Submitted By bonnienn
Readings for American History Since 1877 Historiography in America...................................................................................................................................................... 2 How to teach history (and how not to) ................................................................................................................................ 6 How Ignorant Are Americans? ........................................................................................................................................... 9 The West ............................................................................................................................................................................... 11 The Education of Native Americans ................................................................................................................................. 11 Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee .................................................................................................................................... 15 Prostitution in the West: .................................................................................................................................................... 17 The Gilded Age ..................................................................................................................................................................... 21 The Duties of American Citizenship ................................................................................................................................. 21 The Gospel of Wealth ....................................................................................................................................................... 28 The Richest of the Rich, Proud of a New Gilded Age ...................................................................................................... 30 “Is income inequality 'morally wrong'?” ........................................................................................................................... 36 White Man’s Burden ......................................................................................................................................................... 38 Anglo-Saxon Predominance ............................................................................................................................................. 39 The Blowing Up of the Maine .......................................................................................................................................... 42 The Progressive Era .............................................................................................................................................................. 51 The New Progressive Movement ...................................................................................................................................... 51 Burned into Memory: ........................................................................................................................................................ 53 Suffrage On Stage ............................................................................................................................................................. 54 Morality and Birth Control ............................................................................................................................................... 57 A Woman Recounts Her Twelve Abortions in Turn-of-the-Century New York .............................................................. 59 Americas and World War I ................................................................................................................................................... 77 The Zimmerman Telegram ............................................................................................................................................... 77 The War and the Intellectuals ........................................................................................................................................... 78 “I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier” ......................................................................................................................... 81 Declaration of War ............................................................................................................................................................ 82 The Trenches - What They Were Really Like .................................................................................................................. 87 Gas and Flame in World War I: The New Weapons of Terror ......................................................................................... 88 African Americans and World War I ................................................................................................................................ 91 Returning Soldiers ............................................................................................................................................................ 95 Race Riot of 1919 Gave Glimpse of Future Struggles ...................................................................................................... 96 Let’s Draft Our Kids ......................................................................................................................................................... 99 Rangel's Folly: Reinstating the Draft .............................................................................................................................. 101 Great Depression and New Deal ......................................................................................................................................... 104 “But migrant families do not gather...” ........................................................................................................................... 104 Some stories hard to get in history books ....................................................................................................................... 105 U.S. urged to apologize for 1930s deportations .............................................................................................................. 107 Good Citizenship: The Purpose of Education ................................................................................................................. 111 Fire Side Chat ................................................................................................................................................................. 116 “Share the Wealth”.......................................................................................................................................................... 121 “Please Help Us Mr. President” ...................................................................................................................................... 122
Historiography in America
Why Study History?
By William H. McNeill, 1985 Why should anyone bother learning about things that happened far away and long ago? Who cares about Cleopatra, Charlemagne, Montezuma or Confucius? And why worry about George Washington, or how democratic government and industrial society arose? Isn't there quite enough to learn about the world today? Why add to the burden by looking at the past? Historians ought to try to answer such questions by saying what the study of history is good for, and what it cannot do. But since no one can speak for the historical profession as a whole, this essay is no more than a personal statement, commissioned by the American Historical Association in the hope of convincing all concerned that the study of history is indeed worthwhile and necessary for the education of effective citizens and worthy human beings. Historical knowledge is no more and no less than carefully and critically constructed collective memory. As such it can both make us wiser in our public choices and more richly human in our private lives. Without individual memory, a person literally loses his or her identity, and would not know how to act in encounters with others. Imagine waking up one morning unable to tell total strangers from family and friends! Collective memory is similar, though its loss does not immediately paralyze everyday private activity. But ignorance of history-that is, absent or defective collective memory-does deprive us of the best available guide for public action, especially in encounters with outsiders, whether the outsiders are another nation, another civilization, or some special group within national borders. Often it is enough for experts to know about outsiders, if their advice is listened to. But democratic citizenship and effective participation in the determination of public policy require citizens to share a collective memory, organized into historical knowledge and belief. Otherwise, agreement on what ought to be done in a given situation is difficult to achieve. Agreement on some sort of comfortable falsehood will not do, for without reasonably accurate knowledge of the past, we cannot expect to accomplish intended results, simply because we will fail to foresee how others are likely to react to anything we decide on. Nasty surprises and frustrating failures are sure to multiply under such circumstances. This value of historical knowledge obviously justifies teaching and learning about what happened in recent times, for the way things are descends from the way they were yesterday and the day before that. But in fact, institutions that govern a great deal of our everyday behavior took shape hundreds or even thousands of years ago. Having been preserved and altered across the generations to our own time, they are sure to continue into the future. The United States government is such an institution; so is the world market, armies and the Christian church. Skills like writing, and devices like bureaucracy are even older than Christianity, and concerns that bother us still can be read into the cave paintings left behind by Stone Age hunters as much as twenty thousand years ago. Only an acquaintance with the entire human adventure on earth allows us to understand these dimensions of contemporary reality. Memory is not something fixed and forever. As time passes, remembered personal experiences take on new meanings. A bitter disappointment may come to seem a blessing in disguise; a triumph may later turn sour, while something trivial may subsequently loom large-all because of what happens later on. Collective memory is quite the same. Historians are always at work reinterpreting the past, asking new questions, searching new sources and finding new meanings in old documents in order to bring the perspective of new knowledge and experience to bear on the task of understanding the past. This means, of course, that what we know and believe about history is always changing. In other words, our collective, codified memory alters with time just as personal memories do, and for the same reasons. When teachers of history admit that their best efforts at understanding the past are only tentative and sure to be altered in time to come, skeptics are likely to conclude that history has no right to take student time from other subjects. If what is taught today is not really true, how can it claim space in a crowded school curriculum? 2
But what if the world is more complicated and diverse than words can ever tell? What if human minds are incapable of finding' neat pigeon holes into which everything that happens will fit? What if we have to learn to live with uncertainty and probabilities, and act on the basis of the best guesswork we are capable of? Then, surely, the changing perspectives of historical understanding are the very best introduction we can have to the practical problems of real life. Then, surely, a serious effort to understand the interplay of change and continuity in human affairs is the only adequate introduction human beings can have to the confusing flow of events that constitutes the actual, adult world. Since that is the way the world is, it follows that study of history is essential for every young person. Systematic sciences are not enough. They discount time, and therefore oversimplify reality, especially human reality. Current events are not enough either. Destined to almost instant obsolescence, they foreshorten and thereby distort the time dimension within which human lives unfold and, thanks to memory, are conducted. Memory, indeed, makes us human. History, our collective memory, carefully codified and critically revised, makes us social, sharing ideas and ideals with others so as to form all sorts of different human groups. Each such group acts as it does largely because of shared ideas and beliefs about the past and about what the past, as understood and interpreted by the group in question, tells about the present and probable future. BUT, you may say: suppose we agree that some sort of knowledge of history is essential for an adult understanding of the world, what actually belongs in our classrooms? The varieties of history are enormous; facts and probabilities about the past are far too numerous for anyone to comprehend them all. Every sort of human group has its own history; so do ideas, institutions, techniques, areas, civilizations, and humanity at large. How to begin? Where to start? How bring some sort of order to the enormous variety of things known and believed about the past? Teachers of history have always had to struggle with these questions. Early in this century, teachers and academic administrators pretty well agreed that two sorts of history courses were needed: a survey of the national history of the United States and a survey of European history. This second course was often broadened into a survey of Western civilization in the 1930s and 1940s. But by the 1960s and 1970s these courses were becoming outdated, left behind by the rise of new kinds social and quantitative history, especially the history of women, of Blacks, and of other formerly overlooked groups within the borders of the United States, and of peoples emerging from colonial status in the world beyond our borders. These, and still other new sorts of history, enhanced older sensibilities and corrected older biases; but, being both new and different, did not fit smoothly into existing surveys of U.S. national history and western civilization. Teachers found it exciting to teach the new kinds of history in special courses that allowed them time to develop the subject properly. It was less satisfying and much harder to combine old with new to make an inclusive, judiciously balanced (and far less novel) introductory course for high school or college students. But abandoning the effort to present a meaningful portrait of the entire national and civilizational past destroyed the original justification for requiring students to study history. As specialized electives multiplied, historians could not convince others that random samples from the past, reflecting each teacher's special expertise or interests, belonged in everyone's education. For if one sample was as good as another, none could claim to be essential. Competing subjects abounded, and no one could or would decide what mattered most and should take precedence. As this happened, studying history became only one among many possible ways of spending time in school. Level I. Personal-Local History The costs of this change are now becoming apparent, and many concerned persons agree that returning to a more structured curriculum, in which history ought to play a prominent part, is imperative. But choice of what sort of history to 3
teach remains as difficult as ever. Clearly we need careful reflection about, and search for, enduring patterns and critical turning points in the past, for these are the historical facts that everyone needs to know, not what happens to interest a particular teacher or aspiring specialist. Whether historians will rise to the occasion and successfully bring old and new sorts of history together into an understandable whole remains to be seen. In the meanwhile, a few obvious suggestions are all that can be offered here. Amongst all the varieties of history that specialists have so energetically and successfully explored in recent decades, three levels of generality seem likely to have the greatest importance for ordinary people. First is family, local, neighborhood history: something often transmitted orally, but worth attention in school for all that. This would seem especially important for primary school years, when children start to experience the world outside their homes. Second is national history, because that is where political power is concentrated in our time. Last is global history, because intensified communications make encounters with all the other peoples of the earth increasingly important. These levels belong to high school and college, in the years when young people start to pay attention to public affairs and prepare to assume the responsibilities of citizenship. Other pasts are certainly worth attention, but are better studied in the context of a prior acquaintance with personal-local, national, and global history. That is because these three levels are the ones that affect most powerfully what all other groups and segments of society actually do. Can such courses be taught and fitted into the curriculum? The answer is yes, if teachers and administrators try hard to put first things first and achieve a modicum of clarity about what everyone ought to know. National history that leaves out Blacks and women and other minorities is no longer acceptable; but American history that leaves out the Founding Fathers and the Constitution is not acceptable either. What is needed is a vision of the whole, warts and all. Global history is perhaps more difficult. Certainly our traditional training sidesteps the problem of attaining a satisfactory vision of the history of humanity, since few historians even try for a global overview. Still, some have made the attempt. Moreover, every scale of history has its own appropriate patterns which, once perceived, are as definite and as easily tested by the evidence as are the meaningful patterns that emerge on any other scale. This means, I think, that careful and critical world history is attainable just as surely as is a careful and critical national history that does not omit the important and newly self-conscious groups that were previously overlooked. Level II: National History But consensus is slow to come, and may never be achieved. In the meanwhile, teachers and curriculum planners have a difficult task. Authoritative models for courses in national and global history are not readily available. Personal and neighborhood history, too, must be worked out independently for each classroom and locality. But questions to be asked and the range of information that can be handled by children in the primary grades is, perhaps, less difficult to agree upon than at the high school and college levels. Serious and concentrated effort is clearly called for. Only so can history and historians deserve and expect to regain the central place in the education of the young that once was theirs. Level III: Global History THREE points remain. First, the study of history does not lead to exact prediction of future events. Though it fosters practical wisdom, knowledge of the past does not permit anyone to know exactly what is going to happen. Looking at some selected segment from the past in order to find out what will occur "next time" can mislead the unwary, simply because the complex setting within which human beings act is never twice the same. Consequently, the lessons of history, though supremely valuable when wisely formulated, become grossly misleading when oversimplifiers try to transfer them mechanically from one age to another, or from one place to another. Anyone who claims to perform such a feat is sadly self-deceived. Practical wisdom requires us instead to expect differences as well as similarities, changes as well as continuities-always and everywhere. Predictable fixity is simply not the human way of behaving. Probabilities and possibilities-together with a few complete surprises-are what we live with and must learn to expect.
Second, as acquaintance with the past expands, delight in knowing more and more can and often does become an end in itself. History offers innumerable heroes and villains. Reading about what people did in far away times and places enlarges our sense of human capacities both for good and evil. Encountering powerful commitments to vanished ideas and ideals, like those that built the pyramids, puts our personal commitment to our own ideals into a new perspective, perhaps bitter-sweet. Discovering fears and hopes like our own in pages written by the medieval Japanese courtier, Lady Murasaki, or reading about the heroic and futile quest for immortality undertaken by the ancient Mesopotamian king, Gilgamesh, stirs a sense of shared humanity that reaches back to the beginning of civilization and across all cultural barriers. On the other hand, studying alien religious beliefs, strange customs, diverse family patterns and vanished social structures shows how differently various human groups have tried to cope with the world around them. Broadening our humanity and extending our sensibilities by recognizing sameness and difference throughout the recorded past is therefore an important reason for studying history, and especially the history of peoples far away and long ago. For we can only know ourselves by knowing how we resemble and how we differ from others. Acquaintance with the human past is the only way to such self knowledge. Finally, for those especially attracted to it, search into odd corners and contemplation of the main outlines of history can develop into a hunt for understandings of one's own, as new ideas about connections between one thing and another spring to mind. This sort of historical research and creativity is, of course, the special province of graduate school and of the historical profession at large. Reinterpretations and modifications of received notions about what really happened result from such personal venturing; and new ideas and meanings, tested against the evidence available to other historians, feed into high school and college classrooms by providing teachers with an ever-evolving understanding of the past to set before the young. In such interaction between research and teaching, eternal and unchanging truth does not emerge. Only inspired, informed guesses about what mattered and how things changed through time. That is all human minds can do to unravel the mystery of humanity and of human groups' encounters with one another and with the world. Not very good, perhaps; simply the best we have in the unending effort to understand ourselves and others, and what happens and will happen to us and to them, time without end.
How to teach history (and how not to)
By Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, March 19, 2013 History is fascinating but too often kids find it boring in history class. Here Larry Cuban explains why and what to do about it. Cuban was a school social studies teacher for 14 years, a district superintendent (seven years in Arlington, Va.), and professor emeritus of education at Stanford University, where he has taught for more than 20 years. His new book is “Inside the Black Box of the Classroom: Change without Reform in American Education.” This appeared on his School Reform and Classroom Practice blog. Here is how Theresa Johnston, writing in Stanford Magazine, described a class she watched a few months ago in a Northern California high school. In the 1986 comedy Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Ben Stein famously plays a high school teacher who drones on about the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act while his students slump at their desks in a collective stupor. For many kids, that’s history: an endless catalog of disconnected dates and names, passed down like scripture from the state textbook, seldom questioned and quickly forgotten. Now take a seat inside Will Colglazier’s classroom at Aragon High School in San Mateo. The student population here is fairly typical for the Bay Area: about 30 percent Latino, 30 percent Asian and 40 percent white. The subject matter is standard 11th grade stuff: What caused the Great American Dust Bowl? Tapping on his laptop, Colglazier shows the class striking black-and-white images of the choking storms that consumed the Plains states in the 1930s. Then he does something unusual. Instead of following a lesson plan out of the textbook, he passes out copies of a 1935 letter, written by one Caroline Henderson to the then-U.S. secretary of agriculture, poignantly describing the plight of her neighbors in the Oklahoma panhandle. He follows that with another compelling document: a confidential high-level government report, addressed to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, decrying the region’s misguided homesteading policies. Colglazier clearly is a gifted and well-trained educator, a history/economics major and 2006 graduate of the Stanford Teacher Education Program. But what sets this class apart from Ferris Bueller’s is more than the man; it’s his method—an approach developed at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education that’s rapidly gaining adherents across the country. At a time when national student surveys show abysmal rates of proficiency in history, trial studies of the Stanford program demonstrated that when high school students engage regularly with challenging primary source documents, they not only make significant gains learning and retaining historical material, they also markedly improve their reading comprehension and critical thinking…. Colglazier builds his thought-provoking classes using an online tool called Reading Like a Historian. Designed by the Stanford History Education Group under Professor Sam Wineburg, the website offers 87 flexible lesson plans featuring documents from the Library of Congress. Teachers can download the lessons and adapt them for their own purposes, free of charge. Students learn how to examine documents critically, just as historians would, in order to answer intriguing questions: Did Pocahontas really rescue John Smith? Was Abraham Lincoln a racist? Who blinked first in the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Russians or the Americans? Most history teachers do not teach like Will Colglazier or the cartoon figure teacher in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Colglazier is an exception, albeit according to the journalist, one who joins many others in using historical thinking to gain deep understanding of the past rather than a heritage approach, that is, using facts from the past to recreate a present that tells Americans who they are, who they were, and the nation they are part of.
As I and many others who have been in classrooms have pointed out, most history teachers tilt toward the heritage end of the spectrum of history teaching but many do incorporate historical approaches in their lessons (See here and here).
Why? One answer looks at how external testing, state academic standards, federal accountability regulations, teacher certification, and the unofficial national curriculum of Advanced Placement influence what teachers present. These omnipresent structures in the policy terrain set the boundaries within which teachers teach. To answer the above question on why teachers tilt toward “traditional” teaching, then, I also want to identify other factors that often go unmentioned by those eager to improve the teaching of history in K-12 schools. Consider that cultural beliefs about the function of public schools to socialize children and youth into the dominant civic and social values (e.g., honesty, respect for others’ values, cooperating) are anchored in age-graded school structures. They become a powerful organizational mechanism for carrying out societal expectations (i.e., kindergarten prepares children for the first grade, a high school diploma is essential to going to college or getting a decent job). Teachers operating separately in their classrooms move 25 to 30-plus students through a 700-page history text, and give frequent tests to see whether students have learned the required knowledge and skills. Moreover, age-graded secondary schools have history teachers teaching five classes a day (with at least one planning or “free” period and lunch) usually involving up to three different preparations (e.g., world history, U.S. history, and economics) with a student load of anywhere between 125 to 165 a day. The sheer whirl of traversing these classes between 7:45 a.m.-3 p.m. is exhausting for 22-year-olds. Imagine what it is like for 62- year-olds. When grading homework, reading essays, and checking quizzes are factored into the workload of most history teachers—don’t forget most teachers see individual students before school, during planning periods and lunch, and then after school–the daily decisions and fast pace of the day, much less the unpredictable emotional ups-and-downs that accompany working with teenagers, exhilarate and exhaust teachers. These social beliefs and school structures added to the public expectation that every student passes a test to graduate and then goes to college merge to create intense workplace conditions that influence how teachers teach. Yet history teachers are hardly passive agents that societal expectations and school structures pour into a mold. Teachers bring their life experiences, formal and informal knowledge, and personal beliefs about children, learning, and serving the community that also influence what and how they teach history. And this is where blends of heritage and historical thinking pedagogy enter the picture. Both constrained and autonomous, teachers accommodate to external demands and organizational structures while carving out a niche for themselves in which they can make independent decisions about how they organize their classrooms, group students, and teach. Most history teachers end up picking and choosing different practices to put a tattoo on their teaching yet fall somewhere in the middle part of a continuum of teaching practices. While most teachers use a version of the heritage approach, a small minority like Will Colglazier work within the constraints of the age-graded school and make other teaching choices based on their beliefs about learning, children, and knowledge of history. Consider New York teacher Linda Strait (a pseudonym). A researcher who observed her teach a hybrid of both traditions of teaching. She teaches U.S. history through lectures, guides discussions, and controls what content is taught and how. Yet in her Civil Rights unit, she offered a series of lessons beginning with a videotape “The Shadow of Hate” after which students divided into small groups to discuss and list their reactions on wall charts; an ungraded quiz on a reading Strait had assigned; a roundtable discussion of four questions she posed to the class; a two-day simulation of a local skating rink 7
that refused to admit minorities with the teacher role-playing the owner and students making pitches to her to keep or drop the policy. Then two days of reviewing notes, writing in-class practice essays for the 11th grade Regents tests that would draw from the Civil Rights unit. Strait tells the researcher, “I try to throw in as many activities and projects, but I still feel that I am too heavily the center of it.” She has invented a hybrid of the two teaching traditions out of the choices she made within the constraints of state and school district policies, the structures of the age-graded high schools, her knowledge of the subject, personal experiences, and beliefs about how her students learn U.S. history (pp. 16-28). Will Colglazier is part of a minority of teachers using historical thinking pedagogy. Most teachers of history blend both pieces of it and the heritage approach; they hug the middle.
How Ignorant Are Americans?
By Andrew Romano, Newsweek, March 20 2011 They’re the sort of scores that drive high-school history teachers to drink. When NEWSWEEK recently asked 1,000 U.S. citizens to take America’s official citizenship test, 29 percent couldn’t name the vice president. Seventy-three percent couldn’t correctly say why we fought the Cold War. Forty-four percent were unable to define the Bill of Rights. And 6 percent couldn’t even circle Independence Day on a calendar. Don’t get us wrong: civic ignorance is nothing new. For as long as they’ve existed, Americans have been misunderstanding checks and balances and misidentifying their senators. And they’ve been lamenting the philistinism of their peers ever since pollsters started publishing these dispiriting surveys back in Harry Truman’s day. (He was a president, by the way.) According to a study by Michael X. Delli Carpini, dean of the Annenberg School for Communication, the yearly shifts in civic knowledge since World War II have averaged out to “slightly under 1 percent.” But the world has changed. And unfortunately, it’s becoming more and more inhospitable to incurious know-nothings— like us. To appreciate the risks involved, it’s important to understand where American ignorance comes from. In March 2009, the European Journal of Communication asked citizens of Britain, Denmark, Finland, and the U.S. to answer questions on international affairs. The Europeans clobbered us. Sixty-eight percent of Danes, 75 percent of Brits, and 76 percent of Finns could, for example, identify the Taliban, but only 58 percent of Americans managed to do the same—even though we’ve led the charge in Afghanistan. It was only the latest in a series of polls that have shown us lagging behind our First World peers. Most experts agree that the relative complexity of the U.S. political system makes it hard for Americans to keep up. In many European countries, parliaments have proportional representation, and the majority party rules without having to “share power with a lot of subnational governments,” notes Yale political scientist Jacob Hacker, coauthor of WinnerTake-All Politics. In contrast, we’re saddled with a nonproportional Senate; a tangle of state, local, and federal bureaucracies; and near-constant elections for every imaginable office (judge, sheriff, school-board member, and so on). “Nobody is competent to understand it all, which you realize every time you vote,” says Michael Schudson, author of The Good Citizen. “You know you’re going to come up short, and that discourages you from learning more.” It doesn’t help that the United States has one of the highest levels of income inequality in the developed world, with the top 400 households raking in more money than the bottom 60 percent combined. As Dalton Conley, an NYU sociologist, explains, “it’s like comparing apples and oranges. Unlike Denmark, we have a lot of very poor people without access to good education, and a huge immigrant population that doesn’t even speak English.” When surveys focus on well-off, native-born respondents, the U.S. actually holds its own against Europe. Other factors exacerbate the situation. A big one, Hacker argues, is the decentralized U.S. education system, which is run mostly by individual states: “When you have more centrally managed curricula, you have more common knowledge and a stronger civic culture.” Another hitch is our reliance on market-driven programming rather than public broadcasting, which, according to the EJC study, “devotes more attention to public affairs and international news, and fosters greater knowledge in these areas.” For more than two centuries, Americans have gotten away with not knowing much about the world around them. But times have changed—and they’ve changed in ways that make civic ignorance a big problem going forward. While isolationism is fine in an isolated society, we can no longer afford to mind our own business. What happens in China and India (or at a Japanese nuclear plant) affects the autoworker in Detroit; what happens in the statehouse and the White House affects the competition in China and India. Before the Internet, brawn was enough; now the information economy demands brains instead. And where we once relied on political institutions (like organized labor) to school the middle classes and give them leverage, we now have nothing. “The issue isn’t that people in the past knew a lot more and know less now,” says Hacker. “It’s that their ignorance was counterbalanced by denser political organizations.” The result is a society in which wired activists at either end of the spectrum dominate the debate—and lead politicians astray at precisely the wrong moment.
The current conflict over government spending illustrates the new dangers of ignorance. Every economist knows how to deal with the debt: cost-saving reforms to big-ticket entitlement programs; cuts to our bloated defense budget; and (if growth remains slow) tax reforms designed to refill our depleted revenue coffers. But poll after poll shows that voters have no clue what the budget actually looks like. A 2010 World Public Opinion survey found that Americans want to tackle deficits by cutting foreign aid from what they believe is the current level (27 percent of the budget) to a more prudent 13 percent. The real number is under 1 percent. A Jan. 25 CNN poll, meanwhile, discovered that even though 71 percent of voters want smaller government, vast majorities oppose cuts to Medicare (81 percent), Social Security (78 percent), and Medicaid (70 percent). Instead, they prefer to slash waste—a category that, in their fantasy world, seems to include 50 percent of spending, according to a 2009 Gallup poll. Needless to say, it’s impossible to balance the budget by listening to these people. But politicians pander to them anyway, and even encourage their misapprehensions. As a result, we’re now arguing over short-term spending cuts that would cost up to 700,000 government jobs, imperiling the shaky recovery and impairing our ability to compete globally, while doing nothing to tackle the long-term fiscal challenges that threaten … our ability to compete globally. Given our history, it’s hard to imagine this changing any time soon. But that isn’t to say a change wouldn’t help. For years, Stanford communications professor James Fishkin has been conducting experiments in deliberative democracy. The premise is simple: poll citizens on a major issue, blind; then see how their opinions evolve when they’re forced to confront the facts. What Fishkin has found is that while people start out with deep value disagreements over, say, government spending, they tend to agree on rational policy responses once they learn the ins and outs of the budget. “The problem is ignorance, not stupidity,” Hacker says. “We suffer from a lack of information rather than a lack of ability.” Whether that’s a treatable affliction or a terminal illness remains to be seen. But now’s the time to start searching for a cure.
The Education of Native Americans by Gerald H. Pratt, 1892 A great general has said that the only good Indian is a dead one, and that high sanction of his destruction has been an enormous factor in promoting Indian massacres. In a sense, I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: that all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man. We are just now making a great pretence of anxiety to civilize the Indians. I use the word “pretence” purposely, and mean it to have all the significance it can possibly carry. Washington believed that commerce freely entered into between us and the Indians would bring about their civilization, and Washington was right. He was followed by Jefferson, who inaugurated the reservation plan. Jefferson’s reservation was to be the country west of the Mississippi; and he issued instructions to those controlling Indian matters to get the Indians there, and let the Great River be the line between them and the whites. Any method of securing removal - persuasion, purchase, or force - was authorized. Jefferson’s plan became the permanent policy. The removals have generally been accomplished by purchase, and the evils of this are greater than those of all the others combined. . . . It is a sad day for the Indians when they fall under the assaults of our troops, as in the Piegan massacre, the massacre of Old Black Kettle and his Cheyennes at what is termed “the battle of the Washita,” and hundreds of other like places in the history of our dealings with them; but a far sadder day is it for them when they fall under the baneful influences of a treaty agreement with the United States whereby they are to receive large annuities, and to be protected on reservations, and held apart from all association with the best of our civilization. The destruction is not so speedy, but it is far more general. The history of the Miamis and Osages is only the true picture of all other tribes. “Put yourself in his place” is as good a guide to a proper conception of the Indian and his cause as it is to help us to right conclusions in our relations with other men. For many years we greatly oppressed the black man, but the germ of human liberty remained among us and grew, until, in spite of our irregularities, there came from the lowest savagery into intelligent manhood and freedom among us more than seven millions of our population, who are to-day an element of industrial value with which we could not well dispense. However great this victory has been for us, we have not yet fully learned our lesson nor completed our work; nor will we have done so until there is throughout all of our communities the most unequivocal and complete acceptance of our own doctrines, both national and religious. Not until there shall be in every locality throughout the nation a supremacy of the Bible principle of the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God, and full obedience to the doctrine of our Declaration that “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created free and equal, with certain inalienable rights,” and of the clause in our Constitution which forbids that there shall be “any abridgment of the rights of citizens on account of race, color, or previous condition.” I leave off the last two words “of servitude,” because I want to be entirely and consistently American. Inscrutable are the ways of Providence. Horrible as were the experiences of its introduction, and of slavery itself, there was concealed in them the greatest blessing that ever came to the Negro race—seven millions of blacks from cannibalism in darkest Africa to citizenship in free and enlightened America; not full, not complete citizenship, but possible— probable—citizenship, and on the highway and near to it. There is a great lesson in this. The schools did not make them citizens, the schools did not teach them the language, nor make them industrious and self-supporting. Denied the right of schools, they became English-speaking and industrious through the influences of association. Scattered here and there, under the care and authority of individuals of the higher race, they learned self-support and something of citizenship, and so reached their present place. No other influence or force would have so speedily accomplished such a result. Left in Africa, surrounded by their fellow-savages, our seven millions of industrious black fellow-citizens would still be savages. Transferred into these new surroundings and experiences, behold the result. They became English-speaking and civilized, because forced into association with Englishspeaking and civilized people; became healthy and multiplied, because they were property; and industrious, because industry, which brings contentment and health, was a necessary quality to increase their value. The Indians under our care remained savage, because forced back upon themselves and away from association with English-speaking and civilized people, and because of our savage example and treatment of them. . . . 11
We have never made any attempt to civilize them with the idea of taking them into the nation, and all of our policies have been against citizenizing and absorbing them. Although some of the policies now prominent are advertised to carry them into citizenship and consequent association and competition with other masses of the nation, they are not, in reality, calculated to do this. We are after the facts. Let us take the Land in Severalty Bill. Land in severalty, as administered, is in the way of the individualizing and civilization of the Indians, and is a means of holding the tribes together. Land in severalty is given to individuals adjoining each other on their present reservations. And experience shows that in some cases, after the allotments have been made, the Indians have entered into a compact among themselves to continue to hold their lands in common as a reservation. The inducement of the bill is in this direction. The Indians are not only invited to remain separate tribes and communities, but are practically compelled to remain so. The Indian must either cling to his tribe and its locality, or take great chances of losing his rights and property. The day on which the Land in Severalty Bill was signed was announced to be the emancipation day for the Indians. The fallacy of that idea is so entirely demonstrated that the emancipation assumption is now withdrawn. We shall have to go elsewhere, and seek for other means besides land in severalty to release these people from their tribal relations and to bring them individually into the capacity and freedom of citizens. Just now that land in severalty is being retired as the one all-powerful leverage that is going to emancipate and bring about Indian civilization and citizenship, we have another plan thrust upon us which has received great encomium from its authors, and has secured the favor of Congress to the extent of vastly increasing appropriations. This plan is calculated to arrest public attention, and to temporarily gain concurrence from everybody that it is really the panacea for securing citizenship and equality in the nation for the Indians. In its execution this means purely tribal schools among the Indians; that is, Indian youth must continue to grow up under the pressure of home surroundings. Individuals are not to be encouraged to get out and see and learn and join the nation. They are not to measure their strength with the other inhabitants of the land, and find out what they do not know, and thus be led to aspire to gain in education, experience, and skill,—those things that they must know in order to become equal to the rest of us. A public school system especially for the Indians is a tribal system; and this very fact says to them that we believe them to be incompetent, that they must not attempt to cope with us. Such schools build up tribal pride, tribal purposes, and tribal demands upon the government. They formulate the notion that the government owes them a living and vast sums of money; and by improving their education on these lines, but giving no other experience and leading to no aspirations beyond the tribe, leaves them in their chronic condition of helplessness, so far as reaching the ability to compete with the white race is concerned. It is like attempting to make a man well by always telling him he is sick. We have only to look at the tribes who have been subject to this influence to establish this fact, and it makes no difference where they are located. All the tribes in the State of New York have been trained in tribal schools; and they are still tribes and Indians, with no desire among the masses to be anything else but separate tribes. The five civilized tribes of the Indian Territory—Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks, and Seminoles—have had tribal schools until it is asserted that they are civilized; yet they have no notion of joining us and becoming a part of the United States. Their whole disposition is to prey upon and hatch up claims against the government, and have the same lands purchased and repurchased and purchased again, to meet the recurring wants growing out of their neglect and inability to make use of their large and rich estate. . . . Indian schools are just as well calculated to keep the Indians intact as Indians as Catholic schools are to keep the Catholics intact. Under our principles we have established the public school system, where people of all races may become unified in every way, and loyal to the government; but we do not gather the people of one nation into schools by themselves, and the people of another nation into schools by themselves, but we invite the youth of all peoples into all schools. We shall not succeed in Americanizing the Indian unless we take him in in exactly the same way. I do not care if abundant schools on the plan of Carlisle are established. If the principle we have always had at Carlisle—of sending them out into families and into the public schools—were left out, the result would be the same, even though such schools were established, as Carlisle is, in the centre of an intelligent and industrious population, and though such schools were, as Carlisle always has been, filled with students from many tribes. Purely Indian schools say to the Indians: “You are Indians, and must remain Indians. You are not of the nation, and cannot become of the nation. We do not want you to become of the nation.” Before I leave this part of my subject I feel impelled to lay before you the facts, as I have come to look at them, of another influence that has claimed credit, and always has been and is now very dictatorial, in Indian matters; and that is the missionary as a citizenizing influence upon the Indians. The missionary goes to the Indian; he learns the language; he 12
associates with him; he makes the Indian feel he is friendly, and has great desire to help him; he even teaches the Indian English. But the fruits of his labor, by all the examples that I know, have been to strengthen and encourage him to remain separate and apart from the rest of us. Of course, the more advanced, those who have a desire to become civilized, and to live like white men, who would with little encouragement go out into our communities, are the first to join the missionary’s forces. They become his lieutenants to gather in others. The missionary must necessarily hold on to every help he can get to push forward his schemes and plans, so that he may make a good report to his Church; and, in order to enlarge his work and make it a success, he must keep his community together. Consequently, any who care to get out into the nation, and learn from actual experience what it is to be civilized, what is the full length and breadth and height and depth of our civilization, must stay and help the missionary. The operation of this has been disastrous to any individual escape from the tribe, has vastly and unnecessarily prolonged the solution of the question, and has needlessly cost the charitable people of this country large sums of money, to say nothing of the added cost to the government, the delay in accomplishing their civilization, and their destruction caused by such delay. If, as sometimes happens, the missionary kindly consents to let or helps one go out and get these experiences, it is only for the purpose of making him a preacher or a teacher or help of some kind; and such a one must, as soon as he is fitted, and much sooner in most cases, return to the tribe and help the missionary to save his people. The Indian who goes out has public charitable aid through his school course, forfeits his liberty, and is owned by the missionary. In all my experience of twenty-five years I have known scarcely a single missionary to heartily aid or advocate the disintegration of the tribes and the giving of individual Indians rights and opportunities among civilized people. There is this in addition: that the missionaries have largely assumed to dictate to the government its policy with tribes, and their dictations have always been along the lines of their colonies and church interests, and the government must gauge its actions to suit the purposes of the missionary, or else the missionary influences are at once exerted to defeat the purposes of the government. The government, by paying large sums of money to churches to carry on schools among Indians, only builds for itself opposition to its own interests. . . . We make our greatest mistake in feeding our civilization to the Indians instead of feeding the Indians to our civilization. America has different customs and civilizations from Germany. What would be the result of an attempt to plant American customs and civilization among the Germans in Germany, demanding that they shall become thoroughly American before we admit them to the country? Now, what we have all along attempted to do for and with the Indians is just exactly that, and nothing else. We invite the Germans to come into our country and communities, and share our customs, our civilization, to be of it; and the result is immediate success. Why not try it on the Indians? Why not invite them into experiences in our communities? Why always invite and compel them to remain a people unto themselves? It is a great mistake to think that the Indian is born an inevitable savage. He is born a blank, like all the rest of us. Left in the surroundings of savagery, he grows to possess a savage language, superstition, and life. We, left in the surroundings of civilization, grow to possess a civilized language, life, and purpose. Transfer the infant white to the savage surroundings, he will grow to possess a savage language, superstition, and habit. Transfer the savage-born infant to the surroundings of civilization, and he will grow to possess a civilized language and habit. These results have been established over and over again beyond all question; and it is also well established that those advanced in life, even to maturity, of either class, lose already acquired qualities belonging to the side of their birth, and gradually take on those of the side to which they have been transferred. As we have taken into our national family seven millions of Negroes, and as we receive foreigners at the rate of more than five hundred thousand a year, and assimilate them, it would seem that the time may have arrived when we can very properly make at least the attempt to assimilate our two hundred and fifty thousand Indians, using this proven potent line, and see if that will not end this vexed question and remove them from public attention, where they occupy so much more space than they are entitled to either by numbers or worth. The school at Carlisle is an attempt on the part of the government to do this. Carlisle has always planted treason to the tribe and loyalty to the nation at large. It has preached against colonizing Indians, and in favor of individualizing them. It has demanded for them the same multiplicity of chances which all others in the country enjoy. Carlisle fills young Indians with the spirit of loyalty to the stars and stripes, and then moves them out into our communities to show by their conduct and ability that the Indian is no different from the white or the colored, that he has the inalienable right to liberty and opportunity that the white and the negro have. Carlisle does not dictate to him what line of life he should fill, so it is an honest one. It says to him that, if he gets his living by the sweat of his brow, and demonstrates to the nation that he is a man, he does more good for his race than hundreds of his fellows who cling to their tribal communistic surroundings. . . . 13
No evidence is wanting to show that, in our industries, the Indian can become a capable and willing factor if he has the chance. What we need is an Administration which will give him the chance. The Land in Severalty Bill can be made far more useful than it is, but it can be made so only by assigning the land so as to intersperse good, civilized people among them. If, in the distribution, it is so arranged that two or three white families come between two Indian families, then there would necessarily grow up a community of fellowship along all the lines of our American civilization that would help the Indian at once to his feet. Indian schools must, of necessity, be for a time, because the Indian cannot speak the language, and he knows nothing of the habits and forces he has to contend with; but the highest purpose of all Indian schools ought to be only to prepare the young Indian to enter the public and other schools of the country. And immediately he is so prepared, for his own good and the good of the country, he should be forwarded into these other schools, there to temper, test, and stimulate his brain and muscle into the capacity he needs for his struggle for life, in competition with us. The missionary can, if he will, do far greater service in helping the Indians than he has done; but it will only be by practising the doctrine he preaches. As his work is to lift into higher life the people whom he serves, he must not, under any pretence whatsoever, give the lie to what he preaches by discountenancing the right of any individual Indian to go into higher and better surroundings, but, on the contrary, he should help the Indian to do that. If he fails in thus helping and encouraging the Indian, he is false to his own teaching. An examination shows that no Indians within the limits of the United States have acquired any sort of capacity to meet and cope with the whites in civilized pursuits who did not gain that ability by going among the whites and out from the reservations, and that many have gained this ability by so going out. Theorizing citizenship into people is a slow operation. What a farce it would be to attempt teaching American citizenship to the negroes in Africa. They could not understand it; and, if they did, in the midst of such contrary influences, they could never use it. Neither can the Indians understand or use American citizenship theoretically taught to them on Indian reservations. They must get into the swim of American citizenship. They must feel the touch of it day after day, until they become saturated with the spirit of it, and thus become equal to it. When we cease to teach the Indian that he is less than a man; when we recognize fully that he is capable in all respects as we are, and that he only needs the opportunities and privileges which we possess to enable him to assert his humanity and manhood; when we act consistently towards him in accordance with that recognition; when we cease to fetter him to conditions which keep him in bondage, surrounded by retrogressive influences; when we allow him the freedom of association and the developing influences of social contact—then the Indian will quickly demonstrate that he can be truly civilized, and he himself will solve the question of what to do with the Indian.
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,
Wells, Philip, "Ninety-six Years among the Indians of the Northwest", North Dakota History, 15, no. 2 (1948).
On the morning of December 29, 1890, the Sioux chief Big Foot and some 350 of his followers camped on the banks of Wounded Knee creek. Surrounding their camp was a force of U.S. troops charged with the responsibility of arresting Big Foot and disarming his warriors. The scene was tense. Trouble had been brewing for months. Big Foot led his people south to seek protection at the Pine Ridge Reservation. The army intercepted the band on December 28 and brought them to the edge of the Wounded Knee to camp. The next morning the chief, racked with pneumonia and dying, sat among his warriors and powwowed with the army officers. Suddenly the sound of a shot pierced the early morning gloom. Within seconds the charged atmosphere erupted as Indian braves scurried to retrieve their discarded rifles and troopers fired volley after volley into the Sioux camp. When the smoke cleared and the shooting stopped, approximately 300 Sioux were dead, Big Foot among them. Twenty-five soldiers lost their lives. As the remaining troopers began the grim task of removing the dead, a blizzard swept in from the North. A few days later they returned to complete the job. Philip Wells was a mixed-blood Sioux who served as an interpreter for the Army. He later recounted what he saw that Monday morning: "I was interpreting for General Forsyth (Forsyth was actually a colonel) just before the battle of Wounded Knee, December 29, 1890. The captured Indians had been ordered to give up their arms, but Big Foot replied that his people had no arms. Forsyth said to me, 'Tell Big Foot he says the Indians have no arms, yet yesterday they were well armed when they surrendered. He is deceiving me. Tell him he need have no fear in giving up his arms, as I wish to treat him kindly.' Big Foot replied, 'They have no guns, except such as you have found.' Forsyth declared, 'You are lying to me in return for my kindness.' During this time a medicine man, gaudily dressed and fantastically painted, executed the maneuvers of the ghost dance, raising and throwing dust into the air. He exclaimed 'Ha! Ha!' as he did so, meaning he was about to do something terrible, and said, 'I have lived long enough,' meaning he would fight until he died. Turning to the young warriors who were squatted together, he said 'Do not fear, but let your hearts be strong. Many soldiers are about us and have many bullets, but I am assured their bullets cannot penetrate us. The prairie is large, and their bullets will fly over the prairies and will not come toward us. If they do come toward us, they will float away like dust in the air.' I turned to Major Whitside and said, 'That man is making mischief,' and repeated what he had said. Whitside replied, 'Go direct to Colonel Forsyth and tell him about it,' which I did. Forsyth and I went to the circle of warriors where he told me to tell the medicine man to sit down and keep quiet, but he paid no attention to the order. Forsyth repeated the order. Big Foot's brother-in-law answered, 'He will sit down when he gets around the circle.' When the medicine man came to the end of the circle, he squatted down. A cavalry sergeant exclaimed, 'There goes an Indian with a gun under his blanket!' Forsyth ordered him to take the gun from the Indian, which he did. Whitside then said to me, 'Tell the Indians it is necessary that they be searched one at a time.' The young warriors paid no attention to what I told them. I heard someone on my left exclaim, 'Look out! Look out!' I saw five or six young warriors cast off their blankets and pull guns out from under them and brandish them in the air. One of the warriors shot into the soldiers, who were ordered to fire into the Indians. I looked in the direction of the medicine man. He or some other medicine man approached to within three or four feet of me with a long cheese knife, ground to a sharp point and raised to stab me. He stabbed me during the melee and nearly cut off my nose. I held him off until I could swing my rifle to hit him, which I did. I shot and killed him in self-defense. Troop 'K' was drawn up between the tents of the women and children and the main body of the Indians, who had been summoned to deliver their arms. The Indians began firing into 'Troop K' to gain the canyon of Wounded Knee creek. In 15
doing so they exposed their women and children to their own fire. Captain Wallace was killed at this time while standing in front of his troops. A bullet, striking him in the forehead, plowed away the top of his head. I started to pull off my nose, which was hung by the skin, but Lieutenant Guy Preston shouted, 'My God Man! Don't do that! That can be saved.' He then led me away from the scene of the trouble."
Prostitution in the West:
How 19th Century Prostitutes Were Among the Freest, Wealthiest, Most Educated Women of Their Time excerpt from Thaddeus Russell's new book, "A Renegade History of the United States," Sept 2010 In the nineteenth century, a woman who owned property, made high wages, had sex outside of marriage, performed or received oral sex, used birth control, consorted with men of other races, danced, drank, or walked alone in public, wore makeup, perfume, or stylish clothes -- and was not ashamed -- was probably a whore. In fact, prostitutes won virtually all the freedoms that were denied to women but are now taken for granted. Prostitutes were especially successful in the wild, lawless, thoroughly renegade boomtowns of the West. When women were barred from most jobs and wives had no legal right to own property, madams in the West owned large tracts of land and prized real estate. Prostitutes made, by far, the highest wages of all American women. Several madams were so wealthy that they funded irrigation and road-building projects that laid the foundation for the New West. Decades before American employers offered health insurance to their workers, madams across the West provided their employees with free health care. While women were told that they could not and should not protect themselves from violence, and wives had no legal recourse against being raped by their husbands, police officers were employed by madams to protect the women who worked for them, and many madams owned and knew how to use guns. While feminists were seeking to free women from the "slavery" of patriarchal marriage, prostitutes married later in life and divorced more frequently than other American women. At a time when birth control was effectively banned, prostitutes provided a market for contraceptives that made possible their production and distribution. While women were taught that they belonged in the "private sphere," prostitutes traveled extensively, often by themselves, and were brazenly "public women." Long before social dancing in public was considered acceptable for women, prostitutes invented many of the steps that would become all the rage during the dance craze of the 1910s and 1920s. When gambling and public drinking were forbidden for most women, prostitutes were fixtures in western saloons, and they became some of the most successful gamblers in the nation. Most ironically, the makeup, clothing, and hairstyles of prostitutes, which were maligned for their overt sexuality (lipstick was "the scarlet shame of streetwalkers"), became widely fashionable among American women and are now so respectable that even First Ladies wear them. Women who wished to escape the restrictions of Victorian America had no better place to go than the so-called frontier, where a particular combination of economic and demographic forces gave renegade women many unusual advantages. Boom Between 1870 and 1900, the number of farms in the United States doubled, and more land was brought under cultivation than in the previous two and half centuries. Most of this newly cultivated land was in the Great Plains and the Southwest. In addition to all of this farming, other industries developed rapidly in the West during the second half of the nineteenth century. The largest of these were metal and coal mining in California, the Rockies, and parts of the Southwest; cattle ranching on the Plains; lumber in the Pacific Northwest; large-scale fruit and vegetable agriculture in the inland valleys of California; and oil in Texas, Oklahoma, and Southern California. Connecting these industries to one another and to eastern U.S. and European markets were railroads, which crisscrossed the West by the end of the nineteenth century. The federal government contributed to this explosive growth with massive expenditures for the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, which ran from the Pacific Ocean to the Missouri River, but also to the building of roads, dams, and vast irrigation systems without which the West as we know it could never have been created. Towns were created virtually overnight in mountains where precious metal was discovered, in deserts near oil strikes, along cattle trails and around railroad stations, and in forests next to lumber mills and logging stands. Some boomtowns grew into the major urban hubs of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, and Seattle. The people who filled those towns were overwhelmingly male, since the labor that brought them there was brutal, physically onerous, and almost universally considered to be men's work. The non-Indian population of California in 1850 was 93 percent male. In the mining towns along the Comstock Silver Lode in Nevada, a census taker in 1860 counted 2,306 men and 30 women. These were men without families, without land, without property, and without a stake in any one community. They moved from town to town in search of money. And, since most of the towns they lived and worked in were brand new, the legal apparatus was usually very weak. These were exactly the conditions that bred bad people.
The Whorearchy With good reason, the keepers of American morality in the nineteenth century were terribly worried about all the single men in the West. One Protestant minister wrote, "Left by themselves, men degenerate rapidly and become rough, harsh, slovenly -- almost brutish." He was correct. Ironically, most of these men were white and full American citizens. But they cared little for the restrictions and responsibilities of citizenship. One moral reformer in Montana reported this about life in a mining town: "Men without the restraint of law, indifferent to public opinion, and unburdened by families, drink whenever they feel like it, whenever they have the money to pay for it, and whenever there is nothing else to do. … Bad manners follow, profanity becomes a matter of course …. Excitability and nervousness brought on by rum help these tendencies along, and then to correct this state of things the pistol comes into play." In the silver mining boomtown of Leadville, Colorado, in 1879 there were 120 saloons, 19 beer halls, 188 gambling houses, and only 4 churches. Into this world stepped legions of women who understood something about supply and demand. A U.S. Department of Labor study in 1916 found that in the major legitimate occupations for women -- department store clerking and light manufacturing -- the average weekly wage was $6.67, which at the time represented a subsistence standard of living. In such industries, jobs were few, and due to the ban on women's labor in most of the economy, the number of available workers in the industries that allowed women was great. This oversupply of labor pushed wages down to the minimum. By contrast, women who chose prostitution enjoyed a highly favorable market for their labor. Demand was enormous and constant, especially in the West, and the pool of available labor was kept relatively small by the great number of women who internalized or feared the stigma attached to prostitution. According to historian Ruth Rosen, who pioneered the social history of prostitution in the United States, "The average brothel inmate or streetwalker" -- the lowest positions in the trade -- "received from one to five dollars a 'trick,' earning in one evening what other working women made in a week." Prostitutes in a 1916 study reported earnings between $30 to $50 per week, at a time when skilled male trade union members averaged roughly $20 per week. In their study of Virginia City, Nevada, George M. Blackburn and Sherman L. Ricards found that prostitutes in that 1860s boomtown, unlike the stereotype of the innocent, young "white slave," were actually considerably older on average than women of the western mining states Colorado, Idaho, and Nevada. "From the age data on prostitutes, it is clear that they were old enough to realize the nature of their behavior and also old enough to have married had they so desired, for this was an area with many unattached men. Thus we conclude that these were professional women intent on economic success." After working as a domestic in El Paso, Texas, for $3 per week, a Mexican-born woman quit her job and "decided to become a puta" for the extra money. She later recalled, "It took me a long time to get used to having men intimately explore my body… Of course, I had guilt feelings at the beginning, but they soon disappeared when I saw my savings begin mounting up." Even in the tighter markets of the East, prostitutes were extraordinarily well paid. In New York City, according to historian Timothy Gilfoyle, "an affluent, but migratory, class of prostitutes flourished." Low wages "in the factory and the household made prostitutes the best-paid women workers in the nineteenth-century city." In studies conducted in New York during the 1900s and 1910s, 11 percent of prostitutes listed coercion as the reason for entering the trade, but almost 28 percent named the money they could earn. Members of the Vice Commission of Chicago, like many anti-prostitution reformers, faced the hard truth of the wealth being accrued by prostitutes with a bitter question: "Is it any wonder that a tempted girl who receives only six dollars per week working with her hands sells her body for twenty-five dollars per week when she learns there is a demand for it and men are willing to pay the price?" One Chicago prostitute who supported her family with her wages had an answer. She told an interviewer, "Do you suppose I am going back to earn five or six dollars a week in a factory, and at that, never have a cent of it to spend for myself, when I can earn that amount any night, and often much more?" Historian Ruth Rosen was "struck again and again by most prostitutes' view of their work as 'easier' and less oppressive than other survival strategies they might have chosen." Prostitutes were the first women to break free of what early American feminists described as a system of female servitude. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, one of the leading feminist intellectuals at the turn of the twentieth century, noted that human beings were the only species in which "an entire sex lives in a relation of economic dependence upon the other sex." Since wages in respectable occupations were so low, the only culturally sanctioned means for a woman to attain wealth was through a rich husband. And since states in the nineteenth century granted few or no property rights to married women, even women who "married well" owned little or nothing of their own. But women who chose to be bad could live well on their own. Prostitutes who rose to the top of the industry to become "madams" owned more wealth than any other women in the United States. Indeed, they were among the wealthiest people in the country, and especially in the West. "Diamond Jessie" 18
Hayman began work as a prostitute in the gold country of the Sierra Nevada foothills in the 1880s, then moved to San Francisco to become one of the most successful prostitutes in the city's history. Hayman's three-story brothel in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco included three fireplaces, a saloon, a champagne cellar, and fifteen suites filled with imported furniture. She provided each of her employees with a $6,000 wardrobe that included a fox fur coat, four tailored suits, eight hats, two dress coats, twelve pairs of shoes, twelve pairs of gloves, seven evening gowns, and seven negligees. Hayman earned enough money from her business to buy several parcels of land in the city. After the 1906 earthquake that destroyed much of San Francisco, Hayman and other madams provided food and clothing to the thousands left homeless. She died in 1923 with an estate worth $116,000. Jennie Rogers, the "Queen of the Colorado Underworld," owned several opulent brothels in Denver that featured ceilingto-floor mirrors, crystal chandeliers, oriental rugs, marble tables, and grand pianos. Rogers provided her prostitutes with personal hairstylists and dressmakers, ensuring that they were among the most stylish women in the world. Her profits were so great that she was able to purchase large tracts of Denver's most valuable land as well as several shares of an irrigation and reservoir project that not only provided the city with much of its water but also paid Rogers sizable dividends. Rogers's major competitor was Mattie Silks, who had risen from the ranks of streetwalkers in Abilene, Texas, and Dodge City, Kansas, to become a brothel owner by the age of nineteen. Soon after moving to Denver in 1876, she purchased a three-story mansion with twenty-seven rooms, then outfitted it with the finest furnishings available. Visitors to the Silks brothel were greeted by a symphony orchestra in the main parlor. Silks eventually opened three other brothels and purchased a stable of race horses. After her retirement from the trade, she told a newspaper, "I went into the sporting life for business reasons and for no other. It was a way for a woman in those days to make money, and I made it. I considered myself then and I do now -- as a businesswoman." Her employees, who were among the highest paid women in the United States, "came to me for the same reasons that I hired them. Because there was money in it for all of us." Other madams ruled major portions of the West. Eleanora Dumont purchased real estate in gold and silver boomtowns all over the Rockies and Sierra Nevada, where she established lucrative brothels, saloons, and gambling houses. Josephine "Chicago Joe" Airey used the proceeds from her brothels to purchase a sizable portion of Helena, Montana's, real estate in the 1870s and 1880s. Lou Graham was not only early Seattle's most prominent madam, she was also one of its wealthiest residents. Graham arrived in Seattle in 1888 and soon opened an immaculately appointed brothel in the Pioneer Square area. To advertise her business, she paraded with her employees on carriages through the city streets. Graham invested heavily in the stock market and in real estate, becoming, according to one historian, "one of the largest landholders in the Pacific Northwest." The "Queen of the Lava Beds" also contributed enormous sums to help establish the Seattle public school system and saved many of the city's elite families from bankruptcy after the panic of 1893. Anna Wilson, the "Queen of the Omaha Underworld," owned a substantial portion of the city's real estate. Toward the end of her life she bequeathed to the city her twenty-five room mansion, which became Omaha's first modern emergency hospital and a communicable-disease treatment center. It is unlikely that there were more wealthy or powerful black women in nineteenth-century America than Mary Ellen "Mammy" Pleasant and Sarah B. "Babe" Connors. Pleasant was born a slave but became one of the most influential women in early San Francisco. She operated boardinghouses in which wealthy businessmen were paired with prostitutes. With the revenue from her primary business, she invested in mining stock and made high-interest loans to the San Francisco elite. Pleasant also filed suit to desegregate the city's streetcars, making her "the mother of the civil rights movement" in California. Connors's brothels in St. Louis were among the most popular in the Midwest. Known as "the Castle" and "the Palace," they featured luxurious rugs, tapestries, art work, and crystal chandeliers. The parlor of the Palace was famous for its floor, which was made entirely of mirrored glass. Connors herself was always elegantly appointed with drapes of jewelry on her body and gold and diamonds embedded in her teeth. Many of the most famous songs of the ragtime genre -- the principal precursor to jazz -- were invented by Letitia Lulu Agatha "Mama Lou" Fontaine, who performed as the house act at Connors's brothels. High-end madams were not the only prostitutes who acquired substantial wealth. A middle-class reformer in Virginia City, Nevada, noted with disdain that local prostitutes were "always dressed the richest." The historians Blackburn and Ricards concluded that while prostitutes in Virginia City were not the richest people in town, they "did amass more wealth than most of their customers. In addition, compared with other women of the city, the white prostitutes were well-to-do. This was because virtually none of the married women and very few unmarried women had any money at all. If the prostitutes came West to compete economically with others of their sex, they were successful." Similarly, historian Paula Petrik found that approximately 60 percent of the prostitutes who worked in Helena, Montana, between 1865 and 1870 "reported either personal wealth or property or both." The town's "fancy ladies" also made 44 19
percent of the property transactions undertaken by women and acquired all twenty mortgages that were given to women during the period. Most impressive of all were Helena prostitutes' wages compared to male workers in the town. Petrik estimates that the average monthly income of "a fancy lady plying her trade along Wood Street" was $233. By contrast, bricklayers, stone masons, and carpenters earned between $90 and $100, and even bank clerks made only $125 per month. Moreover, "[c]ompared with the $65 monthly wage the highest paid saleswomen received, prostitutes' compensation was royal." At a time when leading feminists were demanding an end to women's economic dependence, the red-light district in Helena was, in Petrik's words, "women's business grounded in women's property and capital." Today's women attorneys might also find their earliest ancestors among western madams, who regularly appeared in court on their own behalf and won quite frequently. Petrik found a large number of court cases in Helena in which prostitutes brought suit against one another to "settle petty squabbles among them that could not be resolved by the Tenderloin's leaders" or to "challenge men who assaulted, robbed, or threatened them." In half of the cases involving a prostitute's complaint against a man, "the judge or jury found for the female complainants." Petrik discovered in Helena "a singular lack of legal and judicial concern with sexual commerce" before the influx of moral reformers. "[O]fficers of the law arrested no women for prostitution or keeping a disorderly house before 1886, even though the police court was located in the red-light district" and prostitution had been a central part of the town's economy for two decades. The era of legal tolerance coincided with a period in which Helena's prostitutes suffered very little of the self-destructiveness assumed to be common among sex workers. "Not one whore in Helena died by her own hand before 1883," and though the town's prostitutes were "rampant users of alcohol and drugs," there were "no reports of prostitutes dying of alcoholism or drug overdose between 1865 and 1883 in Helena." Some madams abused their employees or placed them in peonage, but these tended to be the less successful brothel keepers. To attract women in the highly competitive markets of western boomtowns, where red-light districts nearly always included several brothels, most madams not only paid their employees far higher wages than they would find in any other employment, they also provided free birth control, health care, legal assistance, housing, and meals for their employees. Few American workers of either sex in the nineteenth century enjoyed such benefits. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the wealth, power, and ubiquity of prostitutes caused several urban reformers to warn of a "whorearchy" that threatened to undermine the virtues of the nation. Madams led an "under-ground universe" with "a regularly organized community of thieves, who have their laws and regulations," as George Foster put it in his 1850 novel Celio: or, New York Above-ground and Under-ground. In George Ellington's 1869 journalistic account, The Women of New York: or, the Underworld of the Great City, madams were "female fiends of the worst kind, who seem to have lost all the better qualities of human nature." Worse still, they had "entree to the good society of the metropolis" with "the friends and chosen companions of some of the wealthiest and most intellectual men of the city."
The Gilded Age
The Duties of American Citizenship
By Theodore Roosevelt, January 26, 1883 Of course, in one sense, the first essential for a man's being a good citizen is his possession of the home virtues of which we think when we call a man by the emphatic adjective of manly. No man can be a good citizen who is not a good husband and a good father, who is not honest in his dealings with other men and women, faithful to his friends and fearless in the presence of his foes, who has not got a sound heart, a sound mind, and a sound body; exactly as no amount of attention to civil duties will save a nation if the domestic life is undermined, or there is lack of the rude military virtues which alone can assure a country's position in the world. In a free republic the ideal citizen must be one willing and able to take arms for the defense of the flag, exactly as the ideal citizen must be the father of many healthy children. A race must be strong and vigorous; it must be a race of good fighters and good breeders, else its wisdom will come to naught and its virtue be ineffective; and no sweetness and delicacy, no love for and appreciation of beauty in art or literature, no capacity for building up material prosperity can possibly atone for the lack of the great virile virtues. But this is aside from my subject, for what I wish to talk of is the attitude of the American citizen in civic life. It ought to be axiomatic in this country that every man must devote a reasonable share of his time to doing his duty in the Political life of the community. No man has a right to shirk his political duties under whatever plea of pleasure or business; and while such shirking may be pardoned in those of small means it is entirely unpardonable in those among whom it is most common--in the people whose circumstances give them freedom in the struggle for life. In so far as the community grows to think rightly, it will likewise grow to regard the young man of means who shirks his duty to the State in time of peace as being only one degree worse than the man who thus shirks it in time of war. A great many of our men in business, or of our young men who are bent on enjoying life (as they have a perfect right to do if only they do not sacrifice other things to enjoyment), rather plume themselves upon being good citizens if they even vote; yet voting is the very least of their duties, Nothing worth gaining is ever gained without effort. You can no more have freedom without striving and suffering for it than you can win success as a banker or a lawyer without labor and effort, without self-denial in youth and the display of a ready and alert intelligence in middle age. The people who say that they have not time to attend to politics are simply saying that they are unfit to live in a free community. Their place is under a despotism; or if they are content to do nothing but vote, you can take despotism tempered by an occasional plebiscite, like that of the second Napoleon. In one of Lowell's magnificent stanzas about the Civil War he speaks of the fact which his countrymen were then learning, that freedom is not a gift that tarries long in the hands of cowards: nor yet does it tarry long in the hands of the sluggard and the idler, in the hands of the man so much absorbed in the pursuit of pleasure or in the pursuit of gain, or so much wrapped up in his own easy home life as to be unable to take his part in the rough struggle with his fellow men for political supremacy. If freedom is worth having, if the right of self-government is a valuable right, then the one and the other must be retained exactly as our forefathers acquired them, by labor, and especially by labor in organization, that is in combination with our fellows who have the same interests and the same principles. We should not accept the excuse of the business man who attributed his failure to the fact that his social duties were so pleasant and engrossing that he had no time left for work in his office; nor would we pay much heed to his further statement that he did not like business anyhow because he thought the morals of the business community by no means what they should be, and saw that the great successes were most often won by men of the Jay Gould stamp. It is just the same way with politics. It makes one feel half angry and half amused, and wholly contemptuous, to find men of high business or social standing in the community saying that they really have not got time to go to ward meetings, to organize political clubs, and to take a personal share in all the important details of practical politics; men who further urge against their going the fact that they think the condition of political morality low, and are afraid that they may be required to do what is not right if they go into politics. The first duty of an American citizen, then, is that he shall work in politics; his second duty is that he shall do that work in a practical manner; and his third is that it shall be done in accord with the highest principles of honor and justice. Of course, it is not possible to define rigidly just the way in which the work shall be made practical. Each man's individual temper and convictions must be taken into account. To a certain extent his work must be done in accordance with his individual beliefs and theories of right and wrong. To a yet greater extent it must be done in combination with others, he yielding or modifying certain of his own theories and beliefs so as to enable him to stand on a common ground with his fellows, who have likewise yielded or modified certain of their theories and beliefs. There is no need of dogmatizing about independence on the one hand or party allegiance on the other. There are occasions when it may be the highest duty 21
of any man to act outside of parties and against the one with which he has himself been hitherto identified; and there may be many more occasions when his highest duty is to sacrifice some of his own cherished opinions for the sake of the success of the party which he on the whole believes to be right. I do not think that the average citizen, at least in one of our great cities, can very well manage to support his own party all the time on every issue, local and otherwise; at any rate if he can do so he has been more fortunately placed than I have been. On the other hand, I am fully convinced that to do the best work people must be organized; and of course an organization is really a party, whether it be a great organization covering the whole nation and numbering its millions of adherents, or an association of citizens in a particular locality, banded together to win a certain specific victory, as, for instance, that of municipal reform. Somebody has said that a racing-yacht, like a good rifle, is a bundle of incompatibilities; that you must get the utmost possible sail power without sacrificing some other quality if you really do get the utmost sail power, that, in short you have got to make more or less of a compromise on each in order to acquire the dozen things needful; but, of course, in making this compromise you must be very careful for the sake of something unimportant not to sacrifice any of the great principles of successful naval architecture. Well, it is about so with a man's political work. He has got to preserve his independence on the one hand; and on the other, unless he wishes to be a wholly ineffective crank, he has got to have some sense of party allegiance and party responsibility, and he has got to realize that in any given exigency it may be a matter of duty to sacrifice one quality, or it may be a matter of duty to sacrifice the other. If it is difficult to lay down any fixed rules for party action in the abstract; it would, of course, be wholly impossible to lay them down for party action in the concrete, with reference to the organizations of the present day. I think that we ought to be broad-minded enough to recognize the fact that a good citizen, striving with fearlessness, honesty, and common sense to do his best for the nation, can render service to it in many different ways, and by connection with many different organizations. It is well for a man if he is able conscientiously to feel that his views on the great questions of the day, on such questions as the tariff, finance, immigration, the regulation of the liquor traffic, and others like them, are such as to put him in accord with the bulk of those of his fellow citizens who compose one of the greatest parties: but it is perfectly supposable that he may feel so strongly for or against certain principles held by one party, or certain principles held by the other, that he is unable to give his full adherence to either. In such a case I feel that he has no right to plead this lack of agreement with either party as an excuse for refraining from active political work prior to election. It will, of course, bar him from the primaries of the two leading parties, and preclude him from doing his share in organizing their management; but, unless he is very unfortunate, he can surely find a number of men who are in the same position as himself and who agree with him on some specific piece of political work, and they can turn in practically and effectively long before election to try to do this new piece of work in a practical manner. One seemingly very necessary caution to utter is, that a man who goes into politics should not expect to reform everything right off, with a jump. I know many excellent young men who, when awakened to the fact that they have neglected their political duties, feel an immediate impulse to form themselves into an organization which shall forthwith purify politics everywhere, national, State, and city alike; and I know of a man who having gone round once to a primary, and having, of course, been unable to accomplish anything in a place where he knew no one and could not combine with anyone, returned saying it was quite useless for a good citizen to try to accomplish anything in such a manner. To these too hopeful or too easily discouraged people I always feel like reading Artemus Ward's article upon the people of his town who came together in a meeting to resolve that the town should support the Union and the Civil War, but were unwilling to take any part in putting down the rebellion unless they could go as brigadier-generals. After the battle of Bull Run there were a good many hundreds of thousands of young men in the North who felt it to be their duty to enter the Northern armies; but no one of them who possessed much intelligence expected to take high place at the outset, or anticipated that individual action would be of decisive importance in any given campaign. He went in as private or sergeant, lieutenant or captain, as the case might be, and did his duty in his company, in his regiment, after a while in his brigade. When Ball's Bluff and Bull Run succeeded the utter failure of the Peninsular campaign, when the terrible defeat of Fredericksburg was followed by the scarcely less disastrous day at Chancellorsville he did not announce (if he had any pluck or manliness about him) that he considered it quite useless for any self-respecting citizen to enter the Army of the Potomac, because he really was not of much weight in its councils, and did not approve of its management; he simply gritted his teeth and went doggedly on with his duty, grieving over, but not disheartened at the innumerable shortcomings and follies committed by those who helped to guide the destinies of the army, recognizing also the bravery, the patience, intelligence, and resolution with which other men in high places offset the follies and shortcomings and persevering with equal mind through triumph and defeat until finally he saw the tide of failure turn at Gettysburg and the full flood of victory come with Appomattox.
I do wish that more of our good citizens would go into politics, and would do it in the same spirit with which their fathers went into the Federal armies. Begin with the little thing, and do not expect to accomplish anything without an effort. Of course, if you go to a primary just once, never having taken the trouble to know any of the other people who go there you will find yourself wholly out of place; but if you keep on attending and try to form associations with other men whom you meet at the political gatherings, or whom you can persuade to attend them, you will very soon find yourself a weight. In the same way, if a man feels that the politics of his city, for instance, are very corrupt and wants to reform them, it would be an excellent idea for him to begin with his district. If he Joins with other people, who think as he does, to form a club where abstract political virtue will be discussed he may do a great deal of good. We need such clubs; but he must also get to know his own ward or his own district, put himself in communication with the decent people in that district, of whom we may rest assured there will be many, willing and able to do something practical for the procurance of better government Let him set to work to procure a better assemblyman or better alderman before he tries his hand at making a mayor, a governor, or a president. If he begins at the top he may make a brilliant temporary success, but the chances are a thousand to one that he will only be defeated eventually; and in no event will the good he does stand on the same broad and permanent foundation as if he had begun at the bottom. Of course, one or two of his efforts may be failures; but if he has the right stuff in him he will go ahead and do his duty irrespective of whether he meets with success or defeat. It is perfectly right to consider the question of failure while shaping one's efforts to succeed in the struggle for the right; but there should be no consideration of it whatsoever when the question is as to whether one should or should not make a struggle for the right. When once a band of one hundred and fifty or two hundred honest, intelligent men, who mean business and know their business, is found in any district, whether in one of the regular organizations or outside, you can guarantee that the local politicians of that district will begin to treat it with a combination of fear, hatred, and respect, and that its influence will be felt; and that while sometimes men will be elected to office in direct defiance of its wishes, more often the successful candidates will feel that they have to pay some regard to its demands for public decency and honesty. But in advising you to be practical and to work hard, I must not for one moment be understood as advising you to abandon one iota of your self-respect and devotion to principle. It is a bad sign for the country to see one class of our citizens sneer at practical politicians, and another at Sunday-school politics. No man can do both effective and decent work in public life unless he is a practical politician on the one hand, and a sturdy believer in Sunday-school politics on the other. He must always strive manfully for the best, and yet, like Abraham Lincoln, must often resign himself to accept the best possible. Of course when a man verges on to the higher ground of statesmanship, when he becomes a leader, he must very often consult with others and defer to their opinion, and must be continually settling in his mind how far he can go in just deference to the wishes and prejudices of others while yet adhering to his own moral standards: but I speak not so much of men of this stamp as I do of the ordinary citizen, who wants to do his duty as a member of the commonwealth in its civic life; and for this man I feel that the one quality which he ought always to hold most essential is that of disinterestedness. If he once begins to feel that he wants office himself, with a willingness to get it at the cost of his convictions, or to keep it when gotten, at the cost of his convictions, his usefulness is gone. Let him make up his mind to do his duty in politics without regard to holding office at all, and let him know that often the men in this country who have done the best work for our public life have not been the men in office. If, on the other hand, he attains public position, let him not strive to plan out for himself a career. I do not think that any man should let himself regard his political career as a means of livelihood, or as his sole occupation in life; for if he does he immediately becomes most seriously handicapped. The moment that he begins to think how such and such an act will affect the voters in his district, or will affect some great political leader who will have an influence over his destiny, he is hampered and his hands are bound. Not only may it be his duty often to disregard the wishes of politicians, but it may be his clear duty at times to disregard the wishes of the people. The voice of the people is not always the voice of God; and when it happens to be the voice of the devil, then it is a man's clear duty to defy its behests. Different political conditions breed different dangers. The demagogue is as unlovely a creature as the courtier, though one is fostered under republican and the other under monarchical institutions. There is every reason why a man should have an honorable ambition to enter public life, and an honorable ambition to stay there when he is in; but he ought to make up his mind that he cares for it only as long as he can stay in it on his own terms, without sacrifice of his own principles; and if he does thus make up his mind he can really accomplish twice as much for the nation, and can reflect a hundredfold greater honor upon himself, in a short term of service, than can the man who grows gray in the public employment at the cost of sacrificing what he believes to be true and honest. And moreover, when a public servant has definitely made up his mind that he will pay no heed to his own future, but will do what he honestly deems best for the community, without regard to how his actions may affect his prospects, not only does he become infinitely more useful as a public servant, but he has a far better time. He is freed from the harassing care which is inevitably the portion of him who is trying to shape his sails to catch every gust of the wind of political favor. 23
But let me reiterate, that in being virtuous he must not become ineffective, and that he must not excuse himself for shirking his duties by any false plea that he cannot do his duties and retain his self-respect. This is nonsense, he can; and when he urges such a plea it is a mark of mere laziness and self-indulgence. And again, he should beware how he becomes a critic of the actions of others, rather than a doer of deeds himself; and in so far as he does act as a critic (and of course the critic has a great and necessary function) he must beware of indiscriminate censure even more than of indiscriminate praise. The screaming vulgarity of the foolish spread-eagle orator who is continually yelling defiance at Europe, praising everything American, good and bad, and resenting the introduction of any reform because it has previously been tried successfully abroad, is offensive and contemptible to the last degree; but after all it is scarcely as harmful as the peevish, fretful, sneering, and continual faultfinding of the refined, well-educated man, who is always attacking good and bad alike, who genuinely distrusts America, and in the true spirit of servile colonialism considers us inferior to the people across the water. It may be taken for granted that the man who is always sneering at our public life and our public men is a thoroughly bad citizen, and that what little influence he wields in the community is wielded for evil. The public speaker or the editorial writer who teaches men of education that their proper attitude toward American politics should be one of dislike or indifference is doing all he can to perpetuate and aggravate the very evils of which he is ostensibly complaining. Exactly as it is generally the case that when a man bewails the decadence of our civilization he is himself physically, mentally, and morally a first-class type of the decadent, so it is usually the case that when a man is perpetually sneering at American politicians, whether worthy or unworthy, he himself is a poor citizen and a friend of the very forces of evil against which he professes to contend. Too often these men seem to care less for attacking bad men, than for ruining the characters of good men with whom they disagree on some pubic question; and while their influence against the bad is almost nil, they are sometimes able to weaken the hands of the good by withdrawing from them support to which they are entitled, and they thus count in the sum total of forces that work for evil. They answer to the political prohibitionist, who, in a close contest between a temperance man and a liquor seller diverts enough votes from the former to elect the liquor seller Occasionally it is necessary to beat a pretty good man, who is not quite good enough, even at the cost of electing a bad one- but it should be thoroughly recognized that this can be necessary only occasionally and indeed, I may say, only in very exceptional cases, and that as a rule where it is done the effect is thoroughly unwholesome in every way, and those taking part in it deserve the severest censure from all honest men. Moreover, the very need of denouncing evil makes it all the more wicked to weaken the effect of such denunciations by denouncing also the good. It is the duty of all citizens, irrespective of party, to denounce, and, so far as may be, to punish crimes against the public on the part of politicians or officials. But exactly as the public man who commits a crime against the public is one of the worst of criminals, so, close on his heels in the race for iniquitous distinction, comes the man who falsely charges the public servant with outrageous wrongdoing; whether it is done with foul-mouthed and foolish directness in the vulgar and violent party organ, or with sarcasm, innuendo, and the half-truths that are worse than lies, in some professed organ of independence. Not only should criticism be honest, but it should be intelligent, in order to be effective. I recently read in a religious paper an article railing at the corruption of our public life, in which it stated incidentally that the lobby was recognized as all-powerful in Washington. This is untrue. There was a day when the lobby was very important at Washington, but its influence in Congress is now very small indeed; and from a pretty intimate acquaintance with several Congresses I am entirely satisfied that there is among the members a very small proportion indeed who are corruptible, in the sense that they will let their action be influenced by money or its equivalent. Congressmen are very often demagogues; they are very often blind partisans; they are often exceedingly short-sighted, narrow-minded, and bigoted; but they are not usually corrupt; and to accuse a narrow-minded demagogue of corruption when he is perfectly honest, is merely to set him more firmly in his evil course and to help him with his constituents, who recognize that the charge is entirely unjust, and in repelling it lose sight of the man's real shortcomings. I have known more than one State legislature, more than one board of aldermen against which the charge of corruption could perfectly legitimately be brought, but it cannot be brought against Congress. Moreover these sweeping charges really do very little good. When I was in the New York legislature, one of the things that I used to mind most was the fact that at the close of every session the papers that affect morality invariably said that particular legislature was the worst legislature since the days of Tweed. The statement was not true as a rule; and, in any event, to lump all the members, good and bad, in sweeping condemnation simply hurt the good and helped the bad. Criticism should be fearless, but I again reiterate that it should be honest and should be discriminating. When it is sweeping and unintelligent, and directed against good and bad alike, or against the good and bad qualities of any man alike, it is very harmful. It tends steadily to deteriorate the character of our public men; and it tends to produce a very unwholesome spirit among young men of education, and especially among the young men in our colleges.
Against nothing is fearless and specific criticism more urgently needed than against the "spoils system," which is the degradation of American politics. And nothing is more effective in thwarting the purposes of the spoilsmen than the civil service reform. To be sure, practical politicians sneer at it. One of them even went so far as to say that civil-service reform is asking a man irrelevant questions. What more irrelevant question could there be than that of the practical politician who asks the aspirant for his political favor - "Whom did you vote for in the last election?" There is certainly nothing more interesting, from a humorous point of view, than the heads of departments urging changes to be made in their underlings, "on the score of increased efficiency" they say; when as the result of such a change the old incumbent often spends six months teaching the new incumbent how to do the work almost as well as he did himself! Occasionally the civil-service reform has been abused, but not often. Certainly the reform is needed when you contemplate the spectacle of a New York City treasurer who acknowledges his annual fees to be eighty-five thousand dollars, and who pays a deputy one thousand five hundred dollars to do his work-when you note the corruptions in the New York legislature, where one man says he has a horror of the Constitution because it prevents active benevolence, and another says that you should never allow the Constitution to come between friends! All these corruptions and vices are what every good American citizen must fight against. Finally, the man who wishes to do his duty as a citizen in our country must be imbued through and through with the spirit of Americanism. I am not saying this as a matter of spread-eagle rhetoric: I am saying it quite soberly as a piece of matterof-fact, common-sense advice, derived from my own experience of others. Of course, the question of Americanism has several sides. If a man is an educated man, he must show his Americanism by not getting misled into following out and trying to apply all the theories of the political thinkers of other countries, such as Germany and France, to our own entirely different conditions. He must not get a fad, for instance, about responsible government; and above all things he must not, merely because he is intelligent, or a college professor well read in political literature, try to discuss our institutions when he has had no practical knowledge of how they are worked. Again, if he is a wealthy man, a man of means and standing, he must really feel, not merely affect to feel, that no social differences obtain save such as a man can in some way himself make by his own actions. People sometimes ask me if there is not a prejudice against a man of wealth and education in ward politics. I do not think that there is, unless the man in turn shows that he regards the facts of his having wealth and education as giving him a claim to superiority aside from the merit he is able to prove himself to have in actual service. Of course, if he feels that he ought to have a little better treatment than a carpenter, a plumber, or a butcher, who happens to stand beside him, he is going to be thrown out of the race very quickly, and probably quite roughly; and if he starts in to patronize and elaborately condescend to these men he will find that they resent this attitude even more. Do not let him think about the matter at all. Let him go into the political contest with no more thought of such matters than a college boy gives to the social standing of the members of his own and rival teams in a hotly contested football match. As soon as he begins to take an interest in politics (and he will speedily not only get interested for the sake of politics, but also take a good healthy interest in playing the game itself - an interest which is perfectly normal and praise-worthy, and to which only a prig would object), he will begin to work up the organization in the way that will be most effective, and he won't care a rap about who is put to work with him, save in so far as he is a good fellow and an efficient worker. There was one time that a number of men who think as we do here to-night (one of the number being myself) got hold of one of the assembly districts of New York, and ran it in really an ideal way, better than any other assembly district has ever been run before or since by either party. We did it by hard work and good organization; by working practically, and yet by being honest and square in motive and method: especially did we do it by all turning in as straight-out Americans without any regard to distinctions of race origin. Among the many men who did a great deal in organizing our victories was the son of a Presbyterian clergyman, the nephew of a Hebrew rabbi, and two well-known Catholic gentlemen. We also had a Columbia College professor (the stroke-oar of a university crew), a noted retail butcher, and the editor of a local German paper, various brokers, bankers, lawyers, bricklayers and a stone-mason who was particularly useful to us, although on questions of theoretic rather than applied politics he had a decidedly socialistic turn of mind. Again, questions of race origin, like questions of creed, must not be considered: we wish to do good work, and we are all Americans, pure and simple. In the New York legislature, when it fell to my lot to choose a committee - which I always esteemed my most important duty at Albany - no less than three out of the four men I chose were of Irish birth or parentage; and three abler and more fearless and disinterested men never sat in a legislative body; while among my especial political and personal friends in that body was a gentleman from the southern tier of counties, who was, I incidentally found out, a German by birth, but who was just as straight United States as if his ancestors had come over here in the Mayflower or in Henry Hudson's yacht. Of course, none of these men of Irish or German birth would have been worth their salt had they continued to act after coming here as Irishmen or Germans, or as anything but plain straight-out Americans. We have not any room here for a divided allegiance. A man has got to be an American and 25
nothing else; and he has no business to be mixing us up with questions of foreign politics, British or Irish, German or French, and no business to try to perpetuate their language and customs in the land of complete religious toleration and equality. If, however, he does become honestly and in good faith an American, then he is entitled to stand precisely as all other Americans stand, and it is the height of un-Americanism to discriminate against him in any way because of creed or birthplace. No spirit can be more thoroughly alien to American institutions, than the spirit of the Know-Nothings. In facing the future and in striving, each according to the measure of his individual capacity, to work out the salvation of our land, we should be neither timid pessimists nor foolish optimists. We should recognize the dangers that exist and that threaten us: we should neither overestimate them nor shrink from them, but steadily fronting them should set to work to overcome and beat them down. Grave perils are yet to be encountered in the stormy course of the Republic -- perils from political corruption, perils from individual laziness, indolence and timidity, perils springing from the greed of the unscrupulous rich, and from the anarchic violence of the thriftless and turbulent poor. There is every reason why we should recognize them, but there is no reason why we should fear them or doubt our capacity to overcome them, if only each will, according to the measure of his ability, do his full duty, and endeavor so to live as to deserve the high praise of being called a good American citizen.
A Gay Immigrant in America, by Richard Von Krafft-Ebing 1882
I have read your article in the Zeitschrift fur Psychiatrie. By it I and thousands of others are rehabilitated in the eyes of every thinking and half-way fair-minded man, and I give you my heartiest thanks therefor. You will know how cases like mine are derided, execrated and persecuted. I well understand that science has taken hold of this matter so recently that in the eyes of one whose mind is sound and who is unversed in the nature of this disease, it appears as a horrible and unnatural crime. Ulrich[s] has not overestimated the prevalence of this disease. In my own city (13,000 inhabitants) I personally know of fourteen cases, and in a city of 60,000 people I know of eighty. I will take the liberty of encroaching on your time by giving a short sketch of my life, and shall do so with all frankness. I will perhaps furnish you with data for your critical studies of this malady. You may make such use of these statements as you see fit so long as my name is suppressed... Until I was twenty-eight years old I had no suspicion that there were others constituted like myself. One evening in the castle garden at X?, where, as I subsequently found, those constituted like myself were accustomed to seek and find each other, I met a man who powerfully excited my sexual feelings, so much so that I had a seminal emission. With that I lost my better manhood and came often to the park and sought similar places in other cities. You will readily conceive that with the knowledge thus acquired there came a sort of comfort—the satisfaction of association and the sense of no longer being alone and singular. The oppressive thought, that I was not as others were, left me. The love affairs which now followed gave life a certain zest which I had never known before. But I was only hurrying to my fate. I had formed an intimate acquaintance with a young man. He was eccentric, romantic and frivolous in the extreme and without means. He obtained complete control over me and held me as if I were his legal wife. I was obliged to take him into business. Scenes of jealousy which are scarcely conceivable took place in my house. He repeatedly made attempts at suicide with poison and it was with difficulty that I saved his life. I suffered terribly by reason of his jealousy, tyranny, obstinacy and brutality. When jealous he would beat me and threaten to betray my secret to the authorities. I was kept in constant suspense lest he should do so. Again and again I was obliged to rid my house of this openly insane lover by making large pecuniary sacrifices. His passion for me and his shameless avarice drove him back to me. I was often in utter despair and yet could confide my troubles to no one. After he had cost me 10,000 francs, and a new attempt at extortion had failed, he denounced me to the police. I was arrested and charged with having sexual relations with my accuser, who was as guilty as myself! I was condemned to imprisonment. My social position was totally destroyed, my family brought to sorrow and shame, and the friends who had heretofore held me in high esteem now abandoned me with horror and disgust. That was a terrible time! And yet I had to say to myself ‘You have sinned, yes, grievously sinned against the common-ideas of morality, but not against nature.’ A thousand times no! part of the blame at least should fall upon the antiquated law which would confound with depraved criminals those who are forced by nature to follow the inclinations of a diseased and perverted instinct... I know of a case in Geneva where an admirable attachment between two men like myself has existed for seven years. If it were possible to have a pledge of such a love they might well make pretensions to marriage . . .One thing is true. Our loves bear as fair and noble flowers incite to as praiseworthy efforts as does the love of man for the woman of his affections. There are the same sacrifices, the same joy in abnegation even to the laying down of life, the same pain, the same joy, sorrow, happiness, as with men of ordinary natures. . . . In consequence of the disgrace which came upon me in my fatherland I am obliged to reside in America. Even now I am in constant anxiety lest what befell me at home should be discovered here and thus deprive me of the respect of my fellow-men. May the time soon come when science shall educate the people so that they shall rightly judge our unfortunate class, but before that time can come there will be many victims.
The Gospel of Wealth
By Andrew Camegie, "Wealth," North American Review, 148, no. 391 (June 1889): 653, 657-62. The problem of our age is the administration of wealth, so that the ties of brotherhood may still bind together the rich and poor in harmonious relationship. The conditions of human life have not only been changed, but revolutionized, within the past few hundred years. In former days there was little difference between the dwelling, dress, food, and environment of the chief and those of his retainers. . . . The contrast between the palace of the millionaire and the cottage of the laborer with us to-day measures the change which has come with civilization. This change, however, is not to be deplored, but welcomed as highly beneficial. It is well, nay, essential for the progress of the race, that the houses of some should be homes for all that is highest and best in literature and the arts, and for all the refinements of civilization, rather than that none should be so. Much better this great irregularity than universal squalor. Without wealth there can be no Maecenas [Note: a rich Roman patron of the arts]. The "good old times" were not good old times . Neither master nor servant was as well situated then as to day. A relapse to old conditions would be disastrous to both-not the least so to him who serves-and would sweep away civilization with it.... We start, then, with a condition of affairs under which the best interests of the race are promoted, but which inevitably gives wealth to the few. Thus far, accepting conditions as they exist, the situation can be surveyed and pronounced good. The question then arises-and, if the foregoing be correct, it is the only question with which we have to deal-What is the proper mode of administering wealth after the laws upon which civilization is founded have thrown it into the hands of the few? And it is of this great question that I believe I offer the true solution. It will be understood that fortunes are here spoken of, not moderate sums saved by many years of effort, the returns from which are required for the comfortable maintenance and education of families. This is not wealth, but only competence, which it should be the aim of all to acquire. There are but three modes in which surplus wealth can be disposed of. It can be left to the families of the decedents; or it can be bequeathed for public purposes; or, finally, it can be administered during their lives by its possessors. Under the first and second modes most of the wealth of the world that has reached the few has hitherto been applied. Let us in turn consider each of these modes. The first is the most injudicious. In monarchial countries, the estates and the greatest portion of the wealth are left to the first son, that the vanity of the parent may be gratified by the thought that his name and title are to descend to succeeding generations unimpaired. The condition of this class in Europe to-day teaches the futility of such hopes or ambitions. The successors have become impoverished through their follies or from the fall in the value of land.... Why should men leave great fortunes to their children? If this is done from affection, is it not misguided affection? Observation teaches that, generally speaking, it is not well for the children that they should be so burdened. Neither is it well for the state. Beyond providing for the wife and daughters moderate sources of income, and very moderate allowances indeed, if any, for the sons, men may well hesitate, for it is no longer questionable that great sums bequeathed oftener work more for the injury than for the good of the recipients. Wise men will soon conclude that, for the best interests of the members of their families and of the state, such bequests are an improper use of their means. As to the second mode, that of leaving wealth at death for public uses, it may be said that this is only a means for the disposal of wealth, provided a man is content to wait until he is dead before it becomes of much good in the world.... The cases are not few in which the real object sought by the testator is not attained, nor are they few in which his real wishes are thwarted.... The growing disposition to tax more and more heavily large estates left at death is a cheering indication of the growth of a salutary change in public opinion.... Of all forms of taxation, this seems the wisest. Men who continue hoarding great sums all their lives, the proper use of which for public ends would work good to the community, should be made to feel that the community, in the form of the state, cannot thus be deprived of its proper share. By taxing estates heavily at death, the state marks its condemnation of the selfish millionaire's unworthy life. . . . This policy would work powerfully to induce the rich man to attend to the administration of wealth during his life, which is the end that society should always have in view, as being that by far most fruitful for the people.... There remains, then, only one mode of using great fortunes: but in this way we have the true antidote for the temporary unequal distribution of wealth, the reconciliation of the rich and the poor-a reign of harmony-another ideal, differing, indeed from that of the Communist in requiring only the further evolution of existing conditions, not the total overthrow of our civilization. It is founded upon the present most intense individualism, and the race is prepared to put it in practice 28
by degrees whenever it pleases. Under its sway we shall have an ideal state, in which the surplus wealth of the few will become, in the best sense, the property of the many, because administered for the common good, and this wealth, passing through the hands of the few, can be made a much more potent force for the elevation of our race than if it had been distributed in small sums to the people themselves. Even the poorest can be made to see this, and to agree that great sums gathered by some of their fellow-citizens and spent for public purposes, from which the masses reap the principal benefit, are more valuable to them than if scattered among them through the course of many years in trifling amounts. This, then, is held to be the duty of the man of Wealth: First, to set an example of modest, unostentatious living, shunning display or extravagance; to provide moderately for the legitimate wants of those dependent upon him; and after doing so to consider all surplus revenues which come to him simply as trust funds, which he is called upon to administer, and strictly bound as a matter of duty to administer in the manner which, in his judgment, is best calculated to produce the most beneficial result for the community-the man of wealth thus becoming the sole agent and trustee for his poorer brethren, bringing to their service his superior wisdom, experience, and ability to administer-doing for them better than they would or could do for themselves.
The Richest of the Rich, Proud of a New Gilded Age
By Louis Uchitelle, New York Times, July 15, 2007 The tributes to Sanford I. Weill line the walls of the carpeted hallway that leads to his skyscraper office, with its panoramic view of Central Park. A dozen framed magazine covers, their colors as vivid as an Andy Warhol painting, are the most arresting. Each heralds Mr. Weill’s genius in assembling Citigroup into the most powerful financial institution since the House of Morgan a century ago. His achievement required political clout, and that, too, is on display. Soon after he formed Citigroup, Congress repealed a Depression-era law that prohibited goliaths like the one Mr. Weill had just put together anyway, combining commercial and investment banking, insurance and stock brokerage operations. A trophy from the victory — a pen that President Bill Clinton used to sign the repeal — hangs, framed, near the magazine covers. These days, Mr. Weill and many of the nation’s very wealthy chief executives, entrepreneurs and financiers echo an earlier era — the Gilded Age before World War I — when powerful enterprises, dominated by men who grew immensely rich, ushered in the industrialization of the United States. The new titans often see themselves as pillars of a similarly prosperous and expansive age, one in which their successes and their philanthropy have made government less important than it once was. “People can look at the last 25 years and say this is an incredibly unique period of time,” Mr. Weill said. “We didn’t rely on somebody else to build what we built, and we shouldn’t rely on somebody else to provide all the services our society needs.” Those earlier barons disappeared by the 1920s and, constrained by the Depression and by the greater government oversight and high income tax rates that followed, no one really took their place. Then, starting in the late 1970s, as the constraints receded, new tycoons gradually emerged, and now their concentrated wealth has made the early years of the 21st century truly another Gilded Age. Only twice before over the last century has 5 percent of the national income gone to families in the upper one-onehundredth of a percent of the income distribution — currently, the almost 15,000 families with incomes of $9.5 million or more a year, according to an analysis of tax returns by the economists Emmanuel Saez at the University of California, Berkeley and Thomas Piketty at the Paris School of Economics. Such concentration at the very top occurred in 1915 and 1916, as the Gilded Age was ending, and again briefly in the late 1920s, before the stock market crash. Now it is back, and Mr. Weill is prominent among the new titans. His net worth exceeds $1 billion, not counting the $500 million he says he has already given away, in the open-handed style of Andrew Carnegie and the other great philanthropists of the earlier age. At 74, just over a year into retirement as Citigroup chairman, Mr. Weill sees in Carnegie’s life aspects of his own. Andrew Carnegie, an impoverished Scottish immigrant, built a steel empire in Pittsburgh, taking risks that others shunned, just as the demand for steel was skyrocketing. He then gave away his fortune, reasoning that he was lucky to have been in the right spot at the right moment and he owed the community for his good luck — not in higher wages for his workers, but in philanthropic distribution of his wealth. Mr. Weill’s beginnings were similarly inauspicious. A son of immigrants from Poland, raised in Brooklyn, a so-so college student, he landed on Wall Street in a low-level job in the 1950s. Harnessing entrepreneurial energy, deftness as a deal maker and an appetite for risk, with a rising stock market pulling him along, he built a financial empire that, in his view, successfully broke through the stultifying constraints that flowed from the New Deal. They were constraints not just on what business could or could not do, but on every high earner’s take-home pay. “I once thought how lucky the Carnegies and the Rockefellers were because they made their money before there was an income tax,” Mr. Weill said, never believing in his younger days that deregulation and tax cuts, starting in the late 1970s, 30
would bring back many of the easier conditions of the Gilded Age. “I felt that everything of any great consequence was really all made in the past,” he said. “That turned out not to be true and it is not true today.” The Question of Talent Other very wealthy men in the new Gilded Age talk of themselves as having a flair for business not unlike Derek Jeter’s “unique talent” for baseball, as Leo J. Hindery Jr. put it. “I think there are people, including myself at certain times in my career,” Mr. Hindery said, “who because of their uniqueness warrant whatever the market will bear.” He counts himself as a talented entrepreneur, having assembled from scratch a cable television sports network, the YES Network. “Jeter makes an unbelievable amount of money,” said Mr. Hindery, who now manages a private equity fund, “but you look at him and you say, ‘Wow, I cannot find another ballplayer with that same set of skills.’ ” A handful of critics among the new elite, or close to it, are scornful of such self-appraisal. “I don’t see a relationship between the extremes of income now and the performance of the economy,” Paul A. Volcker, a former Federal Reserve Board chairman, said in an interview, challenging the contentions of the very rich that they are, more than others, the driving force of a robust economy. The great fortunes today are largely a result of the long bull market in stocks, Mr. Volcker said. Without rising stock prices, stock options would not have become a major source of riches for financiers and chief executives. Stock prices rise for a lot of reasons, Mr. Volcker said, including ones that have nothing to do with the actions of these people. “The market did not go up because businessmen got so much smarter,” he said, adding that the 1950s and 1960s, which the new tycoons denigrate as bureaucratic and uninspiring, “were very good economic times and no one was making what they are making now.” James D. Sinegal, chief executive of Costco, the discount retailer, echoes that sentiment. “Obscene salaries send the wrong message through a company,” he said. “The message is that all brilliance emanates from the top; that the worker on the floor of the store or the factory is insignificant.” A legendary chief executive from an earlier era is similarly critical. He is Robert L. Crandall, 71, who as president and then chairman and chief executive, led American Airlines through the early years of deregulation and pioneered the development of the hub-and-spoke system for managing airline routes. He retired in 1997, never having made more than $5 million a year, in the days before upper-end incomes really took off. He is speaking out now, he said, because he no longer has to worry that his “radical views” might damage the reputation of American or that of the companies he served until recently as a director. The nation’s corporate chiefs would be living far less affluent lives, Mr. Crandall said, if fate had put them in, say, Uzbekistan instead of the United States, “where they are the beneficiaries of a market system that rewards a few people in extraordinary ways and leaves others behind.” “The way our society equalizes incomes,” he argued, “is through much higher taxes than we have today. There is no other way.” The New Tycoons The new Gilded Age has created only one fortune as large as those of the Rockefellers, the Carnegies and the Vanderbilts — that of Bill Gates, according to various compilations. His net worth, measured as a share of the economy’s output, ranks him fifth among the 30 all-time wealthiest American families, just ahead of Carnegie. Only one other living billionaire makes the cut: Warren E. Buffett, in 16th place. Individual fortunes nearly a century ago were so large that just 30 tycoons — Rockefeller was by far the wealthiest — had accumulated net worth equal to 5 percent of the national income. Their wealth flowed mainly from the empires they built in manufacturing, railroads, oil, coal, urban transit and mass retailing as the United States grew into the world’s largest industrial economy. 31
Today the fortunes of the very wealthiest are spread more widely. In addition to stock and stock options, low-interest credit has brought wealth to more families — by, for example, facilitating the sale of individual businesses for much greater sums than in the past. The fortunes amassed in hedge funds and in private equity often stem from deals involving huge amounts of easy credit and vast pools of capital available for investment. The high-tech boom and the Internet unfolded against this backdrop. The rising stock market multiplied the wealth of Bill Gates as his software became the industry standard. It did the same for numerous others who financed start-ups on a shoestring and then went public at enormous gain. Over a longer period, the market lifted the value of Mr. Buffett’s judicious investments and timely acquisitions, and he emerged as the extraordinarily wealthy Sage of Omaha, in effect, a baron of the new Gilded Age whose views are strikingly similar to those of Carnegie and Mr. Weill. Like them, Mr. Buffett, 78, sees himself as lucky, having had the good fortune, as he put it, to have been born in America, white and male, and “wired for asset allocation” just when all four really paid off. He dwelt on his good fortune in a recent appearance at a fund-raiser for Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is vying for Mr. Buffett’s support of her presidential candidacy. “This is a significantly richer country than 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago,” he declared, backing his assertion with a favorite statistic. The national income, divided by the population, is a very abundant $45,000 per capita, he said, a number that reflects an affluent nation but also obscures the lopsided income distribution intertwined with the prosperity. “Society should place an initial emphasis on abundance,” Mr. Buffett argued, but “then should continuously strive” to redistribute the abundance more equitably. No income tax existed in Carnegie’s day to do this, and neither Mr. Buffett nor Mr. Weill push for sharply higher income tax rates now, although Mr. Buffett criticizes the present tax code as unfairly skewed in his favor. Like Carnegie, philanthropy is their preference. “I want to give away my money rather than have somebody take it away,” Mr. Weill said. Mr. Buffett is already well down that path. Most of his wealth is in the stock of his company, Berkshire Hathaway, and he is transferring the majority of that stock to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation so the Gateses can “materially expand” their giving. “In my will,” he has written, echoing Carnegie’s last wishes, “I’ve stipulated that the proceeds from all Berkshire shares I still own at death are to be used for philanthropic purposes.” Revisionist History The new tycoons describe a history that gives them a heroic role. The American economy, they acknowledge, did grow more rapidly on average in the decades immediately after World War II than it is growing today. Incomes rose faster than inflation for most Americans and the spread between rich and poor was much less. But the United States was far and away the dominant economy, and government played a strong supporting role. In such a world, the new tycoons argue, business leaders needed only to be good managers. Then, with globalization, with America competing once again for first place as strenuously as it had in the first Gilded Age, the need grew for a different type of business leader — one more entrepreneurial, more daring, more willing to take risks, more like the rough and tumble tycoons of the first Gilded Age. Lew Frankfort, chairman and chief executive of Coach, the manufacturer and retailer of trendy upscale handbags, who was among the nation’s highest paid chief executives last year, recaps the argument. “The professional class that developed in business in the ’50s and ’60s,” he said, “was able as America grew at very steady rates to become industry leaders and move their organizations forward in most categories: steel, autos, housing, roads.” 32
That changed with the arrival of “the technological age,” in Mr. Frankfort’s view. Innovation became a requirement, in addition to good management skills — and innovation has played a role in Coach’s marketing success. “To be successful,” Mr. Frankfort said, “you now needed vision, lateral thinking, courage and an ability to see things, not the way they were but how they might be.” Mr. Weill’s vision was to create a financial institution in the style of those that flourished in the last Gilded Age. Although insurance is gone, Citigroup still houses commercial and investment banking and stock brokerage. The Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 outlawed the mix, blaming conflicts of interest inherent in such a combination for helping to bring on the 1929 crash and the Depression. The pen displayed in Mr. Weill’s hallway is one of those Mr. Clinton used to revoke Glass-Steagall in 1999. He did so partly to accommodate the newly formed Citigroup, whose heft was necessary, Mr. Weill said, if the United States was to be a powerhouse in global financial markets. “The whole world is moving to the American model of free enterprise and capital markets,” Mr. Weill said, arguing that Wall Street cannot be a big player in China or India without giants like Citigroup. “Not having American financial institutions that really are at the fulcrum of how these countries are converting to a free-enterprise system,” he said, “would really be a shame.” Such talk alarms Arthur Levitt Jr., a former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, who started on Wall Street years ago as a partner with Mr. Weill in a stock brokerage firm. Mr. Levitt has publicly lamented the end of GlassSteagall, but Mr. Weill argues that its repeal “created the opportunities to keep people still moving forward.” Mr. Levitt is skeptical. “I view a gilded age as an age in which warning flags are flying and are seen by very few people,” he said, referring to the potential for a Wall Street firm to fail or markets to crash in a world of too much deregulation. “I think this is a time of great prosperity and a time of great danger.” It’s Not the Money, or Is It? Not that money is the only goal. Mr. Hindery, the cable television entrepreneur, said he would have worked just as hard for a much smaller payoff, and others among the very wealthy agreed. “I worked because I loved what I was doing,” Mr. Weill said, insisting that not until he retired did “I have a chance to sit back and count up what was on the table.” And Kenneth C. Griffin, who received more than $1 billion last year as chairman of a hedge fund, the Citadel Investment Group, declared: “The money is a byproduct of a passionate endeavor.” Mr. Griffin, 38, argued that those who focus on the money — and there is always a get-rich crowd — “soon discover that wealth is not a particularly satisfying outcome.” His own team at Citadel, he said, “loves the problems they work on and the challenges inherent to their business.” Mr. Griffin maintained that he has created wealth not just for himself but for many others. “We have helped to create real social value in the U.S. economy,” he said. “We have invested money in countless companies over the years and they have helped countless people.” The new tycoons oppose raising taxes on their fortunes. Unlike Mr. Crandall, neither Mr. Weill nor Mr. Griffin nor most of the dozen others who were interviewed favor tax rates higher than they are today, although a few would go along with a return to the levels of the Clinton administration. The marginal tax on income then was 39.6 percent, and on capital gains, 20 percent. That was still far below the 70 percent and 39 percent in the late 1970s. Those top rates, in the Bush years, are now 35 percent and 15 percent, respectively. “The income distribution has to stand,” Mr. Griffin said, adding that by trying to alter it with a more progressive income tax, “you end up in problematic circumstances. In the current world, there will be people who will move from one tax area to another. I am proud to be an American. But if the tax became too high, as a matter of principle I would not be working this hard.” 33
Creating Wealth Some chief executives of publicly traded companies acknowledge that their fortunes are indeed large — but that it reflects only a small share of the corporate value created on their watch. Mr. Frankfort, the 61-year-old Coach chief, took home $44.4 million last year. His net worth is in the high nine figures. Yet his pay and net worth, he notes, are small compared with the gain to shareholders since Coach went public six years ago, with Mr. Frankfort at the helm. The market capitalization, the value of all the shares, is nearly $18 billion, up from an initial $700 million. “I don’t think it is unreasonable,” he said, “for the C.E.O. of a company to realize 3 to 5 percent of the wealth accumulation that shareholders realize.” That strikes Robert C. Pozen as a reasonable standard. He made a name for himself — and a fortune — overseeing the investment department at Fidelity. Mr. Weill makes a similar point. Escorting a visitor down his hall of tributes, he lingers at framed charts with multicolored lines tracking Citigroup’s stock price. Two of the lines compare the price in the five years of Mr. Weill’s active management with that of Mr. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway during the same period. Citigroup went up at six times the pace of Berkshire. “I think that the results our company had, which is where the great majority of my wealth came from, justified what I got,” Mr. Weill said. New Technologies Others among the very rich argue that their wealth helps them develop new technologies that benefit society. Steve Perlman, a Silicon Valley innovator, uses his fortune from breakthrough inventions to help finance his next attempt at a new technology so far out, he says, that even venture capitalists approach with caution. He and his partners, co-founders of WebTV Networks, which developed a way to surf the Web using a television set, sold that still profitable system to Microsoft in 1997 for $503 million. Mr. Perlman’s share went into the next venture, he says, and the next. One of his goals with his latest enterprise, a private company called Rearden L.L.C., is to develop over several years a technology that will make film animation seem like real-life movies. “There was no one who would invest,” Mr. Perlman said. So he used his own money. In an earlier era, big corporations and government were the major sources of money for cutting-edge research with an uncertain outcome. Bell Labs in New Jersey was one of those research centers, and Mr. Perlman, now a 46-year-old computer engineer with 71 patents to his name, said that, in an earlier era, he could easily have gone to Bell as a salaried inventor. In the 1950s, for example, he might have been on the team that built the first transistor, a famous Bell Labs breakthrough. Instead, after graduating from Columbia University, he went to Apple in Silicon Valley, then to Microsoft and finally out on his own. “I would have been happy as a clam to participate in the development of the transistor,” Mr. Perlman said. “The path I took was the path that was necessary to do what I was doing.” Carnegie’s Philanthropy In contrast to many of his peers in corporate America, Mr. Sinegal, 70, the Costco chief executive, argues that the nation’s business leaders would exercise their “unique skills” just as vigorously for “$10 million instead of $200 million, if that were the standard.” 34
As a co-founder of Costco, which now has 132,000 employees, Mr. Sinegal still holds $150 million in company stock. He is certainly wealthy. But he distinguishes between a founder’s wealth and the current practice of paying a chief executive’s salary in stock options that balloon into enormous amounts. His own salary as chief executive was $349,000 last year, incredibly modest by current standards. “I think that most of the people running companies today are motivated and pay is a small portion of the motivation,” Mr. Sinegal said. So why so much pressure for ever higher pay? “Because everyone else is getting it,” he said. “It is as simple as that. If somehow a proclamation were made that C.E.O.’s could only make a maximum of $300,000 a year, you would not have any shortage of very qualified men and women seeking the jobs.” Looking back, none of the nation’s legendary tycoons was more aware of his good luck than Andrew Carnegie. “Carnegie made it abundantly clear that the centerpiece of his gospel of wealth philosophy was that individuals do not create wealth by themselves,” said David Nasaw, a historian at City University of New York and the author of “Andrew Carnegie” (Penguin Press). “The creator of wealth in his view was the community, and individuals like himself were trustees of that wealth.” Repaying the community did not mean for Carnegie raising the wages of his steelworkers. Quite the contrary, he sometimes cut wages and, in doing so, presided over violent antiunion actions. Carnegie did not concern himself with income inequality. His whole focus was philanthropy. He favored a confiscatory estate tax for those who failed to arrange to return, before their deaths, the fortunes the community had made possible. And today dozens of libraries, cultural centers, museums and foundations bear Carnegie’s name. “Confiscatory” does not appear in Mr. Weill’s public comments on the estate tax, or in those of Mr. Gates. They note that the estate tax, now being phased out at the urging of President Bush, will return in full in 2010, unless Congress acts otherwise. They publicly favor retaining an estate tax but focus their attention on philanthropy. Mr. Weill ticks off a list of gifts that he and his wife, Joan, have made. Some bear their names, and will for years to come. With each bequest, one or the other joins the board. Appropriately, Carnegie Hall has been a big beneficiary, and Mr. Weill as chairman was honored at a huge fund-raising party that Carnegie Hall gave on his 70th birthday. The Weills — matching what everyone else pledged — gave $30 million to enhance the concert hall that Andrew Carnegie built in 1890 in pursuit of returning his fortune to the community, establishing a standard that today’s tycoons embrace. “We have that in common,” Mr. Weill said.
“Is income inequality 'morally wrong'?”
By John D. Sutter, CNN, July 25, 2013 It's getting harder to shock people with stats about income inequality. Americans know they live in a two-tier country -- one where the uber-super-ultra-rich are leaving the rest of us behind; where, as Michael Moore famously put it, 400 of the richest people control the same amount of wealth as 150 million others; where, as President Obama said in a speech on Wednesday, the "average CEO has gotten a raise of nearly 40% since 2009, but the average American earns less than he or she did in 1999." "Even though our businesses are creating new jobs and have broken record profits," the president said in his prepared remarks, "nearly all the income gains of the past ten years have continued to flow to the top 1%." 1%, 2%, red percent, blue percent. At a certain point, these numbers bounce off our foreheads.That's why I found it particularly refreshing that Obama, however briefly, argued this week that America's growing income inequality is "morally wrong." The fairness of the widening rich-poor gap, or the lack thereof, has been discussed far less than the number soup. Yet it's a crucial question -- perhaps the central question -- for America to consider. The fairness gap is the basis for a wide range of policies, from the tax code to education; health care to the minimum wage. So is extreme inequality amoral? To think this through, I called up four smart people -- Nigel Warburton, a freelance philosopher and writer, and host of the (wonderful) Philosophy Bites podcast; Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute and author of "Wealth and Justice"; Thomas Pogge, director of the Global Justice Program at Yale; and Kentaro Toyama, researcher at the University of California at Berkeley. Each offered a range of interesting and nuanced views. But to make this column as un-wonky as possible, I've broken down their arguments into a few, (hopefully) easy-to-chew-on talking points you can use to fight about inequality with your friends. Bring these up at your next dinner party and let me know how it goes. Inequality isn't a moral problem; opportunity is In this school of thought, it doesn't matter if the mayor of New York City is worth $27 billion (he is) as long as everyone in the city has an equal chance to succeed. That's the view of Brooks, from the American Enterprise Institute. I asked him about that city, which is more unequal than any other metro in the U.S. "The truth is there are a lot of really, really wealthy people there. Great! That's a morally neutral concept," he said. But not all of them have an equal opportunity at success, he said, in part because schools don't perform well in all neighborhoods. That's morally bankrupt. (Check out this wild map that shows the chances a kid at the bottom of the income ladder would have of climbing to the top. In Atlanta, where I live, a kid in the bottom fifth of income earners has only a 4% chance -4%! -- of making it into the top fifth of income earners.) Fix economic mobility, Brooks said, not inequality. And let the rich do their thing. Inequality turns us into 'Downton Abbey' This isn't just about income; it's about class-based psychology. Extreme income inequality, even if it's derived from a fair playing field, can lead to a society where the rich look down their noses at the poor and essentially force them into positions of servitude, a la "Downton Abbey." "It undermines the social fabric," said Pogge, the Yale professor. He told me this idea comes from a University of Michigan philosopher, Elizabeth Anderson. "It basically creates a multi-class society -- a society in which you have people who have to flatter and endear themselves and have to be servile. And other people dominate." Wealth is rad; human suffering isn't Imagine a society in which the poorest people are very solidly middle-class by today's standards. They have enough to eat; they have jobs that are stimulating and thought-provoking; they have comfortable lives and can afford to go to movies and all that. Meanwhile, some people are extraordinarily rich -- like way richer than Gates or Buffett. Is that fair? Is it moral? 36
Yes, said Toyama, the UC Berkeley researcher. Eliminating suffering is what matters most. Beyond that, extreme wealth is an incentive for people to work harder. "Morality, on some level, is the avoidance of suffering," he said, "or at least the decrease of suffering. And where, in the United States, we have the financial wealth to be able to address everyone's direct suffering, the fact that we're not doing so is the basis for claiming that something is morally wrong." Extreme inequality ruins democracy It's no secret money rules politics in America. Team Obama spent $1.1 billion to win the 2012 presidential race. When inequality becomes extreme, it undermines democracy, as the late philosopher John Rawls and others have argued, because it creates unequal access to the political system and to positions of power. One person, one vote -- yeah. But one person with millions to spend has much more influence. "What is problematic in the United States is the political system ... is one that is quite substantially dominated by those people that have money," said Pogge, the Yale professor. "They can, in the American system, yield a substantial amount of influence on the legislation through lobbying and therefore expand their advantaged position." Jesus wants us to be poor In the Biblical tradition, there are parables and sayings that cast the rich in a negative light, implying it's wrong to hold too much wealth, especially if you're not using it to help less fortunate people. See Matthew 19:24: "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." "There's something immoral, from the Christian perspective, about being very rich," said Warburton, the author and podcaster. "That's explicit." (Warburton happens to be atheist, by the way.) The size of the rich-poor gap matters Some inequality is acceptable to pretty much everyone these days. No one is arguing for a fully equal society. But the degree of inequality really does matter when you're trying to determine whether inequality is moral or amoral, said Pogge, the Yale professor. When extreme inequality sets in, that's when social and political problems follow. His best estimate for a fair distribution is the Palma Ratio, which measures how much income the top 10% earns compared to the bottom 40%. Ideally, those amounts would be equal, meaning the country would have a Palma Ratio of one. According to a calculation cited by the Danish Institute for International Studies, the United States has a 2010 Palma Ratio of 1.852, which is about the same as Burkina Faso but not as bad as China or South Africa. (In an earlier version of this column, I incorrectly estimated the U.S. Palma Ratio based on wealth instead of income. I should have let the experts handle that, and I regret the mistake). By Pogge's assessment, that means inequality here is too high. Negative consequences for our society will result. Inequality is bad if the poor don't benefit, too I'll end this list back on John Rawls, the philosopher whose 1971 book, "A Theory of Justice," is a must-read (or at least a must-become-familiar-with) for people interested in this topic. One of Rawls' theories is that inequality can be justified only when it benefits everyone in society, particularly those who are most poor and vulnerable. If Rawls were creating a society from scratch, he would design it so that, in his words, "social and economic inequalities ... are to be to the greatest benefit of the least-advantaged members of society." If the rich making more will help the poor be better off, too, that's cool. If not, it's unfair, or amoral. For real-world reference, here's a quick look at CEO pay in the United States, from the AFL-CIO: The average S&P 500 CEO compensation in 2012, according to that labor group, was $12.3 million. A worker? $35,000. Do the poor benefit from that disparity? Does everyone? Anyone? I'll leave you to fight about that in the comments
White Man’s Burden by Rupard Kipling Take up the White Man’s burden— Send forth the best ye breed— Go send your sons to exile To serve your captives' need To wait in heavy harness On fluttered folk and wild— Your new-caught, sullen peoples, Half devil and half child Take up the White Man’s burden In patience to abide To veil the threat of terror And check the show of pride; By open speech and simple An hundred times made plain To seek another’s profit And work another’s gain Take up the White Man’s burden— And reap his old reward: The blame of those ye better The hate of those ye guard— The cry of hosts ye humour (Ah slowly) to the light: "Why brought ye us from bondage, “Our loved Egyptian night?” Take up the White Man’s burdenHave done with childish daysThe lightly proffered laurel, The easy, ungrudged praise. Comes now, to search your manhood Through all the thankless years, Cold-edged with dear-bought wisdom, The judgment of your peers!
Anglo-Saxon Predominance by Josiah Strong, 1891 It is not necessary to argue to those for whom I write that the two great needs of mankind, that all men may be lifted up into the light of the highest Christian civilization, are, first, a pure, spiritual Christianity, and second, civil liberty. Without controversy, these are the forces which, in the past, have contributed most to the elevation of the human race, and they must continue to be, in the future, the most efficient ministers to its progress. It follows, then, that the Anglo-Saxon, as the great representative of these two ideas, the despositary of these two greatest blessings, sustains peculiar relations to the world's future, is divinely commissioned to be, in a peculiar sense, his brother's keeper. Add to this the fact of his rapidly increasing strength in modem times, and we have well-nigh a demonstration of his destiny. In 1700 this race numbered less than 6,000,000 souls. In 1800, Anglo-Saxons (I use the term somewhat broadly to include all English speaking peoples) had increased to about 20,500,000, and now, in 1890, they number more than 120,000,000, having multiplied almost six-fold in ninety years. At the end of the reign of Charles 11, the English colonists in America numbered 200,000. During these two hundred years, our population has increased two hundred and fifty-fold. And the expansion of this race has been no less remarkable than its multiplication. In one century the United States has increased its territory ten-fold, while the enormous acquisition of foreign territory by Great Britain-and chiefly within the last hundred years-is wholly unparalleled in history. This mighty Anglo-Saxon race, though comprising only one-thirteenth part of mankind, now rules more than one-third of the earth's surface, and more than one-fourth of its people. And if this race, while growing from 6,000,000 to 120,000,000, thus gained possession of a third portion of the earth, is it to be supposed that when it numbers 1,000,000,000, it will lose the disposition, or lack the power to extend its sway? ... America is to have the great preponderance of numbers and of wealth, and by the logic of events will follow the scepter of controlling influence. This will be but the consummation of a movement as old as civilization--a result to which men have looked forward for centuries. John Adams records that nothing was "more ancient in his memory than the observation that arts, sciences and empire had traveled westward; and in conversation it was always added that their next leap would be over the Atlantic into America." He recalled a couplet that had been inscribed or rather drilled, into a rock on the shore of Monument Bay in our old colony of Plymouth: The Eastern nations sink, their glory ends, And empire rises where the sun descends. . . Mr. Darwin is not only disposed to see, in the superior vigor of our people, an illustration of his favorite theory of natural selection, but even intimates that the world's history thus far has been simply preparatory for our future, and tributary to it. He says: "There is apparently much truth in the belief that the wonderful progress of the United States, as well as the character of the people, are the results of natural selection; for the more energetic, restless, and courageous men from all parts of Europe have emigrated during the last ten or twelve generations to that great country, and have there succeeded best. Looking at the distant future, I do not think that the Rev. Mr. Zincke takes an exaggerated view when he says: 'All other series of events-as that which resulted in the culture of mind in Greece, and that which resulted in the Empire of Rome-only appear to have purpose and value when viewed in connection with, or rather as subsidiary to, the great stream of Anglo-Saxon emigration to the West.' " There is abundant reason to believe that the Anglo-Saxon race is to be, is, indeed, already becoming, more effective here than in the mother country. The marked superiority of this race is due, in large measure, to its highly mixed origin. Says Rawlinson: "It is a general rule, now almost universally admitted by ethnologists, that the mixed races of mankind are superior to the pure ones"; and adds: "Even the Jews, who are so often cited as an example of a race at once pure and strong, may, with more reason, be adduced on the opposite side of the argument." The ancient Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Romans, were all mixed races. Among modem races, the most conspicuous example is afforded by the AngloSaxons.... There is here a new commingling of races; and, while the largest injections of foreign blood are substantially the same elements that constituted the original Anglo-Saxon admixture, so that we may infer the general type will be preserved, there are strains of other bloods being added, which, if Mr. Emerson's remark is true, that "the best nations are those most widely related," may be expected to improve the stock, and aid it to a higher destiny. If the dangers of immigration, which have been pointed out, can be successfully met for the next few years, until it has passed its climax, it may be expected to add value to the amalgam which will constitute the new Anglo-Saxon race of the New World. Concerning our future, Herbert Spencer says: "One great result is, I think, tolerably clear. From biological truths it is to be inferred that the eventual mixture of the allied varieties of the Aryan race, forming the population, will produce a more 39
powerful type of man than has hitherto existed, and a type of man more plastic, more adaptable, more capable of undergoing the modifications needful for complete social life. I think, whatever difficulties they may have to surmount, and whatever tribulations they may have to pass through, the Americans may reasonably look forward to a time when they will have produced a civilization grander than any the world has known." It may be easily shown, and is of no small significance, that the two great ideas of which the Anglo-Saxon is the exponent are having a fuller development in the United States than in Great Britain. There the union of Church and State tends strongly to paralyze some of the members of the body of Christ. Here there is no such influence to destroy spiritual life and power. Here, also, has been evolved the form of government consistent with the largest possible civil liberty. Furthermore, it is significant that the marked characteristics of this race are being here emphasized most. Among the most striking features of the Anglo-Saxon is his money-making powera power of increasing importance in the widening commerce of the world's future. We have seen . . . that, although England is by far the richest nation of Europe, we have already outstripped her in the race after wealth, and we have only begun the development of our vast resources. Again, another marked characteristic of the Anglo-Saxon is what may be called an instinct or genius for colonizing. His unequaled energy, his indomitable perseverance, and his personal independence, made him a pioneer. He excels all others in pushing his way into new countries. It was those in whom this tendency was strongest that came to America, and this inherited tendency has been further developed by the westward sweep of successive generations across the continent. So noticeable has this characteristic become that English visitors remark it. Charles Dickens once said that the typical American would hesitate to enter heaven unless assured that he could go farther west. Again, nothing more manifestly distinguishes the Anglo-Saxon than his intense and persistent energy, and he is developing in the United States an energy which, in eager activity and effectiveness, is peculiarly American. This is due partly to the fact that Americans are much better fed than Europeans, and partly to the undeveloped resources of a new country, but more largely to our climate, which acts as a constant stimulus. Ten years after the landing of the Pilgrims, the Rev. Francis Higginson, a good observer, wrote: "A sup of New England air is better than a whole flagon of English ale." Thus early had the stimulating effect of our climate been noted. Moreover, our social institutions are stimulating. In Europe the various ranks of society are, like the strata of the earth, fixed and fossilized. There can be no great change without a terrible upheaval, a social earthquake. Here society is like the waters of the sea, mobile; as General Garfield said, and so signally illustrated in his own experience, that which is at the bottom to-day may one day flash on the crest of the highest wave. Every one is free to become whatever he can make of himself; free to transform himself from a rail splitter or a tanner or a canal-boy, into the nation's President. Our aristocracy, unlike that of Europe, is open to all comers. Wealth, position, influence, are prizes offered for energy; and every farmer's boy, every apprentice and clerk, every friendless and penniless immigrant, is free to enter the lists. Thus many causes co-operate to produce here the most forceful and tremendous energy in the world. What is the significance of such facts? These tendencies infold the future; they are the mighty alphabet with which God writes his prophecies. May we not, by a careful laying together of the letters, spell out something of his meaning? It seems to me that God, with infinite wisdom and skill, is training the Anglo-Saxon race for an hour sure to come in the world's future. Heretofore there has always been in the history of the world a comparatively unoccupied land westward, into which the crowded countries of the East have poured their surplus populations. But the widening waves of migration, which millenniums ago rolled east and west from the valley of the Euphrates, meet to-day on our Pacific coast. There are no more new worlds. The unoccupied arable lands of the earth are limited, and will soon be taken. The time is coming when the pressure of population on the means of subsistence will be felt here as it is now felt in Europe and Asia. Then will the world enter upon a new stage of its history-the final competition of races, for which the Anglo-Saxon is being schooled. Long before the thousand millions are here, the mighty centrifugal tendency, inherent in this stock and strengthened in the United States, will assert itself. Then this race of unequaled energy, with all the majesty of numbers and the might of wealth behind it-the representative, let us hope, of the largest liberty, the purest Christianity, the highest civilization-having developed peculiarly aggressive traits calculated to impress its institutions upon mankind, will spread itself over the earth. If I read not amiss, this powerful race will move down upon Mexico, down upon Central and South America, out upon the islands of the sea, over upon Africa and beyond. And can any one doubt that the results of this competition of races will be the "survival of the fittest?" "Any people," says Dr. Bushnell, "that is physiologically advanced in culture, though it be only in a degree beyond another which is mingled with it on strictly equal terms, is sure to live down and finally live out its inferior. Nothing can save the inferior race but a ready and pliant assimilation. Whether the feebler and more abject races are going to be regenerated and raised up, is already, very much of a question. What if it should be God's plan to people the world with better and finer material?" 40
The Blowing Up of the Maine by Albert Shaw, American Monthly Review of Reviews, April 1898 The weeks that have elapsed since that fatal event of February 15th have been making history in a manner highly creditable to the American government and to our citizenship. Captain Sigsbee, the commander of the Maine, had promptly telegraphed his desire that judgment should be suspended until investigation had been made. The investigation was set on foot at once, and 75 million Americans have accordingly suspended judgment in the face of a great provocation. For it must be remembered that to suppose the destruction of the Maine an ordinary accident and not due to any external agency or hostile intent was, under all the circumstances, to set completely at defiance the law of probabilities. It is not true that battleships are in the habit of blowing themselves up. When all the environing facts were taken into consideration, it was just about as probable that the Maine had been blown up by spontaneous combustion or by some accident in which no hostile motive was concerned, as that the reported assassination of President Barrios of Guatemala, a few days previously, had really been a suicide. . . . It has been known perfectly well that Spanish hatred might at any time manifest itself by attempts upon the life of the American representative at Havana, Consul General Fitzhugh Lee. This danger was felt especially at the time of the Havana riots in January, and it seems to have had something to do with the sending of the Maine to Havana Harbor. The Spaniards themselves, however, looked upon the sending of the Maine as a further aggravation of the long series of their just grievances against the United States. They regarded the presence of the Maine at Havana as a menace to Spanish sovereignty in the island and as an encouragement to the insurgents. A powerful American fleet lay at Key West and the Dry Tortugas, with steam up ready to follow the Maine to the harbor of Havana at a few hours' notice. All this was intensely hateful to the Spaniards, and particularly to the Army officers at Havana who had sympathized with General Weyler's policy and who justly regarded General Weyler's recall to Spain as due to the demand of President McKinley. The American pretense that the Maine was making a visit of courtesy seemed to these Spaniards a further example of Anglo-Saxon hypocrisy. That this intense bitterness against the presence of the Maine was felt among the military and official class in Havana was perfectly well known to Captain Sigsbee, his staff, and all his crew; and they were not unaware of the rumors and threats that means would be found to destroy the American ship. It was, furthermore, very generally supposed that the Spanish preparation for the defense of Havana had included mines and torpedoes in the harbor. At the time when the Maine went to Havana, it was a notorious fact that the relations between the Spain and the United States were so strained that that war was regarded as inevitable. If war had actually been declared while the Maine was at Havana, it is not likely that the Spanish would have permitted the ship's departure without an effort to do her harm. The Spanish harbor is now and it has been for a good while past under military control; and the American warship, believed by the Spanish authorities to be at Havana with only half-cloaked hostile designs, was obliged to accept the anchorage that was assigned by those very authorities. In view of the strained situation and of the Spanish feeling that no magnanimity is due on Spain's part toward the United States, it is not in the least difficult to believe that the harbor authorities would have anchored the Maine at a spot where, in case of the outbreak of war, the submarine harbor defenses might be effectively be used against so formidable an enemy. To understand the situation completely, it must not be forgotten that the Spanish government at first made objection against the Maine's intended visit to Havana and, in consenting, merely yielded to a necessity that was forced upon it. All Spaniards regarded the sending of the Maine to Havana as really a treacherous act on the part of the United States, and most of them would have deemed it merely a safe and precautionary measure to anchor her in the vicinity of a submarine mine. Doubtless these suggestions will be read by more than one person who will receive them with entire skepticism. But such readers will not have been familiar with what has been going on in the matter of the Cuban rebellion, or else they will be lacking in memories of good carrying power. 42
The great majority of the intelligent people of the United States could not, from the first, avoid perceiving that what we may call the self-destruction theory was extremely improbable; while what we may term the assassination theory was in keeping with all the circumstances. Nevertheless, although the probability of guilt was so overwhelming, the American people saw the fairness and the necessity of suspending judgment until proof had been substituted for mere probability. And there was in no part of the country any disposition to take snap judgment or to act precipitately. No other such spectacle of national forbearance has been witnessed in our times. Unquestionably, the whole community has been intensely eager for news; and it is perhaps true that certain newspapers, which have devoted themselves for a month or more to criticizing the sensational press, might as well have been occupied in a more energetic effort to supply their readers with information. The fact is that the so-called war extras, which for many days were issued from certain newspaper offices at the rate of a dozen or more a day, have not seemed to communicate their hysteria to any considerable number of the American people, East or West, North or South, so far as our observation goes. The situation has simply been one of a very absorbing and profound interest, while the suspense has been very trying to the nerves. The possibility that our country might soon be engaged in war with a foreign power has been a preoccupying thought not to be dismissed for a single hour. The whole country has known that a fateful investigation was in progress in Havana Harbor; that coast-defense work was being pushed all along our seaboard; that in all the shipyards, public and private, government work was being prosecuted with double or quadruple forces of men, working by night as well as by day; that ammunition factories, iron and steel plants, and every other establishment capable of furnishing any kind of military or naval supplies were receiving orders from the government and were working to the full extent of their capacity; that plans were being made for fitting out merchant ships as auxiliary cruisers; that our naval representatives were negotiating abroad for additional warships; that new regiments of artillerymen were being enlisted for the big guns on the seaboard; that naval recruits were being mustered in to man newly commissioned ships; that the railroads were preparing by order of the War Department to bring the little United States Army from western and northern posts to convenient southern centers; and that while we were making these preparations Spain on her part was trying to raise money to buy ships and to secure allies. All these matters, and many others related to them, have within these past weeks made an immense opportunity for testing the news gathering resources of the American press. . . . When, therefore, on March 8, the House of Representatives unanimously voted to place $50 million at the unqualified disposal of President McKinley as an emergency fund for the national defense - this action being followed by an equally unanimous vote of the Senate the next day - it was naturally taken for granted all over the country that the situation was believed by the President to be extremely critical. The continued delay of the Board of Inquiry - which had been oscillating between Havana and Key West, conducting its proceedings in secret and maintaining absolute reticence - had naturally served to confirm the belief that its report would show foul play; and it appeared that the President was basing his great preparations of war, in part at least, upon his advance knowledge of the evidence secured by the commission. The unanimity of Congress in support of the President created an excellent impression abroad. Fifty million is a very large sum to place in the hands of one man. It might have been supposed that there would have been members in both houses who would have insisted upon the appropriation of this money for specific purposes. That not a single man was found to make objection showed a very great capacity for united action in a time of emergency. It also showed, of course, how great is the confidence that Congress and the American people repose in the honor, wisdom, and public spirit of their Presidents. At the time of the Venezuela incident, Congress in similar manner, came unanimously to the support of President Cleveland. In that case, however, there was not the remotest possibility of war; and the episode was merely a diplomatic one in which it was deemed important to show that our government could rely absolutely upon the whole support of the people. The South on all such recent occasions has been foremost in expressions of patriotism. The vote of $50 million, although an extraordinary measure justified only by the imminent danger of war, was clearly an act that no peace-loving man could reasonably criticize; for preparation is often the means by which conflict is avoided. A larger Navy was in any case greatly desirable for our country, with its long seaboard on the Atlantic and the Pacific and its vast commerce; while the better fortification of our principal ports was an urgent necessity. Since the preparations that have been made so hurriedly during the past few weeks have been of a defensive nature, and since they have been carried out upon lines which had been duly considered in advance, they will have permanent value, and there will have been 43
involved a very small percentage of waste. If Congress had been wise enough in the past three or four years to lay down more warships in our own yards, it would not have been necessary to contribute millions to foreign shipbuilders. No part of the $50 million will be squandered by the administration; but it is to be regretted that this emergency fund had not been already expended during the five preceding years by more liberal appropriations for coast defense and naval construction. The great shipyards of the United States, both public and private, are now at the point where, with a sufficient amount of regular work to do, they would speedily be able to compete on equal terms with the best shipbuilding plants of Europe. Iron and steel supplies are now much cheaper in the United States than anywhere else, and it is only the relatively small amount of shipbuilding that has been demanded by our government that has made it more expensive to build a war vessel here than else where. In a time of real emergency, however, the resources of the United States would prove themselves great enough to supply our own people and the whole world besides. The quickness and inventiveness of American mechanics, engineers, and manufacturers have no parallel in Europe. On a year's notice the United States might undertake to cope even-handed with either the Dual or the Triple Alliance - although we have now only the nucleus of an army and the beginning of a navy, while the European powers have made war preparation their principal business for a whole generation. It is to be suspected that one reason why the American people have bought the newspapers so eagerly during the past weeks is to be found in the satisfaction they have taken in learning how a strictly peaceful nation like ours could if necessary reverse the process of beating swords into plowshares. It is true, for example, that we have built only a few torpedo boats and only a few vessels of the type known as destroyers; but we have discovered that about a hundred very rich Americans had been amusing themselves within the past few years by building or buying splendid oceangoing, steel-built steam yachts of high speed and stanch qualities, capable of being quickly transformed into naval dispatch boats or armored and fitted with torpedo tubes. Probably not a single private Spanish citizen could turn over to his government such a vessel as the magnificent Goelet yacht, the Mayflower, which was secured by our Navy Department on March 16; not to mention scores of other private steam yachts of great size and strength that wealthy American citizens are ready to offer if needed. It is the prevailing opinion nowadays, it is true, that nothing is to be relied upon in naval war but huge battleships, which take from two to three or four years to build. But if a great war were forced upon us suddenly, it is altogether probable that American ingenuity would devise something wholly new in the way of a marine engine of war, just as American ingenuity improvised the first modern ironclads. We have already in our Navy a dynamite cruiser, the Vesuvius, which in actual warfare might prove more dangerous than a half dozen of the greatest battleships of the European navies. There has just been completed, moreover, and offered to our government, a submarine boat, the Holland, which seems to be capable of moving rapidly for several miles so completely submerged as to offer no target for an enemy; and it may well be that the torpedoes discharged from an insignificant little vessel capable of swimming below the surface like a fish might prove as fatal to the battleships of an enemy as the alleged mine in the harbor of Havana was fatal to our battleship the Maine. Nowadays, warfare is largely a matter of science and invention; and since a country where the arts of peace flourish and prosper is most favorable to the general advance of science and invention, we stumble upon the paradox that the successful pursuit of peace is after all the best preparation for war. Another way to put it is to say that modern warfare has become a matter of machinery, and that the most highly developed mechanical and industrial nation will by virtue of such development be most formidable in war. This is a situation that the Spaniards in general are evidently quite unable to comprehend. Their ideas are altogether medieval. They believe themselves to be a highly chivalrous and militant people, and that the people of the United States are really in great terror of Spanish prowess. They think that Spain could make as easy work of invading the United States as Japan made of invading China. Their point of view is altogether theatrical and unrelated to modern facts. A country like ours, capable of supplying the whole world with electrical motors, mining machinery, locomotive engines, steel rails, and the structural material for modern steel bridges and "skyscrapers," not to mention bicycles and sewing machines, is equally capable of building, arming, and operating an unlimited number of ships of every type, and of employing every conceivable mechanical device for purposes of national defense. In the long run, therefore, even if our 44
preliminary preparations had been of the scantiest character, we should be able to give a good account of ourselves in warfare. . . . Quite regardless of the responsibilities for the Maine incident, it is apparently true that the great majority of the American people are hoping that President McKinley will promptly utilize the occasion to secure the complete pacification and independence of Cuba. There are a few people in the United States - we should not like to believe that more than 100 could be found out of a population of 75 million - who believe that the United States ought to join hands with Spain in forcing the Cuban insurgents to lay down their arms and to accept Spanish sovereignty as a permanent condition under the promise of practical home rule. It needs no argument, of course, to convince the American people that such a proposal reaches the lowest depths of infamy. It is much worse than the proposition made by a few people in Europe last year that the victorious Turks should have the countenance and support of the great nations of Europe in making Greece a part of the Turkish empire. For the Turks had fairly conquered the Greeks; and if Europe had kept hands off, Greece would have been reduced very quickly to the position of an Ottoman province. But in Cuba it is otherwise. The insurgents, with no outside help, have held their own for more than three years, and Spain is unable to conquer them. The people of the United States do not intend to help Spain hold Cuba. On the contrary, they are now ready, in one way or in another, to help the Cubans drive Spain out of the Western Hemisphere. If the occasion goes past and we allow this Cuban struggle to run on indefinitely, the American people will have lost several degrees of self-respect and will certainly not have gained anything in the opinion of mankind.
"What Shall We Do with the Conquered Islands?" by Senator John T. Morgan, The North American Review, June 1898 The war with Spain, into which we have been drawn by a necessity we could not honorably avoid, which is imposed npon our country by a proper sense of humanity and the duty we owe to Christian civilization, is not likely to close without embracing a wider field than the establishment of free government in Cuba alone, and the control of that island by a people with whom we can live in peace and friendship, as near neighbors. The resistance of Spain to our just demands for peace in Cuba has already lost to her the dominion over the Philippine Islands, and will remove her yoke from the Caroline Islands and from Cuba and Porto Rico. The prospect of this sweeping result, which is not likely to fail of complete accomplishment, brings into earnest, practical discussion the question, that is almost new in our history, as to the disposal that should be made of all these islands at the close of the war. If the United States, at that time, shall have the control of the destiny of these islands, the first view of the question of their disposal requires us to determine whether these islands should be returned to the dominion of the Spanish Crown. If a revolution in Spain should establish a Republic there, the principles of constitutional government which may be adopted by the Spanish people may accord to these islands the fall liberty of local self-government, so well secured to them as to remove the tyrannical domination that the Monarchy has employed to crush them with oppressions that no people should be compelled to endure. In such an event, the Republic of Spain might consist of a confederation of sovereign states, such as the States of the American Union, into which the people of the insular countries might freely choose to enter. With "indemnity for the past and security for the future," such a result would gratify the American people. Spain could have restored peace to Cuba at any time by the declaration of its independence, and could have made with that republic most advantageous treaty arrangements. But the iron hand of the Monarchy refused to relax its grasp upon the power to rule and tax and destroy those people. The haughty pride of the Monarchy refused to bow to duty. Cupidity refused to yield to the pleadings of justice, and the ferocity of brutal power re- fused to stay its hand, on the demand of humanity. If a true republic had existed in Spain, animated with respect for human rights and liberties, Cuba would have been set free, and the gratitude of the people for such a deliverance would have drawn them, with great rejoicings, into a Spanish federation of free republics, along with the other colonies in the East and West Indies. The time has passed when such a federation is possible, and " the pride that goes before a fall " seems still rigid and unrelenting, and is leading Spain into the loss of all her colonial possessions. The United States would have welcomed such a deliverance for these oppressed people, and would have rejoiced in sacrifices for the holy cause. of humanity and liberty. But that is now beyond hope. The situation unexpectedly imposes upon the American people a difficult and responsible task, in giving a proper direction to the future of these insular peoples, that are now left in a chaotic condition. In Cuba, the people have been in close contact with our free, constitutional government, and many of their leading men have been educated in our schools. With such opportunities, they have acquired the capacity for just and enlightened selfgovernment, and, upon that foundation, they have already established their infant republic amidst the throes of revolution, and have gathered around it in battle array and have sustained it, until it has grown into a power that commands the respect of the world, and will be established as a welcomed member of the family of nations. Whether Cuba will ever enter into the union of American States, or will prefer to stand apart as a separate republic, will depend upon her free and voluntary election, but its union with our government will never be the result of compulsion. In her freedom there would still be an element of subordination, if Cuba does not possess and exercise the unconstrained right to control her own destiny. 46
In Porto Rico, the ability to sustain an independent government is more questionable, because her population cannot increase in so limited an area to the strength that is essential to independent statehood. Her geographical position is too important to distant nations, to admit of her separate independence. Unless Cuba and Porto Eico can be united into a republican federation, with advantage to both islands and with the free consent of their people, it is probable that the United States will protect the people of Porto Eico by including the island within the limits of a military outpost, while they will be left free to control their domestic affairs in their local councils. By making the ports of this island free to the commerce of all nations, except as to tonnage duties, or sound dues, no questions would be likely to arise with other countries for settlement that could not be properly disposed of by a commandant of a naval or military station. The question of greatest difficulty that will be presented for solution by the United States at the close of the war with Spain will be the disposal of the Philippine and the Caroline Islands. In respect of all the islands from which Spanish power is expelled by our arms, there is a proper and necessary reservation, to be made at the proper time, of limited areas that will include certain bays and harbors that are best adapted to the purposes of military outposts, and for coaling stations and places of refuge for our warships and other national vessels. It would be extreme folly to omit such provision for the security of our ships and the protection of our commerce in both the great oceans. If any of these islands are transferred to any government, local or foreign, such government should be bound by treaty stipulations to guarantee to the United States, against all comers, and with arms if necessary, the full and uninterrupted possession and control of suitable military reservations. The government of the Philippines, outside of such military reservations, is the weighty problem we must solve in our dealing with this novel situation. The necessary care of our commercial affairs, and the defense of our coasts, will require the annexation of Hawaii, and the establishment of a naval station in Pango-Pango Bay, in Samoa,, where we have this right, by treaty. A military post in the Philippines, connecting with these other islands and with Asia, would form a strategic situation of immense value in time of war, and would place us on an equal footing with all other powers in the control of the commerce of the Southern Pacific Ocean. The distance of Hawaii from all other places, and its equidistant proximity to all points on our Pacific Coast, from the border of Mexico to the island of Attn, would give us the ascendency in sea power in the North Pacific, if not the supreme strategic control of that vast ocean area. It may be considered inappropriate or immodest, even, that a republic should contemplate the possession of naval stations, in those seas Where monarchic Europe has laid violent hands on all the islands, but we must respond, in our policies, to the energy with which our institutions have inspired our people in seeking wealth and commercial pursuits. Wheresoever our power may extend beyond our continental boundaries, it will be confined to the protection of the interests of our own people, by establishing such military outposts as will secure to them the full enjoyment of all their rights, and the liberty of commerce. The policy of colonization by conquest, or coercion, is repugnant to our national creed, which places the right of free self-government in supremacy over all other sovereign rights ; and a colonial policy which discriminates between the rights of colonists, and those of the people who enjoy full citizenship in the United States, would be repugnant to the principles of our national Constitution. In all the departments of our government, the laws of nations are adopted and admitted to be in force. They broaden the powers of the government to include whatever is in accordance with those laws. Broadly stated, the United States have as much rightful authority beyond their borders, as may be exerted by any other power. The limitations on the powers of our departments of government are intended to protect onr people and the States against domestic usurpation or wrong, rather than to limit the national government in its dealings with foreign states or countries. The army and navy of the United States are not confined in their operations to the land or the water included in our territorial limits; and they may he used, in accordance with the laws of nations, in time of peace, or in war, to safeguard the rights of our people in any part of the world, when our laws so provide. In time of war, these powers are exercised in 47
enforcing the martial law; and in time of peace, they may be exerted in the form of military government, acting in supervision, but in harmony with civil or municipal laws of the country held under military control. In our military reservations, the military arm is employed as an agency of civil government, and, in the necessary control of Indian tribes, the same principles of government obtain. It must be conceded, under the laws of nations, and in accord- ance with the necessary authority of our national sovereignty, that we may lawfully govern the Philippine Islands, or any part of them that may come rightfully under our control as a result of war, by military authority, if we find it necessary for the welfare of those people, or our own, so to govern them. In such an event, we should first set apart a special reservation of territory, under permanent military government, and fortify it as a naval station, giving to the people in such reservations the rights of citizenship of the United States, if they choose to accept them. The question of the capacity of the people of the Philippine Islands to become a free and self-governing people can only be solved through the friendly offices of the United States, or of some just and liberal government, to direct and assist them in that course of development. It is too early now to venture upon a solution of the obvious difficulties that must attend their growth into a self-governing people, by any definite plan of procedure: but the example of Hawaii gives great encouragement to the philanthropist and the Christian who may look hopefully to the future of these people. "When they are brought into living contact with the beneficent influences that have redeemed them from servile bondage to their oppressors and have elevated them to the possibilities of a true and enlightened civilization, they will accept the new situation cheerfully.
Is the U.S. an Empire? by Paul Schroeder, Professor Emeritus of History, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
American Empire is the current rage--whether hailed or denounced, accepted as inevitable or greeted as an historic opportunity. Common to the discourse is an assumption, shared also by friends and foes abroad, that America already enjoys a world-imperial position and is launched on an imperial course. But that assumption involves another: that America is already an empire simply by being the world's only superpower, by virtue of its military supremacy, economic power, global influence, technological and scientific prowess, and world-wide alliances. The term "empire," in short, describes America's current condition and world status, and is equivalent to phrases like "unipolar moment" or "unchallenged hegemony." This is a misleading, unhistorical understanding of empire, ignoring crucial distinctions between empire and other relationships in international affairs and obscuring vital truths about the fate of empires and bids for empire within the modern international system. A better understanding of empire can point us to historical generalizations we ignore at our peril. First a definition: empire means political control exercised by one organized political unit over another unit separate from and alien to it. Many factors enter into empire--economics, technology, ideology, religion, above all military strategy and weaponry--but the essential core is political: the possession of final authority by one entity over the vital political decisions of another. This need not mean direct rule exercised by formal occupation and administration; most empires involve informal, indirect rule. But real empire requires that effective final authority, and states can enjoy various forms of superiority or even domination over others without being empires. This points to a critical distinction between two terms frequently employed as synonyms: hegemony and empire. These are two essentially different relationships. Hegemony means clear, acknowledged leadership and dominant influence by one unit within a community of units not under a single authority. A hegemon is first among equals; an imperial power rules over subordinates. A hegemonic power is the one without whom no final decision can be reached within a given system; its responsibility is essentially managerial, to see that a decision is reached. An imperial power rules the system, imposes its decision when it wishes. Powerful implications flow from this definition and distinction. First, hegemony in principle is compatible with the international system we now have, composed of autonomous, coordinate units enjoying juridical equality (status, sovereignty, rights, and international obligations) regardless of differences in power. Empire is not. Second, those who speak of an American empire bringing freedom and democracy to the world are talking of dry rain and snowy blackness. In principle and by definition, empire is the negation of political freedom, liberation, and self-determination. This empire/hegemony dialectic yields some profound historical lessons, offered here without proof, though historical evidence is abundant: 1) There are circumstances (the absence or breakdown of inter-state or inter-community order) under which empires have historically provided a certain order and stability, though almost always accompanied by overt and latent violence, disorder, and war. Where, however, a relatively stable international system of autonomous units already exists, attempts to make that system work and endure through empire have not only regularly failed, but overwhelmingly produced massive instability, disorder, and war. 2) Recurrently throughout modern history leading powers have at critical junctures chosen empire over hegemony, and thereby triggered large-scale disorder and war. In some instances, the choice was conscious and demonstrable, in many others less clear-cut and more debatable. Nonetheless, the historian can point to repeated instances over the last five centuries where leader and powers, having the option between empire and hegemony, chose the path of empire, and thereby ruined themselves and the system.
3) The converse also holds. Where real advances in international order, stability, and peace have been achieved (and they have been), they have been connected with choices leading powers have made for durable, tolerable hegemony rather than empire. 4) Recent developments reshaping the international system (e.g., globalization, the rise of new states, the growth of nongovernmental actors and international institutions, developments in weaponry, etc.) reinforce this longstanding trend, making empire increasingly unworkable and counterproductive as a principle of order, and hegemony more possible, more needed, and more potentially stable and beneficial. These are not academic propositions. They illuminate the choice for America today. It is not an empire--not yet. But it is at this moment a wannabe empire, poised on the brink. The Bush Doctrine proclaims unquestionably imperialist ambitions and goals, and its armed forces are poised for war for empire--formal empire in Iraq through conquest, occupation, and indefinite political control, and informal empire over the whole Middle East through exclusive paramountcy. The administration pursues this path even in the face of a far graver challenge by North Korea to both its imperial pretensions and its own and the world's security. History here warrants a prediction, based not on analogies or examples from the past but on sober analysis of what can and cannot succeed in this international world. If America goes down the path of empire, it will ultimately fail. How, when, and with what consequences, no one can tell--but fail it will, and harm itself and the world in the process. Not the least harm will come from thereby wrecking an American hegemony now clearly possible, needed, and potentially durable and beneficial. In July 1878, at the end of the Berlin Congress that patched up peace in the Balkans after a Russo-Turkish war, Prince Bismarck told an Ottoman delegate, "This is your last chance--and if I know you, you will not take it." Bismarck's words, slightly altered, apply today. This is our best chance--and knowing us, we will not take it. But there is hope. Circumstances, the frictions of war, the pressures and pleas of allies, the maneuvers and resistances of opponents, new foreign dangers, challenges, and distractions, and domestic problems and politics could yet deter this country from a potentially tragic choice of empire and compel it to settle for hegemony. In other words, that special Providence Bismarck once said was reserved for fools, drunkards, and the United States of America may again come to our rescue.
The Progressive Era
The New Progressive Movement by Jeffrey D. Sachs, New York Times, November 12, 2011 OCCUPY WALL STREET and its allied movements around the country are more than a walk in the park. They are most likely the start of a new era in America. Historians have noted that American politics moves in long swings. We are at the end of the 30-year Reagan era, a period that has culminated in soaring income for the top 1 percent and crushing unemployment or income stagnation for much of the rest. The overarching challenge of the coming years is to restore prosperity and power for the 99 percent. Thirty years ago, a newly elected Ronald Reagan made a fateful judgment: “Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.” Taxes for the rich were slashed, as were outlays on public services and investments as a share of national income. Only the military and a few big transfer programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and veterans’ benefits were exempted from the squeeze. Reagan’s was a fateful misdiagnosis. He completely overlooked the real issue — the rise of global competition in the information age — and fought a bogeyman, the government. Decades on, America pays the price of that misdiagnosis, with a nation singularly unprepared to face the global economic, energy and environmental challenges of our time. Washington still channels Reaganomics. The federal budget for nonsecurity discretionary outlays — categories like highways and rail, education, job training, research and development, the judiciary, NASA, environmental protection, energy, the I.R.S. and more — was cut from more than 5 percent of gross domestic product at the end of the 1970s to around half of that today. With the budget caps enacted in the August agreement, domestic discretionary spending would decline to less than 2 percent of G.D.P. by the end of the decade, according to the White House. Government would die by fiscal asphyxiation. Both parties have joined in crippling the government in response to the demands of their wealthy campaign contributors, who above all else insist on keeping low tax rates on capital gains, top incomes, estates and corporate profits. Corporate taxes as a share of national income are at the lowest levels in recent history. Rich households take home the greatest share of income since the Great Depression. Twice before in American history, powerful corporate interests dominated Washington and brought America to a state of unacceptable inequality, instability and corruption. Both times a social and political movement arose to restore democracy and shared prosperity. The first age of inequality was the Gilded Age at the end of the 19th century, an era quite like today, when both political parties served the interests of the corporate robber barons. The progressive movement arose after the financial crisis of 1893. In the following decades Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson came to power, and the movement pushed through a remarkable era of reform: trust busting, federal income taxation, fair labor standards, the direct election of senators and women’s suffrage. The second gilded age was the Roaring Twenties. The pro-business administrations of Harding, Coolidge and Hoover once again opened up the floodgates of corruption and financial excess, this time culminating in the Great Depression. And once again the pendulum swung. F.D.R.’s New Deal marked the start of several decades of reduced income inequality, strong trade unions, steep top tax rates and strict financial regulation. After 1981, Reagan began to dismantle each of these core features of the New Deal. Following our recent financial calamity, a third progressive era is likely to be in the making. This one should aim for three things. The first is a revival of crucial public services, especially education, training, public investment and environmental 51
protection. The second is the end of a climate of impunity that encouraged nearly every Wall Street firm to commit financial fraud. The third is to re-establish the supremacy of people votes over dollar votes in Washington. None of this will be easy. Vested interests are deeply entrenched, even as Wall Street titans are jailed and their firms pay megafines for fraud. The progressive era took 20 years to correct abuses of the Gilded Age. The New Deal struggled for a decade to overcome the Great Depression, and the expansion of economic justice lasted through the 1960s. The new wave of reform is but a few months old. The young people in Zuccotti Park and more than 1,000 cities have started America on a path to renewal. The movement, still in its first days, will have to expand in several strategic ways. Activists are needed among shareholders, consumers and students to hold corporations and politicians to account. Shareholders, for example, should pressure companies to get out of politics. Consumers should take their money and purchasing power away from companies that confuse business and political power. The whole range of other actions — shareholder and consumer activism, policy formulation, and running of candidates — will not happen in the park. The new movement also needs to build a public policy platform. The American people have it absolutely right on the three main points of a new agenda. To put it simply: tax the rich, end the wars and restore honest and effective government for all. Finally, the new progressive era will need a fresh and gutsy generation of candidates to seek election victories not through wealthy campaign financiers but through free social media. A new generation of politicians will prove that they can win on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and blog sites, rather than with corporate-financed TV ads. By lowering the cost of political campaigning, the free social media can liberate Washington from the current state of endemic corruption. And the candidates that turn down large campaign checks, political action committees, Super PACs and bundlers will be well positioned to call out their opponents who are on the corporate take. Those who think that the cold weather will end the protests should think again. A new generation of leaders is just getting started. The new progressive age has begun
Burned into Memory:
An African American Recalls Mob Violence in Early 20th century Florida by Charles Hardy III, Horizons (Washington D.C.: National Public Radio, 1985)
Two of ‘em would always be together. “Say look, don’t he look like the guy that raped that white woman the other day?” The guy looks. “Yeah, he does look like him. Say, did you rape?” "No, I didn’t do anything like . . .“ "Well come on, let’s go on down there. Let’s go on down to the station. Let’s see what we can find out about you.” Take you right on away. If you got a ticket goin’ somewhere by the time they let you go, that ticket wouldn’t be any good. But did you know, I was glad when there was an opportunity, when I had the opportunity to get away from there, because I know they’re beginning to find that out about me. You see I never said,“Yes Sir” and “No Sir,” because they never said that to any of our grown people, and a little cracker that high’d call us “niggers.” And while I wouldn’t say “Yes Sir, No Sir,” I didn’t be dictatorial about it. I was kind of humble-like, submissive-like, you know. And I would—if he wanted me to do somethin'—I would jump like that, and “all right,” ya know. I’m “yes suh” and “oh, oh no.” "All right" just like that. Just before I had an opportunity to leave there during the first World War one guy said to me, “Do you think he’s one of them uppity niggers?” He didn’t know I heard him. When I heard I said,“Oh, my God.” I said, “They’re gonna get on to me pretty soon.” And if I knew if they had said that, and labeled me with that I wouldn’t never been alive today because I would of killed one of 'em. You see, we had to live so dangerously down there. My mother told me, said, “Son, I know you’re a good boy. You don’t, haven’t given me any trouble, but if they ever put their hand on you they’ll trump up something, and they’ll never let you get away.” And I knew that, 'cause I guess I was about, well, not quite five years old. But they had a big cross. The Klu Klux Klan, they burned a Negro right at the stake there. And oh, it was a terrible thing. You could smell his burning flesh five miles and it was a terrible thing. And do you know, those Klu Klux Klan after the flames were over, and he was burnt to a crisp, go around and cut things off of him—off of the fingers and toes—and give to these white women. And they’d take ‘em home, the white women with their children, take ’em home, and put ‘em in glass jars and set ’em on the mantle piece. “And those? Well this is what we do to niggers. See that nigger’s toes, this nigger’s uh, uh, uh?” You see those are the things that made me know that they ever put their hand on me, I would kill ‘em just as long as I could. Because I know what they would do. They’ll punish me, and make me suffer. But I know if I started to killin’ 'em, they’d kill me just like that and I’d be gone.
Suffrage On Stage by Marie Jenney Howe, An Anti-Suffrage Monologue , National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1913
In 1920, after more than seventy years of struggle, the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted women the right to vote. While nineteenth-century suffrage campaigns gained partial voting rights for women in twenty states, beginning in 1910 the push for suffrage took on a new urgency under the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) and the more radical National Woman’s Party (NWP). Their campaigns reached wide audiences, in part because suffragists had learned to spread their messages through imaginative use of various media. Drawing on domestic traditions of parlor plays and dramatic tableaux, suffragists used brief plays and monologues to enliven their own meetings and to enlist new members through performances at women’s clubs and community theaters. Marie Jenney Howe wrote this Antisuffrage Monologue for the drama group of the New York Woman’s Suffrage Party and other suffrage organizations. In it, she parodied anti-suffragist arguments that relied on stereotypes of female dependence, irrationality, and delicacy even as they also warned that women voters would exert too much power. Howe, a Unitarian minister, later founded Heterodoxy, a group of women intellectuals and radicals in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Please do not think of me as old-fashioned. I pride myself on being a modern up-to-date woman. I believe in all kinds of broad-mindedness, only I do not believe in woman suffrage because to do that would be to deny my sex. Woman suffrage is the reform against nature. Look at these ladies sitting on the platform. Observe their physical inability, their mental disability, their spiritual instability and general debility! Could they walk up to the ballot box, mark a ballot, and drop it in? Obviously not. Let us grant for the sake of argument that they could mark a ballot. But could they drop it in? Ah, no. All nature is against it. The laws of man cry out against it. The voice of God cries out against it—and so do I. Enfranchisement is what makes man man. Disfranchisement is what makes woman woman. If women were enfranchised every man would be just like every woman and every woman would be just like every man. There would be no difference between them. And don’t you think this would rob life of just a little of its poetry and romance? Man must remain man. Woman must remain woman. If man goes over and tries to be like woman, if woman goes over and tries to be like man, it will become so very confusing and so difficult to explain to our children. Let us take a practical example. If a woman puts on a man’s coat and trousers, takes a man’s cane and hat and cigar, and goes out on the street, what will happen to her? She will be arrested and thrown into jail. Then why not stay at home? I know you begin to see how strongly I feel on this subject, but I have some reasons as well. These reasons are based on logic. Of course I am not logical. I am a creature of impulse, instinct, and intuition—and I glory in it. But I know that these reasons are based on logic because I have culled them from the men whom it is my privilege to know. My first argument against suffrage is that the women would not use it if they had it. You couldn’t drive them to the polls. My second argument is, if the women were enfranchised they would neglect their homes, desert their families, and spend all their time at the polls. You may tell me that the polls are only open once a year. But I know women. They are creatures of habit. If you let them go to the polls once a year, they will hang round the polls all the rest of the time. I have arranged these arguments in couplets. They go together in such a way that if you don’t like one you can take the other. This is my second anti-suffrage couplet. If the women were enfranchised they would vote exactly as their husbands do and only double the existing vote. Do you like that argument? If not, take this one. If the women were enfranchised they would vote against their own husbands, thus creating dissension, family quarrels, and divorce. My third anti-suffrage couplet is—women are angels. Many men call me an angel and I have a strong instinct which tells me it is true; that is why I am anti, because “I want to be an angel and with the angels stand.” And if you don’t like that argument take this one. Women are depraved. They would introduce into politics a vicious element which would ruin our national life. Fourth anti-suffrage couplet: women cannot understand politics. Therefore there would be no use in giving women political power, because they would not know what to do with it. On the other hand, if the women were enfranchised, they 54
would mount rapidly into power, take all the offices from all the men, and soon we would have women governors of all our states and dozens of women acting as President of the United States. Fifth anti-suffrage couplet: women cannot band together. They are incapable of organization. No two women can even be friends. Women are cats. On the other hand, if women were enfranchised, we would have all the women banded together on one side and all the men banded together on the other side, and there would follow a sex war which might end in bloody revolution. Just one more of my little couplets: the ballot is greatly over-estimated. It has never done anything for anybody. Lots of men tell me this. And the corresponding argument is—the ballot is what makes man man. It is what gives him all his dignity and all of his superiority to women. Therefore if we allow women to share this privilege, how could a woman look up to her own husband? Why, there would be nothing to look up to. I have talked to many woman suffragists and I find them very unreasonable. I say to them: “Here I am, convince me.” I ask for proof. Then they proceed to tell me of Australia and Colorado and other places where women have passed excellent laws to improve the condition of working women and children. But I say, “What of it?” These are facts. I don’t care about facts. I ask for proof. Then they quote the eight million women of the United States who are now supporting themselves, and the twenty-five thousand married women in the City of New York who are self-supporting. But I say again, what of it? These are statistics. I don’t believe in statistics. Facts and statistics are things which no truly womanly woman would ever use. I wish to prove anti-suffrage in a womanly way—that is, by personal example. This is my method of persuasion. Once I saw a woman driving a horse, and the horse ran away with her. Isn’t that just like a woman? Once I read in the newspapers about a woman whose house caught on fire, and she threw the children out of the window and carried the pillows downstairs. Does that show political acumen, or does it not? Besides, look at the hats that women wear! And have you ever known a successful woman governor of a state? Or have you ever known a really truly successful woman president of the United States? Well, if they could they would, wouldn’t they? Then, if they haven’t, doesn’t that show they couldn’t? As for the militant suffragettes, they are all hyenas in petticoats. Now do you want to be a hyena and wear petticoats? Now, I think I have proved anti-suffrage; and I have done it in a womanly way—that is, without stooping to the use of a single fact or argument or a single statistic. I am the prophet of a new idea. No one has ever thought of it or heard of it before. I well remember when this great idea first came to me. It waked me in the middle of the night with a shock that gave me a headache. This is it: woman’s place is in the home. Is it not beautiful as it is new, new as it is true? Take this idea away with you. You will find it very helpful in your daily lives. You may not grasp it just at first, but you will gradually grow into understanding of it. I know the suffragists reply that all our activities have been taken out of the home. The baking, the washing, the weaving, the spinning are all long since taken out of the home. But I say, all the more reason that something should stay in the home. Let it be woman. Besides, think of the great modern invention, the telephone. That has been put into the home. Let woman stay at home and answer the telephone. We antis have so much imagination! Sometimes it seems to us that we can hear the little babies in the slums crying to us. We can see the children in factories and mines reaching out their little hands to us, and the working women in the sweated industries, the underpaid, underfed women, reaching out their arms to us—all, all crying as with one voice, “Save us, save us, from Woman Suffrage.” Well may they make this appeal to us, for who knows what woman suffrage might not do for such as these. It might even alter the conditions under which they live. We antis do not believe that any conditions should be altered. We want everything to remain just as it is. All is for the best. Whatever is, is right. If misery is in the world, God has put it there; let it remain. If this misery presses harder on some women than others, it is because they need discipline. Now, I have always been comfortable and well cared for. But then I never needed discipline. Of course I am only a weak, ignorant woman. But there is one thing I do understand from 55
the ground up, and that is the divine intention toward woman. I know that the divine intention toward woman is, let her remain at home. The great trouble with the suffragists is this; they interfere too much. They are always interfering. Let me take a practical example. There is in the City of New York a Nurses‘ Settlement, where sixty trained nurses go forth to care for sick babies and give them pure milk. Last summer only two or three babies died in this slum district around the Nurses’ Settlement, whereas formerly hundreds of babies have died there every summer. Now what are these women doing? Interfering, interfering with the death rate! And what is their motive in so doing? They seek notoriety. They want to be noticed. They are trying to show off. And if sixty women who merely believe in suffrage behave in this way, what may we expect when all women are enfranchised? What ought these women to do with their lives? Each one ought to be devoting herself to the comfort of some man. You may say, they are not married. But I answer, let them try a little harder and they might find some kind of a man to devote themselves to. What does the Bible say on this subject? It says, “Seek and ye shall find.” Besides, when I look around me at the men; I feel that God never meant us women to be too particular. Let me speak one word to my sister women who are here to-day. Women, we don’t need to vote in order to get our own way. Don’t misunderstand me. Of course I want you to get your own way. That’s what we’re here for. But do it indirectly. If you want a thing, tease. If that doesn’t work, nag. If that doesn’t do, cry—crying always brings them around. Get what you want. Pound pillows. Make a scene. Make home a hell on earth, but do it in a womanly way. That is so much more dignified and refined than walking up to a ballot box and dropping in a piece of paper. Can’t you see that? Let us consider for a moment the effect of woman’s enfranchisement on man. I think some one ought to consider the men. What makes husbands faithful and loving? The ballot, and the monopoly of that privilege. If women vote, what will become of men? They will all slink off drunk and disorderly. We antis understand men. If women were enfranchised, men would revert to their natural instincts such as regicide, matricide, patricide and race-suicide. Do you believe in racesuicide or do you not? Then, isn’t it our duty to refrain from a thing that would lure men to destruction? It comes down to this. Some one must wash the dishes. Now, would you expect man, man made in the image of God, to roll up his sleeves and wash the dishes? Why, it would be blasphemy. I know that I am but a rib and so I wash the dishes. Or I hire another rib to do it for me, which amounts to the same thing. Let us consider the argument from the standpoint of religion. The Bible says, “Let the women keep silent in the churches.” Paul says, “Let them keep their hats on for fear of the angels.” My minister says, “Wives, obey your husbands.” And my husband says that woman suffrage would rob the rose of its fragrance and the peach of its bloom. I think that is so sweet. Besides did George Washington ever say, “Votes for women?” No. Did the Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm ever say, “Votes for women?” No. Did Elijah, Elisha, Micah, Hezekiah, Obadiah, and Jeremiah ever say, “Votes for women?” No. Then that settles it. I don’t want to be misunderstood in my reference to woman’s inability to vote. Of course she could get herself to the polls and lift a piece of paper. I don’t doubt that. What I refer to is the pressure on the brain, the effect of this mental strain on woman’s delicate nervous organization and on her highly wrought sensitive nature. Have you ever pictured to yourself Election Day with women voting? Can you imagine how women, having undergone this terrible ordeal, with their delicate systems all upset, will come out of the voting booths and be led away by policemen, and put into ambulances, while they are fainting and weeping, half laughing, half crying, and having fits upon the public highway? Don’t you think that if a woman is going to have a fit, it is far better for her to have it in the privacy of her own home? And how shall I picture to you the terrors of the day after election? Divorce and death will rage unchecked, crime and contagious disease will stalk unbridled through the land. Oh, friends, on this subject I feel—I feel, so strongly that I can— not think! 56
Morality and Birth Control by Margaret Sanger 1918 Throughout the ages, every attempt woman has made to strike off the shackles of slavery has been met with the argument that such an act would result in the downfall of her morality. Suffrage was going to “break up the home.” Higher education would unfit her for motherhood, and co-education would surely result in making her immoral. Even today, in some of the more backward countries reading and writing is stoutly discouraged by the clerical powers because “women may read about things they should not know.” We now know that there never can be a free humanity until woman is freed from ignorance, and we know, too, that woman can never call herself free until she is mistress of her own body. Just so long as man dictates and controls the standards of sex morality, just so long will man control the world. Birth control is the first important step woman must take toward the goal of her freedom. It is the first step she must take to be man’s equal. It is the first step they must both take toward human emancipation. The Twentieth Century can make progress only by fighting the superstitions and prejudices created in the Nineteenth Century -- fighting them in the open with the public searchlight upon them. The first questions we must ask ourselves are: Are we satisfied with present day morality? Are we satisfied with the results of present day standards of morality? Are these so satisfying that they need no improvement? For fourteen years I worked as a nurse in the factory and tenement districts of New York City. Eight years ago I was called into a home where the father, a machinist by trade, was earning eighteen dollars a week. He was at the time the father of six living children, to all appearances a sober, serious and hard working man. His wife, a woman in the thirties toiled early and late helping him to keep the home together and the little ones out of the sweatshops, for they were both anxious to give their children a little schooling. Two years ago I came across this same family, and found that five more children had been added in the meantime to their household. The three youngest were considered by medical authorities to be hopelessly feeble-minded, two of the older girls were prostitutes; three of the boys were serving long term sentences in penitentiaries, while another of the children had been injured by a fall and so badly crippled that she will not be able to help herself for years to come. Out of this family of eleven children only two are now of any use to society, a little girl of seven, who stays at home and cares for her crippled sister during the day while the mother scrubs office floors, and a boy of nine who sells chewing gum after school hours at a subway exit. The father has become a hopeless drunkard, of whom the mother and children live in terror. This is but one illustration of the results of our present day morality. Here was an opportunity for society to develop and preserve six children for human service; but prudery and ignorance added five more to this group, with the result that two out of eleven are left to fit the struggle against pauperism and charity. Will they succumb? Another case I should like to cite shows how shallow is the concern of society in regard to the over-crowded tenements, where thousands of little children occupy sleeping quarters with parents and boarders whose every act is visible to all. Morality indeed! Society is much like the ostrich with its head in the sand. It will not look at facts and face the responsibility of its own stupidity. I recall the death-bed scene, when the patient, a woman of twentysix, passed away during the birth of her seventh child. Five out of the seven were girls, the eldest being about ten years old. Upon the death this woman, this girl began to assume the duties of her mother and continued to keep the four men roomers who had lodged in their home for years. A few years later, I found this girl suffering from the ravages of syphilis, although she had only just entered the period of puberty. She told me she could not remember when she had not dressed before the roomers, and on winter nights she often slept in their beds. She was already old -- old in ignorance, in vulgarity, in degeneracy. Another womanhood blighted in the bud, battered by ignorance, another soul sunk in despair. These five girl-women did not ask society to fill their minds, 57
as it was willing to do, with a useless knowledge of Greek, Latin or the Sciences. But they did need and unconsciously demand the knowledge of life, of hygiene and sex psychology which is so prudishly and shamefully denied them. No doubt these five sisters will soon represent the ruins of an ancient prejudice, and five more derelicts will be added to that particular relic heap of humanity. Again, is there anything more sickening to truth than the attitude of society toward that catch phrase “Sacred Motherhood”? Take another illustration and lay bare the living facts and view them for awhile. Two sisters lived in an upstate town, members of a large family, where the older daughters worked in factories, in order that the younger girls might have educational advantages. The youngest fell in love with a good-for-nothing fellow, with the result that she had an illegal child. Disgrace, ostracism and remorse drove her out into the world, and together with her baby she drifted from house to house in the capacity of a servant, until finally the baby died, leaving the mother free to enter upon another vocation. During this time, however, due to the condescending treatment accorded to her by the women who employed her, she had become so accustomed to look upon herself as an outcast that soon, with other companions of her frame of mind, she began trafficking...on the streets of New York. Now the second sister, a few older, also fell in love with one of the “town heroes,” and came to grief; but owing to the “disgrace” of the youngest sister and sympathy for the elder members of the family, who were completely anguish stricken over this second mishap, the old family physician took her in charge and sent to her a place where an illegal operation was performed upon her. She returned, a sadder but wiser girl, to her home, finished the high school course, and several years later she became the principal of a school. Today she is one of the most respected women in that county. She devotes her life outside school hours to a sympathetic understanding of the needs of young boys and girls, and her sordid early experience, put to good use, has helped many boys and girls to lead clean lives. These cases represent actual modern conditions. Our laws force women into celibacy on the one hand, or abortion on the other. Both conditions are declared by eminent medical authorities to be injurious to health. The ever ascending standard and cost of living, combined with the low wage of the young men of today, tend toward the postponement of marriage. Has knowledge of birth control, so carefully guarded and so secretly practiced by the women of the wealthy class -- and so tenaciously withheld from the working women -- brought them misery? Rather, has it not promoted greater happiness, greater freedom, greater prosperity and more harmony among them? The women who have this knowledge are the women who have been free to develop, free to enjoy in its best sense, and free to advance the interests of the community. And their men are the ones who motor, who sail yachts, who legislate, who lead and control. The men, women and children of this class do not form any part whatever in the social problems of our times. Had this class continued to reproduce in the prolific manner of the working people in the past twenty-five years, can human imagination picture what conditions would be today? All of our problems are the result of overbreeding among the working class, and if morality is to mean anything at all to us, we must regard all the changes which tend toward the uplift and survival of the human race as moral. Knowledge of birth control is essentially moral. Its general, though prudent, practice must lead to a higher individuality and ultimately to a cleaner race.
A Woman Recounts Her Twelve Abortions in Turn-of-the-Century New York by Oral history courtesy of Sherna Gluck, Feminist History Project.
In an interview, conducted by oral historian Allyson Knoth for the Feminist History Research Project, Elizabeth Anderson, born in Germany in the late 1880s, described the twelve abortions she endured as a young married woman living in New York City with a husband who refused to use birth control devices such as condoms. Anderson detailed a series of painful and dangerous procedures, including the use of ergot pills, and pricking the cervix with a hat pin. Anderson also suggested that abortion was used by working-class women as well as those better off; the typical abortionist charged $25 (a decent week’s wage) to perform the illegal procedure. Elizabeth Anderson: But they talk so much here about the girls gettin' abortions and all this sort of stuff. Well, I had twelve abortions. Allyson Knoth: You did have? Anderson: In New York, and there was no trouble getting ‘em. They’d cost ’em about twenty-five dollars. They had people like would be here, midwives, or the men, you know, chiropractors or something like that,that would perform them, although I had about six of them done by my own doctor. Knoth: Wow! Anderson: See, all he would do was I went there and told him I was overdue. He would put something in, a prick, something you know, I mean, to just... open the uterus, I think, and tell me,“well, you got a little irritation there.” And he says, “Now when you come around, you let me know and I’ll come to your house and... But don’t let it go after you get... ” Knoth: And there wasn’t any problem with legality or anything like that? Anderson: No. Of course, after my twelfth one I got kind of sick, very sick and then I didn’t... By that time I thought that was about enough of it. But outside of that, I had no trouble. But I was rather sick after the, the twelfth one I had. That was after my second marriage. Knoth: Why? Why did you have twelve abortions? Was it just you didn’t want any more children? Anderson: Well, it was one of those cases. I think them days people maybe didn’t talk so much about other people. All you heard from the others telling you how they got rid of their pregnancy, all kinds of methods: taking a hat pin, you know, a little hard ball of a hat pin and inserting it in the vagina, and they’d get it on, take hot gin baths, and take, ah, medicine, you know, something like that. But, them days if you’d studied up a little bit, among the things they tried to tell people: that if they didn’t satisfy their husbands, they’d go out with other women. You see? It wasn’t a case... We didn’t know, and you know, if you used contraptions, they weren’t as good as they are these days. People got sick from them, or something. And it’s one of those things that, ah, if you just had normal intercourse without protection, you just got pregnant. Knoth: Um-hum. Anderson: I probably had five or six with my first marriage, and six after, about that. Knoth: Did you know of any other contraceptives, besides a doctor giving an abortion? Anderson: Never wore any. I’ve never used any and never used any . Well, I don’t think they had any pills those days that I know of. 59
Knoth: Well, you talked about the hat pins and the gin baths. Would you ever do that? Anderson: Oh, I never did with a... I’ve never used a hat pin, but I did sit many a time in the ... It wasn’t a gin bath. You sat in Epsom Salts or some kind of salts—I forget—in a hot big tub, and then you drank a pint of gin while you were in there. Knoth: [Laughing] Anderson: And sometimes it would bring it on. Knoth: Uh huh. Anderson: And then I used to take a pill with it, ah—oh, I can’t think—but anyway, it had ergot in it. Knoth: Uh huh. What did... How did your doctor feel about all your abortions? Anderson: Never bothered about it. I mean, you mean.... What did you ask me there? What did he do about it? Knoth: Um-hum. Anderson: Well, they just went to the doctor. When I went into the doctor’s he would go and examine me and said, “yeah,”like he, maybe I was pregnant. But he, you know, they didn’t take no pregnancy tests then, but I told him I was overdue and he would examine me. That is about four or five of them I had done that way. And he would go and, I think, pricked the uterus because I would hear, feel a sharp pain. And he said, “Oh, you just got some irritation there, and I’ll just go and put something on it.” And then he would instruct me that if I started to menstruate, to call him. And a couple of times I went to his office, and several times he came to the house, and then they would take it. But they always was done. I didn’t have any that I would let go until I was... oh, overdue more than about four weeks, you know, at the early, very early pregnancies. Knoth: Did he advise any other type of abortion? Anderson: You mean concept... No, never did. Knoth: How did your husband feel about all these abortions? Anderson: Well, he, he didn’t mind that. But he didn’t—you know, the only thing a lot of people at the time, some of them, the men, would use protection, rubbers, you know, or something — and he wouldn’t do that. You know, his aversion was that if he couldn’t do that he’d get somebody else that would if I wanted to have all that kind mess, you know. And I probably was a person at the time that enjoyed sex myself. And though them days, all you heard about it was that if they took precaution, you lost the joy of intercourse. You know if it wasn’t freely, that when you felt like it, that’s when you want it, and not you hadda do all kinds of preparations, and douches, and all this sort of stuff. Knoth: Is this the way both of your husbands felt? Anderson: They felt that way, yeah. But, see now, the same thing with people with douches, except three or four times in my life. The first doctor I had told me never to douche because it was harmful to a woman unless it was done under doctor’s instructions. But that wouldn’t help the pregnancy any, I don’t think. At least it wouldn’t as far as I understood people that douche themselves now. Unless they were using contraptions, or they’re using pills, they’ll get pregnant regardless of whether they douche or not. Knoth: Um-hum. Were you ever tempted to keep one of your pregnancies? Anderson: What’s that? 60
Knoth: Were you ever tempted to keep one of your pregnancies? Anderson: Oh, several times I might have thought about it, but most of the times, if I made up my mind I wasn’t going to have the baby, why I just went ahead with it. You see, because it was a case of—I guess every time, every month actually, I got pregnant. You know, every two months. It would be about two months, and then, you know, by the time it was taken care of and I would get pregnant. Knoth: Was it just that you didn’t want any more children? Or you just, you know... Anderson: Well, I didn’t. After. By the time I stopped doing that I think I had stopped having pregnancy. I guess I was close to forty. Knoth: Um-hum. Anderson: And then I think it just was normal that I had so many pregnancies that I didn’t... Knoth: Well, you said after your twelfth abortion that, you know, you were sick and you couldn’t have any more? Were you physically harmed by it so that you couldn’t get pregnant any more? Anderson: I don’t think so. It could have been after that I just wasn’t pregnant again after it. But what happened, I got very ill and the... it was a sort of a chiropractor came to the house and curetted me. Knoth: What’s that? Anderson: Well, that’s what they do: they scrape the uterus out, you know, to get rid of the, ah . . . I don’t know what you call it, pieces of something. But anyhow, I had been sick the morning before a little bit, because I went to the woman’s house, and she inserted something in the uterus so that the man could come the following morning and, and take and scrape and curette me. And, well, anyway, he did this, and by that night I was very sick. And my husband—because if we got caught doing it, we were... you could get arrested, you know, for having done that—so, he wasn’t going to have, have called in another doctor. So I put up with it for about two days or three days and then they called him in again and he re-curetted me, scraped me again, see, a second time. And that was very, very painful. Then for about five days I couldn’t get up out of bed. I couldn’t lift my head. And then all of a sudden I could sit up, and I couldn’t lay down for about two weeks and I had to walk with my head turned sideways. And then all of a sudden, some trouble in the home happened, and I got up—regardless of how bad I felt—and I took a, a big dose of Alka Seltzer. And through the excitement I must have jerked my head back again, and I was all right. Knoth: What was the time span that you’ve had twelve abortions? How many years? Anderson: Well, that would be... I was married when I was seventeen, and the first baby was born about — not—about two years afterwards. I started to go to a doctor to wonder why I didn’t get pregnant, you know? Because them days, most people wanted a baby right away or thought they should have a baby right away. So, um, they told me after once I’d get pregnant, I’d probably have lots of, have plenty of children. So, it was I was married ten, eleven, ten, a little over ten years with my first husband and I had I think it was five pregnancies in that time and then, of course, I was married about thirty years to my second husband. So, I’d say it’s a matter of about, oh twenty some odd, about twenty-five years during that time that—during the pregnancy — that I had the twelve abortions. Knoth: What is your overall philosophy on having abortions? Anderson: Well, at that time I could see no harm in it. It was the only thing you could do. Of course, if I had to do today and had to take pills, I don’t know whether I would or not. I suppose, possibly, that shouldn’t be. Don’t hurt any part of people having intercourse. But contraptions I couldn’t see. I’d seen so many people, them days at least, have a lot of harmful things about it. They’d did where some had, some of them afterwards, they couldn’t get pregnant after they wore 61
them for... You know they used to put little gold buttons or something in the uterus to keep it open. And if they’d done that for three or four years, why then when they did wanna have a baby, they couldn’t have one. Of course, as far as I was concerned, it never inconvenienced me. I, a couple of times I went right from my house into a doctor’s office and had it done, and walked home again.
No Way Out
Two New York City Firemen Testify about the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire State of New York, Preliminary Report of the Factory Investigating Commission, 1912
Edward F. Croker, called as a witness, being first duly sworn, testifies as follows: Direct examination by Mr. Elkus: Q. Chief, will you tell the Commissioners just how long you have been in the Fire Department, what positions you have held, etc., so that we may have it in on record? A. I was appointed fireman June 22nd, 1884, and went through the various grades of the department from time to time, until I arrived at the position of Chief of the department; I served in that capacity for twelve years and retired May 1st of the present year. . . Q. Were you present at the fire of the Triangle Waist Company building? A. I was, sir. Q. And you made a careful investigation of that fire, did you not? A. Yes, sir, I did. Q. Now, just a word about that. Was that a loft building of the kind you described? A. Yes, sir. Q. How many stories high? A. Twelve stories. Q. And this fire was on one or more floors in that building? A. It originated on the ninth. Q. And they had an out-door fire escape there, didn’t they? A. On the rear. Q. And it led down to an enclosed yard? A. It led down into an enclosed yard. Q. What did you ascertain were the facts there with reference to the closed doors? A. Well, from what we could find—what was left of that place up there—I don’t think there was any doubt there was a partition inside of the doorway leading out into the Green Street side of that building, and from the indication of the number of people we found where that partition was, that door was locked, and the door that opened into it, opened on the inside. Q. Was it locked with a lock and key, or a bolt? 63
A. A lock and key, but it opened in. Q. Was it a wooden door? A. Yes. . . . Q. Now . . . did the people jump down the shaft as a means to try to escape? A. Well, we found them in the shaft. We don’t know how they got there. . . . William L. Beers, called as a witness and, being duly sworn, testified as follows: Q. Mr. Beers, were you fire marshal of the city? A. Yes, sir. Q. Were you connected with the Fire Department, and, if so, for how long? A. I was with the Fire Department for twelve years, up to November 15, when I retired. Q. During all that time were you Fire Marshal? A. Assistant Fire Marshal and Fire Marshal. Q. Did you visit the Triangle Waist Company Building immediately after the fire? A. Yes, sir. Q. Did you make an investigation? A. I was there all during the evening of the fire, and was there on the ground the next morning at nine o’clock. Q. Tell us what you observed. A. The result of my investigation and the taking of testimony for ten days after the fire was that I was of the opinion that the fire occurred on the eighth floor on the Greene street side, under a cutting table, which table was enclosed, and that contained the waste material as cut from this lawn that was used to make up the waists. They were in the habit of cutting about 160 to 180 thicknesses of lawn at one time; that formed quite a lot of waste, which was placed under the cutting tables, as it had a commercial value of about seven cents a pound. Q. Was it boxed, or just placed on the floor? A. Well, the boards that were nailed on the legs of the table formed the box or receptacle. Q. The outside of that receptacle was wood? A. Yes; it was all wood. Q. How did the fire start there in that stuff? A. Well, we formed the opinion that it started from the careless use of a match from one of the cutters. They were about to leave to go home, and in those factories they are anxious to get a smoke just as quick as they get through work. Q. A man simply lighted a match? 64
A. Yes; and carelessly threw it under there; then the attention of the occupants was called to it, and they tried to extinguish it before they rang in a fire alarm. Q. Did you examine the fire escapes of that building? A. After the fire. Q. What did you find? A. I found the fire escape on the rear of the building, which was the only one, and was entirely inadequate for the number of people employed in that building. Q. Why were they inadequate? A. Too small and too light, and the iron shutters on the outside of the building when opened would have obstructed the egress of the people passing between the stairway and the platform. Q. How many people were there on the eighth floor? A. Something over 250, as I recall it. Q. How many sewing machines? A. There was a cutting department, and it was partially used for machines for making fine waists. About 220 persons were on the eighth floor, all of whom escaped. Q. How did they come to escape? A. They went down the stairway and down the fire-escape, some of them. Q. How about the ninth floor? A. The loss of life was greatest on the ninth floor. There were about 310 people there. Q. How many sewing machines? A. 288. Q. Now, will you tell the Commission whether or not the place was overcrowded with the machines? A. Yes, sir. All the space that could be utilized there was utilized. Q. Were any attempts made in that case to extinguish the fire? A. Yes, there were. They used fire pails there, and then attempted to use the fire hose. Q. What happened to the fire hose? A. Well, they claimed they could not get any water to it. Q. How about the fire pail, why did that not put out the fire?
A. They did not get enough water to put it out. It spread very rapidly. The material is very inflammable, and it travels very fast, and the conditions were there, everything, to build a fire. Q. How many fires would you say, Marshal, could have been prevented if ordinary precautions were used? A. You mean in the factories? Q. Yes. A. I am not prepared to say Mr. Elkus. I am of the opinion that the precautions that are used to safeguard these premises in the form of installation of fire extinguishing apparatus would have a tendency to keep the fires down to a small size. All fires are of the same size at the start, and I think the loss and damage would be a great deal less by having available apparatus.
Marijuana advocates hope to rise from 'prohibition'
By Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN, Dec 4, 2012
Turn on a television show or open a magazine in the United States today and you're bound to see someone with a drink in hand -- something unthinkable nearly a century ago. Advocates of marijuana hope that someday that drug will emerge from its current "prohibition" period, the same way alcohol did, and become not only legal but as socially acceptable as having a drink. Could that happen? Depends who you ask. Advocates point to the November ballot in Colorado and Washington, where voters approved legal pot for everyone, not just for those who have a medical reason. Detractors of marijuana legalization say there are serious health consequences, and argue the drug is often a gateway to more harmful, addictive substances. However pot's future is going to play out in this country, its recent path to limited legalization has interesting parallels to alcohol, which was banned by the federal government in the 1920s and early 1930s. The Prohibition era gave rise to an underground market for booze, produced by unregulated bootleggers and moonshiners, and consumed in back-alley speakeasies. A few years after Prohibition's repeal, the federal government banned marijuana, hardly as popular and socially acceptable as alcohol. It would be decades before supporters of pot would mobilize and successfully get the drug legalized in some states. Managing marijuana legalization Marijuana's high profile election Legalized marijuana: A good idea? Dr. Gupta on medical marijuana Advocates and detractors for both drugs seem to have read from the same playbook, stoking fears based on prejudices and questionable scientific studies. Rather than discuss issues of substance, opponents of marijuana in the early 20th century preferred to exaggerate its effects and pin its use on foreigners and black entertainers. It was a familiar tactic that had panned out well in pre-Prohibition days. In a 1914 speech before the House, Rep. Richmond Hobson of Alabama warned that booze would make the "red man" savage and "promptly put a tribe on the war path." He added, "Liquor will actually make a brute of a Negro, causing him to commit unnatural crimes." Twenty-three years later, while arguing for marijuana prohibition, Harry Anslinger also played on Americans' fear of crime and foreigners. The Bureau of Narcotics chief spun tales of people driven to insanity or murder after ingesting the drug and spoke of the 2 to 3 tons of grass being produced in Mexico. "This, the Mexicans make into cigarettes, which they sell at two for 25 cents, mostly to white high school students," Anslinger told Congress. The term marijuana itself was intended to stoke alarm, as many Americans in the 1930s were already familiar with other terms for the drug, according to Michael Aldrich.
"(The drug's opponents) preferred the word marijuana instead of cannabis or hemp because people thought it was some new devil drug from Mexico," said Aldrich, the former curator of what is now Harvard University's Fitz Hugh Ludlow Memorial Library, a collection of psychoactive drug-related literature. "All of a sudden, there's this new thing being introduced by outside people," Aldrich, who is credited with writing the first dissertation on marijuana myths and folklore. "It was all a bunch of crap." 'Reefer Madness' vs. 'Medicinal marijuana' In the shaky, handwritten opening lines of the 1936 movie "Reefer Madness," marijuana is described as a "violent narcotic" that first renders "sudden, violent, uncontrollable laughter" on its users before "dangerous hallucinations" and then "acts of shocking violence ... ending often in incurable insanity." Watching the movie today (available on YouTube) might provoke "uncontrollable laughter" -- even from those who oppose marijuana legalization. Yet the movie's message was based in part on scientific studies that were considered legitimate at the time. There were similar claims about alcohol in the years leading up to Prohibition. While the Anti-Saloon League painted drinking as un-American and immoral to convince counties and states they'd be better off saloonless, they also leaned on hokey research, according to Garrett Peck, author of "The Prohibition Hangover." The ASL used "quack medical experiments" to demonize beer, wine and liquor, Peck said. The Woman's Christian Temperance Union went into classrooms purporting to demonstrate the effects of alcohol by pouring it directly onto sheep and cow brains, quickly transforming the pink organ to a grayish hue, he said. Marijuana advocates take case to court Medical marijuana for a 7-year-old? Willie Nelson: Me and Snoop in Amsterdam Oliver Stone on the war on drugs "It was scientifically without merit because when you drink, it goes through your stomach," Peck said. "Otherwise, most of us would be lobotomized." That's not to say there aren't substantial health detriments to alcohol and marijuana use. Both can have impacts on brain development in younger users. Smoking marijuana can cause respiratory issues. Longterm alcohol consumption is linked with a host of cardiovascular and nervous system problems, not to mention cirrhosis. And that's the short list. But just like opponents have overplayed the drugs' detrimental effects, advocates have exaggerated their benefits. Think "medicinal." In 2010, ahead of California's failed marijuana-legalization referendum, several medicinal marijuana users shared their symptoms and ailments. Among them were AIDS patients who needed it to boost their appetites. The husband of a cervical cancer sufferer recalled how cream-based marijuana soups eased his wife's agony more effectively than the powerful painkiller Dilaudid. Others, however, told CNN of lesser maladies. One said with a smirk that he'd jammed his thumb. Another said he'd been stressed out at work and explained how less-reputable dispensaries had doctors in back rooms who prescribed pot for almost anything. It was no different when alcohol was banned, Peck said. Despite the American Medical Association saying alcohol had no medicinal value, the Volstead Act, which led to the federal ban on alcohol, stated that no one could prescribe alcohol except "a physician duly licensed to practice medicine" -- much to the delight of the nation's Jay Gatsbys. 68
"Yes, medicinal whiskey -- all of a sudden, all of these doctors are saying we need to prescribe this because there's so much money to be made. You could prescribe a pint a week," Peck said. "We know enough about alcohol now; it's not medicinal." As Prohibition expert Daniel Okrent wrote in 2010, "... all too often, 'medicinal' has been a cynical euphemism for 'available.' " John Kane, a U.S. district judge in Colorado, explained that while there was a medical exception to alcohol Prohibition, health had little to do with its repeal. No one was clamoring to make brandy legal to cure the country's headaches, explained Kane, whose father was a pharmacist during Prohibition and prescribed brandy to his patients. Rather, the nation had grown weary of the organized crime that accompanied Prohibition, he said. Many of the immigrant groups vilified by the teetotalers formed the organized crime units that plagued Prohibition days, he said. Prior to the ban on alcohol, gangs generally ran numbers, extorted folks or charged fees for protecting neighborhoods. "Then Prohibition came along, and that basically gave them an American Express black card," Kane said. "It subsidized criminal activity in this country." The price of legalization Just as Prohibition bore Al Capones and strengthened the Frank Costellos and "Lucky" Lucianos, American drug prohibition has spawned a host of cartels south of its border. They wage war against each other for the rights to the most lucrative illegal drug market on Earth -- the United States -- which by some estimates, consumes two-thirds of all the illegal drugs in the world. Yet there is a major difference between Capone's henchmen and the Mexican cartels: "The violence is not to the scale of what's going on in Mexico," Peck said. The St. Valentine's Day Massacre of 1929, one of the most heinous crimes of the era, left seven dead. That many could be murdered in a Mexican border town on your average Wednesday. Italy's home grown marijuana boom Christmas tree-sized pot plants found Doped-up dogs on the rise Two hunters stumble onto a pot farm How big a hit the cartels would take if the United States legalized pot is a matter of debate, and conclusions vary widely. While U.S. officials said in 2009 that 60% of cartel revenue came from weed, the RAND Corporation said the following year that "15-26 percent is a more credible range." A report this month by the Mexican Competitive Institute predicted Mexican drug organizations, namely the Sinaloa Cartel, could lose almost $2.8 billion just with the legalization votes in Colorado and Washington. When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, states saw two immediate benefits aside from neutering the criminal gangs, the first being that they could regulate the product. Under Prohibition, unscrupulous bootleggers had manufactured moonshines and bathtub gins that could render tipplers blind or dead. Once alcohol was legal, you had a return to quality control, Peck said. The second immediate benefit? They could tax the hooch. 69
"It was a huge consideration. The Great Depression was going on at that point," Peck said. "FDR pays for the New Deal with excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco." In President Franklin Roosevelt's first two terms, federal taxes jumped from $1.6 billion in 1933 to $5.3 billion in 1940. How that might translate to marijuana taxation today is debatable, and the ends of the gamut are nowhere near middle ground. "Medical marijuana helped save the economy in California ... The counties north of San Francisco survived the recession through marijuana," said Aldrich, the marijuana historian. He was referring to the Emerald Triangle, which is known for producing and exporting some of the country's highestgrade cannabis. On the other side, you have President Barack Obama's drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, who emphatically denied that marijuana legalization would prove a boon to state coffers. Taxes on alcohol, he told CNN in 2010, amount to $14.5 billion a year, where as the social costs are closer to $185 billion. Ahead of the recent ballot initiatives in Colorado and Washington, the Colorado Center on Law & Policy estimated that legalization would yield $60 million in state and local revenue and savings by 2017, and perhaps double thereafter. And Washington's Office of Financial Management estimated that a "fully functioning" marijuana industry could bring in nearly $2 billion in revenue over the next five years. "Fully functioning." Therein lies the rub. Both the Colorado and Washington estimates came with caveats explaining the obvious: Any revenue projection is contingent on the federal government not enforcing the laws that still render possession of an ounce of marijuana illegal -even in Colorado and Washington. University of Virginia law professor Richard Bonnie, co-author of "Marijuana Conviction: A History of Marijuana Prohibition in the United States," said it's a tricky equation. "There is something attractive about saying you've got this underground market that's not going away, that you're missing a tax opportunity," he said. "The amount of tax revenue you're going to derive from it is going to depend on what your regulatory approach is going to be." Bonnie was part of the commission that futilely recommended marijuana decriminalization to President Richard Nixon in the 1970s, but he is quick to emphasize that states must step gingerly if marijuana is legalized. There were many problems with regulating alcohol post-Prohibition, and there still are today. More than a third of eighthgraders say they've used alcohol, and almost three-quarters of high schoolers have gotten drunk. "You have to have a model that doesn't seem to actively encourage use in ways that are harmful to society and the individual," he said, noting the modern regulation of cigarettes provides an admirable model. Though the Tax Policy Center reports state and local governments collected $17.3 billion in tobacco taxes in 2010, cigarette use, especially among youngsters, has dropped almost 33% since 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Looking into the crystal ball
When alcohol Prohibition was lifted in 1933, regulation was left to the states. Oklahoma stayed dry until 1959, Mississippi until 1966. Bonnie said he sees marijuana legalization advocates leaning toward a similar model. But, he warns, "there is a social cost to a regulatory regime that taxes and becomes dependent on the revenue." Overtax it, and you create another dilemma: black markets and the smuggling of marijuana from state to state, a la postProhibition. Canada and Sweden learned that lesson with cigarette taxes in the 1990s. All of this is putting the roach before the joint, of course. Marijuana, no matter what Colorado and Washington say, remains illegal at the federal level. Experts are reluctant to forecast when that might change. Aldrich predicts federal legalization by 2017, but he concedes that in 1969 he predicted the federal government would relent by 1979. Judge Kane said he foresees marijuana following a similar path as alcohol. Toward the end of Prohibition, judges wantonly dismissed violations or levied fines so trivial that prosecutors quit filing cases, he said. While he sees marijuana laws that target kingpins, traffickers and those who engage in violence remaining in place, he believes possession laws are endangered, he said. "The law is simply going to die before it's repealed. It will just go into disuse," Kane said. "It's a cultural force, and you simply cannot legislate against a cultural force."
Marijuana prohibition hanging by a thread
By Doug Fine, Salon, Nov 1, 2012
Even though I’ve lived west of the Mississippi for half my life, the native New Yorker in me has always been dismissive of reports that my tax dollars are being used to fund black helicopters that are hassling Americans in defense of foreigners, or the UN, or something. “We have a Constitution,” was my standard tavern line to tipsy ranchers in places like Deming, New Mexico. No Americans are getting invaded by men jumping out of helicopters, I argued. Then I spent a year on the front lines of the war on drugs. While researching what a post-drug war economy might look like from the producer standpoint — a project spurred in part by the 2011 arrest of the town mayor near my New Mexico ranch on charges that he was a member of a Mexican cartel — I quickly learned to sleep through the roar of helicopter blades that essentially provides the summer soundtrack in American cannabis production country. These choppers are used to seize something like 1% of the domestic cannabis crop. Oh, and sometimes they’re black. It’s loud and nearly constant, but 40 years of such expensive, constitutionally questionable, cartel-ignoring nonsense has hardly put a dent in supply or demand. How do we know this? Let’s quote the U.S. Department of Justice’s 2009 Domestic Cannabis Cultivation assessment: “The amount of marijuana available for distribution in the United States is unknown…Despite record-setting eradication efforts in the United States, the availability of marijuana remains relatively high, with limited disruption in supply or price.” Regardless, your tax dollars and mine, by the billions, in a time of fiscal crisis, are going to arrest otherwise law-abiding Americans north of the border. As former Fed chairman Paul Volcker, Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State George Shultz and even Albert Einstein have pointed out (in 1921 during that early bout of nonsensical Prohibition) this further enriches the murderers south of the border by sustaining a prohibition economy. I don’t know how my neighboring cattle ranchers in the desert knew it, but they’re right: the war on drugs really is being fought for the benefit of foreigners. Want an example? Just before he and his wife had their Mendocino County, California farm and medical cannabis cooperative destroyed by heavily armed and chainsaw-wielding Drug Enforcement Administration agents last October, a locally permitted, non-profit cannabis farmer and chamber of commerce member named Matt Cohen told me he was confident that he and his fellow American farmers (of America’s far and away number-one cash crop) were on the right side of history. As we toured the field where his 99 man-sized plants wavered fragrantly in the breeze, the 33-year-old Cohen told me, “By the time alcohol Prohibition ended, on December 5, 1933, 23 states had already enacted laws regulating the alcohol industry.” Yep, he really knew the date. It was kind of his mantra. In other words, before Congress was forced to wake up 80 years ago, enough states first decided that hysterical zealots telling people what they could or could not ingest was not the way to go, policy-wise. It was no way to run an economy (alcohol taxes at times had provided 70% of federal revenue prior to Prohibition). It was not even a good way to “think of the children,” as the screed still goes. When gangsters control an industry, they don’t ask to see ID. One hundred million Americans have used cannabis, including the last three presidents. “They shouldn’t have to be federal criminals,” Cohen told me last August. Cohen was not a local criminal. Every plant on his farm wore an expensive, bright-yellow, local permitting “zip-tie” bracelet around its stalk. These represented participation in a new county program started because, in the words of Nobel Laureate free-market economist Milton Friedman in 1991, “Illegality creates obscene profits that finance the murderous tactics of the drug lords.” True in 1933, true in 1991, true in 2012. With Connecticut’s new medical cannabis law, the latest but not the last, we’re at 17 states now unilaterally declaring peace in the drug war, and that number is going to keep growing (Massachusetts and 72
Arkansas voters go to the polls on the issue in a couple of weeks on the medical side, and Coloradans, Oregonians and Washingtonians will be voting to fully end the drug war by regulating cannabis for adult social use). In fact, despite two recent polls showing a majority of Americans favor full — not just medicinal – marijuana legalization, it looks like the one-state-at-a-time model is going to be the one that ends the four-decade, ineffective, trillion-dollar war on cannabis. That’s because the drug war issue is, in the words of former New Mexico Governor and current Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, the issue of “greatest disconnect” between Americans and their leaders on the federal level. What he means is, there is as yet almost no support in Congress, especially in the Senate, to get cannabis out of Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. This absurd classification means that officially the plant has no beneficial uses at all. Even cocaine and methamphetamine are in Schedule II. As the tired and wrong rhetoric about brains frying on drugs fades from the society’s zeitgeist, the taxpayer is coming to ask why. Here’s what I discovered: devoid of reason or results, inertia becomes the last refuge of the drug warrior. And it’s a powerful refuge. You think it’s hard to get funding for a program? That’s nothing compared to urging a legislator to turn offthe tap once the bureaucratic flow is cascading to beneficiaries. And at a higher cost annually then Reagan’s entire 10year Star Wars initiative, the drug war is one big flow. Sixty-billion dollars of our taxes are spent annually (state and federal) to lose this war. Appropriations taps tended to get rusted in the on position because a lot of jobs and programs are at stake. That is sure true in the case of America’s longest and most expensive war. An American is arrested for cannabis every 37 seconds, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. This despite its proven medicinal properties and what any honest law enforcer will tell you is a much easier call to get than an alcohol one or one connected to America’s real epidemic: prescription pill abuse. That cannabis is the main domestic drug war target has nothing to do with public safety. The reason for all the rural raids and urban stop-and-frisks is that a lot of people are paid to keep doing these things. The federal DEA alone has more than 9,000 employees and a budget of $2.5 billion. That’s an industry, people. Local law enforcers are directly and indirectly reimbursed based on their arrests and property seizures. Private prison executives guarantee incarceration rates in bids to municipalities. And the same banks you use launder Mexican drug money. President Obama knows all this. Or did until his inauguration. In 2004, he said, “The war on drugs has been an utter failure. I think we need to…decriminalize our medical marijuana laws.” In 2011, hounded for three years by cannabis activists at every town hall meeting he held, he finally said, “Am I willing to pursue a decriminalization strategy as an approach? No.” Hard to turn of the money tap, ain’t it? That explains the federal disconnect, Governor Johnson. Too much of the drug war, in practice, is incarceration industry welfare. Are there bad players in the American cannabis industry, which crop is worth more than corn and wheat combined, according to ABC? Of course. Criminals are just about all that prohibition’s free-for-all creates, other than a massive prison population. It’s why we’ve heard of Al Capone. As one cannabis farmer I followed, Tomas Balogh, put it, “When there’s a gold rush, you’ve got Yosemite Sam right next to responsible hardworking people.” Matt Cohen, the Mendocino farmer who was about to be raided, is not a gangster. He doesn’t own a weapon and even his dogs will lick you to death. He was, according to Mendocino County Board of Supervisors member John McCowen, “the first…to call for regulation of the cultivation and dispensing of medical marijuana to prevent black market diversion.” His raid, according to NORML’s Dale Gieringer, was “a victory for the cartels.” The funny thing is, in the year I spent researching American cannabis farmers, most law enforcers I met were wellintended, regulations-following professionals just trying to do their job. Good cops, in other words. Not intentionally working for cartels. Though more than a few were aware that they are on the losing side of the war and part of a bad policy. 73
Last July, a man wearing fatigues whose salary I pay pointed an automatic weapon at me and ordered me off my own public lands during a national forest raid I was trying to cover. He did so what seemed to me apologetically, with the posture of someone punching in and punching out. Blaming that fellow for the drug war would be like blaming the corporal slogging it out in a Southeast Asian rice paddy in 1973 for the Vietnam War. I felt bad for him. I hope he can find other work, perhaps going after prescription pill mill operators, when the exorbitant travesty of cannabis prohibition ends. Throwing their hands up at congressional and White House refusal to put cannabis to work for the American economy (Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron suggests that lost tax revenue was $6.2 billion in 2011) while crippling the cartels (70% of whose revenue derives from cannabis trafficking, according to some studies, though even 50% would mean cannabis legalization would cripple them), cannabis activists at national organizations like the Marijuana Policy Project are chipping away at outdated cannabis laws, one state at a time. In fact that organization’s slogan is, “27 medical marijuana states by 2014.” Eventually, drug peace activists believe, we will reach a tipping point. The number of people who believe that America’s health and children are more threatened by legal cannabis than by illegal, cartel-controlled cannabis will continue to wither down to nothing as the truth, as it tends to do, eventually gets out. Congress will have to act, they say. It will be forced to shut off the tap, or at least redirect the massive flow of Drug War, Inc. Hope they hurry. We’ve got an embarrassingly world-leading 2.3 million Americans locked up today, to which New York City makes its little stop-and-frisk racial profiling contribution. Federal funding trickles down to local police coffers based directly on arrest numbers. On the producer/farmer end, sometimes law enforcement budgets are actually dependent on seizing Americans’ property. California U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner unilaterally “awarded” Stanislaus County law enforcers $154,875 following one 2011 raid. Federal law doesn’t even mandate property return if charges are never filed. This is why former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper says, “the drug war’s most serious collateral damage has been to undermine the role of civilian law enforcement in our free society.” Without question, the economic data show that cannabis should immediately be put to work for the American economy. That’s what, in the end, makes it a top-tier-important issue at a time of debt crisis, currency crisis and Middle East dictator crisis: not only are the enforcement billions better spent elsewhere, but revenues from the cannabis plant economy itself will impart billions into our economy every year. It’s already happening with nutritive and industrial cannabis in Canada (still illegal to grow here). Smokable cannabis might one day be a niche industry, like cigars, one venture capitalist suggested to me. As North Dakota’s agriculture commissioner Roger Johnson (no liberal) put it in 2007, “What an opportunity we’re throwing away, not being a part of this [industrial cannabis] industry…We really ought to be in this business. It’s economics.” What then? I just spent a year witnessing what one promising model for the Pax Cannabis era looks like. It was that experiment in local governance put forth by tiny Mendocino County on California’s North Coast – the one that had all of Matt Cohen’s plants wearing permitting bracelets. Here’s a paraphrase of the local Board of Supervisors’ thinking: “Look, cannabis isn’t going away. It’s like 80% of our economy. We can regulate it and tax it, or we can let the criminals reap all the profits, increasing crime locally and everywhere.” Their crop’s local value, easily more than $3 billion annually, a bit outpaces number two grapes, at $74.9 million in 2010. Up until now, untaxed and unregulated. If you were a young 4H member in those emerald hills, which would you choose? And thus Ordinance 9.31 was passed. Locals call it the “zip-tie program.” Ninety-five local farmers, some thirdgeneration, bravely came aboveground in 2011 to declare, “I am an American small farmer. Please tax me, don’t arrest me.” Only no one told the feds. A team of DEA agents, in his words “machine guns blazing,” came to chop down Matt Cohen’s plants at dawn on October 13, 2011. They also held him incommunicado from his wife and lawyer for eight hours. “It was 74
pretty scary,” Cohen’s wife, Courtney, recalls of the raid. “As we ran downstairs to meet these guys I remember shouting, ‘Please don’t shoot our dogs! Please don’t shoot our dogs!’” Matt Cohen had paid about $8,500 in permitting fees to Mendocino County that spring. “Gladly,” the Farm Bureau member told me. “We aren’t fighting the Man. We are the Man.” Local law enforcers had come to Cohen’s birthday party that summer. He was a poster child for cannabis farming done right. His 3,300 patients loved him for the reliable source of organically grown medicine his farm provided. One is AARP member Bill Harney, a liver cancer battler. When I visited with him in the “Valle Vista Senior Subdivision” home where he had for more than a year received deliveries from Cohen’s Northstone Organics Cooperative, he told me, “A year ago I weighed 118 pounds. Now I’m up to 155. My doctor recommended cannabis to me because he knew if I didn’t eat I would die.” Cohen’s permit fees were part of the $605,000 raised by Ordinance 9.31 in 2011, which zip-tied thousands of samples from the county’s leading crop in those yellow bracelets, and directly saved seven deputy jobs that were slated for elimination in county budget cuts. Cohen himself had made about $50,000 in salary in three years as a — as far as Mendocino County was concerned — perfectly legal farmer. As legal as if he had been growing corn or tomatoes. A recent soundbite you’re sure to hear spouted by those who benefit from the “heck, let’s give it another 40 years and trillion dollars” view about the war on drugs claims that California’s not-for-profit medical cannabis system is being abused by profiteers. Or that medical cannabis activists really want full legalization. To these folks I say, “It’s called an economy. Tax it.” The feds are, thus far, saying, “no thanks.” Under direct threat by Justice Department attorneys of not just more constituent raids but of personal prosecution themselves, Mendocino County supervisors canceled the 9.31 zip-tie program shortly after the raid on Cohen’s farm. For now. What a blow against the cartels, Uncle Sam! You just forced a retiree liver cancer patient to become another of their dissatisfied customers. And yet Matt Cohen remains unflaggingly optimistic that good policy will win out. “December 5, 1933,” he told me again, when I visited his decimated and bankrupt farm after his raid. “One state at a time.” His now-stumpy acreage, still flanked by a framed local cultivation permit, a huge American flag and a local Chamber of Commerce membership certificate, looked like something out of The Lorax. Close to a million dollars of medicinal American agricultural production had been carted away in a dump truck. On the ground, 56% of Americans believe this policy must change. Since Cohen’s raid, Connecticut has bid adieu to the drug war, and 15 other states have already decriminalized the plant for all uses. The 17 medical programs are extremely varied, from California’s broad, voter-approved, “any…illness for which marijuana provides relief” plan, to Colorado’s tightly regulated for-profit model, to Montana’s federally meddled-with program, to my home state of New Mexico’s legislature-created, humming-right-along one. That program serves, among thousands of others, a 63-year-old Vietnam War veteran neighbor of mine named Carl Reid. “Got me off pain killers,” he told me of his new medicine. “Gave me my life back.” And that state-by-state regulatory variety is how it should be: Provos’s alcohol laws are different from Reno’s, because Utah is different than Nevada. What the programs have in common is that they work. They generate revenue while serving patients and improving public safety. Consequently, more and more state governments are requesting that the feds get out of the way because a) Americans have shown that they want cannabis, one way or another; b) Americans, not foreign cartels, should produce it; and c) the drug war, after raging 10 times longer than World War II, doesn’t work anyway. Sometimes our chief drug warriors defensively pretend that they understand this. Memo to Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske: saying that you’re focusing drug war funding on education while devoting the highest amount ever to domestic 75
enforcement — $9.4 billion for fiscal 2013 — isn’t fooling anyone. Nor is the ridiculous argument that children will have more access to cannabis when it’s regulated for adult use like alcohol. I gave a talk at a high school last week during which I asked the question, “How many of you in this auditorium believe it’s easier to get cannabis than alcohol?” Every hand went up. This confirms the obvious: regulated cannabis will lead to a decrease in cannabis use, as a recent Brown University study concluded. In the course of my research, I came across some surprising (to me) states that have been at least debating the cannabis decriminalization issue or medical programs: Florida, Kansas, Oklahoma, Indiana, Ohio and Alabama. Note to candidate advisers: ending the drug war is a politically safe issue in the heartland. Maybe they’ll wake up when they see the election returns in a few weeks. Perhaps that’s because ordinary Americans sense that a drug peace would improve American health and public safety. De facto legal cannabis sure has been good for Mendocino County, California. “Got my first-ever homicide tip after 27 years,” a Mendocino sheriff’s sergeant named Randy Johnson told me during the zip-tie program’s mercurial rise. “The growers are open members of the community now.” When the drug peace tipping point is reached, the Mendocino model, which was such a success that several surrounding counties were planning to emulate it, and which even included sustainability guidelines, as well as all kinds of zoning and property fencing requirements, is one that can and hopefully will be implemented nationwide on the production side. It will put a cadre of American farmers back to work on medicinal, industrial and even fuel-producing cannabis fields (hemp has several times the per-acre biofuel yield of corn). America will benefit to the tune of billions every year when we end one of our worst domestic policies since, well, Prohibition. As twice-elected Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman, no Cheech and Chong law enforcer (he willingly goes after cannabis growers he or his narcotics team believe are breaking local or state law), puts it: “We have real problems in our county. Meth. Domestic violence. Marijuana isn’t even in the top three. I just want to get it off the front pages. This is my biggest dream.”
Americas and World War I
The Zimmerman Telegram
German Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmermann to the Mexican government
FROM 2nd from London # 5747. “We intend to begin on the first of February unrestricted submarine warfare. We shall endeavor in spite of this to keep the United States of America neutral. In the event of this not succeeding, we make Mexico a proposal or alliance on the following basis: make war together, make peace together, generous financial support and an understanding on our part that Mexico is to reconquer the lost territory in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. The settlement in detail is left to you. You will inform the President of the above most secretly as soon as the outbreak of war with the United States of America is certain and add the suggestion that he should, on his own initiative, invite Japan to immediate adherence and at the same time mediate between Japan and ourselves. Please call the President’s attention to the fact that the ruthless employment of our submarines now offers the prospect of compelling England in a few months to make peace.” Signed, ZIMMERMANN.
The War and the Intellectuals
By Randolph Bourne, “The War and the Intellectuals,” Seven Arts 2 (1917): 133–136.
To those of us who still retain an irreconcilable animus against war, it has been a bitter experience to see the unanimity with which the American intellectuals have thrown their support to the use of war-technique in the crisis in which America found herself. Socialists, college professors, publicists, new-republicans, practitioners of literature, have vied with each other in confirming with their intellectual faith the collapse of neutrality and the riveting of the war-mind on a hundred million more of the world’s people. And the intellectuals are not content with confirming our belligerent gesture. They are now complacently asserting that it was they who effectively willed it, against the hesitation and dim perceptions of the American democratic masses. A war made deliberately by the intellectuals! . . . Those intellectuals who have felt themselves totally out of sympathy with this drag toward war will seek some explanation for this joyful leadership. They will want to understand this willingness of the American intellect to open the sluices and flood us with the sewage of the war spirit. We cannot forget the virtuous horror and stupefaction which filled our college professors when they read the famous manifesto of their ninety-three German colleagues in defense of their war. To the American academic mind of 1914 defense of war was inconceivable. . . . They would have thought anyone mad who talked of shipping American men by the hundreds of thousands—conscripts—to die on the fields of France. Such a spiritual change seems catastrophic when we shoot our minds back to those days when neutrality was a proud thing. But the intellectual progress has been so gradual that the country retains little sense of the irony. The war sentiment, begun so gradually but so perseveringly by the preparedness advocates who came from the ranks of big business, caught hold of one after another of the intellectual groups. With the aid of [Theodore] Roosevelt the murmurs became a monotonous chant and finally a chorus so mighty that to be out of it was at first to be disreputable and finally almost obscene. And slowly a strident rant was worked up against Germany which compared very creditably with the German fulminations against the greedy power of England. The nerve of the war-feeling centered, of course, in the richer and older classes of the Atlantic seaboard and was keenest where there were French or English business and particularly social connections. The sentiment then spread over the country as a class-phenomenon, touching everywhere those upper-class elements in each section who identified themselves with this Eastern ruling group. It must never be forgotten that in every community it was the least liberal and least democratic elements among whom the preparedness and later the war sentiment was found. The farmers were apathetic, the small businessmen and workingman are still apathetic towards the war. The election was a vote of confidence of these latter classes in a President who would keep the faith of neutrality. The intellectuals, in other words, have identified themselves with the least democratic forces in American life. They have assumed the leadership for war of those very classes whom the American democracy has been immemorially fighting. Only in a world where irony was dead could an intellectual class enter war at the head of such illiberal cohorts in the avowed cause of world-liberalism and world-democracy. No one is left to point out the undemocratic nature of this warliberalism. In a time of faith skepticism is the most intolerable of all insults. Our intellectual class might have been occupied during the last two years of war in studying and clarifying the ideals and aspirations of the American democracy, in discovering a true Americanism which would not have been merely nebulous but might have federated the different ethnic groups and traditions. They might have spent the time in endeavoring to clear the public mind of the cant of war, to get rid of old mystical notions that clog our thinking. We might have used the time for a great wave of education, for setting our house in spiritual order. We could at least have set the problem before ourselves. If our intellectuals were going to lead the administration, they might conceivably have tried to find some way of securing peace by making neutrality effective. They might have turned their intellectual energy not to the problem of jockeying the nation into war but to the problem of using our vast neutral power to attain democratic ends for the rest of the world and ourselves without the use of the malevolent technique of war. They might have failed. The point is that they scarcely tried. The time was spent not in clarification and education but in a mulling over of nebulous ideals of democracy and liberalism and civilization, which had never meant anything fruitful to those ruling classes who now so glibly used 78
them, and in giving free rein to the elementary instinct of self-defense. The whole era has been spiritually wasted. The outstanding feature has been not its Americanism but its intense colonialism. The offense of our intellectuals was not so much that they were colonial—for what could we expect of a nation composed of so many national elements?—but that it was so one-sidedly and partisanly colonial. The official reputable expression of the intellectual class has been that of the English colonial. Certain portions of it have been even more loyalist than the King, more British even than Australia. Other colonial attitudes have been vulgar. The colonialism of the other American stocks was denied a hearing from the start. America might have been made a meeting-ground for the different national attitudes. An intellectual class, cultural colonists of the different European nations, might have threshed out the issues here as they could not be threshed out in Europe. Instead of this, the English colonials in university and press took command at the start, and we became an intellectual Hungary where thought was subject to an effective process of Magyarization [i.e., making diverse peoples into Hungarians or Magyars]. The reputable opinion of the American intellectuals became more and more either what could be read pleasantly in London or what was written in an earnest effort to put Englishmen straight on their war-aims and wartechnique. This Magyarization of thought produced as a counterreaction a peculiarly offensive and inept German apologetic, and the two partisans divided the field between them. The great masses, the other ethnic groups, were inarticulate. American public opinion was almost as little prepared for war in 1917 as it was in 1914. . . . We have had to watch, therefore, in this country the same process which so shocked us abroad—the coalescence of the intellectual classes in support of the military program. In this country, indeed, the socialist intellectuals did not even have the grace of their German brothers to wait for the declaration of war before they broke for cover. And when they declared for war they showed how thin was the intellectual veneer of their socialism. For they called us in terms that might have emanated from any bourgeois journal to defend democracy and civilization, just as if it were not exactly against those very bourgeois democracies and capitalist civilizations that socialists had been fighting for decades. But so subtle is the spiritual chemistry of the “inside” that all this intellectual cohesion—herd-instinct become herd-intellect—which seemed abroad so hysterical and so servile comes to us here in highly rational terms. We go to war to save the world from subjugation! But the German intellectuals went to war to save their culture from barbarization! And the French went to war to save their beautiful France! And the English to save international honor! And Russia, most altruistic and selfsacrificing of all, to save a small State from destruction. Whence is our miraculous intuition of our moral spotlessness? Whence our confidence that history will not unravel huge economic and imperialist forces upon which our rationalizations float like bubbles? The Jew often marvels that his race alone should have been chosen as the true people of the cosmic God. Are not our intellectuals equally fatuous when they tell us that our war of all wars is stainless and thrillingly achieving for good? An intellectual class that was wholly rational would have called insistently for peace and not for war. For months the crying need has been for a negotiated peace in order to avoid the ruin of a deadlock. Would not the same amount of resolute statesmanship thrown into intervention have secured a peace that would have been a subjugation for neither side? Was the terrific bargaining power of a great neutral ever really used? Our war followed, as all wars follow, a monstrous failure of diplomacy. Shamefacedness should now be our intellectual’s attitude, because the American play for peace was made so little more than a polite play. The intellectuals have still to explain why, willing as they now are to use force to continue the war to absolute exhaustion, they were not willing to use force to coerce the world to a speedy peace. . . . The results of war on the intellectual class are already apparent. Their thought becomes little more than a description and justification of what is going on. They turn upon any rash one who continues idly to speculate. Once the war is on, the conviction spreads that individual thought is helpless, that the only way one can count is as a cog in the great wheel. There is no good holding back. We are told to dry our unnoticed and ineffective tears and plunge into the great work. Not only is everyone forced into line but the new certitude becomes idealized. It is a noble realism which opposes itself to futile obstruction and the cowardly refusal to face facts. This realistic boast is so loud and sonorous that one wonders whether realism is always a stern and intelligent grappling with realities. May it not be sometimes a mere surrender to the actual, an abdication of the ideal through a sheer fatigue from intellectual suspense? The pacifist is roundly scolded for refusing 79
to face the facts and for retiring into his own world of sentimental desire. But is the realist, who refuses to challenge or criticize facts, entitled to any more credit than that which comes from following the line of least resistance? The realist thinks he at least can control events by linking himself to the forces that are moving. Perhaps he can. But, if it is a question of controlling war, it is difficult to see how the child on the back of a mad elephant is to be any more effective in stopping the beast than is the child who tries to stop him from the ground. The ex-humanitarian, turned realist, sneers at the snobbish neutrality, colossal conceit, crooked thinking, dazed sensibilities, of those who are still unable to find any balm of consolation for this war. We manufacture consolations here in America while there are probably not a dozen men fighting in Europe who did not long ago give up every reason for their being there except that nobody knew how to get them away. But the intellectuals whom the crisis has crystallized into an acceptance of war have put themselves into a terrifyingly strategic position. It is only on the craft, in the stream, they say, that one has any chance of controlling the current forces for liberal purposes. If we obstruct, we surrender all power for influence. If we responsibly approve, we then retain our power for guiding. We will be listened to as responsible thinkers, while those who obstructed the coming of war have committed intellectual suicide and shall be cast into outer darkness. Criticism by the ruling powers will only be accepted from those intellectuals who are in sympathy with the general tendency of the war. Well, it is true that they may guide, but if their stream leads to disaster and the frustration of national life, is their guiding any more than a preference whether they shall go over the right-hand or the left-hand side of the precipice? Meanwhile, however, there is comfort on board. Be with us, they call, or be negligible, irrelevant. Dissenters are already excommunicated. Irreconcilable radicals, wringing their hands among the debris, become the most despicable and impotent of men. There seems no choice for the intellectual but to join the mass of acceptance. But again the terrible dilemma arises—either support what is going on, in which case you count for nothing because you are swallowed in the mass and great incalculable forces bear you on, or remain aloof, passively resistant, in which case you count for nothing because you are outside the machinery of reality. Is there no place left, then, for the intellectual who cannot yet crystallize, who does not dread suspense, and is not yet drugged with fatigue? The American intellectuals, in their preoccupation with reality, seem to have forgotten that the real enemy is War rather than imperial Germany. There is work to be done to prevent this war of ours from passing into popular mythology as a holy crusade. What shall we do with leaders who tell us that we go to war in moral spotlessness or who make “democracy” synonymous with a republican form of government? There is work to be done in still shouting that all the revolutionary by-products will not justify the war or make war anything else than the most noxious complex of all the evils that afflict men. There must be some to find no consolation whatever and some to sneer at those who buy the cheap emotion of sacrifice. There must be some irreconcilables left who will not even accept the war with walrus tears. There must be some to call unceasingly for peace and some to insist that the terms of settlement shall be not only liberal but democratic. There must be some intellectuals who are not willing to use the old discredited counters again and to support a peace which would leave all the old inflammable materials of armament lying about the world. There must still be opposition to any contemplated “liberal” world-order founded on military coalitions. The “irreconcilable” need not be disloyal. He need not even be “impossibilist.” His apathy towards war should take the form of a heightened energy and enthusiasm for the education, the art, the interpretation that make for life in the midst of the world of death. The intellectual who retains his animus against war will push out more boldly than ever to make his case solid against it. The old ideals crumble; new ideals must be forged. His mind will continue to roam widely and ceaselessly. The thing he will fear most is premature crystallization. If the American intellectual class rivets itself to a “liberal” philosophy that perpetuates the old errors, there will then be need for “democrats” whose task will be to divide, confuse, disturb, keep the intellectual waters constantly in motion to prevent any such ice from ever forming.
“I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier”
Al Pianadosi and Alfred Bryan, “I Didn’t Raise My Boy To Be a Soldier.” Recording: Edison Collection
Ten million soldiers to the war have gone, Who may never return again. Ten million mothers' hearts must break, For the ones who died in vain. Head bowed down in sorrowin her lonely years, I heard a mother murmur thro' her tears: Chorus: I didn’t raise my boy to be a soldier, I brought him up to be my pride and joy, Who dares to put a musket on his shoulder, To shoot some other mother’s darling boy? Let nations arbitrate their future troubles, It’s time to lay the sword and gun away, There’d be no war today, If mothers all would say, I didn’t raise my boy to be a soldier. (Chorus) What victory can cheer a mother’s heart, When she looks at her blighted home? What victory can bring her back, All she cared to call her own? Let each mother answer in the year to be, Remember that my boy belongs to me!
Declaration of War by Woodrow Wilson 1917
I have called the Congress into extraordinary session because there are serious, very serious, choices of policy to be made, and made immediately, which it was neither right nor constitutionally permissible that I should assume the responsibility of making. On the 3rd of February last, I officially laid before you the extraordinary announcement of the Imperial German government that on and after the 1st day of February it was its purpose to put aside all restraints of law or of humanity and use its submarines to sink every vessel that sought to approach either the ports of Great Britain and Ireland or the western coasts of Europe or any of the ports controlled by the enemies of Germany within the Mediterranean. That had seemed to be the object of the German submarine warfare earlier in the war, but since April of last year the Imperial government had somewhat restrained the commanders of its undersea craft in conformity with its promise then given to us that passenger boats should not be sunk and that due warning would be given to all other vessels which its submarines might seek to destroy, when no resistance was offered or escape attempted, and care taken that their crews were given at least a fair chance to save their lives in their open boats. The precautions taken were meager and haphazard enough, as was proved in distressing instance after instance in the progress of the cruel and unmanly business, but a certain degree of restraint was observed. The new policy has swept every restriction aside. Vessels of every kind, whatever their flag, their character, their cargo, their destination, their errand, have been ruthlessly sent to the bottom without warning and without thought of help or mercy for those on board, the vessels of friendly neutrals along with those of belligerents. Even hospital ships and ships carrying relief to the sorely bereaved and stricken people of Belgium, though the latter were provided with safe conduct through the proscribed areas by the German government itself and were distinguished by unmistakable marks of identity, have been sunk with the same reckless lack of compassion or of principle. I was for a little while unable to believe that such things would in fact be done by any government that had hitherto subscribed to the humane practices of civilized nations. International law had its origin in the attempt to set up some law which would be respected and observed upon the seas, where no nation had right of dominion and where lay the free highways of the world. By painful stage after stage has that law been built up, with meager enough results, indeed, after all was accomplished that could be accomplished, but always with a clear view, at least, of what the heart and conscience of mankind demanded. This minimum of right the German government has swept aside under the plea of retaliation and necessity and because it had no weapons which it could use at sea except these which it is impossible to employ as it is employing them without throwing to the winds all scruples of humanity or of respect for the understandings that were supposed to underlie the intercourse of the world. I am not now thinking of the loss of property involved, immense and serious as that is, but only of the wanton and wholesale destruction of the lives of noncombatants, men, women, and children, engaged in pursuits which have always, even in the darkest periods of modern history, been deemed innocent and legitimate. Property can be paid for; the lives of peaceful and innocent people cannot be. The present German submarine warfare against commerce is a warfare against mankind. It is a war against all nations. American ships have been sunk, American lives taken in ways which it has stirred us very deeply to learn of; but the ships and people of other neutral and friendly nations have been sunk and overwhelmed in the waters in the same way. There has been no discrimination. The challenge is to all mankind. Each nation must decide for itself how it will meet it. The choice we make for ourselves must be made with a moderation of counsel and a temperateness of judgment befitting our character and our motives as a nation. We must put excited 82
feeling away. Our motive will not be revenge or the victorious assertion of the physical might of the nation, but only the vindication of right, of human right, of which we are only a single champion. When I addressed the Congress on the 26th of February last, I thought that it would suffice to assert our neutral rights with arms, our right to use the seas against unlawful interference, our right to keep our people safe against unlawful violence. But armed neutrality, it now appears, is impracticable. Because submarines are in effect outlaws when used as the German submarines have been used against merchant shipping, it is impossible to defend ships against their attacks as the law of nations has assumed that merchantmen would defend themselves against privateers or cruisers, visible craft giving chase upon the open sea. It is common prudence in such circumstances, grim necessity indeed, to endeavor to destroy them before they have shown their own intention. They must be dealt with upon sight, if dealt with at all. The German government denies the right of neutrals to use arms at all within the areas of the sea which it has proscribed, even in the defense of rights which no modern publicist has ever before questioned their right to defend. The intimation is conveyed that the armed guards which we have placed on our merchant ships will be treated as beyond the pale of law and subject to be dealt with as pirates would be. Armed neutrality is ineffectual enough at best; in such circumstances and in the face of such pretensions it is worse than ineffectual: it is likely only to produce what it was meant to prevent; it is practically certain to draw us into the war without either the rights or the effectiveness of belligerents. There is one choice we cannot make, we are incapable of making: we will not choose the path of submission and suffer the most sacred rights of our nation and our people to be ignored or violated. The wrongs against which we now array ourselves are no common wrongs; they cut to the very roots of human life. With a profound sense of the solemn and even tragical character of the step I am taking and of the grave responsibilities which it involves, but in unhesitating obedience to what I deem my constitutional duty, I advise that the Congress declare the recent course of the Imperial German government to be in fact nothing less than war against the government and people of the United States; that it formally accept the status of belligerent which has thus been thrust upon it; and that it take immediate steps, not only to put the country in a more thorough state of defense but also to exert all its power and employ all its resources to bring the government of the German Empire to terms and end the war. What this will involve is clear. It will involve the utmost practicable cooperation in counsel and action with the governments now at war with Germany and, as incident to that. the extension to those governments of the most liberal financial credits, in order that our resources may so far as possible be added to theirs. It will involve the organization and mobilization of all the material resources of the country to supply the materials of war and serve the incidental needs of the nation in the most abundant and yet the most economical and efficient way possible. It will involve the immediate full equipment of the Navy in all respects but particularly in supplying it with the best means of dealing with the enemy’s submarines. It will involve the immediate addition to the armed forces of the United States already provided for by law in case of war at least 500,000 men, who should, in my opinion, be chosen upon the principle of universal liability to service, and also the authorization of subsequent additional increments of equal force so soon as they may be needed and can be handled in training. It will involve also, of course, the granting of adequate credits to the government, sustained, I hope, so far as they can equitably be sustained by the present generation, by well-conceived taxation. I say sustained so far as may be equitable by taxation because it seems to me that it would be most unwise to base the credits which will now be necessary entirely on money borrowed. It is our duty, I most respectfully urge, to protect our people so far as we may against the very serious hardships and evils which would be likely to arise out of the inflation which would be produced by vast loans. 83
In carrying out the measures by which these things are to be accomplished, we should keep constantly in mind the wisdom of interfering as little as possible in our own preparation and in the equipment of our own military forces with the duty— for it will be a very practical duty—of supplying the nations already at war with Germany with the materials which they can obtain only from us or by our assistance. They are in the field and we should help them in every way to be effective there. I shall take the liberty of suggesting, through the several executive departments of the government, for the consideration of your committees, measures for the accomplishment of the several objects I have mentioned. I hope that it will be your pleasure to deal with them as having been framed after very careful thought by the branch of the government upon which the responsibility of conducting the war and safeguarding the nation will most directly fall. While we do these things, these deeply momentous things, let us be very clear, and make very clear to all the world, what our motives and our objects are. My own thought has not been driven from its habitual and normal course by the unhappy events of the last two months, and I do not believe that the thought of the nation has been altered or clouded by them. I have exactly the same things in mind now that I had in mind when I addressed the Senate on the 22nd of January last; the same that I had in mind when I addressed the Congress on the 3rd of February and on the 26th of February. Our object now, as then, is to vindicate the principles of peace and justice in the life of the world as against selfish and autocratic power and to set up among the really free and self-governed peoples of the world such a concert of purpose and of action as will henceforth ensure the observance of those principles. Neutrality is no longer feasible or desirable where the peace of the world is involved and the freedom of its peoples, and the menace to that peace and freedom lies in the existence of autocratic governments backed by organized force which is controlled wholly by their will, not by the will of their people. We have seen the last of neutrality in such circumstances. We are at the beginning of an age in which it will be insisted that the same standards of conduct and of responsibility for wrong done shall be observed among nations and their governments that are observed among the individual citizens of civilized states. We have no quarrel with the German people. We have no feeling toward them but one of sympathy and friendship. It was not upon their impulse that their government acted in entering this war. It was not with their previous knowledge or approval. It was a war determined upon as wars used to be determined upon in the old, unhappy days when peoples were nowhere consulted by their rulers and wars were provoked and waged in the interest of dynasties or of little groups of ambitious men who were accustomed to use their fellowmen as pawns and tools. Self-governed nations do not fill their neighbor states with spies or set the course of intrigue to bring about some critical posture of affairs which will give them an opportunity to strike and make conquest. Such designs can be successfully worked out only under cover and where no one has the right to ask questions. Cunningly contrived plans of deception or aggression, carried, it may be, from generation to generation, can be worked out and kept from the light only within the privacy of courts or behind the carefully guarded confidences of a narrow and privileged class. They are happily impossible where public opinion commands and insists upon full information concerning all the nation’s affairs. A steadfast concert for peace can never be maintained except by a partnership of democratic nations. No autocratic government could be trusted to keep faith within it or observe its covenants. It must be a league of honor, a partnership of opinion. Intrigue would eat its vitals away; the plottings of inner circles who could plan what they would and render account to no one would be a corruption seated at its very heart. Only free peoples can hold their purpose and their honor steady to a common end and prefer the interests of mankind to any narrow interest of their own.
Does not every American feel that assurance has been added to our hope for the future peace of the world by the wonderful and heartening things that have been happening within the last few weeks in Russia? Russia was known by those who knew it best to have been always in fact democratic at heart, in all the vital habits of her thought, in all the intimate relationships of her people that spoke their natural instinct, their habitual attitude toward life. The autocracy that crowned the summit of her political structure, long as it had stood and terrible as was the reality of its power, was not in fact Russian in origin, character, or purpose; and now it has been shaken off and the great, generous Russian people have been added in all their naive majesty and might to the forces that are fighting for freedom in the world, for justice, and for peace. Here is a fit partner for a League of Honor. One of the things that has served to convince us that the Prussian autocracy was not and could never be our friend is that from the very outset of the present war it has filled our unsuspecting communities and even our offices of government with spies and set criminal intrigues everywhere afoot against our national unity of counsel, our peace within and without, our industries and our commerce. Indeed, it is now evident that its spies were here even before the war began; and it is unhappily not a matter of conjecture but a fact proved in our courts of justice that the intrigues which have more than once come perilously near to disturbing the peace and dislocating the industries of the country have been carried on at the instigation, with the support, and even under the personal direction of official agents of the Imperial government accredited to the government of the United States. Even in checking these things and trying to extirpate them, we have sought to put the most generous interpretation possible upon them because we knew that their source lay, not in any hostile feeling or purpose of the German people toward us (who were no doubt as ignorant of them as we ourselves were) but only in the selfish designs of a government that did what it pleased and told its people nothing. But they have played their part in serving to convince us at last that that government entertains no real friendship for us and means to act against our peace and security at its convenience. That it means to stir up enemies against us at our very doors the intercepted note to the German minister at Mexico City is eloquent evidence. We are accepting this challenge of hostile purpose because we know that in such a government, following such methods, we can never have a friend; and that in the presence of its organized power, always lying in wait to accomplish we know not what purpose, there can be no assured security for the democratic governments of the world. We are now about to accept [the] gage [the challenge] of battle with this natural foe to liberty and shall, if necessary, spend the whole force of the nation to check and nullify its pretensions and its power. We are glad, now that we see the facts with no veil of false pretense about them, to fight thus for the ultimate peace of the world and for the liberation of its peoples, the German peoples included: for the rights of nations great and small and the privilege of men everywhere to choose their way of life and of obedience. The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty. We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make. We are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind. We shall be satisfied when those rights have been made as secure as the faith and the freedom of nations can make them. Just because we fight without rancor and without selfish object, seeking nothing for ourselves but what we shall wish to share with all free peoples, we shall, I feel confident, conduct our operations as belligerents without passion and ourselves observe with proud punctilio the principles of right and of fair play we profess to be fighting for. I have said nothing of the governments allied with the Imperial government of Germany because they have not made war upon us or challenged us to defend our right and our honor. The Austro-Hungarian government has, indeed, avowed its unqualified endorsement and acceptance of the reckless and lawless submarine warfare adopted now without disguise by 85
the Imperial German government, and it has therefore not been possible for this government to receive Count Tarnowski, the ambassador recently accredited to this government by the Imperial and Royal government of Austria-Hungary; but that government has not actually engaged in warfare against citizens of the United States on the seas, and I take the liberty, for the present at least, of postponing a discussion of our relations with the authorities at Vienna. We enter this war only where we are clearly forced into it because there are no other means of defending our rights. It will be all the easier for us to conduct ourselves as belligerents in a high spirit of right and fairness because we act without animus, not in enmity toward a people or with the desire to bring any injury or disadvantage upon them, but only in armed opposition to an irresponsible government which has thrown aside all considerations of humanity and of right and is running amuck. We are, let me say again, the sincere friends of the German people, and shall desire nothing so much as the early reestablishment of intimate relations of mutual advantage between us—however hard it may be for them, for the time being, to believe that this is spoken from our hearts. We have borne with their present government through all these bitter months because of that friendship—exercising a patience and forbearance which would otherwise have been impossible. We shall, happily, still have an opportunity to prove that friendship in our daily attitude and actions toward the millions of men and women of German birth and native sympathy who live among us and share our life, and we shall be proud to prove it toward all who are in fact loyal to their neighbors and to the government in the hour of test. They are, most of them, as true and loyal Americans as if they had never known any other fealty or allegiance. They will be prompt to stand with us in rebuking and restraining the few who may be of a different mind and purpose. If there should be disloyalty, it will be dealt with with a firm hand of stern repression; but, if it lifts its head at all, it will lift it only here and there and without countenance except from a lawless and malignant few. It is a distressing and oppressive duty, gentlemen of the Congress, which I have performed in thus addressing you. There are, it may be, many months of fiery trial and sacrifice ahead of us. It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts—for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free. To such a task we can dedicate our lives and our fortunes, everything that we are and everything that we have, with the pride of those who know that the day has come when America is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured. God helping her, she can do no other.
The Trenches - What They Were Really Like
By Paul Fussell for PBS
The first thing was it smelled bad. It smelled bad because there were open latrines everywhere. There were bodies rotting everywhere. Nothing could be done about them. You could throw a shovel full of quick lime on them to take some of the smell away, but the odor of the trenches was appalling. It's hard to imagine people living for years in the middle of that smell. That's what they had to endure. For the most part there were no bunks, no places to lie down when you weren't on duty; so you lay in the mud, in a hole cut in the side of the trench, or in a dugout if you were an officer or an NCO. The best time for attacking is in the early morning; partly because you have the advantage of darkness in forming the troops up. You also have the advantage of a full day in which you can prosecute the development of the attack before it gets dark again. Both the Germans and the British had morning stand-to, which is short for stand-to-arms. In the darkness as dawn was just about to open up, they would each stand on their firing steps in the trenches, which puts you about this high above the trench. You stood there with your loaded rifle waiting for an attack from the Germans. The Germans did the same thing. When it was fully light, and it was clear that no attack was going to happen that morning, you stood down and had breakfast. Eating it on the firing trench, which was like a building bench in the trench you were occupying. Then there's nothing to do all day, except listen to the bangs as the shells went off everywhere. The object of each side was to try to put mortar shells into the enemy trench and blow it up, or kill the people in it. So there's constant noise and bombardment all day long. Now one couldn't stay forever in the trenches. You stayed usually about a week. Then you were rotated back with another unit, and a fresh unit came up for its week of trench duty. There were rats the size of cats. Both the Germans and the British were troubled with rats. The rats ate corpses, then they came in and snuggled next to you while you were sleeping. And they ate your own food, and they were filthy creatures. They also carried disease – bubonic plague primarily. Many people think that the great flu epidemic of 1919, which affected the United States, had something to do with bubonic plague, which was being carried by these trench rats. Actually, more American troops died of flu than of bullets and shell fragments in the war. Sky study becomes one of your few amusements. You never see your enemy and the only thing you can see is the sky up above. You look at the sky constantly from the opening of the trench, because you can't look out to the side. All of your view is vertical. You consequently get very interested in birds for the first time, because those are the only animated things you can see, except for rats and lice, or other human beings. You never see the enemy except when he's attacking, or you're attacking and you get close to him. So it's a curious, almost studious isolation that the troops are in. They're isolated from the setting and they're isolated, of course, from home, from normal pursuits, and so on. You could read in the trenches sometimes, but it was pretty hard to do with all the explosions going off all the time.
Gas and Flame in World War I: The New Weapons of Terror by William L. Langer,Gas and Flame in World War I, (NY: Knopf/Borzoi, 1965), pp. 73–83.
During the first half of the week following our return to the line we spent the nights in carrying guns and ammunition to the position. It was planned to dig in sixty projectors (forty for chlorine gas and twenty for T.N.T.) as well as to operate six Stokes guns, the latter to shoot gas as well as thermite and smoke. At this particular time the enemy line ran east and west parallel to and not very far north of the road from St. Juvin to the town of St. Georges. As it approached this last place it made a dip southward to include the town. The gun positions were all in the vicinity of this bend, perhaps two and one-half kilometers east of St. Juvin and one kilometer west of St. Georges. The projectors, which, like all our material had to be carried several kilometers along the road or over the shell torn open hills, were planted in a patch of bushes that ran from the road to within two hundred to three hundred yards of the enemy lines. The work was fraught with danger and difficulty, because of the fact that the enemy suspected an attack and kept his Very lights up, at the same time harassing our operations with machine gun and artillery fire. We were on the outpost line, the first concentrated line of infantry being along the road in the vicinity of St. Juvin, where the men had dug themselves into the bank along the road. As for the Stokeses, they were to be operated in two batteries of three each, one of the three to be located in a reinforced shell crater some fifty yards from the road and fifty yards west of the bushes. The other battery was also located in a reinforced crater, some hundred yards beyond the bushes toward St. Georges and perhaps another hundred yards off the road in a southerly direction. Those were anxious nights, the ones in which we covered the road from St. Juvin to the position, carrying heavy projectors, mortars, or bombs. The awful quiet that usually prevailed, the enemy’s lights, and the difficulty of the work were enough to keep us on our toes at all times. It was on these trips that we first made use of two small rubber-tired handcarts. They saved us considerable work, but were very dangerous because of the occasional squeaking of the wheels. All told, it was very likely the hardest work we did on the front, carrying those large stores of material over kilometers of uphill into the very face of the enemy, and they were weary feet, indeed, that, sometimes at 2:00 or 3:00 am., started on the long ten kilometer hike back to Cornay. At last the night for the attack came - October 31. The Stokeses were dug in that same night, and the sandbag reinforcements in the shell holes were completed. We went up that night somewhat anxious and uncertain. Among other things we had twenty-five new men with us, who had just arrived from Q Company and most of whom were new to fire. And several of us, I think, had a presentiment of an awful ordeal to come. The enemy’s continued shellfire convinced us again and again that we were bucking a consolidated line of resistance. Our zero hour was to be 3:30 a.m., and ours was to be the honor of opening the attack in that particular sector, for the artillery Barrage was not to start until 3:37 and the first wave of the infantry was to go over at 5:30. By midnight all preparations were completed. Only the men who were actually to operate the guns were kept on the positions. Besides these, there were two parties of twenty men, each with a sergeant in charge, which were held in reserve some two hundred yards west of the positions. They were to act as carrying parties in case it should be necessary to follow the infantry immediately. The operation opened promptly at 3:30 with the explosion of a battery of projectors with high explosives and another battery with chlorine gas. Shortly after, the Stokeses opened fire, while at 3:37 the artillery behind us began laying down a terrific barrage on the enemy’s lines and the back areas. But the attack was not to prove a one sided affair. Our Stokeses had fired only 41 gas and 24 thermite bombs when the hostile machine guns, which had located our emplacements, covered the entire position with such an intense fire that further operation of the guns was not to be thought of. Moreover, the enemy’s artillery replied to our own almost immediately, bombarding in a systematic fashion the entire ridge and particularly the road. The shells literally rained about, high explosives varying with gas and occasionally shrapnel. How shall I adequately describe our experiences during those five horrible hours, as we lay in shell holes or on the road—those dreadful, endless hours of paralyzing uncertainty and suspense, during which machine guns 88
united with shellfire and gas to make death seem ever so much closer than life? For a time it seemed likely that the enemy’s infantry would attack before our own, and so we lay there, huddled together, nerves tense, weapons ready, determined, if the occasion should arrive, to sell our lives as dearly as possible, for I hardly believe there was one of us who expected to get away alive. It would be useless to tell in detail of all the narrow escapes, of all the minor happenings of those hours, but it does seem to me that at least one act of heroism deserves special mention. As I said before, the enemy was throwing over considerable gas. Still there was a fairly good breeze, and in most cases it dissipated quite rapidly. It was with some surprise, therefore, that the men became aware of an ever-increasing odor of phosgene. This in itself was strange, for the enemy was shooting almost exclusively sneezing gas. On investigation it turned out that a fragment of one of the numerous shells that struck close by had torn open one of our own phosgene bombs, and that the gas was rapidly escaping in our very midst, causing a terrific concentration. It was then that, without a moment’s hesitation, the sergeant, not stopping to put on his mask, seized the broken bomb and carried it out of the hole, where, under the most intense fire of the enemy, he buried it and returned, safe in spite of all. With the reserve parties, meanwhile, things, to say the least, were no better. To keep out the chill night winds the men had spread their shelter halves over the foxholes which had been dug into the side of the bank. When the enemy’s barrage opened it was directed particularly at this spot, where he believed the infantry was lying in readiness to go over. It was not surprising, then, that the entire vicinity was thoroughly bombarded. In quick succession the shells struck, many of them so near that they blew men to pieces less than ten feet from us and peppered our shelter halves with stones and lumps of mud, leaving many of them perforated like sieves. Had the enemy used shrapnel most probably not one of us would have survived. As it was we managed to escape injury until 8:30, when, the fire increasing in intensity, we left our holes and covered the distance to St. Juvin, a good part of it on our hands and knees. It was without one of our dearest comrades, however, for at 6:30 a.m. Private Robert Mayne had been struck in the back by several shell fragments, one of them finding the heart and causing instant death. On the following day we buried him close by where the shell fell, and later on erected a wooden cross over his grave. In addition to his death we had another casualty that night. It was that of Private Alterici, who was affected by gas more seriously than the rest of us and who was sent to the hospital from where he was not released in time to rejoin the company. A weary, exhausted, nerve racked group of men it was indeed that, about noon November 1, assembled in a gully north of Sommerance to rest and dig in for the night. The artillery was still firing furiously, but the enemy’s barrage had ceased very suddenly about 10:00 a.m. and now only occasional shells from long-range rifles would explode in the vicinity. The weather was gloomy and the moist air chilled one to the bones. Yet it was with that meticulous care that is characteristic of worn-out men, that we prepared our foxholes, carrying boards and iron sheeting from abandoned machine-gunners' dugouts in order to make our “houses”as comfortable as possible, even though only for one night. And in truth we left the next morning, setting out in two sections, as had become our custom of late. The first section, under Lieutenant Le Veque, started from the old positions with guns and mules, and, following the road from St. Georges, passed through Imecourt to Sivry-les-Buzancy, which is less than three kilometers south of Buzancy itself. The second section, under Lieutenant Thompson and Cobern, started across the battlefield with guns on one of the handcarts, while the men carried the ammunition and their packs. That, too, was an extremely disagreeable trip, over the shell-torn fields where the dead lay strewn about and one’s feet sank continually in a gluelike mud such as France only can boast. We kept on as fast as we could, trudging towards Alliepont, and from there to Imecourt. I think by far the most redeeming feature of the trip was the opportunity it gave us to see at first hand the terrible havoc wrought by our own artillery. The German Barrage had been very heavy, but had consisted mostly of shells of smaller caliber, while our own guns had been, to a great extent, large-caliber howitzers, etc. The enormous craters and the incredibly large number of them convinced us that if being under the German barrage had been hell, being under our own must have been worse than hell. 89
We stopped a few hours in Imecourt, and later went to Sivry, where we found the first section already lodged. The enemy was retreating much more hurriedly than had been expected, and the town was filled to more than its capacity by troops, guns, field kitchens, etc. Many of us had to sleep in stables that first night. Under the circumstances, however, we were glad to find shelter anywhere and to enjoy a full night’s rest without being called out. It had been a real job to drag the heavy cart through the soggy mire for the many miles we had covered that day. On the next day, November 3, the advance continued. Buzancy had been occupied by one battalion of infantry, which, passing through, had found only two Germans. There seemed little chance of our being really useful while things progressed so favorably. Still, it was necessary to be on hand in case we were needed. So the first section started out late in the afternoon and, marching with heavy packs, overtook the infantry just south of Sommauthe. Here they dug in and spent the night in the rain and mud. On the following days the infantry continued its rapid forward movement, while our men kept as close to the advancing battalion as possible. The weather continued miserable, and above Sommauthe the roads were unspeakably muddy, until finally it was barely possible for traffic to make any headway. The section eventually reached the hamlet of Warniforet, where it was held by orders pending a divisional relief.
African Americans and World War I by Chad Williams, Hamilton College
World War I was a transformative moment in African-American history. What began as a seemingly distant European conflict soon became an event with revolutionary implications for the social, economic, and political future of black people. The war directly impacted all African Americans, male and female, northerner and southerner, soldier and civilian. Migration, military service, racial violence, and political protest combined to make the war years one of the most dynamic periods of the African-American experience. Black people contested the boundaries of American democracy, demanded their rights as American citizens, and asserted their very humanity in ways both subtle and dramatic. Recognizing the significance of World War I is essential to developing a full understanding of modern African-American history and the struggle for black freedom. When war erupted in Europe in August 1914, most Americans, African Americans included, saw no reason for the United States to become involved. This sentiment strengthened as war between the German-led Central Powers and the Allied nations of France, Great Britain, and Russia ground to a stalemate and the death toll increased dramatically. The black press sided with France, because of its purported commitment to racial equality, and chronicled the exploits of colonial African soldiers serving in the French army. Nevertheless, African Americans viewed the bloodshed and destruction occurring overseas as far removed from the immediacies of their everyday lives. The war did, however, have a significant impact on African Americans, particularly the majority who lived in the South. The war years coincided with the Great Migration, one of the largest internal movements of people in American history. The Great Migration Between 1914 and 1920, roughly 500,000 black southerners packed their bags and headed to the North, fundamentally transforming the social, cultural, and political landscape of cities such as Chicago, New York, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Detroit. The Great Migration would reshape black America and the nation as a whole. Black southerners faced a host of social, economic, and political challenges that prompted their migration to the North. The majority of black farmers labored as sharecroppers, remained in perpetual debt, and lived in dire poverty. Their condition worsened in 1915–16 as a result of a boll weevil infestation that ruined cotton crops throughout the South. These economic obstacles were made worse by social and political oppression. By the time of the war, most black people had been disfranchised, effectively stripped of their right to vote through both legal and extralegal means. Jim Crow segregation, legitimized by the Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) Supreme Court ruling, forced black people to use separate and usually inferior facilities. The southern justice system systematically denied them equal protection under the law and condoned the practice of vigilante mob violence. As an aspiring migrant from Alabama wrote in a letter to the Chicago Defender, "[I] am in the darkness of the south and [I] am trying my best to get out." Wartime opportunities in the urban North gave hope to such individuals. The American industrial economy grew significantly during the war. However, the conflict also cut off European immigration and reduced the pool of available cheap labor. Unable to meet demand with existing European immigrants and white women alone, northern businesses increasingly looked to black southerners to fill the void. In turn, the prospect of higher wages and improved working conditions prompted thousands of black southerners to abandon their agricultural lives and start anew in major industrial centers. Black women remained by and large confined to domestic work, while men for the first time in significant numbers made entryways into the northern manufacturing, packinghouse, and automobile industries. Anxious white southerners claimed that northern labor agents lulled unsuspecting black southerners to the North and into a life of urban misery. But, to the contrary, the Great Migration was a social movement propelled by black people and their desires for a better life. The Chicago Defender, which circulated throughout the South, implored black people to break free from their oppression and take advantage of opportunities in the North. Even more influential were the testimonials and letters of the migrants themselves. Migrants relied on informal networks of family and friends to facilitate their move to the North. Individuals would often leave to scout out conditions, secure a job, and find living arrangements, then send for the rest of their family. Word of mouth provided aspiring migrants with crucial information about where to relocate, how to get there, and how best to earn a living. This sense of community eased a black migrant's transition to city life. Southern migrants did not always find the "promised land" they envisioned. They frequently endured residential segregation, substandard living conditions, job discrimination, and in many cases, the hostilities of white residents. Older 91
black residents sometimes resented the presence of the new migrants, as neighborhoods became increasingly overcrowded and stigmatized as ghettos. But life in the North was nevertheless exciting and liberating. No longer subjected to the indignities of Jim Crow and the constant threat of racial violence, southern migrants experienced a new sense of freedom. Southern culture infused northern black communities with a vibrancy that inspired new forms of music, literature, and art. The Great Migration marked a significant moment in the economic, political, social, and cultural growth of modern black America. The War, Democracy and Justice By early 1917, the clouds of war had reached American shores. President Woodrow Wilson initially pledged to keep the country out of the conflict, arguing that the United States had nothing to gain from involving itself in the European chaos. Wilson won reelection in 1916 on a campaign of neutrality, but a series of provocations gradually changed his position. Germany resumed unrestricted submarine warfare in the Atlantic Ocean and sank several vessels carrying American passengers. On March 1, 1917, the Zimmermann Telegram, in which Germany encouraged Mexico to enter the war on the side of the Central Powers, became public and enflamed pro-war sentiments. Wilson felt compelled to act, and on April 2, 1917, he stood before Congress and issued a declaration of war against Germany. "The world must be made safe for democracy," he boldly stated, framing the war effort as a crusade to secure the rights of democracy and self-determination on a global scale. These words immediately resonated with many African Americans, who viewed the war as an opportunity to bring about true democracy in the United States. It would be insincere, many black people argued, for the United States to fight for democracy in Europe while African Americans remained second-class citizens. "If America truly understands the functions of democracy and justice, she must know that she must begin to promote democracy and justice at home first of all," Arthur Shaw of New York proclaimed. The black press used Wilson's pronouncement to frame the war as a struggle for African American civil rights. "Let us have a real democracy for the United States and then we can advise a house cleaning over on the other side of the water," the Baltimore Afro-American asserted. For African Americans, the war became a crucial test of America's commitment to the ideal of democracy and the rights of citizenship for all people, regardless of race. The United States government mobilized the entire nation for war, and African Americans were expected to do their part. The military instituted a draft in order to create an army capable of winning the war. The government demanded "100% Americanism" and used the June 1917 Espionage Act and the May 1918 Sedition Act to crack down on dissent. Large segments of the black population, however, remained hesitant to support a cause they deemed hypocritical. A small but vocal number of African Americans explicitly opposed black participation in the war. A. Philip Randolph and Chandler Owen, editors of the radical socialist newspaper The Messenger, openly encouraged African Americans to resist military service and, as a result, were closely monitored by federal intelligence agents. Many other African Americans viewed the war apathetically and found ways to avoid military service. As a black resident from Harlem quipped, "The Germans ain't done nothin' to me, and if they have, I forgive 'em." Most African Americans nevertheless saw the war as an opportunity to demonstrate their patriotism and their place as equal citizens in the nation. Black political leaders believed that if the race sacrificed for the war effort, the government would have no choice but to reward them with greater civil rights. "Colored folks should be patriotic," the Richmond Planet insisted. "Do not let us be chargeable with being disloyal to the flag." Black men and women for the most part approached the war with a sense of civic duty. Over one million African Americans responded to their draft calls, and roughly 370,000 black men were inducted into the army. Charles Brodnax, a farmer from Virginia recalled, "I felt that I belonged to the Government of my country and should answer to the call and obey the orders in defense of Democracy." Racial Violence and Segregated Armed Forces Racial violence tested blacks' patriotic resolve. On July 2, 1917, in East St. Louis, tensions between black and white workers sparked a bloody four-day riot that left upwards of 125 black residents dead and the nation shocked. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) responded by holding a Silent Protest Parade in New York City on July 28, 1917. Eight thousand marchers, the men dressed in black and the women and children in white, solemnly advanced down Fifth Avenue to the sound of muffled drums and holding signs such as the one that read, Mr. President, why not make America safe for democracy. Violence erupted again the following month in Houston, Texas. Black soldiers of the 3rd Battalion of the 24th Infantry, stationed at Camp Logan, had grown increasingly tired of racial discrimination and abuse from Houston's white residents and from the police in particular. On the night of August 23, 1917, the soldiers retaliated by marching on the city and killing sixteen white civilians and law enforcement personnel. Four black soldiers died as well. The Houston rebellion 92
shocked the nation and encouraged white southern politicians to oppose the future training of black soldiers in the South. Three military court-martial proceedings convicted 110 soldiers. Sixty-three received life sentences and thirteen were hung without due process. The army buried their bodies in unmarked graves. Despite the bloodshed at Houston, the black press and civil rights organizations like the NAACP insisted that African Americans should receive the opportunity to serve as soldiers and fight in the war. Joel Spingarn, a former chairman of the NAACP, worked to establish an officers' training camp for black candidates. "All of you cannot be leaders," he stated, "but those of you who have the capacity for leadership must be given an opportunity to test and display it." The black press vigorously debated the merits of a Jim Crow camp. W. E. B. Du Bois, the noted scholar, editor of the NAACP's journal The Crisis, and a close friend of Spingarn, supported the camp as a crucible of "talented tenth" black leadership, manhood, and patriotism. Black college students, particularly those at historically black institutions, were the driving force behind the camp. Howard University established the Central Committee of Negro College Men and recruited potential candidates from college campuses and black communities throughout the country. The camp opened on June 18, 1917, in Des Moines, Iowa, with 1,250 aspiring black officer candidates. At the close of the camp on October 17, 1917, 639 men received commissions, a historical first. The military created two combat divisions for African Americans. One, the 92nd Division, was composed of draftees and officers. The second, the 93rd Division, was made up of mostly National Guard units from New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Cleveland, and Massachusetts. The army, however, assigned the vast majority of soldiers to service units, reflecting a belief that black men were more suited for manual labor than combat duty. Black soldiers were stationed and trained throughout the country, although most facilities were located in the South. They had to endure racial segregation and often received substandard clothing, shelter, and social services. At the same time, the army presented many black servicemen, particularly those from the rural South, with opportunities unavailable to them as civilians, such as remedial education and basic health care. Military service was also a broadening experience that introduced black men to different people and different parts of the country. Fighting Overseas The war most directly impacted those African Americans called to fight and labor in the military overseas. Over 200,000 crossed the Atlantic and served in France. The majority worked in service units, broadly characterized as the Service of Supply (SOS). They dug ditches, cleaned latrines, transported supplies, cleared debris, and buried rotting corpses. The largest number of African-American SOS troops served as stevedores, working on the docks of Brest, St. Nazaire, Bordeaux, and other French port cities to load and unload crucial supplies. "I don't want to stagger under heavy boxes," one stevedore declared. "I want a gun on my shoulder and the opportunity to go to the front." It was hard work, made worse by racial discrimination, but nevertheless essential to the success of the war effort. The two black combat divisions, the 92nd and 93rd, made up of approximately 40,000 troops, did see battle. Unsure how to use black national guardsmen, the American army "loaned" the 93rd Division to the French army. It was the only American division to serve exclusively under French command. Despite having to acclimate to French methods of combat, the division's four regiments performed exceptionally well and received numerous commendations. The 93rd Division's 369th Infantry Regiment from New York became the most famous fighting unit of African-American troops. Nicknamed the "Harlem Hellfighters," the regiment first garnered notoriety for its world-class band, led by the acclaimed James Reese Europe and made up of top musicians from the United States and Puerto Rico. Europe's band, along with other black regimental ensembles, popularized jazz to a war-torn French nation fascinated with black culture. The 369th received equal acclaim for its combat performance. Two soldiers of the 369th, Henry Johnson and Needham Roberts, were the first American soldiers to receive the French Croix de Guerre (War Cross). The regiment served for 191 days and ceded no ground to German forces. They were the first American regiment to reach the Rhine River in Germany following the armistice and returned to the United States national heroes. The 92nd Division, in comparison to the 93rd, had a much more harrowing experience. White army officials characterized black soldiers of the division as rapists and spread vicious lies among French civilians. African-American officers were particularly singled out for racist treatment because of their status. Viewed as a threat to white authority, many were unjustly transferred out of the division and others were court-martialed on bogus charges. Despite inadequate training and racial discrimination, the division as a whole fought well. However, one regiment, the 368th Infantry Regiment, performed poorly during the Allied Meuse-Argonne offensive in September 1918 and was used by the military to characterize all black soldiers and officers as complete failures. African-American soldiers would contest these slanderous charges well into the postwar period. 93
The rigors of combat and labor challenged black soldiers' physical and emotional stamina. Nevertheless, service in France constituted a remarkable experience. African-American troops often interacted with North and West African soldiers serving in the French military, expanding their sense of diasporic belonging. Black soldiers received a warm welcome from French civilians, who, unlike white troops of the American army, exhibited little overt racism. "They treated us with respect," one soldier recalled, "not like the white American soldiers." These interactions further contributed to the image of France as a nation free of racial discrimination and uniquely committed to universal democratic rights. Travel and service in France expanded the boundaries of how black soldiers viewed the world and their place in it. Lemuel Moody, a soldier who served overseas, reflected that his experience was "altogether improving and broadening.…[It] changed my out look on life. I see things now with different eyes." After the War When the war ended on November 11, 1918, African Americans anxiously and optimistically hoped that their patriotic sacrifices would have a positive impact on race relations and expand the boundaries of civil rights. Political leaders attempted to exert influence on the Versailles peace proceedings. W. E. B. Du Bois organized a Pan-African Congress, held in Paris from February 19 to 21, 1919, which challenged the legitimacy of European colonialism. William Monroe Trotter of the Equal Rights League was so determined to reach Paris that, after being denied a passport by the State Department, he obtained passage as a cook and ultimately presented his case to the peace conference. International pressure was closely tied to the domestic expectations of African Americans. Homecoming parades for returning black soldiers, in the North and South, attracted thousands of people and signaled a determination to translate their service into social and political change. On February 17, 1919, the 369th Infantry Regiment famously marched up Fifth Avenue and into Harlem before some 250,000 onlookers. A spirit of determination, inspired by the war, surged throughout black America. Du Bois voiced such sentiment in the May 1919 Crisis editorial "Returning Soldiers," declaring, "We return. We return from fighting. We return fighting. Make way for Democracy! We saved it in France, and by the Great Jehovah, we will save it in the United States of America, or know the reason why." African Americans were indeed forced to fight, quite literally, for their survival following the war. James Weldon Johnson characterized the bloody summer of 1919 as the Red Summer. Fears of labor unrest, "bolshevism" stemming from the Russian Revolution of 1917, and the return of black soldiers spawned a nationwide surge in violence, much of it directed at African Americans. Race riots erupted in several cities, the most significant occurring in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. In October 1919, whites in Elaine, Arkansas, massacred hundreds of black people in response to the efforts of sharecroppers to organize themselves. In the South, the number of reported lynchings swelled from sixty-four in 1918 to eighty-three in 1919. At least eleven of these victims were returned soldiers. For African Americans, the end of the war brought anything but peace. How African Americans responded to the postwar resurgence of white supremacy reflected the depths to which the aspirations of the war and expectations for democracy shaped their racial and political consciousness. The war radicalized many African Americans and deepened a commitment to combat white racial violence. At the same time, the contributions of the soldiers, as well as peoples of African descent more broadly, to the war effort swelled racial pride. Marcus Garvey tapped into this social, political, and cultural milieu. A native of Jamaica, Garvey brought his new organization, the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), to New York and soon attracted thousands of followers. The UNIA, predicated upon the principles of Black Nationalism and African diasporic unity, quickly became the most dominant mass movement of the postwar era. A host of other radical organizations and newspapers complemented the UNIA and signaled the arrival of the "New Negro." The impact of World War I on African Americans often receives less attention than the effects of the Civil War and World War II. Because racial conditions failed to improve significantly after the war, it is often viewed as a disillusioning moment. To the contrary, World War I brought about tremendous change for African Americans and their place in American society. The Great Migration transformed the demographics of black communities in the North and the South. The war effort allowed black men and women to assert their citizenship, hold the government accountable, and protest racial injustice. Military service brought thousands of black men into the army, exposed them to new lands and new people, and allowed them to fight for their country. Black people staked claim to democracy as a highly personal yet deeply political ideal and demanded that the nation live up to its potential. World War I represents a turning point in African American history, one that shaped the course of the black experience in the twentieth century.
Returning Soldiers by W.E.B Du Bois, "Returning Soldiers," The Crisis, XVIII (May, 1919), p. 13.
We are returning from war! The Crisis and tens of thousands of black men were drafted into a great struggle. For bleeding France and what she means and has meant and will mean to us and humanity and against the threat of German race arrogance, we fought gladly and to the last drop of blood; for America and her highest ideals, we fought in far-off hope; for the dominant southern oligarchy entrenched in Washington, we fought in bitter resignation. For the America that represents and gloats in lynching, disfranchisement, caste, brutality and devilish insult—for this, in the hateful upturning and mixing of things, we were forced by vindictive fate to fight also. But today we return! We return from the slavery of uniform which the world's madness demanded us to don to the freedom of civil garb. We stand again to look America squarely in the face and call a spade a spade. We sing: This country of ours, despite all its better souls have done and dreamed, is yet a shameful land. It lynches. And lynching is barbarism of a degree of contemptible nastiness unparalleled in human history. Yet for fifty years we have lynched two Negroes a week, and we have kept this up right through the war. It disfranchises its own citizens. Disfranchisement is the deliberate theft and robbery of the only protection of poor against rich and black against white. The land that disfranchises its citizens and calls itself a democracy lies and knows it lies. It encourages ignorance. It has never really tried to educate the Negro. A dominant minority does not want Negroes educated. It wants servants, dogs, whores and monkeys. And when this land allows a reactionary group by its stolen political power to force as many black folk into these categories as it possibly can, it cries in contemptible hypocrisy: "They threaten us with degeneracy; they cannot be educated." It steals from us. It organizes industry to cheat us. It cheats us out of our land; it cheats us out of our labor. It confiscates our savings. It reduces our wages. It raises our rent. It steals our profit. It taxes us without representation. It keeps us consistently and universally poor, and then feeds us on charity and derides our poverty. It insults us. It has organized a nation-wide and latterly a world-wide propaganda of deliberate and continuous insult and defamation of black blood wherever found. It decrees that it shall not be possible in travel nor residence, work nor play, education nor instruction for a black man to exist without tacit or open acknowledgment of his inferiority to the dirtiest white dog. And it looks upon any attempt to question or even discuss this dogma as arrogance, unwarranted assumption and treason. This is the country to which we Soldiers of Democracy return. This is the fatherland for which we fought! But it is our fatherland. It was right for us to fight. The faults of our country are our faults. Under similar circumstances, we would fight again. But by the God of Heaven, we are cowards and jackasses if now that that war is over, we do not marshal every ounce of our brain and brawn to fight a sterner, longer, more unbending battle against the forces of hell in our own land. We return. We return from fighting. We return fighting. Make way for Democracy! We saved it in France, and by the Great Jehovah, we will save it in the United States of America, or know the reason why.
Race Riot of 1919 Gave Glimpse of Future Struggles by Peter Perl, Washington Post, March 1, 1999; Page A1
Nobody knows precisely how or where it started, but on a steamy Saturday night, July 19, 1919, the word began to spread among the saloons and pool halls of downtown Washington, where crowds of soldiers, sailors and Marines freshly home from the Great War were taking weekend liberty. A black suspect, questioned in an attempted sexual assault on a white woman, had been released by the Metropolitan Police. The woman was the wife of a Navy man. So the booze-fueled mutterings about revenge flowed quickly among hundreds of men in uniform, white men who were having trouble finding jobs in a crowded, sweltering capital. Late that night, they started to move. The mob drew strength from a seedy neighborhood off Pennsylvania Avenue NW called "Murder Bay," known for its brawlers and brothels. The crowd crossed the tree-covered Mall heading toward a predominantly poor black section of Southwest. They picked up clubs, lead pipes and pieces of lumber as they went. Near Ninth and D streets SW, they fell upon an unsuspecting black man named Charles Linton Ralls, who was out with his wife, Mary. Ralls was chased down and beaten severely. The mob then attacked a second black man, George Montgomery, 55, who was returning home with groceries. They fractured his skull with a brick. The rampage by about 400 whites initially drew only scattered resistance in the black community, and the police were nowhere to be seen. When the Metropolitan Police Department finally arrived in force, its white officers arrested more blacks than whites, sending a clear signal about their sympathies. It was only the beginning. The white mob – whose actions were triggered in large part by weeks of sensational newspaper accounts of alleged sex crimes by a "negro fiend" – unleashed a wave of violence that swept over the city for four days. Nine people were killed in brutal street fighting, and an estimated 30 more would die eventually from their wounds. More than 150 men, women and children were clubbed, beaten and shot by mobs of both races. Several Marine guards and six D.C. policemen were shot, two fatally. "A mob of sailors and soldiers jumped on the [street]car and pulled me off, beating me unmercifully from head to foot, leaving me in such a condition that I could hardly crawl back home," Francis Thomas, a frail black 17-year-old, said in a statement to the NAACP. Thomas said he saw three other blacks being beaten, including two women. "Before I became unconscious, I could hear them pleading with the Lord to keep them from being killed." The Washington riot was one of more than 20 that took place that summer. With rioting in Chicago, Omaha, Knoxville, Tenn., Charleston, S.C., and other cities, the bloody interval came to be known as "the Red Summer." Unlike virtually all the disturbances that preceded it – in which white-on-black violence dominated – the Washington riot of 1919 was distinguished by strong, organized and armed black resistance, foreshadowing the civil rights struggles later in the century. Postwar Washington, roughly 75 percent white, was a racial tinderbox. Housing was in short supply and jobs so scarce that ex-doughboys in uniform panhandled along Pennsylvania Avenue. Unemployed whites bitterly envied the relatively few blacks who had been fortunate enough to procure such low-level government jobs as messenger and clerk. Many whites also resented the black "invasion" of previously segregated neighborhoods around Capitol Hill, Foggy Bottom and the old downtown. Washington's black community was then the largest and most prosperous in the country, with a small but impressive upper class of teachers, ministers, lawyers and businessmen concentrated in the LeDroit Park neighborhood near Howard University. But black Washingtonians were increasingly resentful of the growing dominance of the Jim Crow system that had been imported from the Deep South. Racial resentment was particularly intense among Washington's several thousand returning black war veterans. They had proudly served their country in such units as the District's 1st Separate Battalion, part of the segregated Army force that fought in France. These men had been forced to fight for the right to serve in combat because the Army at first refused to draft blacks for any role other than laborer. They returned home hopeful that their military service would earn them fair treatment. Instead, they saw race relations worsening in an administration dominated by conservative Southern whites brought here by Woodrow Wilson, a Virginian. Wilson's promise of a "New Freedom" had won him more black voters than any 96
Democrat before him, but they were cruelly disappointed: Previously integrated departments such as the Post Office and the Treasury had now set up "Jim Crow corners" with separate washrooms and lunchrooms for "colored only." Meanwhile, the Ku Klux Klan was being revived in Maryland and Virginia, as racial hatred burst forth with the resurgence of lynching of black men and women around the country – 28 public lynchings in the first six months of 1919 alone, including seven black veterans killed while still wearing their Army uniforms. Washington's newspapers made a tense situation worse, with an unrelenting series of sensational stories of alleged sexual assaults by an unknown black perpetrator upon white women. The headlines dominated the city's four daily papers – the Evening Star, the Times, the Herald and The Post – for more than a month. A sampling of these July headlines illustrates the growing lynch-mob mentality: 13 SUSPECTS ARRESTED IN NEGRO HUNT; POSSES KEEP UP HUNT FOR NEGRO; HUNT COLORED ASSAILANT; NEGRO FIEND SOUGHT ANEW. Washington's newly formed chapter of the NAACP was so concerned that on July 9 – 10 days before the bloodshed – it sent a letter to the four daily papers saying they were "sowing the seeds of a race riot by their inflammatory headlines." Violence escalated on the second night, Sunday, July 20, when white mobs sensed the 700-member police department was unwilling or unable to stop them. Blacks were beaten in front of the White House, at the giant Center Market on Seventh Street NW, and throughout the city, where roving bands of whites pulled them off streetcars. One of black Washington's leading citizens, author and historian Carter G. Woodson, 43, the new dean at Howard University, was caught up in that night's horror. Walking home on Pennsylvania Avenue, Woodson was forced to hide in the shadows of a storefront as a white mob approached. "They had caught a Negro and deliberately held him as one would a beef for slaughter," he recalled, "and when they had conveniently adjusted him for lynching, they shot him. I heard him groaning in his struggle as I hurried away as fast as I could without running, expecting every moment to be lynched myself." The Parents League, a black citizens group that had been formed primarily to improve the "colored schools," printed and distributed about 50,000 copies of a Notice to the Colored Citizens, a handbill that advised "our people, in the interest of law and order and to avoid the loss of life and injury, to go home before dark and to remain quietly and to protect themselves." The city's chief executive, Louis Brownlow, the chairman of the District Commissioners, issued an urgent appeal: "The actions of the men who attacked innocent Negroes cannot be too strongly condemned, and it is the duty of every citizen to express his support of law and order by refraining from any inciting conversation or the repetition of inciting rumor and tales." But a crucial event had already occurred that morning that would overwhelm Brownlow's good intention. The Washington Post published a front-page article that would be singled out by the NAACP, and later by historians, as a contributing cause of the riot's escalation. Under the words "Mobilization for Tonight," The Post erroneously reported that all available servicemen had been ordered to report to Pennsylvania Avenue and Seventh Street at 9 p.m. for a "clean-up" operation. It was never clear how this fictional mobilization call was issued, but it became a self-fulfilling prophecy, as white rioters gathered and blacks began arming themselves in defense. Longtime Post reporter Chalmers Roberts, in his history of The Washington Post, called the paper's riot coverage "shamefully irresponsible." As blacks realized that authorities were not protecting them, many took up arms. More than 500 guns were sold by pawnshops and gun dealers that Monday, when the worst violence occurred. White mobs were met by black mobs up and down the Seventh Street commercial corridor. Black Army veterans took out their old guns; sharpshooters climbed to the roof of the Howard Theatre; blacks manned barricades at New Jersey Avenue and at U Street. Black men were driving around the city firing randomly at whites. Blacks turned the tables and pulled whites off streetcars. At Seventh and G streets NW, a black rioter emptied his revolver into a crowded streetcar before taking five bullets from police. At 12th and G NW, a 17-year-old black girl barricaded herself in her house and shot and killed an MPD detective. In all, 10 whites and five blacks were killed or mortally wounded that night. James Scott, a World War I veteran, boarded a streetcar at Seventh Street and Florida Avenue NW late Monday night and quickly noticed he was the only black man on board. As he headed for a vacant seat, a white soldier barred his way and shouted, "Where are you going, nigger?" "Lynch him!" yelled another white. "Kill him! . . . Throw him out the window," others yelled.
"I was being grabbed from all sides. I forced my way to the rear door and was hit by something as I stepped off, which cut my ear and bruised my head," Scott recalled in a statement to the NAACP. "As the car moved away, the conductor fired three shots at me." Finally, on Tuesday, as city leaders and members of Congress realized the situation was out of hand, President Wilson mobilized about 2,000 troops to stop the rioting – cavalry from Fort Myer, Marines from Quantico, Army troops from Camp Meade and sailors from ships in the Potomac. City officials and businessmen closed the saloons, movie houses and billiard rooms in neighborhoods where violence erupted. Despite the federal troops, white mobs gathered again. But a strong summer downpour doused their spirits and heavy rains continued through the night, effectively ending the riot of 1919.In the ensuing months, the NAACP and others pushed for hearings into the riot. But the episode became a mostly forgotten chapter of Washington history, largely because conservative Southern congressmen blocked further inquiry. Sociologist Arthur Waskow, who interviewed riot survivors in the 1960s, said the experience gave them a new selfrespect and "a readiness to face white society as equals. . . . The Washington riot demonstrated that neither the silent mass of 'alley Negroes' nor the articulate leaders of the Negro community could be counted on to knuckle under."
Let’s Draft Our Kids by Thomas E. Ricks, New York Times, July 9, 2012
IN late June, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the former commander of international forces in Afghanistan, called for reinstating the draft. “I think if a nation goes to war, every town, every city needs to be at risk,” he said at the Aspen Ideas Festival. “You make that decision and everybody has skin in the game.” Enlarge This Image This was the first time in recent years that a high-profile officer has broken ranks to argue that the all-volunteer force is not necessarily good for the country or the military. Unlike Europeans, Americans still seem determined to maintain a serious military force, so we need to think about how to pay for it and staff it by creating a draft that is better and more equitable than the Vietnam-era conscription system. A revived draft, including both males and females, should include three options for new conscripts coming out of high school. Some could choose 18 months of military service with low pay but excellent post-service benefits, including free college tuition. These conscripts would not be deployed but could perform tasks currently outsourced at great cost to the Pentagon: paperwork, painting barracks, mowing lawns, driving generals around, and generally doing lower-skills tasks so professional soldiers don’t have to. If they want to stay, they could move into the professional force and receive weapons training, higher pay and better benefits. Those who don’t want to serve in the army could perform civilian national service for a slightly longer period and equally low pay — teaching in low-income areas, cleaning parks, rebuilding crumbling infrastructure, or aiding the elderly. After two years, they would receive similar benefits like tuition aid. And libertarians who object to a draft could opt out. Those who declined to help Uncle Sam would in return pledge to ask nothing from him — no Medicare, no subsidized college loans and no mortgage guarantees. Those who want minimal government can have it. Critics will argue that this is a political non-starter. It may be now. But America has already witnessed far less benign forms of conscription. A new draft that maintains the size and the quality of the current all-volunteer force, saves the government money through civilian national service and frees professional soldiers from performing menial tasks would appeal to many constituencies. Others argue that the numbers don’t add up. With an average cohort of about four million 18-year-olds annually, they say, there is simply no place to put all these people. But the government could use this cheap labor in new ways, doing jobs that governments do in other countries but which have been deemed too expensive in this one, like providing universal free day care or delivering meals to elderly shut-ins. And if too many people applied for the 18-month military program, then a lottery system could be devised — the opposite of the 1970s-era system where being selected was hardly desirable. The rest could perform nonmilitary national service. A final objection is the price tag; this program would cost billions of dollars. But it also would save billions, especially if implemented broadly and imaginatively. One reason our relatively small military is hugely expensive is that all of today’s volunteer soldiers are paid well; they often have spouses and children who require housing and medical care. Unmarried conscripts don’t need such a safety net. And much of the labor currently contracted out to the private sector could be performed by 18-year-olds for much less. And we could raise the retirement age for the professional force from 20 to 30 years of service. There is no reason to kick healthy 40-year-olds out of the military and then give them full retirement pay for 40 years. These reforms would greatly reduce both recruiting and pension costs. Similarly, some of the civilian service programs would help save the government money: Taking food to an elderly shutin might keep that person from having to move into a nursing home. It would be fairly cheap to house conscript soldiers on closed military bases. Housing civilian service members would be more expensive, but imaginative use of existing assets could save money. For example, V.A. hospitals might have space. 99
The pool of cheap labor available to the federal government would broadly lower its current personnel costs and its pension obligations — especially if the law told federal managers to use the civilian service as much as possible, and wherever plausible. The government could also make this cheap labor available to states and cities. Imagine how many local parks could be cleaned and how much could be saved if a few hundred New York City school custodians were 19, energetic and making $15,000 plus room and board, instead of 50, tired and making $106,329, the top base salary for the city’s public school custodians, before overtime. The savings actually might be a way of bringing around the unions representing federal, state and municipal workers, because they understand that there is a huge budget crunch that is going to hit the federal government in a few years. Setting up a new non-career tier of cheap, young labor might be a way of preserving existing jobs for older, more skilled, less mobile union workers. But most of all, having a draft might, as General McChrystal said, make Americans think more carefully before going to war. Imagine the savings — in blood, tears and national treasure — if we had thought twice about whether we really wanted to invade Iraq.
Rangel's Folly: Reinstating the Draft by Camillo Mac Bica, Truthout, April 23, 2013
After numerous failed attempts, New York Congressman Charles Rangel has again introduced legislation to reinstate the draft, or more specifically, to require "all persons in the United States between the ages of 18 and 25 to perform national service either as a member of the uniformed services or civilian service." Interestingly, support for the draft has come from both sides of the political spectrum, from such diverse individuals as former US commander in Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal, and the Daily Show's host Jon Stewart. Liberal commentator Thom Hartmann has argued that military service will provide American youth with much needed discipline, structure, and responsibility in their lives, as well as an opportunity for young Americans to recommit to their country. Further, Hartmann theorizes, coerced national service would create jobs, rebuild this nation's infrastructure and provide an important rite of passage, a clear transition from youth to adulthood. Congressman Rangel's Intent Since the economic crisis of 2008, due to what may be termed "economic conscription," that is, the military being the only viable means of employment to stave off foreclosure and obtain access to health care, higher education, etc, there has been no shortage of recruits into the All Volunteer Force (AVF). Consequently, Congressman Rangel's motivation in introducing The National Universal Service Act" (H.R. 747), is clearly not national security concerns. Rather, Congressman Rangel has made clear on numerous occasions, as illustrated in the title of Hartmann's recent article, "The Draft: A War Killer," the motivation for reinstating and supporting the draft is first and foremost antiwar. That is, by ensuring that every American "has some skin in the game," the intention is to end the apathy of the American public toward our political leaders' propensity for perpetual war and to incite the sort of self-interested opposition and protest that some believe contributed significantly to ending the Vietnam War. According to Congressman Rangel, "A renewed draft will help bring a greater appreciation of the consequences of decisions to go to war." Also motivating the Congressman is his concern for fairness in the distribution of sacrifice; the fact that less than one percent of America's population serves in the military and, as such, unfairly shoulders the burden of war. Who Serves in the Military? Despite the deep recession, not all segments of American society are suffering equally. Banking and corporate executives, for example, continue to enjoy lucrative salaries and bonuses. Under the war economy, Main Street struggles, Wall Street thrives, and America suffers the largest income gap between its richest and poorest citizens in recorded history. Consequently, the children of the privileged and the wealthy, uncoerced by economic need, feel no compunction to enlist in the military, with the burden of fighting and dying in America's seemingly endless wars falling upon the poor and the working class. According to The Heritage Foundation's Study, Who Serves in the Military? The Demographics of Enlisted Troops and Officers, more than three-quarters (75.03 percent) of recruits into the AVF come from neighborhoods with incomes of less than $65,000, and only 6.15 percent come from neighborhoods with an income of over $90,000, with not one individual from a household with an income exceeding $246,333. What is problematic about the AVF, therefore, is not the oft-cited statistic that less than one percent of the American public shares the sacrifice of military service or that too few poor and middle-class Americans enlist. That is after all, an inevitable consequence of an All Volunteer Force. What is deplorable about the current arrangement is that the AVF smacks of classism and is unrepresentative of American society. One final point, given war's extreme profitability for the privileged and the wealthy (the corporatists, bankers, politicians - the military-industrial-Congressional complex) and the fact that with the AVF, they and/or their children will never step onto the battlefield and suffer war's deleterious effects, it is not surprising, therefore, that our nation is embroiled in perpetual foreign military misadventures, wars and entanglements. The Illusion of Alternative Service 101
Since the primary intent of Congressman Rangel, Hartmann and others in reinstating or supporting the draft is antiwar, portraying this legislation as a national service program offering a choice of a nonmilitary alternative -conscription into the civil service - is disingenuous and a distraction from its true purpose and goal. What possible relevancy does forced service in the Peace Corps, for example, have to ending unnecessary war and American apathy? Further, should Congressman Rangel's Bills become law, as endless and futile wars for profit, greed and power continue and escalate, is it realistic to assume that draftees will choose military service in adequate numbers to restore the ranks of injured and killed combatants? Or, as is more likely, wouldn't "national security" considerations require an abrogation of choice and individuals to be conscripted into the military regardless of their preference? In reality, then, these bills are not about creating jobs and rebuilding this nation's infrastructure. Nor is their purpose to provide American youth with much needed discipline, structure, responsibility and an opportunity to recommit to their country. Nor will they accomplish these goals should they be enacted. Though misleadingly titled a National Service Bill, what is being proposed here is clear and simply nothing other than the reinstatement of a military draft. The Moral and Legal Argument against Conscription While I share Congressman Rangel's and Thom Hartmann's goal of ending illegal and immoral war and their disappointment with the American public's apathy about these wars and fairness in distribution of sacrifice, I remain opposed to the draft for a number of reasons. First, it is clear that any form of involuntary conscription by the state is a violation of human rights, forced servitude, and as such, immoral and illegal. Though I don't often find myself in agreement with Ayn Rand, I think her analysis of the effects of the military draft on human rights in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal is correct. "It is an abrogation of rights. It negates man's (and now woman's since the draft is no longer restricted to men) fundamental right - the right to life - and establishes the fundamental principle of statism: that a man's life belongs to the state, and the state may claim it by compelling him to sacrifice it in battle. If the state may force a man to risk death or hideous maiming and crippling in a war declared at the state's discretion, for a cause he may neither approve of nor even understand, if his consent is not required to send him into unspeakable martyrdom, then, in principle, all rights are negated in that state, and its government is not man's protector any longer. What is there left to protect?" (Italics mine) Besides the moral objections, there are the pragmatic concerns that reinstating the draft will do more harm than good; that it will worsen rather than assuage the injustices Congressman Rangel hoped it would resolve. The Pragmatic Argument Since there is no reason to believe that things will be different in this incarnation of the draft, the privileged and the wealthy will, as has always been the case, escape unscathed by exempting themselves and their children from military service and sacrifice in war. Wealth and privilege does have its advantages after all. Consequently, reinstating the draft will fail to remedy the problem of classism in the AFV. Further, it will increase the victim pool of the children of the poor and middle class, the cannon fodder, who will inevitably be the ones conscripted and have no effect upon the cost benefit analysis for those who make war. The privileged and the rich will continue to profit from war's occurrence at no personal cost to themselves or their families. Consequently, reinstating the draft will augment - not lessen - the likelihood of war. Finally, while I also find the American public's apathy disappointing, even frustrating, I do not believe that nonactivism, a lack of concern and interest in speaking out against unjust war, to be a capital offense, punishable by death or hideous maiming and crippling that is inevitable during military service in war. Conclusions Reinstating the draft is unnecessary, unproductive and ineffective in resolving the issues that plague the AFV and this country, that is, unless and until legislation is introduced establishing what I have termed elsewhere as a "Fairness Draft," a mandatory conscription only of young men and women from households earning more than $250,000 in annual income. While I realize that any conscription contradicts my moral and legal argument, I offer the Fairness Draft as a drastic temporary remedial measure that will address the critical concerns expressed in this discussion. First, it will eliminate classism in the AVF and satisfy the principle of distributive justice by ensuring that the burden of military service is 102
shared equally by all segments of the population regardless of economic status. Secondly, and perhaps, most important, should the lives and well-being of the children of the privileged and the wealthy - the progeny of bankers, corporate executives, politicians, etc. - be placed at risk, the antiwar goal of the draft would be achieved as the frequency and number of wars will decrease significantly. Short-term remedial measures aside, however; if Rangel, Hartmann and others are truly interested in ending unnecessary war and with a just apportionment of privileges, duties and goods, rather than feeding the military machine with the bodies and minds of the poor and middle class by reinstating the draft, wouldn't it make better sense to address the extreme economic inequality in this country? Wouldn't it be more prudent to discourage anyone from enlisting into the military to participate in illegal and immoral wars? Wouldn't it be more effective to ban recruiters from our schools preying upon our children? It is time, long past time, to stop blaming and punishing the victims for the crimes of our political leaders who care only for wealth, profit and power. It is time, long past time, to hold the war makers and their benefactors responsible and accountable for their crimes against humanity.
Great Depression and New Deal
“But migrant families do not gather...”
By Carey McWilliams, From, Ill Fares the Land: Migrants and Migratory Labor in the United States (1941), p. 6-8.
But migrant families do not gather about soup kitchens, nor do they travel in boxcars or form improvised armies for protest demonstrations. They have, in fact, an extraordinary faculty for making themselves inconspicuous; they are the least noticeable of people and the most difficult to locate. Nor is their inconspicuousness accidental. They are forced, by circumstance, to be inconspicuous. Many of them travel by night, not because they prefer to do so, but because they have old license plates on their cars and are anxious to avoid highway patrolmen. For the same reason, they frequently travel along minor highways and make many detours and pursue zigzag routes. Occasionally travelers will be amused at the sight of an overloaded jalopy puffing up a grade or stalled in a gas station. But, at the pace most people travel nowadays, they seldom notice the numberless migrant cars they pass on the road. When migrants stop overnight, it is usually in the cheaper auto and tourist camps or in some squatters' camp off the main highway. If they were deliberately avoiding detection, they could scarcely do a better job of concealing themselves. When they camp along the way, it is usually in a clump of trees or under a bridge or around the bend of a stream out of sight. Good-sized camps of this character may exist under bridges over which thousands of motorists pass every day utterly unaware of their presence. Each spring for nearly twenty years, some ten or fifteen thousand Mexicans have journeyed from Texas to Michigan to work in the sugar-beet fields. In getting to their destination, they pass through a number of states and innumerable cities and towns. Yet so quietly, one is almost tempted to say so mysteriously, is this migration effected that few, if any, people along the line of march have ever noticed the presence of the Mexicans passing north or returning south. Nor are these Mexicans generally observed in Michigan, for they work in the fields, not in the towns; in small family groups, not in one mass. Migrants do not arrive in a community to the sound of blaring trumpets or noisy fanfares. It is not that they sneak in or that they hide once there. It is rather that they drift into the community, not as a procession, but in single families, car by car, at different hours and by different routes. They do not migrate, like geese, in well-organized squadrons. Today, a community may not have a single migrant family in its environs; tomorrow, several hundred migrant families may have arrived. They do not congregate in the center of town; they linger about the outskirts. They make their purchases, such as they are, not in the downtown shopping districts, but in the cheaper roadside stores. Many communities throughout the country, at the height of the season, are often wholly unaware of the presence in their midst of several thousand migrants. is also difficult to see these shadowy figures at work in a field. It is hard to distinguish them, sometimes, from the land. They never work twice in the same place; no matter how many times you may return to the same field, they are not likely to be there. Workers in a garment factory can be located; they can be interviewed and their earnings can be tabulated and analyzed. But the agricultural migrant generally has neither home nor address. In the vast majority of cases, his employer does not even know his name. He works not for a single employer in one area, but for many employers who are frequently scattered over several counties or, for that matter, several states. In California there are 5474 private labor camps in agriculture, yet you can drive the main highways of the state, from one end to the other, and never see a labor camp. The owners who built these camps did not want them located near highways. Even during the peak of the season, the traveler scarcely gets a passing impression of the fact that 150,000 migrants are at work in the San Joaquin Valley alone. You do not see them in the fields, on the highways, or in the towns. You do not feel that impact of thousands of workers which you do, for example, in visiting a large factory. Even when you notice a crew at work in the fields, you can be completely misled as to the number involved. From the highway, it may look as though a dozen or so hands were stooping over at work in the fields. But get out of your car, go into the fields, and count them. And don't be surprised if you count several hundred.
Some stories hard to get in history books
By Kasie Hunt, USA TODAY, April 5, 2006 Most high school students in the USA probably don't know that tens of thousands of Mexican-Americans — many of them legal residents or even U.S. citizens — were forcibly sent to Mexico during the depths of the Depression. That's because few history books even mention it. A USA TODAY survey of the nine American history textbooks most commonly used in middle schools and high schools found that four don't mention the deportations at all. Only one devotes more than half a page to the topic. For social activists, textbooks are the most important vehicle for trying to raise awareness about controversial or sensitive periods in U.S. history — "the issues that I didn't learn in school," says Greg Marutani, who heads the education committee of the Japanese American Citizens League. His group tries to increase awareness among students of the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II by developing curriculum guides and holding seminars for teachers. According to the survey, the nine textbooks devote a total of 18 pages to the internment issue, compared with two pages on the coerced Mexican-American emigration. While textbooks are critical in shaping public understanding of issues, changing textbooks isn't easy. "Most histories are designed to make people feel good" about their country, says John Womack, a history professor at Harvard University. He says people of Mexican ancestry were coerced into leaving the United States in the 1930s because many small border-state towns, hit with a scarcity of jobs, were "thoroughly racist." But he says it is difficult to put such negative comments into textbooks that states purchase for their schools. Financial realities also make change difficult. "Once a textbook enters a classroom, it stays there for a number of years," says Gilbert Sewall, director of the American Textbook Council, because schools invest a significant amount of money in a set of books. Sewall says a list of the most popular high school textbooks changes "glacially." Bureaucracy is another factor slowing the pace. Curriculum guidelines are written by state education departments, and each state maintains its own list of approved textbooks. No single agency can change textbooks. "There has never been a federal mandate on textbook content," Sewall says. "It's a state issue" that would have to be dealt with one state capital at a time. Even if a state takes an official position on an controversial topic, actually getting the issue into textbooks can be complicated. In January, California formally apologized to Mexican-Americans for the Depression-era deportations. However, high schools in California — unlike middle schools — are not required to select books from a state-approved list. The federal government provides funding for independent educational projects, which can have a trickle-down effect. In 1988, when Congress formally apologized to Japanese-Americans over internment and paid $20,000 per person in reparations, it also created the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund. The fund dispensed $3.3 million aimed at raising public awareness of the issue. Dale Shimasaki, executive director of the fund until it expired in 1998, says one law school's curriculum project assembled a legal text on the topic, and a project at the University of Arkansas created a curriculum now required for all of the state's seventh- and eighth-graders. Shimasaki says a similar project could help Mexican-Americans raise awareness about the deportation issue. "The parallels are very striking and very eerie," he says. 105
The Japanese American Citizens League's Marutani says both groups still have work to do. "We have achieved what we need to if someone said to a high school grad, 'Can you name some examples where the U.S. government mistreated its citizens?' and they could answer correctly," he says.
U.S. urged to apologize for 1930s deportations
By Wendy Koch, USA TODAY, April 6, 2006.
His father and oldest sister were farming sugar beets in the fields of Hamilton, Mont., and his mother was cooking tortillas when 6-year-old Ignacio Piña saw plainclothes authorities burst into his home. "They came in with guns and told us to get out," recalls Piña, 81, a retired railroad worker in Bakersfield, Calif., of the 1931 raid. "They didn't let us take anything," not even a trunk that held birth certificates proving that he and his five siblings were U.S.-born citizens. The family was thrown into a jail for 10 days before being sent by train to Mexico. Piña says he spent 16 years of "pure hell" there before acquiring papers of his Utah birth and returning to the USA. The deportation of Piña's family tells an almost-forgotten story of a 1930s anti-immigrant campaign. Tens of thousands, and possibly more than 400,000, Mexicans and Mexican-Americans were pressured — through raids and job denials — to leave the USA during the Depression, according to a USA TODAY review of documents and interviews with historians and deportees. Many, mostly children, were U.S. citizens. If their tales seem incredible, a newspaper analysis of the history textbooks used most in U.S. middle and high schools may explain why: Little has been written about the exodus, often called "the repatriation." That may soon change. As the U.S. Senate prepares to vote on bills that would either help illegal workers become legal residents or boost enforcement of U.S. immigration laws, an effort to address deportations that happened 70 years ago has gained traction: • On Thursday, Rep. Hilda Solis, D-Calif., plans to introduce a bill in the U.S. House that calls for a commission to study the "deportation and coerced emigration" of U.S. citizens and legal residents. The panel would also recommend remedies that could include reparations. "An apology should be made," she says. Co-sponsor Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., says history may repeat itself. He says a new House bill that makes being an illegal immigrant a felony could prompt a "massive deportation of U.S. citizens," many of them U.S.-born children leaving with their parents. "We have safeguards to ensure people aren't deported who shouldn't be," says Jeff Lungren, GOP spokesman for the House Judiciary Committee, adding the new House bill retains those safeguards. • In January, California became the first state to enact a bill that apologizes to Latino families for the 1930s civil rights violations. It declined to approve the sort of reparations the U.S. Congress provided in 1988 for Japanese-Americans interned during World War II. Democratic state Sen. Joe Dunn, a self-described "Irish white guy from Minnesota" who sponsored the state bill, is now pushing a measure to require students be taught about the 1930s emigration. He says as many as 2 million people of Mexican ancestry were coerced into leaving, 60% of them U.S. citizens. • In October, a group of deportees and their relatives, known as los repatriados, will host a conference in Detroit on the topic. Organizer Helen Herrada, whose father was deported, has conducted 100 oral histories and produced a documentary. She says many sent to Mexico felt "humiliated" and didn't want to talk about it. "They just don't want it to happen again." No precise figures exist on how many of those deported in the 1930s were illegal immigrants. Since many of those harassed left on their own, and their journeys were not officially recorded, there are also no exact figures on the total number who departed. At least 345,839 people went to Mexico from 1930 to 1935, with 1931 as the peak year, says a 1936 dispatch from the U.S. Consulate General in Mexico City. "It was a racial removal program," says Mae Ngai, an immigration history expert at the University of Chicago, adding people of Mexican ancestry were targeted. 107
However, Americans in the 1930s were "really hurting," says Otis Graham, history professor emeritus at the University of California, Santa Barbara. One in four workers were unemployed and many families hungry. Deporting illegal residents was not an "outrageous idea," Graham says. "Don't lose the context." A pressure campaign In the early 1900s, Mexicans poured into the USA, welcomed by U.S. factory and farm owners who needed their labor. Until entry rules tightened in 1924, they simply paid a nickel to cross the border and get visas for legal residency. "The vast majority were here legally, because it was so easy to enter legally," says Kevin Johnson, a law professor at the University of California, Davis. They spread out across the nation. They sharecropped in California, Texas and Louisiana, harvested sugar beets in Montana and Minnesota, laid railroad tracks in Kansas, mined coal in Utah and Oklahoma, packed meat in Chicago and assembled cars in Detroit. By 1930, the U.S. Census counted 1.42 million people of Mexican ancestry, and 805,535 of them were U.S. born, up from 700,541 in 1920. Change came in 1929, as the stock market and U.S. economy crashed. That year, U.S. officials tightened visa rules, reducing legal immigration from Mexico to a trickle. They also discussed what to do with those already in the USA. "The government undertook a program that coerced people to leave," says Layla Razavi, policy analyst for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF). "It was really a hostile environment." She says federal officials in the Hoover administration, like local-level officials, made no distinction between people of Mexican ancestry who were in the USA legally and those who weren't. "The document trail is shocking," says Dunn, whose staff spent two years researching the topic after he read the 1995 book Decade of Betrayal: Mexican Repatriation in the 1930s, by Francisco Balderrama and Raymond Rodriguez. USA TODAY reviewed hundreds of pages of documents, some provided by Dunn and MALDEF and others found at the National Archives. They cite officials saying the deportations lawfully focused on illegal immigrants while the exodus of legal residents was voluntary. Yet they suggest people of Mexican ancestry faced varying forms of harassment and intimidation: • Raids. Officials staged well-publicized raids in public places. On Feb. 26, 1931, immigration officials suddenly closed off La Placita, a square in Los Angeles, and questioned the roughly 400 people there about their legal status. The raids "created a climate of fear and anxiety" and prompted many Mexicans to leave voluntarily, says Balderrama, professor of Chicano studies and history at California State University, Los Angeles. In a June 1931 memo to superiors, Walter Carr, Los Angeles district director of immigration, said "thousands upon thousands of Mexican aliens" have been "literally scared out of Southern California." Some of them came from hospitals and needed medical care en route to Mexico, immigrant inspector Harry Yeager wrote in a November 1932 letter. The Wickersham Commission, an 11-member panel created by President Hoover, said in a May 1931 report that immigration inspectors made "checkups" of boarding houses, restaurants and pool rooms without "warrants of any kind." Labor Secretary William Doak responded that the "checkups" occurred very rarely. • Jobs withheld. Prodded by labor unions, states and private companies barred non-citizens from some jobs, Balderrama says. 108
"We need their jobs for needy citizens," C.P. Visel of the Los Angeles Citizens Committee for Coordination of Unemployment Relief wrote in a 1931 telegram. In a March 1931 letter to Doak, Visel applauded U.S. officials for the "exodus of aliens deportable and otherwise who have been scared out of the community." Emilia Castenada, 79, recalls coming home from school in 1935 in Los Angeles and hearing her father say he was being deported because "there was no work for Mexicans." She says her father, a stonemason, was a legal resident who owned property. A U.S. citizen who spoke little Spanish, she left the USA with her brother and father, who was never allowed back. "The jobs were given to the white Americans, not the Mexicans," says Carlos DeAnda Guerra, 77, a retired furniture upholsterer in Carpinteria, Calif. He says his parents entered the USA legally in 1917 but were denied jobs. He, his mother and five U.S.-born siblings were deported in 1931, while his father, who then went into hiding, stayed to pick oranges. "The slogan has gone out over the city (Los Angeles) and is being adhered to — 'Employ no Mexican while a white man is unemployed,' " wrote George Clements, manager of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce's agriculture department, in a memo to his boss Arthur Arnoll. He said the Mexicans' legal status was not a factor: "It is a question of pigment, not a question of citizenship or right." • Public aid threatened. County welfare offices threatened to withhold the public aid of many Mexican-Americans, Ngai says. Memos show they also offered to pay for trips to Mexico but sometimes failed to provide adequate food. An immigration inspector reported in a November 1932 memo that no provisions were made for 78 children on a train. Their only sustenance: a few ounces of milk daily. Most of those leaving were told they could return to the USA whenever they wanted, wrote Clements in an August 1931 letter. "This is a grave mistake, because it is not the truth." He reported each was given a card that made their return impossible, because it showed they were "county charities." Even those born in the USA, he wrote, wouldn't be able to return unless they had a birth certificate or similar proof. • Forced departures. Some of the deportees who were moved by train or car had guards to ensure they left the USA and others were sent south on a "closed-body school bus" or "Mexican gun boat," memos show. "Those who tried to say 'no' ended up in the physical deportation category," Dunn says, adding they were taken in squad cars to train stations. Mexican-Americans recall other pressure tactics. Arthur Herrada, 81, a retired Ford engineer in Huron, Ohio, says his father, who was a legal U.S. resident, was threatened with deportation if he didn't join the U.S. Army. His father enlisted. 'We weren't welcome' "It was an injustice that shouldn't have happened," says Jose Lopez, 79, a retired Ford worker in Detroit. He says his father came to the USA legally but couldn't find his papers in 1931 and was deported. To keep the family together, his mother took her six U.S.-born children to Mexico, where they often survived on one meal a day. Lopez welcomes a U.S. apology. So does Guerra, the retired upholsterer, whose voice still cracks with emotion when he talks about how deportation tore his family apart. "I'm very resentful. I don't trust the government at all," says Guerra, who later served in the U.S. military. Piña says his entire family got typhoid fever in Mexico and his father, who had worked in Utah coal mines, died of black lung disease in 1935. "My mother was left destitute, with six of us, in a country we knew nothing about," he says. They lived in the slums of Mexico City, where his formal education ended in sixth grade. "We were misfits there. We weren't welcome."
"The Depression was very bad here. You can imagine how hard it was in Mexico," says Piña, who proudly notes the advanced college degrees of each of his four U.S.-raised sons. "You can't put 16 years of pure hell out of your mind."
Good Citizenship: The Purpose of Education
By Eleanor Roosevelt, Originally published in Pictorial Review, April 1930: 4, 94, 97.
What is the purpose of education? This question agitates scholars, teachers, statesmen, every group, in fact, of thoughtful men and women. The conventional answer is the acquisition of knowledge, the reading of books, and the learning of facts. Perhaps because there are so many books and the branches of knowledge in which we can learn facts are so multitudinous today, we begin to hear more frequently that the function of education is to give children a desire to learn and to teach them how to use their minds and where to go to acquire facts when their curiosity is aroused. Even more all-embracing than this is the statement made not long ago, before a group of English headmasters, by the Archbishop of York, that "the true purpose of education is to produce citizens." If this is the goal—and in a democracy it would seem at least an important part of the ultimate achievement—then we must examine our educational system from a new point of view. I am going to ask you to go back with me for a minute some thirty years or more and think of the changes wrought by the last few years. At that time Theodore Roosevelt's example was for the first time awakening in many young men of America the feeling that their citizenship meant a little more than the privilege of living under the Stars and Stripes, criticizing the conditions of government and the men responsible for its policies and activities, enjoying such advantages as there might be under it, and, if necessary, dying for it in a war which they had had no share in bringing on or in trying to avert. Theodore Roosevelt was teaching by precept and example that men owed something at all times, whether in peace or in war, for the privilege of citizenship and that the burden rested equally on rich and poor. He was saying that, no matter what conditions existed, the blame lay no more heavily on the politician and his machine controlling city, State, or nation, than on the shoulders of the average citizen who concerned himself so little with his government that he allowed men to stay in power in spite of his dissatisfaction because he was too indifferent to exert himself to get better men in office. So young men of all kinds were hearing of a "service" which did not mean being a sailor or a soldier, a doctor or a minister, the only professions in which the word "service" had heretofore had a meaning! Thus began to be spread abroad the idea that "a service" was owed to the country in peace, and that this could only be rendered satisfactorily when every citizen took an interest in good government. As girls went in those days, I suppose my own education was fairly typical, and I confess with some shame that at the age of twenty, when asked by an Englishwoman how our government functioned, I was as completely floored as if she had asked me to describe the political events on the moon! I had heard the men in the family mention political happenings, but it was not a subject of general or frequent conversation in our presence. Women did not vote and were not expected to be interested. Besides there was something dark and sinister about politics, and it was more respectable not to know politicians or political methods too well. Business might necessitate some dealings with these rather inferior and nefarious beings, but the general attitude of the righteous was like that of a highminded and upright citizen of New York City who once remarked to me that a certain political organization was undoubtedly corrupt, but he preferred (tho belonging to an opposite political party) to keep this wicked organization in power as "you paid for what you wanted and were sure to get it, whereas reform administrations were not so reliable in this ability to ''deliver the goods'!" I do not think I am unfair in saying that in most secondary schools, at least, the teachers of American history in those days laid more emphasis on the battle of Bunker Hill than they did on the obligations of citizenship which the children before them would soon be assuming. And this was largely because they could not teach what they did not understand, and few of them knew or cared what these obligations might be. 111
Gradually a change has come about. More young men and more young women (since the latter have had the vote) are doing political work. And even if they do not hold political office they have felt the need to understand their own government. In our schools are now given courses in civics, government, economics, current events. Very few children are as ignorant as I was. But there still remains a vast amount to be done before we accomplish our first objective— informed and intelligent citizens, and, secondly, bring about the realization that we are all responsible for the trend of thought and the action of our times. How shall we arrive at these objectives? We think of course of history as a first means of information. Not the history which is a mere recital of facts, dates, wars, and kings, but a study of the life and growth of other nations, in which we follow the general moral, intellectual, and economic development through the ages, noting what brought about the rise and fall of nations and what were the lasting contributions of peoples now passed away to the development of the human family and the world as a whole. Then we come down to our own history, observing the characteristics and the backgrounds of the people who founded our nation and those who have come to us since; the circumstances of pioneer life and the rapid industrial development. We trace the reasons for present-day attitudes of mind and for the establishment of customs and points of view which make up the rather elusive and yet unmistakable thing known as the "American spirit." We study the men in our history who have really made a constructive contribution, and those who have held us back, in order that we may know what qualities of mind and heart formed the characters which have left a mark on their time. Gradually from this study certain facts emerge. A nation must have leaders, men who have the power to see a little farther, to imagine a little better life than the present. But if this vision is to be fulfilled, it must also have a vast army of men and women capable of understanding and following these leaders intelligently. These citizens must understand their government from the smallest election district to the highest administrative office. It must be no closed book to them, and each one must carry his own particular responsibility or the whole army will lag. I would have our children visit national shrines, know why we love and respect certain men of the past. I would have them see how government departments are run and what are their duties, how courts function, what juries are, what a legislative body is and what it does. I would have them learn how we conduct our relationships with the rest of the world and what are our contacts with other nations. The child seeing and understanding these things will begin to envisage the varied pattern of the life of a great nation such as ours and how his own life and environment fit into the pattern and where his own usefulness may lie. It is not, however, only in the courses bearing directly on history and government that citizenship can be taught. The child taking Latin and mathematics is also learning invaluable lessons in citizenship. The power of concentration and accuracy which these studies develop will later mean a man or woman able to understand and analyze a difficult situation. For example, arithmetic is necessary to a later understanding of economic questions. As citizens economic problems will often claim our attention, and the power to understand them is essential to wise solutions. There are many questions today between capital and labor in our own country, and for that matter in the other countries of the world, which are drawing us closer and affecting our home conditions more and more each year. Mathematics and humanity are strangely intertwined, and an ability to understand both is essential to well-balanced decisions in questions of this kind. From the point of view of character-building, the harder these subjects are to master the greater will be the sense of self-mastery and perseverance developed. The other school contacts—social activities and athletics—develop team play, cooperation, and thought and consideration for others. These are all essentials in good citizenship. The practical side of good citizenship is developed most successfully in school because in miniature one is living in a society, and the conditions and problems of the larger society are more easily reproduced and met and solved. To 112
accomplish this, however, presupposes a high grade of teaching, a teacher who not only teaches a subject but is always conscious of the relation of the subject to the larger purpose of learning to live. Learning to be a good citizen is learning to live to the maximum of one's abilities and opportunities, and every subject should be taught every child with this in view. The teacher's personality and character are of the greatest importance. I have known many erudite and scholarly men and women who were dismal failures as teachers. I have known some less learned teachers who had the gift of inspiring youth and sending them on to heights where perhaps they themselves were unable to follow. Knowledge is essential and much to be admired, but no one can know all there is to know in the world, and to inspire a spirit of humbleness toward those who have a real knowledge in any subject and to add to that the "insatiable curiosity" so well described in Kipling's "Just So Stories" is a greater achievement than to establish the idea that the teacher's knowledge is infallible and all-embracing. You will be thinking that few teachers of this type exist and you will be right. The blame lies with the attitude toward teachers and the teaching of our present generation. We have set up a money value, a material gauge by which we measure success, but we have frequently given more time and more material compensation to our cooks and chauffeurs and day-laborers, bricklayers, carpenters, and painters than we have to our nurses, governesses, and tutors and teachers in schools and colleges. We entrust the building of our children's characters and the development of their minds to people whom we, as a rule, compensate less liberally than we do the men and women who build our houses and make our day-by-day existence more comfortable and luxurious. These men and women teachers, paid from $1,200 to $5,000, and in extraordinary cases $10,000 a year, mold the future citizens of our country, and we do not treat them with the respect or consideration which their high calling deserves, nor do we reward them with the only reward which spells success according to our present standards. One of our hard-worked businessmen said to me not long ago, "Why, these teacher fellows have a snap. Look at their long summer holidays, and you can't tell me it's as hard to tell a lot of youngsters about logarithms or Scott's novels as it is to handle my board of directors at one end and my shop committee at the other." My thought was that if he and his fellow members on the board of directors and the men on the shop committee had had the right kind of teaching his job would be easier because at both ends he would have men better able to understand the whole problem of industry and realize the necessity of cooperation. Teachers must have leisure to prepare, to study, to journey in new fields, and to open new sources of knowledge and inspiration and experience for themselves. You cannot impart what you have not made your own. You cannot engender enthusiasm if you have lost it. Teaching is dead when the subject does not inspire enthusiasm in the teacher. Then there must be leisure to cultivate your pupils. The best teaching is often done outside of the classroom. It always interests me how many Harvard men will speak of Professor Copeland's "Readings." They seem to look back on them as something particularly hallowed, and it seems to me that they have furnished inspiration to countless men whose lives have followed a hundred different paths. One cannot get to know young people in a crowd. Youth is shy and a teacher gets his best results both in the classroom and out when barriers are down, and it requires wooing before the barriers come down. But what patience and time unselfishly given to the problems and interests of individuals this means, only a good teacher knows, and he rarely tells. When I was fifteen I came in contact with a really remarkable teacher, a strong and vital personality. All my life I have been grateful for her influence. She has been dead for many years, but to this day her presence lives with me. It was not so much the actual class work, tho I can still remember the wave of hot shame creeping over me when I had handed in a piece of shoddy work. She had great charity for mistakes, for real limitations in knowledge or experience, but if you tried 113
to "get by" with inadequate research and preparation, or smart phrases instead of thought, you felt her scorn because she believed in you and felt you could do better and you had fallen down. I think few of us worked under her without acquiring a conception of intellectual integrity and obligation at all times to do our best. I still remember evenings when she read to us and by her comments opened up avenues of thought. If ever in small ways I may do any good work in the world the credit will not be mine, but in part at least it will belong to the most inspiring teacher I ever knew. A friend of mine says that in her class in high school almost every individual went out with the determination to do something in the world and make every effort to self-development. She says it was due to the contact with a teacher who lent them her books and talked them over (giving them their first appreciation of good literature), who went on picnics with them, and opened their eyes to the beauty of nature by her own keen appreciation and enjoyment. I believe that each one of us, if we delve in our memories, can find some similar experience which will uphold my contention that a great teacher is more important than the most gorgeous building. Where no such contacts have been experienced, the most ideal surroundings will not make our school-days anything but a succession of dull and meaningless tasks. There are many inadequate teachers today. Perhaps our standards should be higher, but they cannot be until we learn to value and understand the function of the teacher in our midst. While we have put much money in buildings and laboratories and gymnasiums, we have forgotten that they are but the shell, and will never live and create a vital spark in the minds and hearts of our youth unless some teacher furnishes the inspiration. A child responds naturally to high ideals, and we are all of us creatures of habit. Begin young to teach the standards that should prevail in public servants, in governmental administration, in national and international business and politics, and show by relating to daily life and known experience the advantages derived from a well-run government. It will then be a logical conclusion that the ends cannot be achieved without the cooperation of every citizen. This will be readily grasped by the child because his daily experience in school illustrates the point. The school alone cannot teach citizenship, however, any more than it can really educate a child. It can do much in directing thought and formulating standards, in creating habits of responsibility and courage and devotion. In the last analysis our home surroundings are the determining factor in development, and the example of those dear to us and constantly with us is what makes the warp and woof of our lives. If the elders break the laws, do not bother to vote in elections or primaries, do not inform themselves and listen to the discussion of public questions, and do not take the trouble to make up their own minds after real consideration, the child will do likewise. If the elders look upon public questions from purely selfish angles, with a view as to how they will be affected personally, and not as to what are the needs of the country or of the world, then it is safe to predict that youth will do the same. This teaching of citizenship in the schools must be supplemented by teaching and example in the home. I recognize of course that on our public schools devolves the teaching of by far the greatest number of our children and the added responsibility of taking great groups of new entrants into this country, and, either through adult classes or through their children, teaching them the ideals and standards of American citizenship; and I think we, who are already citizens, should realize how greatly our attitude influences newcomers. As a rule they have come to this country filled with dreams of the wonderful advantages and opportunities which await them. Through their children and in their evening classes they hear our history and have explained to them great speeches of illustrious Americans of the past. And then too often they learn that the deeds in this new country fall short of its words, and they become the victims of poor citizenship as it is practised by some native Americans and by some who have lived here long enough to have absorbed true ideals and high standards if these were really an integral part of the people's lives. 114
I think our private schools and our citizens who are able to support them should feel more keenly their connection with the public school system. It may be easier to develop leaders in a private school because more attention is possible for individual pupils. Whether this is achieved or not, one thing must be done, namely, there must be developed men and women who shall take an interest in, and have an understanding of, every group of citizens and every phase of our national life, and this is more difficult to accomplish in private schools because the children are more sheltered. As the great majority of our children are being educated in public schools, it is all-important that the standards of citizenship should be of the best. Whether we send our children to private school or public school we should take a constant interest in all educational institutions and remember that on the public school largely depends the success or the failure of our great experiment in government "by the people, for the people."
Fire Side Chat
By Franklin Roosevelt, Sunday September 30, 1934
Three months have passed since I talked with you shortly after the adjournment of the Congress. Tonight I continue that report, though, because of the shortness of time, I must defer a number of subjects to a later date. Recently the most notable public questions that have concerned us all have had to do with industry and labor and with respect to these, certain developments have taken place which I consider of importance. I am happy to report that after years of uncertainty, culminating in the collapse of the spring of 1933, we are bringing order out of the old chaos with a greater certainty of the employment of labor at a reasonable wage and of more business at a fair profit. These governmental and industrial developments hold promise of new achievements for the nation. Men may differ as to the particular form of governmental activity with respect to industry and business, but nearly all are agreed that private enterprise in times such as these cannot be left without assistance and without reasonable safeguards lest it destroy not only itself but also our processes of civilization. The underlying necessity for such activity is indeed as strong now as it was years ago when Elihu Root said the following very significant words: "Instead of the give and take of free individual contract, the tremendous power of organization has combined great aggregations of capital in enormous industrial establishments working through vast agencies of commerce and employing great masses of men in movements of production and transportation and trade, so great in the mass that each individual concerned in them is quite helpless by himself. The relations between the employer and the employed, between the owners of aggregated capital and the units of organized labor, between the small producer, the small trader, the consumer, and the great transporting and manufacturing and distributing agencies, all present new questions for the solution of which the old reliance upon the free action of individual wills appear quite inadequate. And in many directions, the intervention of that organized control which we call government seems necessary to produce the same result of justice and right conduct which obtained through the attrition of individuals before the new conditions arose." It was in this spirit thus described by Secretary Root that we approached our task of reviving private enterprise in March, 1933. Our first problem was, of course, the banking situation because, as you know, the banks had collapsed. Some banks could not be saved but the great majority of them, either through their own resources or with government aid, have been restored to complete public confidence. This has given safety to millions of depositors in these banks. Closely following this great constructive effort we have, through various Federal agencies, saved debtors and creditors alike in many other fields of enterprise, such as loans on farm mortgages and home mortgages; loans to the railroads and insurance companies and, finally, help for home owners and industry itself. In all of these efforts the government has come to the assistance of business and with the full expectation that the money used to assist these enterprises will eventually be repaid. I believe it will be. The second step we have taken in the restoration of normal business enterprise has been to clean up thoroughly unwholesome conditions in the field of investment. In this we have had assistance from many bankers and businessmen, most of whom recognize the past evils in the banking system, in the sale of securities, in the deliberate encouragement of stock gambling, in the sale of unsound mortgages and in many other ways in which the public lost billions of dollars. They saw that without changes in the policies and methods of investment there could be no recovery of public confidence in the security of savings. The country now enjoys the safety of bank savings under the new banking laws, the careful checking of new securities under the Securities Act and the curtailment of rank stock speculation through the Securities Exchange Act. I sincerely hope that as a result people will be discouraged in unhappy efforts to get rich quick by speculating in securities. The average person almost always loses. Only a very small minority of the people of this country believe in gambling as a substitute for the old philosophy of Benjamin Franklin that the way to wealth is through work.
In meeting the problems of industrial recovery the chief agency of the government has been the National Recovery Administration. Under its guidance, trades and industries covering over ninety percent of all industrial employees have adopted codes of fair competition, which have been approved by the President. Under these codes, in the industries covered, child labor has been eliminated. The work day and the work week have been shortened. Minimum wages have been established and other wages adjusted toward a rising standard of living. The emergency purpose of the N. R. A. was to put men to work and since its creation more than four million persons have been re-employed, in great part through the cooperation of American business brought about under the codes. Benefits of the Industrial Recovery Program have come, not only to labor in the form of new jobs, in relief from overwork and in relief from under-pay, but also to the owners and managers of industry because, together with a great increase in the payrolls, there has come a substantial rise in the total of industrial profits - a rise from a deficit figure in the first quarter of 1933 to a level of sustained profits within one year from the inauguration of N. R. A. Now it should not be expected that even employed labor and capital would be completely satisfied with present conditions. Employed workers have not by any means all enjoyed a return to the earnings of prosperous times; although millions of hitherto under- privileged workers are today far better paid than ever before. Also, billions of dollars of invested capital have today a greater security of present and future earning power than before. This is because of the establishment of fair, competitive standards and because of relief from unfair competition in wage cutting which depresses markets and destroys purchasing power. But it is an undeniable fact that the restoration of other billions of sound investments to a reasonable earning power could not be brought about in one year. There is no magic formula, no economic panacea, which could simply revive over-night the heavy industries and the trades dependent upon them. Nevertheless the gains of trade and industry, as a whole, have been substantial. In these gains and in the policies of the Administration there are assurances that hearten all forward-looking men and women with the confidence that we are definitely rebuilding our political and economic system on the lines laid down by the New Deal - lines which as I have so often made clear, are in complete accord with the underlying principles of orderly popular government which Americans have demanded since the white man first came to these shores. We count, in the future as in the past, on the driving power of individual initiative and the incentive of fair private profit, strengthened with the acceptance of those obligations to the public interest which rest upon us all. We have the right to expect that this driving power will be given patriotically and whole-heartedly to our nation. We have passed through the formative period of code making in the National Recovery Administration and have effected a reorganization of the N. R. A. suited to the needs of the next phase, which is, in turn, a period of preparation for legislation which will determine its permanent form. In this recent reorganization we have recognized three distinct functions. First, the legislative or policy making function. Second, the administrative function of code making and revision and, third, the judicial function, which includes enforcement, consumer complaints and the settlement of disputes between employers and employees and between one employer and another. We are now prepared to move into this second phase, on the basis of our experience in the first phase under the able and energetic leadership of General Johnson. We shall watch carefully the working of this new machinery for the second phase of N. R. A., modifying it where it needs modification and finally making recommendations to the Congress, in order that the functions of N. R. A. which have proved their worth may be made a part of the permanent machinery of government. Let me call your attention to the fact that the National Industrial Recovery Act gave businessmen the opportunity they had sought for years to improve business conditions through what has been called self-government in industry. If the codes which have been written have been too complicated, if they have gone too far in such matters as price fixing and 117
limitation of production, let it be remembered that so far as possible, consistent with the immediate public interest of this past year and the vital necessity of improving labor conditions, the representatives of trade and industry were permitted to write their ideas into the codes. It is now time to review these actions as a whole to determine through deliberative means in the light of experience, from the standpoint of the good of the industries themselves, as well as the general public interest, whether the methods and policies adopted in the emergency have been best calculated to promote industrial recovery and a permanent improvement of business and labor conditions. There may be a serious question as to the wisdom of many of those devices to control production, or to prevent destructive price cutting which many business organizations have insisted were necessary, or whether their effect may have been to prevent that volume of production which would make possible lower prices and increased employment. Another question arises as to whether in fixing minimum wages on the basis of an hourly or weekly wage we have reached into the heart of the problem which is to provide such annual earnings for the lowest paid worker as will meet his minimum needs. We also question the wisdom of extending code requirements suited to the great industrial centers and to large employers, to the great number of small employers in the smaller communities. During the last twelve months our industrial recovery has been to some extent retarded by strikes, including a few of major importance. I would not minimize the inevitable losses to employers and employees and to the general public through such conflicts. But I would point out that the extent and severity of labor disputes during this period has been far less than in any previous, comparable period. When the businessmen of the country were demanding the right to organize themselves adequately to promote their legitimate interests; when the farmers were demanding legislation which would give them opportunities and incentives to organize themselves for a common advance, it was natural that the workers should seek and obtain a statutory declaration of their constitutional right to organize themselves for collective bargaining as embodied in Section 7 (a) of the National Industrial Recovery Act. Machinery set up by the Federal government has provided some new methods of adjustment. Both employers and employees mast share the blame of not using them as fully as they should. The employer who turns away from impartial agencies of peace, who denies freedom of organization to his employees, or fails to make every reasonable effort at a peaceful solution of their differences, is not fully supporting the recovery effort of his government. The workers who turn away from these same impartial agencies and decline to use their good offices to gain their ends are likewise not fully cooperating with their government. It is time that we made a clean-cut effort to bring about that united action of management and labor, which is one of the high purposes of the Recovery Act. We have passed through more than a year of education. Step by step we have created all the government agencies necessary to insure, as a general rule, industrial peace, with justice for all those willing to use these agencies whenever their voluntary bargaining fails to produce a necessary agreement. There should be at least a full and fair trial given to these means of ending industrial warfare; and in such an effort we should be able to secure for employers and employees and consumers the benefits that all derive from the continuous, peaceful operation of our essential enterprises. Accordingly, I propose to confer within the coming month with small groups of those truly representative of large employers of labor and of large groups of organized labor, in order to seek their cooperation in establishing what I may describe as a specific trial period of industrial peace. From those willing to join in establishing this hoped-for period of peace, I shall seek assurances of the making and maintenance of agreements, which can be mutually relied upon, under which wages, hours and working conditions may be determined and any later adjustments shall be made either by agreement or, in case of disagreement, through the mediation or arbitration of state or federal agencies. I shall not ask either employers or employees permanently to lay aside the weapons common to industrial war. But I shall ask both groups to give a fair trial to peaceful methods of
adjusting their conflicts of opinion and interest, and to experiment for a reasonable time with measures suitable to civilize our industrial civilization. Closely allied to the N. R. A. is the program of Public Works provided for in the same Act and designed to put more men back to work, both directly on the public works themselves, and indirectly in the industries supplying the materials for these public works. To those who say that our expenditures for Public Works and other means for recovery are a waste that we cannot afford, I answer that no country, however rich, can afford the waste of its human resources. Demoralization caused by vast unemployment is our greatest extravagance. Morally, it is the greatest menace to our social order. Some people try to tell me that we must make up our minds that for the future we shall permanently have millions of unemployed just as other countries have had them for over a decade. What may be necessary for those countries is not my responsibility to determine. But as for this country, I stand or fall by my refusal to accept as a necessary condition of our future a permanent army of unemployed. On the contrary, we must make it a national principle that we will not tolerate a large army of unemployed and that we will arrange our national economy to end our present unemployment as soon as we can and then to take wise measures against its return. I do not want to think that it is the destiny of any American to remain permanently on relief rolls. Those, fortunately few in number, who are frightened by boldness and cowed by the necessity for making decisions, complain that all we have done is unnecessary and subject to great risks. Now that these people are coming out of their storm cellars, they forget that there ever was a storm. They point to England. They would have you believe that England has made progress out of her depression by a do-nothing policy, by letting nature take her course. England has her pecularities and we have ours but I do not believe any intelligent observer can accuse England of undue orthodoxy in the present emergency. Did England let nature take her course? No. Did England hold to the gold standard when her reserves were threatened? No. Has England gone back to the gold standard today? No. Did England hesitate to call in ten billion dollars of her war bonds bearing 5% interest, to issue new bonds therefore bearing only 3 1/2% interest, thereby saving the British Treasury one hundred and fifty million dollars a year in interest alone? No. And let it be recorded that the British bankers helped. Is it not a fact that ever since the year 1909, Great Britain in many ways has advanced further along lines of social security than the United States? Is it not a fact that relations between capital and labor on the basis of collective bargaining are much further advanced in Great Britain than in the United States? It is perhaps not strange that the conservative British press has told us with pardonable irony that much of our New Deal program is only an attempt to catch up with English reforms that go back ten years or more. Nearly all Americans are sensible and calm people. We do not get greatly excited nor is our peace of mind disturbed, whether we be businessmen or workers or farmers, by awesome pronouncements concerning the unconstitutionality of some of our measures of recovery and relief and reform. We are not frightened by reactionary lawyers or political editors. All of these cries have been heard before. More than twenty years ago, when Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were attempting to correct abuses in our national life, the great Chief Justice White said: "There is great danger it seems to me to arise from the constant habit which prevails where anything is opposed or objected to, of referring without rhyme or reason to the Constitution as a means of preventing its accomplishment, thus creating the general impression that the Constitution is but a barrier to progress instead of being the broad highway through which alone true progress may be enjoyed." In our efforts for recovery we have avoided on the one hand the theory that business should and must be taken over into an all-embracing Government. We have avoided on the other hand the equally untenable theory that it is an interference with liberty to offer reasonable help when private enterprise is in need of help. The course we have followed fits the American practice of Government - a practice of taking action step by step, of regulating only to meet concrete needs - a practice of courageous recognition of change. I believe with Abraham Lincoln, that "The legitimate object of Government 119
is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done but cannot do at all or cannot do so well for themselves in their separate and individual capacities." I still believe in ideals. I am not for a return to that definition of Liberty under which for many years a free people were being gradually regimented into the service of the privileged few. I prefer and I am sure you prefer that broader definition of Liberty under which we are moving forward to greater freedom, to greater security for the average man than he has ever known before in the history of America.
“Share the Wealth”
Huey Long Talks to the Nation, 1934
Now in the third year of his administration, we find more of our people unemployed than at any other time. We find our houses empty and our people hungry, many of them half-clothed and many of them not clothed at all. Mr. Hopkins announced twenty-two millions on the dole, a new high-water mark in that particular sum, a few weeks ago. We find not only the people going further into debt, but that the United States is going further into debt. The states are going further into debt, and the cities and towns are even going into bankruptcy. The condition has become deplorable. Instead of his promises, the only remedy that Mr. Roosevelt has prescribed is to borrow more money if he can and to go further into debt. The last move was to borrow $5 billion more on which we must pay interest for the balance of our lifetimes, and probably during the lifetime of our children. And with it all, there stalks a slimy specter of want, hunger, destitution, and pestilence, all because of the fact that in the land of too much and of too much to wear, our president has failed in his promise to have these necessities of life distributed into the hands of the people who have need of them. Now, my friends, you have heard me read how a great New York newspaper, after investigations, declared that all I have said about the bad distribution of this nation’s wealth is true. But we have been about our work to correct this situation. That is why the Share Our Wealth societies are forming in every nook and corner of America. They’re meeting tonight. Soon there will be Share Our Wealth societies for everyone to meet. They have a great work to perform. Here is what we stand for in a nutshell: Number one, we propose that every family in America should at least own a homestead equal in value to not less than one third the average family wealth. The average family wealth of America, at normal values, is approximately $16,000. So our first proposition means that every family will have a home and the comforts of a home up to a value of not less than around $5,000 or a little more than that. Number two, we propose that no family shall own more than three hundred times the average family wealth, which means that no family shall possess more than a wealth of approximately $5 million—none to own less than $5,000, none to own more than $5 million. We think that’s too much to allow them to own, but at least it’s extremely conservative. Number three, we propose that every family shall have an income equal to at least one third of the average family income in America. If all were allowed to work, there’d be an income of from $5,000 to $10,000 per family. We propose that one third would be the minimum. We propose that no family will have an earning of less than around $2,000 to $2,500 and that none will have more than three hundred times the average less the ordinary income taxes, which means that a million dollars would be the limit on the highest income. We also propose to give the old-age pensions to the old people, not by taxing them or their children, but by levying the taxes upon the excess fortunes to whittle them down, and on the excess incomes and excess inheritances, so that the people who reach the age of sixty can be retired from the active labor of life and given an opportunity to have surcease and ease for the balance of the life that they have on earth. We also propose the care for the veterans, including the cash payment of the soldiers' bonus. We likewise propose that there should be an education for every youth in this land and that no youth would be dependent upon the financial means of his parents in order to have a college education.
“Please Help Us Mr. President”
Black Americans Write to Franklin Roosevelt
Letter 1: Reidsville. Ga, Oct 19th 1935 Dear Mr. President Would you please direct the people in charge of the releaf work in Georgia to issue the provisions + other supplies to our suffering colored people. I am sorry to worrie you with this Mr. President but hard as it is to believe the releaf officials here are using up most every thing that you send for them self + their friends. they give out the releaf supplies here on Wednesday of this week and give us black folks, each one, nothing but a few cans of pickle meet and to white folks they give blankets, bolts of cloth and things like that. I dont want to take to mutch of your time Mr president but will give you just one example of how the releaf is work down here the witto Nancy Hendrics own lands, stock holder in the Bank in this town and she is being supplied with Blankets cloth and gets a supply of cans goods regular this is only one case but I could tell you many. Please help us mr President because we cant help our self and we know you is the president and a good Christian man we is praying for you. Yours truly cant sign my name Mr President they will beat me up and run me away from here and this is my home [Anonymous] Letter 2: Hattiesburg Miss, May 1936 Mr Presedent Sir We are starving in Hattiesburg we poor White’s + Negros too i wish you could See the poor hungry an naket half clad’s at the relief office an is turned away With tears in their eysw Mississippi is made her own laws an dont treat her destuted as her Pres. has laid the plans for us to live if the legislators would do as our good Pres. has Said What few days we have here we could be happy in our last old days both old white + Colard Cencerely looking for our old age pension’s an will thank you they has made us Sighn for $ 3 00 [three dollars] a Month Cant live at that [Anonymous] Letter 3: Vicksburg Miss, Sept 22, 1935 President Theo. D. Rosevelt. U.S.A. Gentlemen: I think you Should [sic] invistigate this matter your Self. The way they are treating the Darkies here is A Shame. They wont give them food nor Cloths nor Work to do When they Ask for Anything they drive them away as they were dogs. They wont even let them talk to the head man here. you Aught to See that Some men get this job that will give this Relief to whom it was Sent here for. you can prevent all brutle treatment of the Darkies here if you will. And its more than 200 Darkies in groups Standing on the Road each day. begging for food and Cloths. And the Relief working women. They tell them there is no job for them to hunt. And the Head men of the Office will help them to drive the Poor darkies as they were dogs. And I gets in My care and Rides from one end of the County to the other to See how the Darkies are treated. All of the Darkies in the Flooded District are in a Suffering condition I know Personally. And please Invistigate The Matter at once. The Darkies in Flooded District are not able to pay they Taxes and they wont let them make enough to pay them. And I Judge the Relief Workers are taking all of the Poor Darkies Money and buying fine Cars. [Anonymous]