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single hands. Take the French experience, for example, where fortunes have been cut up-has it not resulted in a better condition of things in France than has taken place in England, or in this country, where the reverse rule prevails! The Code Naposeon absolutely broke up the great estates in France, and compelled a division.
Mr. ATKINSOX. My inind has rather run in the direction of less restriction on bequests—I can hardly name it restriction; I mean less provision for the perpetuation of fortunes, rather than more provision for their diffusion.
The CHAIRMAN. You admit that the community has a very direct interest in the ownership and control of wealth?
Mr. ATKINSON. The community has a great interest in the fair distribution of the fortunes accumulated by individuals, that they should be rapidly diffused. I do not believe that you can compass that by a law, regulating and compelling the distribution, but I think that there will be some acts of law passed in the future to prevent accumulation in the hands of trustees.
The CHAIRMAX. In England you have one policy pursued, that by which great estates are absolutely perpetuated. In France you have the opposite policy, positive enactments by which great estates are divided up. The question is, which policy is best for the community, or whether it would be best to have no policy at all on the subject. Would you be in favor of adopting one of those two policies ?
Mr. ATKINSON. I should incline to no policy at all, leaving it perfectly free to every individual to do with his fortune as he chose, subject to this, that there should be no existing law by which he could compass a perpetuation. I think that everything should be done to discourage perpetuation. I think that we may have gone eren too far in the protection of spendthrifts by trustees.
The Chairman, Then your present policy would be to extend the present doctrine in this country which favors the distribution of property?
Mr. ATKINSON. Unquestionably.
The CHAIRMAN. But you would not do anything to compel the pareut to divide his large estate up equally among his children?
Mr. Atkinson. No; I think we would run across other dangers there. I would only prevent his perpetuating it by a possible limitation of the present power of creating trustees.
Mr. Rice. Would you do anything to prevent the acquisition of large fortunes ? Would you set a limit beyond which the acquisition of property should be taxed very heavily?
Mr. ATKINSON. No; I think that that is absurd.
Mr. ATKINSON. Just what happened in the Middle Ages, when they tried to prevent the Jews from accumulating great fortunes, and when the Jews only grew the richer. The more you try to prevent it the more opportunities you give to accumulate fortunes in a hidden way.
Mr. Rice. Here is Mr. Cohen (a former witness before this committee) who thinks that the government should tax any fortune beyond a million dollars.
Mr. Atkinsox. Then a man would conceal the fact that he had it, or else he would remove it elsewhere.
Mr. Cohen. I should judge that that follows from the gentleman's own argument. He in favor of the distribution of large fortunes, and that being the case I should think that the taxing of large fortunes would bring about distribution.
Mr. ATKINSOX. I said that I was in favor of the distribution of large fortunes by the natural order of events, not by the interposition of law; and I think that anything in the shape of a differential taxing is one of the most obnoxious and dangerous propos. tions that can be entertained.
Mr. RICE. It would either cripple a man's energies, or-
The CHAIRMAN. You would do nothing, therefore, to perpetuate large fortunes, and you would do nothing to restrict the control of individuals over them?
Mr. ATKINSON, That is my position exactly.
Mr. Cohen. In regard to the distribution between labor and capital, I hold that seveu-eighths go to the capitalist and one-eighth to the laborer. The gentleman (Mr. Atkinson) says that ninety-nine parts go to the laborer and one part to the capitalist. Then I ask the question how it comes that, if the capitalists have the smaller proportion and the laborer the larger proportion, the capitalist accumulates millious while the laborer has nothing to eat?
The CHAIRMAX. If you go to Trenton where we have iron-works you will find 440 workmen who own their own houses and their own furniture, all of which were bought out of wages paid at the iron-works conducted by Cooper & Hewitt. Cooper & Hewitt themselves have never had one dollar out of those irou-works. They have been run for the benefit of the workmen. And that is the result of thirty years' business.
Mr. COHEN. That may hold good in that case; but how does it come that Cooper & Hewitt have any money left!
The ('HAIRMAX. Ninety-seven per cent. of other iron-works are not as well off as Cooper & Hewitt. Ninety-seven per cent. of all the iron-works of the country have been sold off by the sherift, and the original owners have nothing left; but the workmen have the property which they accumulated.
Mr. Cohes. Then Cooper & Hewitt have been good frienils to the workingmen. Mr. Rice. There was no charity about it.
The CHAIRMAX. No, there was no charity about the business. We paid the current wages, that is all.
Mr. COHEN. How comes it now that the Astors, the Vanderbilts, and the Stewarts have amassed vast fortunes, when the largest part of the profits goes to the laborers?
The CHAIRMAX. Mr. Stewart did a business of one hundred million dollars a year. One per cent. profit on that is one million dollars a year. But if he took seven-eighths, as you suppose, then he would get eighty-seven million dollars a year. Now, one million dollars a year builds up a large fortune.
Mr. Conex. If a man makes such a large fortune on such a small percentage, it would be no incumbrance upon him to have a tax placed upon his immense fortune.
The CHAIRMAN. He is taxed upon his fortune; but, if you undertook to put a differential tax, the result would be that he would move out his surplus to some other country, or else not exert himself to do the work.
Mr. ATKINSON. I want to make one statement in regard to yesterday's conversation lest it might be misconstrued. That is, I wish to make a personal explanation in regard to the tariff. I did not expect to be drawn into a discussion of the theories of protection and free trade, because I think that they are for the time being aside from the main issue. I did not wish, either, to appear to have changed my convictions as to the true theory in the matter. When one is reaching convictions on any one branch of this subject he is very apt to exaggerate the importance of that particular branch; and I think that we who have promoted the free-trade agitation during the past eight or ten years have clearly exaggerated the importance of that issue. That has been proved by the fact that disaster has appeared to strike all nations alike, whatever their tariff policy may have been, indicating that there are industrial forces at work in the world of which a tariff policy is only one, and possibly not the most important.
In regard to changes in the tariff policy of the country, I should, even as a freetrade advocate, not advocate great revolutionary changes in a time of industrial convulsion. This is the very wrong time for any such change. There are modifications to which all alike might consent, which might be wise; but a great change of policy would be extremely unwise when all the conditions of our trade and commerce are as uncertain as they are to-day. Hence I think that the less discussion there is had in regard to these theories at the present moment, the more likely we are to get some modifications which may be useful to all, and may be consented to by all.
The C'HAIRMAN. You would like to take out of the tariff the impediments in the way of the prosperity of manufactures ?
Mr. Atkinsos. Unquestionably; and I think that we might learn a lesson in that regard by the course followed in England in 1842, when Sir Robert Peel's great measure of changes consisted in the treatment of a very small part of the schedule of duties which were simply impediments, the removal of which so inured to the prosperity ensning afterward that there was less and less opposition to further changes in the same direction; but they were made so gradual, and so justly, and on such a uniform consideration of all the conditions of the times that they conferred benefit without disaster, even to those who dreaded change the most, until at the end tariff legislation simply came to be the ordinary legislation in regard to affairs without great contention. Therefore, I say that this is no time for heroic methods, but for extremely cautious and gradual ones. What the country now needs is stability in the currency and freedom from the excessive legislative changes in other matters.
The CHAIRMAX. And you think that nothing in the way of legislation now can alter this equalization in the way of labor that is going on, and that if one nation pays higher rates of wages than another it is because it has superior advantages ?
Mr. ATKINSON. Yes.
The CHAIRMAX. Carrying out that doctrine in regard to this country, would not that lead to the gradual transfer of cotton manufactures from Massachusetts to the South, where the cotton is grown; where there is good water-power which does not freeze up, where there are abundant natural resources, and where there is a population that can be used for tending machines. Machinery having reached the point where the machine itself is the great thing, and where the laborer is merely the attendant on the machine, do you not think that there is some danger of the transfer of cotton manufactures from New England to the Southern States?
Mr. ATKINSOX. I do not.
The CHAIRMAN. What is the reason? There would be a great saving in transportation.
Mr. Atkinson. There would be a saving in transportation, but I do not think that the climate of the South, or the condition of the Southern States, is consistent with the kind of labor necessary to be done in the cotton trade. In other words, I think that cold stimulates, and that you cannot maintain the persistent hours of labor (ten hours a day for three hundred days in the year) in the comparatively enervating climate of the South.
The CHAIRMAX. Is not the machine a stimulant !
The CHAIRMAX. Suppose that the Chinese come here in great numbers and are employed in that business?
Mr. ATKINSON. That is a supposition so far off' that it is not worth while to consider it. You and I will be dead before the Chinese come here. Moreover, for this generation and the next, the transfer of a great industry requiring capital to the amount of twice the annual product is not to be considered, when the Sonth has first to furnish itself with the wagon-maker, the stove-maker, the shoemaker, the harness-maker, the mechanic, and the workmen in the vast variety of small occupations which build up communities and towns, constituting the diversity of occupations which require very little capital in proportion to the product, and in which that capital is turned over four times a year in the payment of sabor, instead of once in four years as in cottonmills. The modern cotton-mili and the woolen-mill are the growth of a century of industrial civilization,
The CHAIRMAN. Suppose I determined to-morrow to put a million dollars in the cotton business. I have not got a factory anywhere, and I can get the best cotton-machinery by simply ordering it. I go down in the Southern States near the cotton-fields and near the coal-fields where I can have a motive power that costs nothing and that never dries up. I find a population there that desires to work; young people suited to go into the factories, and having no other occupations. Is there anything to prevent my putting my million of dollars there with a certainty that I will get more profit than if I planted it in New England ?
Mr. ATKINSON. The margin of profits on which cotton factories work is a quarter to half a cent a yard, and the difference between a population that has been trained, like the Canadians and the New England population, for years to the kind of occupation of which the cotton factory forms part, will make it different.
The CHAIRMAN. You brought your Canadian population in very recently and educated them to this business.
Mr. ATKINSON. The Canadian population has been accustomed to the hand spindle and loom for centuries. They take to machinery as a duck takes to water, and on common school is the solvent of race, creed, and nationality. The child of the immigrant, trained in the same school with the Yankee boy and girl, soon develops the same mobility, versatility, and power of adapting himself to new conditions of life.
The CHAIRMAN. Is there anything in the present cotton-mill that requires anything more than the crudest and rndest form of labor ?
Mr. ATKINSON. Yes; it is a work requiring very nice manipulation. It is not an occupation that requires brain-power, but it is one that requires extremely nice adaptation of fingers to the work.
The CHAIRMAN. Are not the southern cotton manufactories at present more prosperous than the New England manufactories ?
Mr. ATKINSON. No. Here and there is a prosperous cotton factory in the South. But they will mostly have to go through the sweating process. I do not look for any increase of cotton manufactories in the South equal to the increased demand in the Sonth for cotton yoods for a long time to come. Moreover the cotton factories require to have the machine-shop adjacent. It requires all its surroundings to work right up to it. It requires the paper-mill, to take its waste, right alongside of it. 1: must grow with the growth of fit conditions; it cannot be extemporized and planted here and there in isolated places.
The following questions by Mr. Dickey were submitted in writing, to be also answered in writing:
You have stated that inflation of the currency was one of the causes of depression in business. Please explain how this was so.
Was not contraction of the currency in this country one of the causes of depression, and what was the necessity of contraction?
As inflation and contraction were each brought about by legislation, and it is believed had much to do with the present depression of business, will it not require further legislation to restore confidence and prosperity, and, if so, what should be the nature of such legislation ?
How much money or circulating medium ought there to be, in this country, per capita, to insure confidence and prosperity? What is your judgment as to the amount per capita in dollars?
Mr. ATKINSON (in reply to Mr. Dickey). Inflation of the currency, or the issue of a larger amount of what was made by law to be lawful money, caused an advance in the prices of all commodities. The changes in prices caused speculation in various articles, not on the ground of any prospective change in the supply of or demand for the articles, but on mere chance or gambling. Sudden fortunes were made by those who had not worked for them, or by those who chanced to have stocks of goods in hand on the rise. Then came the time for action for the promoter of railways that were not needed for years to come-some of them never needed. The credulous public took the bait, demand ensued, and labor was in larger demand, iron rose in price, iron-works were built in places where they had no right to exist. At one period of the railway mania, in the year when about 7,000 miles of new railways were built, the demand for iron for rails, cars, and engines I estimate to have been equal to the capacity of one-half the iron-works of the United States. The demand of the railway builders and of the ironworks and machine-shops created a demand for coarse woollens and for farm products. During the four years of railway building preceding 1873, when 20,000 miles of railway were added, the investment, at $30,000 per mile, counts up $600,000,000, or $150,000,000 a year of 300 working days, equal to $500,000 per day. Added to this was the universal extravagance in municipal buildings and works, mostly based on borrowing.
During all this time legal contraction of the currency had ceased; the payment of the debt, that by every principle of law and equity was dne on demand, had been forbidden; the promise of the nation that it would pay coined dollars was a lie, and like all lies it worked deception, corruption, fraud, and disaster.
The short period during which Secretary McCulloch had been wisely allowed to pay $4,000,000 per month of the demand-notes had caused no disaster or depression; it only scared fools and warned knaves that their chance to play upon the credulity of the public would soon close.
Then-in 1867, 68, and '69—it was written by myself and by others that if the contraction of the currency did not come by voluntary legislation, it wonld come by involuntary bankruptcy, as it did come in 1873 and has come since, in the surrender of circulation by banks that could not use it, in the withdrawal of legal-tender notes, in part by cancellation, but largely by disuse. In the mean time the currency of the old States has been contracted by the extension of the people into Kansas and Texas and the Northwest and other distant points, where more notes have been needed in proportion to the population because of the absence of banks.
In answer to the question what further legislation is needed to restore confidence and prosperity, I reply that the most useful act of legislation would be the repeal of the present stupid silver bill, a bill that meets the support of no intelligent bi-metallist or mono-metallist, but purely an abortion-either that or an act making all silver coins redeemable in gold coin. The latter would be the true course, because it would give us a unit of value, and all the coin of the country, small and great, would become a common measure of value based upon the metal-gold-that has proved to be the inost fit and just standard of value.
I might add, the repeal of the act making United States notes a legal tender, but that is too much to expect; for this we must wait the action of the Supreme Court, before whom the legal-tender function of a re-issued note will soon be brought. It will be observed that this is a new question, on which no adjudication has yet been had.
Mr. DICKEY. How much money or circulating medium ought there to be in this country, per capita, to insure contidence and prosperity; what is your judgment as to the ainonnt per capita in dollars?
Mr. ATKINSON. Just as much as the business of the country and the demands of the people call into use. The circulation of true money—that is, coin or bills convertible into coin-adjusts itself to the business and uses of each country or State. No legislature can fix the amount or decide on what is adequate. The amount will vary in prery State in the Union, and in every month in the year, in each and every State. Twice as much may be used by 800,000 people scattered over the broad fields of Kansas, where banks are few, as may be called for by 1,600,000 people in Massachusetts, where banks are numerous and all small tradesmen are in the habit of using them.
I think it would be about as wise for Congress to legislate on the basis of an assumed per capita amount of circulating money being needed to assure confidence and prosperity as it would be to legislate as to how many tons of coal each locomotive-engine in the land should consume. Congress could as easily compute all the grades to be surmounted and all the loads to be drawn by the locomotives, and thereon prescribe the amount of fuel needed by each, as it can compute the money or circulating medium adequate to the wants of traie. Let Congress confine itself to its only function of certifving by the mint-mark the weight of precious metal in each coin, and trade will quickly furnish itself with the quantity of coin adequate to its needs. The quality of the coin is the only matter within the power of Congress to fix by its certificate of weight; it can only work mischief and disaster by attempting anything more.
VIEWS OF MR. JOHN 0. EDWARDS.
WASHINGTON, D. C., December 18, 1078. Joux 0. Edwards appeared upon the invitation of the committee, and, in response to the chairman, stated that his residence is in Allegheny City, Pa.; that he is an American citizen, and was born in Wales. The CHAIRMAN. How long have you been in this country! Mr. EDWARDS. Twenty-five years. The CHAIRMAX. In what business have you been engaged during that time!
Mr. EDWARDS. In the iron business; I have worked in the iron business for the last thirty-two years.
The CHAIRMAX. You worked at it, then, before you left Wales ! Mr. Edwards. No; I began in Scotland, having gone there when I was ten years old.
The CHAIRMAX. Give, briefly, the successive occupations in which you engaged in the iron business.
Mr. EDWARDS. I began with working at what we call in this country a “ run-out," or "refiner.". I worked at that until I was eighteen years of age. Seeing that that work was dying out, I chose puddling as my special branch of labor because there were more chances of getting occupation at that than at any other branch of work of that kind in the iron business. I could get a dozen jobs in puddling when I could not get one at rolling. In the spring of 1854, being then very young, not twenty years of age, I came to Wheeling, Va., and then commenced puddling there, beginning with working a furnace. I remained there three years, or until the spring of 1857, and from there went into Kentucky, where I remained and worked at puddling at Coving, ton and also in Cincinnati, Ohio; continuing thus employed, with the exception of three years that I spent in the Army, until the spring of 1873.
The ('HAIRMAX. You served in the Army in the meantime?
Mr. EDWARDS. I served in the Army from 1861 to 1864. I came to Allegheny City in 1873, and changed my labor by taking a situation as puddling-manager in Allegheny City, which position I held until very recently, having retired from it only a few months ago.
The CHAIRMAX. Are you employed now?
The CHAIRMAN. Of course this long experience of yours has made you very familiar with the trials of workingmen there, as well as their enjoyments (I suppose they have, like the rest of us, both), and you know something about the organizations which workingmen have made with reference to wages and labor ?
Mr. EDWARDS. Yes, sir.
Mr. EDWARDS. Yes, sir; I was connected with the Boilers' Union of the United States from August 20, 1864, until I became a puddling-manager; and then, of course, I had to retire. They do not allow any foreman to belong to them; that is, they have not of late; they did formerly.
The CHAIRMAN. Will you explain what is meant by the Boilers' Union !
Mr. EDWARDS. The Boilers' Union of the United States is what was formerly called the United Sons of Vulcan. It is made up of puddlers and boilers; that is, of those engaged in a branch of business which represents the changes occurring in the manufacture of pig metal into wrought iron.
The CHAIRMAN. When you speak of the Boilers' Union, you mean to include all puddlers ?
Mr. Edwards. Yes, sir; that is, their fore-hands; not the helpers.
[The attention of the witness having been directed to a definition of the terms, he explains that what is commonly understood by puddling is what is known as working dry, and that the meaning of boiling is working with cinder.]
Mr. THOMPSON. Each is a process of working iron?
Mr. Edwards. Yes. Formerly all the men so employed were called puddlers. That was when they used to refine the iron and it had to be worked dry. Abont forty or forty-five years ago they commenced boiling pig metal, and they have carried it on in this country more or less since. With few exceptions no refining has been done in this coutry since.
The CHAIRMAX. We do it still at Trenton; not for puddling, but for charcoal fires, You were then connected with this Boilers' Union, and were the president of it, do I understand you to say?