American Native Press Archives and Sequoyah Research Center

American Native Press Archives and Sequoyah Research Center

The Newspaper Writings of Susette La Flesche -- A Selected Edition [a machine-readable transcription]

The Newspaper Writings of Susette La Flesche -- A Selected Edition

Edited by Amanda L. Paige

Table of Contents

The Newspaper Writings of Susette La Flesche -- A Selected Edition

Edited by Amanda L. Paige

Susette La Flesche

Susette La Flesche was born in 1854 on the Nebraska Omaha Reservation to Joseph La Flesche, an Omaha chief, and Mary Gale La Flesche. Educated at a reservation mission school and, later, Elizabeth Institute for Young Ladies in New Jersey , she taught school on the reservation from 1877 to 1879, when she was thrust into the public spotlight.

La Flesche became nationally known as a speaker and writer in the aftermath of removal of the Poncas, a kindred tribe among whom the La Flesches had close relatives. When Ponca chief Standing Bear returned with a small band of family and followers from Indian Territory to the Niobrara River in Nebraska in 1879, she became part of a small group of advocates who helped publicize the Poncas' plight and to establish Standing Bear's right to remain in his homeland. With Standing Bear, her brother, Francis La Flesche, and Thomas Tibbles, a local newspaper man, she toured the East, speaking in the Poncas' behalf, using her translated Omaha name, "Bright Eyes," on stage. During the tour, she became friends with a number of reformers, including Helen Hunt Jackson and Alice C. Fletcher, and in 1880 testified before Congress on the Ponca Removal.

La Flesche returned to the West, where she later married Tibbles. Though she continued to write occasionally on Indian affairs, her interests soon turned to politics. Her husband was actively involved in Populist politics, and her writing turned in that direction, too. In 1887, she and Tibbles went to England and Scotland , where she was deeply impressed by British economic and social conditions. In the mid-1890s, she worked in Washington, D. C., as a correspondent to the Populist newspaper The American Nonconformist at Indianapolis . Upon her return to Nebraska, she continued to write for her husband's paper, The Lincoln Independent.

She spent the rest of her life at or near what had been the Omaha Reservation, which had been broken up into allotments in the early 1880s. She dropped into relative obscurity in her later years and died on May 26, 1903.


Susette La Flesche's newspaper writings were devoted almost exclusively to the Populist political revolt of the 1890s that brought the political demands of farmers and the laboring class forcefully into the political arena. Her works represent not only the Populist response to specific government policy but also the broad lines of conflict between the agrarian West and South on the one hand and the industrial East on the other and between the small farmer and laborer and the corporations and their wealthy owners.

The Populist Party was born from an agrarian movement that culminated in party action in the late 1880s as a result of the plight of farmers in the West, who were bitter because their hard work yielded such little economic benefit. Their low economic status resulted from several causes: uncertain weather, hard work, low prices for their products, high prices for goods they bought, high interest and freight rates, foreign competition, and a decrease in farm ownership and increase in renting and sharecropping. The platform announced by the new party at Omaha in the summer of 1892 called for free, unlimited coinage of silver and gold at a ratio of sixteen to one, increase in currency, passage of a graduated income tax and reduction of state and national taxes, nationalization of railways and telephone and telegraph companies, prohibition of aliens to own land, return of unused lands granted to railroads and other corporations, and government assistance in marketing farm goods. In a political appeal to laborers, the Populists sought restrictions on immigration and an eight-hour work day for government employees. They also sought political reforms, such as single terms for president and vice president, popular election of senators, initiative and referendum for the states, and the Australian secret ballot.

Running on these principles in the election of 1892, the Populists garnered twenty-two electoral votes. Their impact was sufficient to give Democrat Grover Cleveland a victory over Republican incumbent Benjamin Harrison, though the Democrats no more favored Populist ideas than did the Republicans. But both parties realized that the Populists had become a significant party determined to be heard.

The widest divisions among the parties concerned economic policy. In general, the Republicans favored high tariffs on imported goods to protect American manufacturers and a gold standard for U.S. currency. Some Western Republicans, however, joined the Populists in calling for silver coinage. A compromise in 1890 had resulted in the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, which provided for government purchase of silver bullion and issue of notes redeemable in either silver or gold. The other half of the compromise was the McKinley Bill, an act providing for high protective tariffs.

In early May of 1893, shortly after Grover Cleveland's inauguration, past economic policies resulted in a panic. Causes were numerous, but among them were increased government spending that had resulted in a deficit, increased demand on the gold reserves caused by the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, demands by foreign investors and businessmen for payment in gold, and loss of market confidence with the falling gold reserves. Within a few short months, numerous banks failed and thousands of businesses closed. Cleveland sought and obtained, with the help of Eastern Republicans, repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, which angered not only Populists but Western and Southern Republicans as well. Cleveland sought as well a decrease in tariffs set by the McKinley Bill, which revision was less popular with Eastern Republicans.

It was in the midst of the debates over repeal of silver purchase and tariff revision that La Flesche began covering the U.S. Senate for the American Nonconformist, a Populist newspaper published at Indianapolis . During the next year and a half she published about fifty articles, which range from straight factual reports of events in the Senate to more "interpretive" pieces in which she editorially injects her own impressions and opinions. Eight of these latter have been chosen for publication here. In them, she reflects her fierce loyalty to Populist fiscal theory and concern for the poverty ridden farmers and laborers of the country. She is highly critical of the Senate as a legislative body, questioning the character of some senators and picturing others as political dinosaurs. During 1895 she wrote for the Lincoln Independent, at Lincoln , Nebraska . The four selections reprinted from the Lincoln Independent are broader in focus, presenting a Populist view of the failures of the gold standard and the disparity in wealth among the American people. While La Flesche wrote under her translated Omaha name of Bright Eyes, these writings contain no mention of issues concerning the Indians.

Only minor editing has been done: correction of obvious typographical errors, addition of quotation marks to distinguish among sources, and annotations in the form of notes to clarify contexts, identify people and events, and define terms.

Overloaded With Cold Tea

American Nonconformist, November 16, 1893

There is a paragraph going the rounds about a senator who was drunk during the closing hours of the silver struggle just as the vote was about to be taken. The paragraph gives no name, which is not fair to the other senators.

The man who so disgraced himself was Senator Harris, of Tennessee, one of the silver democrats who deserted the Populists at the most critical moment of the struggle by suddenly dropping the fight for free coinage.[1] It is to the credit of the mass that people in the galleries knew so little of the evidences of intoxication that they did not know or realize the exhibition that was going on before their eyes. The only thing that startled some a little was, when, he said: "Put down every word I say, Mr. Reporter." He had just made a most unexpected motion to adjourn till the next day, when the intention was to end the fight that night. Looking down at him as he stood with his finger pointed at the stenographer, I saw that Hill,[2] whose seat was in the back part of the chamber, had come to the front row where Harris sits and had taken the seat next to him as close as possible. I turned to my companion and said: "Why, it actually looks as if Hill was trying to hold him down." And I said that not dreaming or realizing that there could be any necessity for it. Almost while I was speaking Cockrell3 came up and took Hill's seat, which Hill got up to relinquish to him, which in itself was something unusual as when one senator occupies another senator's seat, the latter out of courtesy usually refrains from even approaching his seat till it is relinquished.

After Harris had adjured the reporter to take down every word he said (by the way, this remark was left out of the Record entirely) he sat down. The other thing that struck me was that some of the senators, particularly on the republican side of the chamber, were laughing in a shame-faced sort of way while Harris was speaking, but events followed so rapidly on each other, the whole attention of the people being concentrated on the coming vote, that in two or three minutes I forgot the whole matter, much less trying to account for the things that puzzled me, till the next day all Washington was talking of the exhibition that Harris had made of himself the night before. The matter was kept out of the Record and out of the papers, with the exception of brief allusions in some of them, but giving no name.

The whole matter is sickening to one who tries to believe the best one can of human nature, and what hurts one the most is the laughter of senators over a drunken old man, and that one of their own number as if it could ever be amusing to witness the degradation of a human soul. And these were men occupying the most exalted station into which their fellow-beings could place and representing the most enlightened and powerful people on the face of the earth. It sickens one to think of it, and tempts one to say: "Is this senate the best that this nation can produce as an epitome of its civilization?" Perhaps the blame after all rests primarily with the people themselves. I do believe the mass of the people are good and intend to do what is right, and if they would only take the trouble to know who they are placing in such exalted stations as the law-making departments of our country it would be better for us all and for coming generations.

This has not been a pleasant matter to write about, but the insinuations that are going the rounds without naming the central figure of the scene are not fair. If it as necessary to speak of the matter at all, the name should have been given, and if an evil is to be remedied, it should be given all the publicity possible so that the people will know how to apply the remedy. The personal character of the lawmakers of our country concerns the welfare of the nation vitally. As for having any sympathy with the culprit in question, how can one have any sympathy with a human being who deliberately chooses to make a beast of himself when it lies within his power to be man with all the noblest qualities that the word man implies.


1. Grover Cleveland sought to alleviate the panic of 1893 by fighting inflation. To do that he wanted to reduce the amount of currency issued, establish a gold standard for government debts, balance the federal budget and reduce tariffs to encourage foreign trade. When he took his fiscal plan to the first session of the Fifty-third Congress in August 1893, he succeeded in obtaining repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890. Senator Isham Green Harris, who had previously supported the inflationary policy of free coinage of silver and gold deserted the ranks and joined other Democrats and Eastern Republicans in obtaining repeal. Repeal of the Sherman Act angered other Southern Democrats and the Western senators, setting the stage for bitter debate in the next session of Congress.

2. David Bennett Hill, of New York , a Democrat elected to the Senate in 1891. However, he finished out his term as Governor of New York before joining the Senate in 1892.

3. Francis Marion Cockrell was a Democratic senator from Missouri .

Workmen Arrested

American Nonconformist, April 12, 1894

Washington is all agog over the coming of Coxey's army. Everybody seems to be afraid although they don't say so. Last night 41 forlorn, worn-out, half-starved workmen entered the city and were met in the suburbs by 41 picked men of the police force well armed, and were called on to surrender. The poor fellows not having had the slightest idea of any hostile demonstration, as was proved by their having no weapon of any description, must have been surprised, to say the least, at their reception. The captain of the pitiful little company, when he saw who had come against them, raised a white rag on a stick and they gave themselves quietly up. They said all they wanted was work and didn't care what was done to them, they had done all they could for themselves. They had started from Texas with a company of 84 and the others had dropped out in the different cities on the way as they found work. The men, although dusty and travel stained, wore decent workmen's clothes. It was easily seen that the men were famished, but they waited to be asked if they were hungry, instead of demanding food to the surprise of those in authority. There is one consolation in the fact that although they were all locked up in jail, they will be well fed. But just think of it! What a thing to be glad for, that decent respectable working men are locked up in jail when they have committed no crime whatever. A little of the apprehension which is being felt in the city was shown when one of the men was noticed to be carrying a bundle. These policemen were scared but when it was taken from the man it was found to be only a loaf of bread. A grim sort of joke, that.


1. As the panic of 1893 deepened, unemployment rates became extremely high. Large groups of unemployed men organized into "armies" and marched to make their need for work known to the state and federal government. Jacob Coxey's Army marched on Washington in the spring of 1894 with a petition for establishment of a program of public works and for the inflation of currency.

Mexican Silver

American Nonconformist, April 19, 1894

Wolcott's Mexican coin resolution which has attracted considerable attention, was finally passed after having been amended by Sherman who stuck the words "if not incompatible with the public interests" into the middle of it.1 He gave as his reason that "it would be more courteous to the president." Teller, Dubois, Stewart and Cabot Lodge spoke in favor of the resolution.[2] The most notable thing said by Lodge (Massachusetts) was the following about dealing with England:

"I would strike her on those points where she would feel it most--on her colonial trade. In the interest of silver (I am not speaking with the slightest reference to protection or free trade,) I would strike her with prohibitive duties, if necessary on her Cape diamonds. I would strike her in the same way on her Assam and Ceylon teas. I would put discriminating duties on her Australian wool. We want, if we can, to force England to take the view of the silver question which we believe is not only for our interest, but for the interest of trade, of good prices, of better wages all over the world."

Lodge seems to be very much, in his attitude toward the money question, like the man in the Bible who said "Almost thou persuadest me."[3] Really I thought the resolution was all right till Sherman said he was going to vote for it, and then I began to think there must be something wrong about it, or else Sherman was not afraid of anything that did not have "legal tender" on it. Wolcott also spoke on his resolution with his usual fire and energy and I saw Edward Everett Hale in our gallery taking notes.[4] McPherson objected to the resolution and wanted to insert "for exportation" in it, but withdrew the amendment when he found what Sherman had put in.[5] It was all right to him then.

By the by Cabot Lodge said something "funny" in his speech against the tariff bill Tuesday. He said:

"The wealth of a country is in production, and the strength of a country is in its producers. It is worse than idle to talk about consumers as if they were a vast proportion of the population, who ought alone to be considered. The mere consumers constitute not only an insignificant, but wholly unimportant fraction of the community."

Queer thing, from a logical point of view, for a cultured Bostonian to say. I had always supposed that every person in the United States was a consumer.


1. Edward Oliver Wolcott was a Republican from Colorado . John Sherman was a Republican senator from Ohio .

2. Henry M. Teller was a Republican from Colorado , Fred Thomas Dubois a Republican from Idaho , William M. Stewart a Republican from Nevada , and Henry Cabot Lodge a Republican from Massachusetts .

3. "Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost Thou persuadest me to be a Christian." Acts 27:28.

4. Edward Everett Hale, a well-known clergyman and writer, had edited Lend-a-Hand magazine (1886-1889) and was, in 1894, co-editor of New England Magazine.

5. John Rhoderic McPherson, a Democrat from New Jersey , was chairman of the Committee on Naval Affairs.

Coxey In The Senate

American Nonconformist, May 12, 1894

It took the biggest goldbug ( Sherman ) the senate could put up to answer Allen's speech on the "Coxey resolution,"[1] or rather attempt to answer it. Reader, did you ever see a little boy take up a stone to find a lot of bugs taking their noon siesta under it, and who imagines themselves safe from all disturbance, till the boy took up the stone and poked the bugs with a stick, and have you watched the sudden transformation from somnolency to consternation and animation? Well, the boy was Senator Allen[2], the stick was his "Coxey resolution," and the bugs of every description were the senators. The resolution was as follows:

"Whereas, Jacob S. Coxey, a citizen of the state of Ohio; Carl Browne, a citizen of the state of California, and C. C. Jones, a citizen of the state of Pennsylvania,[3] and all the citizens of the United States of America, were on the 1st day of May, 1894 on the grounds of the national capitol in the city of Washington, in the District of Columbia, assaulted by a police force in the service of the United States of America, and arrested and imprisoned while peaceably entering upon said capitol grounds in a quiet and orderly manner to join others then on said grounds by lawful right; therefore be it

"Resolved, that a special committee of five senators shall be appointed by the president of the senate, no more than two of whom shall belong to the same political party, whose duty it shall be to investigate and report, with all convenient speed, to the senate all the facts and circumstances connected with such arrest and imprisonment, with such recommendation in the premises by bill or otherwise as may be necessary to prevent a repetition of such outrages on the rights of American citizens hereafter. Said committee shall have full power to send for persons and papers, summons, swear and examine witnesses, preserve and report all evidence, perform and do all things in the premises such as may be essential to a full complete and thorough investigation of the matter, the expenses of which investigation and report shall be paid out of the contingent fund of the senate."

When Allen rose to speak he asked to modify his resolution by striking out the last two lines.

Harris,[4] of Tennessee , asked if it were his purpose to strike out the preamble.

Allen answered, "it was not." He had waited patiently nearly a week after this outrage had been committed on the capitol grounds expecting that Sherman ,[5] who represented Ohio , the state from which Coxey and most of his followers come, would introduce some kind of a resolution looking toward an investigation. He had supposed, of course, that the scene which took place on the 1st of May, in the presence of 5,000 people, would be promptly investigated by congress on the motion of Sherman on behalf of his constituents, but he had waited in vain, and therefore deemed it his duty, although not a pleasant one, to introduce the purpose of having a thorough and complete investigation of the remarkable and tragic scene.

He had never known of the existence of such a man as Jacob S. Coxey until he heard his name in connection with the commonweal or good roads movement.[6] He had never had any connection with him, directly or indirectly, till last Friday, when he was sent for to be consulted on the matter of his arrest and prosecution

It was a matter of entire indifference to him who this man was or what his station in life, if he was a peaceable and law abiding citizen. All he wanted to know was that fact, and that his mission to the capital was a lawful and peaceable mission and that his rights had been invaded by those in authority here to induce him to move in this matter. Mr. Coxey came here, if the press was to be relied on, for the purpose of exercising the constitutional right of petitioning the senate for the redress of what he regarded as a grievance of himself and millions of American citizens in common with him. That Coxey came here for an honest purpose he did not doubt. He (Allen) had taken occasion to say at least four different times in the senate and twice for publication out of the senate, that with the purpose of Coxey's movement to induce congress to appropriate money for the construction of roads in the different states he did not believe it wise for the government to appropriate money for that purpose. He had to deal with him and the unfortunate and possibly misguided men who accompanied him, simply in the light of American citizens peaceably petitioning congress for redress of their grievances, real or imaginary, and he proposed to show that purpose from the words of this man in an address which the police refused to allow him to read upon the capitol steps, when they laid violent hands upon him and hastened him in a summary manner from the capitol grounds.

Senator Allen then read Coxey's protest which he had not been permitted to deliver, and when he had finished the reading Senator Daniel, of Virginia ,[7] asked him if he were not counsel for Mr. Coxey.

Senator Allen--No sir; I am not.

Senator Daniel--Has not Mr. Coxey legal remedies for any wrong which may have been inflicted upon him? Has he not a remedy in the courts of this District?

Senator Allen said that the senator from Virginia did not comprehend his position. The implication contained in the senator's question that he was counsel for Mr. Coxey was not true. He had never been. The assertions that had been made within the last ten days in the chamber in connection with a similar resolution he had introduced, that he was either Coxey's counsel or in some way in communication with him, were untrue.

He had been called in consultation with Mr. Hudson, representative from Kansas, and Mr. Pence, of Colorado, upon the rights of this man.[8] He did go into the police court to defend his rights, and he wanted to say to the senator from Virginia, whose kindness of heart he recognized, that he made it the rule of his life to go wherever his duty required him to go, regardless of whom it might please or displease. He proposed to argue in the senate as well as in the police court the constitutionality of the act of 1882.[9] That was the full extent of his connection with Mr. Coxey and his cause. The rough hand that had been laid upon Mr. Coxey was laid upon the rights of seventy millions of American citizens. It was not the right of Coxey alone but the right of the American people that he stood and spoke for at this time. The police club aimed at the head of this man and his followers had been aimed at the head of every man in the country who might see proper to raise his voice in defense of his constitutional rights. It was a blow at free speech; at the right of free constitutional assemblage, and it was these rights rather than the humble individual Coxey, for which he pleaded. When Coxey came on the grounds to present his petition to the government for redress of his grievances, real or imaginary, and the capitol or metropolitan police force of the District laid violent hands on him and his followers, who were not violating the fundamental law of the nation, they became the aggressors, and in answer to the Senator from Virginia he would say that Coxey had a right under the laws of this country to maintain an action of trespass for the injuries done to him. Whether under the peculiar circumstances existing in this District Coxey would able to recover or not is entirely another question, upon which I prefer to express no opinion.

There was a singular unanimity between certain republican and democratic senators in the chamber denouncing Mr. Coxey and his followers and everything and everybody connected with the protest that his and their rights should be preserved. Important as the tariff question was, it was a mere atom floating upon the air as compared with the constitutional right of American citizens to peacefully assemble and peacefully speak their minds with reference to the public policy of the nation and to petition any branch of the government for a redress of their grievances.

The scene that had taken place on the first of May was worthy to have taken place in St. Petersburg or in the capitol of any eastern monarchy, but was entirely out of place in an orderly civilized republic like ours.

What did these men do that they deserve punishment and criticism? It may be said that they violated the law. They marched up one of the principal streets of the city and halted outside of the capitol grounds while Coxey and Browne, and possibly Jones came upon the grounds where 5,000 had assembled at the precise moment. They did not come armed; they were not backed or followed by a mob; they were not reinforced by a military or police force. When Mr. Coxey got to the middle east steps he was told in a preemptory manner that he could not even read his petition, and the police force took him bodily and forced him from the grounds of the capitol.

Not only this, but when the man who was with him, Browne, came unarmed and alone with a little banner about three inches long by two inches wide, misguided as he may have been and with a misconception of the work he would be able to accomplish, he was met with a mounted police force who used the baton and was beaten down and carried off the grounds. There was not the slightest resistance on his part. He came upon the grounds unguarded and alone, and he was met with a brutal force that had no jurisdiction whatever on these grounds, and he was beaten with the policeman's club and carried off and locked up in a dungeon in the police court of this city.

Why were American citizens thus treated? What had they done? What had they said? What had they attempted to do in violation of the laws of the country? Nothing. There was no menace, no threat, no attempt of violence on their part.

Senator Allen went on to cite the act of 1882 under which Coxey and Browne were arrested. It is too long to give here. He said that this statute contained the entire authority of the police force to arrest Mr. Coxey or any other man. Now, what was Coxey prosecuted for? When he was arrested the records of the court show that he was arrested for disturbing the public peace; that was the charge made against him; that was the charge upon which the police arrested him.

When the officers who arrested him took him before the court, they understood quite well that he could not be held and successfully prosecuted on that charge and the prosecuting attorney of the District who has prosecuted him and his followers with unbecoming bloodthirstiness, withdrew the charge and substituted another.

Allen here read the information filed against the three men and it said that he carried his little flag or banner and the other that he trod on the grass.

These charges were made and used as a mere substitute or excuse for Coxey's arrest and prosecution; but there was not a senator in the chamber, there was not an intelligent and loyal American from the Atlantic to the Pacific or from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico who did not know full well that the real charge made against this man was his attempt to exercise his constitutional right of peaceably assembling upon the capitol grounds of his nation and petitioning Congress for a redress of his grievances. He had had the temerity to come here with some of his followers, deluded perhaps, into the belief that they could induce congress to do something to relieve the distressed condition of the country, and his arrest on these two trivial charges would not mislead the people as to the real animus of the prosecution.

The officer who put his hands on this man, and the officer who used the policeman's club to strike down one of his followers, gave a savage, wicked and vicious blow to two undoubted constitutional rights of American citizens, and it was done for the purpose of stifling the cries of hunger and distress.

The statute under which the arrest was made was in direct violation of the constitution which vested the legislative power in both houses of congress, but this statute delegated the legislative power to the speaker of the house and vice president. The act was unconstitutional upon another and still more serious ground, and one, that no man, however gifted he might be would be able to successfully contradict. On the 25th of September, 1789, the first amendment to the constitution was adopted. It reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

"The act under consideration is in indirect violation of the last half of this amendment to the constitution. It has been said in this chamber, perhaps more by indirection and by inference than by unmistakable words that the power of congress to prohibit the peaceable assemblage upon the capitol grounds, is an unquestioned and unquestionable police regulation. I deny it."

Senator Allen cited some historical instances concerning the right to petition.

He said that if congress could say that American citizens cannot congregate upon the capitol grounds under proper restrictions to petition the government for a redress of their grievances, then it can with equal propriety say that they shall not congregate in the District of Columbia; and, having territorial jurisdiction of the entire nation, it would have the power to declare that they should not congregate at any place outside, perhaps of Texas or Massachusetts, Florida or Washington, or some other remote point or points, where they could not reach that branch of government they sought to petition.

I feel as if I would be doing Senator Allen an injustice if I did not give the rest of his speech verbatim, so I give it in his own words:

"The right to petition in person, as the English people enjoyed it and as our people enjoyed it until this flagrant violation of their constitutional rights, carries with it by irresistible implication the right to go to the seat of government or that branch or officer of the government to whom the petition is to be presented.

"The right to petition the government without the right to visit the seat of government is inconceivable. Such a right carries with it my right as a citizen to go to you wherever you are discharging the functions of office--to the national capitol if necessary. It carries with it my right to go to the White House, to go to the very office of the president himself, under proper restrictions and proper regulations necessary for his safety and the conduct of public business, and there refer my petition for a redress of grievance to him who is the representative of the executive branch of the government. It carries with it the right to go into the courts of justice, not by written petition alone, but to go there in person and present my cause or defense, as the case may be. It is a right to go in person to the government that I may argue a petition for a redress of my grievances. It is not merely an empty right to send across the continent to you a petition by mail, or a petition to some senator or to the president asking for a redress of grievances, but to present in an orderly and proper manner in that petition in person.

"So, sir, when Mr. Coxey came upon these capitol grounds for the purpose of presenting his petition, which I have quoted at length, a petition perfectly peaceable and couched in elegant language, and under the constitution as viewed and executed by an honest tribunal or honest officer, his rights are as sacred as those of the most exalted citizen of the land, and the policeman's club that was aimed at his head under these circumstances was a blow at the constitutional right of all American citizens to peaceably assemble, and while assembled to petition the government for a redress of their grievances.

"Sir, this right has been exercised on more than one occasion on these capitol grounds. But a few years ago the late lamented Carter Harrison, of Chicago, addressed an assembly from the capitol steps.[10] Dennis Kearney, of California, of some notoriety, also addressed an assembly from the same place;[11] and in looking over the precedents of the senate I find it has been the custom, instead of being the exception, to open the senate chamber itself to speakers upon different occasions.

"In 1866 it was opened to Bishop Matthew Simpson[12] for the purpose of delivering an address. It was opened to Murdock for the purpose of entertainment.[13] It has been opened to fully a half dozen other persons within the last 25 years.

"I read from the document I referred to: 'There have been a few instances in which the senate chamber has been used for other meetings than those of the senate. In all cases these assemblies have been of a religious or charitable nature. March 16, 1822 the chaplains of congress where granted permission to occupy the chamber on the following day "for the purpose of public worship." Dr. Sherwood and Dr. Dwight to use the chamber to explain a discovery of the laws regulating the variation of the magnetic needle.[14] January 24, 1865, Bishop Simpson was tendered the use of the chamber for the delivery of a lecture. This was by unanimous consent.'

"There is much more of this to be in Senate Miscellaneous document No. 68, fifty-second congress, second session.

"So it has been the custom until very recently to come here and occupy the senate chamber itself on different occasions for the purpose of delivering sermons, lectures, and the like.

"I recognize as fully, and am as deeply sensible as any man in this chamber can be, the necessity of police regulation for the control of these grounds and this building, but the line of demarcation is not to be drawn according to territory. It must be drawn upon other lines.

"So long as American citizens congregate upon the capitol grounds of this nation for peaceable and lawful purposes, if they do not disturb the transaction of the public business, if they do not menace the public peace, if they do not threaten or menace life or property, or obstruct the highways and passages leading to and from this capitol, no man upon the face of the earth, let him occupy whatever position he may, has the lawful right to prevent them from speaking or presenting to congress their petitions. This is the line that is observed by the constitution, and the only practical rule that can be applied in its construction.

"Mr. President, these rights were, on the first day of the previous month, ruthlessly and unlawfully violated. It will not do for any gentleman to suppose that within a week or two the attention of the American people will be turned away from this outrage and that it will be suffered to sink out of sight like many other public transactions have been lost sight of. It will not do to have this resolution and put it in some cavern or dark recess of this capitol and let it sleep with the millions of others that have preceded it.

"The American people believe that the right of peaceable assemblage and to petition the government for a redress of grievances has been assaulted and beaten down here. They believe that the right to petition the government for a redress of their grievances has been unlawfully assailed, and while they have no particular sympathy with Coxey or Browne or any other individual, they demand and will continue to demand at our hands a close and religious recognition of the right of every American citizen to come upon these grounds and petition for a redress of his grievances.

"The republican side of this chamber believe that we ought not to repeal the present McKinley act,[15] because it will bring distress to the homes of the laborers of this country, they say. They stand as they tell us, for the largest liberty and the largest measure of privilege for the laboring man. They are extremely anxious to have him afforded an opportunity to labor and to earn a livelihood for himself and family, and this they expect to accomplish by taxing the laborers and consumers of other portions of the country.

"The democratic party, on the other hand, but for identically the same purpose, say that the McKinley act must be repealed and tariff taxation reduced to the revenue necessities of the government.

"These parties are seeking to reach the same end by different roads; and yet, sir, I noticed the other day that when I presented a resolution upon this most important subject under discussion, a subject that reaches the very liberties of the citizen and lies at the very foundation of liberty, the first man that assailed my resolution was a distinguished democratic senator on this side of the chamber. The next one who assailed it was a distinguished protectionist on the other side, and the next was a protectionist sitting a little nearer the main aisle of this chamber; and the learned senator from Delaware (Mr. Gray) assailed it in vigorous terms.[16]

"There was a singular unanimity of opinion between these leaders of the republican and democratic parties as to driving poor Coxey and his followers from the capitol grounds or out of the District of Columbia itself.

"They turned a deaf ear to the constitutional right of this man. They turned a deaf ear to 70,000,000 of fellow-citizens, who spoke to them through Coxey. They turned a deaf ear to the rough and ruthless over-riding of constitutional principles. They were companions and fellow factors in praising a violation of the constitution of their nation, and yet, in the next breath, I witnessed these distinguished representatives of the two leading political parties of this country almost tearing the hair from each other in a heated discussion upon the tariff, which, it is said, is designed to relieve the people.

"Mr. President, important as the tariff question is, and as I regard it, it is not of the slightest importance to the American people when their primary constitutional rights are taken from them.

"Sir, when you stifle the rights of the American citizen, whoever he may be, who stands peaceably and lawfully under the shadow of the flag of his country and proclaims his honest opinions in a peaceable and lawful manner: when you deprive him of the right to go to any branch of his government and petition it for a redress of his grievances, then memory is a mockery, and the right of the people is taken form them by an unlawful and cruel usurpation of power.

"Mr. President, I have no desire to consume any more time in the discussion of this matter. I have done my duty as best I could. I have done it conscientiously. It is sad and not a pleasing duty to perform. If, by doing so, I shall call down upon my head the anathemas of those in power, I proclaim in this presence that I am amply able to undergo the ordeal.

"If I shall meet with the scorn and indignation of any portion of the people of this country inconsiderately expressed and afterward to be regretted, for advocating the rights and cause of the nation, then I say to such persons that I prefer their scorn and indignation, I prefer their hatred and contempt, under such circumstances, to their approval, applause, and smiles, under other circumstances."

Reader, where in all history is there a man who has made a grander stand for the rights of the people, and that almost single handed and alone against the almost invisible and therefore most powerful money power of the world? It requires tremendous force of character to uphold the right against the ill-concealed sneers of your daily associates and fight an almost invisible and intangible wrong that you can hardly lay your hands on in order to fight it with more effect.


1. See La Flesche's article "Workmen Arrested." Coxey and others were arrested and charged with, among other things, walking on the grass of the Capitol grounds.

2. William Vincent Allen was a Populist senator from Nebraska .

3. Jacob Sechler Coxey was the well-known leader of the march which had two other leaders. Carl E. Browne of California was known as a flamboyantly dressed hustler. He gave the army the its nickname "The Commonweal Army of Christ." Christopher Columbus Jones, the third leader from Pennsylvania , was only five feet tall

4. Senator Isham Green Harris, of Tennessee , was a Democrat. He was also the Senate's President pro tempore of the second session of the Fifty-third Congress.

5. John Sherman was a Republican senator from Ohio .

6. Coxey's Army was known as The Commonweal Army of Christ. Among the public works it advocated as a means of relieving unemployment was the construction of roads.

7. John Warwick Daniel was a Democratic senator from Virginia .

8. Thomas Jefferson Hudson was elected as a Populist for this session of Congress. Lafayette Pence was a Populist representative from Colorado .

9. That is, the statute used as the basis for arresting Coxey and others.

10. Carter Henry Harrison, Sr. was a former Unites States Representative from Illinois who also served as Mayor of Chicago from 1879-1893. Shortly after starting his 5th term in 1893 he was shot and killed in his own house.

11. Denis (not Dennis) Kearney (1847-1907) of California was active in the Workingmen's Party. He was well known for leading workers in protest against taxes and unemployment. He also led riots against the Chinese in California .

12. Bishop Matthew Simpson was a noted Methodist preacher. He was a good friend of Abraham Lincoln and well-known speaker against slavery. He would later deliver Lincoln 's funeral oration.

13. On May 3, 1866, James E. Murdoch gave a reading to benefit a fair to raise money for the National Home for the Orphans of Soldiers and Sailors.

14. Henry Hall Sherwood began publishing extensively in the 1830s on the magnetic treatment of diseases. His colleague has not been identified.

15. That is, the McKinley Tariff Act of 1890.

16. George Gray was a Democratic senator from Delaware .

Granny Hoar Grunts

American Nonconformist, May 24, 1894

Senator Hoar the other day, in the midst of a tariff speech, in allusion to the Coxey armies said: "I sympathize deeply with the uneasiness and distress which is manifest in all parts of the country. I lament the folly and the feebleness which has brought the country in 12 months to its present condition." [1]

How absurd to say that a great productive country like this with all its complicated commercial interests, could have been brought to its present condition in the short space of 12 months! It has taken the steady pursuit of a certain financial policy for years to bring about such a condition, and it has come about so gradually that it has been almost unobserved and is now only attaining its climax.

He says also, "these marching armies are anarchists and half-tramps." If they are what made them so? He goes on to say "The eternal law, 'In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat they bread' will prevail.[2] It will never be repealed. It will punish those who tamper with it. But like every law of divine origin it will bestow on every man who obeys it the richest gifts of God's providence--content, health, wealth, strength, happiness. To the people that obey its austere behest 'length of days is in its right hand and in its left hand riches and honor.'" [3]

Ye thousands of farmers and farmers' wives scattered broadcast over this great land teeming with plenty, who toil from four or five o'clock in the morning till nine or ten at night, with scarcely a moment's rest--how is it with you? Where is your wealth for which you have toiled thus all your lives and expect, if present conditions do not change, to toil thus till you die? Where are the homes many of you have worked for all your lives only to lose at the last? You worked, where is your wealth? You work, where is your content? You work, where is your happiness? And not only you farmers and farmers' wives, think of all the factory hands, the girls with pale, pinched faces who should be replete with life and health and the joy of youth. The children who should be at play in the fields instead of helping to earn barely enough bread and butter to keep them alive and warm.

Senator Hoar, what you have said is not true. You should have said "it ought to be so," not that "it is so."

Hoar was followed by Gray,[4] who attributed the existence of the Coxey armies to the McKinley bill. These men make me "tired."

Hoar has no business in the senate. He is a man who lives in the past and in literature. He is continually trying to fit historical instances of hundreds of years ago to present times and conditions. The world moves. I forgot though, brakes are sometimes useful, Senator Hoar may be useful as a brake in the senate to keep it from going too fast. But some people may think that the senate does not need brakes and what it needs more than anything else is to be made to "move on."

I wish some one would start up a school for the cultivation and practice of "original thinking" and offer a free education in it to Hoar, Hawley,[5] et al. The school for Sherman[6] and one or two others should be a school of morality and inculcation of the great command, "Love thy neighbor as thyself,"[7] and that an injury to one human being in the world is to the hurt of all, and the greatest injury is to the perpetrator of the injury himself.


1. The Panic of 1893 had been ongoing for almost exactly a year. For the tariff debate referred to here, see La Flesche's next article, "Debating the Income Tax." Senator George Frisbie Hoar was a Republican senator from Massachusetts .

2. Senator Hoar is quoting Genesis 3:19.

3. Concerning wisdom, Proverbs 3:16 reads: "Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour."

4. George Gray was a Democratic senator from Delaware . The McKinley Bill, which had set high tariffs to protect American goods, had been half of the legislative compromise that had resulted in the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890.

5. Joseph Roswell Hawley was a Republican senator from Connecticut .

6. John Sherman was a Republican senator from Ohio .

7. Matthew 19:19.

Debating the Income Tax

American Nonconformist, June 7, 1894

It is funny how very popular the Populists are in the senate just at this time and what particular attention and deference is paid to them throughout the discussion now going on. It is quite the "fad" for a republican or democratic senator to say, in the course of his speech, "I wish to call my Populist friends' attention to these facts and figures." No wonder Senator Allen refrained from announcing what his vote would be on the tariff bill, and no wonder he succeeded in having his amendment putting all lumber on the free list passed as well as his amendment on barbed wire.[1] The vote stood: Yeas 35; nays 24. The farmers all over the country can be proud of such a senator.

Walsh of Georgia[2] made his maiden speech on the tariff bill. He is a good speaker. He favored the income tax and free silver, and gave Cleveland[3] two or three "puffs" during the course of the speech.

Sherman made an unusually elaborate speech on the tariff.[4] It took him three hours and his secretary sat by his side receiving the sheets of his speech one by one as he delivered them. Now I will put it to my readers, whether the speech of such a man is worth reporting, and I will state why I ask the question.

Senator Walsh, who spoke before Sherman , quoted from a speech delivered by Sherman in 1870, in which Sherman gave his opinion on the income tax as follows:

"I repeat that the maintenance of the income tax is an absolute necessity for any system of internal taxes. If the Senate and house should determine after full consideration to repeal the income tax I shall favor the repeal of all taxes upon consumption that bear upon the great masses of the people. I do not believe there is any such complaint about the income tax. If I had my own way I would retain the income tax at 5 per cent making such modifications as would afford the proper exemptions; I would maintain the income tax at 5 per cent on all incomes about $1,000, and then throw off these taxes upon consumption that do oppress the poor and do take dollars out of the coffers of the people who earn them by their daily work."

Yesterday Sherman attacked the income tax. He said it was a war tax and there was no necessity for it. It was a tax on classes. The idea of taxing a comparatively few because you can reach them and because they live in large cities was an act of agrarianism and injustice. If they legislated for classes in this country then the system would break down. All men were alike under the law and the same rule should apply to all. They had no right to tax a corporation because it was a corporation. When a tax was levied it was so much taken off the stockholder, and it was a matter of gross injustice. The English did those things better. They classified incomes carefully. The idea of taxing a savings bank was enough to make his blood boil. He was going to say for God's sake--he would say for the sake of humanity--do not attempt to tax corporations, who are the custodians, the depositories of the poor. Now which of these two statements of his are we to believe.

Pettigrew,[5] of South Dakota , made a rather odd speech on the tariff, but as usual with the silver men the latter half of it merged into the money question. I think at heart he really believes in free trade, but he kept insisting and trying to prove that protection and free silver must be combined together to bring prosperity to the country. How these western silver men do hang on to the their republicanism! It is hard work trying to reconcile logically two irreconcilable things. The senator believes in "protection" because that is republican, you know, but he says he would repeal all duty on sugar and binding twine. He warned democrats that "if this bill passes the farmers of the West may join with the South and do that which will injure them and ruin you, and collect the revenues to run this government by a tax on luxuries and an income tax."

Your threat of what "may" be done is exactly what "ought" to be done Senator Pettigrew. You say you favor having everything free which is the subject of a "trust." What article of nature or manufacture is there that isn't the subject of a "trust" or monopoly?

Peffer[6] is slowly educating the senate up to his own advanced position by his frequent and numerous resolutions. He introduced one the other day that a committee be appointed to consider the constitutionality of the government ownership of all the coal beds in the United States and the best way of accomplishing that object. I suppose the only way to get the senate used to advanced ideas is to do it slowly and gently by degrees, as it were, and these resolutions of Peffer's seem to be just the thing.


1. Senator William Vincent Allen was a Populist senator from Nebraska . The second session of the Fifty-Third Congress had taken up debate on protective tariffs when it convened on December 4, 1893. To address the economic woes of the Panic of 1893, President Cleveland had called for and obtained repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act but he also wanted tariffs lowered. The bitterness engendered over the silver issue made the debate long and tedious. The House passed the Wilson Bill, which placed raw materials such as iron ore, coal, lumber, wool, sugar and others on the free list, reduced duties on cotton and woolen goods, iron and steel products, silks, linens, and others, and replaced a bounty to domestic raw sugar productions which had been provided for by the McKinley Act. To make up for the lost revenue, the Wilson Bill placed a 2% tax on incomes of $4,000 or more. The Senate ultimately passed the Wilson-Gorman Tariff Act, which included 634 amendments to the Wilson Bill, aimed at protecting favored goods and products. In reality it retained many of the protective tariffs of the McKinley Act and did little to reduce tariffs.

2. Senator Patrick Walsh was a Democrat from Georgia .

3. Grover Cleveland won the presidential election of 1892 for a second but nonconsecutive term, having also been elected in 1884. President Cleveland was a Democrat.

4. Senator John Sherman was a Republican from Ohio .

5. Senator Richard Franklin Pettigrew was a Republican from South Dakota .

6. Senator William Alfred Peffer was a Populist from Kansas .

That Rotten Old Senate

American Nonconformist, July 5, 1894

During the past two weeks the hot weather struck us at the same time with Hill and the income tax. [1] No wonder the poor senators couldn't keep their little tempers. They squabbled and called each other all sorts of "names." Our Allen called Chandler a "baboon" and told him as plain as he could that he lied, and Chandler retorted that Allen was no "gentleman" before he entered the senate, and said that when he ( Chandler ) wanted to say mean things he said them in polite and "parliamentary" language.[2]

Harris said he would like to "lay" Senator Hoar "on the table." [3] I wonder if he meant by that, that he would like to "spank" him. Hill sneeringly alluded to Harris' "plantation manners," and said he would not submit to them, and Harris said something about the "manners of the slums of New York ."

Call of Florida[4] tried to cool himself off by taking his shoes off and putting his shoeless feet on the desk in front of him, thereby shocking the sensibilities of the entire polite world, and Aldrich and Gray[5] nearly went frantic over an amendment to the effect that the books of corporations should be kept open for the inspection of the internal revenue officers or agents, and broke into fiery denunciations of the income tax and the injustice to the "poor corporations," and Vest[6] sarcastically accounted for the explosion, by the near approach of the Fourth of July. Teller,[7] as usual, administered some "soothing syrup" in the shape of a modified amendment, that when a collector thinks that a corporation has not returned a true account he shall file an affidavit to that effect with the commissioner of the internal revenue, and the commissioner shall make a request of the corporation to allow an examination to be made, and then if they refuse the collector shall make an estimate and add 50 per cent, thereto. This amendment was passed.

Teller said that he hoped the income tax would become a permanent feature in the monetary system of this country, as it was fast becoming a part of the monetary systems of the world.

It will be remembered that Sherman[8] said something a while ago about its making his "blood boil" when they talked about taxing the poor little corporations of the poor honest hard working people who put their "little savings" into them, etc., and Cullom said[9] that the president of a railway company had told him that a great many people owned a very small amount of stock in that railroad and had asked him to secure their exemption from an income tax.

Teller said that there was a good deal of nonsense in that sort of talk, and it was absurd to talk of the poor people of the country owning the railroads, and the poor people of the country owning the banks. When there were any small stockholders in a corporation they were usually swallowed up by the big stockholders.

What a pity Senator Teller is not a Populist. He is good enough and level-headed enough to be one. He is like the grain of wheat in the load of chaff of the republican party, and the grain of wheat is the only thing that makes the load of chaff worth anything. The democratic party seems to have no grain of wheat at all; that is why it has all scattered to the four winds of heaven.

Hill fought with desperate fire and energy, worthy of a better cause against the income tax. He disputed every foot of the way, inch by inch. He wanted the exemptions placed at a much lower figure than $4,000 and to humor him the democrats brought in an amendment placing it at $3,000, but when Hill instead of being grateful "pitched" into the democratic party right and left by enumerating all its sins in detail, the democrats lost their good nature and withdrew the motion, and Hill lost amendment after amendment. As fast as he lost one, he offered another. His pluck was admirable, but for what a cause! At last he turned the vials of his wrath loose on the Populists and particularly on Allen, our standard bearer, for his denunciations of the corporations and the money power. He taunted the Populists by calling them Coxeyites and said that Populism was socialism and socialism was Populism only a little more so. It was Peffer[10] who brought him down from his "high horse" by reading to him the denunciations of the republican party in the democratic platform of 1884 and vice versa, of the republican platform in 1880, and said that "if there was anything harder, uglier, dirtier and meaner than that in the Populist platform, he was entirely willing that Hill should read it." Hill answered, "Oh, well that was meant in a Pickwickian[11] sense, and that the political parties always exaggerated each other's evils during the heat of the campaign." He ended by saying that for each and every one of the members of the Populist party in the senate he had the greatest respect.

There is this significant thing about the whole incident, and that is that Hill is too much of a politician to have made all that row about the Populists, if he didn't think they were gaining in numbers and influence.

It was a curiosity to see Hill, the materialistic politician, and a "new York Politician," at that, and Peffer, the idealist, whose sole defect is that he is fifty years in advance of his age, facing each other. There seems to be a sort of subtle attraction of utter unlikeness perhaps.

After all it is the idealist who will win. Not all the materialistic Hills or the sophistical John Shermans, can stop the progress of an "idea." And what is the Populist idea? It is to put into daily practice and daily living the great central idea around which all the teachings of Jesus Christ revolve--that love is the fulfilling of the law. Love put into daily practice and daily living is the only key that will solve all the social and political problems of the world. This idea has been slowly developing from generation to generation since Christ first gave it to the world, and the germ of it has been kept alive by the best men of each generation, as witness Thomas Moore in his: "Utopia," Robert Burns in his "A man's a man for a' that," in Shelly's poems, in James Russell Lowell's earlier poems, in the works of Victor Hugo, in the lessons that Dickens taught the privileged classes of England in his novels, and Wickliff in his translation of the bible for the masses. [12]

The war against slavery was a part of the development of the idea. All history, when you bring it down to its last analysis, simply depicts the development of the idea. It has been "line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little."

That which the poets have only dreamed, the Populists are trying to put into action. They have hold of the key in that they know and feel that this high ideal can be put into practice, that it is possible to live it. Ideals are worthless and nothing if they can't be acted on. That is what the creator put them before us for; to be lived up to. In the past the poets have been too few and far between to work in concerted action for the benefit of mankind. There seem to be enough of the same way of thinking now to form a party to begin with. Our leaders may make mistakes of judgement now and then but that ought to make them press on all the more eagerly. No one has made more mistakes of judgement than Gladstone but that didn't make him stop. [13] He only kept pressing on toward the right and no man is more highly honored in the world today than he.

Even the democratic party made a step toward the right when the retained the income tax in their bill and the best men of the republican party joined them. It goes without saying that the Populist party did the same. The vote, which was on Hill's amendment to strike out the income tax, was as follows:

Yeas--Messrs. Aldrich, Allison, Chandler, Cullom, Dixon, Dolph, Frye, Gallinger, Hale, Hawley, Higgins, Hill, McMillan, Manderson, Merrill, Murphy, Patton, Perkins, Platt, Proctor, Sherman, Smith, Washborn--23

Nays--Messers. Allen, Bate, Berry, Blackburn, Blanchard, Brice, Caffery, Camden, Cockrell, Coke, Daniel, Faulkner, George, Gibson, Gordon, Hansbrough, Harris, Hunton, Irby, Jarvis, Jones of Arkansas, Kyle, Lindsay, McLaurin, Martin, Mills, Mitchell of Oregon, Pasco, Peffer, Pettigrew, Power, Ransom, Roach, Shoup, Teller, Vest, Vilas, Voorhees, Walsh, White--40


1. The Wilson-Gorman Tariff Bill, under debate here, would ultimately pass the Senate. President Cleveland was so displeased with the bill that he refused to sign it. It became law without his signature, and within a year after its passage, the 2% tax on incomes was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. David Bennett Hill was a Democrat from New York .

2. Senator William Vincent Allen was a Populist from Nebraska . Senator William Eaton Chandler was a Republican from New Hampshire .

3. Isham Green Harris was a Democrat from Tennessee . Senator George Frisbie Hoar was a Republican from Massachusetts .

4. Senator Wilkinson Call was a Democrat from Florida .

5. Senator Nelson Wilmarth Aldrich was a Republican from Rhode Island . Senator George Gray was a Democrat from Delaware .

6. Senator George Graham Vest was a Democrat from Missouri .

7. Henry M. Teller was a Republican senator from Colorado . For La Flesche's biographical sketch of Teller, see her article "The U.S. Senate" below.

8. Senator John Sherman was a Republican from Ohio .

9. Senator Shelby Moore Cullom was a Republican from Illinois .

10. Senator William Alfred Peffer was a Populist from Kansas .

11. That is, suited to the particular occasion.

12. Sir Thomas More, [not Moore] (1478-1535), English statesman and author; Robert Burns (1759-1796), Scottish poet, whose line appears in his 1795 poem "For A' That and A' That"; Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), English poet; James Russell Lowell (1819-1891), American poet; Victor Hugo (1802-1885), French poet, novelist, and dramatist; Charles Dickens (1812-1870), English novelist; John Wycliffe (1320?-1384), English religious reformer.

13. William Ewart Gladstone served four terms as Prime Minister of Great Britain.

Made a Mistake

American Nonconformist, January 4, 1895

Senator Stewart made a mistake.[1] Everybody makes mistakes, but it is not everybody who is willing to acknowledge his mistake. Senator Stewart acknowledged his. What is more, he acknowledged it before the whole senate, and what is still more he had it all put in full in the Record, so that it could be recorded permanently in the history of the country. Reader, could you or I do more to make amend when we have made a mistake? Senator Stewart made his mistake while making a speech during the silver session last September. It was all about Senator Sherman, too.[2] Senator Sherman had the bill passed demonetizing silver in 1873, and he worked for years to bring it about. When the repeal bill was passed during the extra session people around the capitol said: " Sherman has triumphed. He has worked for twenty years to utterly destroy silver and make the country adopt the single gold standard, and he has accomplished his object." On the night the repeal bill was passed triumph was visible in his face, air and demeanor.

Now I will give you the whole of Senator Stewart's mistake(?) and you can judge for yourselves whether he has made the "amends honorable." Remember that what Senator Sherman did say was said just at the opening of the campaign in Ohio , when he wanted to carry the state:

"Mr. Stewart--Mr. President, I rise to a question of privilege. In a speech which I delivered on the 5th of September last I made a misquotation. I quoted what I am about to read as having been said by the Senator from Ohio (Mr. Sherman), whereas it was said by the senator from Missouri (Mr. Bogy)3. In the hurry of the debate I did not observe in the print that the speakers were changed. In looking over the speech of the senator from Ohio I did not observe that I had reached the end of his remarks and I quoted the passage from Mr. Bogy as coming from him. I wish to correct this error. The passage from Mr. Bogy, which I ascribe to the Senator from Ohio is as follows:

"'Our coinage act came into operation on the 1st of April, 1878 and constituted the gold one-dollar piece, the sole unit of value, while it restricted the legal tender of the new silver trade dollar and the half dollar and subdivisions to an amount not exceeding $5 in one payment. Thus the double standard previously existing was finally abolished, and the United States as usual was influenced by Great Britain in making gold coin the only standard. This suits England , but does not suit us. I think with our large silver-producing capacity we should return to the double standard, at least in part, and this will constitute one of the means by which we will be enabled to resume specie payments.'

"This speech was delivered on the 5th of September last, and I make this correction and will prepare it for the reporter.

"In this connection I would say that the honorable senator from Ohio delivered a speech on the 12th of August, 1876, at Marietta, O., which was reported at length, with subheadings, in the Cincinnati Gazette of August 14 1876, in which he said:

"'I do not now, fellow citizens, enter fully upon the great question of the restoration of the old silver dollar, as the money of account, for it has not yet assumed a party aspect. I have given the subject the most careful consideration, and was the first to propose the recoining of the old silver dollar.'

"Again, in the same speech, the senator is reported to have said:

"'I was a member of the conference committee of the two houses on the silver bill. I am not at liberty to state what occurred, except as is shown by the action of the two houses. Both houses were in favor of issuing the one dollar--the dollar in legal existence since 1792, containing 412 grains, and only demonetized in 1878, when it was worth 2 per cent more than the gold dollar. It was then, and for twenty years had been, only issued for export, and was not in circulation. Still, it was a legal standard of value, as well as gold, always had been, and it was the right of any debtor to pay in silver dollars as well as gold dollars. It was his legal option.'

"'The relative value of the two metals had often varied before, and still the right remained to the debtor to pay in either dollar, and, therefore, in a cheaper dollar. The mere disuse of the coinage of the silver dollar could not, and ought not to affect pre-existing contracts. And now, when all our domestic contracts have been based upon depreciated paper money, made a legal tender for all debts, public and private, except customs and duties and interest on the public debt, it would seem not only legal, but right, in the broadest sense of the term, that we should avail ourselves of the rapid and remarkable fall of silver bullion to recoin the old silver coins, including the old silver dollar, the oldest of our coins, and with them pay our depreciated notes and thus restore the old coin standard.'"

Reader, have you noticed that Senator Stewart seems to be a "one ideaed" man? It is the "one idea" men who have succeeded in moving the world and bringing about the reforms in it. John Brown was one, Garrison was one, Luther was one, Wickliff was one, Christ was one, and so on all through the ages, and the "one idea" of all these men was to benefit humanity, and some of them lost their lives in the doing of it.4


1. Senator William M. Stewart of Nevada was a Silver Republican.

2. Senator John Sherman, a Republican, represented Ohio . The "silver session" refers to first session of the Fifty-Third Congress which met from August 7 to November 3, 1893. Silverites referred to the Coinage Act of 1873, as the "Crime of 1873," because it dropped the silver dollar from the list of official coins. However, a coalition of Western Republicans and Southern Democrats had helped pass the Bland-Allison Act (1878) which authorized the Treasury to purchase two to four million dollars worth of silver bullion per month and to coin it in dollars.

3. Senator Lewis Vital Bogy was a Democrat from Missouri . The remarks in question were from an earlier speech in the 1870's. Senator Bogy died in 1877.

4. John Brown (1800-1859), abolitionist, executed for his raid on the U.S. arsenal at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, to encourage slave rebellion; William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879), abolitionist newspaper editor; Martin Luther (1483-1546), German religious reformer; John Wycliffe (1320?-1384), English religious reformer and translator of the Bible into the vernacular.

Our Universities

Lincoln Independent, November 8, 1895

People do not seem to realize to what an extent our universities are being run to suit the views of the millionaires and corporations of the country. It is a subtle danger and it is to be regretted that the trustees and presidents of these institutions should think it necessary to curry favor with and cater to the views of such men as Rockefeller, Carnegie and Russell Sage in the fear that they may withhold pecuniary favors for endowments to the institutions under their charge.[1]

This leads them to discriminate in their choice of professors and teachers and those are likely to be chosen who lack the faculty of original thinking and full intellectual development and highest culture. Men subservient enough to regulate their utterances and smother their convictions of righteousness and truth to suit the views of a multi millionaire are not apt to be of a very high order and we need the very highest and best material in teachers for the coming generation if the nation is to be saved from the consequences of past and present mistakes in the management of affairs. There is no need of any starvation in a country teeming with plenty, or of striking workmen or of men out of work in a country full of undeveloped resources such as this. These things are not inevitable as so many people seem to imagine. These things can be prevented, together with the existence of multi millionaires by right management.

To discharge a professor from a university, one acknowledged to be a man of culture and whose talents as a teacher were recognized by his associates in the university work and by the students and the president himself to be of a very high order, because his views on the subject of a railroad strike and municipal ownership of public needs did not coincide with the views held by the president of a railroad corporation and manager of a gas trust company, is an outrage on the intelligence of the nineteenth century.

Prof. Bemis,[2] the teacher in question was not only all that we have described but also a man of high personal character and yet he was discharged from the Chicago university.

Prof. Bemis is not a socialist; he is not even advanced enough to be a populist, but he thinks it would be wise that our cities should gradually come to own in the interests of the people the street car lines, water works and gas works as is done in the cities of Glasgow and Birmingham . For this utterance "the then president of the so called gas trust refused in 1893 to render a financial favor to the university because Prof. Bemis was on the faculty."

For writing a monograph on this subject in the Review of Reviews the manager of the largest aggregation of gas works said to him "If we can't convert you we are going to down you."

When Prof. Bemis asserted that "the university ought to be in close touch with the labor question and monopoly problems." President Harper replied: "Yes, it is valuable work, and you are a good man to do it, but this may not be. This is not the institution where such work can be done." [3]

Prof. Bemis gave an address in the First Presbyterian church of Chicago July 15, 1894 and in that address occurred the following:

"If the railroads would expect their men to be law abiding they must set the example. Lot their open violation of the interstate commerce law and their relations to corrupt legislatures and assessors testify as to their part in this regard. I do not attempt to justify the strikers in their boycott on the railroads; but railroads themselves not long ago placed an offending road under the ban and refused to honor its tickets. Such boycotts on the part of the railroads are no more to be justified than is a boycott of the railroads by the strikers. Let there be some equality in the treatment of this things."

The rest of the address was a criticism on the strikers.

A prominent railroad president who was present said "It is an outrage. That a man in your position should dare to come here and imply that the railroads cannot come into court with clean hands is infamous."

President Harper wrote to Prof. Bemis that this address had caused him (Harper) much annoyance and that in the future he must be more careful in public utterances on questions that were agitating the minds of the people.

President Harper also said, "It is all very well to sympathize with the workingman, but we get our money from the other side, and we can't afford to offend them."

A wealthy and leading trustee of the university spoke on one occasion of "our side". When asked as to his meaning, he answered, " Why the capitalists' side of course."

Are our universities adopting the policy of barting out the best thought, moral character and intellectual development of the Nineteenth century because they clash with the ideas of men of such doubtful character and morality as the multi millionaires of our country who have made their money through dishonest speculation and gambling on change?

Rockefeller has given to the university of Chicago $3,000,000.

The intellectual advantages that the students may gain through the money will not offset the detriment to moral character, and the object lesson taught the students in the affair of Prof. Bemis and the Chicago university. It is humiliating.


1. John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937), Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) and Russell Sage (1816-1906, American oil magnate, industrialist, and financier, respectively, who sought to repair their public images as monopolists and ruthless businessmen through philanthropy.

2. Edward Webster Bemis earned a Ph.D. in history and economics at the Johns Hopkins University in 1885. He had taught in a number of colleges and universities before going to the University of Chicago in 1892.

3. William Rainey Harper (1856-1906), a Hebraist, had become the first president of the University of Chicago in 1891. The University had been established by the American Baptist Education Society with the financial help of John D. Rockefeller as a "Harvard of the Midwest ." Rainey had stated some time before the firing of Bemis that, "No donor has any right before God or man to interfere with the teaching officers appointed to give instruction in a university."

The U.S. Senate

Lincoln Independent, October 18, 1895

Contrary to the belief, which is quite common among populists and which seems to be derived from reading socialistic doctrines from irresponsible papers styling themselves populistic, the entire body of the senate does not consist of plutocratic thieves and corporation sharks. There are in the senate some as good, honorable and patriotic men as have ever been known in that body from revolutionary times down to the present. In the general convulsion and breaking up of parties, which will take place during this year in connection with, and preceding the coming presidential election, these men will emerge from the furnace tested and tried and as bright as silver, with the refuse burned away so that all may see for themselves the qualities of which they are made.

I have had rare opportunities during the past two years of observing for myself the course pursued by many of these senators and it has been an interesting study, as all studies from active human life are, and much more so than studies from books.

During the past year the congressional representatives of the various political parties have been slowly disintegrating, evolving and dividing themselves from their own bodies politic, and the dissolving question has been the money question. In the school of economics it is beginning to be scientifically understood that the money question represents the welfare of the people, physical, intellectual, moral and spiritual.

The money question then finally resolves itself into a question of, for the people or against the people; for the welfare of the many, or for the welfare of the moneyed few, who, to use an expressive American phrase, want to "hog everything in sight."

In enumerating and slightly sketching the senators who are likely to stand by the people when the final test comes at the presidential election of the coming year, I will give the names only of the populists, who, it goes without saying will be true, because they stood for principles rather than for office. These are Win. V. Allen of Nebraska, Kyle of South Dakota,[1] William A. Peffer of Kansas and Marion Butler of South Carolina.

John P. Jones and William M. Stewart both of Nevada, left the republican party and joined the populists during the silver session when they found, as shown from repeated votes, that the republican party, with Cleveland and Sherman [2] as its leaders would hang on the skirts of the moneyed few, and stand up for the privileges of millionaires, railroad corporations and monopolies rather than for the people.

John P. Jones has the head and calm peaceful face of a philosopher, and is one in reality. He is nothing of a politician and concerns himself little about politics, hardly ever troubling himself to make a speech, but when he does speak, and it is usually on the principles regulating money, the whole senate pays him the honor of close and undivided attention even thought the speech may occupy several hours of several consecutive days. Friends and opponents alike listen.

Since his celebrated speech of the silver session Senator Jones has been considered the acknowledged authority on all questions relating to the subject of money, and the laws and principles regulating its use.

Senator Jones was born in Herfordshire , England , in 1830 and came with his parents to this country before he was a year old. He was engaged in mining during the California excitement and since living in Nevada to which he moved in 1861, he has interested himself in the development of the mineral resources of his state. His early life was spent in Ohio , but he is essentially a western man.

His term of service expires in 1897, this being his fourth term of service in Senate.

William M. Stewart is Senator Jones' colleague in the senate. He is so well known that any description of him seems superfluous. He has a beautiful long silvery beard and is so identified with the cause of silver that the two words "Stewart" and "silver" seem synonymous. He was the first senator during the silver session who gave public voice to the almost universal indignation at the arbitrary acts of Cleveland toward the legislative department, and his shameless use of patronage in order to defeat or forward the passage of bills on the money question.

Conventional senators who hardly dared call their souls their own, gasped at the audacity of the brave and fearless "Silver Knight" as he stood alone sounding forth denunciations and charges against the president of the United States . The sight was worth seeing.

Senator Stewart was born in New York in 1827. He was in New York when, attracted by the gold discoveries in California , he went to San Francisco in 1850. He tells with pride of how he engaged in mining with pick and shovel, in 1860 he went to Nevada where he became interested in development of the Comstock lode . At the present time he has no financial interest in any silver mines, his heartfelt interest in silver being due to his interest in the welfare of the people in his state and of the people at large. His term of service expires in 1899.

Henry M. Teller of Colorado aligned himself with what are now called the silver republicans of his party and during the last two sessions became noted as the leader of that wing of his party. He is a plain blunt man and apparently a man of the people, and has repeatedly declared, both in public and private, that when the time comes, if the republican convention nominates a gold bug president, he will withdraw from that party and vote for any presidential candidate who is for free silver no matter by what party. It is such a foregone conclusion that the republican party will put up a gold bug nominee that one only wonders why Teller does not leave his party now and fight with all his might and main politically while there is still a chance to do something effective, rather than wait till the last moment

No one who ever heard Teller's impassioned appeals in the last two sessions on behalf of the people can ever forget them, and one cannot help having strong hopes of the man as a futures lease of the people, when one remember how he stood up for the rights of the people in the very faces of the old leaders of his party, and how he charged the head of his own party, Sherman, with untruthfulness on the floor of the senate.

The only dissatisfaction that could be felt during his whole course in the last two sessions was when at the close of the last session, he yielded to the importunities of his colleague Wolcott and voted for the resolution for the appointment of a $1,000,000 commission, by the president to attend an international conference in Europe .

Imagine Cleveland, the gold bug president sending commissioners to attend an international conference if it was likely to report favorably for silver! Wolcott gracefully waved his right as member of the commission in favor of Teller! Ahem. But then one can't expect perfection in such a world as this I suppose.

Senator Teller was born in New York in 1830; moved to Colorado in 1861, and his present term of office expires in 1897. He was first elected to the senate on Colorado 's admission as a state, and was secretary of the Interior under President Arthur's administration.

Edward Oliver Wolcott, of Colorado , the colleague of Senator Teller is also a silver republican. He is a fiery and enthusiastic speaker and he did declare in the last session that he would devote his life to the service of silver, but alas! must there always be a "but?" He is so plutocratic both, by instinct and association to his finger tips, that when the test comes one doubts as to what his course will be, whether for the people or against them. On the one hand is his state, all for silver; on the other are his associations and life long habits, besides which, he is even charged with being a corporation attorney at $50,000 a year. By the by, there should be a law passed forbidding corporation attorneys seats in the legislatures and halls of congress.

It does not seem possible that a man can be a friend of the people and represent them, and be a corporation attorney too.

Senator Wolcott was born in Massachusetts in 1848, moved to Colorado in 1871; is a lawyer, and was reelected last March 1895.

Among other silver republicans are Fred T. Dubois of Idaho , John H. Mitchell, of Oregon , and Richard C. Power of Montana . These men representing a strong silver sentiment may be depended on to vote on the side of the people.

Of the silver democrats, some of these who made the most noise and professed the greatest regard for the welfare of the people, among whom were Harris of Tennessee, Jones of Arkansas and Turpie of Indiana,[3] have since declared, when asked the question as to what they would do if the democratic convention failed to nominate a silver president, that in that case they would have to vote for a gold bug president, so that we will consider them out of the question in the fight for the people. Among those who stand true, we will class Joseph C. S. Blackburn of Kentucky , that fiery Southerner who has just been distinguishing himself in the eyes of the nation, by the heroic and single hand to hand fight with the leaders of his own party in his state for the rights of the people. Whether successful or not, he has won the admiration and esteem of all lovers of liberty.

Senator Blackburn was born in Kentucky in 1838; served several terms in the house before his election in the senate and his present term expires March 3, 1897.

Another whose instinct will lead him to stand by the people when the final test comes, is that "Grandest Roman of them all" John T. Morgan of Alabama . He has a worldwide repute as a statesman and his attention has been directed mostly to international questions, having several times been selected as delegate to represent the United States when questions of international import arose in Europe . His vote was ever on the side of the people whenever the money question was up for discussion, and the legal points he made as to rights of silver to free coinage equally with gold made a decided impression on the whole senate which is composed almost entirely of lawyers. The most decided hit made by any one during the session and which created laughter wherever it was mentioned, was made in what is called his "cuckoo speech," in which, alluding to the subservient obedience of the gold bug republicans and democrats to Cleveland's commands, he said, "The trumpet had sounded, the forces were marshalled, the clock had struck at the White House, and the cuckoos have all put their heads out of the boxes and responded to inform us of the time of day."

Senator Morgan was born in Tennessee in 1824, moved to Alabama when nine years old, has served five terms in the senate, has just been re-elected and his term of service will expire in 1901.


1. James Henderson Kyle was a populist from South Dakota .

2. John Sherman was a Republican Senator from Ohio . The "silver session" refers to the first session of the Fifty-Third Congress, August 7-November 3, 1893.

3. Senator Isham Green Harris was a Democrat from Tennessee . Senator James Kimbrough Jones was a Democrat from Arkansas . Senator David Turpie was a Democrat from Indiana . These men

Merry England

Lincoln Independent, November 29, 1895

England is a gold standard country and has maintained the system for a much longer time than the United States . What are the results of that system there?

One is in the habit of thinking of England as a rich country. So it is, but the wealth of that country is in the hands of only a few men. In 1819 the bill was passed placing England under the gold standard. At the time the bill passed the land owners of Great Britain numbered 160,000 persons. At the end of seven years after the passage of the act the number had fallen to 30,000 in consequence of falling prices caused by the gold standard law. At present time, according to the statement of the distribution of land ownership in England and Wales , from a work on political economy by Prof. J.S. Nicholson, of Edinburgh:[1]

"England and Wales total area is 37,000,000 of acres. A body of men not exceeding 4,500 own more than one-half. Less than 280 people own one sixth of the enclosed land. Sixty people own one eighteenth part, or 2,000,000 acres. One man owns 186,397 acres."

The following on the concentration of wealth in England is taken from the speech of Senator Jones of Nevada : [2]

"The concentration of wealth in the country is illustrated by the distribution of the national debt, amounting to over 83,500,000,000 which a short time ago, the official returns showed to be held in the hands of only 126,331 persons thus averaging 830,000 to each person owning the debt."

France is not a gold standard country and this is what Senator Jones says of France :

"The greater prosperity of the French people is illustrated by the wider and more general distribution of the public debt of that country. Even so long ago as 1867 that debt was held in the ownership of 2,095,683 persons, averaging but 82, 000 each, and since that time it has obtained even a wider distribution."

This is what John Ruskin says of the condition of his own country: [3]

"Though England is deafened with spinning wheels, her people have no clothes; though she is black with the digging of fuel, they die of cold, and though she has sold her soul for grain, they die of hunger."

Now we will take the statements of some of England 's most noted citizens.

Again I quote from Senator Jones' speech:

"Gen. Booth,[4] then enters upon an estimate, based, upon an actual industrial census of East London , of the conditions of the people throughout the country as a whole. Counting the houseless and the starving, as well as the criminals and the members of the pauper work houses all who get relief, whether indoors or outdoors, as well as those who get neither and including England only, without reference to Scotland or Ireland, after enumerating the actual figures upon which this estimates are based, he sums up the case as follows:

"This brings my total to 3,000,000 or to put it roughly to one tenth of the population.

"According to Lord Brabazon and Mr. Samuel Smith,[5 ]between two and three million of our population are always pauperized and degraded.

"Mr. Chamberlain says I am still quoting from Mr. Booth's book: 'There is a population equal to that of the metropolis that is, between four and five million--which has remained constantly in a state of abject misery and destitution.'[6]

"Mr. Griffen is more moderate.[7] The submerged class, according to him comprises one in five of manual laborers, or six in 100 of the population. Mr. Griffen does not add the third million which is living on the border line.

"Between Mr. Chamberlain's four million and a half and Mr. Griffen's one million eight hundred thousand, Gen. Booth says he is content to take three million as representing the total number of the destitute. He continues:

"Darkest England it may be said then, to have a population about equal to that of Scotland . Three million men, women, and children, a vast despairing multitude in a condition nominally free but really enslaved--these it is whom we have to save."

One may read statistics upon statistics without realizing their force. When I went to England a few years ago, I had never given a thought to the money question. I did not even know that England was the greatest of all gold standard countries. I was curious to see her people and compare them with the American people. I judged of England through her literature and thought that the people would be in keeping with the literature. The first thing that struck me in the streets of London was the poverty stricken appearance of the masses of the people. I am a small woman. Walking through one of the crowded streets of London I found myself head and shoulder above the majority of the pedestrians. Physically they looked as if they had been stunted in their growth. Such specimens of deformity as there was among them it did not seem as if such creatures could be human beings and they were to be met with everywhere in the broad well lighted streets as well as in the degraded portions of the city. One met faces constantly that looked as if they had never known better conditions, did not even know that better conditions existed and therefore could never even hope. New York is bad enough but London is worse.

In the congregations of the churches and in the audiences to be seen anywhere the exception was to see a well dressed person. The contrary was the case here at that time. I did not wander afterwards when some Englishmen who had come over here and were taking in the streets of the city of Boston asks, "have you no poor people, here?" All the people in the streets seem to be well off.

Our country has not been under the gold standard as long as England has and it has the advantage of being a new country with undeveloped resources.

The masses of the people as compared with those of the United States were poor, ignorant, and uneducated.

I heard an argument at an English dinner table between an English lady and an American. The English lady commented that it was not good for the masses of the people to be educated that it made them aspire "above the station in life in which God had placed them." I found that the education like the wealth of the country, was concentrated, the comparatively few being very highly educated, while the masses of the people had almost none.

I was continually surprised at the cheapness of everything. So many things could be bought for a penny. Penny prices or low prices mean cheap workingmen. Can a workingman earn living wages when the products of his labor are held so cheap? Low prices are caused by an insufficiency of the circulating medium for the needs of the population.

The insufficiency of money is caused through evil legislation, and this evil legislation, makes millionaires on the one hand and tramps on the other. Evil proves the existence of goods as darkness proves the light. Such conditions as are described in "Darkest England" are produced by evil legislation.

Gen. Booth's remedy for those conditions seems to be charity. Many believe such conditions to be inevitable. They are not inevitable. We populists contend that they, multi-millionaire and tramp, being produced in this country through bad legislation, the conditions can swept aside through right legislation and through the abolishment of the gold standard system of finance. Men made the laws, therefore the conditions produced by them are inevitable.


1. Joseph Shield Nicholson (1850-1927), a well-known economist, whose Principles of Political Economy, consisting of several volumes, began appearing in 1893.

2. Senator John Percival Jones was a Republican from Nevada.

3. John Ruskin (1819-1900), English writer and critic turned reformer, who criticized laissez-fire economics. His work Unto This Last (1860) promulgated a theory of the responsibility of employers to their workers.

4. William Booth was founder and General of the Salvation Army (1878). His book referred to here is In Darkest England, and the Way Out.

5. Reginald Meath, 12th Earl of Brabazon (1841-1929) and Samuel Smith (1836-1906), a member of Parliament and author of a number of works on bi-metal monetary systems. The references are probably to Prosperity or Pauperism? Physical, Industrial, and Technical Training, which Meath edited in 1888, and Smith's The Bi-Metalic Question (1887).

6. The reference is probably to Joseph Chamberlain (1836-1914), member of Parliament, who wrote and spoke extensively on tariff reform.

7. This source has not been determined

Who is Responsible?

Lincoln Independent, December 12, 1895

It is a fact that cannot be denied that the republican administration of the finance affairs of the country, under the gold standard and since the demonetazation of silver, has resulted in the making of multi-millionaires, and of an ever increasing number of men without work. This, too, in a land teeming with boundless harvests and full of undeveloped resources, which await only the energizing influence of a sufficient circulation of money to start into life.

The legislation of the government has been directed rather to the protection of the rights of money and property than to the best good of the citizen.

The law holds some one responsible if a horse is turned out to starve or is cruelly treated. The law holds no one responsible if a hardworking farmer and his still harder worked wife are turned out of their homes after years of toil and labor, because they have failed to pay the mortgage on their home. The maintenance of the gold standard by the moneyed class of the country in their own interests, has caused the low and ever lower prices for the products of the farm. The man who has served his country most faithfully is he who to the full extent of his strength and ability has performed his portion of the daily labor of the world.

What more cruel than to turn such a man with the wife and children who depend on him, out from under the shelter which they have failed to maintain from causes beyond their control? Yet no one, not even the financial manipulators of the country, are held responsible.

The law protects the man who enriches himself through the foreclosures of mortgages. It does not protect the sacred right of the farmer to live a decent life and to earn a decent living.

A struggle for existence is not a decent living. A man or woman or child may die of starvation in a city teeming with plenty. Only human life is concerned.

The people of the United States based their laws on those of England . It is not many generations ago, that in England , the law exacted a life for the theft of a loaf of bread. It is nothing to the law. A human being to sustain life steals a loaf of bread or lump of coal. Immediately the power of the law is invoked to protect the rights of property but it did not protect the right of the human being to live.

Through the protection of the law, Rockefeller put up the price of one of the necessaries of life. The poor widow with her children struggling for a bare existence, the farmer hoping in spite of ever lowering prices, (caused by financial legislation) to keep his home and educate his children; the working man whose wages are ever trembling (through financial legislation) in the balance: all are compelled to pay the tribute exacted by the millionaire. Rockefeller hands over three millions,[1] a portion of his ill gotten gains to a great university on condition that the faculty shall permit nothing to be taught which shall clash with his own views of the rights of monopoly, and that no criticism shall be made of the legislation which allows of such a deed.

The dominant ideas of the law being the protection of property as against the right of human beings to a decent living, it becomes easy for men of the Wall street stamp to manipulate the legislation in favor of the money owners as against all other classes by contracting the volume of money and thus, through lower prices taking away the right of the producing classes to a decent living.


1. This reference is to John D. Rockefeller and the founding of the University of Chicago . See La Flesche's article "Our Universities" above.

Author: La Flesche, Susette.
American Native Press Archives and Sequoyah Research Center