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Q. What are the causes of the general depression, and what remedies have yon.to give ?-A. I speak in behalf of a large majority of workingmen in New York. My connection has been so close with them that I believe I have got a more thorough idea as to what they think about the government than a great many that have been heard here. I desire, in behalf of a large majority of the workingmen of New York (and my connection with them has been close enough to admit of my speaking for them with much better grace than the purchasable speakers to whom you have been listening), to say that, while they are ready to indorse any method of government that will better their condition, yet it is a question of supply and demand that controls the labor of the country, and to you they look for such a recommendation, such fostering of enterprises that capital may be encouraged to embark in them, and at the same time they are opposed to the immense gifts given to large corporations, whereby some of our most obscure fellow-citizens have risen to affluence without giving any equivalent in return.
I with many others believe the government that governs best governs least, and I thoroughly understand that all the laws of Congress cannot compel me to hire a man without I need him; but at the same time I believe in the greatest good for the greatest number, and when I watch the immense amount of laws in the interest of the few, I think it time to remonstrate and ask for a change. Now, perhaps, after listening to the desires of those you have already heard, you think, with others, that the wants of the workingman are numerous, and may come to the conclusion that under our form of government you can do so little for him without infringing upon the free exercise of his rights as a citizen of this great republic, that it is best to let bad enough alone and recommend nothing. I desire to change your views on that subject by telling you, gentlemen, that we fully understand our situation, and we are bearing up under it with that patience for which the American workman is noted. We do not desire the refugee outlaws of the Old World to come here and attempt to upset our government. We are content with it as it is; but we claim that its administrators, if I may use the term, are false to their charges and recreant to their trusts; that they aid the few to the detriment of the many, and that in the eyes of our law-makers the moneyed man or capitalist is by long odds ahead of the laborer. I do not intend to denounce capital where it is honestly accumulated, but where by stock-jobbing acts of Congress the land of the people is voted away to aid Mr. This or That in his great railroad scheme, it is in the interest of the mechanic and merchant for Congress to interfere and prevent the combinations that are made by the railroad kings to raise the cost of transportation of coal and other necessary cominodities, and I think they have the power, or could easily get it from an outraged people.
Q. You know that there was a measure at the last session of Congress, which is still before it, intending to produce the result to which you have referred. Congress is already undertaking, as well as it can, to deal with that question ?-A. There is a spirit of unrest pervading the community, caused by continued idleness, and yet I see that little aid can be gained from governmental interference while a general distrust pervades the people toward their law-makers. They look upon them as but the tools of this or that ring, as evidenced by their acts in the past, and until they amend those acts the people will not trust them. This is the feeling in regard to municipal, Stata, and national governments. They have been promised better times by this and that candidate upon his election until they have about got to the end of their patience.
Q. Why not get some honest candidates of your own and elect them ?-A. I hope we will. I know the fault lies on our own shoulders. Yet you can aid the mechanic if you can effect the passage of a general lien law whereby he may be secured in getting paid for the work he actually performs, and not be left in the lurch, as he is now. True, you may say each State has a lien law of its own, and you cannot interfere, but take this State, for instance, and ask the mechanic how much good the law did him except in a chance case where the owner of property was inclined to be honest or not thoroughly posted in the mortgage business.
Q. Could the United States pass a better lien law than your State -A. Yes, sir.
Q. Why not have the State pass it -A. We have made that attempt. Our organization bas already presented a lien law to the State government at three or four ses. sions. It passed one House, and lay in another House, and finally lay under the table. We could not bring means enough to bear.
Q. Could not the workingmen of New York secure enough legislators to get the legislature to pass a common lien law ?-A. They pledge anything before election.
Q. Afterward they do not keep their pledges ?--A. They do not.
Q. Can you not find any one who will keep his word ?-Å. I tell you, gentlemen, you cannot imagine the feelings a workingman has that has not got paid for his labor; you cannot imagine the feelings of a man who sees his month's labor lost, and is insultingly told to go file a lien if he wants to waste more money. I can take you to three houses not far from here where $55 of my money lies, and the tenants use the stairs every day that I put
up, and I never got my money; but the owner draws his rents for the unpaid work and directs his clerks to chuck me out of the office if I come to see him, as under the law (supposed to be passed in the interest of right and justice) I have no claim on him. Right this wrong and protect the workman in getting what he earns, and you will do us more benefit than if you indorsed all the wild theories of government employment, &c., you have heard advanced here.
No sane man can desire a people's government, as ours is, to embark in the manufacture of materials, and thus bring itself in competition with private employers. Why, the very men who advocate it, in the next breath deny the right of the State government to employ its convicts, so that they may be self-supporting, thus fully illustrating their ability to regulate our general affairs. It was the report of their presence that brought me here, and a desire to prevent the workmen of New York from being again misrepresented by a band of drones who toil not, but do spin some terrible yarns of our wants and suffering. Let Congress lighten our burden of taxation, take its hands off our industry by checking monopolies, reduce the tariff in the interest of the whole country, and stop sectional legislation. We fought long years to keep our country together. Then do not by your actions in Congress proclaim that you are only citizens of your own congressional district, but be citizens and representatives of the United States and pass laws of universal benefit and not local subsidies, whereby you expect to keep your seats ; rise above party and represent the people; do right and let time vindicate you; and then the workmen of the Union will be benefited as well as the capitalists; stop the railroad jobs, and when you grant a valuable franchise get an equivalent sum, such as you would demand in your own business, and let the country have the benefit and not the corporation. I would suggest, also, that the Army should be kept for some other purpose than to settle disputes between railroad magnates and their employés, miners and mine-owners.
By Mr. RICE: Q. We understand you are in favor of the government, but think it should be administered more faithfully?-A. Yes, sir; and I speak for a large majority. Q. The remedy is in your own hands, is it not ?-A. Yes, sir.
By the CHAIRMAN: Q. What would you suggest as an additional provision of law, or of the Constitution, by which you would get men who would do your work better than your present Representatives? This government was arranged by wise men. How are we to take advantage of that knowledge of yours? What should we do ?-A. Hem our lawgivers in by such laws as will make a premium on honesty and not on dishonesty, as Q. That is very vague ?–A. I am not a law-maker, and don't expect to be.
By Mr. RICE: Q. Is not the trouble, after all, in the character of the men whom you elect to office ? If they knew enough and were honest enough they would make the laws right, would they not?-A. You know better than I do the surroundings of a Congressman in Washington.
Q. But you bave got to elect men that will resist those surroundings, have you not ?-A. No ; I want to remove those surroundings. Q. How do you propose to that ?-A. That is the problem.
By the CHAIRMAN : Q. What is the cause of the present depression in business ?—A. In the first place, we will take our shipping. It has been driven off the seas.
Q. By what?-A. Steam.
Q. Would that not add to the cost of the transportation ?-A. No, sir ; people here would employ the sailing-vessel.
Q. Why would they employ the sailing-vessel ?-A. Because it would be cheaper.
Q. Would that not make the goods which the workingmen use cost more money ?-
8. If they can do it cheaper on sailing-vessels, why don't they go on sailing-ves. sels 1--A. They cannot do it.
The CHAIRMAN. Here is a gentleman who has just come into the room (Mr. Marshall), who runs a line of sailing-vessels out of New York and manages to make them pay. He has got a line that is running and has been running here for forty years.
it is now.
Mr. GRAHAM. He knows, I believe, as well as I do that steamers take back freight as ballast very often at a nominal charge, for the sake of filling up.
Mr. MARSHALL, at the request of the Chairman, here took the stand.
The CHAIRMAN. I would like to ask you, Mr. Marshall, whether you want any protection against steamers for your sailing-vessels?
Mr. MARSHALL. I want no protection of any kind for sailing-vessels as against steamers. My opinion in regard to the decadence of American shipping is that American shipping does not occupy the same position, so far as cost is concerned, that foreign steamers do. We have a prohibitory law, prohibiting us from purchasing our ships in foreign countries, where we can buy them cheaper. If the American ship-owner could obtain his tools, so to speak, on a par with other nations, my opinion is that all American shipping would revive, but it will never revive until it is placed on that footing.
The CHAIRMAN. It is not the imposition of the tax, but the removal of the tax, that will give us a remedy?
Mr. MARSHALL. Yes, sir; and in connection with that we must do away with as many restrictions between our government and others as possible, and that can be only done by bringing down our tariff to a proper basis and taking away those restrictions which impede trade between this country and others. My opinion is that, if you remove these restrictions, you will see an immense degree of general prosperity in the country and a revival of the American shipping interest, because sailing-ships are no longer adapted for conveying the trade and commerce of the world. The carrying freight of the world must be done in steamers, and when my friend talks of taxing steamers in favor of sailing-vessels, it would be like taxing railroads in favor of stage-coaches ; and as railroads have superseded the stage-coaches, so must steamships supersede sailing-vessels.
The CHAIRMAN. Do not steamers employ more sailors than are employed by the merchant marine under sail !
Mr. MARSHALL. I think undoubtedly the steam marine of England is employing more men than was ever done in our palmiest days. The carrying trade of this world should be carried in vessels propelled by steam and made of iron, rather than in sailing-ves. sels, and there is very little difference between steam freights and sail freights. The greater dispatch, of course, is an object; and, as a general rule, the steamers can afford to carry freights on almost the same terms that sailing-vessels do.
Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. Aggrista has stated to me just the contrary of what that gentleman, Mr. Marshall, has said. So I think instead of the government employing more men, they employ too many now. I think the less the government employs the better, because that perpetuates that government in whatever interest they happen to be employed in, and if they are prostituting their administrative powers by leaving such a large cabal under their control, they manage to control the masses; therefore I think the less they employ the better.
The CHAIRMAN (to Mr. Graham). You think the office-holders hold the balance of power in politics ?-A. They have an influence.
Q. They have very large political influence?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Will yon give us the remedy for that? I have met that difficulty at every turn since I have been in public life, and I am seeking a remedy for it. Would you deprive office-holders of the right of suffrage ?-A. No, sir; nor any other man.
Q. Would you deprive them of the right to go into primary meetings ?-A. Mr. Hayes has done that with poor success. I think the pledge of civil-service reform to the man holding office, according to his ability or otherwise, would be much affected.
Q. If a man proved himself faithful in office, that he should remain there without regard to politics, and vice versa ?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. How are we to deal with the political questions we have! Should we make a law which probibits removal from office, except upon trial ?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. You think that would do it 1-A. Yes, sir.
Q. And in regard to appointment to office, would you have men examined without regard to politice !-A. Yes, sir.
Q. And appoint them on their merits ?-A. Yes, sir.
By Mr. RICE: Q. What are your views on the subject of governmental limitation of the hours of labor ?-A. My belief is in eight hours.
Q. You think that eight hours should be made the limit by law ?-A. Yes; and in regard to the contract system, I think the government injures the workman and benefits the private employer by it. In case where the government has work done, they should do it by days work at the same rate that is paid in the market, and governed and controlled by men that are capable. For instance, in the post-office there is a railing that goes down the stairs. If you contracted that out to the best stair-builder in New York you conld not get it done better.
Q. Would that not have the effect to increase the number of government employés and officers instead of diminishing them, as you stated a moment ago ?--A. Whenever a contract is given out, there is a government employé, or half a dozen, sent to superintend that contractor and see that he fulfills his contract. If it is a job in carpenterwork, there is a practical carpenter sent to superintend the contractor and see that he does his work properly. I believe the government could do this work and do away with those men.
By the CHAIRMAN: Q. Would not all the workmen be government employés ? - A. They would have to be appointed on their ability. Q. Would not some one have to appoint them ?-A. Yes, sir. Q. Suppose I went as a member of Congress to the person having the power of appointment, and said, “Won't you put on Mr. Smith or Mr. Jones, that voted for me in my district ?” What would he do?-A. He ought not to do it. Under the present system he does.
Q. But as human nature is constituted ?-A. That should be hedged in so that they could not do it.
By Mr. RICE: Q. Suppose there are 20,000 or 30,000 unemployed men in the city and suburbs of New York without business, and unable to find business by which to earn their living ; bave you any way to suggest how those 20,000 or 30,000 men should be relieved ?-Å. You have got to furnish them employment, to employ them, of course, and there the government must step in; but I don't believe in the government stepping in and furDishing employment.
Q. I ask you how would you have those men relieved? You would not have them made objects of charity ?-X. No, sir.
Q. How will you get bread for them? How will you have them furnished with work by which they may earn a livelihood ?-A. I have advanced the same theory that has been advanced here, and indorse the same theory, anyhow-that is : by taking a large part of the floating mass of the city and letting them go to the prairies.
Q. You think that would be a good idea, do you l-Ă. That would be a good idea. Q. Do you think those unemployed people would be willing to go to the country if they were helped to go there?-A. I don't know; it would be "root hog or die.”
2. You would not take them whether they would or not?-A. No, sir; no coercion about it. I guess they would be willing enough. Take my own case for example.
Q. You think if there was some way devised by which people could get on land to make a living that there would be enough willing to go to work hard and live poor to relieve the present pressure ?-A. I don't know whether enough would be willing to go, but some would go.
By the CHAIRMAN: Q. Would you have the government interfere to do that?-A. There again comes in the centralization question.
Q. What do you think about it? Would you have the government interfere to do it ?-A. I don't think the government could as at present constituted.
Q. If the government would not, how would you get those people out on the prairies !-A. It would have to be done through private enterprise.
Q. Private charity ?--A. No, sir; I say as the government could not interfere it would have to be done by private enterprise. Q. And not by charity ?-A. No, sir.
Q. Who has got the private interest to do it? What motive is there in any private individual, as a matter of enterprise, to do it?--A. There is no man that I know of that has felt well enough toward the workingmen to do it; if there was such a man he would deserve to be remembered.
By Mr. RICE: Q. Could any association be established here in the city of New York by private action to give expression to this purpose which you speak of, and aid these unemployed men to go where they could earn their living ?-A. Yes, sir; it could be done; but then a great many would look on it like charity again.
Q. You say that is the best way to help these poor people to get along ?-A. One of 2. You say you don't think the government has the power to do it ?-A. I am afraid not.
Q. If the government has not the power to do it, is there any one else can do it! A. Let the government issue bouds for it if it has the power.
Q. But you say you don't think it has the power.-A. I think another cause of our present prostration of labor is the government bonds.
By Mr. Boyd: Q. Wonld you not have still to issue more bonds for the purpose of colonization ?A. Yes, sir; but not interest-bearing.
By Mr. Rice: Q. Who would lend the money on those bonds ?-A. There are patriotic people.
Q. It is a difficult qnestion to deal with. Have you anything else you wish to add ?A. No, sir; that is all I have to say about it.
VIEWS OF MR. H. D. SHEPPARD,
HORATIO D. SHEPPARD appeared and made the following statement :
By the CHAIRMAN: Question. What body do you represent ?—Answer. The National Land-Reform Association. It is an association some thirty years old. I have not a written document, but I was requested by the president and vice-president to come here to-day.
Q. How large a body is it ?-A. Well, there are more or less of them all over the world. They are not so very numerous, but have been hard workers.
Q. Wbat you lack in pumbers you make up in hard work ?-A. Yes, sir; some laws on the statute-book are perhaps the result of their labor.
Q. Will you confine yourself to the bearings of your views on the causes of the depression of labor and the remedies ? Be good enough to be as concise as possible. You admit there is depression ?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. What remedies have you to suggest ?-A. I would suggest such a remedy as was applied by Sir Robert Peel about thirty-five or thirty-six years ago to the British nation when it was in a very similar condition to what our people are in now. It was this. The country was in a very similar condition-great multitudes out of employment and great depression and threatenings and mutterings of revolution. The then minister went out and Sir Robert Peel came in; he brought in his budget, I think, in 1812, coming to the point at once, that the burdens upon productive industry were too great'; they could no longer go on; that if the British nation was going to maintain her position as a first-class commercial and manufacturing nation, they must take a part of the load off industry and take it on themselves, meaning by “themselves " the aristocracy, of which he was one, a man of great wealth. Out of the twelve hundred articles on which there was a tax, he removed or slightly reduced the tax on seven hundred of them direct, those things considered material to manufacture, and turned around and put taxation upon wealth. The country almost immediately took a new lease of life, as it were, and has been with short intervals prosperous almost ever since, comparatively so. I would say, further, that I believe the depression is caused by the errors on the currency question; that there has been entirely too much inflation instead of providing for the necessities of the country by taxation. I think the first mistake was made by Mr. Chase in undertaking to run a vast war upon a peace basis. He ran it for a year without one single dollar additional taxation from that which eristed when it went into war, and I think any country when it attempts to run such a gigantic war in such a way must go to something like bankruptcy and ruin. In relation to the further remedies I would restore the income-tax, with such amendments as Congress might say were necessary from their experience with the old one. When the bill was before Congress for repealing that I wrote and procured to be printed a remonstrance against it, setting forth that I thought it would produce desolation and ruin, and I believe the repeal of the income-tax has damaged the country to the extent of $1,000,000,000, from studying the question as well as I can. I studied it from the days of General Jackson to this time.
Q. Do you remember the amount that was collected under the income-tax law I-A. No, sir; but I think the repeal which took place in 1872 took off about $100,000,000. Q. From incomes alone how much do you suppose ?-A. Well,
they removed taxes upon tea and coffee, which took off about twenty millions.
Q. How was it with the income-tax; do you remember ?-A. I don't remember the exact figures, but I think the taxes removed were about $100,000,000 per annum.
Q: You stated you thought the repeal of the income tax law had produced damage to the amount of $1,000,000,000 in the country?-A. I think so.
Q. Do you remember the annual amount collected under the income-tax law ? Was it not about $20,000,000 ?—A. I think it was one hundred million ; I think it was very much more than that.
Q. My recollection is that it was under $20,000,000 per annum, and that is the reason why I ask you the question how it could damage the country to the extent of $1,000,000,000.-A. I have not the figures, but I think it was nearer one hundred millions than twenty millions.