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thousand idle workingmen in this country. You live in the worst region, in that respect, in the country. There are more people idle here, in proportion to the population, than anywhere else.
Mr. HICKEY. Why should not the government provide for the general welfare by giving these people something to do?
The CHAIRMAS. The power to provide for the general welfare is limited by specific grants which are contained in the Constitution. The things there specified the general government may do, and it does them with the view of providing for the general welfare; but other things not there specified cannot be done by the general government, even though they might be conducive to the general welfare. For example, it would probably be regarded as for the general welfare if the government should distribute a quart of milk to every family in the country every morning; but no man supposes that the government would have any right to do that. The expression in the Constitution about providing for the general welfare is simply used to indicate the purpose for which the powers granted to the general government are to be exercised.
Mr. HICKEY. Take your own city of New York, for instance. You have there a great number of people living in tenement houses, and you have to pay an army of policemen to prevent them from robbing and killing you.
The CHAIRMAN. No; it is exactly the other way, to prevent the rich from robbing the people in the tenement houses. Mr. HICKEY. Well, those people, you say, are dangerous.
The CHAIRMAN. No; we do not say that the people in the tenement houses are dangerous. I represent a district which embraces more tenement houses than any other district in New York, and I am not afraid to go into any part of it or into the houses in any part of it. The people who live in the tenement houses are mostly respectable mechanics who earn their living honestly and are not dangerous.
Mr. HICKEY. The way respectability is measured now is by the number of corner lots that a man owns.
The CHAIRMAN. That is a view which I am sure, on reflection, you will not think a worthy one for you to present. Mr. HICKEY. But it is the view of the great mass of the American people to-day.
The CHAIRMAN. Then if the great mass of the American people take that view it is the view that must be accepted and acted upon by their representatives under our system of government.
Mr. HICKEY. It is the view of the Congress of the United States itself.
Mr. HickeY. Why, you say that such a man is a very respectable man"; that he
Mr. THOMPSON. I have practiced law twenty-four years, and I assert here that I would a great deal rather go before a jury with a poor man for my client than with a rich client, and that in nine cases out of ten the poor man would stand a better chance. That is one good quality of human nature, that if you can show that a man is injured and downtrodden, the fact appeals at once to our better nature. You can raise a prejudice against a rich man because he is rich, but you cannot excite prejudice against a poor man on account of his poverty. On the contrary, his poverty is his shield.
Mr. HICKEY. Not here.
The CHAIRMAN. Are not the majority of the people here poor, and hasn't every man the right of suffrage ?
Mr. HICKEY. Not here.
The CHAIRMAN. Does he represent the rich or the poor, the minority or the majority in the community? Mr. HICKEY. The majority.
The CHAIRMAN. Then why do you say that poor men here have not the right of suffrage ?
Mr. HICKEY. I do not consider that they have the right of suffrage when a foreman stands at his window and says, as a poor man goes up to cast his ballot, “There is another of those God-damned short tickets going in; we will have to see to that fellow"; and when, a day or two previous to the election, another inan is told that the best thing he can do is to keep his mouth closed. In such cases men have the right of suffrage only in name, not in fact.
Mr. THOMPSOn. Don't you know that Mr. Gowen and Mr. Tom Scott are opposed to each other in politics?
Mr. HICKEY. No, sir.
Mr. HICKEY. They are in name, but only in name; not in fact. Let a question of the rights of labor, or the rights of humanity, come up, and Gowen and Scott will be
found on the same side. Politics do not amount to much in these matters. Here, for instance, is Mr. Hewitt, the chairman of this committee; he has occupied a very prominent place in the Democratic party, yet we find him, an avowed Democrat, voting side by side with men like Garfield and Sherman, of Ohio, on these financial questions.
The CHAIRMAN. Have you ever voted on the same side with some of the rich men here?
Mr. Hickey. The majority of our rich men vote one way, and their principal business, politically, is to coerce a sufficient number of poor men to vote with them.
The CHAIRMAN. Have they coerced them? Haven't the majority of the people elected Mr. Wright as their Representative?
Mr. HICKEY. Yes.
Mr. THOMPSON. You say that rich men vote together, and you cite Mr. Hewitt as an example, but look at Mr. Hewitt and Mr. Peter Cooper, both prominent men, closely connected, yet their politics are as wide apart as the poles.
The CHAIRMAN. I have voted on the same side with Mr. Garfield and against Mr. Cooper. I have voted on all questions according to my conscience, and I tell you that Representatives who do not vote conscientiously are unworthy Representatives.
Mr. HICKEY. I only mentioned your name to illustrate the fact that there is no substantial difference, politically, between Mr. Scott and Mr. Gowen.
Mr. THOMPSON. But your illustration does not serve its purpose; on the contrary, it proves that there is a great difference. Whenever you get all men to go to the same church, or the same school, or to want to marry the same woman, then your theory will be sound.
Mr. HICKEY. James Fisk once illustrated my point very well. He was summoned before an investigating committee of the New York legislature, and, in reply to some question about his politics, he put it in this way: That in strong Democratic districts the Erie Company was Democratic, in strong Republican districts Republican, and in doubtful districts both Democratic and Republican. Our object, said he, was to procure Erie men, and it did not make any difference what name you gave them.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you think that because General Garfield is a Republican he cannot hold a sound view on any subject? Mr. HICKEY. I only spoke of your voting with him on the financial question. The CHAIRMAN. And why not? I happened to agree with him on that question. Here the committee took a brief recess.
After recess Mr. JAMES O'HALLORAN was recalled, and the following proceedings took place:
The CHAIRMAN. How many shifts are worked now here in the mines !
Mr. O'HALLORAN. Only one in ordinary work. In such things as driving headings and air-ways they work two shifts.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you mean to say that the men work days and not nights ?
Mr. O'HALLORAN. It varies according to the vein of coal. In some places coal is harder and in some places easier to be got. In some places men can get enough coal for so many cars in four or five hours' work, and in other places it requires eight or nine hours' work.
The CHAIRMAX. How many hours are considered to be a day's work in the mines
Mr. O'HALLORAN. That is according to the size of cars and collieries. In some places five hours are considered a day's work, and in some places six.
The CHAIRMAN. Then the cars are not all of uniform size?
The CHAIRMAN. They speak here of the diamond car; is that a special designation of a car?
Mr. O'HALLORAN. Yes; it is called so from the diamond vein belonging to the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Company.
The CHAIRMAx. In flush times how many shifts were worked in the mines-more than are worked now
Mr. O'HALLORAN. No, sir; they always worked only one shift, except in the case of headings and air-ways-opening up the workings.
The CHAIRMAN. When times were flush was the length of the day's work as much as it is now?
Mr. O'HALLORAN. The men are working now only half or three-quarter time. During that time they worked ten hours a day.
The CHAIRMAN. And with one set of hands
Mr. O'HALLORAN. With one set of hands. It was all day-work. Outside, around the breakers, the men worked ten hours a day.
The CHAIRMAX. I have heard it said that one reason why there is an excessive population in this region is that the men were receiving pretty high pay in good times: that they worked few hours; and that in that way a larger force of men was kept on hand than if they had worked long turns.
Mr. O'HALLORAX, No. The capacity of a shaft or slope is according to its breaker. If the machinery is capable of hoisting so many cars of coal, they do that much work, and they keep enough hands on to manage the amount of coal which the machinery is able to hoist.
The CHAIRMAX. But was it not the policy of the companies here always to try to have a large excess of mining population on hand, so as to have a stock of labor to draw upon ?
Mr. O'HALLORAX. That has been the case generally, and in no place so much as where the companies had stores in connection with their works.
The CHAIRMAX. What was the means by which the companies contrived to keep this excess of population on hand and contented? Did the companies distribute the work among them so that the men did not work full time?
Mr. O'HALLORAN. Exactly. That is the way they did it.
The CHAIRMAN. And in the flush times, how many days' work in the week did men usually do!
Mr. O'HALLORAX. In this valley here the men generally worked full time-about 24 days in the month. In the Schuylkill section they generally worked 20 days in the month.
The CHAIRMAX. Then there was always a little surplus of labor, so that when one man dropped off another took his place?
Mr. O'HALLORAN. Yes, always.
The CHAIRMAX. Was there any understanding by which a man must not work more than 20 days in the month? Was it limited in any way, or was that matter voluntary on the part of the ment
Mr. O'HALLORAN. It was not voluntary on the part of the men. The men worked every day that they could get work.
The CHAIRMAN. The companies did the limitation ?
Mr. Rice. You, for instance, would work 25 days in the month if the companies gave you work ? Mr. O'HALLORAN. Exactly.
The CHAIRMAN. Has it been a matter of long standing that there has been an excessive population ready to do this mining work?
Mr. O'HALLORAN. After the war, in 1865, there seemed to be a little slacking off in the work. In 1869 the work got better again. Then the strike commenced in 1871. and from 1871 to 1873 employment was pretty regular. It would average 22 days a month. It has been falling off ever since.
The CHAIRMAN. You spoke of stores in connection with the companies' works. Is that the general practice throughout this region!
Mr. O'HALLORAN. Not here. The Delaware, Lackawanna and Western, and the Delaware and Hudson, and the Pennsylvania Coal Companies have never kept stores in connection with their works. They pay cash. It is only in the other regions that such stores are kept.
The CHAIRMAN. Then it is mostly private operators that keep these stores ?
Mr. O'HALLORAN. The Hazleton Coal Company used to keep stores in connection with their works. The Wilkesbarre Coal and Iron Company did not keep a store directly in their name; but there has been a store kept in connection with their works.
The CHAIRMAN. Do these stores charge higher prices than ordinary stores! Mr. O'HALLORAN. I know, of my own knowledge, stores where they charged from 20 to 30 per cent. higher than the goods could be got in other places for cash.
The CHAIRMAN. Was the mining population in the collieries which had these stores in connection with their works in worse condition than the mining population in other places ?
Mr. O'HALLORAN. They were not in any worse condition; but it seemed arbitrary to compel them to deal in those stores. If a man drove up to the door of a miner with a wagon and dumped a barrel of flour there, and if the boss of the mine found it out he would give the miner a broad hint that if he did any more of that trading he might go and get work elsewhere.
The CHAIRMAN. Have there been many efforts here to provide rational recreation or instruction for the mining and working-classes, in the way of reading-rooms, clubrooms, singing-rooms, &c. ?
Mr. O'HALLORAN. Nothing except what the people do for themselves. In connection. with church matters they have literary societies and singing societies and Sanday schools, &c. But this is individual enterprise and generally sectional. For instance, the Father Matthew Society, which is Roman Catholic, provides entertainments on Sunday evenings in this city, and other societies belonging to other churches do the
same. They have literary and musical entertainments. But there is nothing done by the public.
The CHAIRMAN. I meant to ask whether the owners of collieries united in doing anything of that sort ?
Mr. O HALLORAN. They do not.
The CHAIRMAN. How far has intemperance been an evil in this region? Is the mining population here given much to excessive drinking, and has that been one of the great evils in the place?
Mr. O'HALLORAN. No, sir; there isn't a quieter city in America than the city of Scranton with its 35,000 population. A few policemen keep the peace here, and the statistics of arrests brought before the mayor show this to be as quiet a city as there is in the Union.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there many temperance societies here? Mr. O'HALLORAN. There are a good many. The Roman Catholics have their temperance societies, and the other churches have their temperance societies.
The CHAIRMAN. You think that, in the prosperous times when men could generally save money, they did not waste their money in extravagant living?
Mr. O'HALLORAN. Not the majority of them. There was a good deal of money saved by them and put into real estate here.
The CHAIRMAN. Was there much of it that went into savings banks ?
The CHAIRMAN. Then there have been no losses on the part of the working people through savings banks?
Mr. O'HALLORAx. No, sir. The Second National Bank here failed a short time ago, but that was not a savings bank.
The CHAIRMAX. Then you set down the suffering that prevails here to the great exhaustion of the mining population in consequence of their not having employment? Mr. O'HALLORAN. Exactly. The CHAIRMAX. That explains it? Mr. O'HALLORAN. That explains it.
The CHAIRMAN. And you think it is not due to improvidence on the part of the workingmen!
Mr. O'HALLORAx. It is not. The records of the county court will show that the miners have acquired a good deal of property here; but the value of their property has gone down like everything else, and if they wanted to sell it to-morrow they could not get $1,000 for what may have cost them $2,000.
The CHAIRMAX. Everybody everywhere is in about the same predicament. There is a general shrinkage of value everywhere.
Mr. THOMPSON. I have no doubt that my own immediate neighborhood is the worst off in that respect in the United States. There the production of oil has made business very active, and a few weeks ago oil which was selling at $4 a barrel is now selling at 91 cents.
The CHAIRMAN. I want Mr. Thompson to say how far the contraction of the currency can have had anything to do with the fall in the value of oil.
Mr. THOMPSON. There are two things, and only two, that have led to it. The first is that the production of oil is over 40,000 barrels a day, while the consumption, probably, is 35,000. In the next place, by a combination between the Standard Oil Company and the railroad companies, there is a discrimination against the oil producer. If a producer will sell to the Standard Oil Company, then the railroad company will ship the oil, but not otherwise.
The CHAIRMAN. Then the result is that monopoly on the one hand and over-production on the other, when they happen to concur, produce an absolute destruction of values, and that is the condition in that region. That seems to be the state of the case here as well as in the oil region. Mr. THOMPSox. Precisely.
The CHAIRMAN. (to Mr. O'Halloran). You made a suggestion about relieving the excessive population here by putting them on the lands. In what way could the selection be made of the proper persons to go out upon the lands and to cultivate farms, because you know that everybody cannot be a farmer? How would you manage the selection ! Suppose there was a chance to take away a thousand families from this region, how would you get at it!
Mr. O'HALLORAN. I should think that if Congress would make a law that assistance was to be furnished to families to go out on the public lands, suitable citizens could be found who would recommend men for their temperate habits and industry and economy. They could very easily select the proper persons to go out on the lands.
The CHAIRMAN. But if you take away all who are temperate and industrious out of the community, what would be the natural condition of those who would be left behind, as a rule ?
Mr. O'HALLORAN, I do not expect that you would be able to take away all who were temperate and industrious. But if you did, and if you left the rest behind, I think it would be a good incentive for them to try to follow in the footsteps of those who had been selected; and those who are left behind might become temperate and industrious.
The CHAIRMAN. Your idea would be to leave the selection to committees of citizens ? Mr. O'HALLORAN. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. And that would be your only mode of selecting the persons who were to go on the lands?
Mr. O'HOLLORAN. Yes.
VIEWS OF MR. J. R. THOMAS AND OTHERS.
SCRANTON, PA., November 13, 1878.
The ChairMAX. Did you have a shop of your own!
The CHAIRMAN. So that, in your case, as in other cases, the fall of wages and the lack of employment have gone together-that is, the less the employment the less the wages
Mr. THOMAS. Yes, sir; I used to get, about five years ago, $110 to $130 a month, or from $4 to $4.50 a day; but then I worked piece-work a good deal.
The ChaiRMAN. Do you happen to recollect the price of flour at that time !
The CHAIRMAN. And what is the present price of flour here?
The CHAIRMAN. That is to say, that flour is about one-fourth less in price than it
A BYSTANDER. Pork is now about four cents a pound here; and I paid ten cents a pound for it two years ago.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you think that wages have fallen here more than the fall in the price of commodities consumed by the workingmen!
Mr. THOMAS. Yes, sir. Five years ago it cost a workingman, on the average, $28 a month for his table—that is, for a man, his wife, and two children and his wages a' that time averaged about $75 a month. At the present time the wages do not average more than $15 a month in this country (taking Lackawanna and Luzerne together), and the table expenses of a family are, at least, $12 a month, without living one-half as well as they lived then. I have been traveling about in different places, and I know, from families that I have visited and from men with whom I have associated, that they are in the same condition precisely with myself and others in that respect. Reference has been made here to companies' stores. That is one of the evils that workingmen, as a rule, have to complain about. There are stores called companies' stores, from the fact that they are owned and controlled, as a rule, by mining bosses. I do not wish to name any workmen in particular who complain of this, be