party that will make it fashionable to be honest, and pay an equal price for equal labor, regardless of color, creed, country or sex."
In short it is not the object or intention of labor organizations to form or assist in forming a new political party, but to educate and organize so that they can act united with any party that serves their interests. If neither of the existing political parties are found willing or able to give that relief that is due to the masses of the people, then the occasion will be presented for a coherence of that sentiment which, while supporting an independent movement, will be the practical formation of a new party.
When this takes place, those whose interests are identical, and who now serve with the existing parties on account of the political prejudices prevailing, will marshal themselves together and the contest will be between those who represent the moneyed and corporate interests of the country, and those who labor in the fields and work-shops and constitute its bone and sinew. While there is much ado made over the formation of a new party, we confess that we can see no cause for alarm on the part of the laboring man from the result. Referring to this subject the Southwest says:
"The Southwest cares nothing for any party first, second or third only as far as that party can be used to further the public good and promote the public prosperity. It has no feeling for or against any party, and is ready and willing to assist any party to the extent and as far as it believes that party is in earnest in striving to effect some reforms, to make some progress. But when a party, or parties, stop still and propose to live upon their past records, when they look backwards for inspiration instead of to the front, then the Southwest must protest, even if it has to go outside the party lines to do it.
"What have the old parties done in the last quarter of a century? How far have they advanced? They have been marking time and making a great noise, but nothing more. Nor do they propose to do any thing. Read their latest platforms. There is there no indication of progressive thought beyond their platforms of twenty-five years ago. The arts and sciences are making wonderful progress, but partisan see-sawing for selfish purposes keeps politics in the same old ruts, and rob the people of the benefits which invention, increased production and advancing civilization should secure them.
"The same arguments urged against a third party are equally good against a second. The Republicans, now in
power, might say to the Democrats: ‘There is no use in retaining your separate organization. Come into the Republican party and help us to purify it and carry out the necessary reforms. By your opposition you only make it difficult or impossible for us to effect reforms in our party; by going into a second party you only weaken the reform forces.’ And if the argument holds against a third party movement it applies with greater force against a second, because were all the people to come together in one party, there could, and would be a chance of obtaining reform. But massed into two parties, almost evenly divided, with party pride, party prejudice and party selfishness in operation to keep each of them solid and suppress independence of expression and action, then, indeed, there would be very little hope of reform.
"Even admitting that political parties are necessary, it is doubtful whether permanent parties are desirable. It is almost impossible, even with the best intentions, to keep permanent parties from lapsing into mere machines, manipulated in the interest of stolid, selfish conservatism. The chiefs and bosses, big and little, local, State and National, obtain such an influence as to make the masses of the party practically powerless. And each chief standing in the line of promotion, and believing that, for years of party service, he will be soon rewarded, is opposed to any change, any progressive step that might imperil party success. And party success is what he wishes, not reform.
"When Samuel J. Tilden sent word to the St. Louis convention, to make the platform as nearly like the Republican platform as possible that is, as meaningless and pointless as possible, so as to confuse and dupe the masses he knew what he was after. It was riot reform. It was anything for success. Hence, to the practical politician, Samuel J. Tilden was an ideal statesman. There are many reform measures which the majority of
both the old parties favor. Yet, they are powerless to effect them, because the organized, party machine is opposed. And men who have stood prominently forward in favor of such measures have been crushed out of public life. Where is the brilliant Ewing and the faithful Van Wyck?
"Just in proportion to the strength of the independent and third party movements outside of old party lines, may independent men in the old party ranks urge and advocate progressive measures. But were all third party and independent movements to cease, then the members of the old parties dare not go beyond the duly prescribed platform of platitudes. It has been independent thinkers, outside of party politicians, who have led the way in educating the people upon the political and economic principles now advocated by reformers inside and outside of party lines. It was independent movements that called public attention to those issues, and have kept them prominently before the people in spite of fierce partisan opposition. It has been through the influence of such agitations that whatever slight and partial reforms effected the past twenty years have been carried. And in the future new parties and independent movements will lead the way in every political reform, and in every practically progressive economic measure."
It is quite natural that the most violent protests come from those whose interests have been so well protected of late years by the representatives of the people that is, the capitalists. If a new party is formed it will be by the people. Thomas Jefferson said:
"I am not among those who fear the people. They, and not the rich, are our dependence for continued freedom." The great masses of the people are demanding either a new policy of the old parties or a new party which shall receive its vitality from the vital issues of the hour.
The men who control the policies of the old parties are opposed to either a change of policies or the formation of a new party. Thus the contest widens and deepens.
There are only two sides to the question, and both the two great political parties, by their policies and their acts, occupy one side. Look at their platforms and their records! What have they done for the people? They have simply boasted of their records and sought to perpetuate their power on the glory of the past. On every vital issue of the day they occupy a position with the capitalist. This condition must be changed. These policies must be dropped or the masses of the people will be forced into poverty. It is for the people to determine which is easier, to "turn the rascals out," who control the policies of the parties, or to organize a new party upon the vital principles which effect the interests of labor.
The duty of every patriotic citizen is plain. Liberty, justice and equality should be the watchword. The success of party should be a secondary consideration. Parties should be the citizen's servants and not his master. A man owes allegiance to party only so long as that party serves his interests. With regard to the tendencies of the two parties to ignore the questions relating to the public good, James Russell Lowell says:
"If the dangers and temptations of parties be such as I have indicated, and I do not think that I have overstated them, it is for the interest of the best men in both parties that there should be a neutral body, not large enough to form a party by itself; nay, which would lose its power for good if it attempted to form such a party, and yet large enough to moderate between both, and to make both more cautious in the choice of candidates and in their connivance with evil practices. If the politicians must look after the parties, there should be somebody to look after the politicians; somebody to ask disagreeable questions and to utter
uncomfortable truths. What to me is the saddest feature of our present methods is the pitfalls which they dig in the path of ambitious and able men who feel that they are fitted for a political career, that by character and training they could be of service to their country, yet who find every avenue closed to them unless at the sacrifice of the very independence which gave them a claim to what they sought."
George William Curtis, one of the greatest reformers of the country, says:
"An organized political class independent of the great body of the people practically absorbs the authority of the people. By mercenary control of caucuses and conventions they nominate candidates and require implicit obedience to their will as the condition to political preferment. By assessing the salaries of their subordinates the leaders of this class lay a tax upon the public treasury for their own benefit and that of their party. The voters of the party submit to their sway because refusal seems to mean the success of the opposition. Party ceases to be a voluntary union to shape public policy and becomes a faction to promote private gain and gratify personal ambition. Politics degenerate into mere place-hunting and venal jobbery. Self-respecting men withdraw more and more from public life. Honorable ambition disappears. Bosses replace statesmen. The young American is taught that the qualifications for public service are not integrity, intelligence and industry, but sycophancy and servility, cheating and bribing, and every kind of disorderly violence and unmanly trickery. He must be a parasite or a ruffian instead of a man. In such a situation loss of self-respect becomes the condition of public employment. The evil system multiplies enormously unnecessary places. It stimulates reckless extravagance in public expenditure. It controls the vast contracts of the government. It transforms the highest
officers of the administration into petty brokers of petty places. It subsidizes the press, defiles the American name, debauches the National character, until under its degrading mastery the power of the people passes into the hands of a venal oligarchy, and a Presidential election ceases to be a contest of differing policies determined by free argument before the people, and becomes a ferocious and desperate struggle for the emoluments of place."
The duty of the statesman is plain. There are two problems for him to study, if he would bring the country back to prosperity.
First. The producer should be protected in his rights, and all the means of production be stimulated to the highest degree.
Second, The agents of distribution, money, transportation and trade should be so controlled that there would be no obstruction to natural laws and an equitable distribution of the products of labor secured.
The productions of the people of this country for the last twenty-five years have been marvelous. Thirty thousand millions of dollars in value has been added to the wealth of the country. But the fact, that five thousand millionaires have been made, and vast amounts of wealth have been concentrated into the hands of the few, is evidence that the agents of distribution have been improperly used.
"Of the 60,000,000 inhabitants of the United States to-day, 17,000,000 are engaged in fanning, manufacturing and other industrial pursuits. These persons receive an average of not over $1. 50 per day, while the daily increase of wealth is not under $10. Then it follows that of the $170,000,000 daily increase of wealth in the United States, only a little over $25,000,000 goes to the producer, while the non-producers receive as their share over $144,000,000. Is this in accord with the spirit of our institutions?"
One of the greatest duties of the statesman and the citizen is to attain to a higher degree of moral purity.
"That the public conscience is fearfully demoralized is constantly brought to mind. It is almost a daily occurrence of some public plundering act by a trusted official. And it is a rare thing that justice is duly meted out to such. Individual crimes of the common citizen call out great indignation, and are followed by prompt punishment. But the official offender is reckoned as much less criminal. Crimes against society, against everybody, seem to be looked on by the public in a different light than if committed against individuals. Men that would scorn to rob or cheat an individual, think it all right to cheat the public, especially if they can do it in a business way. If they can somehow or other hide behind law or custom, they have no conscientious scruples.
"The public conscience is so debauched that it has not a word of condemnation for acts of robbery, the most stupendous, if they are wrapped in the cloak of law or custom.
"The trouble is, the standard of right is lowered down from the higher law of God to the imperfect and crooked law of man.
"Conscience speaks always on the side of right. That is, it raises its voice for that side of any question that the individual believes to be right, so that if a man believes human law to be the standard, if he believes custom to be the standard of right, his conscience will approve all that coincides with human law and custom. This is an universal fact. The mass of mankind, believe, as Pope has it, ‘Whatever is, is right.’
"Where slavery has, or does exist, the people, as a whole, were taught to believe, arid did believe, it was right where the people are cannibals, they believe it is
right to eat each other up even the victims believe it is their inevitable fate, and therefore right.
"So of every crime that ever polluted the nations of earth. The masses were made to look on that state of society, as the best possible state. And when some one, wiser and bolder, some one raised up for that very purpose, stepped out in front to lead the people into a better way, they were opposed, denounced, hunted down, and often put to death.
"But without such reformers, who were willing to die for the principles which they believed and taught, the world would have sunk into irretrievable degradation.
"And without such self-sacrificing, fearless reformers to-day, the world would go down, down to the barbarous state.
"There are influences at work in society all around us, that if not counteracted, uprooted and destroyed, society will inevitably sink to its original state barbarism.
"The first and greatest work for the reformer is, to hold up the standard of right. Whatever is said to the contrary, the fact remains, that ‘by faith are ye saved.’ For, as a man believes, so he acts. And in proportion as a man's belief in the right in regard to a thing weakens, in that proportion his conscience loses power over him.
"We must, if we would accomplish any good in the world, hold up the standard of truth, and expose the wrong.
"If men could be made to see, that, to obtain wealth, without giving an equivalent for it, is robbery, then the gigantic evils of our country could and would soon be corrected.
"But so long as public sentiment winks at and approves anything wrong, that long it will be practiced.
"Certain forms of gambling are condemned cards,
three-card-monte, betting on a small scale. These are condemned and outlawed.
"But stock-gambling, dealing in futures, bulling and bearing, the methods of boards of trade, by which the poor are cheated out of the bread their hungry children cry for, these are tolerated. So-called respectable people practice this method of gambling. Church members, deacons and elders get rich, and play the game of robbing God's poor, and the world looks on and smiles.
"The man that gathers in the greatest pile of wealth. The man who piles up the greatest number of millions, is the greatest robber.
"He may be no worse, as a man, nor even so bad as other men who have little or no money. But, the fact of his having more than any other man, without giving society an equivalent for it, settles the question, as to the matter of beating all, besides in robbing society. It is the systems of business that people ought to condemn. These systems are schools of vice. They educate men up little by little to be thieves."
Party methods have assumed a character that presents the highest awards to the most unscrupulous and dishonest candidate. The best wire-worker generally secures the nomination. The most fitting man is considered to be the one who endorses everything his party does, right or wrong. There is no chance for protest, no room for independence. Party methods are the remorseless masters of candidates for positions of trust. The duty of the citizen is to frown upon and break down these methods. Under the prevailing system a man's Republicanism or Democracy is measured by his allegiance to his party, and not by the principles he advocates. That he never "bolted a convention" or "scratched a ticket" is one of the highest recommendations.
The corruption everywhere prevailing in public life,
the questionable methods of obtaining money, the plunderings of corporations and trusts, with disregard of law and justice, has contributed to produce a state of society that is alarming in the extreme, and fearful to contemplate. The foundations of society are undermined, and the whole social and political fabric will, if the tendencies are not checked, fall upon our heads. When the highest prizes in public life are only open to the venal and base, the unprincipled and corrupt, the effect of the contagion on the youths of the land is sufficient cause for alarm. Ministers of the gospel are derelict in their duty in not lifting their voices against this moral disease that is spreading its baneful influence like a deadly poison, invading the very sanctuaries of the churches.
The purity of governments is founded upon the high moral condition of the people. Washington, the highest standard of the statesman, and purest type of the citizen, says to his countrymen:
"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connection with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles.
It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric? Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public, opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened."
Andrew Jackson says:
"In the legislation of Congress, also, and in every measure of the general government, justice to every portion of the United States should be observed. No free government can stand without virtue in the people, and a lofty spirit of patriotism; and if the sordid feelings of mere selfishness shall usurp the place which ought to be filled by public spirit, the legislation of Congress will soon be converted into a scramble for personal and sectional advantages."
The hope of the Republic is to educate the people to a higher standard of moral purity. It is the duty of the clergy, it is the duty of the press, religious and secular, it is the duty of every patriotic citizen to labor to that end if we hope to save the Republic from the throes of a revolution, more horrible even than that which convulsed France in 1789.
"Suppose that thirty years ago another star of Bethlehem had appeared, and at some rural village, into the family of a poor mechanic, there had been born another Messiah, who, after working at a trade for years, in company with the poorest and humblest people, studying with infinite wisdom and brooding with infinite pity over the condition of mankind, should just now be entering upon his ministry, in what condition would he see the world after
eighteen hundred years of Christianity? Would he not find the affairs of the great nations of Christendom in the control of Pharisees? Christian England going to war to protect bondholders in their right to ‘spoil the Egyptians?’ A hundred thousand harlots and thieves in the greatest city of the world? Women doing men's work in coal and iron mines, for a pittance hardly sufficient to keep body and soul together? The agricultural laborers of Great Britain and Ireland living lives of poverty, squalor and ignorance, with the poor house their only refuge when they shall cease to be able to work? Nine-tenths of the soil of those islands owned by less than thirty thousand landlords, who, with their collateral relatives to the third and fourth degree, live off the earnings of this same squalid and ignorant class?
"And would he find these conditions improved in the great cities and fertile agricultural regions of continental Europe? On crossing the Atlantic, would he not find the rich growing richer and the poor poorer? People crowding the streets whose sole reliance for a livelihood are vice, pauperism and crime ? State prisons, jails and poor houses filled to overflowing? Usurers and extortioners fattening off the earnings of their fellows? Capital ruling the world politically and socially? Money crowned king Usury legalized and protected by law? Corruption the main reliance of those who rule and govern? Thousands upon thousands of the poor in the great cities and manufacturing centers being ground to powder by force of the law of supply and demand? The soil upon which people are born and must live being monopolized into a few hands.
"And suppose he should come with a few poor followers, destitute of wealth, culture, education or genius, and say to the great Christian aristocracy, ‘Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’ Repent! Change your order of thinking and living. Cease to grind the
poor. Cease to take usury interest for that is the Bible meaning of the term. Cease to monopolize God's lands, made for his children. Cease to debase labor and deify money. ‘Sell all thou hast and give it to the poor.’ Suppose he should say this?
"The people would say: ‘He is a religious crank, a Communist. He should be squelched. Away with him. Such doctrines are dangerous to society. This is the great era of Christian civilization. Such cranks should not be allowed to run at large. They would undo the great work of this century of material development and prosperity.’
"And then suppose he should turn and say: ‘Woe unto you, London! Woe unto you, New York! Woe unto you, Washington! Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees hypocrites! Ye pay mint and anise and cummin, but have omitted weightier matters judgment, mercy and faith. Woe unto you, blind guides, which strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. Your house shall be desolate. You talk about your great temple of modern civilization! I tell you, that there shall not be left one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down. This is the gospel of the kingdom of heaven which I have come to establish.
"What would be the effect of such teaching not in a far-off past, but as a present reality, proclaimed by a divinely commissioned messenger? Should his teachings obtain much headway, should the multitude begin to follow him, the cry would at once be raised: ‘Away with him! Crucify him!’
"And yet the teachings are the same, word for word, as were preached eighteen hundred years ago by Him whom all Christendom affects to worship. And we believe that unless the tendency of modern practice to deify capital and make it supreme in the administration of human affairs is checked and modified by this gospel, there will come a time when the destruction of the temple in accordance
with His denunciation will be but a faint symbol of the ruin which will overtake this boasted civilization of the nineteenth century."
The money power is the great power to fear in the country. By concentration of wealth and combination of effort, they dominate everything. Party leaders are their willing servants; legislatures their pliant tools, and in many instances the courts of the country have become engines of oppression. The interests of these corporations are represented principally by bankers and lawyers. The money power dominate the conventions, and nominate such men as are friendly to their interests. The pretense that the people control the conventions is a sham. They are mere figureheads. The only question they decide is which agent of corporations will represent them in a legislative or executive capacity. Usually the representative of the corporations is a lawyer. It is a lawyer's business to make money by his profession. He, perhaps, owes his election to the money and influence of some corporation. It takes but a slight stretch of the conscience to take a bribe and call it a fee for services rendered such corporation, in aiding in the passage of such measures as will be to its interest. Congress, for years, has been dominated by bankers and lawyers. The Forty-fifth Congress was composed as follows:
In this body we find 27 bankers, representing 2,090 associations, with an aggregate nominal capital of $500,000,000, but a real capital of not less than $2,000,000,000. These men represent the money power and financial brains of the nation. Their interests are identical, so far as legislation and the financial policy of the government are concerned, and in direct antagonism to the industrial interests of the people.
Associated in legislation with them are 274 lawyers, educated and trained to work in the interest of the largest fee. The profession of a lawyer, and all of his education and practice, tend to sear his conscience against justice, equity or principle, and teach him that his highest duty is to serve faithfully the client who fees hirn, and to do the work he is employed to perform, regardless of all interests outside his client's. This becomes second nature to lawyers generally, and when we couple these facts with the vicious financial legislation of the last twenty years, nearly every act of which has been in the bank interest, it is the sheerest folly to deny that Congress is run by national bankers,
It is of this class of men that the Savior said:
"Woe unto you, also, ye lawyers! for ye laid men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers." Luke xi, 46.
We are nearing a crisis which should excite the worst fears of every patriotic citizen. The spirit of rebellion against the many evils is growing stronger. It is a matter of the deepest moment to the people whether the powers that be will continue to increase the burdens of society until public indignation is wrought to such a pitch that a quiet and peaceable solution of the labor problem will be out of the question. The consequences of revolution are terrible to contemplate. Yet, that the symptoms of the disease which is the forerunner of revolution is everywhere apparent, it is folly to deny. Thousands of men who have already lost all hope of a peaceable solution of the great question of human rights are calmly waiting the issue. Nothing short of the independent manhood of the country can save the Republic. When we think of the ominous import of the earnest protests of the people, and the growing discontent everywhere prevailing, our mind turns back to the period immediately preceding the American revolution. A scene is being enacted:
"It is the old hall in Philadelphia, on July 4, 1776. There is a silence in this hall; every voice is hushed; every face is stamped with a deep and awful responsibility.
"Why turns every glance to that door? Why is it so terribly still?
"The Committee of Three, who have been out all night planning a parchment, are about to appear.
"That parchment, with the signatures of these men, written with the pen lying on yonder table, may either make the world free or stretch these necks upon the gibbet yonder in Potter's field, or nail these heads to the doorposts of these halls.
"That was the time for solemn faces and deep silence.
"At last, hark! The door opens the committee appear. Who are these men who come walking up to John Hancock's chair?
"The tall man, with sharp features, the bold brow and sand-hued hair, holding the parchment in his hand, is the Virginia farmer, Thomas Jefferson. That stout built man, with resolute look and sparkling eye that is a Boston man, one John Adams. And the calm-faced mail, with hair dropping in thick curls to his shoulders; that man dressed in a plain coat and such odious home-made blue stockings that is the Philadelphia printer, one Benjamin Franklin.
"The three advance to the table. The parchment is laid there. Shall it be signed or not?
"Then ensues a high debate; then all the faint-hearted cringe in corners, while Thomas Jefferson speaks out his few bold words, and John Adams pours out his whole soul!
"Then the soft-toned voice of Charles Carrol is heard undulating in syllables of deep music.
"But still there is doubt, and that pale-faced man, shrinking in one corner, squeaks out something about axes, scaffolds and a gibbet!
"‘Gibbet!’ echoes a fierce, bold tone, that startles men from their seats and look yonder! A tall, slender form rises, dressed, although it is summer time, in a faded red cloak. Look how his white hand trembles, as it is stretched slowly out; how that dark eye burns while his words ring through the hall.
"‘Gibbet! They may stretch our necks on all the gibbets in the land; they may turn every rock into a scaffold, every tree into a gallows, every home into a grave, and yet the words of that parchment can never die!
"They may pour blood on a thousand scaffolds, and yet from every drop that dyed the axe, or drops on the sawdust
of the block, a new martyr to freedom will spring into birth!
"The British king may blot out the stars of God from His sky, but he can not blot out His words written on the parchment there. The work of God may perish. His word, never!
"These words will go forth to the world when our bones are dust. To the slave in bondage, they will speak hope; to the mechanic in his workshop, freedom; to the coward kings these words will speak, but not in tones of flattery. They will speak like the flaming syllables on Belshazzar's wall: ‘The days of your pride and glory are numbered! The day of judgment draws near!’
"Yes, that parchment will speak to kings in language sad and terrible as the trumpet of the Archangel. You have trampled on the rights of mankind long enough. At last the voice of human woe has pierced the ear of God, and called his judgment down. You have waded on to thrones through seas of blood; you have trampled on to power over the necks of millions; you have turned the poor man's sweat and blood into robes for your delicate forms; into crowns for your annointed brows. Now, purpled hangmen of the world! For you comes the day of axes, and gibbets, and scaffolds; for you the wrath of man; for you the lightning of God!
"Look how the light of your palaces on fire flashes up into the midnight sky! Now, purpled hangmen of the world, turn and beg for mercy! Where will you find it? Not from God; for you have blasphemed His laws! Not from the people, for you stand baptized in their blood! Here you turn, and lo! a gibbet! There, and a scaffold stares you in the face! All around you death, but nowhere pity! Now, executioners of the human race, kneel down yes, kneel down on the sawdust of the scaffold; lay your perfumed
fumed heads upon the block; bless the axe as it falls the axe sharpened for the poor man's neck.
"Such is the message of the declaration of man to the kings of the world. And shall we falter now ? And shall we start back appalled, when our feet press the very Threshold of Freedom? Do you see quailing faces around you, when our wives have been butchered when the hearthstones of our lands are red with the blood of little children. What! Are there shrinking hearts or faltering voices here, when the very dead of our battlefields arise and call upon us to sign that parchment, or be accursed.
"Sign! if the next moment the gibbet's rope is around your neck. Sign! if the next moment this hall rings with the echo of the falling axe. Sign! by all your hopes in life or death as husbands, fathers as MEN, sign your names to the parchment, or be accursed forever!
"Sign! not for yourselves, but for all ages; for that parchment will be the text-book of freedom the Bible of the rights of man forever.
"Sign, for the declaration will go forth to American hearts forever, and speak to those hearts like the voice of God. And its work will not be done until throughout this wide continent not a single inch of ground owns the sway of privilege or power.
"Nay, do not start and whisper with surprise. It is a truth. Your hearts witness it; God proclaims it. This continent is the property of a free people, and their property alone. God, I say, proclaims it. Look at this strange history of a band of exiles and outcasts suddenly transformed into a people. Look at this wonderful exodus of the Old World into the New, where they came, weak in arms but mighty in Godlike faith. Nay, look at the history of your Bunker Hill, your Lexington; where a band of plain farmers mocked, trampled down the panopoly of
British arms, and then tell me, if you can, that God has not given America to the free.
"It is not given to our poor human intellect to climb the skies, to pierce the counsels of the Almighty One. But methinks I stand among the awful clouds which veil the brightness of Jehovah's throne. Methinks I see the Recording Angel pale as an angel is pale, weeping as an angel can weep come trembling up to the throne, and speaking his dread message:
"‘Father! the Old World is baptized in blood! Father! it is drenched with the blood of millions, butchered in war, in persecution, in low, grinding oppression! Father, look! With one glance of Thine eternal eye, look over Europe, Asia, Africa, and behold evermore a terrible sight man trodden down beneath the oppressor's feet, nations lost in blood, murder and superstition walking hand in hand over the graves of their victims, and not a single voice to whisper hope to man.’
"He stands there, his hand trembling with the black record of human guilt. But hark! The voice of Jehovah speaks out from the awful cloud: ‘Let there be light again. Let there be a New World. Tell my people, the poor, down-trodden millions, to go out of the Old World. Tell them to go out from wrong, oppression and blood. Tell them to go out from the Old World to build up my altar in the New.’
"As God lives, my friends, I believe that to be His voice. Yes, were my soul trembling on the wing of eternity, were this hand freezing in death, were my voice choking with the last struggle, I would still, with my last gasp of voice, implore you to remember the truth God has given America to be free. Yes, as I sank down into the gloomy shadows of the grave, with my last gasp I would beg you to sign that parchment in the name of One who made the Savior, who redeemed you in the name of the
millions whose very breath is now hushed, in intense expectation, as they look up to you for the awful words, you are free!'"
Laboring men of America! The voice of Patrick Henry and the fathers of American Independence rings down through the corridors of time and tells you to strike. Not with glittering musket, flaming sword and deadly cannon; but with the silent, potent and all-powerful ballot, the only vestige of liberty left. Strike from yourselves the shackles of party slavery, and exercise independent manhood.
Strike at the foundation of the evils which are threatening the existence of the Republic.
Strike for yourselves, your families, your fellow man, your country and your God.
Strike from the face of the land the monopolies and combinations that are eating out the heart of the Nation.
Let the manhood of the Nation rise up in defense of liberty, justice and equality. Let the battle go on until all the people, from North to South and East to West, shall join in one loud acclaim, "Victory is ours, and the people are free!"
Morgan, W. Scott. History of the Wheel and Alliance and the Impending Revolution . Ft. Scott, KS: J.H. Rice & Sons, 1891. [format: book], [genre: history; narrative; proceedings]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=morgan.html