Archive for the ‘Blue Collar’ Category

Social Reforms – Equality in Slavery

November 1, 2011

Shall the Names of “Wife” and “Mother” become Obsolete?

THE eloquent Father Hyacinthe offers the following hints to our social reformers of the present day: In the poorer classes there was a time when woman was called wife — mother; they have baptized her now-a-days by a name that does not belong in our language — the work-woman!

The workman I know and honor, but I do not know the workwoman. I am astounded. I am alarmed, whenever I hear this word.

What? This young woman — is toil, unpitying, unintelligent toil, to come bursting in her door early in the morning, to seize her in its two iron fists, and drag her from what ought to be her home and sanctuary to the factory that is withering and consuming her day by day?

What! Is toil — brutal, murderous toil — to kill her children, or at least to snatch them screaming from their cradles and give them over into stranger hands?

And all the time a false philosophy will be lifting its head and shouting, “Equality! equality for man and woman! Equality for the workwoman by the side of the workman!”

Ah! yes, equality in slavery! Or, rather, a profound inequality in slavery and martyrdom.

The Portsmouth Times (Portsmouth, Ohio) Jul 2, 1870

Image from the New York Architecture – Gone but not forgotten website


This immense structure, now in course of erection on Fourth avenue, near Thirty-second street, New York, is fast approaching completion. The building is to be seven stories high, 192 1/2 feet on Fourth avenue, and 205 feet on Thirty-second street and Thirty-third streets respectively. It will cover an area of 41,000 square feet.

The rent to each tenant, it is expected, will be fixed at $1 a week, and food will be furnished on the European plan. A resident can live here for about $2.50 or $3 per week. The establishment is calculated to hold 1,500 persons. The ground floor will be occupied as stores.

The total cost of the structure will be about $3,000,000. This building is intended for the benefit of single women in poor circumstances, such as shop girls, sewing girls, &c.

The Portsmouth Times (Portsmouth, Ohio) Oct 15, 1870

A GOOD little girl of the period:

I want to be a voter,
And with the voters stand;
The “man I go for” in my head,
The ballot in my hand.


WOMEN who claim to have been pioneers in the woman’s rights agitation are scarce. The movement was started twenty-two years ago, and they don’t like to admit the necessary age.

The Portsmouth Times (Portsmouth, Ohio) Nov 5, 1870

WOMEN’S right and women’s tights, now occupy a deal of public attention.

The Portsmouth Times (Portsmouth, Ohio) Jan 21, 1871

Boiled Alive

June 7, 2011

Image from Saturday Action Matinee, Scouts to the Rescue (1939)


Yesterday morning about 9 o’clock a horrible accident occurred in a tannery on the corner of Fifth and Railroad avenue, which resulted in the death of Joseph Braeg, a boy of 16 years. The lad was engaged at the time in skimming a large pot of boiling tallow, which was over a low furnace, and over which he was bending. At one moment his foot slipped and he fell head foremost into the pot.

His brother Francois, who was also working in the tannery, sprang forward upon hearing the splash, and succeeded after some difficulty and after severely scalding his hands and arms in pulling his unfortunate brother out of the pot. Some men who were in the tannery placed him in a vat of cold water, imprudently, until the arrival of a physician, who applied the proper remedies. He was terribly burned, however, and lingering throughout the day in most pitiable agony, died at 5 o’clock in the afternoon.

S.F. Chronicle, April 29th.

Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada) May 1, 1876

All Hollow

September 12, 2010

Image from the LIFE magazine website. Description of photo can be found in the Life Visits the Hatfields and McCoys – May 22, 1944 – magazine article.

All Hollow.

I stood beneath a hollow tree, the blast it hollow blew;
I thought upon the hollow world, and all its hollow crew,
Ambition and its hollow schemes, the hollow hopes we follow;
Imagination’s hollow dreams — all hollow, hollow, hollow!

A crown is but a hollow thing, and hollow heads oft  wear it.
The hollow title of a king, what hollow hears oft bear it;
No hollow wiles, nor sweetest smiles of ladies fair, I follow;
For beauty sweet still hides deceit; ’tis hollow, hollow, hollow!

The hollow leader but betrays the hollow dupes who heed him;
The hollow critic vends his praise to hollow dupes who feed him;
The hollow friend who takes your hand is but a summer swallow;
Whatever I see is like this tree — all hollow, hollow, hollow.

Title: The Bridgemen’s Magazine, Volume 16
Authors: International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers, International Association of Bridge, Structural, and Ornamental Iron Workers
Publisher: International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers, 1916
Page 426

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!

September 8, 2010

A commenter on the Just One Minute blog posted the following:

Could some talented soul research the etymology of “jobs, jobs, jobs?” (Here’s hoping “etymology” isn’t the one about bugs.) First time I can recall hearing it was when James Baker was asked why it was necessary to go to war to liberate Kuwait. His answer, after a very brief pause, was “jobs, jobs, jobs.”

In a very real sense he was right, but I doubt any of his listeners understood it, and it’s about 50-50 whether he did.

Posted by: Danube of Thought | September 03, 2010 at 05:32 PM

Since I am always up for a challenge, I thought I would do a quick search. This is the only article I  could easily find with Jobs, Jobs, Jobs! because when I searched with “jobs, jobs, jobs” as the keywords, I got results for every single “jobs” which  amounted to thousands of hits. Needless to say, I did not go through all of them looking for more “jobs, jobs, jobs,” if there were any.

Anyway, this article if from 1938, and is quite good. If fact, it could be reprinted today if a paragraph or two were added about CUTTING SPENDING. So without further ado:


Comptroller of the State of New York

Unless we are prepared to say goodby to the traditional system of private enterprise that has made the United States the great nation that it is, we must do something — and do it quickly — to cure unemployment, not merely alleviate it. The sooner those who direct the destinies of this country recognize that fact, which daily is becoming more obvious, the better off all of us will be.

I think history will show that no form of government can long be safe when millions of its citizens, through no fault of their own, are permanently deprived of earning an honest livelihood.

What this country needs more than any other one thing is jobs, jobs, jobs! Not just sustenance jobs artificially created and paid for by back-breaking and punitive taxes, but a chance to create jobs for themselves and other that will increase the productive powers of the nation.

But it seems too evident for argument that before men can be put to work, business must be permitted to go to work by relieving it of the taxes that choke off every budding new enterprise.

You Can’t Blame ‘Em

In previous articles I have endeavored to show how essential to the country’s welfare is the use of accumulated savings in developing new job-giving ventures. I also have tried to demonstrate that, because of the present provisions of the Federal tax on captial gains, the tax on undistributed earnings and the punishment rates of the high brackets of the income tax, those who still have money will not employ workers or otherwise risk their money in developing new work-creating ventures because they are convinced that nearly all the profits, if any, will be taxed away.

They prefer to hang on to what they’ve got and place it in tax exempt securities at ridiculously low interest returns — and nobody can blame them.

This country still has a vast reservoir of accumulated savings and untold possibilities of further productive development; and although that reservoir is not inexhaustible or immune from stagnation through disuse, it can be tapped for vast new production if the Government will not divert too much of the flow from work-creating enterprises to work-blighting taxes.

Urges Repeal of Taxes

I believe firmly the outright repeal of these three forms of taxes we have been discussing would ultimately increase the Federal revenues — to say nothing of the general benefits to business — by a figure that would make the present estimated yield of these taxes look sick by comparison.

Why, if the business of the country could create jobs for only eight  million, the 12 million or more men now estimated to be jobless, at even a minimum of $900 a year each, it would amount to 7200 million dollars — or approximately as much as the Government is spending for every other purpose.

I have no quarrel with the Treasury officials who have been consulted by Congress on the tax bill now before it. They are concededly smart men; and, given a set of figures, they undoubtedly know how to find the right answers. But they do not seem to have given sufficient weight to the intangible but very real estimates of how many more tax dollars the Government would receive from other existing tax sources if the business activity, or turnover, of the country could be only slightly increased.

Tax Yields Estimated

It has been estimated by men of wide and illustrious experience in public finance that an increase in general business activity of 5 percent would add more than 10 percent to the Government’s net tax collections. Ten per cent of the Federal Government’s five billion dollar budget obviously means 500 million dollars. And the advocates of retention of the principle of tax punishment continue to argue about the possible loss of the comparatively insignificant sum of 20 million dollars through an even slight alleviation of the punishment!

If Congress really wants to do something for labor it can do it only by doing something for business. Labor never has been well off when business was in the doldrums.

The only way the wages of labor can be increased is through the creation of so many jobs that employers will be forced to bid for labor’s services. Broadly speaking, whenever there are more workers than jobs it is impossible to keep wages high, just as it is impossible to keep up the price of cabbages when there are more cabbages than cabbage-eaters.

Remove the Blight!

After all, capital and labor essentially are partners in the creation of the good things of life. Each is entitled to his fair share of what the partnership creates, but when nothing is produced nothing can be shared. In the last analysis, capital is only stored-up labor. Workers represent the labor of today; capital represents the labor of tomorrow. If either is to earn anything, both must work. And anything that disturbs the equilibrium between them throws production out of kilter, creates unemployment and destroys happiness.

Let us all urge Congress to remove these blighting, job-killing taxes and thus give the average man — the “forgotten man,” if you will — a chance to earn an honest living.

The Pittsburgh Press – Apr 7, 1938

Also from the same newspaper, same edition:

Some background information on Morris Sawyer Tremaine, which I found attached to his name in  The Flanders Family Tree on

Morris Tremaine studied at the old school #14 in Buffalo and also the Buffalo Normal School, followed by some studies at the Upper Canada College at Toronto.

He built up a number of businesses and became quite wealthy. When he was 17 years old he began work as a tally boy for Holland Graves & Montgomery, a lumber firm.  He was promoted to inspector for the company, later became a salesman and then manager of the branch office in New York City. In 1897 he became a partner in the company.

In 1903 he reorganized the Toledo Fire & Marine Insurance Company and became its president, while in 1905 he organized and became president of the National Lumber Insurance Company of Buffalo.  He also organized the Montgomery Lumber company of Suffolk, Virginia, and in 1905 was elected vice-president.

In 1914 he became associated with J G Wilson Corporation, manufacturers of rolling steel doors and folding partitions and by 1916 was president of the company.

In 1923 he was elected vice-president of Smith, Fassett & Company of North Tonawanda, NY – wholesale lumber dealers.  He was also director of the National Wholesale Lumber Dealers Association for some time.

He organized the King Sewing Machine Company, employing 110 men, which was later sold to Sears, Roebuck.

On January 1, 1927 he became Comptroller of the State of New York and served effectively until his death in the middle of his seventh term in 1941.

A quote (from attributed to him:

Morris S. Tremaine – “Those who believe that we have reached the limit of business progress and employment opportunity in this country are like the farmer who had two windmills and pulled one down because he was afraid there was not enough wind for both.”

“Don’t Come Here!” – Unemployment East and West

June 5, 2010

No Jobs In California.

Those in search of jobs should not seek employment in California, for they are likely to be disappointed, according to the warning just sent out. Lewis O. Whip, formerly of this county, who is now at San Diego, Cal., sent to The News a newspaper clipping which sets forth this warning. He states that, “the Eastern people are called tenderfeet out here in California.” The California Commission of immigration and Housing has just concluded an exhaustive investigation of conditions of unemployed in that state. It found there are now in the state thousands of more men than jobs, hence this warning to outsiders seeking jobs to stay away.

The News (Frederick, Maryland) Dec 29,  1914


NEW YORK, Oct. 17. — Shun New York! That is the warning flashed broadcast by Walter Lincoln Sears, newly appointed superintendent of the Municipal Employment Bureau, which opened its doors for business the first time a couple of days ago.

“New York is the worst place in the world for the man seeking employment now,” said Sears today. “I don’t like to be pessimistic, nor do I like to overstate things, but by all the signs, I fear this is going to be ‘some’ winter. If there is anything that can be done to keep the unemployed away from here it should be done. Already the number of men out of work exceeds the supply of jobs by thousands and the result is only too plain. There is going to be lots of suffering. Keep out of New York. That’s my advice to job hunters.”

Sears is hard at work rounding his department into shape so that some real good can be done this winter. The municipal free employment bureau was authorized in an ordinance which was signed May 4 by Mayor Mitchell.

A twice-a-month labor letter, in which local conditions are fully reported, is one  of the innovations planned by Sears. Sears came here from Boston in September. He was in charge of the state employment bureau there for eight years.


The municipal bureau here consists of fourteen clerks. Its offices are located at Lafayette and Leonard streets, where the floor space of 3000 square feet is occupied.

The bureau which will be maintained out of general taxes collected by the city, aims to reduce unemployment by giving free service to both employes and workers and by studying the labor market in such a manner that the worker can be sent on his way to employment as soon as a vacancy occurs.

“After all, the labor supply is an interstate proposition,” said Sears. “The federal government should take a hand and organize a national employment bureau. There are several bills before Congress, but they are unnecessary. Legislation is not needed. The department of Labor can start the venture if the funds are appropriated.”

Superintendent Sears said no municipality can do more than relieve the unemployed problem, since the industrial difficulties are nationwide. However, it is possible to do away with much waste of time and money by having the city bureau, he declared.

It has been charged that private employment offices in the city waged a desperate opposition to the new municipal bureau. The reason for this was obvious. The municipal bureau nearly put the private offices out of business. It really did that in a great many cases.

A majority of the private offices, it has been known, were simply “grafting” places. Laborers were bled for their savings by fake employment agents. Even in the best of the private bureaus, such high rates are charged that the laborers realize but little from their jobs.

Sears declared the opposition of the private bureaus had no effect for the reason that the municipal bureau fills a long felt want. It is a popular institution and the people won’t stand for seeing private interests block it, he said.

Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California) Oct 18, 1914

**Someone should have informed Mr. Sears that “taxpayer funded” is NOT free;  the taxpayers pay for it.

The Man With the Hoe

May 19, 2010

The Man with the Hoe
by Edwin Markham

Bowed by the weight of centuries he leans
Upon his hoe and gazes on the ground,
The emptiness of ages in his face,
And on his back the burden of the world.
Who made him dead to rapture and despair,
A thing that grieves not and that never hopes.
Stolid and stunned, a brother to the ox?
Who loosened and let down this brutal jaw?
Whose was the hand that slanted back this brow?
Whose breath blew out the light within this brain?
Is this the Thing the Lord God made and gave
To have dominion over sea and land;
To trace the stars and search the heavens for power;
To feel the passion of Eternity?
Is this the Dream He dreamed who shaped the suns
And marked their ways upon the ancient deep?
Down all the stretch of Hell to its last gulf
There is no shape more terrible than this —
More tongued with censure of the world’s blind greed —
More filled with signs and portents for the soul —
More fraught with menace to the universe.
What gulfs between him and the seraphim!
Slave of the wheel of labor, what to him
Are Plato and the swing of Pleiades?
What the long reaches of the peaks of song,
The rift of dawn, the reddening of the rose?
Through this dread shape the suffering ages look;
Time’s tragedy is in the aching stoop;
Through this dread shape humanity betrayed,
Plundered, profaned, and disinherited,
Cries protest to the Powers that made the world.
A protest that is also a prophecy.
O masters, lords and rulers in all lands,
Is this the handiwork you give to God,
This monstrous thing distorted and soul-quenched?
How will you ever straighten up this shape;
Touch it again with immortality;
Give back the upward looking and the light;
Rebuild in it the music and the dream,
Make right the immemorial infamies,
Perfidious wrongs, immedicable woes?
O masters, lords and rulers in all lands
How will the Future reckon with this Man?
How answer his brute question in that hour
When whirlwinds of rebellion shake all shores?
How will it be with kingdoms and with kings —
With those who shaped him to the thing he is —
When this dumb Terror shall rise to judge the world.
After the silence of the centuries?

Image from Shorpy.


(By Robert E. Jenkins, of the Chicago Bar.)

Note — Markham’s “Man With the Hoe” is an insult to every farmer and every farmer’s son in America. It draws a picture that has no foundation in fact. It is utterly vicious, in that it degrades honorable labor and promotes contempt for work and dissatisfaction, unrest and despair where there should be hope, happiness and courage. It and all similar woeful wailings are worse than worthless trash. — R.E. Jenkins.

The man with the hoe of whom I shall write,
The American man who stands forth in his might;
The American king, where hard, honest toil
Sheds halo of glory o’er tillers of soil.

This man with the hoe, the typical man,
Of the husbandman noble, and not under ban,
But free to do right, with open, fair chance,
To their own and their children’s best fortunes advance.

This man with the hoe, foundation of wealth,
Supplies grain for the trader and food to save health;
He drives away famine and want and distress,
And ushers in plenty all people to bless.

This man with the hoe is type of the best
Of our national life in the east or the west.
The ideal man of the people en masses,
The pride of Columbia, the yeomanry class.

This man with the hoe moves well in his place,
With a good manly stride and a smile on his face,
With strong, brawny arms his implement wields,
Nor leans on his hoe to gaze ’round o’er the fields.

This man with the hoe is settled for life
With the maid with the pail for his comely young wife;
They earn their own home, they toil and they strive,
They bear trials with courage and hopefully thrive.

This man with the hoe keeps up with the age,
He reads through the evening the works of a sage,
Or a tri-weekly paper or book of the farm,
Till wisdom and knowledge both give his life charm.

This man with the hoe is father of boys,
Six fine, manly sons share his cares and his joys;
They work on the farm as farmer’s boys do,
Then attend school in winter when working is through.

This man with the hoe was faithful to God,
Was sustained from above as life’s journey he trod,
Took his children to church and taught them to trust,
To observe all the laws and in dealings be just.

This man with the hoe saw his children succeed,
Grow up and go forth different callings to lead,
Saw the lawyer, the merchant, the farmer contented,
The pulpit and platform and press represented.

This man with the hoe and his true, loving wife,
Blessed the world and were each blessed with long, happy life;
Was honored with office and places of trust,
The reward of the man who is earnest and just.

The man with the hoe, the man with the hoe,
You can find him abounding wherever you go,
One knowing him not has wailed o’er his lot,
And drenched him with tears, though he needed them not.

Who in our country most laurels has won,
The barefoot from the farm or the millionaire’s son?
This one in his ease fails high purpose to press,
The other necessity drives to success.

These men of the hoe, look on them with pride!
In all trades and professions through the land far and wide
The farmer’s boy heads, Hard work made him strong,
Take the hoe for his emblem! Enshrine it in song.

Oh man of the hoe, oh man of the plane,
Oh man of the brake on the swift rolling train,
Man of the toilers whoever you be,
Your labor is patent of true dignity.

The pess’mists standard for men is all wrong,
He rails at the wealthy and envies the strong;
‘Tis manhood, not money, we should prize here on earth,
What a man is, not has, along measures true worth.

Most sons of the rich and all sons of ease,
Who lazily live and seek themselves but to please,
Are failures indeed. For all life is strife
And worth only to live is the strenuous life.

Shame on the teachers of hopeless despair,
Who call man a brute, crushed down under care;
Who degrade and debase in their doctrine of woe,
The real, manly, triumphant, good man with the hoe.

The Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) Jul 5, 1899


Its Author Received the Tribute That Parody Pays to Genius.

Kansas City Journal: No publication of recent date has evoked such widespread and varied discussion as Prof. Edwin Markham’s “The Man With the Hoe.” Markham took as his text Millet’s picture, showing an uncouth peasant leaning on his hoe and staring into a blank world with eyes deadened to all intelligence. There can be no question as to the power of the poem from a literary standpoint. All the critics admit that. But there is hot disputation over the question of whether or not the painter and the author have made a true characterization of a class of humans really existing in the civilized world. The poem degrades the man with the hoe to a level with the beasts of the field, and the two most striking verses are here repeated:

“Bowed by the weight of centuries he leans
Upon his hoe and gazes on the ground,
The emptiness of ages in his face,
And on his back the burden of the world.
Who made him dead to rapture and despair,
A thing that grieves not and that never hopes.
Stolid and stunned, a brother to the ox?
Who loosened and let down this brutal jaw?
Whose was the hand that slanted back this brow?
Whose breath blew out the light within this brain?

“O masters, lords and rulers in all lands,
Is this the handiwork you give to God,
This monstrous thing distorted and soul-quenched?
How will you ever straighten up this shape;
Touch it again with immortality;
Give back the upward looking and the light;
Rebuild in it the music and the dream,
Make right the immemorial infamies,
Perfidious wrongs, immedicable woes?”

One thing, however, is sustained by every American critic. There is no such being in America as is here pictured. If intended to apply to the American agricultural laborer we must agree with Mr. Ralph E. Jenkins of Chicago, who has contributed an article holding up to admiration the “qualities of self-respect, independence and intelligence to be found in the American rural classes.” With considerable heat Mr. Jenkins says: Markham’s ‘Man With the Hoe’ is an insult to every farmer and every farmer’s son in America. It draws a picture that has no foundation in fact. It is utterly vicious, in that it degrades honorable labor and promotes contempt for work and dissatisfaction, unrest and despair where there should be hope, happiness and courage. It and all similar woeful wailings are worse than worthless trash.”

As is true of every poem worth remembering, many imitations have been made of Markham’s verses and not a few parodies. In the Chicago Time-Herald Mr. S.E. Kiser gives us the picture of a drunken man hanging to a post, together with some lines, from which we quote as follows:

“Bowed by a weight of fiery stuff, he leans
Against the hitching post and gazes ’round!
Besotted emptiness is in his face,
He bears a load that still may get him down
Who made him dull to shame and dead to pride,
A thing that cares not and that never thinks,
Filthy, profane, a consort for the pig?
Who loosened and let down that stubbly jaw?
Whence came the scum adhering to those lips?
What was it clogged and turned away his brain?

“O masters, lords and rulers in our land,
Must this foul solecism still
Be tolerated in an age when men
Grasp power from the circumamorent air
And speak through space across the roaring gulfs?
Must this vile thing be left to wed at will
And propagate his idiotic spawn,
A shame upon the age in which we live,
A curse on generations to be born?”

And then comes Hester A. Benedict, in the Pacific Ensign, denying that “Down all the stretch of hell to its last gulf, there is no shape more terrible than this.” She holds that lower yet is the woman who must consort with this bestial thing, saying:

“Look into that ‘last gulf,’ O poet! I pray thee,
Down, down where its nether cave leans,
And find there — God help us — a ‘shape’ to gain-say thee,
A shape that affrighteth the fiends.
And listen, O listen! For through all the thunder
A voice crieth — heavy with woe —
‘I, I am the woman, the woman that’s under
The heel of “The Man With the Hoe.”‘

“She is the begotten of derelict ages,
Of systems senescent the flaw,
She is the forgotten of singers and sages —
The creature of lust and of law.
The tale of the ‘Terror’ — the ox’s brute brother,
Can never be told overmuch,
But she is the vassal, and she is the mother,
The thrice-accursed mother of such.

“Look up from that last gulf, thou newest evangel,
Thou builder of ladders for men,
Look up from the pleading, pale face of the angel
That wooeth a prince of the pen.
And sometimes, a little, tho’ half the world wonder,
And critics cry high and cry low —
Sing out for the woman — the woman that’s under
The heel of ‘The Man With the Hoe.'”

Of the parodies that have been written perhaps none is better calculated to affect our risibilities — particularly at this season when the voice of the lawn mower is heard in the land — than a bit given without the name of the author in the Chicago Tribune:

“Bowed by the meanness of the act, he leans
Upon the handle, gazes on the ground.
With empty stomach — ’tis but 5 a.m. —
And on his back naught but an undershirt.
Who made him dead to other people’s rights,
A thing that cares not how much woe he makes,
Stolid and selfish brother to the ox;
His is the hand that shoves that thing along
Whose loud, infernal racket breaks the sleep!
Is this thing, made in likeness of a man,
To have dominion o’er the neighborhood;
To end the tired dreamer’s morning nap;
And shall no victim have the right to shoot him?
Is this the dream of all the ages past,
For whose sake bends the spacious firmament?
Down all the block to its remotest house
There is no dread so terrible as this —
More potent to o’erwhelm the soul with wrath,
More filled with portent of a day’s unrest —
More fraught with emphasized profanity!

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

O masters, lords and aldermen, give ear!
How will ye deal out justice to this man?
How answer when some gaunt, long-suffering wretch
Whose slumbers he has murdered craves the right
To punch his head off and once more bring peace
To a distracted neighborhood? Ye men —
Ye men who rule the town, ’tis up to you!”

Daily Iowa State Press (Iowa City, Iowa) Sep 9, 1899


Question of His Responsibility for His Condition.

To the Editor of the Tribune —

Sir: Would it be possible through your paper to gain an expression of the opinion held by women in general on that topic so widely discussed of late, “The Man with the Hoe?”

Interest in the subject is not confined to those able to make a literary or artistic criticism; women who are students of the most elementary psychological and sociological questions are seeking to know how much of the blame for “The Man’s” condition ought really to be thrown upon the man himself. There seems to be in Mr. Markham’s verse no recognition of any obligation on the part of each individual to assume a share of the responsibility of his own intellectual advancement. Regard, if you will, “the man with the hoe” as a type of his class, and that class of the lowest social order; he surely cannot be divested of some responsibility for his own condition. Then is society wholly to blame for the existence of such as he?

Certainly no thoughtful person can have seen Millet’s picture or a reproduction of it, without receiving a profound impression, in part sobering if not saddening. Yet there are those who have gazed upon the painting and have found there portrayed a certain peace. To me, at least, there is no hopelessness in the man’s pictured figure; rather it speaks of thankfully taking a rest, found sweet because earned by strenuous effort. I claim that Millet’s peasant is not the oppressed creature represented by the poet. I deny the oppression. To say that this labor is oppressed because he works at a task that compels him to look more often at the earth than at the sky is as unreasonable as to declare that the millionaire oppressed when he is taxed to the full value of his property and is required to keep up repairs.

Mr. Markham calls upon the world to answer for the man’s “dulled brain.” He leads us to forget for a time that in the beginning all were dull of brain; that men must raise themselves, and that they can only do so through unceasing education. It is unfair to charge the world with effects springing from the free will acts of the individual. Such free acts, wrongly directed, have brought “The Man” to his present state. He should, I hold, be regarded as the result of the practice of shirking mental exertion.

No one can question, however, the responsibility of the world to lend needful aid or to even urge it upon any who are striving for personal development; yet, if the man’s “dulled brain” will not rouse him to response, impel him to action, he must abide the consequences. To make the world answerable for the result would be a monstrous wrong. What “made him dead to rapture and despair” but his own unheeding of the first faint impulse to reach beyond? Mental slothfulness checked desire, will to overcome was not put forth, and so it is sadly true that

Down all the stretch of hell to its last gulf
There is no shape more terrible than this,

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *
More fraught with menace to the universe.

Thus “The Man” now. He is here, the result of ages of self-neglect. In the far dim past the choice has made; some remained as “brothers to the ox” and some elected to know

Plato and the swing of Pleiades,
***the long reaches of the peaks of song.

But even yet, if this man will cast aside the indolence of mind which has cursed his race, he, too, may see

The rift of dawn, the reddening of the rose,

as they were seen by the first venturers in the field of thought. And though it is eternally true that man himself must make himself, it does not follow that no responsibility rests upon the seeing to help the blind. Women, whose work it is to uplift into light and beauty the lives of the lower classes, feels this and is striving to overcome wherever it is possible the effects of ages of mental indolence.

The slothfulness of the adult is almost incurable, yet free self-activity must be stimulated, and they who believe “the child to be father to the man” look to the little ones whose youthful training will help them to battle against some of the evil brought into the world by the great Army of the Unthinking. Can we not believe that the kindergarten toddler of today is able to grasp as deep a thought as that which dawned on the comprehension of the first man who did not shirk mental exertion in those long past ages when reflection began to challenge humanity to a struggle? And this child, though he may become a man with a hoe, a veritable toiler, need he be as a “brother to the ox?”

— F.J.S. in New York Tribune.

The Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) Aug 7, 1899

The general opinion of the enlightened public seems to be, after due consideration, that Mr. Markham, the poet of the “Man with the Hoe” got the cart before the horse when he suggested that this poor man was the creation of the rich and the powerful. On the contrary the man with the hoe antedates all other men of modern times and the rich and the powerful are his creation.

It was the man with the hoe in its ancient rude form that began the structure of civilization. Then he got a plough and became better off, then he invented agricultural machines of all sorts and wealth and culture followed.

He is now as he always was, the author and finisher of all civilization. The poet who would try to make a brute of him is a degenerate. Having within him all the springs of progress and wealth if he is a brute he is a self-made one. It is “the man with the growler” that is an off scouring of civilization, not the man with an implement of agriculture in his hand.

The Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) Aug 18, 1899

There is a singular relationshiop of blood and marriage among these perils. They are interwoven and concomitant. Unlike as are the men in whom they are separtely embodied, the man through whom they all become possible is the celebrated “man with the hoe.”

HEAR A PARABLE OF THE MACHINE, THE MONEY BAG, THE MOUTH AND THE HOE. The man with the machine persuaded the man with the hoe to vote precisely as he told him and thus made himself of much value as a commodity of barter or an instrument of assessment. The man with the money bag, desiring protection or power, went into the market place and found there the man with the machine, whereupon these two discovered a community of interest. This worked well until the man with the hoe grew suspicious that his part in the transaction, while the most important, was the least profitable. Then appeared the man with the mouth, promising to wind up the concern, distribute the assets and alter the laws of nature so far as necessary to effect a universal exchange of hoes for money bags. This programme was not fully carried out, but the machine was put temporarily out of repair, the money bag was sent abroad for its health, the mouth had an opportunity to explain some of its promises and retract the rest, and THE HOE, HAVING MARCHED IN SEVERAL PROCESSIONS AND GAINED MUCH EXPERIENCE, WENT ON HOEING AS BEFORE.

I do not mean to say that this somewhat allegorical description has ever been completely realized on any large scale in our country, but certain fragmentary features of it may be dimly recognized here and there in our politics. Men whose chief distinction is their wealth, men, whose only profession is the manipulation of political wires (underground), men who are related to real statemen as quacks to real physicians, have at times found their way into our ruling classes. Their presence is a menace to the integrity and security of the democracy.

The Newark Advocate (Newark, Ohio) Dec 9, 1901

The Man With the Hoe


The New Version.

“Who, indeed, is the ‘Man with the Hoe?'”
Said the preacher whose price is ten thousand or so,
“He’s nothing to me; he never has given
A dollar to buy my reserved seat in Heaven;
To be sure, our churches from taxes are free,
And the ‘Man with the Hoe’ pays the tax, but you see —
If churches were taxed and the tax couldn’t shirk,
Then some of us preachers must needs go to work.
And that would ne’er do, for we’re called of the Lord
To preach about Jonah, the Whale and the Gourd.”

“From the soles of your feet to the crown of your head
The ‘Man with the Hoe’ has clothed you.” I said,
“And even that binding of calfskin you prize
Because it preserves superstition and lies
Which you say are ‘holy,’ so, of course, it is so,
Was made by the overworked ‘Man with the Hoe.'”
But the preacher was shocked; he really didn’t know —
He guessed he wouldn’t bother ’bout the “Man with the Hoe.”

“Who in Hell is this ‘Man with the Hoe?'”
Asked the political boss, with his millions in “dough.”
“He’s the man who created the wealth you bestow
On race touts and gamblers and much vulgar show;
He’s the man who you rob by political stealth
And the woman who slaves to pile up your wealth
Through laws that are passed by your corrupt ‘pull’ —
He’s the man whose eyes you keep covered with ‘wool.'”

Yet this Man

Gathers the fuel and boils the pot
And cooks the dinner for the whole blessed lot
Of liars and loafers and political bums —
Then weeps that for him the good time never comes.
Then he follows the wagon and “carries the can,”
And goes to the polls and votes for their man.
The biggest damned fool in this whole “bloomin’ show”
Is this very same fellow, this “Man with the Hoe.”

Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio) Mar 23, 1904


William J. Lampton, after reading Markham’s world-famous poem, penned this, “The man with the ‘Dough'”:

Bowed by the weight of capital,
He leans
Upon the bank,
And gazes on the ground
That looks to him to people it
With all producing industries;
He fills the emptiness of ages
With his energy,
And on his credit bears
The burden of a world
That needs his strength;
Wealth makes him dead
To doubting and despair.
A thing that grieves not
And who always hopes,
Stolid and Stunned,
The brother to the ox
Is raised by him
To higher brotherhood,
Who loosens and lets down the jaw
That chews up Poverty?
Whose hand slants back the tide
Of panic and defeat?
Whose breath blows out
The light of failure and decay?
The man with the “dough.”
And don’t you forget it.

Title: International wood worker, Volume 14
Authors: Amalgamated Woodworkers’ International Union of America, Machine Woodworkers’ International Union of America
Publisher: Amalgamated Wood-Workers’ International Union of America, 1904 (Google book LINK)

The Forgotten Man

May 18, 2010

“The forgotten man” has become a sort of a joke, even among Democrats. But it doesn’t seem funny to the man looking for a job.

Berkeley Daily Gazette – May 11, 1933


IT WOULD NOT be easy, if possible, to advance a serious political thought that had never occurred to any thinker before, or to express it with a catchy phrase never used before — unless by coining a brand new slang phrase — and it is not to be supposed that so sincere and scholarly a person as Franklin D. Roosevelt had any notion of impressing the country with anything entirely original when he brought out his “Forgotten Man.” Nevertheless it struck the country either as something new or in a new place, and has aroused much discussion, doubtless because most people thought it was new. Brisbane having said that Roosevelt “invented” it set the literary folks to digging and here are the results.

The “Forgotten Man” was “invented” as far back as 1883 by Professor William Graham Sumner of Yale University who wrote a treatise on “What Social Classes Owe to Each Other,” in which appeared one chapter headed, “A Certain Man Who Is Never Thought Of,” and another headed, “The Case of the Forgotten Man Further Considered.” In these chapters Professor Sumner wrote:

“The type and formula of most schemes of philanthropy or humanitarianism is this: A and B put their heads together to decide what C shall be made to do for D. The radical vice of all these schemes, from a sociological point of view, is that C is not allowed a voice in the matter, and his position, character and interests, as well as the ultimate effects on society, through C’s interests, are entirely overlooked. I call C the Forgotten Man.

“It is plain that the Forgotten Man and the Forgotten Woman are the real productive strength of the country. The Forgotten Man works and votes — generally he prays — but his chief business in life is to pay. His name never gets into the newspapers except when he marries or dies. He is an obscure man. He may grumble sometimes to his wife, but he does not frequent the grocery, and he does not talk politics at the tavern.

“The Forgotten man is not a pauper. It belongs to his character to have something. Hence he is a capitalist, though never a great one. He is a poor man in the popular sense of the word, but not in a correct sense. In fact, one of the most constant and trustworthy signs that the Forgotten Man is in danger of a new assault is that the poor man is brought into the discussion. ***

“Any one who cares for the Forgotten Man will sure to be considered a friend of the capitalist and an enemy of the poor man. *** The Forgotten Man never gets into control. He has to pay both ways.”

Since that time many politicians have used this idea with particularly telling effect. There is a strong emotional appeal in being a “Forgotten Man,” or in considering such a man. Walter H. Page, formerly ambassador to Great Britain once used it to describe the more unfortunate people of the Southern states. Governor Roosevelt described the “Forgotten Man” at some length in a radio address last April, in which he said:

“These unhappy times call for the building of plans that rest upon the forgotten, the unorganized, but the indispensable units of economic power, for plans like those of 1917, that build from the bottom up and not from the top down, that put their faith once more in the “Forgotten Man” at the bottom of the economic pyramid.”

St. Petersburg Times – Oct 10, 1932

Interesting how the author of the above opinion piece quotes Mr. Sumner, and even uses the asterisks to draw attention to the quotes, then goes on to quote FDR, whose statement is completely contradictory to those quotes!

Lofty, Yes. But noble? Probably not. Edwin Markham seems to have read The Forgotten Man, but I am not so sure he grasped the real meaning, or just chose to ignore it.  Mr. Sumner’s point, as I understood it,  was  in order to “give” to somebody, you must take it from someone else, and it is always taken from the Forgotten Man.  If that’s the case, then in order to really help him, you need to cut spending,  cut taxes, and eliminate  cronyism and trade unions, which create the burden that is heaped  onto  The Forgotten Man.

The Forgotten Man

NOT on our golden fortunes builded high —
Not on our boasts that soar into the sky —
Not upon these is resting in this hour
The fate of life future; but upon the power
Of him who is forgotten — yes on him
Rest all our hopes reaching from rim to rim.
In him we see all of earth’s toiling bands,
With crooked backs, scarred faces, shattered hands.

HE seeks no office and he asks no praise
For all the patient labor of his days
He is the one supporting the huge weight;
He is the one guarding the country’s gate
He bears the burdens on these earthly ways;
We pile the debts, he is the one who pays.
He is the one who holds the solid power
To steady nations in their trembling hour.
Behold him as he silently goes by,
For it is at his word that nations die.

SHATTERED with loss and lack,
He is the man who holds upon his back
The continent and all its mighty loads —
This toiler who makes possible the roads
On which the gilded thousands travel free —
Makes possible our feasts, our roaring boards,
Our pomps, our easy days, our golden hoards.
He gives stability to nations he
Makes possible our nation, sea to sea.
His strength makes possible our college walls —
Makes possible our legislative halls —
Makes possible our churches soaring high
With spires, the fingers pointing to the sky.

SHALL then this man go hungry, here in lands
Blest by his honor, builded by his hands?
Do something for him; let him never be
Forgotten; let him have his daily bread;
He who had fed us, let him now be fed.
Let us remember all his tragic lot —
Remember, or else be ourselves forgot!

ALL honor to the one that in this hour
Cries to the world as from a lighted tower —
Cries for the Man Forgotten. Honor the one
Who asks for him a glad place in the sun.
He is a voice for the voiceless. Now, indeed,
We have a tongue that cries the mortal need.

Gettysburg Compiler – Oct 22, 1932

The Mill Girls – Going, Going, Gone

April 12, 2010

Pepperell Mill Workers

Image description from Maine Memory:

Pepperell Manufacturing Company was a cotton textile mill which operated at the Saco River falls in Biddeford for 100 years from 1849-1949. The company was named after Sir William Pepperell, a Maine soldier and merchant. Pepperell made sheeting and blankets many of which were shipped to Asian countries. Pepperell still exists today in some form due to mergers.

At mid century, ongoing labor strife and rising tension between mill owners and their increasingly savvy female work force led to a shift in the composition of mill workers.

Cropped Image from Shorpy


The Yankee factory girls are ‘some.’ In Maine recently, the Proprietors reduced the wages, whereupon there was a general determination to strike; and as they were obliged to give a month’s notice before quitting work, they have meanwhile issued a circular to the world at large, in which is the following paragraph:

We are now working out our notice, and shall soon be out of employment — can turn our hand to most anything — don’t like to be idle — but determined not to work for nothing where folks can afford to pay. Who wants help? —

We can make bonnets, dresses, puddings, pies, or cake; patch, darn, knit, roast, stew and fry; make butter and cheese, milk cows, feed chickens, and hoe corn; sweep out the kitchen, put the parlor to rights; make beds, split wood, kindle fires, wash and iron, besides being remarkably fond of babies — in fact, can do anything the most accomplished housewife is capable of, not forgetting the scolding on Mondays and Saturdays; for specimens of spunk, will refer you to our overseer.

Speak quick! — Black eyes, fair foreheads, clustering locks, beautiful as a Hebe, can sing like a seraph and smile most bewitchingly; any elderly gentleman in want of a wife, willing to sustain either character; in fact we are in the market.

Who bids?

Going, going, gone.

Who’s the lucky man?

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Jan 20, 1849

Mill Girl

Image from cover of:

Title    The Lowell offering: writings by New England mill women (1840-1845)
Author    Benita Eisler
Editor    Benita Eisler
Edition    illustrated
Publisher W. W. Norton & Company, 1998



She Says that Agent Lyon Draws a Salary of $12,000 a Year, Which if True Would Make Him the Best Paid Agent in Lowell.

Under the caption of “Grinding Down Mill Girls” the following letter has been received by THE SUN:

Mr. Editor — I thought I would write a few lines to you to give an idea of what the life of a Lowell mill girl is at the present time. I have worked for 20 years in a Lowell mill, and having shared all the ups and downs of mill life for that length of time, I doubt if many mill girls are better acquainted with mill life than myself. In looking back to my first years as an operative, comparing them in regard to the amount necessary nowadays, I find we do twice the amount of work for less money nowadays. Of course, people will say that we do not work as long hours as we did 20 years ago, which is all very true; but take the cotton weave room girls, twenty years ago she ran five looms, and was considered a fine weaver; today she must run eight looms to hold her own. So it is in every department of the mill. The machinery is speeded so that the machines turn out more work, so I feel confident in my statement that mill girls do twice the amount of work for less money.

I think it is a burning shame the way mill owners treat the operatives. It is easy if you stop to think how owners become rich while operatives become poorer. The former would like to bring the operatives down to a level with the ignorant classes in some pars of Europe. We see a sample of them on our streets with a handkerchief tied over their heads, instead of a hat, and wearing a dress all colors of the rainbow. I thank God for free America and the stars and stripes that protect us, and the old Bay state with Governor Greenhalge to look after the children, and see that they are sent to school and receive a proper education before they are allowed to go into these factories, so that when they reach manhood and womanhood they will be able to speak for themselves and not allow mill owners to squeeze the very life out of them in order to get rich.

The merchant receives as good a price for his goods today as he did ten years ago. If you wish to buy a piece of cotton cloth you will pay as high for it as you did ten years ago. You can get a remnant a little cheaper perhaps, but for perfect goods the prices are the same.

I think it is a shame to keep down the mill girl the way mill owners are doing by reducing wages so often and then closing the mills. No trade or business suffers as much as that of mill operatives. If a dressmaker is able to make one dress a week she gets her price; if she makes two dresses she gets double wages. If the mill girl makes good pay the mill agent at once makes a cut down.

Can it be wondered at that there are are so many strikes? or so much going on in mill circles? The owners make money and the more they make the more they want; they engage heartless men to manage the affairs. I pity the people who work under them, and there are a few on the Carpet. Just at present there are many people suffering from the Carpet strike. It is a just strike. If the stockholders cannot afford to raise wages, why do they not cut down the salaried men? Why do they rob the help and pour the money into the pockets of the stockholders?

When Agent Lyon first came to work for the Lowell company he was content to work for $4000 a year, and now he is receiving $12,000. There are $8000 which should go into the pockets of the operatives.

As long as he has been in Lowell he does not know how to manage the brussels department, and so he has an overseer to help him out; one is as good as the other. The weavers say that the overseer does nothing but make trouble; in the morning he does a little writing and the rest of the day walks around with his hands in his pockets, and for this gets $6 a day.

He watches the weavers like a cat does a mouse, to see if they do anything which needs reporting to the agent. Brussels weavers working on the piece need no watching. These are things which the public should know, and as THE SUN is not brought up by the corporations I believe you will willingly give a few things about mill life in Lowell and the strike going on in the Carpet mill.


Lowell Daily Sun, The (Lowell, Massachusetts) Jun 2, 1894

Image from Shorpy

LINK to Shorpy Historic Picture Archive


“Sweet Ballston girls,” — said Ben one day,
While they were gaily spinning —
“Upon my honor I will say,
“You all are deuced winning.”
“If I but had a fortune now
As ample as my will,
Not one of you, henceforth, I vow,
Should work within that mill.”

“Ah!” — said a pretty blue-eyed miss,
A fair and rosy creature;
With lips that seemed but made to kiss,
And love in every feature —
“With such a will there are but few,
But easier said than done;
Yet this I’d do, if I were you,
Begin to-day with one.

Title    Centennial history of the village of Ballston Spa: including the towns of Ballston and Milton
Authors    Edward Fabrique Grose, John Chester Booth
Publisher    Ballston journal, 1907


Two Aged Sisters Taken to County Home To-day.


Their Industry Recalls Hood’s “Song of the Shirt” — At Last One Sister Became Ill and the Other Was Obliged to Give Up Work and Nurse Her — They Were in Pitiable Condition.
After years of toil and striving to earn an honest living and to keep together, Catherine Coffey, 65 years old, and her sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Smith, two years younger, were taken to the Onondaga county home at 3 o’clock this afternoon from the rooms at No. 119 Seymour street, where, thanks to the generosity of a Syracuse business man by whom they were formerly employed, they have lived rent free for several years.

Hood’s “Song of the Shirt” with a twentieth century setting tells the story of the two aged women. Born to hard work, they have never known anything else and ever since their girlhood they have kept up their poor home by their own exertions. They belonged to the class of sewing women now almost extinct — the kind who would go out to do tailoring by the day in families where the clothing of the boys and sometimes of the man was home made and where two or three times during the year the tailoress came to make over old garments and to make up new ones. This was forty years and more ago, however, and as “store clothes” became cheaper and more commonly used, the demand for the kind of work that the sisters could do became less and less.

They Were Industrious.

The younger sister married, but her husband was soon taken from her by death, and compelling her to take any means that offered to earn a livelihood. And opportunity finally offered to take work home for several custom and ready made clothing houses and of this the women eagerly availed themselves. For years they went every week for the bulky package of unmade garments and returned them neatly put together and finished. “Stitch, stitch, stitch” — it was the same story repeated over and over for close upon twenty years.

But as the sisters grew older and feebler and less able to work, less money flowed into the little treasury and the outgoings began to exceed the incomings. They were frugal and economical to the point of parsimony, but try as they might, they could not always obtain even the few and scanty articles which they were obliged to class among the necessities of life. They counted themselves more than fortunate when one of the members of a firm which had given them employment told them that, if they wished to do so, they might move into a part of a house belonging to him where they could live rent free. With the burden of fearing the monthly visit of the landlord off their shoulders, they felt that their way would be easy, but as their ability to work grew less, they found that even fuel, food, and clothing meant heavier expenses than they were able to meet.

Mrs. Smith Stricken by Illness.

They strove bravely, for independence, however. The packages of clothing were still called for, but they became smaller and took a long time in the making than had been the case before. At last, Mrs. Smith fell sick with inflammatory rheumatism, brought on, perhaps, by lack of sufficient warmth and nourishment, and her sister was obliged to give up her work in order to have the time to care for her. Then it was that Miss Coffey had to ask for aid from the Department of Charities. An inspector was sent to the room of the two aged women and found a pitiable condition of need. The sick woman was lying on the slates of a bed covered with two thin, old blankets and the covering over her was sadly insufficient. There was little furniture in the house and almost no food, but the women said that they thought that they would be able to work again in a short time and only wanted temporary relief.

The physician who was called to attend Mrs. Smith, however, said that her illness would probably be of long duration and that, unless her sister were relieved of care and responsibility, it would only be a matter of a short time before she, too, would be completely broken down. The devotion of the two was so great that it would have been impossible to part them, and, after much persuasion, they were induced to go to the County home, where it is hoped that they may regain their strength and where they will be better provided for than they have been in years.

Syracuse Herald (Syracuse, New York) Apr 30, 1906

The Song of the Shirt

by Thomas Hood

WITH fingers weary and worn,
With eyelids heavy and red,
A woman sat, in unwomanly rags,
Plying her needle and thread–
Stitch! stitch! stitch!
In poverty, hunger, and dirt,
And still with a voice of dolorous pitch
She sang the “Song of the Shirt.”

“Work! work! work!
While the cock is crowing aloof!
And work–work–work,
Till the stars shine through the roof!
It’s Oh! to be a slave
Along with the barbarous Turk,
Where woman has never a soul to save,
If this is Christian work!

Till the brain begins to swim;
Till the eyes are heavy and dim!
Seam, and gusset, and band,
Band, and gusset, and seam,
Till over the buttons I fall asleep,
And sew them on in a dream!

“Oh, Men, with Sisters dear!
Oh, men, with Mothers and Wives!
It is not linen you’re wearing out,
But human creatures’ lives!
In poverty, hunger and dirt,
Sewing at once, with a double thread,
A Shroud as well as a Shirt.

“But why do I talk of Death?
That Phantom of grisly bone,
I hardly fear its terrible shape,
It seems so like my own–
It seems so like my own,
Because of the fasts I keep;
Oh, God! that bread should be so dear,
And flesh and blood so cheap!

My labour never flags;
And what are its wages? A bed of straw,
A crust of bread–and rags.
That shatter’d roof–and this naked floor–
A table–a broken chair–
And a wall so blank, my shadow I thank
For sometimes falling there!

From weary chime to chime,
As prisoners work for crime!
Band, and gusset, and seam,
Seam, and gusset, and band,
Till the heart is sick, and the brain benumb’d.
As well as the weary hand.

In the dull December light,
And work–work–work,
When the weather is warm and bright–
While underneath the eaves
The brooding swallows cling
As if to show me their sunny backs
And twit me with the spring.

“Oh! but to breathe the breath
Of the cowslip and primrose sweet–
With the sky above my head,
And the grass beneath my feet,
For only one short hour
To feel as I used to feel,
Before I knew the woes of want
And the walk that costs a meal!

“Oh! but for one short hour!
A respite however brief!
No blessed leisure for Love or Hope,
But only time for Grief!
A little weeping would ease my heart,
But in their briny bed
My tears must stop, for every drop
Hinders needle and thread!”

With fingers weary and worn,
With eyelids heavy and red,
A woman sat in unwomanly rags,
Plying her needle and thread–

Stitch! stitch! stitch!
In poverty, hunger, and dirt,
And still with a voice of dolorous pitch,–
Would that its tone could reach the Rich!–
She sang this “Song of the Shirt!”

A Fatal Kick for Humbug Schuster

April 6, 2010


Reading Officers Leave to Make an Arrest at Millerburg.

A report reached Reading that a homeless man, who goes by the name of “Humbug Schuster,” and well known in and about Millersburg, this county, had died after being kicked by a resident of that place. His injuries were of such a severe character that it was thought advisable to put him to bed. He failed to rally and in less than 24 hours was a corpse. Schuster was about 55 years of age. The dead man was a traveling umbrella mender, and it is said had been drinking heavily. He strolled into the bar-room of the Bordner hotel, kept by Levi Knapp, and soon became engaged in a conversation on politics. William Goodman, a cigarmaker, came in and joined in the discussion. Schuster became angry, and it is claimed made an effort to assault Goodman, who seized him and threw him aside. The umbrella mender made another dash for Goodman and struck him. In return Goodman knocked him down and kicked him, fracturing three ribs and inflicting internal injuries. Schuster’s remains were buried at Salem cemetery, Millersburg, the funeral being held from Dieffenbach’s undertaking establishment. Goodman is a married man with a family and a well known cigarmaker. He gave himself up immediately after he learned that the kick had proved fatal and he has since been confined in a room in his residence. His house is being guarded by citizens. District Attorney Rieser and Coroner Rothermel were notified of the affair.

County Detective Bauknecht swore out a warrant before Alderman Kirschman, at the instance of the district attorney, charging the accused with aggravated assault and battery. No charge of manslaughter will be brought until the exact cause of the death can be ascertained. At 9 a.m. Mr. Bauknecht and Constable Beck left in a carriage for Millersburg. They will proceed to Womelsdorf and then drive 14 miles to their destination.

Reading Eagle – Apr 9, 1898


Wm. Goodman, Who is Charged With Causing the Death of “Humbug Schuster,” Prostrated.

William Goodman, a Millersburg cigar manufacturer, was arrested, Saturday, by Constable Beck on a charge of aggravated assault and battery and placed under $1,000 bail.

This is the outcome of the death of Julius Londor, alias “Humbug Schuster,” at the Bordner hotel, Millersburg, Thursday morning.

The affair has created a sensation in that part of the county, and Goodman is confined to bed at his home with nervous prostration because of the affair, and at times is said to be delirious.

The affair was reported to District Attorney Rieser, and he placed the matter in the hands of County Detective Bauknecht, who swore out the warrant, which was served on Goodman while in bed, in the presence of ‘Squire Klinger. Mr. Snyder, a well-to-do farmer, living near Millersburg, and Goodman’s father-in-law, went the accused’s bail.

The officers were told that last Tuesday evening Mr. Goodman and Levi Snyder were talking politics at the hotel, when Schuster interrupted, and Goodman said, “Go away, I don’t like you.” He refused, when Goodman threw him between two chairs. Schuster arose and made a rush at Goodman, when he knocked him down and kicked him once. Schuster was unable to get up, when he was carried to bed. Dr. Henry Batdorf was summoned, and it was found that several ribs had been fractured. Schuster is reported to have been intoxicated. He died on Thursday morning, and on Friday morning the remains were interred in the Millersburg cemetery.

An inquest was held by Deputy Coroner Swope, of Frystown, Thursday at midnight. The jury consisted of Henry Kline, Israel M. Kline, William Deck, Frank Wagner, Isaac Barr and Henry Dieffenbach. Dr. Batdorf testified that sever of deceased’s ribs were broken, but there were no other bruises, when the jury returned a verdict of death from heart failure. James Spangler was employed by Mr. Goodman as a nurse for Schuster, and remained with him until his death.

Detective Bauknecht reported the facts to District Attorney Rieser, and stated that there was a sentiment in the neighborhood that the body should be taken up and an examination made. Mr. Rieser could not understand the verdict of the coroner’s jury or the hast to hold the funeral. He stated that it was quite likely that he would order the body exhumed and a post mortem held to determine the cause of death. It is likely that a warrant charging Goodman with manslaughter may follow the post mortem. Because of his condition it was impossible to move Goodman on Saturday. William Rick will likely be his counsel.

Goodman told Constable Beck that he was sorry it had occurred and that he knew his temper had gotten the best of him. He has the reputation of being a quiet inoffensive citizen.

Reading Eagle – Apr 10, 1898


Coroner Rothermel heard testimony at Millersburg in the case of Julius Landover, alias “Humbug Schuster,” who, it is alleged, died from injuries received by being kicked by William Goodman. The commonwealth was represented by Coroner Rothermel and County Detective Baucknecht, while Mr. Goodman has Attorneys Wm. Rick and J. Howard Jacobs to look after his interests. Among the witnesses examined were: Levi Napp, proprietor of the hotel; John Miller, Wm. Stupp, Edwin Weber and Eli Emerich. Dr. Schmehl, who held the post-mortem on Sunday, as not present, but presented his written report through the coroner. The jury deliberated for nearly 2 hours, when they returned a verdict that “the deceased, aged 56, while having a brawl in the barroom at the Bordner house with Wm. Goodman, was fatally injured. According to testimony, Landover was kicked on the chest and on the left side, fracturing the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th ribs. We, the jury, are of the opinion that the above named’s death was caused by injuries of the left pleura, superinduced by fractured ribs.” While the inquest was being held a second post-mortem was made by Drs. Loose and Wethered, of Reading, and Drs. Brobst and Beyerle, of Bernville. The result of this examination was not given out.

Reading Eagle – Apr 13, 1898


Only Minor Cases Disposed of the First Day.

District Attorney Rieser consulted the court in reference to the trial of the 2 manslaughter cases down on the calendar. There are so many cases to be heard that it was feared these cases would not be reached. It was decided to draw 2 juries at the end of the week, and try William Goodman, charged with manslaughter, in connection with the death of “Humbug” Schuster, and Chas. A. Ludwig, William Richards and H. Killian on a similar charge, in connection with the death of Josiah Mauger, next week.

Reading Eagle – Jun 13, 1898


A Day’s Doings in Criminal Court — Surety of the Peace Prosecutions.

…In the case in which Wm. H. Goodman is charged with causing the death of “Humbug” Schuster at a hotel at Millersburg, the accused will be defended by Wm. Rick, and Jacobs & Keiser, while Assistant District Schaffer is for the prosecution. Goodman plead not guilty. His jury was drawn in the afternoon.

Reading Eagle – Jun 18, 1898


Wm. H. Goodman on Trial on the Charge of Causing the Death of “Humbug Schuster.”

William H. Goodman, cigar manufacturer, of Millersburg, was tried before Judge Endlich, charged with manslaughter and aggravated assault and battery in connection with the death of Julius Landau, alias “Humbug Schuster,” an umbrella mender, on April 5. County Detective Bauknecht is the prosecutor. J. Howard Jacobs and William Rick represented the defense, while Assistant District Attorney Schaeffer was for the prosecution. The court room was well filled. Manslaughter is the killing of a person without malice.

County Detective Bauknecht said he had heard of a bar room fight at Millersburg, made an examination and was ordered by the district attorney to bring the present suit.

Levi Knabb, the landlord of the hotel at which the affair took place, testified: “Humbug Schuster came to my hotel on the morning of April 5, and remained all day. Goodman came in between 6 and 7 in the evening. Schuster was in the room at the time. A man named Snyder, and Schuster were talking politics. Goodman and I transacted business. Snyder told Schuster to talk politics to Goodman. Schuster went to Goodman and wanted to take hold of his vest. Goodman told him to go away. The bar room was full. Then Goodman started to leave the room, when the 2 came together. I saw Goodman push Schuster away. He fell between 2 chairs, when he jumped up and struck at Goodman, and he was pushed over the second time. It was  fair push. Schuster swung about and fell on his knees and elbows, when Goodman kicked him. I saw him, but don’t know whether it was a hard kick. Schuster could not get up, when I put him on a bunk and placed blankets on him. He was not quite sober when he came, and he drank 5 whiskies during the day. He groaned when kicked. Both seemed to be cross and excited. Later I placed Schuster on a lounge, and the next day put him to bed. I called in a doctor. This happened on a Tuesday evening, and on Thursday morning, 36 hours after, he died. I sent word to ‘squire to notify the township coroner. An inquest was held, Thursday evening and he was buried on the 7th or 8th. As soon as he was kicked he groaned and said he had pain.”

Cross-examined by Mr. Jacobs: “Schuster was annoying Mr. Goodman. Schuster was offensive when he was drunk. When he went to Goodman I told him to sit down and he went to the stove and when Goodman started for home Schuster met him before he got to the door. I heard Schuster swear and fuss at somebody. After the first fall, Schuster got up at once and struck Goodman, when he was kicked. Goodman became excited a little after being struck. The injured man walked upstairs unaided afterwards. I told Goodman after the first push not to kick. Schuster was then down.”

Elias Emerich, living above Millersburg, who was at the hotel at the time, testified: “Don’t know how the men got together, but saw Schuster fall between the chairs, from a push, and then he was pushed down again, and kicked in the left side. Don’t know if it was a hard kick. Then I went out, aid Schuster yelled a little. I think both were very excited. Goodman said he did not want to have anything to do with Schuster because he had once sold him a stolen shirt.”

Cross-examined: “I took a drink with Mr. Goodman, and remained at the bar all the time. Schuster may have struck Goodman, but I did not see it.”

John Miller, living 3 1/2 miles from Millersburg, at the hotel at the time, testified: “I heard Goodman tell Schuster to keep quiet, as he did not want to have anything to do with him. Schuster went behind the stove and grumbled, and when Goodman left the bar Schuster went in front of him and was pushed down. Goodman moved away a little. Yes, he could have gone out. Schuster got up and they struck at each other. Schuster was struck in the face, and it drew a little blood from the nose. He tried to strike Goodman, and was pushed away, so that he fell, when he was kicked, while down on his knees and elbow. It was a hard kick, I judge. Don’t know how hard it was — not feeling it. I heard Mr. Knabb tell them to stop. The men were angry.”

Cross-examined: “Mr. Goodman only got cross after Schuster went for him. I was 10 or 12 feet away, and the room was crowded. Schuster may have struck Goodman, but I did not see it. Schuster always went toward Goodman, and had more liquor than he should have had. Don’t know if he was generally abusive when in that condition. He was a tramp. The barroom is about 14 by 20 feet.”

Frank Wagner corroborated the other testimony, “Schuster after being told to sit down, said he was not afraid of Goodman, and I saw him strike at Goodman. After being pushed down, he got up and tried to strike the second time, and when pushed down the second time, he got tangled in the chair, and then Goodman kicked him in the left side. He drew his foot back for the kick. Schuster groaned. Another man and I helped him up. He was buried about 8 a.m. on Friday.”

Cross-examined: “When Schuster came the second time, Goodman took several steps away from him, Schuster followed. He swore before and after he was kicked. Goodman was prevented from going out by Schuster.”

Wm. Deck corroborated the other witnesses, “When Goodman came in, Schuster caught hold of him, and when he was going to leave the room Schuster stopped him.”

Mr. Goodman is a little above the medium height, florid complexion, well built, has dark hair and is dressed in a gray business suit. He has the appearance of a man laboring under a mental strain. All of last week he was about court awaiting the calling of his case, scarcely speaking a word to any one. He sits at the defendant’s table closely listening to every word of the testimony.

Coroner Rothermel testified that on April 10 he had the body exhumed, and was present when the post mortem was held, and several ribs on the left side were fractured, one of them in 3 places, and there were other injuries.


Mr. Goodman’s defense was that he entered the hotel to transact business, when Schuster caught hold of him. He was told to go away, and when he started to leave the bar room, Schuster attacked him, with a violent blow from behind, and in turning, he blow landed in his eye. He admitted pushing him down and giving him a shove with his foot.

Reading Eagle – Jun 20, 1898


Verdict of Not Guilty in the Millersburg Manslaughter Case.

It required the jury in the case of William H. Goodman, charged with manslaughter, 4 hours to agree on a verdict. The case was given to them at 2:30, Tuesday, they came in at 6:30 and handed their verdict to Judge Endlich, Wednesday morning. Mr. Goodman was charged with causing the death of an umbrella mender, named “Humbug Schuster,” at the Millersburg hotel, April 5. There was a racket and Mr. Goodman is alleged to have kicked deceased. William Rick and J.H. Jacobs were counsel for defendant, while Assistant District Attorney Schaeffer was the prosecuting attorney.


The jury found Mr. Goodman not guilty and were discharged with pay for 3 days. There were 7 ballots taken. On the first there was one vote for guilty and 2 jurors did not vote. On the 3d ballot, there were 4 for guilty, and on the 7th, all were for acquittal.


Levi Cramp, heater, Robeson; A.F. Dotterer, farmer, Longswamp; John R. Gerhart, farmer, Lower Heidelberg; Oscar Graeff, carpenter, Penn; David F. Gresh, shoemaker, Douglass; John Ludwig, farmer, Spring; Frank E. Meitzler, laborer, Longswamp; S.D. Merkel, sawyer, Greenwich; H.H. Miller, farmer, Perry; John Rourke, laborer, 2d ward; S.S. Wolfskill, merchant, Lower Heidelberg; Peter Worst, laborer, Longswamp.

Reading Eagle – Jun 22, 1898

The Wreck of the Old No. 97

December 1, 2009

No.97 Wreckage



Of Those Who Met Death, All Were Trainmen or Mailmen — Nearly Everyone on the Train Was Either Killed or Injured.

Fast mail train No. 97 on the Southern Railway jumped the track near Danville, Va., Sunday afternoon, killing nine men and injuring seven.

The following are the names of the known dead:
James A. Brodie, engineer, Statesville, N.C.; J. Thomas Blair, conductor, Central, N.C.; John L. Thompson, postal clerk, Washington D.C.; W.N. Chambers, postal clerk, Washington D.C.; mail clerk in charge, name not yet learned; Clarence White, Statesville, N.C.; D.T. Flory, Nokesville, Va., postal clerk; P.N. Ardenwright, Mt. Clinton, Va.; postal clerk; a flagman and a brakeman, names unknown.

All the injured men are seriously hurt. There were eighteen persons on the train.

The trestle where the accident occurred is 500 feet long, and is located on a sharp curve. Engineer Brodie was a new man on that division of the Southern and it is said he came to the curve at a very high rate of speed.

The engine had gone only about fifty feet on the trestle when it sprang from the track, carrying with it five mail cars and an express car. The trestle, a wooden structure, also gave way for a space of fifty feet.

At the foot of the trestle is a shallow stream with a rocky bottom. Striking this the engine and the cars were reduced to a mass of twisted iron and steel and pieces of splintered wood. As the cars went down they touched the sides of the Riverside cotton mill, which is very close to the trestle.

A great crowd of people was soon at the scene of the wreck. No one on any of the cars had made an effort to jump, and the bodies of all those killed and injured were found in the wreckage of the different cars to which they belonged.

All unofficial opinions that have been ascertained agree in giving only one cause for the wreck, the high speed of the train on the sharp curve.

Carroll Sentinel (Carroll, Iowa) Sep 29, 1903


Terrible Disaster on the Southern Near Danville, Va. — The Post Mail Goes Over a Trestle — Four Cars Wrecked, Nine Killed and Seven Injured.

Danville, Va., Special, 27th, to Charlotte Observer.

No. 97, the Southern Railway’s fast mail, plying between New York and New Orleans, plunged over a trestle north of this city this afternoon, killing nine men, injuring seven others and completely wrecking three mail cars and one express car.

The killed are:

J.L. Thomspon, railway mail clerk, of Roxboro, N.C.; W.S. Chambers, railway mail clerk, of Midland, Va.; D.P. Flory, railway mail clerk, of Nokesville, Va.; P.M. Argenbright, railway mail clerk, of Mt. Clinton, Va.; J.A. Broady, engineer, of Placerville, Va.; J.T. Blair, conductor, of Spencer, N.C.; A.G. Clapp, of Greensboro; Flagman S.J. Moody, of Raleigh, N.C.; a 12 year-old son of J.L. Thompson.

The injured are: Lewis W. Spies, of Manassas; Percival Indenmauer, of Washington; Chas. E. Reames, of Charlottesville; Jennings J. Dunlap, of Norwood, N.C.; N.C. Maupin, of Charlottesville; J. Harrison Thompson, of St. Luke.

All of the above are railway mail clerks. It is said that this is the first time that Engineer Broady ever ran a mail train and the supposition is that he was running too fast and was not entirely familiar with his road-bed.

The wreck occurred on a steep grade, the latter embracing the trestle, which is in the shape of the letter “S.” The train was probably running at a rate of between 50 and 60 miles an hour when the engine left the track. The train ran some distance on the crossties, plunging over the trestle at a tangent, when the engine was about half way across.

The engine and all of the cars fell 75 feet to the water below. The last car tore up a considerable section of the trestle. The engine struck and was buried in the bed of the creek. The cars piled on top of the engine, all of them being split into kindling wood. The engineer was found some distance from his cab, horribly mangled and dead. All of the bodies save one have been recovered.

The train carried nothing but mail and express. The mail was not much damaged, considering the extent of the wreck. Some loose registered letters and the valuables of the dead men have been recovered. The express matter was considerably injured.

Among the express consignments were a number of crates containing canary birds. The birds were not hurt and were singing when taken from the wrecked cars.

Two small boys, names unknown, were playing under the trestle when the wreck occurred. They were thrown down and injured, but not seriously.

A woman, in a delicate condition of health, witnessed the wreck from her chamber window. She fell to the floor unconscious and it is not believed that she will live.

The mail coaches were taken in charge by R.B. Boulding, a clerk who spends his Sundays in this city. He arrived on a train within half an hour after the disaster. Mail clerks were sent on special trains from Richmond, Charlotteville and Greensboro, N.C., to assist in rescuing the government property.

The wreck itself beggars description. All of the cars are battered into kindling wood and the engine is buried in the mud of the creek. A wrecking crew is laboring to remove the debris so that the trestle can be repaired for the continuance of traffic at as early an hour as possible tomorrow.

All of the injured mail clerks were taken to the Home of the Sick in this city, where they received medical attention.

At a late hour it was learned that Lewis W. Spies is in a critical condition and will probably not live through the night.

The other victims may recover, although the physicians can give out no definite information as to their condition. One man, name unknown, is still in the wreck. He can be seen, but the debris under which he is lying has not been removed.

Express Messenger W.F. Pinckney escaped injury.

Landmark, The (Statesville, North Carolina) Sep 29, 1903


At the Blue Ridge Institute & Museum website:

Song “Wreck of the Old 97” Lyrics and Audio