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special privilege to any branch of capital?—A. Joint resolutions of Congress are, perhaps, not called statutes.
Q. Joint resolutions are laws.-A. I can point out a great many; I have named some of them.
Q. Those were in the past. Can you give us any reference to any statuts of the United States which to-day gives special privileges to capital or creates monopolies except the patent law? Is there anything else that you would have repealed which creates a monopoly, or gives a monopoly to any one?-A. You can at once repeal all the laws which you have made in order to establish the Pacific Railroad.
Q. But the railroad is now there, and that land, under the condition of the law, is vested in the railroad companies. I ask you if there is any law which creates any new monopolies ?-A. If you take back these laws at once you have a right to do so, because the conditions were not fulfilled under which those railroads were to be built. They have broken every one of the conditions under which those companies were established. Q. That is a question for the courts.-A. No; European governments would not hesitate a moment to take them back.
Q. Are you aware that, so far as the question has been litigated and decided, it has been litigated and decided in the courts in favor of the companies?-A. I may be; but I am not responsible for that.
Q. When a la is made some one acquires rights under it. His rights are, then, under our Constitution, to be determined by the courts. If these conditions have been violated, then the courts will set the grants aside.-A. There is a law in every government that evils that are no longer to be borne are to be abolished by legislation, all previous legislation to the contrary notwithstanding.
Q. Then you would simply recommend this committee to report the repeal of every law by which any grant has ever been made by the United States to any one?-A. Provided it is a monopoly; provided it is taking unjust advantage of the people. Q. Who is to judge of that?-A. Congress, if Congress does its duty.
Q. But since Congress did just what you say, and these companies went into the courts and said this legislation of Congress is illegal and unjust, and the courts decided in favor of the companies (just what we have done in regard to taxation), what would you do then ?-A. The courts never would so decide.
Q. But they have so decided, in regard to the retention of the 5 per cent. by the government now in the Treasury, that the railroad companies are entitled to that money, and an appeal has been taken to the Supreme Court.-A. That depends upon how the great body of the Supreme Court was constituted, and you recollect there were some irregularities connected with that.
Q. If the courts decided in favor of those companies would you have Congress set out to abolish the courts?-A. To change the laws and change the courts of justice that they may not annul the law which is given by the supreme will of the people. I don't acknowledge any power superior to the legislature.
Q. But the legislative power is restricted by the Constitution of the United States.A. Then change the Constitution of the United States, and we, the working-people, will help you to do it by our votes.
Q. Then your recommendation is that the Constitution of the United States be amended so that legislative power shall be supreme in this country and subject to no limitation whatever?-A. When we come to that I would suggest a great many limitations, natural and necessary limitations.
Q. Where is the line to be drawn and who is to draw the line? Where will we draw the new line?-A. The first step in all such things is to acknowledge a necessity for the revision of the Constitution of the United States or of any State. The question arises, what may be improved in the present Constitution? and all people will have their say; they will, in a democratic way, say there are blunders here and defects there; let us remedy that. They will consider that for a year or two, and then, by proper means, they will rectify it.
Q. You say we should limit labor to eight hours?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Would you have that put into the Constitution of the United States ?-A. I would, for all things speak in Congress in favor of such legislation. I would uphold that law which was given in 1868, the eight-hour law for government labor. I would uphold the law, so that the workmen were paid full wages for eight hours.
Q. Would you put a provision in the Constitution of the United States limiting labor to eight hours ?-A. I would put such a point in the Constitution of the United States. I would propose to amend the Constitution of the United States in this one respect-bring it before the people, this point, besides many others. I would go the constitutional way of amending the Constitution.
Q. But you would propose to limit labor to eight hours?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. And no one is to be permitted to labor more than eight hours?-A. To forbid employers to employ laborers for more than eight hours.
Q. Would you allow any one to labor more than eight hours?-A. They would not do it then.
Q. Would you permit it?-A. I would not restrict the labors of any individual man, but they would not do it.
Q. I ask you whether you would put into the Constitution a clause prohibiting people from working more than eight hours a day?-A. I would not. The people, themselves, however, will in their supreme power decide if they will allow it.
Q. You would not recommend it?-A. I would not recommend it. I prefer, in regard to all such things, not to urge my own opinion alone. I want in a democratic government the people to come up to this effect by talk and by discussion.
Q. We are here to get at practical results with reference to legislation. You have come to give us the benefit of your experience and study, which is evidently very great. We ask you whether you think the law ought to limit the right of a man to work more than eight hours a day?-A. I think not.
Q. If that is so, what is to prevent men from working more than eight hours a day?— A. If the employer is prevented, what good is it for the laborer to offer more than eight hours labor? The employer is to be prevented by law.
Q. Suppose a man was working for himself: take the case of a cigar-maker. Here is a man employing men, and he is restricted from employing them for any more than eight hours a day. Here is a co-operative association alongside, who say, "We will go in business and work twelve hours a day;" could they not undersell the man that was prohibited from working more than eight hours a day?-A. They would not do it. They would be allowed to do it as long as they have not an interest; it is in their interest not to allow it among themselves. I would have them come up as a voluntary will, as an expression of the will of the people themselves. I would not put it into the law, because I consider it entirely unnecessary.
Q. Would you not substitute, as an inevitable result, the system of voluntary partnership, (without an employer), for the employer? By that process of yours would not every one be compelled to go into partnership and work as many hours as he saw fit?-A. No; such a competitive system is not imaginable under a co-operative society; it is impossible. If ever you have been a workingman you will know this much, that the profit of your trade, the honor of your trade, the spirit of your trade, forbids you to underbid others if you can help it; if you are not forced by your own means. They will see that this is a movement going to benefit mankind, and that there would be such a spirit and such an interest in upholding that eight-hour law that there is no possibility of infringing it.
Q. What is to prevent their doing that now without a constitutional prohibition; why don't they now exhibit this spirit and make this arrangement among themselves, that they won't work more than eight hours?-A. It would be useless for them now to do it. Q. Why would it not be useless then ?-A. Because we have started that movement in our society, as far as our organization is concerned. It is spreading rapidly, and we will in a few years be successful so far as to bring insight into every one's mind so that this should not be done.
Q. How would the constitutional amendment make that any more limited; would it not go on as rapidly with it as without it?-A. By showing that our lawgivers are with us in spirit.
Q. The moral force is what you are after?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Have you any other thing to suggest?-A. The second point has been referred to already, that is, a bureau of statistics and labor; but, I must add, at the same time accompanied with an inspection of factories and of the sanitary condition of the people-an inspection which is authoritative, just as in our city of New York we have a sanitary commission which is invested with certain rights.
Q. Would you have the inspection go into the profits of business?—A. Certainly. The English inspectors of manufactories rarely make use of that right, but wherever there are directly antagonistic statements of the employer and employés they have a right to demand inspection of books just as the tax-collectors.
Q. What inspectors in England have the right to inspect the private books of a manufacturing concern?-A. They are government inspectors.
Q. What is their name?-A. The inspectors of factories, under the acts of 1833, 1856, 1863, and several more.
Q. And they have the right to inspect the private books of manufacturing firms?— A. When they find there are such discrepancies between the statements of laborers and of employers they have a right to do that.
Q. I have examined every English statute on that subject, and I have never found the statute you speak of. I would like to have a reference to it. If there is anything an Englishman is more jealous of than anything else, it is an inspection of his private books.-A. I know it, but government takes the liberty, if we can call it so, to have tax-collectors invested with the same rights.
Q. No tax-collector in this country can inspect my private books.-A. Unless he can force people to make an oath to certain statements. When lawsuits are commenced the books are liable to be taken by the judges and examined. The collector can say any man is a perjurer if he believes him so-just the same right as an inspector of
factories has; when he believes a certain employer to have stated wrongly certain points, because his employés contradict him, he can carry the matter to a court of justice, and he can carry it so far as to have the books laid before the judge.
Q. Now, having got at the information, the private information, the private books, what would you do with the information; make it public?—A. It is not necessary to make it public to correct the statement, but the case may be so that it becomes public if it gets into the court.
Q. These inspectors, you say, are to be charged with this duty of inspecting private books?—A. Only in extraordinary cases, when discrepancies are to be explained. You see, employers and employés so far control each other, if they are awake to the task, if they are awake to the spirit of the law, and we should help to make them so control each other. It is almost impossible for a man to make a wrong statement when his employés tell the truth correctly, and state it in an agreement among themselves or in harmony. The inspectors of the factories will see there is a discrepancy to be explained only from a wrong statement of the employer, and he ought to have the right to let him swear on oath to his statement, and then, if he believes him to be a perjurer, he can call him into court.
Q. When he has got the information what will he do with it?-A. He can force him to correct his statement, to remedy the evils of which he complains.
Q. Suppose it turns out he is making large profits, would you then compel him to pass upon the wages of his workmen ?-A. That is not the question at all here.
Q. I understand that to be the very question. What use would you have the lawgivers make of the information that certain capitalists were getting excessive profits? How would you apply it practically?-A. It is not necessary to answer that question. There is no immediate need of doing anything against fellow-capitalists. It is the publicity of the fact which works wonders of itself.
Q. How would it act-in what way?-A. Just as it has acted in England. As a consequence of these inspectors of factories publishing their blue books it was that more and more laws were given.
Q. Blue books in regard to property? There are no such blue books.-A. Blue books which made public the wrongs which were done to the workingmen.
Q. I am talking now of the question of private profit. You say you would make it public-public to what end; that wages should be raised?-A. That the workingmen themselves may see how they are exploité, as the French call it, to see which way they can help themselves by reforming society or insisting on higher wages or less, one or both.
Q. But you would not have Congress do anything about it ?-A. That is the second point I have mentioned. Those inspectors have been in England great benefactors of the workingmen. There are separate sanitary inspectors.
Q. But there are no inspectors of profits in England, and there has been no legislation based upon such report?-A. The workmen see themselves to it that there may be no excessive profit, but the workingmen, knowing they have a friend who consults their welfare, apply to him, and he goes to them and finds out the cause of their wrongs, and he speaks to the employer and tries to better his workingmen, and the workingmen are now, as a body, encouraged to stand together to uphold their wages and curtail the hours of labor. That is what the inspectors of England have brought about.
Q. Have they reduced the hours of labor?-A. They have reduced the hours of labor, which formerly had any possible length in the daytime, down from 15 hours even to now 10 hours, or 60 hours a week. You see this has been done by the factory inspectors. It could not have been done by the workingmen alone. They wanted friends among the powers that be.
Q. Do you remember the legislation in this State by which the hours of labor were reduced, without factory inspectors, to ten hours?-A. I recollect once. It was not in all the States. It was by Massachusetts making a beginning, and the hours of labor being there reduced, as a rule, to ten, except in the cotton factories, which had no benefit of it.
Q. Well, the State of New York ?-A. In the State of New York there was a law, but not in all the States.
Q. New Jersey ?-A. In New Jersey the only legislation I am aware of was in regard to children.
Q. Ten hours is a day's labor in New Jersey also by statute?-A. It may be so; I don't deny it. May I go to the third point?
Q. Certainly. A. I must, however, before going to that, insist on the necessity of having with that system of statistics the system of authoritative inspection, and an inspection that may go to the bottom of the facts that may be material, and enable us to call witnesses and make them swear, and even commence actions for perjury if they find out that perjuries have been begun, so as to encourage workingmen to stand together as a body and to fight for their own rights. The third point is, we wish to have the contract system abolished, and not only in prisons, but in all governmental work Q. Would you prohibit contracts for private work also?-A. No, sir; I could not
under present circumstances go for that. The next point in order would be the labor of children before 14 years of age to be prohibited. The labor of women to be confined within certain limits, but especially the work of women to be paid for, if it is equally good, in every class of trade, at the same rate as men.
Q. How would you regulate it where they work at things that men don't work at?A. I am going to that. We must not forget that the general introduction of the eighthour law, which we insist on as a first necessity, would have already lifted a great many people of the poorest kind upon a higher level. They would have more courage to demand their rights. There would not be so many hungry people working at starving rates. They would not be inclined to offer themselves for such low wages as at present those poor shirt-makers get, or corset-makers, or other kinds of women's work. We will in the mean time organize them to stand up for their rights, but what legislation has done before the eight-hour law will help them materially, and so it is likewise with all the other provisions or demands that we are bringing forth now.
Q. Would you abolish piece-work ?—A. I should abolish piece-work, or would have the law so worded that the price of all piece-work should be determined according to the wages of labor.
Q. Who would determine that?-A. That would be between the employer and the employed.
Q. A bargain, as they make it now?-A. They do not do that now.
Q. Take the case of two shirt-makers, making shirts at five cents apiece, and one can finish two in an hour, and the other can only finish one in an hour, what would you do in that case?-A. The case is an extreme case, as you put it.
Q. Nevertheless the difference exists, as you know?-A. The piece-work would be remedied by the means I mentioned before. There would be no more women willing to work at starving wages, and if one earns more than the other, that could not be remedied under the present system, but they would, as a rule, every one try to increase their wages.
Q. Take the case of a woman with a large family, and who was driven, to get food for her family, to work ten hours a day.-A. I think it is a disgrace to a nation to permit any woman to work for her livelihood.
Q. You would make the government take charge of all the widows?-A. Not the government. The workingmen do more for the people among them than any city does. Q. Who would have to do it?-A. If the city government and the general government would do something to relieve the utter misery of just such persons-if they would keep them unemployed entirely, to kill that abominable system of employing poor women, the government would do the greatest good it could ever do.
Q. You would have the cities do it?-A. I would vote for the city doing it, keeping all these poor women at home with their children.
Q. Would you make a distinction between a woman whose husband ran away and a widow-A. All such women should be taken care of. It is a disgrace to any government, because those children are a treasure for the government, and a treasure for the people; they are to be saved; and a woman ought to live sixty years instead of twentyfive or thirty, as she does now. It ought to be remedied.
Q. Suppose a man wanted to transfer the support of his family to the city, all that he would have to do would be to go away.-A. Would the city be any poorer?
Q. Would it not be better if the man remained and supported his family?-A. Let the law provide for that man.
Q. He has gone to some other place where they cannot find him.-A. The government gains by saving those lives and by making them grow up to old age, instead of dying young.
Q. Whose business is it to provide for the family?-A. It is the business of the father, but under the present circumstances we are making criminals in that respect by thousands.
Q. If you transfer the custody of families to the city, and the city takes charge of them, do you think they would be so well taken care of as they are now, with the head of the family to look after them?-A. We propose to have better men in those places and to have better care taken of our institutions for the poor.
Q. A great many efforts have been made to reform the city government here, but it is hard to bring it about.-A. This has been the hardest city in all the United States, but it is now going to be better.
Q. Is there anything else?-A. The next point in order is to take better care of education. This means not only that all children up to fourteen years of age should have an education free of cost to the parents, but also that the schools should be so improved that children could really be benefited by a full course of school; that they could derive the benefit of the high-school law, of the grammar school. They cannot do it now. Our schools are so crowded in the city of New York that it is impossible for the teachers to do their duty. Three-fourths of all the children here-and it is so in many cities, and even in the flat country-never see any higher class than the A-B-C class. Only
two children among a hundred that are received in the low class reach the top class in the public schools. They don't receive the benefit of an education such as they might have. We intend to remove that by a better provision for education. That is included in our demand. Q. How would Congress deal with this question?-A. Congress has been always an auxiliary to all interests of education, but what the community would do, the States would do, and what the States would not do Congress would do it.
Q. Would you have the general government come into New York City and take charge of the general education of the city of New York ?-A. Congress could come in in such a way as to take any city in which there is such a percentage of illiterate people and educate them, provided its money was spent in that way.
Q. Grants from the public Treasury for local education you are in favor of ?-A. Just as the teachers' conventions did for a number of years demand at the hands of Congress that the negroes and the poor whites of the Southern States should be educated at the public expense by legislation in the way I have stated it before. Now, I think I need not read the other points. You will find them printed in the pamphlet I have presented to you.
"8th. Strict laws, making employers liable for all accidents resulting through their negligence to the injury of their employés." Such a law exists in.even such a despotic government as the German Empire is. Such laws are in course of introduction in France and England, and to some degree existed through the sanitary inspection.
9th. All wages to be paid in the lawful money of the nation and at intervals of time not exceeding one week. Violations of this rule to be legally punished." "10th. All conspiracy laws operating against the right of workingmen to strike or induce others to strike shall be repealed." There is a conspiracy law of the United States on the statute-book which was applied only last year in a struggle in Indiana. The United States court stepped in because it was a road which connected several States, and, under the force of this conspiracy law, condemned fifteen men to imprisonment for three years because they had done nothing else but had given up their work and left their trains stand where they were. Therefore they were condemned under the United States law.
"11th. Gratuitous administration of justice in all courts of law."
Q. For everybody?-A. For everybody. I think as soon as the poor folks are enabled to seek justice in the courts of law, from which they are now to a great extent prevented, there will not be so much litigation among the wealthy classes.
Q. Should the State pay the lawyers?-A. Well, no.
Q. How would the case be presented? Who would present a man's case?-A. I do not deny that the lawyers ought to be paid by the parties, except the court decides that the lawyer of the successful party is to be paid by the condemned party.
Q. What do you mean by the word gratuitous? because now, as I understand it, a man pays his lawyer and not the judge.-A. Administration on the part of the court itself.
Q. Is that not now done by the community?-A. No, sir, it is not; you have to pay fees of all kinds; subpoenas and other formulas which are served upon you must be paid for, and all such fees.
Q. Would you have the State subpoena all the witnesses?-A. They ought to be handed out gratuitously. They ought to cost nothing. It would be no cost to the State to do that, or worth mentioning.
"12th. All indirect taxation to be abolished, and a graded income tax collected in its stead." As to this point, we know for the present that it cannot be carried out. We propose to wait for that until other points are secured; but by and by we will come to that point.
Q. Do you mean by "indirect taxation" such as custom duties?-A. All custom duties to be abolished.
"13th. All banking and insurance to be conducted by the government." This is also one of the points that are not considered of immediate possibility or necessity; but, as regards the postal savings-banks, we look upon them as a benefit; for the present they are commendable.
"14th. The right of suffrage shall in no wise be abridged." You know there are parties now moving to have the right of suffrage abridged; and, by the way, I wish to inention, to call the attention of the lawgivers in Congress to the fact that the State of Rhode Island confronts the United States, and defies the United States and the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution, by still abridging the right of suffrage to all those who own less than $275 worth of real estate, which is entirely a violation of the fifteenth amendment. In the State of Rhode Island, by this law, thousands of workingmen are prevented from exercising the right of suffrage. It may be said that in Congressional and Presidential elections they are allowed to vote, but the registry law does not take care of it; they are not registered. They may offer their votes, but may be challenged.