Elgin Labor Day Speech.
(Delivered at Elgin, September 6, 1892.)
The invitation which you extended to me named the topic which you wished me to discuss, namely: "What does the party, of which I am a candidate, offer as a remedy for the present unequal distribution of wealth?" I wish first to say that the framer of that question labored under the mistaken idea that a political party is a fixed entity, remaining the same from year to year, whereas, in reality, it is simply a collection of individuals who, while disagreeing in most things, agree upon some important principle of government, and, so far as it affects it, act together. For example: Those comprising the Democratic party to-day may differ as widely as the poles on many important questions, some being radical and others conservative, but they believe in democratic government; a government based upon the consent of the governed. They all believe that that government is best which least interferes with the private affairs of the individual, and they are opposed to the idea of the government attempting to favor or build one class at the expense of another. Those comprising the Republican party likewise differ on very many essential points, but, as a rule, they favor the policy of protecting some even though it be at the expense of others. They believe in the doctrine of Hamilton, who promulgated the idea that the government should take care of the rich and let the rich take care of the poor. There is also another element found in the Republican party, made up of people who, as a rule, are no wiser, no more patriotic, no more honest and no more intelligent than their fellow men, who yet are forever striving to lay down the laws for their neighbors to obey; who want to force everybody to their way of thinking and acting by law; who favor interference by the government with the personal liberty of the citizens. These may be said to be the distinguishing features of the two great parties to-day. I say the two great parties, for, while there are other parties representing a great deal of patriotism and intelligence, they are so small numerically that there is little prospect of their having much to do with shaping the affairs of government for the present, so that every citizen will be obliged to act with one or the other of the two great parties if he wishes to assist directly in shaping the policy of the country, and does not want to throw away his vote. In this
249country government is run by majorities, and if a majority of the people of the country should favor any important measure in the future, even though neither of the parties advocate it to-day, one or the other of them would then espouse it and carry it out; and I will say here that new questions of vital importance have already arisen that are now being agitated, and will have to be settled in the near future. The great question must soon be determined as to what the State can do to prevent industrial strife, and, in fact, a civil war. The question of protecting the noncombatants, that great portion of the community that has no personal interests In these strifes, that, consequently, wants them either entirely avoided or speedily adjusted, is being discussed. It is a question whether or not it is practical to enforce arbitration in these cases and make them subject to law, as we do every other dispute between individuals. The time has come when we can no longer permit a civil war to be carried on between employer and employe. The law must step in promptly and protect all, and see that justice is done. Teach the employer that he is not above the law and the employe that he is not beneath its notice.
Coming now to our question, I will endeavor to answer it as candidly as I can, for I feel that I am dealing with honest men who are endeavoring to find what is the best policy to pursue. It is a momentous question, that strikes at an evil which, if unchecked, will destroy not only our government, but our civilization. It is a fact, that in the last twenty years there has been such a rapid concentration of wealth into a few hands, such an increase of millionaires, and such a multiplication of those who have no homes and no farms, that the friends of the Republic may well be alarmed, Mr. Thomas Shearman, of New York, has lately published some statistics on this subject, which must arouse the tears of even the most hopeful; for it is a fact that great concentration of wealth into a few hands has been the cause of the downfall of nearly all the great governments of the earth and the destruction of their civilization. History and statistics tell us that when Egypt went down, two per cent. of her people owned ninety-seven per cent. of her wealth. When Persia went down, one per cent. of her population owned all the land, and when Rome went down eighteen hundred men owned all the known world. In this country, in 1850, the capitalists owned thirty-seven and one-half per cent. of her wealth. To-day they own seventy-five per cent. of it. Twenty-five years ago five-eighths of our people owned their own homes. To-day only three-eighths of them own their own homes. How long will it be until there will be less than one-eighth? The truth is, that unless the present policy, which centralizes wealth in a few hands and impoverishes the
250great masses, can be arrested, this Republic is doomed. In considering the remedy, it is also necessary to discover the cause of the trouble and generally it is true that when the cause is removed the matter soon rights itself, and the party of which I am a candidate believes this to be true to a very great extent now. The trouble we complain of is not due to natural causes. It has been brought about, to a very great extent, by artificial means, by interference with natural laws, and it is being aggravated to-day by those means. It has been brought about, to a very great extent, by the policy and action of government. Very few men would accumulate so large a fortune as to be a menace to the rest of the community if left to their own efforts, and if the natural conditions had not been interfered with by government, there would probably be little cause for complaint. This government existed nearly a century before we heard much of millionaires. The trouble has arisen out of a change of policy by the government, out of the fact that for thirty years the government, both National and State, has pursued a true Hamiltonian policy; that is, to favor a few at the expense of the many, to assist the rich and let them take care of the poor. For example: The government gave to the Pacific Railroad builders outright, in land and money, almost twice as much as was needed to build and equip the roads. That is, the government took up a dozen or more men and made millionaires of them. Not only this, but it then gave away to others almost the entire public domain — millions of acres that should have been reserved for actual settlers. Many of the gigantic fortunes of this country were made in this way. Their possessors are now haughty and attempt to dictate, not only to labor, but to law-making and to law-executing power, and they still enjoy immunities from taxation — from the payment of their just debts to the government — which other individuals do not enjoy. The government now gives $10,000,000 a year to some sugar growers in Louisiana, because they complain that they cannot raise sugar at a profit on account of foreign competition. Now the government does not help you or the farmer, when your business does not pay, but it compels you to make millionaires of the sugar men. Let these immunities be withdrawn; let these individuals be treated as other citizens; force them to pay their share of taxes, and their fortunes will, in time, melt away or be divided, and the waters will soon find their level again.
Then for twelve years or more, the large manufacturing and mining corporations in the East have, through the aid of numerous steamship companies, been enabled to import laborers under contract from nearly
251all despotic countries of Europe, where what is commonly called pauper labor exists, thus bringing over a set of men who do not come to permanently settle, and who have no idea of becoming American citizens and educating their families, but who come simply to get a little money and then, instead of setttling down and assimilating with our people, return to their own country. These people work for about one-half of what is necessary to pay the American laborer, both naturalized and native born, who seeks to maintain and educate his children. Mr. Powderly tells us that in this manner almost every native born and naturalized laborer has been driven out of the great State of Pennsylvania and their places filled with this pauper labor brought over from Europe. Not only this, but when these last named people objected to a reduction of wages, they were simply locked out and their places filled with fresh importations of paupers, who worked under the protection of soldiers, and if the former laborer did not tamely submit, he was simply shot down. Now, there was during all these years a law upon the statute book prohibiting the importation of pauper labor, but Federal authorities have winked at this violation of the law and the large manufacturing and mining corporations, such as the Carnegie institutions, are enabled to get their work done for little more than one-half of what they otherwise would have to pay, and in this way were enabled to amass vast fortunes. Employing in many instances thousands of men who thus worked at starvation wages, they soon became rich and powerful, and then assumed not only to dictate to labor, but to shape legislation in their own interest, and to control elections when necessary for this purpose. Now, if this law against the importation of pauper contract labor had been enforced, as laws governing the humble citizen are enforced, it would have been impossible for a few individuals to amass vast fortunes; the laborers, instead of being driven out of that great State, would have remained there, receiving living wages, would have educated their children and maintained their families in comfort, and if to-day these laws were enforced, it would not be very long until in the natural course of events these fortunes would dissolve, Carnegie would stop building castles in Scotland, he would stop importing pauper labor, and would stop hiring a private army to shoot down working men at so much per day.
Again, uder the false and deceiving pretext of protecting the American laborer, these manufacturing and mining corporations succeeded in getting the government, by tariff legislation, to relieve them of foreign competition. This enabled them to sell their goods at higher
252prices, there being at present an average tariff of sixty per cent., which entirely shuts out some lines of goods, so that, while they were enabled to get their labor cheap, they were relieved of competition and thus to get higher prices for their goods. While the American laborer found that his struggle was becoming more and more severe, he had to compete with the pauper labor of Europe, while everything he had to buy was made dearer by reason of the action of the government. I do not say dearer than ever before, for invention has cheapened production all over the earth, but dearer than they would be if there were free competition. For if there had been free competition in goods as there was in labor, he could have bought what he needed for but little more than half what it now costs him. When the tariff was taken off of sugar it went down to but little more than half what it was formerly. The same result would follow if it were taken off of other things. It is sometimes insisted that it is impossible to keep this pauper labor out; that, as the steamship companies make money by carrying these people here, they can be landed in spite of all vigilance. If this is so, if the American laborer must compete with all the world, then simple justice requires that the employer should do the same. If foreign competition is to determine his wages, then the laborer should be permitted to buy his tools, his household goods, and the clothing for his family at foreign competition prices.
As an example of the workings of this whole system, let us take the manufacturers of clothing in Chicago, a point where there is not that direct importation of pauper labor that there is in Pennsylvania and New York.
I find that Section 396 of the McKinley Tariff Law provided that the duties on ready-made clothing and articles of wearing apparel of every description, made up or manufactured wholly or in part, and composed wholly or in part of wool, shall be sixty per cent. ad valorem, and in addition thereto there shall be paid on each pound four and one-half times the duty paid on a pound of unwashed wool of the first class, making the total duty on some lines of clothing from eighty to one hundred per cent. This is nearly twice what it was under the law of 1883, and, we are told, for the protection of the American laborer. It prevents cheap clothes from being brought in from other countries and necessarily makes clothing higher for all who have to buy it, including the laboring man. Now let us see what he is paid.
About a year ago public attention was aroused to the fact that there were scattered all over Chicago what were called sweating shops, that is, shops where men, women and children were sweating their lives out, making clothing for large establishments amid sanitary conditions
253that must breed disease. An investigation was made by a committee which was accompanied by some of the high city officials. They visited a great many of these places and found everywhere practically the same conditions. The "Inter Ocean," in commenting on what the committee found, said: "The condition of the places visited was terrible. Overcrowding, long hours, and low pay was the rule. Girls of ten years of age were found to be working ten and twelve hours a day for eighty cents per week. Ten girls were found, none being over ten years of age, that worked ten hours a day for seventy-five cents to $1.20 per week. In a Dekoven street den were found a half dozen men working eighteen hours a day for from four to nine dollars per week. At No. 168 Maxwell street were found ten men that worked sixteen hours a day each and received from $6.50 to $9.00 per week. They worked on cloaks that were sold to J. V. Farwell & Co. In the same place were six girls working from twelve to fourteen hours a day, whose weekly pay was $3.00. In one house was found a child who worked for seventy-five cents per week. At No. 455 South Canal street, a girl was found who declined to tell what she received, fearing she would be discharged, and discharge meant starvation. At No. 69 Judd street the wages of the men were found to be from $5.00 to $9.00 per week, and one child there received $1.00 per week. At No. 151 Peoria street is a cloak finishing establishment. Here the women receive one and a half cents for finishing cloaks. One woman was found on the street with a bundle of cloaks she had finished. She said that by hard work she finished twenty cloaks a day and earned thirty cents. This supported herself and two babies. The place at No. 258 Division street was by far the worst visited. Eleven men worked twelve hours a day and received from $5.00 to $9.50 per week. Twelve children here worked twelve hours for seventy-five cents per week. The place was terribly crowded, there being no water or ventilation." While the tariff was doubled wages were steadily forced down. Other investigations made in Chicago at different times, disclosed the same condition of affairs, and an investigation by a Congressional committee some years ago, into the condition of labor in New York City, brought out the fact that the great majority of both the men and the women who work in the protected industries get starvation wages and work long hours. The laborer has to compete with the labor of all the earth. It is the employer who is shielded from foreign competition.
You have a large watch factory here, which is said to be one of the greatest money making establishments in the United States. I am told that the net earnings average almost forty per cent. a year. A
254number of men have made large fortunes out of it. Under the law of 1883 there was a tariff of twenty-five per cent. on watches and the McKinley law continues this tariff, and we are solemnly told that this is done to enable this watch company to pay high wages. Yet I learn that wages have been steadily cut down from year to year until men, who fifteen years ago received $6.00 a day, do not get half of that now, while the great majority do not average $10.00 a week, in fact wages have been forced down to the lowest point possible without precipitating a strike. Here again the employes have had to compete with all the world, while the government has made everything they have to buy dearer than it would have been if there were free competition.
There is at present a tariff which varies from about 20 per cent. on some things to upwards of 100 per cent. on others. For a number of years it was sought by a kind of sophistry to create the impression that the foreigner pays this duty, and that it did not cost the consumer anything, and that, therefore, it was not a tax on the American people. Very seldom, now, do we hear this claim made, but occasionally some one is found who has a sufficiently low estimate of the intelligence of the public to still make such an assertion. All admit that if the tariff paid by the foreigner at the custom house is simply added to the price of the goods, and the goods sold at enough to cover it, the consumer pays for it, and it is, in fact, a tax. Now, let us analyze the question a moment and see the actual operation of the tariff law. The average tariff is now about 80 per cent. on woolen goods used by the common people. Let us take blankets: If the foreigner, in the absence of tariff, was importing blankets and selling them for one dollar apiece, it is apparent that the American manufacturer would have to sell his for a dollar apiece, because foreign competition would compel him to. But he manages, no matter by what means, to get Congress to impose a duty of say 80 per cent. — that is, the government says to the foreigner, "Here, before you can land your blankets you must pay eighty cents each at the custom house into the United States Treasury. Now, if it is true that the tariff is paid by the foreigner, then the foreigner will pay this eighty cents at the custom house, will land his blankets and still sell them at the old price; that is, a dollar apiece. In other words, he pays eighty cents duty to get the privilege of selling a blanket for a dollar, which he sold at that sum before when he paid no duty. If, on the other hand, when he pays the eighty cents he simply adds this to the price of the blanket and sells it to the consumer a $1.80, then it is clear that the consumer pays this tax. Not only this so, but he pays more than $1.80, because he must pay a profit on
255the eighty cents that was invested. Now, at this step the American manufacturer, although paying nothing to the government in the way of tariff duties, puts the price of his blanket up to, we will say, $1.70. This is seventy cents, you will observe, is clear profit to him in excess of what he got before, because no part of it goes into the Treasury. All of it goes into his pocket. Yet he undersells in this way the foreigener by ten cents on the blanket. The foreigner, finding that he has got to either lose ten cents on every blanket he sells or quit trading in this country, soon decides upon the latter course, and having done this the American manufacturer is in sole possession of the market. Having in this way driven the foreigner out and gotten so much competition out of the way, and having only the other American manufacturers to compete with, he soon succeeds in making a combination, so that he can still hold the price of his blankets up to in the neighborhood of $1.70, and every time a blanket is sold he gets, in addition to the profit he got when he had to sell them at $1, this 70 cents, and this is paid by the man who buys the blanket, and does not go into the Treasury but into the pocket of this manufacturer. It is in this way that the tariff is the mother of trusts and combinations, for, by shutting out foreign competition, it reduces the competitors here to a small number, and makes it comparatively easy to effect a combination and found a monopoly.
Again, if we take an article like plate glass or pearl buttons, upon which the tariff is upwards of 140 per cent., if the foreigner brings a thousand dollars worth over here, he has to go to the custom house and pay, say $1,400, before he can land his goods. Now, if he sells these goods afterwards for the same price that he did before, then he will have paid $1,400 for the privilege of selling a certain quantity of goods for $1,000. Need I tell you that he will not do this long, no matter what Major McKinley may assert upon that subject? If, on the other hand, he simply adds the $1,400 to his former price, so as to sell the same quantity for $2,400, then the consumer is simply $1,400 more out of pocket than he would have been had there been no tariff. Here, again, the American manufacturer advances the price of his goods, although he does not pay one cent into the Treasury more than he had before. Every cent that he advances is clear gain to him in addition to the profit he made before, and by fixing the price on his goods at just a small per cent. under what the foreigner must get, in order not to lose money, he is enabled to drive the foreigner out of he market entirely, and to supply it himself at a figure nearly double what he would otherwise have received. This is a short outline of the manner in which it works. The foreigner, finding that he cannot sell
256goods in our market, naturally will not buy what we have to sell if he can get it at some market where he can also dispose of his goods. He will not bring his ships empty to our shores and pay us cash, if he can load his ships with his goods and go to some port where he can sell his goods and at the same time supply himself with what he wishes to buy in return. The consequence is, that foreigners will buy of us such articles only, as a rule, as they are compelled to buy of us; in other words we are practically shut out from the markets of the world. For, if we attempt to ship our own articles abroad, we have got to bring our ships back empty; or else, if we load them with foreign goods, have got to pay a duty on those goods here, which we cannot possibly collect back. It is apparent that the manufacturer, being thus relieved of foreign competition, can get very much better prices for his goods and in many cases get almost double what he got before; paid by the men who buy the goods, and not a dollar going into the Treasury. In this way he is enabled soon to accumulate vast fortunes, which he could not have done had not the government stepped in and relieved him of foreign competition. In order to relieve himself of home competition, he effects a combination or a trust for the purpose of keeping up prices, fixing and even reducing the price of labor, all of which would be impossible were there free competition.
It is the men who have been made millionaires by the operation of this law, who are haughty and dictatorial, and who do not hesitate to corrupt Legislatures for the purpose of maintaining their advantage. It is clear that in so far as they are enabled to keep prices above what they would be, if there were free competition, the consumer is compelled to pay more for what he uses than he otherwise would be. In other words, the government compels him to pay from 20 to 50 per cent. more for what he needs, than he otherwise would, and it is remarkable that everything which the laboring man and the farmer needs is in this way taxed, not for the benefit of the government, but for the benefit of private individuals. The clothes they wear, the tools they use, the blankets and household utensils they use, all cost them from one-third upwards to two-thirds more than they would have to pay if the government left its hands off them. This system is maintained by the specious plea of protecting the American laborer, that is, of securing him higher wages; yet, it is a noteworthy fact that those men who work at industries that are not protected get the largest wages, namely, bakers, bricklayers, carpenters, masons, plumbers, blacksmiths, iron moulders, etc., while in those industries which are protected, such as workers in bar iron, steel and glass goods, steel rails, woolen goods, pig iron, steel blooms, etc., wages upon the whole are
257poorer and the laborer most disturbed. There is not a large protected establishnient in the United States that raised the wages of its men after the McKinley bill was passed.
There is not and has not been a manufacturer in the United States, who, after the passage of a tariff law, went into his shop and marked up wages, or called his men around and said to them: "Now, boys, the government relieves me of foreign competition, I can now get better prices for my goods, I can combine with the other manufacturers and keep the prices up, and as the government did this for your benefit, I will raise your wages from thirty to eighty per cent." On the contrary, it is in the protected establishments where we have had the strikes and the most serious labor disturbances in the country. The Congress which enacted the McKinley law, which increased the former tariff almost forty per cent., had scarcely adjourned when upwards of three hundred of the large protected establishments, instead of raising the wages of their men, actually reduced them.
I am aware that a fellow named Peck, who claims to be a commissioner of some sort in New York, has recently published a letter claiming that he is a Democrat and held a position nine years ago under Governor Hill, and that he has collected information to show that more wages have been paid since the enactment of the McKinley law than before. But there is this remarkable fact about his letter, he claims to have written to six thousand people, but he did not write to a single laborer or labor organization in the United States. He simply wrote to some establishments, of which the proprietors were reaping a benefit from the tariff, he allowed them to fix up such answers as suited them, and then tells us that he cannot give their names without a breach of confidence. Now, if he had declared himself to be a Republican, his letters would have been laughed at all over the country. It was necessary for him to claim to be a Democrat in order to get any notice at all. I need not tell you that there are men in this country who make money out of politics, and who, when they have found which party will pay them the most money, always claim to belong to the opposite party, in order that their statements may carry more weight and command more cash. Neither is it necessary to tell you that occasionally we meet men who remind us of the adage "Figures don't lie, but liars can figure."
The fact is, during the twenty months which have elapsed since the passage of the McKinley act, there have been 473 cases of reduction in wages, strikes and lockouts in the large protected establishments of this country, the most serious of which was that at the Carnegie establishment at Homestead. This Christian gentleman, who
258had just induced Congress to greatly increase the duty on the goods he made, in order, as he said, that he could pay higher wages to his men, not only at once reduced wages, but undertook to crush organized labor in America, and for this purpose locked out the men whom he had imported several years ago, and proceeded to fill their places with a fresh collection of pauper labor, guarded by rifles and bayonets. While all this was going on he was rusticating at Cluny Castle which he built in Scotland, was telling the American people how a cultivated gentleman should spend his millions and was telegraphing his congratulations to President Harrison.
No; the effect of the tariff is to keep out foreign competition, thus making it possible for the manufacturer to form trusts and monopolies, and its next effect is to make the laborer and the farmer pay more for every manufactured article they need. It makes living dearer for them, while it adds not a penny to their wages; and as to the farmer, it simply tends to deprive him of the markets of the world, and compels him to sell his produce at a very much lower price. For example, at present he is selling his wheat for sixty-five cents a bushel and other farm products in proportion.
As a further illustration of what may be expected if the tariff were greatly reduced, I call attention to the fact that the same Congress which passed the McKinley bill put sugar on the free list; that is, it took the tariff of upwards of 20 per cent. off of sugar, and the result was that sugar instantly fell from an average of about eight cents a pound down to an average of five cents per pound. Now, the difference between five cents a pound and what it formerly cost was paid by the people who bought and used the sugar. In short, the consumer paid it and not the foreigner; and if all other articles now paying a duty were to be put on the free list, there would follow the same reduction in price to the consumer. I am aware that the absolute abolition of all tariff duties at present would be impracticable, for the government must have funds to pay its expenses. The process must be gradual, but the present iniquitous tariff, which started as a war measure, and then kept increasing after the war was over, until to-day it is almost double what it was when the government was in the throes of war, should be abolished, for it does not put much money into the Federal Treasury; it simply puts it in the pockets of trusts and monopolies. If the present prohibitory tariff were abolished, and a moderate tariff for revenue substituted, heavy importations would at once begin, the government would get more revenue, we would again have commercial relations with the nations of the globe and our farmers a market for their products, while both they and the laborers could buy
259the articles they need for about two-thirds of what they now pay. In this connection let me call your attention to the fact that every one of the so-called pauper labor countries of Europe has a high protective tariff, and has had for centuries, and the tariff has had the same effect there that it is having here. It has made some immensely rich, while it kept the multitude at starvation point. We sometimes hear a reference made to England and the wages paid there. Now let me tell you that until about forty years ago England had a high protective tariff, and had had for more than a century; and it was during the existence of this tariff that the conditions which we still find in England grew up. About forty years ago it was abolished, and since that time wages, although still low, have nearly doubled. All lines of industry have been active, and her commerce has become the greatest on earth. In the language of Mr. Gladstone: "Trade is five times as great as formerly, population has doubled, and there has been an enormous increase and improvement in the material, moral and political condition of the country."
But we are now told, that if the present tariff were abolished the manufacturers would have to shut down and the country would go to ruin. This is not a new cry; it has been heard for many centuries. Every time that an effort was made to correct some abuse, or put an end to special privileges that a few individuals enjoyed, the cry went forth that it would ruin the country. When it was proposed to abolish the tariff in England, all of the privileged classes, including the aristocracy and the clergy, raised the cry that it would ruin England, and that it would destroy the British Empire; but when the tariff was abolished not a single protected industry failed. On the contrary, the country bounded forth on a career of prosperity such as it had never seen before, and the greatness of England to-day is largely due to the abolition of her tariff.
In this country all of our manufacturing establishments were running seven or eight years ago, and were prospering; yet the tariff was but little more than half then what it is now. Can they not run on the same tariff now they did then? When, some years ago, it was proposed to take the tariff off of quinine, a cry went forth that it would ruin all who were engaged in that business. Well, the tariff was taken off, and instead of being ruined, the men engaged in that business prospered as they never did before. But says some one, "You claim that if the tariff were abolished the prices of protected goods would be much lower. If this is so can these manufacturers go on and meet the new competition?" I answer, yes. All experience has shown, not only that they can, but that they enjoy a more healthy
260prosperity afterwards than before. It simply compels them to cut loose from the government and rely on their own resources. It simply takes them out of the hot-house where they have an unnatural growth and are always delicate, into the open air, out into nature's fields, where they acquire strength and endurance. Instead of spending their time and their money trying to carry elections, or being lobbyists to secure legislation, they will attend to business; they will study the conditions and the best way of meeting them. Of course, there will be some failures, just as there are now in all kinds of business; but they will come from a want of capacity, and not from a want of protection. At present our protected manufacturers are like the young man who got his father to start him in business and give him sufficient capital to compete with others already established; but, instead of relying on himself, he simply looked to his father, and at the end of the year called for more money, and at the end of two years for still more money, and so on, until he got all the old man had, and then he went under. While at the same time another young man, who relied wholly on himself — who attended to business — who studied the conditions and met them, not only prospered without aid, but grew rich.
There are two other causes which have operated in the past to centralize wealth, one of which has almost spent its force, but the other has not. The first of these was railroad building and other enterprises carried on by corporations, in which they watered the stock as well as bonds, that is, issued great quantities of stock and of bonds to themselves, for which they paid no consideration and which were subsequently sold, and upon which the public has now to pay interest in the way of freight and passenger charges. The issuing of this stock and these bonds was frequently done by methods that bordered on fraud, and sometimes by methods that were criminal. At the same time that this process was going on, there was a system of railroad wrecking carried on by men who generally held the position of trustee in some capacity, and whose object was to defraud the owners of the road out of their property. The methods resorted to for this purpose were such as would have sent a common man to the penitentiary. I am happy to say that this practice of stock watering and railroad wrecking seems to have about spent its force, and most of the great fortunes made in this way, will in time be divided, and will dissolve. The element of fraud which taints them will rot them and their possessors to the ground. The second cause which has operated to build up large fortunes is what has been called the unearned increment, that is, the holding of land, which has been made exceedingly valuable, not by anything which the owner did, but by the labor and the enterprise
261of others. There are, in this country, very many people who have been made millionaires, not by anything which they did, but solely through the enterprise and labor of others. They simply held some and which they would not sell and would not improve. Frequently they were an obstruction to public improvement in their neighborhood but other people built a city around them and thus made their owners immensely rich, without any effort on their part, and once rich, many of them assumed an air of superiority and acted as if they felt it their duty to put their heels upon the necks of the men who made them rich. For this seeming injustice of letting one-man have the fruits of other people's enterprise, no satisfactory remedy has yet been offered. Many able statesmen have considered it, but could not see their way clear. The advocates of the single tax system believe they have a remedy, but it has not yet secured the confidence of enough people to put it in practice, but the matter is being discussed by able and patriotic men, and it is safe to say that the time will come when some solution of the problem will be found, which will do justice to all.
Again, ladies and gentlemen, the party of which I am a candidate, not only believes in self-government, but it believes in every person, so far as possible, taking care of himself, always keeping within the pale of the law. The experience of the world is, that only those who are in a position to take care of themselves, have their rights respected or their feelings regarded. So long as any individual has to depend upon the liberality or the good will of another individual, just so long will he be the cuffed dog and be thrown a very poor bone to pick, and just so long as one class of people have to depend upon the good nature, or even the spirit of fair dealing, of another class, just so long will it be shivering in the wind and eating the bitter husks of disappointment and injustice. Selfishness rules the earth, and the only difference in its working in the different conditions of society is simply one of refinement of method. Its nature is, in all cases, the same, and it generally produces the same results, and that is, the swallowing of the substance of the weak by the strong. Consequently we find that in all ages only those people have had a measure of justice who were in a position to compel it. In this age everything is tending towards centralization and organization. All classes are organizing on the theory that in unity there is strength, and in order to be better equipped to hold their own and to secure justice in the fierce struggle that is going on in the world. The only hope of the laboring man in this country lies in organization. Standing alone as an individual against the mighty organized forces that are surrounding him, he must be crushed to powder, and his children in time reduced to a condition of slavery —
262slaves who have not even a master that will look after them when they are sick, or give them a decent burial when they die. Organization educates; it incites to reading and investigation; it leads to discussion and to deliberation; it tends to dispel ignorance and to remove prejudice, and while not always, it yet generally results in the adoption of a wise and conservative course. The workingmen of this country are in a majority. If they will but learn to organize, learn to pull together and to stand together, shoulder to shoulder, they can materially improve their own condition and that of their children. They can, without violence and without revolution, compel the payment of fair wages; can compel the adoption of reasonable hours of labor; can enforce any reasonable and fair demand; can thus prevent the rapid and dangerous accumulations of vast fortunes by a few individuals, and secure a more general and more just distribution of the fruits of their labor.
It will be an evil day for our country when the laborer is reduced to the condition of a slave, and when his purchasing power is destroyed. The great factories and the great railroads of the country will not be worth fifty cents on the dollar then, and not half the men now engaged in business pursuits will then find occupation. It is the purchasing power of the laborer, the fact that he has been in a measure able to surround himself and his family with the thousand little things that go toward making up the comforts of life, which has created and to-day makes this wonderful home market that keeps manufacturer, carrier and business men engaged. Reduce the laborer to that condition where he cannot afford to buy these things, where it takes all that he can earn to get the mere rough necessaries of life, and this home market will vanish, and States which now absorb millions upon millions of dollars' worth of goods per annum, will be reduced to the condition of some of the Oriental countries, where the market is confined to a few exceedingly wealthy people, and where the poor buy only some coarse food and still coarser and cheaper clothes.