« AnteriorContinuar »
gesting population in certain places where population would not have gone naturally That I want to connect with the ideas which I expressed about paper money. Paper money always has the effect, also, of drawing population out of production into what are called the occupations of the middle men. That is a matter which has attracted a great deal of attention within the last few years. It is the natural tendency of paper money to have that effect because the profits are made under a paper money system, not by the producers, but by the middle men who handle the goods between the producer and consumer, and who handle the money by means of which the transactions are completed. It is universally known that the last census showed distinctly the effect on the distribution of population of some forces that had been at work during the last decade. Another way of putting it is: the effect of paper money is to draw population into the cities, because those industries that have been mentioned are those carried on in the cities (not to mention any other reason). They stimulate city business—I mean the occupations carried on in the city-such as merchants, bankers, brokers, transporters, and middle men of every description. Now I should say that the population of the United States had been distributed under these forces in the way described during the last ten or fifteen years, and that the factor in the situation lies naturally in the redistributing of the population into the normal and natural industries of the country. That was the question which you asked me awhile ago, and which I said I would come back to. I think that, under the moral dictates of their own common sense and right reason, the population has been redistributing itself. It has been getting out on the land ever since the hard times began. It has been taking its own course, its own natural impulse, towards the state of things necessary for recuperation. The population of the Eastern States has largely moved westward onto the new land. Everybody knows that there has been an immense immigration there from the Eastern States within a short period. I suppose when we hear about armies of tramps in those Western States (as we have heard sometimes) that it may be that a great many people who are too poor to pay their way are tramping on foot. They are moving westward toward the new land, which is really their trne escape. They are taking their proper course and the one which will lead to a remedy for them and to a remedy for the nation. I think that the tariff and the paper money have both tended to a false distribution of population—to bring it together-especially in the iron and mining districts of Pennsylvania, and the manufacturing districts of the East and in the large cities--and that it has been necessary for the population to distribute itself in the manner that it has done and is doing. Every individual following his own impulse is going straightforward on the right course.
Mr. Rice. Do you not believe that a great many tramps do not come under the head of those who are seeking work on western lands, but are merely tramping from thriftlessness and from love of such a life?
Mr. SUMNER. Yes; hereabouts, and perhaps in the West. But what I said was that when I read of armies of tramps out there, I could not help thinking that, probably, they were persons who could not afford to ride, and who intended ultimately to get to work. Around here, so far as my acquaintance with tramps goes, they are not looking for any work, nor willing to have any.
The CHAIRMAN. Out West, bands of them are said to have broken up machinery and seized railroad trains in Iowa, and that they also seized a railroad train in Massachusetts or Connecticut.
Mr. SUMNER. Those were not tramps.
Mr. SUMNER. They were people who misbehaved themselves, and made an outbreak.
The CHAIRMAN. In Iowa it is said that it was a regularly organized band of tramps who seized the railroad train. The point that I wanted to arrive at was this: you stated that this process of redistribution of population was going on under a natural law. Suggestions have been made here that Congress ought to take measures for colonizing people who desire to quit the centers of population where population is sparse, and giving them land to found homes. The question is, how far you think Congress might interfere in that direction without doing more injury than good.
Mr. SUMNER. I do not think that Congress can interfere at all without doing more injury than good.
The ChairMAN. You are aware that the towns of Massachusetts were originally settled by colonizing arrangements carried on by the government?
Mr. RICE. By colonizing-going out from the headqnarters. The towns were established by colonies sent out, or protected and aided, by the government of the colony on the shore, when Massachusetts was first settled.
Mr. SUMNER. But they were not aided with money. Mr. RICE. Perhaps not. They were aided otherwise; the government had surveyors who went out and set off the land and divided it, and supervised entries and buildi.
ings, and gave to the colonists certain facilities and certain advantages. The colonists went out under the protection and organization of the colonial government at the first center.
Mr. SUMNER. The United States Government does all that, and more, for anybody who wants now to go upon new land.
Mr. Rice. That was Mr. Hewitt's question to you-whether the government should do anything of that kind.
The CHAIRMAN. The proposition is made that the government shall, through its officers, organize colonies, take colonists out and settle them, attend to the affairs of the organization, see that the settlers get through a season or two, take a lien upon the property, try to get the money back; and proceed on that system until the surplus laborers in the towns are got rid of. What do you think as to that proposition ?
Mr. SUMNER. I should think that such a thing as that, on the part of the government of the United States, was very ill suited to the citizens of the United States. I do not think that the citizens of the United States desire or need any such care as that on the part of the government; and I do not think that such a course would result favorably at all. I should say that the consequence would probably be that the government colonists would be collected from worthless persons who would be glad enough to get anybody to support them for a year or two; and that when the government stopped supporting them the colonies would go to decay. I have no faith in any such proposition.
Mr. Rice. You recollect the case of Kansas. Kansas was settled in the outset by emigrant aid societies. The first settlers were sent out and their fare paid by emigrant aid societies. The sites for settlements were selected and the land purchased. All these steps were taken by emigrant aid societies. Were the settlers who went there under those auspices a worthless class ?
Mr. SUMNER. No, sir; and if any emigrant aid society, organized by private individuals, either for business purposes or out of public spirit, chose to assist and to do the business for colonists in a similar way, there is no objection in the world to their doing so. But government interference is a very different thing.
Mr. RICE. Very likely, you and I agree there; but I understood you to say that the people who would take advantage of such assistance would be a worthless class.
Mr. SUMNER. If you sent out any government agents to get colonies together, I should expect the colonies to be worthless.
Mr. Rice. You think they would be a different class from the Kansas colonists ?
Mr. SUMNER. I would not disapprove of them if they go into it, and if they make the work go. I should be very glad if they succeeded in this or any other benevolent enterprise.
The CHAIRMAN. Take the settlement of the Australian colonies—Tasmania and Queensland, for instance-which were settled with the aid of the English Government. Those are now prosperous colonies. Do you think that there is something inherent in our system which prevents us carrying on colonization as well as any other government ?
Mr. SUMNER. It is done still by the English Government. The reports in regard to those assisted by the English Government, as far as I have seen, are not encouraging, There has been a good deal of aid given to colonists-free passage, and all that sort of thing—and in some cases land has been divided up among them. With the homestead law here, with the land surveyed by the government at government expense, and with the security of law and order established by the Federal Government over all our territories, I do not see anything proper or requisite to be done beyond that; and I would leave the people alone to go there if they choose, and to work out their own good.
The CHAIRMAN. The difficulty presented to the committee is this: that there are respectable families in New York and other places, that sincerely desire to get out on the land. They are not paupers or beggars. They never got so low as to get relief; but they are so poor that they cannot pay their passage out there, and support themselves for the necessary interval. And they ask for some assistance by which they can get to, and be kept on the land. The government, as you say, has done a great deal. Can it do anything more than it has done? Can it provide for the transportation of the people who wish to go out west; and can it provide them the means for living there for a year !
Mr. SUMNER. I do not see how any such thing is practicable at all.
Mr. Rice. You referred a little while ago to Ireland; you spoke of the thousands that perished there by famine before the emigration set in; would it have been any advantage to that people if the government had assisted them to emigrate?
Mr. SCMNER. They could not emigrate, because they were overtaken by the famine and died.
Mr. Rice. Would it have been any advantage to them or to their country if the British Government had helped them to emigrate to some country where the land was fertile, and where they could find new homes and get a living?
Mr. SUMNER. Probably in a case like that, where there was such a mass of overpopulation, that might be the case.
Mr. RICE. Here, in the city of New York, we are told that there are 30,000 men out of work, who with their families are suffering for the necessaries of life. Would it aid those 30,000 men and their families if the government should help them to get on to the land where they could get their living from the soil ?
Mr. SUMNER. If you could pick them out, and, by personal acquaintance identify the persons who were to go out under the necessary supervision, I by no means say “ no.” I should see a grand chance for private charity in such an enterprise, but I cannot see any practical means for the United States Government to do it.
Mr. Rice. You admit that it would be a benefit, but you think that the government is incompetent to furnish that benefit?
Mr. SUMNER. It is incompetent and unfit—so much so that I do not see how the enterprise could be undertaken at all. Of course, there may be cases where persons are so utterly poor, and where all their relations and their connections are so utterly poor, that they cannot get money to enable them to go from here to the land, but they are very few I should think.
Mr. RICE. In Pennsylvania there is a great glut of production. Thousands of men who have been producing iron and coal are thrown out of employment, and there is no immediate prospect of furnishing employment to them there. Would it not be advantageous to those men if they were helped to migrate where they could raise & living from the land ?
Mr. SUMNER. It would be a great advantage to them to go out on the land.
Mr. SUMNER. I do not think that that is a proper thing for the government to do, and I do not see any practical way whatever for the government to do it. These persons in Pennsylvania have been in the receipt of very good wages indeed during the ten years before the panic. They are not paupers; or, if they are, it must be entirely their own fault. Neither are they a helpless class of people, so unintelligent as not to be able to take care of themselves. There is no such class of persons in this country that I know of. The true course for them, unquestionably, is to get on the land, and if there be need of executive or administrative care in carrying out the movement, that seems a matter for the undertaking of private societies.
Mr. RICE. But private societies do not seem to be started. Nobody seems to consider them. Everybody seems to think that it is as much as he can do to take care of himself, and the poor are left. As you stated awhile ago, it is not their fault that they are thrown out of labor, but it is the result of fluctuations and mutations in business. Should the government leave them there if nobody else goes to their aid ?
Mr. SUMNER. You say that there is not a private society in existence that comes to their aid. I never heard of one. And that is the very surest sign to me that the case in the hypothesis does not exist. If there were 30,000 people in the city of New York suffering for anything whatever, the benevolent, charitable, publio-spirited people of the city of New York have shown themselves, in any number of cases, perfectly ready and competent to meet the requirement, and to do everything necessary in regard to it, There are societies in New York for almost every conceivable charitable purpose, and if you show one hundred persons in the city of New York who need assistance, they will get it, and societies will be found to give it to them.
Mr. RICE. I thought that I was a pretty advanced optimist myself, but I am glad to find one who goes further in that direction than I do.
Mr. SUMNER. I am not much of an optimist.
The CHAIRMAN. There is a society in the city of New York-the Children's Aid Society. That society is the result of a demand for that sort of thing. But there is no society for sending out able-bodied people to the West. In confirmation, however, of what you have said, I wish to state what has come within my knowledge in regard to a manufacturing establishment in a village in the State of Pennsylvania. This establishment has been kept in operation through all the bad times. As a matter of course, the population increases normally. About two months ago the population was too much for all to find employment, and twelve young men who had grown up there and were old enough started for the West, with no help from the public but the help of the small population in that village. They have gone West, and have found employ. ment for themselves, and they will ultimately, no doubt, become citizens and raise families there. That natural process is going on undoubtedly. The younger people go away and the older ones are left, which is rather unfortunate for the people who employ them to have all the older ones left on their hands.
Mr. SUMNER. Undoubtedly the most efficient and best are those who take care of themselves and go.
Mr. Rice. The only question is whether there is not an extraordinary necessity which needs remedy by extraordinary government interference.
Mr. SUMNER. If there is an extraordinary necessity, the public will provide the extraordinary machinery to take care of it. The government can do nothing about it one way or the other except mischief. You speak of the emigrant aid societies to Kansas. Why were those emigrant aid societies to Kansas started? I never knew one to be started in any other direction. There was some sort of need for emigrant aid societies to Kansas. I believe that in that case there was a good deal of political, or sectional, or religions, or emotional impulse involved; and the people were found ready enough to organize societies and to send out colonists.
Mr. Rice. I cited that case merely in reply to a remark of yours, that those who took advantage of such aid would be worthless persons.
Mr. SUMNER. Those who would take advantage of such aid from the government would be.
The CHAIRMAN. Do I understand your objection to be founded on the principle that the government ought not to interfere with matters of that sort, and that it is better for the community and everybody else that that should be left to private enterprise?
Mr. SUMNER. Yes; that is the principle. But I am not a theory-rider myself; I am willing to take the cases that arise and to judge of them. In politics and statesmanship, that is what you have got to do.
The CHAIRMAN. When the same state of things occurred in England, in 1819, Nassau William Senior (an economist ranked among the highest of his day) wrote a celebrated essay, in which he recommended government colonies as the relief for the state of things then; and unless there is something in our local condition which would make some other course better, perhaps that would not be objectionable as a last resort.
Mr. SUMNER. I think that the English experience is against it, in spite of the authority of Mr. Senior in proposing it. The experience of the English colonies, I think, has been decidedly against it. At the same time I have only a general impression on the snbject, picked up in the course of my reading.
The CHAIRMAN. There are a great many examples of the kind. Russia has been carrying it out in Siberia, Germany in the Cape Colonies, and there has been a society for favoring emigration from Poland to this country,
Mr. SUMNER. Yes. There are also several cases of that kind in the Old Testament, where Nebuchadnezzar and Salmanazar and the rest of them undertook to move people much in the same way that the Russian Government peopled the Caucasus. I do not think the illustration much in point, for Russia peopled the Caucasus in order to conquer it.
I suppose that the only other question which you want to ask me is the one which you did ask; that is, about the remedies. Of course, I have not any remedy to offer for such a state of things as this. The only answer I can give to a question like that would be the application of simple sound doctrine and sound principles to the case in point. I do not know of anything that the government can do that is at all specific to assist labor—to assist non-capitalists. The only things that the government can do are general things, such as are in the province of a government. The general things that a government can do to assist the non-capitalist in the accumulation of capital (for that is what he wants) are two things. The first thing is to give him the greatest possible measure of liberty in the directing of his own energies for his own development, and the second is to give him the greatest possible security in the possession and use of the products of his own industry. I do not see anything more than that that a government can do in the premises.
The CHAIRMAN. You are opposed to any legislation that interferes with the application of his energies on the part of any citizen of the United States ?
Mr. SUMNER. It seems to me that in the United States we have made the thing just as fair and open as it possibly can be. The only restriction is that which comes from the tariff interference.
The CHAIRMAN. You think that, by removing the restrictions of the tariff, the individual would be left free to follow the bent of his inclination!
Mr. SUMNER. That would leave him free to profit by the results of his industry. Every man is free to select his occupation, to go at it in the way that he thinks the most profitable, and to manage it in the way that he likes best. I do not know any restriction except the mere necessary police restraints for blic order, public health, &c. I do not know anything that Congress can do in that direction.
The CHAIRMAN. Can Congress do anything that would tend to have a more equitable distribution of the proceeds of industry?
Mr. SUMNER. No, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Is there anything in the taxation of the country that presses more hardly on one class than on other classes?
Mr. SUMNER. All this tariff legislation presses unfairly on the non-capitalists.
The CHAIRMAN. Therefore, by removing duties, we should relieve the non-capitalist class from an unfair proportion of the burdens of society ?
Mr. SUMNER. I think so.
would you try to make it reach, the fruits of labor and industry or accumulated capital?
Mr. SUMNER. Taxes have got to came out of income; out of produce. If I own a house and the tax on it is so much, I cannot take some bricks out of the side of the house to pay any portion of the tax; I have got to pay the tax out of what the renting of the house produces.
The CHAIRMAN. Suppose you rent the house to somebody; who pays the taxes !
Mr. SUMNER. He pays the taxes if I can make him. Sometimes I can and sometimes I cannot.
The CHAIRMAN. I am glad to hear you say so, for the proposition has been laid down so often that the tenant always pays the taxes, that I am glad to hear your statement in contradiction.
Mr. SUMNER. In flush times, when there are a good many tenants running after landlords for their houses, the tenants pay the taxes; but in dull times, when there are a great many houses standing empty and there are few tenants, the landlord pays the taxes?
The CHAIRMAN. At the present time, when there is an excess of houses seeking tenants, the taxes come out of the landlord ?
Mr. SUMNER. I should say that the landlord is paying the taxes now in most of the Eastern cities.
The CHAIRMAN. But in good times the tenant pays the taxes ?
The CHAIRMAN. Therefore we could not make any improvement in taxation by the imposition of it directly on the landlord ?
Mr. SUMNER. That would not alter the incidence of it at all.
The CHAIRMAN. There is a great deal of discontent because, as is alleged, the laborer does not get a fair share of the proceeds of industry. It is said that production is the result of capital and labor combined, and that labor is not getting its fair share. Can you suggest any method different from the existing method by which government or legislation can appropriate a larger share to the laborer than now accrues to him.
Mr. SUMNER. I do not know of any way at all. I do not know what anybody means by a fair share. I do not see what the criterion of it is. I do not get a fair share. I have a grievance too; I think that the worst trouble in the United States is that college professors do not get large enough salaries. I never have said this before. I have not got up any society to have this matter reformed, but if things are going to be fixed comfortably for everybody, I would like to have my grievance attended to. I say that simply to illustrate that I do not know what a fair distribution is. The fairest distribution that I can get is the biggest that I can get. If I knew how to get any more, I should get it now. If the trustees know any way to reduce my salary, I presume they will reduce it. If I cannot help myself, I will put up with it; but if I can help myself, I will not put up with it.
The CHAIRMAN. There is a certain fund at Yale College, I presume, applicable to the payment of professors.
Mr. SUMNER. No. That case will not serve your purpose.
The CHAIRMAN. Then I will assume it to be so (that there is such a fund), and I want to know the reduction of the number of professors will not keep the rest of you.
Mr. SUMNER. I do not know. If you reduce the number of professors, perhaps the college would not get so many students and would not get so much money, and there would not be so much to divide. You are speaking under the impression that we have an endowment in Yale College.
The CHAIRMAN. If there was more to divide among you by the reduction of the number of professors, each professor that was left would get more!
Mr. SUMNER. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. Take the case of machinery (a corresponding case); it has been proposed to limit the use of machinery, to stop its operation for a portion of the time, in order that human muscle may be more employed; what is your judgment as to the ef fect of that, not merely on society at large, but on the laboring classes themselves! Have you given that thing any consideration ?
Mr. SUMNER. It would reduce the comforts and enjoyments of life, that are now open to them, very much indeed. To reduce the operation of machinery one-half would reduce the comforts of life one-half.
The CHAIRMAN. Who would be the principal sufferers in that case, the poorer or the richer classes? Which would be diminished most largely in what are now regarded as much necessities as comforts ?
Mr. SUMNER. I cannot say. There were one or two of your questions before which