Imágenes de páginas

it is their duty to legislate as well as they did legislate in the interest of the manufacturers-in doing their work as clerks. I claim the same privileges and the protection of the same interests.

Q. Would you be in favor of having the tobacco business done as it is in Francethe government make the cigars and employ the laborers?-A. No, sir; I am opposed to it.

Q. That would be a very good method of regulating wages?-A. I believe the tradesunions will regulate that themselves.

Q. You don't believe in the government regulating work at all?-A. No, sir; the trades-unions will enforce good wages.

Q. But you do believe in government legislation as to the mode of carrying on the business -A. I believe in the interference of the government in this instance.

Q. In the case of cigar-makers, who are suffering, you think the government ought to interfere?-A. In the tenement-house system, certainly.

Q. I understand you that these tenement-houses are licensed as factories?—A. Yes, sir.

Q. And you want that they shall be no longer licensed as factories?-A. Yes, sir. Q. And you propose that there shall be no person allowed to live in a tabacco factory-A. I propose that no license shall be granted after the 1st of May, 1879, to those factories known as tenement houses.

By Mr. BOYD:

Q. Under that system manufacturers get rent for their own factories?—A. No, sir; the men working in those places pay the rent.

Q. The manufacturer gets rent for each tenement-house from his employés ?-A. Yes, sir; and he has, therefore, a great advantage over all the manufacturers of the United States.

Q. That is one of the objectionable features to it ?—A. Yes, sir.


WESLEY PASCo appeared and made the following statement:


Question. Are you here on your own individual account or as a representative?— Answer. On my own individual account.

Q. What is your business?-A. Printer and publisher of a newspaper.

Q. Are you an employer or an employé ?-A. I am an employé.

Q. And you work for wages?-A. I do.

Q. The committee will hear what you have to say; and confine yourself as far as possible to the matter before the committee-the causes of the present depression and the remedies you propose.—A. I think you know the cause of the present depression is owing chiefly: first, to the absorption of capital by the war and the destruction of property during the war; secondly, the building of too many railroads which have not gone into use; and, third, the stoppage of business enterprises, occasioned by this panic. Every year borrows from capitalists for the use of future years. Buildings are put up in 1874 for use in 1875 and 1876; that capital has not been used in that manner during the last four or five years, consequently workmen have not been employed in the construction of houses, digging stone and iron-work, in making iron, nor in any kind of labor employed in the business which would be carried on in that business. The causes of the depression are here exactly the same as existed in England after the close of the war of 1815, or as exists in Germany at the present timean expenditure of money beyond our present means; just the same as if I should take my wages on Saturday, and should for two or three days live in the most expensive hotel in New York City; I should have no money at the end of the week. That is exactly the condition of the United States. We thought we were able to pay for the expense of keeping this Union; we did pay for it; but we paid very heavily for it since; and the prostration of industry is the direct result of that. We have lost, also, by the fact that not as many emigrants came into this country during the past years as before. They may have done so after the close of the war; but they are not doing so now. Every emigrant brings in a capital of $100 in money, besides the value of his own labor and that of his family. The German and the Irish emigration is less than it has been; we have lost in that respect. We have also lost from the fact that capitalists will not invest with us as they have in former times; that is what I think is the cause of the depression.

Q. Do you think the irredeemable paper money has anything to do with it ?—A. I don't.

Q. That has no influence ?-A. No, sir.

Q. It makes no difference whether you have gold, silver, or paper?—A. Gold, silver, or paper; we have had so many transactions during the war that have matured in paper or in gold, the amount of business transacted has been exactly the same, as far

as regards ourselves. As far as regards foreign nations, we may have suffered by the use of paper money.

Q. Would an excessive issue of paper money following a gold basis be likely to promote speculation?-A. It would.

Q. Didn't you say we were suffering from the effects of the speculative period during the war?-A. Yes, sir.

Q. Did the paper money have anything to do with producing that speculative era? -A. Yes, sir; but the trouble we are laboring under now is the absolute loss of capital.

Q. Would we have lost so much if we had not had an era of speculation instead of industry?-A. The money I may have invested in some enterprise which would have paid me well during the period after the war, that property passed into the hands of other persons who were more provident than I was, and the whole effect is the country at large is not affected; it simply passed from Peter to John; the amount of capital here remains exactly the same.

Q. People undertook expenditures?—A. Yes, sir; and it passed from the hands of the reckless and extravagant ones into the hands of the provident ones. The improvident ones are suffering a loss now. Those who were provident and careful are not suffering.

Q. Is that statement correct? Suppose I trust some man beyond the capital that he possesses, and beyond his proper means, and he don't pay me-does not the provident suffer for the improvident ?-A. No; you may have suffered, but he is gone. The property still remains; his money passed from one hand into another.

Q. You say the provident do not suffer and have not suffered. Can you state the provident people who have not suffered?-A. Provident people would not suffer in the case I mean, because a provident man would not lend money to men that were not competent to pay.

Q. He might be provident and be deceived?-A. Yes, sir.

Q. You think it is only improvident people that lose money by lending it ?—A. They are improvident by lending money; it is injudicious; I should have used that word in the beginning.

Q. What remedy have you to suggest for this?-A. I have no particular remedy to suggest. I think the state of the country at present cannot be altered. It may be altered in the course of time, so that things may be made better than they are now. In the first place, we want stability in our government; we want less laws passed. When the legislature of the State of New York first made laws for us, they were enabled to get all their bills printed in a thin little volume. In 1873 they made two very apoplectic octavos of some 900 or 1,000 pages each. The laws are getting continually changed. We have too many laws. That is the case with the tariff. The tariff is continually being changed; if it is not the free-trader, it is the protectionist; and if it is not the protectionist, it is the free-trailer. And so with almost all the laws of Congress; they all affect our prosperity; they are always wanting them changed. If Congress could be limited to the enactment of a certain number of laws in a year, it would be a great advantage. I had an opportunity once to look at the laws passed by the State of New York at one session, and I should say, with the exception of the appropriation bill, that all the laws that were passed by that legislature might have been put in fifteen pages. Most of the laws were of no value; they were simply as experiments, the same as if I should in my parlor put a sofa on one side of the room one week and the next week put it on the other side, and a friend should come in and say, "You have got that sofa in the wrong place and I would change it.” The post-office authorities, without consultation with newspaper publishers, amended the law some two years ago, declaring that newspapers for advertising purposes should pay a tax at the rate of one cent for each two ounces. Nobody had asked for that law; no one cared about that law; it was done simply because no one knew enough about the law. When it came to practical operation in this city, it cost $5,000 to get the decision reversed. The post-office acknowledged they were wrong; it cost Demorest's monthly $1,400 before the law was changed. It must have cost the importers of New York $20,000 for changing a law which was of no value to the Post-Office Department or us, and they are proposing now to enact a law by which a man can earn a living professionally by contesting it.

Q. There must be some legislation?-A. Yes, sir; but let us confine it to the smallest limit possible.

Q. Mr. Strausser has got a grievance about tobacco factories that requires an amendment of the law. Must we say to him, "We won't listen to you"?-A. I should say, "Let every trade take its own course,'

[ocr errors]

Q. Our trade is legislation, and our constituents ask us to do things to relieve them from grievances. Are we not to do it ?-A. As far as they are the subject of special injury by the United States which proposes a tax on tobacco and not others, they should be listened to; but take the case of the tailor. Don't listen to any remark that bears on the subject.

Q. I have no end of representations made to me in regard to the duties on cloththat they are too high. Would you have me turn a deaf ear?-A. Let us stop where we are. Let us take our tariff. It is not complete. Let us stop where we are. Let those who pay unjustly pay unjustly. The material prosperity is more injured by the changes they expect than by the loss persons undergo by paying an undue quantity If we knew where we were, we could get along.

of tax.

Q. You are not in favor of any change in the tariff laws ?-A. No, sir.

Q. Let them remain as they are?-A. Yes, sir; individually, my private opinion is that protection may be a good thing for the United States, and higher protection than we have now, but that is something which I should leave to other persons to bring before the committee. The first point I want to make is stability of the laws. In the second place, let us lend a reasonable ear to the claims of those persons who affect to be aggrieved by the currency. Personally, I believe gold and silver are the only currency that can ever be in operation; but, as gold and silver are now on a par with paper, let the United States issue more greenbacks if it wants them. We must yield something to the popular feeling.

Q. If you issue more greenbacks, would gold and silver be on a par?—A. Drive out the national bank notes.

Q. Substitute greenbacks for them?-A. Yes, sir.

Q. Would you stop there?-A. They ought to stop there. I say, "Pander to the popular clamor." I don't think it would be a wise measure; but all workingmen have a grievance.

Q. If you were a Representative in Congress, and you had a clear opinion that one course of action would benefit the community, and another course would injure it, would you yield to popular clamor against your judgment?-A. I would.

Q. Against your judgment and against your conscience?-A. Against my judgment would be one thing, and against my conscience would be another. The business of a statesman is to do things which are right and not do things which he abstractly thinks are right.

Q. Do what he believes to be wrong because there is a clamor for it?-A. No; I wouldn't do it.

Q. Have you any other remedy to suggest?-A. I would suggest that a class of bonds be issued of a smaller size than has ever yet been set out.

Q. A class of what kind of bonds ?-A. United States bonds. It does not seem possible for workingmen to get a United States bond without getting together $500. Q. Do you know the limit of the existing bonds?-A. 2,700,000,000 of bonds we owe. Q. Do you know the limit of the denomination?-A. I do not.

Q. Any man who can get $50 together may get a United States bond.-A. There are plenty of men in this room who have not had $50 in a great many years; $50 seems an incredible sum to them, and we appeal to the State government and to the national government, both at once. The State government has a system of savings banks. I had a friend in this city who had money deposited in four banks; one of the banks failed when he went to the institution, and two others shortly afterward.

Q. Do you make any distinction between giving a man a bond and a receipt?—A. No, sir.

Q. Postal savings banks?-A. In the postal savings bank system the government attempts to carry on the business of banking to a certain extent.

Q. It sells him a government bond, and buys it back again when he wants to return it ?-A. As far as that may be the case, I think a postal savings bank may be good; but I would have it under the control of the Treasury instead of the control of the Post Office Department.

Q. I suppose you know why the post-office was suggested. One is practicable, and the other not?-A. I think the subtreasury in this city could

Q. This city is not the whole United States.-A. Elsewhere.

Q. You would have the Treasury do it here, and the post-office somewhere else?-A. We keep up an agent of the Treasury in Troy and elsewhere.

Q. It has got to be on the same system all over the country?-A. Yes, sir. I have a memorandum here of one or two things which I thought of. The only other consideration I have not touched upon is economy in the government by lessening the quantity of taxation. It is well known by any person who has ever had anything to do with public officials-I was one once myself that twice as many men are employed to do work than are necessary for that purpose. They do that in the Government Printing Office in Washington, where they work for $24 a week and work eight hours a day. Let the government get the value of its work from its employés, just the same as any other business person does, and instead of putting up costly buildings like this one, although this is not a flagrant instance, let them put up cheaper buildings.

Q. This is the most expensive building that has been built by the United States.— A. It may be for the United States; but this building has no more capacity for use than the Evening Post building, and it must have cost fifteen times as much, and we have that exhibited throughout the whole United States.

Q. Do you think this building is unsuited to the business carried on in it ?-A. No, sir; except by expense.

Q. It is a very solid building and made fire-proof, and the rooms are commodious, and has court-rooms. There may have been some frauds, but, aside from that, do you see anything about this building out of reason for the work that is done in it ?-A. I do; I see, for instance, this room. This room is the postmaster's room. The head of the firm of Brown, Bros. & Co., or the head of any firm of the United States in this business, such as this post-office, contents himself with much less room. I don't see why the postmaster should have as large a room as this.

Q. This room has to be applied to other purposes. For instance, a Congressional committee is ordered to sit in New York, and finds this room ready, without expense. It is suitable to the purpose; it is convenient. The civil service commission sat here for some weeks or months previous to this committee, and it is always available for public uses, and of all the rooms in this great building this is the only one available.— A. That shows the true lack of economy; I have no doubt you can find in any modern building in this city, erected at less expense than this, more commodious rooms than are here. We want to have economy exercised in respect to the public buildings. Now in regard to public employment.

Q. You compare this with Brown, Bros. & Co., a most eminent house. Do you know the relative size of the money-order business done in this post-office, and the business of Brown, Bros. & Co. ?—A. I should say the transactions of Brown, Bros. & Co. would extend to fifteen or eighteen millions a year.

Q. I am informed the money-order business done here is greater than the whole business done by Brown, Bros. & Co.-A. That may be. I don't complain of the postmaster's using this room when it was built for him; but I complain of the fact that such expensive rooms are put up. Look at our custom-house and all the houses put up by the government.

Q. Was the custom-house built by the government?-A. No, sir.

Q. It was bought for very much less than it originally cost?-A. Yes, sir. They are putting up in Albany a building which they have promised should cost only one million of dollars.

Q. There is only one power that could promise it, and that is Congress, and in the law Congress limited it to $250,000.-A. But we find, practically, the building has cost one million of dollars, or is going to cost that sum.

Q. I don't know what it will cost, but no one has made such a promise, and cannot make such a promise.-A. Look at the custom-house in Charleston, put up by the United States, if it is put up; when I was there in 1860 it was not finished.

Q. You object to government buildings?-A. I object to the government doing business that other people could do. I say when they put up buildings, let them put up buildings such as a mercantile house would put up.

Q. We will take the next point.-A. Those are the points I have to make. If I should say anything further on the point, it would be simply this. We can do nothing except we have economy. Limit the legislation of Congress to the smallest degree, and do nothing further.

Q. The minimum of legislation and the maximum of economy seems to be your testimony?-A. Yes, sir.

The committee here took a recess. ·


VALENTINE BECKER, the next person who appeared before the committee, said he desired to make a statement on behalf of the coopers of Brooklyn.


Question. What is your business?-Answer. A cooper.

Q. A manufacturing cooper, employer or employé?-A. Employé.

Q. What do you say this committee can recommend for the benefit of the coopers? I am interested in them.-A. There are more men out of employment than there has been these last six years; still that business has increased; there are more barrels used in the last six years, more flour filled in barrels and more kerosene oil in barrels than ever before.

Q. More barrels used than ever before ?—A. Yes, sir; still there are more men out of employment than ever before.

Q. Than ever before?-A. Yes, sir. It was brought about in this way. In the first place, machinery was used; in the next place, boys' labor took the place of men. Boys from eleven years of age, boys younger than eleven-I think eleven would be the average of boys that were employed in the trade to take the place of men. This was one of the causes why men are out of employment. I would like to see a remedy by a stricter apprentice law.

Q. Would you have the United States make an apprentice law?—A. I don't know

how, what power Congress has under the present Constitution. I would like to see the Constitution so revised that the legislature would be enabled to pass laws for the benefit of the workingman as well as the capitalist.

Q. Would it not meet your purpose just as well if the legislature of the State of New York passed an apprentice law?-A. Yes, sir, but I am not talking to the State of New York, but to a Congressional committee.

Q. There is no authority for Congress to make such a law; there is for the legislature, and I ask you if the legislature would not effect your purpose as well as Congress?-A. It would, sir.

Q. Then why should that law be transferred to Congress?-A. Because I want it to be an absolute law in the United States, for the reason that the law should be passed for the benefit of the men throughout the United States. I wish the Constitution so revised that Congress can make laws for the benefit of the workman as well as the capitalist. The next thing I want is free justice.

Q. Free justice?-A. I want to see the laboring man come into court and sue for his rights free of charge, the same as the capitalist. At the present time a poor man can't get redress in courts unless he has a fortune at his back, and I have seen it the case that the most prominent men about here have put their names in papers that if the men left the society of the union and came to them, they would pay them wages for five years or more, as the statement says, and they succeeded in breaking up the organization, but they did not pay them five years or five months, but reduced them in five months, and generally pay them 60 per cent. less now. That is why I want free justice. I would have compulsory education to take these boys out of the factories that take the place of men, and educate them, so that they may know when they are imposed upon by employers and capitalists. I would have these boys to become ablebodied men, so that they would take care of the republic in a later day. I should want these boys to serve an apprenticeship of at least three years, so that in future the laboring mechanic can go to work and do what is required in America. It is the boys, particularly, I speak of. I am not so well versed in the cause of the business depression, but I think you should look at the state of things in good times, because if we had no bad times we would not recognize good times, and if we had no good times we would not recognize bad times. If we had no black we would not recognize any white; there would be no contrasts.

As to the financial question, the national banks issued, I believe, to the amount of $4,300,000,000; this was given out among 45,000,000 of people; at the war there were 11,000,000 in rebellion that did not share in this amount of money. After the war these $4,300,000,000 were shared among about 35,000,000 of people. The share then became smaller; the more there is to share in the lot the less there will be for each one. That they should withdraw the greenbacks-I don't know what they expect, but it has injured us and the community that they withdrew them to such an extent. I think there should not be any bonds issued, but there should be gold and silver and the greenbacks stand out, and the gold coin too. After I paid out all the gold, I would say, "Give me back my greenbacks." There would be no resistance to the government to do so, and had the greenback been in circulation I think this bankruptcy would not have come about. But the bankruptey did come about; they went into bankruptcy.

As to the government making laws, I think the Constitution should be revised, as I said before, to give the power to legislate for all, not only for the bondholder. There are many ways in this State to pass laws for the benefit of the workingmen, had parties ever sought the good of the workingmen. We went to different parties and asked them to do something for us. We put the eight-hour law before them, and they passed it in a kind of a way that did not do much for us. But there have been cases

in which the State government employed men by the eight-hour law. There is no redress for the workingmen to go to court; it costs too much money. I would not lose the time to prosecute an official and go to the trouble a man is put to; what I mean is free justice should be given to everybody without spending money.

Q. Can you point out anything in the Constitution of the United States which either directs or compels legislation in the interests of one class more than in the interest of another class?-A. I can't, sir; but I can point out where legislation has been given to the capitalists, and legislation has been disregarded for the laborer; I can point out that every railroad company, every insurance company, every one that has hot got a public affair, can have legislation done, but there is none for the workingmen and there is no power in the Constitution to legislate for the working people.

Q. Congress is under the impression it has legislated for the general good, and tries to do that, and supposes it has done so, and the remedy is when they do not legislate for the general good, to turn out the men that did not, and send other men.-A. That is the idea.

Q. Then, is not the remedy in the hands of the people, as it now stands?-A. Yes; the remedy is in the hands of the people, and I hope they will take hold of it.

Q. Is not the appointment of a committee to sit during the recess to hear grievances

« AnteriorContinuar »