Land, Transportation, Telegraphy
These millions of acres belong to man,
And his claim is, that he needs,
And his title is sealed by the hand of God
Our God, who the raven feeds,
And the starving soul of each famished man,
At the throne of Justice pleads.
Ye may not heed it, ye haughty men,
Whose hearts as rocks are cold
But the time will come when the flat of God
In thunder shall be told;
For the voice of the great I AM hath said
That "the land shall not be sold."
-- A. J. H. Duganne.
Bringing prosperity through freedom, equality, local autonomy and respect for the commons.
Thirty Years of Labor
by Terence Powderly
Chapter 8: Land -- Transportation -- Telegraphy
The Fourth, Thirteenth, and Eighteenth Declarations of the Preamble -- Land -- Transportation -- Telegraphy.
THE regulation of the public lands of the United States, in one form or another, has consumed much of the time of Congress, and has been the subject of a large share of public agitation since the adoption of the constitution of the United States. Various acts have been introduced and discussed having for their object the securing of the settler in the possession of his homestead. The first of these that became a law was the Pre-emption Law of March 3, 1801, which gave the right of pre-emption to certain persons for lands lying between the Miami rivers in what was then known as the territory of the United States northwest of the Ohio river. Under one act after another the benefits of pre-emption were extended until the law of June 30, 1880, which extends the right of settlement to unsurveyed as well as surveyed lands, with a credit of from twelve to thirty-three months which is given the pre-emptor by residence.
PRE-EMPTION IS A PREMIUM
granted the settler on condition that he makes permanent settlement and a home on the land which he lays claim to. By act of application at a land office, and the payment of a fee for the registration of his claim to the land, the right is conferred to occupy a certain tract of land of not more than one hundred and sixty, or less than forty, acres for a limited period, with the stipulation that at the end of that period the claimant shall pay to the United States $1.25 per acre for the land in the tract entered upon, or claimed, when a patent for the land will be issued. Actual settlement upon the tract claimed, for the exclusive use of the pre-emptor, and not for the purposes of speculation or sale, must be shown before the patent is granted.
The pre-emption question was before the people and Congress until the year 1841, when the Preemption Act which was passed appeared to have settled the question. In 1852 the granting of free homes became a national issue with the political parties of that day. On August 11, 1852, the Free Soil Democracy met in convention in Pittsburg, Pa., to nominate candidates for President and Vice-president, and having done so, adopted the following as the twelfth plank in the platform on which they went before the people:
"That the public lands of the United States belong to the people, and should not be sold to individuals, nor granted to corporations, but should be held as a sacred trust for the benefit of the people, and should be granted in limited quantities, free of cost, to landless settlers."
From the promulgation of that platform until 1862 the land question was a national issue with all parties. It was discussed in primaries and at mass meetings, the
WHOLE PEOPLE WERE AROUSED,
and Congress was obliged to take action as early as 1859. The march of the western settler had begun, and was sweeping across the prairies to the land of the setting sun. The demand for homes on the western lands became very great, and the pressure for the enactment of a law which would confine locators to small holdings with actual occupancy, improvement, and cultivation as requisites for possession, swept in upon Congress, and continued until the passage of the Homestead Law of 1862.
In January, 1859, there was a bill before Congress relating to pre-emption. On the 20th of that month Hon. Galusha A. Grow, of Pennsylvania, moved the following amendment:
"Be it further enacted, that from and after the passage of this act no public land shall be exposed for sale by proclamation of the President, unless the same shall have been surveyed, and the return of such survey duly filed in the Land office, for ten years or more before such sale."
The amendment was adopted, but when the bill itself came up it was defeated. On February 1, of the same year, the bill before Congress was "A bill to secure homesteads to actual settlers on the public domain."
The bill passed the house by a vote of 120 yeas to 76 nays, and went to the Senate where it lay until the adjournment of Congress, although several attempts were made to bring it before the body for discussion. The bill was introduced by Mr. Grow in the House. On March 6, 1860, Mr. Lovejoy, of Illinois, from the Committee on Public Lands, reported the same bill to the House. Again it received the
APPROVAL OF THE HOUSE
by a vote of 115 yeas to 65 nays, and was sent to the Senate, where it was referred to the Committee on public lands, Andrew Johnson, chairman of the committee, reported a substitute for the bill, granting homesteads to settlers at 25 cents per acre. When this bill came before the Senate, Mr. Wade, of Ohio, moved to substitute the House bill, but the motion was lost.
The Senate passed Mr. Johnson's bill on May 10, 1860, and a conference committee of both Houses considered the two measures and finally accepted the Senate bill with a few amendments. Both Houses having adopted a Homestead Law, it went to the President, and on June 23, President Buchanan
VETOED THE BILL,
and returned it to Congress with his objections.
In the Thirty-seventh Congress, on July 8, 1861, Mr. Aldrich introduced a homestead bill, and after much deliberation and opposition it came before the House for discussion. On February 22, 1862, the Speaker of the House of Representatives announced that the regular order would be the consideration of the homestead bill. After a short debate, and the offering of a few amendments, the bill passed the House and went to the Senate, where it was again changed by amendment. The House at first refused to concur in the amendments, but on May 15 both Houses agreed upon a bill, and it went to the President for approval. On May 20, 1862, President Lincoln signed the Homestead Bill, and it became a law.
The act has been amended several times, but the amendments have been in the direction of extending its benefits.
The first act conferring a grant of land upon a railroad was passed in 1833, and authorized the State of Illinois to divert the canal grant of 1827, and construct a railroad with the proceeds of the sale of said lands. The act was not utilized by the State. The act of September 20, 1850, was the first railroad act of any real significance or importance. By it was initiated the system of granting lands to railroads, which prevailed until after July 1, 1862. On that date
by a direct act, the Union Pacific Railroad. Under the provisions of this act they were to build a railroad and telegraph line from the Missouri river to the Pacific.
With the granting of lands to railroads began the raid of the speculator and the crowding of the settler from his homestead. Railroads began to push their serpentine routes through prairies, over mountains, and across the plains. As they traveled westward the acres became scarcer for the settler, and he had to go farther away from civilization to find land on which to erect his home. Millions of acres were granted to railroads, and they selected the best and most fertile portions of the public domain. Speculators, who could not gain possession of territory under the homestead laws, organized railroad companies in order to lay claim to lands in the hope that the government would never declare them forfeited if they were not tapped the whole length by the railroad to which the grant was made.
The Credit Mobilier scandals, the wholesale robberies perpetrated upon the government by land grabbers, and the tendency to
MONOPOLIZE THE BEST ACRES
in the national domain for speculative purposes, called the attention of the workingmen to the land question, and we find the National Labor Union speaking out on the subject in its platform. When the Industrial Brotherhood gave out its preamble in 1874, the fifth resolution, or demand, was for
"The reserving of the public lands, the heritage of the people, for the actual settler -- not another acre for railroads or speculators."
It was not that there was a dread of a scarcity of land that this demand was made. It had its birth in the unjust manner in which the public lands were being absorbed, and although it was not as clear-cut a declaration as that which emanated from the convention of the Free Soil Democracy in 1852, it briefly expressed the sentiments of those who endeavored to attract the attention of the wage workers to greater issues than the wage question.
In the first General Assembly of the Knights of Labor at Reading the declaration of the Industrial Brotherhood on the land question was endorsed and adopted. In the meantime those who had acquired lands through sharp practice or otherwise kept them in reserve, waiting for advanced prices, which always accompany a desire to occupy the land. The steady flow of immigration drove mechanics from their homes in the cities; and many determined to till the soil in preference to working for reduced wages in the large trade centres. With his face turned toward the land, the workingman saw standing between him and the most
the form of the speculator, and he determined to enter his protest against so unjust a system. At first his voice was not heard, but with the growth of organization he began to make his power felt, and he began to ask for something more than to keep the land from the speculator; he wished to compel the speculator to make restitution. When the General Assembly met in Pittsburg, Pa., in September, 1880, the Grand Master Workman, referring to the land problem, said:
"Millions of acres have been stolen from the people, and while we may think that that question is of no interest to us here to-day, I sincerely believe that for every acre of the land which God designed for man's use and benefit that is stolen, another link is riveted to the chain with which the land and bond lords hope to finally encircle us. A few short years ago, if the Representatives of Labor met convention such as this is, the land question would not necessarily intrude itself upon them; but during those few short years we have slept, and to-day, whether we will or not, it is thrust upon us."
He urged upon the General Assembly to express an opinion upon the question, but no action was taken at that session, and the fifth section of the preamble remained unchanged. No reference was made to the matter at the Detroit convention, in 1881, but at the New York session, which convened on September 5, 1882, at No. 8 Union Square, the address of the Grand Master Workman contained the following:
In my opinion, the main, all-absorbing question of the hour is the land question. And did I allow this opportunity of expressing that opinion to the Knights of Labor of America to pass by without taking advantage of it, I would prove myself false to my own convictions of right and justice. The eight-hour law, the prohibition of child labor, and the currency question, are all of weighty moment to the toiler. But high up above them all stands the land question. Give me the land, and you may frame as many eight-hour laws as you please. Yet I can baffle them all, and render them null and void. Prohibit child labor if you will, but give me the land, and you[r] children will be my slaves. Make your currency of what material you choose; but if I own the land you can not base your currency upon the wealth of the nation, for that wealth is the Land. You may make the laws and own the currency, but give me the land and I will absorb your wealth and render your legislation null and void.
Look over our Western fields to-day and note the rapid strides with which monopoly is seizing upon the fairest acres our country contains. The people of Ireland suffer from landlordism to-day; but a gleam of hope is ever before them, for if the worst comes they can go to America. Let the robbery of the people's heritage go on in the United States in the future as it has in the past, and the hope of the emigrant will die out in his bosom, and soon a sentence to the mines of Siberia will be preferable to a residence in the
land of his birth.
The land is the heritage of God! He gave it to all His people. If He intended it for all His people, then no one man or set of men has a right to monopolize it. We can not say that the whole people who now inhabit the earth can claim the land. That would imply absolute ownership; and if one man has no right to own the land, many men can not own it. If all the people of the present day own the land we live on, what right will the millions yet unborn have to the earth to which their Creator will one day bring them? These are questions worth pondering over. There are men who fear the land question. There were men who feared the appearance of Banquo's ghost; but that ghost was an honest one, and no honest man had cause to fear it. So it is with the land question, -- no honest man need fear it.
If I am told that our national legislature had a right to grant the lands to corporations, I ask the question from whom did they derive that right? The answer must be, The people. Yet I deny that right, for a people now living can not give away what was ordained for the use of a people yet unborn. But granting that they had that right, then I challenge, nay, defy, any man to produce a petition coming from the people to Congress, asking of that body to give away the land. If, then, that body had no right to give away the land, it should be compelled to restore it. It may be said that such a proceeding would unsettle society. Very well, then, let society for the time be unsettled; for it were better that a momentary disturbance take place now than a greater one later on; for, with the rapid concentration of the land in the grasp of the few, and the rapid increase in population, the time is not far distant when men will arise in the morning, and, after eating their morning meal, they will turn away from the table not knowing where the next one is to come from. When that hour comes, the labor question will he harder of solution than it is at present. When that day comes it will take more than the sophistry now in use to convince these hungry men that one man has a right to own the land and all it contains, while they, the children of the same Father, have nothing.
When that day comes the logic of a hungry stomach will settle the question which wise heads are now endeavoring to solve, and knowing no law but that of want, they will obey that law, even at the risk of unsettling society. So it were better that we look to the welfare of future generations, and do justice while it can be done peaceably.
If I ever come to believe in individual, absolute ownership in land, I must, in order to be consistent, believe that the man who owns the land owns the people who live on it as well. If a man owns an island in the ocean, and he wishes to clear it of tenants, for the purpose of turning it into a grazing field, the man who admits that he has a right to own the land in absolute title, must also admit that he has the right to order these people off its surface. If he orders them off there is no alternative but to obey. Suppose that through unjust exactions of rent the tenant has had no opportunity of saving money enough to pay his passage to a foreign land; a very pertinent question to ask would be, Where will the tenant go? The only answer the believer in absolute ownership of land can give will be, Into the ocean. Does any sane man believe that God ordained that any man should have such power? Such a doctrine is monstrous. It won't do to say that such a case is only a supposition, and that no danger of its ever occurring exists. The question to consider is, would it be just or right for such a thing to take place? If not, then take steps to remove a system that would make such a thing possible. Give heed to this land question; be not afraid of the taunts or jeers of our enemies; do not quail at the name of communist, if it is applied to you, for it were better to be called a communist than be a party to the plundering of a people of the inheritance ordained for them by God.
"The Law condemns the man or woman,
Who steals the goose from off the Common;
But lets the greater felon loose,
Who steals the Common from the goose."
God hasten the day when the "greater felon" will be brought to justice! And may our organization be brave enough to shoulder its portion of the responsibility, and share in the glory of the achievement. If there exists such a thing on earth as a just title to the ownership of land, I have yet to learn of it; but in searching for it I found this in "Blackstone's Commentaries on the English Law": --
"Pleased as we are with the possession [of land], we seem afraid to look back to the means by which it was acquired, as if fearful of some defect in our title... we think it enough that our title is derived by the grant of the former proprietor by descent from our ancestors, or by the last will and testament of the dying owner. Not caring to reflect that accurately and strictly speaking there is no foundation in nature, or in natural law, why a set of words upon parchment should convey the dominion of land; why the son should have a right to exclude his fellow creatures from a determinate spot of ground because his father had done so before him; or why the occupier of a particular field, when lying upon his death-bed, and no longer able to maintain possession, should be entitled to tell the rest of the world which of them should enjoy it after him."
With so highly respectable and eminent an authority as Blackstone to quote from, we ought not to fear to open up this question; and if the few words I have uttered in passing will cause others to think, then the discussion to follow must lead to good results.
The convention did not deem it prudent to take any action on the recommendation of the G. M. W. The order at that time was not known to many. Its influence was but limited, and the agitation of the land question was in its infancy. As a consequence, suggestions such as that made to the General Assembly attracted little or no notice. The only attention given to the subject at the time was to subject the writer to no small share of adverse criticism because of the extreme views he advanced. When the next convention was held at Cincinnati, in 1883, the Grand Master Workman again presented the subject to the body for its consideration in the following language:
I deem it proper to again draw the attention of the General Assembly to the land question. I referred to it in my last annual address, and it is worthy of the most serious consideration that this body can bestow upon it. The public lands of this country are being filched from us, not slowly, but quickly and surely. What action will the toilers take to not only prevent any further stealing of the people's heritage, but to restore to the people every acre that has been stolen from them in the past? The people of Ireland are driven by enforced emigration from their native land; they flee from the landlord, who has gained the right to demand rent for the land of Ireland, only to face him in a still worse form on this continent. It is astonishing, but true, that alien landlords own millions of acres of American soil. We do not permit Americans to go abroad and accept titles from monarchists, but we do permit monarchists to come to this country, and without disowning their allegiance to monarchy they are permitted to buy up the best lands we have on the continent. Seven titled noblemen living in England and Ireland, living in an atmosphere where they can not but hate everything that is American, own eight million, nine hundred and fifteen thousand acres of American soil. These men are all landlords. In England they, by their influence, secure the passage by the British government of an "Enforced Emigration Act" for the purpose of driving their victims from their own land to this country, that these vultures may be enabled to face them again where they have absolute control of the soil, and can exact such terms as pleases them.
It is not because I was born in this land that I speak so strongly on this subject, but because I believe that this country was intended, and should be held, for the oppressed of the earth. I am opposed to allowing any man to possess our soil who will not do as we do; who will not do as the humble foreigner does; that is, swear allegiance to the flag that was born amid the struggle against tyranny, and baptized in the blood of men who hated royalty and oppression. Monarchy could not retain its hold on this country one hundred years ago, the people were aroused; but what the steel of the tyrant could not conquer then, the gold of the descendant of that tyrant has since then succeeded in taking from us. I recognize no right on the part of the aristocracy of the old or new worlds to own our lands. We fought to hold them once, and if it is necessary I am willing to advocate the same measures again; but I will never cease this agitation while the foot of the alien oppressor has a resting place within our boundaries. This land question is the one great question of the hour; open your eyes to its enormity, my friends, and act. I will in other places deal more exhaustively with this question of the land for the people, and for the present leave it in your hands.
No notice was taken of the advice contained in the address, for the reason that the land question appeared to be a remote issue, and one not likely to intrude itself upon the workingmen of the present century. The records of that session show that a great deal of valuable time was spent in legislating upon strikes and lockouts. With these harrassing details to attend to, the General Assembly was worn out before the time arrived when consideration could be given to such matters as were alluded to in the address of the Grand Master Workman.
In the meantime the preamble remained unchanged. No alteration was made in it from the date of its adoption, and at the Philadelphia session of the General Assembly a change was recommended by the G. M. W. In his address he said:
The fifth declaration made in our "preamble" demands the reserving of the public lands -- the heritage of the people -- for the actual settler; -- not another acre for railroads or speculators. While I entertain very decided views on this question, still I have no desire to force them on the members of the order, but I do hold that we should not stand still on a question of such magnitude as this land question is. On previous occasions I made recommendations, or at least called the attention of the order to the land question. I now recommend that the section quoted above be changed to read: "We demand the reserving of the lands of the nation for the people of the nation, -- not another acre for railroads, speculators, or gamblers of any description, whether citizen or alien, resident or non-resident, -- and that all lands now held for the purposes of speculation by corporation or individual shall be restored to the care of the people."
While the convention did not adopt the suggestion of the G. M. W., it made a radical change in the entire preamble, and when it went out to the order the fourth section referred to the land question, and read as follows:
That the public lands, the heritage of the people, be reserved for actual settlers; not another acre for railroads or speculators, and that all lands now held for speculative purposes be taxed to their full value.
Here and there throughout the order local assemblies took up the subject for debate; others drew up resolutions expressive of their sentiments, and forwarded them to their representatives in Congress. No small share of public attention was given to the restoration of misappropriated lands during the years 1884-5-6. The G. M. W. mailed to each member of Congress copies of his annual addresses from 1882 to 1885, or that portion of them which referred to national affairs. The address of 1885, delivered at Hamilton, Ontario, in October of that year, contains the following reference to the question of land legislation:
At the last session of the General Assembly I called the attention of that body to the rapidity with which the heritage of the American people was slipping from under their feet. Native and alien landlords are absorbing all of the fertile lands of the nation, and it can no longer be said:
"To the West, to the West, to the land of the free,
Where the mighty Missouri rolls down to the sea,
Where man is a man, if he is willing to toil,
And shall have for his labor the fruit of the soil."
The man who goes to the West to-day, and is willing to toil must toil for another, and the fruits of the soil which his labor produces must be given to the stranger. The man who takes up his claim of one hundred and sixty acres of land, provided he can find it unoccupied to take up, must compete in the market, in the sale of his products, with the men who hold farms of from fifty thousand to five hundred thousand acres each. It was thought that the introduction of bonanza farming would cheapen the products of the land when thrown upon the market. Such is not the case. The man who is wealthy enough to own and operate a large farm of from fifty to a hundred or five hundred thousand acres, can afford to await an advance in prices, while the small farmer must sell his produce at once or lose. The bonanza farmer says to the small farmer: "I have a million bushels of wheat which I can throw upon the market now or wait an advance in prices. You must either sell to me at the price I now offer to you, or else I will glut the market with the wheat I have on hand, and you must sell for a still lower figure later on." The man who has never given this subject any consideration will say at once: "Such a step as that will have the result of cheapening food." The reverse of that is true, for no sooner has the small farmer's produce been absorbed by the large one than the latter corners the wheat, and, no longer in dread of competition from the man with the small farm, he demands a higher price for the wheat than before, and no matter how plenty the wheat may be, the large elevators of the country can hold it long enough to starve the people into paying the most exorbitant prices for it. It may be asked why do not the small farmers send their produce to market by rail? Because the owners of the large farms are, as a rule, directors or stockholders in the railways, and discriminate against all who do not comply with their demands. If they are neither directors nor stockholders, then the railroads will discriminate in their favor and against the owners of small farms.
The practice of permitting aliens to hold large tracts of land while living in foreign countries, has been carried to such an extent that, as far as can be estimated, upwards of twenty-one million acres of American lands are owned by men who have never set foot on American soil. At the last session of Congress a bill was introduced by Mr. Oates, which reads as follows: "That no alien or foreigner, or persons other than citizens of the United States, and such as have legally declared their intention to become citizens thereof, shall acquire title to or own any lands anywhere within the United States of America and their jurisdiction; and any deeds or other conveyances acquired by such after the approval of this act shall be void."
We should insist on the passage of that law, and then have another one written upon the statute books of the nation which will forever prevent any person from acquiring title to or owning any more land than he can cultivate. The number of acres should not exceed one hundred. We must go still further than that, and demand that all lands now held for speculative purposes be restored to the public domain.
This question is a living one, and is of such a nature that we can not shirk or avoid it. It may be intimated that I aim at disturbing "vested rights." I have all the respect in the world for vested rights, but have no respect at all for vested wrongs, and if the holding of such large tracts of land is not wrong, then never did a wrong exist. If it is the intention of a railway company to lay its tracks through a certain tract of territory, and if it happens that the route is surveyed through a piece of land owned by a poor man, can he retain possession of his land under the plea that it would be disturbing vested rights? By no means. If he does not accept the price offered to him by the company his land is appraised by disinterested parties, and a price fixed upon it which he must accept, and in the transaction no thought is given to the "disturbing of vested rights." Under what plea is he obliged to surrender his right to the land? That of ministering to the public good. It is for the public good that this railway should be put through; the welfare of the people demands it, and it must be done. It is under the same plea that the lands now held in such large tracts for speculative purposes should be restored to the people. I believe that the burglar who enters the house at night while the inmates are sleeping, and carries off such money and valuables as he can lay his hands on, has as just a title to these possessions as has many a man who now lays claim to American lands.
I have heard it said that if the land was offered to men who live in large cities they would not avail themselves of the opportunity to go upon it and make homes for themselves. I admit the truth of that assertion, and go a step further and say that it would do them no good to go upon it unless they had some assurance of succeeding. The majority of men who live in large cities are not adapted to the life which a farmer must lead, and the minority, no matter how well adapted they may be to such a life, may be lacking in the experience necessary to the successful operation of the farm. But whether experienced or not, if the most careful, thrifty man be placed on a farm, admitting that the land, dwelling, barn, and out-houses are given to him free of charge, if he is lacking in the capital necessary to defray the cost of implements, seed, and stock, he will fail unless help is extended to him in this direction also. This being true, it need not be wondered at that men who have spent the greater part of their lives in cities and towns shrink from so important and hazardous an undertaking as settling upon land must naturally be.
The real facts in case, plainly stated, are that very few men who have lived any length of time in the city or town have enough money laid by to even defray the expenses of themselves and families to the land. There are in all of our large cities and towns a number of men and families who would make excellent farmers if they were provided with sufficient means to give them a start in agricultural life, but they are deficient in means, and they must remain to compete with others in our crowded centres in the race of life. What is the duty of Congress in this matter? I believe that assistance should be given to all who wish to leave the cities and adopt agriculture as a calling. This can be done if the people demand it. In the older countries the evil effects of centuries of misrule are so firmly rooted that the people seem to be powerless to defend themselves. In this country it is different. But we have in the past been very generous to large corporations. Laws have been enacted with a view to developing the country. Our government has fostered private enterprises, created and granted exemptions, and in many ways encouraged the developing of corporate wealth. All of this was done to build up the country. The object was a very good one, and it has been successful. But in building up the country immense private fortunes have been created, and through the possession of vast tracts of land and immense sums of money, some of the creatures of the government are as powerful, if not more so, than their creator. In the future the duty of the government must be to build up and guard the interests of its people. The laboring element of this country, which includes the agricultural, mechanical, and laboring classes, must be protected; they must become so strong that they can resist the extremes of poverty and wealth.
Some years ago Hon. Hendrick B. Wright presented a bill in Congress which sought to assist the poor man to secure a homestead for himself and family. The scheme was sneered at by legislators and business men, but the remedy offered by Mr. Wright was a good one, and should be put in operation. I am not prepared to say that the plan of his bill was the best that could be offered, but it was in the right direction, and may be improved upon in the light of the experience gained since then. Let us formulate a plan by which the people may gain access to the land without the fear of being disinherited.
Following close upon the heels of the Hamilton session of the General Assembly came the agitations, disturbances, and strikes of 1885 and 1886. Every moment of the lives of the general officers was devoted to the troubles which sprung up in the labor world, and for three years the attention of the entire order was diverted in a different direction from that which pointed to the vital question of land reform. In none of his later addresses to the General Assembly did the G. M. W. refer to the subject, and but little time was allowed him to even give a thought to the matter.
In his report to the special session of the General Assembly, which met at Cleveland, in May, 1886, J. P. McGaughey, Secretary of the General Co-operative Board, urged that the co-operative funds of the order be devoted to the purchase of land for the relief of members who resided in large cities, but no action was taken on the report. Mr. McGaughey submitted a statement taken from the report of the Committee on Public Lands of the House of Representatives at Washington in relation to alien landlordism. It reads:
The country had a magnificent possession in the public domain of that time, and under proper management would have afforded grand results for generations to come. Areas of land, sufficiently large to make great States, were donated with reckless liberality to railroad and other corporations, and, by a lax, easy administration of injudicious laws, men of wealth have been illegally permitted to acquire other great areas of the public lands; and now this generation has seen the vast territory we had at its beginning so reduced that less than 5,000,000 acres of arable agricultural land remain for the settlers, and about 50,000,000 of acres only of lands susceptible of improvement by irrigation. These lands are becoming more and more valuable year by year, and tempted by the promise, sure to be realized, of immense profits, as well as the absolute security of the investment, these lands, by devious methods in many cases, have been secured in great areas and holdings by capitalists and corporations, foreign as well as domestic.
In the hands of many of these foreign owners and holders, these lands are made subject to a system of landlordism and conditions totally un-American and kindred to that existing in the old world -- systems and conditions which have spread ruin and misery wherever they have existed in Europe. Beside this, out of the heritage of the American people -- the public lands -- we are at present permitting the coining of immense private fortunes in the hands of the foreign nobility and gentry at the expense of our own people, and giving these foreigners the control of the homes and happiness of the thousands of citizens or those who have come here to identify themselves with us. As an illustration of this, a published statement showing that 20,747,000 acres of land are held by foreigners, is appended. Among the large holders mentioned are the Marquis of Tweedale, Sir Edward Reed, the Holland Company, and several foreign syndicates, the possessions of each numbering millions of acres.
It is unnecessary to enter into detail and give the facts and figures which prove that public lands were voted away by Congress in a
MOST RECKLESS MANNER.
It is not required that statements be submitted concerning the extent to which bonanza farming has been carried in the United States. This information will be found in an interesting volume entitled "Land and Labor, by Wm. Godwin Moody," and a repitition[sic] is entirely unnecessary, for those who care to inform themselves on these points will find the subject exhaustively discussed in the pages of that little book.
The demand of the order of Knights of Labor is, "that all lands now held for speculative purposes be taxed to their full value." The great difficulty is to ascertain to what extent lands are now held for the purpose of speculation. While it is true that no greater evil exists than the holding of lands for such purposes, it is equally true that to properly estimate the number of acres thus held is almost impossible, and should a law be passed in compliance with the demand of the Knights of Labor, it would fall far short of the object intended, for the holders of lands would claim that they were not holding them for speculative purposes, and no one could prove that the contrary was true until they were offered for sale. Even then it would be difficult to prove that speculation had anything to do with the sale.
If the Knights demanded that "all lands held by parties, other than the government, shall bear an equal proportion of the taxation required for the maintenance of the government, and unimproved lands shall be assessed at the same rate as the nearest improved land," they would come nearer to the establishment of a
JUST RATE OF TAXATION,
and whether lands were held for speculation or not, they would not escape their just proportion of taxation. Through the operations of the system of holding land for speculative purposes, labor is drained of its last dollar, and poverty abounds where comfort would be found if we were living under a just and humane system of land ownership. Every acre of land held for speculative purposes is a tax upon industry; it is more, it is a legalized theft, and does more to promote discord and spread discontent than all other causes combined.
While the present system exists it will be impossible for any great number of toilers to secure homes of their own. Those who do earn enough to purchase homes are taxed for every act of labor that enriches the soil, and the conditions under which workingmen have to live after they purchase homes are such as to cause them to dread the idea of investing in land. In industrial centres, particularly in the coal regions, workingmen as a rule purchase lands on which to erect homes from their employers, and through the possession of these homes, and the fear of losing them, they are in many instances forced to
SUBMIT TO IMPOSITIONS
which they would not tolerate if the fear of losing employment first, and the homes eventually, did not haunt them. The blacklist has often served to return to corporations the building lots which employes contracted for.
A case is cited where five men purchased five hundred acres of coal lands adjoining a large city at a cost of $50,000. Upon the land they built a coal-breaker, sunk a shaft, and erected machinery at an extra cost of $150,000, the total investment being $200,000. The surface of the land was staked off into town lots and offered for sale to employes and others who wished to buy. The prices of the lots run from $100 to $250, according to location. The centrally-located lots were kept off the market and reserved for future sales, -- when a sufficient number of the cheaper lots had been sold to enhance the value of those in reserve. In less than three years a town of about three thousand inhabitants had been built up in that neighborhood. Stores, churches, schools, and one or two small factories had been built, and the corporation had sold two hundred of the one hundred dollar lots, and one hundred and seventy-five of the others.
The sum realized on the sale of these lots was $45,000. The lots averaged five to the acre, and after the sale of the three hundred and seventy-five lots, the company had remaining, including the spot, on which the breaker and buildings were erected,
TWENTY-ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-FIVE
lots. Those who purchased from them paid inside of three years within five thousand dollars of the total sum invested in the land. At the end of three years the price of the remaining lots advanced to $300 and $500, according to location.
The company invested in more real estate, and erected more tenements for the use of those of their employes who were unwilling or too poor to purchase homes. In disposing of the lots each deed contained a clause reserving the coal and mineral beneath the surface for the use of the company, and at the end of the fourth year those who purchased lots had paid back to the company the $50,000 it had invested in the entire tract, together with the interest on the money. The title to the coal still remained vested in the corporation. Through this operation the company had secured the coal beneath the surface of five hundred acres for nothing, except an exercise of good business qualifications.
The price of the second lot would never have been advanced had no purchaser appeared to take the first one. It was no act of the members of the corporation that raised the price of the lots to $300. It was the action of the community in locating in and around the centrally located lots. The corporation did not speculate on the probable amount of labor each member would perform in the service of the company. It speculated on the probable number of lots that would be sold, and when the demand became brisk, the necessities of those who desired homes were taken advantage of, and the price of the remaining lots was
The corporation paid taxes on their lands by the acre, while their purchasers paid by the lot, and, as nearly all of the lots were sold on contracts running from three to six years, the interest at six per cent. paid the taxes and insurance of the corporation.
The workmen not only paid their own taxes while improving their homes, but they also paid the taxes and insurance of the company, and for every spade full of earth thrown up in the improvement of the homes of the workmen, the company rated the remaining lands at higher figures than before, because of the 'labor of other hands than their own. In this instance, and its parallel may be found in every community, the corporation not only speculated in the land, but in the labor of those who occupied it as well.
When the works were started the company paid a fair rate of wages, but after the first year the stock of the concern was
WATERED TO ABOUT DOUBLE
its original cost, and in order to draw interest on an honest investment of $200,000, and on a fictitious stock of an equal amount, the wages of the workmen were reduced ten per cent. Those who had not invested in homes were at liberty to quit the service of the company, and move elsewhere, but those who had purchased, or contracted for the purchase of homes, were obliged to remain, and there were enough of them to carry on operations with the aid of a number of cheap imported workmen, who took the places of those who left the town to seek for more remunerative employment.
Other exactions than reductions of wages were imposed upon the men who had been induced to locate in that town, and instead of the possession of a home proving a blessing, it turned out to be a hardship under the system in vogue at that point. This illustration will fit hundreds of cases to be met with in all parts of the country, and portrays the iniquity of the system which permits speculation in land to throttle the independence of the citizen.
From the window where I sit a view is had of a farm belonging to a large coal mining and carrying company. Part of this land is used for grazing purposes, some of it is under grain and vegetables. It is leased to different parties by the year. Only the surface is leased, however, and the corporation will not sell the land for building purposes, it is said, until they can command $1500 a lot, if they do then. This land is destined to become
It is situated within a mile of the heart of the city of Scranton, with its hundred thousand inhabitants, and is located on an eminence overlooking the business part of the city.
The tract in question contains one hundred and forty-six acres of land. An examination of the tax duplicate of the city shows that it is assessed at a valuation of $52,740, and, at the tax rate of 20 1/2 mills on the dollar, pays in school and city taxes $1318.50, or a fraction over $9 per acre. The lots on the opposite side of the street sold, or were offered for sale three years ago, at the rate of $900 for fifty feet front and rear, and one hundred and fifty feet in length. When the lot on which the house I occupy was contracted for I was obliged to pay a tax of $6 per annum for school and city purposes, while the land around it paid at the rate of $1.50 per annum, or four dollars less than I paid for the same number of square feet. Up to this time nothing had been done to change the appearance, quality, or nature of the lot, only the act of transferring it to me for building purposes caused the assessor to demand $6 from me, while asking but $1.50 from the corporation. To-day the land on either side of mine, on the same side of the street, sells for $1200 per lot.
I have erected a house, and on that and the lot pay a tax of $50 per annum. On my
LABOR AND IMPROVEMENTS
I am required to pay at the rate of $50 a year, while a great corporation holds the surface of its one hundred and forty-six acres in reserve, waiting for others to locate in the neighborhood that it may demand $1500 per lot. If for the crime of improving my lot I am fined $50 a year, why should not the corporation, which holds the adjoining lands for speculative purposes, be required to pay at least the same rate of taxation? It is being enriched every time I plant a tree, a shrub, or a flower. If I put a new coat of paint on my house I am required to pay a higher rate of taxation for the labor done, and because I have performed that labor the corporation across the street advances the price of its land. It charges whoever will buy for my labor, and contributes little or nothing, in comparison to its resources, to the tax rate of the city, while expecting to derive a large profit from those who reside therein.
The corporation will argue that it gives employment to thousands, thus enabling them to purchase homes, etc. The reverse is true, for it is the labor of the thousands which makes the corporation rich and great, while it, through exorbitant charges for building lots, prevents the poor from owning homes, thus retarding the growth of the city. That is a question which will not be discussed here.
In the one hundred and forty-six acres, lots the size of mine to the number of seven hundred and forty may be staked and sold. If offered at
to-day they would be sold, and dwellings would be erected on each one of them.
Seven hundred and forty additional property owners would be contributing to the wealth of the city, but are held off by the avarice of those who have control of the land in question. These lands are now taxed as farm lands, although within a stone's throw of the city hall. If each lot were assessed as it should be, and required to pay its proportionate share of taxation, the taxes of every other resident of the city would be lowered in consequence, or the city would have that much more of a revenue with which to make improvements. At the rate at which I pay for improvement, these acres, if assessed, would pay $37,000 per year; if assessed as my lot was when I purchesed[sic] it, and before I changed it a particle from its original state, this tract of one hundred and forty-six acres would pay $4440 a year, instead of $1318.50, as at present, and there is no just reason why that corporation and all others should not pay at the same rate as individuals do.
Every acre escaping its proportionate share of taxation is imposing a burden on some other person, and to that extent is robbing that other person as surely and as effectively as though the pockets of that person were picked on the public highway.
That the greater portion of the lands of the nation are held by
INDIVIDUALS OR CORPORATIONS
is true; that they do not pay their proportionate share of taxes under our present laws, is true; that other persons residing in the nation must make up the deficiency and support the state, is also true; that whoever contributes what these landholders should contribute, is being wronged, is as true as any of the other propositions, and it is certain that the laws which permit such violations of the rights of the people are radically wrong.
It is asserted that to prevent speculative land holding would injure the farmers of the country. There is not a vestige of truth in that statement. Farmers do not cultivate their lands for the purpose of speculating in the price of the farm, nor do they sell their farms unless they intend to give up farming, or remove to another location. If they sell for the latter purpose, then speculation will work as injuriously to them as to all others, for speculators are no respectors of persons.
Large land owners are a menace to the farmer as well as to others, and it is as much to their interest to stem the tide of land-grabbing as it is to the mechanic or laborer in the city. The resident of the large city exists under the delusion that the land question has nothing to do with him. He is far removed from "the country," and will never engage in farming, as a consequence, he regards with indifference the agitation going on in the direction of requiring land to pay its just share of what is now
WRUNG FROM THE ACHING BACK
of the laborer. To bring the question squarely before the resident of the city, we will accompany him to Castle Garden, and witness the process of "settling immigrants on land" when the steamer comes into port. A foreigner, who was a farmer at home, naturally wishes to become a farmer in America. The agent of the land grant company meets him when he lands, or used to do so before the company established an agency in Europe to send men over, and offers him an opportunity to take up land in the West at interest ranging from six to twenty per cent. The immigrant accepts the offer, and with his wife and family goes to the land. He is poor and has to borrow money to buy tools, stock, and seed. He pays interest on the money he borrows, as well as on the money he hopes to be able to pay the corporation. At the end of five years he has not succeeded in raising the mortgage on his farm, and has barely succeeded in raising a living on it. It may be that his farm is part of a tract held by an alien landlord, possibly the one who drove him from his home in Europe, but whether it is or not the effect on him is the same, for the instinct of the landlord is the same the world over, and when the time expires the mortgage must be paid as well as the rent. Not being in a condition to meet his obligations, our farmer is forced to
SURRENDER TO THE SHERIFF,
and gives to the land owner every acre that he agreed to purchase from him, with all of his stock, tools, and fixtures that the interest did not eat up before. Penniless as when he landed, loaded down with a debt which he did not take to this country with him, older and as a consequence less able to earn a living for a family that has grown larger, he leaves the farm. He can not take up land anywhere else, and his path lies in the direction of the city. On arriving there he goes to the factory to seek for employment among men who imagine that the land question does not concern them.
Standing at the door of the factory is another man who has just landed in America. Both men are strangers to each other, but they are actuated by one impulse; they want bread for themselves and families, and their mission to that factory door is to obtain employment that they may earn bread. The superintendent or foreman responds to the knock, and when he opens the door two men ask for work. The factory is running with a full complement of operatives, but here are two men seeking work. They are in distress and will work cheap rather than see their families starve. The third man at work on the inside is told that he must perform labor for a smaller remuneration or give way to one of the two who stand at the door, and he either quits work or agrees to remain
AT A REDUCTION IN WAGES.
In either event the number of the unemployed is not reduced, and the farmer from the West, uniting with the immigrant from the East, assist in reducing the wages of the man in the middle, of the man in the city who scoffs at the idea of farming, or land, having anything to do with him.
The trade unionist, basing all of his hopes on a reduction of the hours of labor, or an increase of ten per cent. in wages, does not realize that through our iniquitous land system men enough are turned away from the land every year to fill the factories should they strike for shorter hours or better pay. Blind to their own best interests, the trade unionists refuse to strike hands with the farmers, the Knights of Labor, and others in the work of land reform, while speculation in land, the unequal payment of taxes on land, and the operation of immense tracts of land on the bonanza farm principle, drive hundreds of thousands away from the land who would never darken a factory door if they could till the soil, and make a living at it.
All who can not find work to do must live on the labor of those who are employed, and an advance of ten per cent., if it comes under such conditions, is soon lost again where thousands seek for work. The hours of labor will be reduced in vain where hundreds of thousands seek for employment as a result of unjust taxation and speculative landholding. Our cities are increasing in population at an alarming rate. Men are swarming in from the country, claiming that it is no longer possible to make a living on the land.
SYNDICATES, CORPORATIONS, AND MILLIONAIRES
are engaging in agriculture on a magnificent scale; they claim that they are making bread cheap for the people of the cities. They are also increasing the population of the cities, and adding to the number of those who can not earn the money with which to buy bread.
Under such a system as this the farmer and mechanic are at the mercy of the corporations who control the factories and the farms. With machinery in the hands of corporate power, turning men out of employment while it turns out riches for the owners, with large farms being tilled by hired men who hold no interest in the land, and who go to the cities in winter; with mortgages driving farmers into the cities at all seasons of the year; with the small landholder paying the taxes of the large one;with labor carrying the burdens which land should bear; with railroads squeezing out of the shipper "all that the traffic will bear;" with it possible to learn a trade, or a part of it, in five days in 1889 that required as many years thirty years ago, how is it possible for the mechanic or laborer in the city to maintain a respectable standard of wages, or lessen his hours of toil? It has become fashionable of late for the trades unionist to shout "hay seed" at the man who belongs to an organization that would
ELEVATE ALL MEN OF TOIL,
but numbskull is the epithet that should be applied to the resident of the city who imagines that the question of land reform is not as important to him as the securing of increased wages or shorter hours of toil.
It is demanded in the thirteenth resolution in the preamble of the Knights of Labor "that a graduated income tax be levied." It is hoped by this operation to reach our wealthy men, and force them to pay a just proportion of the revenue necessary to conduct the affairs of state. The income tax may be levied, but who is to ascertain what a man's income is? It is easy to learn what the income of the workingman is, but go beyond the domain of honest toil, and the chances of getting acquainted with the income of the wealthy are very few. Men's honor must be regarded as the standard by which to gauge the income of the wealthy, but the man who speculates in land will not tell the truth about his income if he can save money by telling a lie. Honor will not oblige him to state the truth, for speculation smothers honor. Perjury will be resorted to to retain the wealth which unfair dealing has won, and the greatest difficulty will be experienced in ascertaining what a man's income is.
In the city of Detroit there resides a wealthy man who owns hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of property in the city. In his dwelling is a picture for which he paid $25,000. He admits that he paid $15,000 for it. His assessed valuation for all of the property owned by him in the
CITY IS BUT $25,000.
He deceived the assessor, he wronged the city, he defrauded every other citizen in Detroit, and is as dishonest as though he were a forger or an embezzler. How could we trust to the honor of such a man to render a true account of what his income was? His double may be found in every square in every town and hamlet in the United States; and in large cities it is an acknowledged fact that it is not possible to properly estimate the amount of property held by the wealthy. Take any of our great trunk lines of railway running through more than one State, and attempt to estimate the income of one of the directors, and complete failure must attend the effort.
No law can be framed that will prove effective in collecting an income tax. Wherever such laws have been in force they have failed of their object, and have proved to be unsatisfactory. One resident of New York owns a house and lot in that city. He is assessed for the value of that property. He owns stock in a score of railroads, and has a controlling interest in many of them. These lines of railway are inter-State lines. How will it be possible to arrive at a correct knowledge of the income of that man for each railway in which he is interested? How can such a tax be collected, and who will compel that man to acknowledge that he is the possessor of stock in these railways when it is to his interest to deny ownership of it in order to escape the payment of taxes on it? If we trust to his honor to tell the truth, will it not be like leaning on a broken reed, when we know that that man has stopped at nothing
SHORT OF MURDER
to get possession of that stock? The average man will have to become much better than at present before the levying of a graduated income tax will so far touch his heart as to cause him to pay it.
The present method of assessing property is not equitable. Through its operations those who possess the most pay the least for the use of it. The greater part of the burden is heaped upon the shoulders of those who are least able to bear it. The cottage of the mechanic, the hovel of the laborer, and the homestead of the farmer pay according to their full value, while the palace of the millionaire is assessed for a tenth or a twentieth part of what it is worth. The laborer, farmer, and mechanic tell the truth when asked what the value of their possessions is, while the millionaire resorts to the same methods to avoid paying his taxes that won for him so much more of this world's effects than his neighbors are possessed of.
Take another view of the matter and we are forced to admit that the graduated income tax, if it could be collected, would prove unjust and burdensome, as well as a stumbling-block, in the way of enterprise. Two men owning adjoining farms might start in the field of agriculture on equal terms. The opportunities might be the same at the beginning, the soil the same, the amount of wealth possessed by each of equal value. In all things their chances at the start might be equal. One might be
THRIFTY AND INDUSTRIOUS;
the other, careless and lazy. The thrifty farmer might reap a rich reward for labor done in the way of enriching his farm, raising a large number of horses, cows, and sheep. His buildings might be very valuable, and his farm, at the end of a few years, might be worth fifty times as much as at the start.
With the lazy farmer the situation might be exacty the reverse, and if a graduated income tax were levied, the industrious farmer would have to pay for the other's laziness, the lazy man would have to pay no more than when he began farming, while the other would have to pay dearly for being enterprising and industrious. The premium would be on laziness in this instance. The income derived from the farm would be taxed. That income would represent the industry of the farmer, while the other man would not be required to pay anything for being lazy, and yet his farm might be equally as good as the other. The rule that would apply to the railroad king, the stock gambler, or the bondholder would not apply to the industrious farmer. He would have to pay on the result of hard labor, while the others would not admit that they possessed a great amount of wealth as a result of sharp practice, stock gambling, or railroad wrecking.
The advocates of a graduated income tax would tax all incomes above a certain figure, allowing those under it to escape. Here is another
It is also a loop-hole through which to escape payment. Why should any one, or any income, avoid taxation if the opportunities of acquiring an income are the same for all. If they are not the same for all, then the principle on which the graduated tax is levied is wrong. If the opportunities under the law are the same, and men do not keep pace with each other in acquiring incomes, it is because men are differently constituted, and the difference, being in the men instead of the opportunities, renders it absolutely impossible to legislate in an equitable manner on the collecting of a tax upon incomes. In admitting that the tax should be graduated on incomes, we recognize the fact that they will differ with different men; that the conditions under which men labor are not equal, and as a consequence we should aim more particularly at equalizing the conditions than at graduating the incomes. To attempt to graduate the tax upon the incomes of the people of the present day would be vain, while we allow the conditions which make it so easy for man to cheat his neighbor to remain unchanged.
The laws now in force which regulate the methods of taxation should be amended in some instances, and in others repealed. It is the supposition that laws are founded on the
NECESSITIES OF THE PEOPLE,
but such is not the rule of action in making laws of the nineteenth century. The necessities of the whole people are not so potent in shaping legislation as the shrewdness, the lack of conscience, the use of money, and the influence of corporations. This statement every one believes to be true, and it is true unless the press, the pulpit, and the statesmen of the land have been deceiving the people for the last quarter of a century. The evidence to bear out their assertions is so conclusive that there need be no doubt of the truth of what they say.
The laws in force at this date were made as people understood them when made, and as people come to understand the necessity for a change they will change them. Agrarian agitator, communist, socialist, disturber, and demagogue will be shouted at the man who advises a change in a law by which a certain class is benefited, but once the law is changed according to the will of the people instead of the interested few, it becomes the voice of the people, and must be obeyed by that class as well as all others.
Last year it would have been murder to take the life of a murderer by electricity in New York. The criminal would have to choke to death by hanging. To hang a murderer in New York for a crime committed since January 1, 1889, would be murder. The law has been changed, conditions are different. Hanging was law, and consequently recognized as right. Electricity is law now, and hanging is wrong. There were people who believed that hanging was wrong, but they had to tolerate it while the law upheld it. Ten years ago the advocate of death by electricity for murderers would be scoffed at, but the advocates of electricity persisted, and to-day they are right because the law says so. So will it be when changes are made in our land laws. They must be made. The people will understand the necessity for a change, and that point reached it is but a step to the change itself.
Fifty years ago the cry was to teach the people how to read; to-day it is to get them to read, for they know how, and to understand what they do read, so that the best possible use may be made of the learning. What is required most is a thorough education of the people on the subjects which relate to their well being. Through the ignorance of the people, as a mass, the class was permitted to "get there" it mattered not how, and having accomplished that feat they were permitted to "stay there" by those who did not appreciate the value of a change of legislation.
A careful examination of the subject will prove that the levying of a
GRADUATED INCOME TAX
will not accomplish the desired result. The assessing of property now practiced will not place the burden where it rightfully belongs, and there must be some other remedy, some other means by which equity may approach nearer to us in the management of our affairs. It is offered as a solution of the difficulty that the number of acres to be sold to each individual shall not exceed one hundred and sixty, and that a penalty be inflicted where violations of the law are discovered. I once entertained such a belief.
Such a law would be a dead letter from the beginning, and would inaugurate an era of fraud and perjury that would be lamentable to contemplate. Through one pretext or another men would procure the services of others, and under assumed names would purchase lands exceeding the limit of one hundred and sixty acres. Bogus ownership, holding in trust, fraudulent entries, and a hundred other dishonest practices would be resorted to to evade the law, and it could not be enforced. On the other hand, even at the limit of one hundred and sixty acres, millions of people would be disinherited and deprived of their rights to the soil, or to the use of the same.
Pennsylvania contains about twenty-nine millions of acres of land. She has a population of upwards of five millions. Estimating the heads of families at one to five, there are one million people in the State who would be entitled to one hundred and sixty acres each should such a law be established. Divide the twenty-nine millions of acres into seporate[sic] tracts of one hundred and sixty acres each, and we would have acres for less than two hundred thousand people. How would we provide for the remaining eight hundred thousand heads of families should they demand the right to purchase one hundred and sixty acres each? Each person living within the State, who has not attained majority, would, at no distant day,
HAVE A RIGHT TO LAY CLAIM
to one hundred and sixty acres of the soil of Pennsylvania, and it would be impossible to supply the demand. Such a law would from the start be worthless and inoperative.
We must admit that the natural right of each individual to the use of the soil is equal to that of every other individual; and should it come to pass after the promulgation of such a law as is spoken of, that the required number of persons laid claim to the lands of the State, and became possessed of them, it must also follow that the remaining millions would exist, if they existed at all, without political life, they would be deprived of all rights which were born with them, and unless a new distribution should take place they could lay claim to nothing within the State except that which was bestowed on them in charity by the fortunate possessors of the soil.
While such a law would prove disastrous, and while it is only a "supposed case," it is well for the people to consider it in order that they may arrive at correct conclusions concerning the
DISTRIBUTION OF LAND.
Every one of those who would be entitled to the land would not want it. Some would not be content with one hundred and sixty acres; others would be content with less than an acre, while others would prefer living as tenants for life. So far as the actual desires or wants of the people are concerned, they can never be regulated by law, either in the distribution of land or anything else.
Not caring to enter upon the land for the purpose of cultivating it, and deprived of the opportunity to hold it for speculative purposes, the majority would take but little interest in the subject, and in a short time we would find other laws growing upon our statutes, and again, in another form, the rights of the people would be jeopardized through unjust enactments. Some want land for farming purposes, others require it for manufacturing purposes, others for stores and dwellings. The amount required by one would not compare, in proportion, with that which others would want, for we can not erect a fixed standard by which to regulate the wants or necessities of mankind.
It is presumed that each person at birth is entitled to a place somewhere upon the earth's surface during existence. If the Creator intended that each one of His creatures should inhabit the earth, and have a right to stay upon its surface until He should call him to the future world, then it must follow that none of God's creatures should have the right to determine where his neighbor should stay while on earth. Every person has an
with every other person to the use of the earth, and no matter what laws may be passed, the use of the soil is all that can be conferred.
If it were possible to imagine a condition of society with the population so dense that there would be a scramble for the use of the soil, we would see the laws that now find place upon the statute books swept away, the privileges, miscalled rights, which land owners now possess, would be disregarded, and laws, such as would deal out the greatest measure of relief to the greatest number, would be passed in their stead. The wants of society would regulate the holding of the earth's surface by mankind. Each individual, then, has a natural right to the use of the earth, no more or less, and no law can vest in him the right to hold the soil in absolute ownership, beyond a time when the rights of others demand that he surrender that right for the good of the greatest number.
What man may lawfully do to-day, may be looked upon in a far different light when the necessities of the whole people have changed the conditions under which he exercised that right.
WE MAY SCOFF AT THE IDEA
of ignoring the right of man to absolute ownership of the earth, but want will set aside that right in the interest of a higher law. Those who now steadfastly hold to the opinion that man has a right to hold in absolute title as many acres of land as he pleases, will not be willing to admit that other men have no right to purchase any part of the earth, even though they have the means wherewith to do so.
The believer in absolute ownership must also be a believer in no ownership. He believes in absolute ownership for himself and no ownership for others. Those who own the earth to-day are upheld in that ownership only because necessity has not driven the many to the point where they require the use of the land. When necessity drives men to that extremity, what is now called right will appear only as a privilege, and that privilege will have to give way to the requirements of the people.
It is plain, then, that the use of the earth is all that man can lay claim to, and it is but equity that he should pay for the privilege of using it for his own purposes. Some do not want to use their portion, and may allow others to do so. These others should pay for that use, and pay for it in proportion as its possession benefits them, that the remainder may be recompensed for that which they surrendered to them. The advocates of a
the same to be levied upon the land, come the nearest to the remedy for the evils of the present system. Everything erected upon the earth's surface is the result of labor, but the industry displayed does not confer ownership on the workman. The land made more valuable as the result of man's industry, escapes taxation, while he whose labor enriched it is taxed, and receives no part of the wealth his labor creates, save enough to keep body and soul in union with each other. The result of labor is assessed, and as a consequence labor pays the assessment, while the land, which is made more valuable, escapes paying its due proportion of revenue to the State.
At first sight it may appear that land does pay the taxes, and that there is no necessity for a change in the operations of the tax collector. While it is true that it is from the earth the laborer extracts that which does pay the taxes, it is also true that it is the laborer who pays the taxes, and not the earth, from which he produced the wealth. We have a multiplicity of taxes to-day. We have water taxes, gas taxes, street taxes, city taxes, school taxes, mercantile taxes, taxes for the maintenance of the board of health, the corpse is taxed before it can be buried, the undertaker is taxed for burying the corpse, the cemetery, which escapes taxation, taxes the corpse for occupying a portion of it. Taxes for the payment of salaries of officers, state taxes, county taxes, bridge taxes, poll taxes, poor taxes, sewer taxes, taxes for keeping a horse, a dog, a cow, a pig, a watch. Every outhouse erected is taxed, a new fence adds to the taxation of the property owner. If the citizen is satisfied with a certain kind of an indispensable outhouse, which does not come up to the requirements of the board of health, he is
FINED FOR MAINTAINING A NUISANCE,
and if he makes alterations and improvements upon it he is fined by the tax collector for doing so. The cartman is taxed for every hack, cab, omnibus, stage, or animal he possesses, and if he does not keep them in a certain style he is fined for it.
In Pennsylvania we pay an occupation tax. The laborer is assessed at a valuation of $50, while the millionaire is assessed at but $200. There is a multiplicity of taxes to pay, and by the time the tax payer goes the rounds and pays each one he is tired out and disgusted. It would be far easier to levy a "single tax," basing it upon land values, and have but one payment to make, at one place, instead of a score of different taxes at as many different places, each one rated at a different valuation, according to the intelligence or disposition of the assessor, each tax paying a commission to the tax collector.
As has been stated, the tax assessor can not accurately estimate the
VALUE OF THE HOUSE,
or its possible contents, by standing in front of it, and taking an outside view of it. He can not ascertain what the ravages of time have done to depreciate the property; he can not examine the walls, cellar, garrett, or other parts of the house, and can not, does not, do his duty as it should be done, he simply guesses at the value of the property, and then goes to the owner to find out if he has guessed aright, and he always finds that he has guessed too high, unless the owner happens to be a friend of his, and then there is no fault to find.
Taxes are not honestly levied at present, and under the law favoritism may be, and is, shown in every city and township. It is argued that it would not be fair or equitable to tax land values, and let the property erected on the land escape taxation. It is because the property, such as houses, barns, stores, and factories, that now stand on the land, are not taxed as they should be, and because they can not be properly or equitably assessed, that a single land tax would prove to be the very essence of equity, that l advocate it. Everything is uncertain at the present time, but levy the tax on the value of the land, and a tape-line, properly and judiciously handled, will enable the assessor to decide with accuracy the exact valuation of the property he measures, and levy his assessment accordingly.
One man may be content to live in a hovel, he may accumulate money in speculation, and hoard it away without adding to the wealth or beauty of the city or town he lives in by the addition of a coat of paint to his wretched home. His house may be situated in the heart of a city; if so,
HIS LAND IS CERTAINLY AS VALUABLE
as that of his neighbor, who has erected a beautiful house, which is a comfort to the owner, and an addition to the wealth and beauty of the town. If all of his neighbors adhered to the plan on which he worked, there would be no handsome residences or buildings in the place, business would shun the town and enterprise would die.
If the property nearest to his is worth $10,000, and the miser is asked to sell his land and hovel, he, too, will ask $10,000 for them, and give as a reason that "my next neighbor asks that price for his place, and mine is worth more, for it is unencumbered with much of anything in the shape of a house, and there will be no trouble in clearing it, so that the purchaser may build such a house as he pleases." If all his neighbors owned such places as he, they could not demand $10,000 for them.
All this time the owners of the beautiful houses and grounds have been paying high taxes, while the miser has continued to pay a nominal sum. All this time the community has been enriching this man, and making his land more valuable; all this time the community has been paying the taxes on the miser's property, for through his greed he has escaped payment, since the improvements alone are taxed, and he, having made no improvements, does not
CONTRIBUTE HIS JUST SHARE
to the support of the community, but when the time comes to sell his land he charges the purchaser for the labor of those around him who have not received any of the benefits of enriching his land.
Every resident of such a neighborhood is entitled to a share of the value of that property. They do not ask that the owner pay them a percentage of the proceeds of the sale, but they have a right to expect that he should contribute his share of taxation to assist in supporting the community.
What is true of the lot in the city is also true of the farm in the country. The miserly farmer who drains his land of the last dollar, and hoards that dollar away from sight, injures the neighborhood he lives in by obliging the other farmers to pay a higher rate of taxation. Under our present laws there is no encouragement to the farmer or property owner to beautify or improve his place. He knows that he will be taxed for it, and he also knows that if he lives in a hovel he will escape taxation. The reward is not conferred for thrift, for improvement, for enterprise, but for niggardliness and improvidence.
What would be an equitable basis on which to levy a single tax? is asked. Ascertain the rental value of the property, and assess it accordingly; assess all around in the same ratio. The
of land may be said to be fickle and unsatisfactory. The owner of a piece of property may ask a certain price for it when speculating in .land, and the necessities of the seeker may not have pushed him to a point where he is willing to give that price. The speculative value of the land is not easy to ascertain, except on application to the owner, but the rental value of property is known to the whole Community.
It has been advanced as an objection to rating taxation according to the rental value of the land, that a city like Philadelphia would have to pay taxes enough to maintain the whole machinery of the State, cities, townships, and ll. That argument may hold if we admit that the rents in Philadelphia are not too high, but there is no reason why rents should be so exorbitant. Here is the point at which I wish to introduce the landless man, the worker in the city and town, the tenant who exists under the delusion that he is not paying taxes because he owns no property. The rental value of the land is increased or diminished, according to the necessities of the renters, the tenants. If tenants are scarce, and that is seldom the case, then rents are low, and it should be observed that taxes do not fall whether the property rents well or ill. It is not the real value of the property that the proprietor exacts a high rent for, it is the
NECESSITIES OF THE TENANT
he taxes when leasing the place. It appears, then, that it is the tenant who pays the taxes of the man who owns the property; and if taxes were levied on the rental value of the land we may rest assured that exorbitant rents would not be charged as at present, and taxation would be more equitably levied and paid than under our present system.
But taxes would not increase under this plan of collecting a single tax, the same to be levied on the rental value of the land. They would be distributed over a larger area, take in more tax-payers, reach the owners of unoccupied lands now held for speculative purposes, and as a consequence a greater number of persons would be contributing to the support of the state. The greater the number of tax-payers the smaller will be the amount each one will have to pay; the lower the rate of taxation on property, the greater the stimulus to the workman to purchase a homestead of his own. But why should a large city pay so much more than the country? is asked. It will not pay more than the country under such a system of taxation, for every community will pay an equitable rate of taxation. It is the surrounding country that makes the land in the city valuable.
If no revenue came into Philadelphia from outside of the city limits; if the inhahitants of Pennsylvania should decide to divert trade to Pittsburg, and not patronize Philadelphia again, the business of the latter city would naturally drift to Pittsburg. The surrounding country assists in
PAYING THE TAXES
of all of our cities, and should receive some of the benefits from their investments. Rents are not so high in small towns as in large cities, and as a consequence the rate of taxation would not be so high, but if all lands, whether in city or country, are taxed according to their rental value, then no lands will escape. No one man or set of men will have to pay the taxes of any other man or set of men, and all unoccupied lands now held for speculative purposes will contribute their full share to the support of the State.
But the poor man who owns a lot along-side of the residence of a millionaire will have to pay as much for his lot as the millionaire, and that would not be fair, is another objection, one, too, that is often advanced. I know of no place where the millionaire and workingman own adjoining properties, and if there is such a case in the United States at the present day it will be only a question 0f time when, under our present system of taxation, the millionaire will own the two lots.
If land is worth anything to man in any part of the globe he should be willing to pay for the use of it; and if that land is situated in the heart of a city along-side of the land owned by a millionaire, then the owner should pay for its use the same as the millionaire. We have millionaires now by the thousand where we once had them by the dozen, and they have become millionaires because they have been permitted to hold vast tracts of
LAND FREE FROM TAXATION.
They have been permitted to absorb these lands while operating mines, factories, railroads, and other industries, through the operation of which they have made life unbearable to some of their workmen that they might drive them to the land, and there take advantage of them again. With land paying its full share of taxation, and that is all that is required, the millionaire of the future will become such through his own ability, if at all, for he will not have the land to speculate in while amassing wealth.
The "single tax will ruin the farmers" is shouted across the prairies and over the plains. If lifting a part of the burden from the back of the farmer, and placing it on the shoulders of the man who holds more acres than the farmer without the payment of a hundreth part of the taxes which the farmer is obliged to pay, is ruin, then indeed will the farmers be ruined. The farm may be decreasing in value, yet the farmer may have to keep up the same rate of taxation. He may have to invest a great part of his income in fertilizer and improved machinery to make his farm pay, but so long as he does not tear down his house and barns, and erect hovels and sheds, he will have to keep up payment at the same old rate to the tax gatherer. His yield of produce may not be as large as last. year, but his yield to the tax collector
WILL NOT BE LESSENED
in proportion. If there is a class of men on the soil of America who are directly interested in securing the passage of a single tax law, that class is to be found where farmers are numerous.
What troubles the farmer is that some one who knows nothing about the question has informed him that he will have to pay as much per square foot for his land as the resident of the large city will have to pay, and that taxes are to be levied the same on city land as on the farm. The rental value of the farm, according to the rate of the neighborhood in which it is situated, is all that he will have to pay, and and at that same rate must the improvident farmer and the idle speculator also pay. The industrious farmer will not have to pay, as he does now, for the indolence, niggardliness, shrewdness of his neighbor.
Previous to the birth of the land speculator in the West, the farmer was not troubled with such an encumbrance as a mortgage on his land. Now he has an abundance of them. It was not to fight off the single tax that the farmers of the United States met in national convention in Georgetown, D. C., in January, 1873, for the purpose of organizing the National Grange. They met because they were being gathered into the net of the
because of excessive taxation, and because of discrimination in freights. It was not the grasshoppers or the drought that worried the farmers so much as the monopolist and speculator. They were being oppressed and are still oppressed. The formation of organizations such as the Farmers' Alliance, Patrons of Husbandry, Wheel, and several local organizations, suggest the idea that the market in which the farmer buys and sells may have something to do with the case. To-day the farmer buys in the dearest market in the world, and is forced to sell in the cheapest. Until conditions change he has no say in the matter, for the means of transportation are beyond his control, and are held by monopoly.
I do not believe, with many advocates of a single land tax, that it will prove a "cure all" for every ill that industry is heir to; far from it. Neither would I have it take the place of a duty on imports from foreign countries. Several land reformers would have the single tax answer all purposes of taxation, and in that they are right, but there are many who do not regard a duty on imports as a tax. It is supposed to be a protection to American labor to have imports subject to a duty, and that question should be agitated, discussed, and fought out on the line of protection until the end is made plain. It is not clear to many that a tariff is a protection, and until all doubts are dispelled that question should not be obscured or confounded with the single tax discussion. If the day comes when men will realize the benefits to be
DERIVED FROM A SINGLE LAND TAX
they will also know whether the duties now levied in the name of protection serve the purposes for which they are levied.
The agitation on the subject of protection has been going on for years. It is one on which men differ in various localities, and is a question which should be judged on its own merits while the land question is being adjusted. There are protectionists among farmers as well as among mechanics. Free traders are to be found among both. Neither will agree to abandon his pet theories until his pocket is touched, and it is a most difficult thing to teach either one that a tariff on imports is not what he thinks it is. Every man will realize the necessity for a change in our land system, and should not have other, and lesser questions, thrust upon him while discussing the taxation of land values.
If protection is the end in view then taxation has nothing to do with a tariff, but it should be first settled whether we are being protected. The fullest light should be had, and the people properly educated on that question before it is allowed to merge into any other, and land reformers can very well afford to leave the question of protection outside the pale of discussion until the end is made plain in the matter of land taxation. If protection is really the end in view, when we levy a duty on imports, then
ABSOLUTE AND UNQUALIFIED PROHIBITION
of the landing of imports alone will settle the question. We can afford to allow the tariff agitation to proceed independently while we settle the land question. That once done we will find that the other problems are easily solved.
There are questions which deal directly with the land, and should be discussed by farmer and laborer. The veins through which the life current of the country flows do not belong to the system to which they are indispensable. Fancy a man whose arteries do not belong to him, whose heart-beats are directed by another, by one over whom he has no control, and the reader will form an idea of the condition of this country, with the public highways in the hands of corporations, acting independent of and, in some instances, in defiance of the government.
The railroad and telegraph system of the country are public highways. They take the place of the canals, water-ways, and government roads of fifty years ago. They have made it possible for the large cities to absorb the mechanic and laboring population of the nation. All except tillers of the soil are being allured into the cities, and soon there will be no middle ground. It is the tendency of the times to build up cities, and I see no great harm to follow if the connection between city and country, between farm and factory, is steady, strong, and satisfactory to both. It is
NOT SATISFACTORY TO-DAY,
and will not be until those for whom the railroads were built control them.
The Mississippi river is a great national highway, and every year Congress makes appropriations for its improvement. It belongs to no one, and is used by all. It is public property. The man owning land along its banks can not levy a tax on all that passes his door in boat or shallop. No corporation would dare to absorb or control it, for the reason that it is the means whereby the common business of the country on either side of it for miles is carried. Why make an exception? Why not turn the management or the great rivers of the nation over to private corporations? It is, or will be, said that no corporation built the rivers, or caused them to flow, and that they differ from the railroads and telegraphs. There is not a particle of difference in the uses to which both are put, but the railroad will tolerate no interference from the citizen or resident, will carry only what it pleases, and will not allow any person to run a train over its rails unless it be turned over entirely to the corporation owning the railroad.
How different with the water highways! Every person who wishes to may fit out a boat and act as a common carrier between points on the water front. The water is free to all, and is kept so by action of the government. The old government road was fitted out and kept in repair by the government.
IT WAS FREE TO ALL.
The canal was free to all until the railroads came into existence, and took from the people the privilege of using them.
When the General Assembly of the Knights of Labor convened in Philadelphia, in 1884, they made an important addition to the preamble of the order in demanding:
That the government shall obtain possession, by purchase, under the right of eminent domain, of all telegraphs, telephones, and railroads; and that hereafter no charter or license be issued to any corporation for construction or operation of any means of transporting intelligence, passengers, or freight.
At the sessions of 1885 and 1886 no reference was made to this section in the preamble, but at the Minneapolis session the General Master Workman, in his annual address, said:
THE XVIIITH CLAUSE IN THE DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES
Reads as follows:
"That the government shall obtain possession, by purchase, under the right of eminent domain, of all telegraphs, telephones, and railroads; and that hereafter no charter or license be issued to any corporation for construction or operation of any means of transporting intelligence, passengers, or freight."
I believe that the time lost in delaying action on that clause is time wasted, and most respectfully call the attention of the General Assembly to the matter with a view to having some action taken.
I believe that the government of the United States should operate its own lines of telegraph. I believe that it is absolutely necessary for the welfare and prosperity of the country that the government establish a telegraph system to be used in the interest of the people. The last presidential election witnessed a scene which no patriot wishes to see again. The fate of the nation hung in the balance. The country was in doubt as to which of the candidates for the presidency had been chosen. It was plainly stated in the metropolis of the United States that one man, whose name I will not mention here, was tampering with the election returns from certain parts of the country with a view to defeating the will of the people. It was not only stated that such was the case, but no one doubted it. It was only when threats of hanging him to a lamp-post were made that the announcement went forth that the returns would be given to the people as accurately as they came in.
At that time the telegraph company, on whose wires the news came in, had a powerful and growing rival. To-day it has absorbed that rival, and is reaching out for more power. At that time the telegraph system of this country was under the control of many men and different managements. To-day it is under the control of one management, if not one man. The tendency of the present age is toward centralization, and it is not unreasonable to suppose that in the near future the railway lines of the nation will be under the control of one management, if not under the control of a single man. The history of the past decade, the tendency of the hour, and the rapid march of events in every walk of life, tend to show that the power of the corporation is giving way to the rule of the monopolist. Such being the case, is it not true that the individual who controls the telegraph and railway lines of the nation also controls the people of the nation? Men may say that it is socialism to talk of having the government assume control of the railways and telegraphs of the nation. Even so, is it not better to advocate such socialism than to witness a defeat of the people's will -- a debauching of the servants of the people? Is it not better for the people to attend to their own affairs in such a way that no individual will have it in his power to defraud them of their inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, than to allow a single man to manage that business, not for them, but for himself?
"Title by eminent domain" is the title by which the government acquires an estate in the real property of an individual when the same is necessary for public use. The right of eminent domain, or the right to take private property for public use, is inherent in every government. A government also has power to exercise this right in favor of individuals or corporations engaged in prosecuting works of a quasi public nature, such as railroads, turnpike, and canal companies. But when property is so taken full compensation must be made therefor[sic] to its owner, and that mode of taking it, which is prescribed by law, must be strictly followed.
The government having the right to take, either for itself or for corporation or individual, the private property of an individual, has also the right to own property of the same description. The rights of all of the people are more sacred in the eyes of the government than the right of the individual. The right of the individual must not be trampled upon by the government. What the government should not do the monopolist must not do, and in order to prevent the monopolist from infringing upon the right of the people the government should interfere. I would not advocate the purchase of the property of the telegraph system now in use by the government. I believe that the government can easily erect, operate, and control telegraph lines of its own, allowing those now in existence to remain in possession of the present owner. The government certainly can erect its own lines much cheaper than it can purchase the vast amount of watered stock now loaded upon the original stock of the existing telegraph system.
We should have trunk lines of railways running North and South, East and West, through the United States, under the control of the government. The government could then ascertain at what figures passengers and freight could be carried, and the rates fixed by the government would be the standard at which other lines would carry passengers and freight. There would be no injustice in this, and those who would not care to part with their railways and telegraphs could continue to operate them at a reasonable profit. It is absolutely necessary that the government should take steps to protect itself against the hand of the traitor at home.
We hear a great deal about our coast defenses being of little use. Suppose that our coast defenses were required, and it became necessary to transport troops from one part of the country to another; then imagine the railways of this country in the hands of one management, and that management opposed to the government, and you will see what a delay in transporting troops would cost the government. You may say there is no probability of such a thing ever happening. That makes no difference, a well-regulated government will never place itself in the power of an individual or a single corporation. With the rapid introduction of foreign airs and customs to this land, it is reasonable to suppose that not a few monarchial ideas are being imported also. I know that the case of the government's connection with the Union Pacific Railway will be cited as a warning against the government having anything further to do with the management of railways. Because the dishonest transactions which characterized the management of the concern were allowed to go unwhipped of justice, and because the people allowed their own government to be swindled, is no reason why a like transaction should occur again. I believe the government should control our railways and telegraph.
The Legislative Committee was instructed to work for the passage of a bill to create a governmental system of telegraphs. The railroad question was not pushed for the reason that the convention deemed it best to take up but one subject at a time.
On November 23, 1887, the General Master Workman issued a circular letter to the order asking their co-operation in securing names to petitions to Congress to establish a system of telegraphy to be managed in connection with the Post-office Department. Blank forms of petitions were sent out with the circular. The request was made that they be returned to the general office early in January, thus giving but a little over three weeks to act on the petition and circular. Promptly on time came the petitions signed by over 1,000,000 of people. They were entrusted to the care of Ralph Beaumont, chairman of the committee, who placed them in the hands of the various Congressmen, by whom they were introduced.
A bill was introduced and referred to a committee, but the agitation on the question of
TARIFF VS. FREE TRADE
overshadowed every other thing, and Congress adjourned without taking action. The National Legislative Committee prepared the bill that was introduced, and submitted statistics and arguments in its favor. The National Board of Trade favored the measure, and worked for its passage, but the result was not satisfactory. Action is only delayed, for the agitation will continue and grow in strength as the people become educated to the necessity for managing their own business.
That the monopoly now controlling the telegraphs of the country realized the danger which menaced it, and recognized the justice of governmental control in at least some slight degree, is apparent to all who read the argument, or memorial, presented to Congress against the measure by Norvin Green, the President of the Western Union Telegraph Company. Said he:
It may be worthy of suggestion, however, that if the government must go into this kind of business there are many articles of far more general use and consumption, which, if taken hold of and furnished at a cheap and uniform rate to the masses, would afford vastly more general relief to the public. Coal, a product of the earth, and unmined a part of the eminent domain, is essential to the preservation of life, and an absolute necessity to twenty times as many people as ever need to use the telegraph.
The reason that so few use the telegraph at present is that it is beyond their reach, and they can not get access to it on reasonable terms. The same is true of coal. Thousands would use it where hundreds do now if Norvin Green's suggestion were carried out. While the use of coal is essential to the comfort of the individual, the control of the telegraph is essential to the
FUTURE LIFE OF THE NATION.
Coal is no more a product of the earth than the material of which the telegraph system is composed, and both are essential to the welfare of the people. As well might Mr. Green have said that when the telegraph was invented the people who knew nothing about it, who did not use it then, who could not understand it, or get access to it, would never use it because they had never done so before.
The sending of messages will one day supersede in a great measure the sending of letters. The sending of letters is under the control of the government, and is being managed much better and cheaper than it could, or would, be done by the corporations of the land. A letter weighing an ounce may be sent from Scranton to San Francisco for two cents. To send it under care of an express company would cost twenty-five cents, or twelve times more than the United States government charges for the same service.
There is no reason why the placing of the means of transportation under the control of the government will not cheapen the cost of transportation in all things as it did in the case of our mail service. The government does transact part of the business of the country now, and leaves off where its
HONOR IS INVOLVED.
A letter may be sent from New York to San Francisco, or to any other point, in which an order for a thousand dollars' worth of produce may be enclosed. The government obliges the corporations owning the railways to carry that order for material, and it will, at the point of destination, deliver the order to the man for whom it is intended, but there its functions end, and when the order is filled and the material is ready for shipment, and carted to the depot, the government will not undertake to oblige the railway to transport the goods to the man who ordered them through the medium of the government. If it is right for the government to transact a part of the public business of the nation, it certainly is right for it to control all of it, and do so in such a manner as to give satisfaction and relieve the strain which now oppresses business.
The passage of the Inter-State Commerce Law was simply an experiment in angling for the truth, but the only remedy lies in the control of the railways and telegraphs of the nation by the people of the nation. There is no reason why the stamp of the government can not be affixed to a bale of cotton, a barrel of oil, a car of wheat, a car of coal, or a package of goods as well as to a letter which carries an order for these things. If the control of the railways and telegraphs is vested in the government,
WHICH CONFERS THE RIGHT
upon these corporations to transact the business of the nation, then the produce of the farmer may be conveyed to market by the cheapest and safest route, and the man in the city will receive his food without paying tribute to monopoly as at present. These questions of land and transportation go hand in hand, and are so closely allied that they become one when studied. Being one question their proper solution will cement, in indissoluble bond, the interests of the workers in town, city, and country, whether their names are written as farmers, mechanics, or laborers.
How You Can Help
- Transcribing Documents
- Donating Money
- Training for Responsibility
- Public Officials
- Small Businesses
- Family Farms
- Organic Farms
- Real Estate Leaders
- Innovative Land Speculators
- Ethnic Minorities
- Ideological Groups
- Decentralism and Freedom
- Focusing on Local Reform
- Government as Referee
- Government as Public Servant
- Earth as a Commons
- Money as a Common Medium
- Property Derives from Labor
- Wealth Concentration
- Globalization and Trade
- Economic Stagnation
- Boom-Bust Cycles
- Development Subsidies
- Pollution and Depletion
- Public Services
- Health Care
- Shared Services
- Orwellian Economics
- Corporate Efficiency
- Democracy vs. Elections
- Big Government Solutions
- Founding Fathers
- Politics of Fear
- Politics of Least Resistance
- Radical vs. Militant
- Left vs. Right
- Common vs. Collective
- Analysis vs. Vilification
- Influence vs. Power
631 Melwood Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213