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How to Regain Government
H. H. Broach
From a talk made to a political meet-
Most all of us now realize that the betrayal in recent months of the producers in the cities and on the farms, by the lawmakers, public officials and the courts, was never more complete. Never were they required to pay such a tremendous price for allowing themselves to be tricked and gulled. And it's all because the captains of industry have appreciated the great value of political action and got their henchmen elected who have done their bidding, while we have been “resoluting and whereasing," and allowing ourselves to be divided by the fake cries of the politicians, and while all too many of us have neglected to enter the field of politics and make use of the enormous possibilities of our numbers.
We may be assured of this: The forces of privilege hold their present power only by virtue of their control over our lawmaking bodies, and so long as we allow the government and lawmaking bodies to remain in the control of these interests, through their representatives and agents—and there is no secret about it—we cannot expect to secure any real attention to our just demands.
None of us can conceive that it was ever intended that the present conditions should prevail, that rascality should be in robes while honesty is in rags; that the few should have so much -more than they can hope to use while the many have so little; that the few should enjoy the comforts while the many endure the sufferings; that a few should withhold great stores of the necessaries of life from the many who produce them; or that the highwaymen and pickpockets should be allowed to fleece the citizens of this country, while Congress, the government, the courts and public officials in general miserably and disgustingly fail to function in and protect the interests of our people. Nor can any of us conceive that the founders of this Republic ever intended that the institutions created to enforce guarantees of equality and justice should be used against those they are supposed to protect; they surely do not intend that the government of this nation should be used as a cloak for the wrongdoings of scoundrels, and that the very instruments of Democracy should be used to hold back and destroy the movement for the freedom of those who toil. It is only the mulish, or the unscrupulous, who will say that these conditions are natural and cannot be changed. Every normal, fair-minded person now knows that they are simply artificial, that they have been created while the people of America slept; that they can be changed, should be changed, and will be changed only when the producers of the nation unite on the industrial field and at the ballot boxes.
There are too many of us who say that it is useless to hope for fair play from our law-making bodies, the courts and public officials. Of course, if the workers are going to be content to leave political action to the landlords, the money hounds, and the gougers and those who serve them, and blindly follow what the daily press and their fake friends choose to tell them, then they can never hope to receive a square deal. But I say that the lawmaking bodies, the courts and the government can be made to function squarely for the benefit of the wage earners whenever the wage earners can be made to see the virtues of political action in as strong a light as do those who have been feeding on their human weaknesses.
Now do not understand that political action will emancipate the workers, for it will not. It can never take the place of our economic organizations. Our labor movement holds its members because it is able to do something for them from day to day. It doesn't have to wait for election days set by its enemies as the only days upon which the worker's interests may be advanced. We can set for ourselves the day upon which to make changes in industry for our own benefit; while in the political field the forces are concentrated for one big drive on election day, and if that fails there can be little but talk until another election day rolls around. In the meantime the workers must live and have food, clothing and shelter, and political speeches and declarations are very poor substitutes for decent wages and working conditions. We would be much better off if we could get along without entering the political arena at all, but this is impossible today-impossible because our wages and working conditions to some extent are now determined by politics, and our foes are able to make effective use of the local, state and Federal governments and the courts to negate and destroy much of our effort in the industrial field. So with things as they are, it is suicidal for us to neglect politics just as much as if we neglected our unions. Both are vitally necessary to our progress.
Again and again it has been demonstrated that the organized workers, with the members of their families have enough votes to decide any political struggle in this country; it has been shown that despite all the opposition of political machines, despite all the ability, influence, bribery and corruption at the command of privilege, the wage earners and farmers can put in office anyone they get solidly behind; and if they can do this, they can do more they can positively regain all the powers of government. They can take over the control of the government and have it function in the interests of all our people; they can change it or do whatever they please with it, whenever they decide to do it—by registering and voting correctly.
We all agree that this should be done, that we should drive out the fakers and traitors, and so my appeal is that each and everyone here tonight return to his union, his lodge, fraternal or church organization and see that these things are done:
1. See that the roll is called and determine just
how many have registered.
See that a live committee is appointed to trace
See that a committee of your livest members is
See that your individual neighborhood is
5. If you cannot arouse the others, or if there are
no other members in your precinct, make a
On election day, if not against the law in your
Do this and we will dethrone the enemies of the people and put honest, capable men and women in office. Not to do it is to betray our own cause and admit that we are no better than the soldier who will lay down his gun during the heat of battle and run off to leave somebody else to do his fighting.
Gift, Graft and Guarantee
Address before Conference for Pro-
Mr. Chairman and Friends: The railroads of the United States are our most magnificent public charity. For more than 70 years the people have supported railroad promoters, their heirs, devisees, and legatees out of the public purse with lavish generosity. We have not merely provided these gentry with a good living to pay for their work as public agents in maintaining public highways. We have in addition endowed them with vast estates, with over 200,000,000 acres of public lands, with forests, coal and iron mines and oil deposits and with several hundred millions of public money. We have paid them several billion dollars of surplus profits for which they have issued stocks and bonds on which they demand that their benefactors shall pay several hundred million dollars of interest every year. They not only look the gift horse in the mouth, but they demand good pay for riding him.
The 70 years in which we have been establishing this imperial charity may be divided into three periods, each identified by the prevailing method of obtaining public support
the periods of gift, graft and guarantee.
To understand the railroad problem of today we must read the history of these 70 years. We must enter upon a research that may be likened to a study in hereditary crime. We must go back to the founding of the great fortunes and review the exploits of the founders of this imperium in imperia—this government within a government. We must chart the development of the noble traditions of highway robbery that have enabled successive generations of railroad aristocracies to live gorgeously at public expense.
The period of gift was productive of comparatively small gains until Civil War convulsed the nation. War always opens the public treasuries to greedy patriots who are willing to use popular emotion for private enrichment. The period preceding and following a great war, when public attention is engrossed with weighty issues, is peculiarly well adapted for raids upon public wealth. It is no mere coincidence that in the 10 years preceding and following the civil war the Congress of the United States granted nearly 312,000 square miles of land to the railroads.
These gifts included one-fourth of the states of Minnesota and Washington; one-fifth of Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota and Missouri; one-seventh of Nebraska; one-eighth of California; one-ninth of Louisiana. The total land grants to the railroads were 50 per cent greater than the land area of France; or, if this comparison will make it clearer, these land grants were greater than the combined area of the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Let us examine the operations of a few of the noble founders of the railroad dynasties. Let us consider first the case of Collis P. Huntington, one of the four lords of the House of Southern and Union Pacific. These four aggressive gentlemen started in 1861 with a total combined wealth, according to their sworn statements, of $108,987. Inside of 23 years they had reaped from public service, approximately $35,000,000 in dividends; incalculable profits from construction companies through which they built their railroads, and, with their heirs and associates, they controlled nearly 6,000 miles of railroad with a total capitalization of $454,000,000.
They began this financial adventure with an act of congress passed in 1862 giving them 6,400 acres of land for every mile of railroad built, together with government bonds of $16,000 per mile of level land, $32,000 per mile in the foothills and $48,000 per mile in the mountains. Finding that congress was so obliging and willing to foster their patriotic enterprise, to save the union by uniting the Pacific coast to the Mississippi valley with bands of steel, furnishing transport for food supplies and troops, they obtained a new act in 1864 increasing their allowance to 12,800 acres per mile and including in the grant the mineral rights to the vast deposits of coal and iron and oil which had been excluded from the previous grant.
Also it may be added that the government generously waived the first lien of its bonds upon the railroad as constructed and took a second mortgage so that the promoters could obtain more money on a first mortgage. The result of this generosity was exhibited in 1897, when these railroads out of which fortunes had been taken, represented themselves as unable to pay the government bonds and sought to have congress pass a law whereby the United States would lose $100,000,000 more on a refunding operation.