Popular misgovernment in the United States















Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair; the event is in the hand of God.Washington

Great numbers of discerning Americans must by this time have been brought to realize that something practical must shortly be done in this country by the believers in private property and private property rights to safeguard the nation from its threatened invasion by Bolshevism, Socialism and other various forms of anti-individualism, or else we are in for a hard and possibly a bloody struggle to maintain the very fundamentals of our social and political systems. From time to time in this country as in every other there occur periods of extraordinary danger to the political structure. In the past we have had several such episodes, the most noted being that of the secession movement culminating in 1860 and 1861. The seriousness of the present menace of communism in its various forms is due not so much to the strength of the communist faction, considerable though it be, as to the weakness of our civic structure consequent upon the long continued and increasing general distrust and suspicion of our actual political agencies and the confirmed popular dissatisfaction with their operations. Meantime, nothing adequately effective either in the way of strengthening our institutions or of disarming opposition thereto is being done or has even been proposed. A lot of vigorous denunciation has been directed against native{2} and foreign Bolshevism, all thoroughly deserved and not without effect on the public mind, but falling far short of positive acts of defense or protection. Bolshevism is in the field not merely as an abstract doctrine, to be answered with words, but as an active and aggressive force which must be met by measures of active resistance. Such measures to be effective must take the shape of the creation of practical means and methods of offense and defense. The case is not one which admits of trifling; the attack is fundamental, the danger is vital, and cannot be effectually met by superficial expedients.

Now there is happily one available measure of protection and defense against Bolshevism and all its assaults, one which is manifestly appropriate and will be absolutely efficacious. It is one which has long been highly desirable for other reasons hereinafter set forth, but which in view of the menace of radicalism is now imperatively demanded. It consists in such a reform of the electorate itself as will make it impassible and impervious to every influence subversive of our basic institutions. An electorate of male private property owners of twenty-five years of age and upwards would constitute an absolute barrier against all attacks on private property from any quarter; its establishment would summarily and forever terminate all hopes of Bolshevistic revolution in this country and ensure the American people freedom to enjoy the noble future which Providence has made possible to them.

The cause of private property rights is in the truest sense the American cause and that to which all other national causes political and social are subordinate. Those rights involve almost everything which is dear to the American heart. Even our governmental institutions are of secondary importance, they are the instruments merely; the means whereby we seek to obtain among other aids and aims the protection of private property, the absolute assurance to each American of the use and enjoyment of the fruits of his toil, of his self denial and of his foresight. This view is not novel in our politics. It was thoroughly familiar to our Eighteenth Century statesmen, it{3} was part of the political faith of some of the most prominent among them, including a majority of the political leaders of the Revolutionary epoch. They endeavored to secure these ends and to ensure the future of the new nation by requiring wherever possible a property qualification for voters. Had this practise and its underlying principle been adhered to and (with proper modifications for changed conditions as they might occur) had the government been continued on the basis on which the wise and prudent men of that time endeavored to establish it, it would at this moment represent a satisfactory approximation of a true and scientific democracy able to hold in safe derision its critics and enemies. But the principle of a properly qualified electorate, so vitally essential to an efficient democracy has been repudiated and abandoned; the practise of unlimited white suffrage has been general amongst us for about ninety years, and today there can be no doubt that there is a prospect of danger to our country, not because of lack of courage and loyalty in her sons, but because of the unhealthy organism of our body politic, whose modern basic principle, unlimited suffrage, ignores property rights, and looks to control by the representatives of the inefficient and the proletariat whenever they can secure a numerical majority at the polls, thus incidentally accomplishing what Bolshevism directly aims at.

And now that private property rights heretofore considered as unquestionable are openly attacked, we must prepare for their defense, for the defense of the family, of the American social system and the free individual life, all three of which depend on private property for their existence. The time has come when the institution of private property must be formally recognized and defended as fundamental to our existence as a nation, and such recognition requires and involves the allotment to that institution of a place and influence in our electoral system. Private property cannot safely rely for its defense upon officials who are dependent upon the votes of the non-property holding populace. There is no way of{4} final avoidance of the issue, or even of long postponing it. This nation must either declare itself definitely as adhering to the principle of private property rights or it must expect disaster. And first, the cause of private property rights needs organization and self consciousness. Property holders cannot properly defend a cause which has never declared itself and which has neither standard nor leaders, while its enemies have both, and are not only proclaiming their convictions with courage, but have enacted them into living statutes wherever they have power. If the institution of private property is to endure in this country it must be formally recognized as representing a sacred cause, to be carefully committed into the hands of its friends; the electorate must be made over into a property qualified body, and all temptation to Bolshevism must be removed from the American politician. Let this be done, let the constitution of every State be amended so that our voting mass shall be virile and substantial, and freed from the element of effeminacy and inefficiency now so controlling; give the conservative good sense of the nation a rallying point, an official standard, an authoritative creed, and it will speedily make short work of the enemies of social order and of sound political institutions.

But there is a great deal more to be said in favor of a property qualification for voters than that it will be a wall against Bolshevism. It will act on our political internal system as a tonic and a purifier. It sometimes occurs in politics and statesmanship that two mischiefs are so bound together that they can be destroyed at one blow. Such was the case in 1861-1865, when the causes of the perpetuation of the Federal Union and the emancipation of the black race became by the logic of events so involved as to be practically united, and when by the triumph of the northern armies the mischiefs of chattel slavery and disunion politics were made to perish together. And in like manner we now find not only that unqualified or manhood suffrage is the chief source of our weakness in dealing with Bolshevism, but that it has been in the past and{5} still is the principal cause of our political corruption and governmental inefficiency. And therefore it has come about that the cause of private property and property rights is so bound up with the cause of administrative purity and efficiency in our government that by the one measure of the establishment of a property qualification for voters the perils of the menace of Bolshevism and the mischiefs of political corruption and inefficiency may be dispatched together.

It is in fact principally to the corruption and inefficiency of manhood suffrage government that we owe the popular dissatisfaction out of which the hopes of American Bolshevism are bred and nourished. The failure of democratic institutions in this country must be admitted and it is almost entirely due to the operation of manhood suffrage. We have aimed at theoretical perfection, the natural conditions have been most favorable; we have loudly called the world to witness the experiment, and the world has condemned it as a political failure. This statement will hardly be challenged, but it is well supported by available proof, and need not rest merely on the assertion or opinion of the writer. And right here the reader may as well be informed that it is the author’s intention to support his material assertions with such evidence as the nature of the subject permits. Such readers as are tolerably familiar with American political history will recognize the truth of most of the statements of fact contained in these pages; but the reasonable doubts of the politically uninstructed will be removed as far as conveniently possible by reference to records and to the testimony of reliable witnesses. Here therefore we quote on this branch of the subject from an address of Henry Jones Ford, President of The American Political Science Association, delivered at the Annual Meeting at Cleveland, December 29, 1919.

“There was at one period an enthusiastic belief that in the Constitution of the United States reflection and choice had at last superseded accident and force, and that a model of free government was now provided by which all countries and peoples might benefit.{6} The effect upon governmental arrangements was once very marked, but complete examination of the documents shows that this influence soon spent itself, and a decided change of disposition took place. If, for instance, one shall attentively consider the constitutional documents of all the Americas, one will observe, that although in their early forms the Constitution of the United States was the model, this is no longer the case. The Constitution of the French republic now excels it in influence. The United States has lost its lead, despite the fact that never has our country bulked larger in the world than now. The present situation is indeed a striking confirmation of Hamilton’s opinion that error in our republic becomes the general misfortune of mankind, for it is a fact well known to every student of politics that a belief that our system of government is a failure on the essential point of justice is now a potent influence on the side of social revolution throughout the world....

Students of political science will generally agree that the three greatest works of this class, all displaying wide knowledge and deep thought, are De Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, first published in 1885; Bryce’s American Commonwealth, 1888; and Ostrogorski’s Democracy and the Organization of Political Parties, 1902. These works form a crescendo of censure upon American government, each re-examination of the subject confirming previous disapproval and adding to it.”

Needless to say that the writers referred to by Ford and others hereinafter referred to fully sustain his statements above quoted. Our government has not only been a failure on the essential point of justice as President Ford points out, but a still greater failure on the equally essential points of purity and efficiency. The democratic system in actual operation among us has been productive of corruption and mismanagement to such an extent as to cause and justify the almost universal verdict that popular misgovernment rather than popular government has been the outcome. Hence general dissatisfaction and unrest; hence the danger of revolutionary movements, with which we are openly threatened.

It is often said that governments reflect the character of the people. If that were so in this country, as our people are con{7}ceded to be one of the most intelligent in the world, we would have one of its best working governments; instead of which we have one of the most wasteful, corrupt and inefficient. Our inferiority in this respect has been universally recognized both in this country and abroad for the last fifty years or more; it is a common-place of conversation; and has caused numberless Americans to feel rage and indignation at home and to suffer shame and humiliation abroad. It has been the subject of innumerable books, pamphlets, sermons and lectures; it has inspired denunciation, satire and invective in pulpit, and on platform; the press has reeked with the disgusting details of the corruption, ignorance and incompetence of our office holders. Everywhere in the United States is to be found great popular dissatisfaction with the operations of our government, profound distrust of its methods and spirit, and conviction that there has been a failure to reach the standards and to realize the hopes of the Fathers of the Republic. This dissatisfaction and distrust, this conviction of failure is not confined to any class; it pervades all classes; it is widespread; it is to be heard freely expressed day by day and hour by hour alike in the business office and in the bar-room, in the private dwelling and on the street; by the mechanic, banker, tradesman, laborer and lawyer. In short it is a matter of common knowledge that for about eighty years past the United States and each of them has been in many important respects badly, corruptly and inefficiently governed. Read for instance this statement recently published by an able American student and writer, and say whether it does not indicate a state of things fruitful with danger to the Republic, in two principal ways; one, that of its decay by corruption, the other by furnishing material for scandal and propaganda to its enemies.

“The present situation has been described over and over again. Briefly, it is constant encroachments by the legislature upon the executive; legislation under irresponsible ‘bosses’ for personal ends, blackmailing of corporations by politicians, and of society by corporations to recoup the plunder of the politician, or to accumulate{8} ill-gotten gain, both of them very good imitations of the Spanish policy in the colonies which is terminating in the ruin of an empire; favours shown to special forms of business and industry; unjust taxation; the irresponsible conduct of our legislatures whose deliberations are the signal for alarm and confusion in the commercial world; and mass-meetings every week to frighten politicians into submission, libel, bribery, and lying in campaign work, government by perjurers, pugilists and pimps, and political leadership by men who know no arts but those of Alcibiades and Catiline—all these and a hundred other facts like them create a profound and justifiable suspicion of institutions that confer the supreme power upon those who are equally unfit to govern themselves and others.” Democracy, Hyslop, p. 294.

Now, let us more carefully examine and consider the essential character of the political system which has produced these unsatisfactory results. Its basis is unlimited or unqualified suffrage, until recently appearing and manifested as “manhood suffrage,” but now, since the so-called “enfranchisement” of women more nearly fitting the name “universal suffrage.” In any case in theory at least it is government by numbers, in contradistinction to government by intelligence, birth, wealth, experience, talent or by any combination of these or other qualities or achievements. This doctrine of unlimited or unqualified suffrage is now and has long been recognized as an established principle of government in this country by most of us; indeed we may say by all Americans with the exception of the natives or inhabitants of the Southern or former slave States. By these latter pure manhood suffrage has been tried and condemned and has been replaced by white manhood suffrage by means of certain well known and successful political devices amounting practically to a strict race qualification; though the important and suggestive fact that thereby the basic principle of manhood suffrage was expressly repudiated by the entire South has been carefully blinked by Americans generally.

In a general way we may say then that manhood suffrage{9} is everywhere in the United States the legally recognized method of choosing all our lawmakers and many of our administrative officials; that white manhood suffrage actually obtains in the Southern States; and that in the other States constituting about three fourths of the whole, every resident male citizen, native or naturalized, and in some of them residents not naturalized, may vote. In sixteen of the forty-eight States the suffrage has within recent years been extended to women. So that at present the basis of government in the United States is manhood or male suffrage in all the States with the addition in some of them of female suffrage; or in other words, ignoring the negro situation, we have manhood suffrage in thirty-two and universal suffrage in sixteen States. In all of these States elections are frequent, in most annual, in others biennial, in a few quadrennial.

The controlling political importance of these elections is evident when we consider that thereby are chosen all the members of both houses of the various State Legislatures, of both houses of Congress, the governors of the states and the President and Vice-President of the United States, that is to say the entire body of lawmakers of the country. Also in many of the States are thus selected the Judges of the Courts higher and lower, and numerous administrative state officials, such as State Attorneys, Auditors, State Engineers, Financial Officers, etc. Besides these there are elections of almost equal practical importance of minor or local officers, such as Sheriffs, County Attorneys and Supervisors, Mayors and Aldermen of Cities, and miscellaneous officials. Beyond all this, the electorate is required from time to time, and in some States at nearly every election, to pass upon constitutions, or amendments or provisions of constitutions, state and federal, referenda and propositions of various kinds involving sometimes vast expenditures. For none of these elections is any voting qualification practically required of the resident citizen, except that of color, and that only in the South.

It is interesting and curious to note how under our system{10} of popular elections, government as legally constituted is merely a product of a process of aggregation of numbers. In practise, this numerical system is modified by the low despotism of Boss rule, but in theory it rests on an arithmetical count of heads, many of them cracked, others of various degrees of emptiness, without taking note of merit, capacity or fitness. And right here in order to fully realize the force and sweep of the numerical system of government we should remember that the effect of the vote of the electorate is not confined to the directly elective offices; it extends to the appointive offices as well; for the appointing power, whether President, Governor, Senate or Legislature being chosen by election, is under the necessity of selecting his or its appointees from those of its supporters who control the most votes. It is not therefore surprising that the politician whom the votes of the populace have made President or Governor sometimes appoints a knave or demagogue to public office. Such appointment, however offensive to some of us, may have been in strict accordance with our political system. Under that system the ultimate appeal is never to experience, ability, capacity or character, but always to numbers; and therefore the official indebted to the power of numbers for his own high office may possibly be quite justified in continuing the process, and in bestowing his appointments on the representative or controller of numbers, no matter what his quality or theirs. To use the language of practical politics “the man with a following is entitled to recognition” be he demagogue, rogue or humbug; and the President, Governor or Boss who fails to give it to him is false to the modern American principle of “numbers win”; in a word he is un-American; and is likely to suffer politically in consequence. In fact we may say generally that government in this country is authorized by numbers, rests on numbers, and is backed and sanctified by numbers and naught else; while our governing class count numbers, live by numbers and need respect nothing but numbers if of numbers they can obtain sufficient support. The President is selected and appointed as the result of a numerical{11} reckoning; and so with all other officials and the men who choose the officials; the laws are made either by men chosen by the addition of figures, or more directly by a similar count of voters; nearly all of whom are absolutely ignorant of the merits and scope of the projected legislation and each of them lacking other qualification than that he exists and can be counted. The candidate with the largest total gets the office; the project approved by the greatest number becomes law.

Our government is not one of talent, nor cunning, nor of money, nor birth, nor military force, but of numeral computation; our rulers are not hereditary nor called to rule for their merits nor by the grace of God; they are counted in; it is a government by calculation, an arithmetical government. Our ruling classes are not aristocrats, nor militarists, nor statesmen, nor capitalists, nor landowners; they are handshakers, mixers, they have “followings,” and their political weight in council does not depend on their wisdom, but on the numbers of the mob running at their heels. We are taught politically to think in numbers, to believe in numbers; in fact, politically we believe in nothing else.

Now it is clear that the effect of this régime is to disregard much that statesmanship should take into account in framing a nation’s polity. There are many other considerations besides mere numbers which affect men politically; other forces which far more than mere numbers operate towards the development of mankind, the shaping of human destiny, the establishment and fall of political institutions; all of which forces are by our political system completely ignored. In a free play of political life we would expect for instance to reckon with intellect, capacity, energy, industry, wisdom, knowledge, judgment, prudence, physical strength, wealth, experience, training, efficiency, and perhaps other qualities, but in our political scheme none of them is considered; everything is ascertained and decided upon and all doubts resolved by an arithmetical process; you take a count and the thing is done. Be the question, for instance, who is the properest man to fill an ad{12}ministrative office of trust and importance; on the one hand is A who has a good physique, is of a fine family, habits good, long training and experience, excellent education, bright past record for efficiency and honor; and on the other B who has none of these valuable qualities, is a little shady in fact; but a glib platform speaker. The number of votes is counted and B has the more and is thus positively ascertained to be the man for the place. Is not this wonderful? Tried by any other test he would have been declared unfit for the position; but the numeral system conclusively demonstrated his fitness. And indeed the writer is compelled to admit that the number system is deservedly popular with those able to profit by it, and has given promotion to thousands of nonentities who would otherwise have remained in obscurity. So of a project of law involving difficult questions of justice and expediency; students of civics and even great statesmen may be in doubt as to whether it ought not to be amended or modified; but with our system in operation there is no need for study or hesitation; you just invite every one to say “Yes” or “No.” Possibly the majority will not understand the project at all or will misunderstand it, but that makes no difference: understanding is not necessary to voting; it is numbers that count, not understanding. Possibly a conscientious or indolent third of the voters will decline to vote; that makes no difference either; possibly every one of the few who realty understand the proposition is opposed to it, but that is of little practical consequence as the knowledge or ignorance of the voters is immaterial and is never made the subject of inquiry; possibly the scheme is imperfect and to the knowledge of the well informed plainly needs amendment; it matters not, there is no provision for amendment of details in the numerical system; possibly the project has never been properly presented to the electorate and most of the votes pro or con are the result of ignorance, whim or prejudice; but this fact will not be considered in the result, for an ignorant or prejudiced vote is just as valid as a just and wise one. The system is unfailing; it will solve every diffi{13}culty; the doubts of able statesmen are answered in a moment by the vote of the female mill hands of Factoryville. You are sure to get some decision, and any decision will serve; for no matter how foolish or unreasonable it may be, no one is responsible; there is no appeal and practically no redress.

This electoral scheme would seem to imply a general belief in the capacity of the electorate. It would at first blush appear to be founded upon a theory of the superior wisdom and almost superhuman knowledge and virtue of the masses, whereby every voter is presumed to know who are best fitted to fill the offices of Mayor, Alderman, Sheriff, County and State Attorney, Judge of Courts small or large, State Assemblyman, State Senator, Congressman, State Engineer and Surveyor, Governor of the State, and President of the United States; and it would seem, besides, that every voter, male or female, is presumed to cast his or her vote with the good of the community and nation at heart. The verdict so taken would thus have something of the effect of an infallible decree; and indeed we note that people and newspapers often speak of the results of an election with a species of awe; and that in the somewhat too common event of a doubtful character or even of a noted scamp being elected to a public office the result is often spoken of as his “vindication.” These “vindications” in fact are frequently needed and demanded by political gentlemen under a cloud, and have been accorded by the electorate in a surprisingly large number of cases. Nor does the mere capacity to select the best officials measure the full quota of the wisdom and accuracy apparently required by the populace under our political system. They, every man jack, and in the “advanced” States, every woman jenny of them all is from time to time required to vote upon questions which presuppose them to be perfectly familiar with the Constitution of the United States and of his and her own State; to understand all its provisions and to be able to determine the meaning and effect of any and all amendments thereto, which are or may possibly be proposed.{14}

Now, all this is of course absurd; no such belief in the wisdom of the electorate is entertained by the masses or by anybody, for no one in the world is such a fool as not to be aware that at every election large numbers of the voters are absolutely incapable of passing upon the merits of candidates far above them in education, station in life, and capacity to fill offices whose high duties they could not be made to understand by any amount of explanation. Few even of the most ignorant are unaware that only trained minds are capable of construing and understanding constitutional provisions and forecasting their probable effects. There must therefore exist within the manhood suffrage scheme, some principle or theory more sane than a belief in the omniscience of the rabble of ignorance, stupidity and indifference which it proudly marshals to the polls; and though this principle or theory has never been precisely or authoritatively defined, yet on examining the numerous written or spoken expressions in support of universal suffrage found in books, speeches and newspaper articles, we discover that the postulate at the bottom of the manhood suffrage proposition is this: not that the mass of voters are competent judges of conditions or policies, but that they are the natural, necessary and proper arbiters thereof; not that ignorance, stupidity and vice do not go to the polls, but that in the nature of the case they are there and have a right to be there; that it is intended and expected that they shall be actually represented and expressed in the vote; that in politics all have equal right to be heard; that government and law should be an expression of the will of all the people or at least of all of the men of this country; not merely of those having patriotism, experience, virtue, judgment, and wisdom, or any one of these qualities; but of the whole populace; including the ignorant, stupid, worthless and depraved; and that each of these latter should have an equal voice with the wise and worthy. Such is and must be the underlying theory of manhood suffrage; and as women are notoriously still more ignorant of political affairs than men, the{15} adoption of woman suffrage is evidently a mere extension of this same theory of equality of political value to the female sex; so that under a system of universal suffrage the law and the government include the expression of the ignorance, stupidity and depravity of both sexes of the community, state or nation as well as of its education, wisdom and goodness. And this principle is in effect generally carried out at our elections; so that practically the only disfranchised classes are those of the publicly supported paupers and the negroes in the South, and the whole immense national mass of ignorance, incapacity and hostility to social wellbeing is included in our voting lists and finds expression at the polls.

From an electorate so constituted, from a system of government founded on such a perverse theory no good results are or ever were to be expected. Accordingly, we are not surprised to note that the first plain signs of a general political deterioration in American politics were about coincident with the establishment of manhood suffrage in the early part of the nineteenth century. For the first forty years of the republic politics were comparatively pure; the United States was a model among nations; then we note a fatal declension, a swift lowering of standards; we observe the close connection between the establishment of manhood suffrage and the entrance into high places of low politicians; how upon the widening of the franchise the management and control of politics in the United States began gradually to pass from the hands of the principal men of the country, the ablest, the most wealthy, the best educated, the most influential, the members of the oldest and best families, and to fall under the control of the professional politicians. This latter class originating at about that period developed into well organized bands who under the leadership of chiefs, since known as bosses, have seized, occupied and still hold and occupy the offices, the machinery of public elections, appointments, and almost the entire control of public affairs. Their management and control have been selfish, corrupt and inefficient. Their legislation has been excessive and poor in{16} quality; their administration of governmental affairs ignorant, weak, capricious, oppressive, wasteful, careless and dishonest. During all this time the system of manhood suffrage has remained unassailed and unquestioned, and the people have listened more or less complacently to fulsome praises of their government system by a venal and superficial press and by ignorant and insincere political platform orators. These, in their speeches and platforms have been easily able to escape imputation of the mischiefs of manhood suffrage and of their own class by charging them upon the opposite party, or upon such of their political opponents as happened for the time being to hold public office. And so elections have come and gone, parties have risen and fallen, officials have been selected as popular one year and thrown aside as unsatisfactory the next, but through it all corruption and inefficiency remain constant and acknowledged features of American political life.

The time has come when a remedy for this state of things can no longer be safely postponed; the situation is serious; the democratic system is being attacked, and will continue to be attacked here and elsewhere by great numbers of the very class who have heretofore been supposed to constitute its defenders and champions. Be they Bolsheviki, Anarchists, Socialists or what you will, these assailants of our institutions are nearly all of the common people, of the very working class whom it has been and ought to be the pride and mission of America to shelter and satisfy. Many of them were brought to this attitude of revolt by evil conditions in Europe and are continuing here their hostile attitude to organized society and spreading the spirit of mischief among us because they are justly disappointed by our political conditions; finding here in a country supposed to be democratic, the rule of a corrupt oligarchy of politicians thoroughly established and apparently acquiesced in by the people at large. The seeds of discontent which they are assiduously sowing are likely to take root in the breasts of our own people, disgruntled as they are with the{17} past and present corruption of our politics and the inefficiency of our government.

This corruption, this inefficiency, long a scandal among us, is the real cause of that popular “unrest,” that dissatisfaction the subject of so much comment, which for more than a generation just prior to the German war had been steadily increasing in this country. It was started by the degradation of politics which ensued immediately upon the establishment of manhood suffrage and the inauguration of Jackson and the Spoils Policy in 1829. It was already well under way in 1840; but was subsequently held in check by the Anti-Slavery agitation, by the Civil War and the Southern Reconstruction troubles, which ended in 1876 with the inauguration of Hayes. From that time this popular protest against our political unrighteousness has been steadily on the increase, gaining in power and bitterness with the added instances of official unfitness and maladministration of public affairs. With the disappearance of the older generations reared in a religious belief in our republican institutions and filled with memories of the honest days before Jackson, appeared the spirit of contemptuous disbelief in official capacity and honesty which has taken possession of their descendants. The vision of a government administered by statesmen and patriots of the type of Washington and the Adamses has given place in the mind of America to a picture of a sordid gang of corrupt and incapable politicians in power, and it is therefore to the credit of our people that there has been protest, dissatisfaction and “unrest.” The popular demand that this state of things be remedied is at the bottom of the so-called “unrest,” and it is not an unreasonable demand. Never in the world’s history was there a people so religious, so patriotic, so disinterested, so idealistic, so appreciative, so tolerant of mere mistakes, so easy to govern justly as the American people; but the best of them are determined that their republican government shall be the ultimate success their fathers promised to make it. They care much less about “world democracy”; they are far from being such consummate{18} fools as to believe that our political system is fit for other and inferior races or to want to meddle with the affairs of other nations; but they want Americanism to continue here; they want honest and efficient government established in this country; and they fear the breakdown of those republican institutions to which they feel a passionate devotion.

There have indeed been no lack of efforts at reform. All sorts of expedients have been proposed and every remedy possible has been adopted and tried except the only one which could possibly be efficacious, namely, the limitation and elevation of the electorate. This and the other new idea or so-called political reform has been tried and discarded, or proved of little value; hundreds of penal statutes have been enacted, hundreds of boards, commissions and officials of various sorts have been created; there have been innumerable grand jury inquests and committees of investigations; there have been created new ballot systems, new primary laws; initiatives and referendums, besides thousands of tax-payers’ suits, injunctions, newspaper campaigns, new reform parties and fusions of old parties, not with the slightest hope of reaching perfection, but in desperate efforts on behalf of common decency. All have failed. Countless political movements have been started and political campaigns fought in the effort to cure the delinquency, to cleanse the corruption of our local and general governments, with varying temporary success, but without permanent benefit. Men have spent their lives and fortunes in the effort; each new generation hopefully undertaking the task of cleaning the stable only to abandon it in its turn; and nothing permanent or even enduring has been accomplished. Here and there, an individual or a group of political malefactors has been punished; here and there schemes for public plunder have been exposed and defeated; the particular system or legislation which permitted these specific instances has been changed or reformed; this or that particular abuse suppressed, and in the aggregate a great deal of mischief has thus been done away with or prevented. But no one pretends that{19} the root of the evil has been removed or that the grasp of the professional politician class upon the throat of the nation has been loosened. The elections from which so much was expected, the men and movements from which so much was hoped, have come and gone without substantial results. The same class of politicians, the same methods, the same political games, the same corruption, the same boss rule, the same old rings, the same fraud, cheating, waste and general inefficiency remain the most striking features of our American public life. The same men, though not always holding the same places, remain in office year after year, and the rule of the oligarchy of professional politicians established eighty years ago goes on forever. When one of its members is turned out of one political job by a spurt of indignation of a gullible and innocent public, he quickly appears in another one just as comfortable and lucrative, and sometimes with a capacity for mischief and blundering rather increased than diminished by the change.

Seeing this, the reformers naturally ask each other in wonder and disgust what is the matter with the people? What is the cause of their failure to rid themselves of these political gangs? What is the remedy and where is it to be found? To ascertain the cause, to correctly diagnose the disease is of course the first and the main problem. Afterwards the remedy. The fact that it persists and has so long persisted in operation affords evidence that it is not superficial but represents an organic defect in our governmental system. Many political students have puzzled over it, many have given the inquiry up as hopeless. In an article in the Atlantic Monthly for July, 1896, the writer, referring to our legislative bodies, notes

“a decline in the quality of the members in general respect, in education, in social position, in morality, in public spirit, in care and deliberation, and, I think, I must add in integrity also.” He finds them subservient to the Boss rather than to public opinion and adds, “To account for this or to say how it is to be mended, is, I admit, very difficult. Few subjects have done more to baffle re{20}formers and investigators. It is the great puzzle of the heartiest friends of Democracy.”

Among people generally there is a failure to agree upon any specific cause for the sad inferiority of our political condition. Some attribute it to human frailty; some to American carelessness or good nature; some to the spirit of the age, some to the inherent weakness of democracy. In a very able and scholarly little book published as late as 1918 by Max Farrand of Yale University entitled The Development of the United States, the writer, after referring to persistent and ineffectual attempts of reformers for the past generation to cleanse politics in this country, makes this significant statement (p. 293): “It is surprising that the people still retain faith in any remedies, but hope springs eternal and every new plan was able to rally ardent supporters. To the thoughtful observer, however, it was evident that the root of the trouble had not been found and that something more radical or something entirely different was necessary.” I find no hint in Farrand’s book as to what this “something” might be. One may suspect that the worthy professor had tracked the bear to his den but did not care to start him; that he preferred to avoid making his book the subject of controversy by giving his opinion as to what is in fact “the root of the trouble.”

However, he states the problem in a nutshell. All efforts to reform and cleanse our politics have failed, something new and different is needed, some remedy that will reach the very source of the political corruption of our time and country. But after all, there need be very little difficulty in finding the “root of the trouble”; it lies exposed, plain enough for all men to see and to stumble over as they pass to and fro. Many no doubt have identified it who prefer to be silent on the subject, though a few prominent men have spoken out. President Woolsey of Yale, for example, frankly says that “universal suffrage does not secure the government of the wisest nor even secures the liberties of a country placed in such a democratic situation,{21} much less secures its order and stability.” (Pol. Science. Vol. I, Sec. 101). In Reemelin’s American Politics (1881) the author says in his chapter on the ballot box that “thickly strewn around us lie the evidences, that governing by the ballot box, based on universal suffrage and universal qualification for office is a failure; but why this is so, and what remedy we should apply is not so intelligible.” (P. 168.) In 1871 the Westminster Review, a British radical magazine, published an article on The American Republic, its Strength and Weakness in which the dangers of manhood suffrage were plainly pointed out, and its institution attributed to the efforts of demagogues, and to a mistaken conception of suffrage as a right instead of as a privilege to be conferred upon those capable of exercising it. The writer sums up the topic by saying that:

“The elevation of the government, laws and institutions of a republic must necessarily depend upon the average intelligence and virtue of its voting population. Hence it is a most dangerous experiment for America to reduce the qualifications of its voters to the level of the lowest, instead of raising the latter to a certain definite standard at which the right of suffrage might with comparative safety be placed in their hands.”

Another writer thus expresses himself:

“It is perfectly idle to attempt to give political power to persons who have no political capacity, who are not intellectual enough to form opinions or who are not high minded enough to act on those opinions.... Lastly the events of the earlier part of the last century show us—demonstrate we may say, to us,—the necessity of retaining a very great share of power in the hands of the wealthier and more instructed classes, of the real rulers of public opinion.” (Bagehot, Parliamentary Reform, p. 316.)

And Lecky predicts that the day will come when the adoption of the theory that the best way to improve the world and secure national progress is to place the government under the{22} control of the least enlightened classes will be regarded as one of the strangest facts in the history of human folly.

Indeed, but little political discernment is required to enable one to realize the fatal mischiefs attendant upon the plan of according a place in the electorate to females generally and to the ignorant, idle, unthrifty, purchasable, vicious and anti-social males. It is not difficult to see that such a scheme is erroneous in principle, antagonistic to civilization, and to society as the agent of civilization. History informs us that manhood suffrage is contrary to our best traditions; that it has been mischievous and unclean in practise; that it has filled the body politic with the foulest corruption; that it is largely responsible for the Civil War and other serious blunders and mischiefs; that it has cost thousands of millions to the American people in money stolen and squandered. Reason plainly teaches us that the suffrage is not a natural right, but a function in the social system belonging only to those who by the process of natural selection are qualified as men of education and property to take a part in government; that unlimited universal or manhood suffrage is dangerous for the future and if not overthrown may ultimately cause our national destruction. There is not therefore after all any real difficulty in determining that universal suffrage is the political disease under which America is suffering. Its specific cause is the virus of the rabble vote; men without character and destitute of achievement should be excluded from the suffrage; they are by nature political nonentities, and were they content to mark zero on their ballots thus indicating the real extent of their political value and sagacity they would be harmless; but they are too often the willing tools of scamps and demagogues, and though individually zeros they attach themselves to real figures to give them a fictitious and in this case a maleficent influence. Nor is the remedy far to seek, though so many political writers have been rather shy in hinting it. It is possible by very simple means, by a mere return to the original American principle and American practice of a property quali{23}fication for voters to so reform our entire governmental system from the foundation upwards that it will become efficient and enduring and capable of defying all the political madness of the times. The democratic theory would thus be retained, but it would be purified and strengthened by a return to the principles of the fathers of the republic. We have failed because we have attempted in defiance of those principles to create a democracy founded on numbers and on nothing but numbers. The resulting product has not been a true democracy; it has not properly represented and does not properly represent the American nation, which consists not merely of population but of American intelligence and industry. The manhood suffrage democracy of numbers merely is too narrow; it does not afford a broad enough foundation for the national superstructure; and that foundation should he widened to include the American character and American achievement.

The real difficulty in the case lies then not in ascertaining the source of American political ills, nor in prescribing the remedy; the difficulty lies in obtaining leadership or even advocacy of a movement which to most men appears to promise little in the way of personal advancement and much in the way of hostile criticism. As to the masses in private life, most are indifferent and the remainder voiceless. All the organs of public opinion are muzzled, controlled or terrified into silence by the politicians; and but few in public life whether newspaper men, clergymen, judges, politicians, teachers or public servants or officials; but few of those merely dependent upon or connected with politics or government, whether bankers, lawyers, physicians in hospitals, officers of public utilities or the like, have heretofore dared more than whisper to their closest friends their real hatred of the political despotism under which we are living today in the United States. Now, however, the present menace of the political madness known as Bolshevism affords a new and compelling motive to every true American to arouse himself, and there is a hope that in the presence of a new peril, good citizens may be moved to realize the inherent{24} weakness and danger of our present political system, and to undertake the establishment of a suffrage based upon such qualifications as will insure the creation and continuance of a government in this country so strong, determined, intelligent and devoted to the interests of civilization that under it our whole political life may be purified and made efficient; one which may be relied upon not merely to crush Bolshevism in the United States but to extirpate it from this country forever.

The proposal to establish a property qualification for voters throughout the United States may seem novel and even startling to many Americans, but there is no other way out of the political mess in which we find ourselves. As will be shown in detail in subsequent pages the corrupt rule of the low professional politicians of this country is made secure by the vote of the thriftless and controllable class; until that vote is expurgated there can be no purification of the body politic; without purification there can be no efficiency; and unless the administration of our public affairs is purified and made efficient we cannot either answer the charges of the enemies of our institutions or repel their attacks. We cannot depend upon the electorate as at present made up; it has already shown its capacity to breed and encourage bad government; the thriftless classes are all ready to accept Bolshevism or any other economical and political absurdity; they are no more able to understand the scheme of civilization and the value and importance of accumulations of earnings and creation of property in furtherance of that scheme than they are able to understand a musical symphony or a problem in the higher mathematics. And after all there is nothing sacred about the doctrine of unlimited suffrage; it is only a political experiment like another; and the well known record of its complete and dismal failure is summarized in these pages where it is shown that it has not been an instrument of progress nor a means of freedom, but that its tendency has been and is towards reaction and despotism; that it is anti-social and hostile to civilization. The proposal to make property accumulations the basis of{25} government, though it is sanctioned by ancient practise, is not reactionary; it is progressive, as every return to old and sound principles is progressive. Nor will it create or tend to create a narrow or exclusive electorate; it will on the contrary have a broadening effect and will tend to furnish a truly popular government, one resting directly on the consent and the votes of most of the population, and utilizing qualities of virtue and manhood now denied their proper effect in politics. It will represent directly or indirectly every element of value in the nation; everything on which a democratic government depends for its best support; namely, the industry, thrift, wealth, intelligence, character and honest independence of its people. The change will appear in the overthrow of the rule of brute force and the curbing of the present despotism of numbers. Do what we will, the passions and prejudices of the unthinking and uninstructed will always affect political action; but if our democracy is to survive their power must be checked and modified by associating with the sway of numbers the powers of intelligence, of character, and of industry which working together constitute efficiency.

Every generation has its problems which it must solve at its peril. Ours is before us and must shortly be met if the signs tell true. Like Edipus we must answer correctly or perish. And the question is, how to abolish the weak and corrupt rule of the politicians and re-establish a pure, firm, intelligent and truly republican government in the United States. The true answer must be by the reform and elevation of the electorate. Purify the source and the stream will be pure and sweet.

This object is of such consequence that every American ought to be willing to devote strong efforts to its accomplishment. And first, the intelligent and patriotic people of the country need to be aroused to a sense of its importance and instructed in the merits of the case. They must be made not merely to know but to realize vividly the main features of the argument for a property qualification, which may be summa{26}rized in ten points, namely: (1) That this government was not originally founded on the principle of universal suffrage but on that of a propertied electorate. (2) That the permanency of the corrupt and inefficient rule of the political oligarchy in the United States is due to the operation of universal suffrage. (3) That there is no natural right to vote; but that voting is a function of government to be exercised only for the benefit of society and never merely for that of the individual. (4) That government in our day is a highly specialized business institution requiring from its members expert knowledge rather than oratorical gifts. (5) That good government in a democracy requires a worthy and intelligent electorate. (6) That the franchise laws must deal with classes, not with individuals. (7) That the franchise should be confined to those who are socially qualified, as proven by lives of successful social endeavor, resulting in the solid acquisition of substantial property. (8) That book or school education is insufficient to constitute by itself a franchise qualification. (9) That the body or mass of men are better fitted than that of women to exercise all political functions, voting included, and that therefore women should be denied the suffrage. (10) That the elevation of the franchise is absolutely necessary to purify our politics, strengthen our government and protect property and civilization from threatened anarchy.

It is with the hope of assisting in this work that this book has been written and published. It is not within its plan and scope to propose and discuss in minute detail the exact qualifications of voters and suffrage restrictions under the proposed new system. The basic principles herein advocated once recognized, the detailed regulations for their enforcement may properly be left to such state legislatures or conventions as may undertake to deal with the matter. They would obviously differ in different states and possibly in different communities. They should be such as would tend to insure a contribution by the voter of such a quota of intelligence, independence and good judgment in casting his vote as will{27} greatly decrease bribery in elections; as will raise the standard of candidates for office, reduce the influence of demagogues and “yellow” journals, elevate the tone of public service, and incidentally encourage good citizenship by making the voting power a badge of honor and manhood and a privilege to be sought after and valued. There is no place in this scheme for an educational qualification; such a requirement would be inconsistent with the theory of this book which is that the school of business life is the appropriate preparation for the voting booth. The class of men of good education who are unable to acquire a modest competence in this country are obviously so lacking in either interest in, or judgment of, practical affairs as to be unfit to pass upon those business questions which form the main part of the problems of government. The world of books on the one hand is a totally different realm from the world of business and of politics on the other hand. Further, an educational qualification for voters is absolutely impracticable; it could not possibly be enforced. But this subject will be discussed more at length in the twenty-ninth chapter. Meanwhile let us briefly examine the history and operations of the voting system in the United States.{28}



Many of us have been accustomed to regard the principle of manhood suffrage as a part of the original American ideal. The contrary is the fact. The doctrine that voters should be qualified for their duties is not novel in America. It came to the country with its first settlers; the colonists believed in it and retained it; it was part of the settled policy of all the colonies for over one hundred and fifty progressive and flourishing years; under that policy they built up the country; raised the finest crop of statesmen and patriots it has ever produced; fought the war of Independence; wrote the Constitution; established the Union and created the United States of America.

The species of a democracy which we now have, where capacity is unrecognized and unrepresented, and where the votes of men without standing in the community may and do offset and defeat the votes of men of property, of business experience and sagacity was not the creation of the Fathers of the American Republic and was not tolerated by them. In no sense is manhood suffrage or a democracy of numbers an integration of their spirit. They sought rather to establish a system of government by capacity and intelligence, and desired that the measures thereby enacted from time to time should be the result not of an appeal to numerical superiority but of wise and careful discussion and deliberation by bodies containing the most capable and disinterested men in the community. Most of them no doubt expected a property qualification for voters materially to contribute to this result and{29} they saw no injustice or tyranny in demanding a qualification which any man might acquire by industry and thrift. It was not the men of 1776 who established the doctrine of manhood suffrage in the United States; and though in some of the more sparsely settled or mountainous states, such as Vermont, Kentucky and New Hampshire, the population was so small and conditions were so primitive that suffrage qualifications seemed superfluous and were never adopted, yet the country as a whole, including the great states of New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Virginia, stood for the principle of a properly qualified electorate long after American independence.

It was not till the period of a generation after the death of George Washington, when the most prominent of those who stood for pure conservative government were no more, and Washington, himself the greatest single obstacle to political humbug in the country, was but a memory, that the barriers were finally removed so that the army of professional politicians were enabled to get possession of every government in the United States. Commencing with that time the political control which the fathers had endeavored to place permanently in the hands of the best, most enlightened and most efficient was gradually transferred to the hands of some of the worst, most ignorant and incompetent. This mischievous transfer was due mostly to the operation of manhood suffrage. It is by the admission to the electorate of the poorest quality of material that politics has been degraded to its present low level; that it has become a business to be conducted for profit; that professional politicians have obtained and retained power; that the intelligence and manhood of the nation have been deprived of their rightful control over its destiny; and that the country has been handed over to gangs of sordid rascals to be plundered. That it has been plundered cannot be denied. The plundering has been conducted so openly, scandalously and notoriously that there is hardly a reader of this book who is not more or less familiar with some of the details, though its{30} extent is so great that no one not a student of the subject can be familiar with it all.

One may naturally ask how comes it that the American people not only submit to such a vile despotism, but never seem seriously to question its right to exist. The answer is that the case is similar to that of the recent German militarist domination; the country is in the clutches of a political oligarchy which controls a large organized body of those who live by the operation of universal suffrage; the masses are taught to believe in it, and the most of those who are sufficiently instructed to fully understand its stupidity and villainy are silent in public because of fear, indifference or self-interest. The newspapers have not cloaked the rascalities of the politicians, except those of their own party, because political sensations help to sustain their circulation; but they have not undertaken to attack the political system which is responsible for those rascalities; they have neither opposed manhood suffrage nor exposed its sinister operations; they have never published one-fourth of the available details of the rogueries and stupidities of our political masters, and indeed, why should they publish more? The actually published scandals are quite sufficient to condemn any system yet the public makes no sign of revolt. Ephraim is wedded to his idols; let him alone. The newspapers cannot afford to attack popular abuses. They depend for their circulation on the favor of the same populace which yearly goes like silly sheep to the polling place bleating its pride at being driven there by its bosses, and their advertising in turn depends on their circulation. No single newspaper can afford to antagonize at once the uninstructed populace and the powerful class of politicians, office holders and political leaders who not only control a very valuable advertising patronage but include among themselves nearly all the public speakers in the country and thus possess the ear of the masses.

Nor can private individuals, however wise and patriotic, be expected in the present state of public opinion to assail a system so powerful and well established. It is in fact generally{31} assumed that manhood suffrage is a necessary part of the American policy, that its overthrow is hopeless; that to denounce it would be to court unpopularity; and in a country at once democratic and commercial, the number of those who dare to be unpopular is extremely few, and find it difficult to obtain even a hearing. And though in private conversation people frequently criticise governmental incapacity, and say that politics is rotten, and that politicians and office holders are corrupt, they seldom or never go as far as to question the principle of manhood suffrage, but seem to think that political corruption and incapacity are necessary incidents of all government, or at least of all democratic government.

Strange as it may seem, the doctrine of manhood suffrage has never been established in the minds of the American people by argument or discussion; originally adopted without serious reflection, it has since been largely taken for granted. It is curious to see how the most important measures may be adopted in a democratic community without even an approach to thorough consideration on the part of the majority. Take the case of woman suffrage adopted by the State of New York in 1917; only a small proportion of the men of the State had ever seriously considered the subject, and of the several millions of women of the State, probably not more than ten thousand really concerned themselves about it. National prohibition of the use of alcoholic beverages, which seemed impossible in 1908, was enacted in 1918 without real discussion by the electorate. The prohibition vote for President in 1916 was about 200,000 out of 18,000,000, or a little more than one per cent. But the prohibitionists were in bitter earnest; the others were careless or indifferent, a moment favorable to prohibition came, and the thing was done. Something like this is the story of the adoption of manhood suffrage in New York and the other large States; while it was being adopted the majority scarcely realized what was going on; after it was done they were indifferent to the change because it did not affect their daily lives. Since its adoption its theory has been very little discussed by{32} the American people; it has not been openly attacked or questioned by newspaper or political orator for over two generations; its validity is usually taken as a matter of course; the masses are not even aware that there is anything questionable about it; and but one American writer, Prof. Hyslop of New York, has had the vision to see its enormity and the courage and patriotism to describe it in print. (Democracy.) His powerful book was never replied to and it is significant that not a well considered argument in favor of manhood or universal suffrage can be found in our libraries. Most of what has been printed on the subject is mere twaddle; a few authors lacking practical experience in active life, such as teachers or sociologists, have alluded to it in their class books or political treatises, but the little they say on the subject is usually confined to commonplace laudation of political liberty or other weak sentimentalism or else to the routine conventional assumption that manhood suffrage is what they call in their pretentious slang part of the “advance movement” of the nineteenth century.

A very short sketch of the history of manhood suffrage in this country may be useful here as a preliminary to a brief review of its actual operations. Though some traces of a belief in the abstract right of all men to vote may be found in the England of the middle ages, yet our English ancestors prior to the Protestant Reformation had, generally speaking, no idea of a vote not founded on property or on such a recognized business standing as might give an assurance of stability of character or of a substantial interest in the affairs of the community or nation. The first English public utterance in favor of manhood suffrage that has come to the writer’s attention was made in 1647 by some of the sect of Congregationalists or Independents. That body was divided in opinion on the subject. Those who favored it were called “Levellers,” and in so doing were opposed by the other Independents as well as by the Presbyterians, Catholics and Episcopalians. The Levellers claimed that the right to vote was conferred by natural law upon all{33} freemen. Cromwell and Ireton of the Puritan leaders opposed them, and insisted that no man had a right to vote on the affairs of the country or the choice of lawmakers who had not a property or a business interest; saying that those who have “noe interest butt the interest of breathing” should have no voice in elections.

The establishment of qualifications for voters in the American Colonies during the Colonial period was left entirely in the hands of the Colonies themselves; Great Britain not interfering. The first colonists were without any settled policy on the subject. Massachusetts had a religious qualification and some of the Puritans who wished to establish a theocracy or a church government in New England on the basis of the Independent or Congregational polity were in favor of making church membership the only qualification. The first settlers being without holdings in the colony, probably dispensed with a property qualification at first or waived it as impracticable. But very soon it was decided that only those having an interest in the colony should have a voice in its affairs; and the rule of a property qualification for voters was speedily established in all the colonies; in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut in 1630; in Rhode Island in 1658; in New Jersey in 1665 and North Carolina in 1663; in Maryland and in Virginia in 1670; in Pennsylvania in 1682; in South Carolina in 1692; in New York about 1701; in Delaware 1734; and in Georgia in 1761. In five colonies, namely, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania, the property held might be either real or personal; in all the others it was required to be land. Some American theorists at the time of the Revolution held a belief or a half belief in manhood suffrage but they were few in number. In certain political declarations published not long prior to 1776 we find propositions that all men are naturally entitled to vote, while in others a suffrage qualification is suggested. But by the time the Revolution arrived the doctrine of manhood suffrage had practically disappeared from the colonies; and the practice of putting in{34} office only the most prominent and best equipped was universal and apparently universally accepted.

The success of the Revolution in no way affected the suffrage. It had not been a democratic movement nor intended as such. At first it was designed to merely curtail without actually terminating British interference in American affairs; later as the estrangement increased it was determined to entirely get rid of British rule. But the Revolution was in spirit a conservative movement, whereby it was not intended to interfere with existing colonial laws relating to suffrage nor to alter the political or social structure of society nor to materially change aught in government beyond terminating the British connection. In this respect it materially differed from the French Revolution which developed into an attempt to completely reorganize the social and political fabrics. The American revolutionists were well satisfied with their local laws and customs, and the separation from Great Britain once accomplished, the conservative policy adopted at the beginning of the struggle still continued till the generation which had carried through the Revolution had finally passed away.

The Declaration of Independence has nothing to say about the right of suffrage. Although composed by Jefferson, who was influenced by the sentimentalities of the French theorists of the time it contains only two brief statements which can possibly be quoted as favoring the principle of manhood suffrage. One is “that all men are created equal.” This statement could not have been intended to be understood without qualification because it is notoriously false. Men are not created equal either in size, health, affections, virtues, social station, capacity, prospects in life, opportunities, nor in anything else. In his own country thousands were then held in bondage, some by Jefferson himself, and a considerable part of the colonial population were without political rights. He could not therefore have even meant that all men were entitled to be considered as politically equal unless he intended merely to express a private opinion of his own. Public opinion{35} as expressed in the laws and customs of the time was exactly to the contrary. The other statement of the Declaration that governments “derive their just powers from the consent of the governed,” is equally absurd, if applied to individuals. It may be that a government is a usurper if it exists in defiance of society at large, but it may properly dispense with the consent of an unlimited number of the individuals whom it governs. It cannot be supposed that Jefferson and his associates intended to imply that none of the governmental powers on the earth including those of the colonies themselves were just; yet none of them derived their powers from the consent of all those under their authority. Most of the colonies were founded on charters granted by the British crown. The consent of the native Indians, of aliens, women, minors, negroes and the unpropertied class had not been given to any government in this country, nor was it proposed at that time that any such consent should be asked for. More than this, neither Jefferson nor any one else proposed that the consent of the minority at any election, even were it forty-nine per cent of the whole, should be required to establish the new government. The most that Jefferson pretended to mean by these fine phrases was to claim that a majority of the qualified voters of the colonies should govern the country through their representatives duly elected. But in practice even this was a sham; the Revolutionists were probably in a minority of from one-fifth to a third of the whole people; they never troubled themselves to obtain the consent of the Tories or the indifferent; and what Jefferson really intended was to get his faction together on the basis of that Declaration as a party platform, to fight for the result and to beat or intimidate the majority into subjection or acquiescence. This is what was actually done; both sides resorted to force, the neutrals were silenced, and the Americans of tory principles were soon taught to their sorrow that Jefferson and his associates intended to govern them with or without their consent and pretty harshly at that. No vote was ever taken on the question of separation from Great Britain, and the con{36}sent of the objectors to what was done was rendered unnecessary by the efficient process of killing them or driving them into exile and confiscating their property.

The Revolution therefore was not the establishment of the rule of the majority in numbers, but of the sway of those qualified to govern, because the strongest, the most daring and the most fortunate. And the property qualification principle also assuring the rule of those believed to be the best qualified to govern was in force in every one of the thirteen states at and immediately after the Revolution by the will of the colonists themselves. Voters’ qualifications varied in different States, but in all there was some kind of a property qualification. In some the actual ownership of real property was required; in others a voter was required either to pay a property tax, to lease real property or to have a substantial yearly income. The payment of direct taxes in some form or other was in the minds of the founders of the American republic an essential qualification of the voter. The revolt against Great Britain had been generally and publicly defended on the theory of no taxation without representation; and the converse of this principle was popularly assumed, namely, that there should be no representation without taxation; in other words, that no man should be permitted to aid in shaping the policy of the country who did not directly contribute to the expense of its government, or, in the language of the time, “who had not a stake in the country.” For example, Virginia from 1670 restricted the suffrage “to such as by their estates, real or personal, have interest enough to tye them to the endeavor of the public good,” and later excluded all but freeholders. In the Virginia Bill of Rights of June 12, 1776, the statement is “That all men, having sufficient evidence of permanent common interest with, and attachment to the community have the right of suffrage.” In New Haven in 1784, out of about 600 adult males, only 343 were qualified to be freemen and vote for the mayor, who being once elected held his office during the pleasure of the General Assembly which usually meant{37} for life. (Levermore, New Haven.) The payment of taxes and the right to representation were so much united in the public mind at that time that in some states, for instance in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the number of senators was apportioned among the counties according to the amount of taxation paid and not according to the population. Within the State of New York, representation was granted not according to the number of inhabitants, but to that of actual voters; in other words, of propertied citizens. When the word “people” was used in public documents what was really meant was the citizens or voters of the State.

In those days the obscure and ignorant political adventurers who now adorn our legislative halls, had no chance of getting themselves into the seats of the mighty, or their ravenous fingers into the public purse. As for judicial and administrative officers their selection was entirely withdrawn from the electorate. Our colonial and revolutionary ancestors believed that the members of the State Legislature who were personally acquainted with the candidates for high office were better able to select them than the mass of voters who only knew them by sight or reputation. The electorate might only choose the legislature, and that body usually elected the governor and appointed and removed judges, justices of the peace, sheriffs, and other administrative officers. The voters chose the men who made the laws, but not the officials charged with their interpretation and execution; and the actual administration of government was so arranged for that honest, competent and responsible agents might be employed therein and was as far removed from the people as was conveniently possible.

Therefore the popular belief that the founders of our government believed in a democracy of numbers is a mistaken one. They maintained that both official and voter should be qualified men and they saw to it that they were such. And look at the result; the ablest and best men were put forward. Every nation has superior, mediocre, and inferior men; the latter{38} being often the most greedy for office. One of the tests of a system of government is which of these classes it brings to the political front. Judged by this, the old colonial and revolutionary system was far superior to the present one. It put in power and kept there, Washington, Madison, Franklin, Hamilton, the Adamses, Jefferson, and a number of their subordinates of great superiority to men in corresponding places in the present days of manhood and female suffrage. By their fruits you may know them. It is probable that the female suffragists firmly believe that their shallow platform ranters are superior to anything that earth can show; but with that exception no one will pretend that the present day methods have produced or can produce for the public service the equal of that revolutionary stock. Indeed we have more reason than some of us fully realize to be thankful that the governing class of that time in this country were men of substance; for the opposition to the proposed Federal Constitution in 1788 was very strong among the poorer classes; and it is considered certain by those who have looked carefully into the matter that had that instrument been at that time submitted to a vote based on manhood suffrage it would have been overwhelmingly defeated. This is not to be wondered at, since lack of experience in dealing with any but the simplest matters left those people incapable of understanding the provisions of the constitution or of realizing its beneficent import. One can hardly imagine what that defeat would have cost to mankind; the deplorable results of the indefinite postponement of the American Union with all its blessings of peace and prosperity, and the perpetuation here on this continent of the tariffs, strifes, petty wars and tyrannies of Europe and South America. When one tries to imagine the world without the United States of America as a beneficent enlightening force, one is appalled at the bare possibility that such a calamity might have been allowed to fall upon the world; and yet it was possible had it not been that Hamilton, Washington and the other leaders in that business were eighteenth century statesmen, staunch, effi{39}cient and determined, and not a bunch of twentieth century cowardly, spineless, brainless, heartless politicians, the product of machine and boss rule, such as would probably be in charge of any similar movement in the present year of grace, 1920.{40}



Those citizens who think that they have or anybody has or can have a natural right to vote are absolutely mistaken. There is a general impression that such a right exists, created partly by the twaddlers who write on politics for schools and colleges; but it is a false one, and it is seriously misleading, because it negatives in advance all effort to elevate the standard of the electorate by excluding the notoriously unfit from its membership. The citizen votes not in the exercise of a right or a privilege, but in performance of a governmental function, involving the execution of a trust which should be confined to those competent to exercise it.

Political voting for candidates for office is part of the process of the creation of a governing power, and it is itself an act, part and function of government; by it the voter declares his judgment as well as proposes agents or representatives to enact and to execute the law. Society therefore has a right to regulate its exercise, and to see that it is entrusted into proper and competent hands. This theory of the right of Society or the State to control and limit the suffrage has been adopted not only by European nations in dealing with inferior races but also by ourselves at home. We do not for instance permit the Chinese to vote; we exclude from the suffrage youths under twenty-one years of age and unnaturalized aliens, notwithstanding that they may pay large amounts in taxes and be perfectly honorable and well meaning members of the community; also tramps, paupers and the insane. So the policy{41} of excluding the colored race from full participation in the government of the country is thoroughly established in the United States. Negroes are not actually allowed to vote except where they are in a safe minority. In the States of California, Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Washington and Wyoming there is a nominal educational qualification by which at least a pretence has been made of excluding ignorant whites from the franchise, and which has been effectively used in some of these States to exclude thousands of colored voters. The suffrage has been denied to non-taxpaying Indians in all parts of the United States, notwithstanding that many of them may be decent and intelligent people. One Northern State, New Hampshire, and eleven Southern States make payment of a poll tax a necessary prerequisite to voting. A certain period of preliminary residence is prescribed in all the States. In thirty-eight states a previous registration is required; and this provision every year disfranchises thousands of travelling salesmen and others. Thirty-two States exclude women from all or specified elections, and though the expediency of this exclusion has been seriously challenged, the right to enact it is unquestioned by most people.

Thus it will be seen that in the American polity the principle is practically well recognized that voting is not a natural right but a function of government which may properly be restricted, either to property holders as in fact it was by our ancestors restricted, or to any other class as the State may ordain. There is however, reason to believe that the general public has not reflected enough on the subject to assimilate or even to accept this proposition. The American masses take most of their so-called opinions ready made, and as far as any popular theory upon the subject or conception thereof is to be found among them, it is apparently a vague loose notion of a natural equality among men; an understanding that it is part of the original American tradition that every man has an equal natural right to take part in government or at least to “express himself” by{42} his vote. We have seen in the last chapter that the original American tradition is just to the contrary, and demands a substantial property qualification for all voters. In a subsequent chapter it will appear how that original American tradition was foolishly and thoughtlessly abandoned, when manhood suffrage and the spoils system were together foisted upon us in the time of Andrew Jackson.

As already stated, an examination of the libraries does not disclose any strong authority or well reasoned argument in favor of the practice of giving a vote to every adult man or woman. The doctrine of the natural right to vote which was first practised by the French radicals of the eighteenth century appears to have been accepted as a piece of popular sentimentality; apparently it has not been adopted by any great thinker or writer. Those writers who favor it are generally superficialists, and are content to refer to it vaguely as a step in the progress of the age without any close examination of its merits. As for the theories of natural equality between men, and of the right to vote as a means of self expression neither of them will stand a moment’s serious reflection. No equality of any kind whatsoever exists or ever can exist between men. It is impossible even to imagine a tolerable existence under the crushing weight of the monotony of equality. Along with variety would perish love, hope and joy; ambition, the great source of initiative and the most powerful stimulus to effort would be destroyed; life would lose its picturesqueness, and instead of a bright running stream it would become a stagnant pool. Equality means death; its domain is the cemetery. The champions of manhood suffrage therefore will have to look elsewhere for its justification than in an assertion of an equality which cannot exist.

But we will be told that there is an “equality of rights.” Here is another absurd phrase, which as generally applied is false or meaningless. By equality of rights people generally refer to personal rights such as the right to life, to personal{43} liberty, etc. But there is no point of resemblance, no analogy even, between the character of such a right and of the asserted right to suffrage. The latter is a claim to share with others, and therefore acquired and artificial. The right of a man to his life, however, is not one in which others can share; and all natural rights are of the same general character, absolute, strictly personal and exclusive. The claim to vote rests on an entirely different basis from such; it is social, and involves others and the rights of others, it is a claim to govern; it vitally affects every one else and therefore no man can assert it without the others being consulted, since to do so would infringe upon their social rights. No such right can possibly be an original or natural right; for natural rights are of course common to all men; and the absurdity of every man having the natural right to impose his will upon another man is manifest. To say that there exists a natural right common to all men involving power over others, or that one man has a natural right to interfere with the actions of others, or of a society formed of others, or a natural right whose exercise by some would deprive other men of their own similar rights is nonsense; since these last would have the same power over the first and the result would be chaos. Such a proposition involves a complete contradiction of itself, and an impossibility.

Society and political organizations are artificially created, and all rights under them are artificially acquired. The result of the exercise of some power, or founded upon an agreement of some kind, express or implied, they are in the nature of gifts or functions conferred by society upon the individual. Of this character is the voting franchise. There can be no natural right to the control of society or even to take part in society against its will, both of which as social and legal, not natural rights, are asserted and employed by every voter. The only natural right that a man can have towards society is to escape from it altogether to a place not occupied by other men.

These considerations dispose of the sentimental twaddle uttered sometimes by shallow magazine writers and unsophisti{44}cated college professors that every man has a natural right to what they call “political self expression.” Self expression by political voting always involves in some way the exercise of power over others; and no one can have a natural right to such power.

The above reasoning applies of course to the exercise of the voting power where it affects the property of others as well as where it directly affects only the person. No man can have a natural right to dispose of another’s property or any part of it by voting or otherwise. To talk of a natural right to vote away another man’s property is downright nonsense. Imagine a small independent island inhabited by one hundred families each with property honestly acquired. Would an immigrant body of five hundred have a natural right by a vote to confiscate this property? The proposition is monstrous, yet it is all implied in the theory of a natural right to vote.

Our Courts and Judges have never held suffrage to be a natural right, and it has never been treated as such in our legislation. Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States, says: “The granting of the franchise has always been regarded in the practice of nations as a matter of expediency and not as an inherent right.” And Judge Cooley: “Suffrage cannot be the natural right of the individual because it does not exist for the benefit of the individual but for the benefit of the State itself.” (Principles of Constitutional Law, p. 249.) So on our statute books voting is not treated as a natural right, nor is the citizen mass considered as the supreme power in the state; but the constitution and functions of the electorate are created and determined by the legislative body, or under its direction, and its capacity is fixed by law and derived from the law just as truly as that of any other body exercising political powers in the government.

If suffrage were a natural right, the voter might exercise it to please himself or solely for his own interest. But nobody pretends that this is the case. It is conceded that the function of the voter is not to gratify himself nor to practise experi{45}ments, nor to express his own personal ideas, nor primarily nor mainly to foster his own interests or those of his class, but to propose the best men and measures for the country at large. He is not to seek direct personal benefit or gain by his vote but is expected thereby to contribute his opinion, his wisdom, his experience, to the promotion of the general welfare. He is not to vote for a judge because he expects him to decide a lawsuit in his favor; nor for a congressman because he hopes that he will help to secure him a contract or a pension or a tariff rate favorable to his business; but it is his duty to vote for judges and congressmen who will decide and legislate justly, that is, with due regard for all. This makes it clear that the franchise is not a gift of nature, but a trust or function created by society for its own high purposes; that the voter comes to the polls to take part in that function not as a master but as a servant of the State in obedience to her mandate; and must be clad with such qualifications as she prescribes. The voters are not masters or rulers as is so often erroneously said, they are merely called upon to designate the real rulers and masters of the land. When the citizen approaches the polls on election day he there finds in operation a formidable electoral machine which he is sometimes told is a contrivance whose object is to establish the rule of the people. But this is a superficial understanding of the matter; the people cannot possibly rule themselves; the existence of any rule whatever implies rulers as well as those ruled over; to talk of the people ruling is nonsense, or at best a mere figure of speech to indicate that they have a choice of rulers. Here as elsewhere there is and must be a government ruling by force; here as elsewhere that government is a human machine wielding or intended to wield irresistible power over its subjects, and constantly menacing the disobedient with deprivation of property, liberty and life. Our elective system is really a means for sustaining this tremendous apparatus and of keeping it in operation and effective. It is that all powerful governmental organism and not the people which rules the country. Every{46} American is just as much under the control of the authority thus created as the subject of any ruler whatever. Freedom in the sense of liberty to the individual to thwart or neglect governmental authority is not within the American scheme. This is why resident foreigners, deceived by the silly newspaper cant about the “people” ruling are frequently surprised to find themselves more restricted in some respects than they were in their own native monarchical countries.

This view of the matter whereby it appears that an election is the first step in the process of the creation of a government requires the manhood suffrage question to be presented in a different form from the usual one which is, “Has a man as such a right to vote?” He has no such inherent or natural right, and the real question is whether he is of the proper material for use in the first process of democratic government making. It follows too that the burden is on the would-be voter to show that he is fit for that purpose. The mere fact that he is a dweller in the land cannot possibly confer upon him the right to inject poor material into the government-making process, any more than one of a number interested in a cider press would have the right to insist on putting decayed apples into the hopper.

But even if there was a natural right to vote Society would still have the power to regulate its exercise and to establish conditions thereof. Certainly Society would have the right to prohibit that exercise and it would be its duty to do so when the same would operate against the welfare of the community at large; or against the welfare of every other person in it except the voter himself; or even against the welfare of the majority of the citizens of the community. A man can no more have a natural right to injure his neighbor by his vote than by any other means; and just as he is free to use his personal liberty only to the extent to which his actions are harmless or beneficial to the community, so as a matter of natural right he should be only free to vote or legislate and take part in government affairs, great or small, to the extent to which his{47} acts in that capacity are harmless or beneficial. In any aspect of the matter therefore Society has the right to limit the suffrage to such as are likely to exercise it for the benefit of the commonwealth.

Thus by disposing of the vague idea of a natural right to vote, the way is cleared for a consideration of the proper qualifications which Society should require from voters. That there are men and classes of men naturally incapable of exercising the judgment necessary to cast a ballot helpful to the community is known to all of us. Says Amiel in his Journal:

“The pretension that every man has the necessary qualities of a citizen simply because he was born twenty-one years ago, is as much as to say that labor, merit, virtue, character and experience are to count for nothing.”

Not only has the country the right to exclude incapables from the suffrage, but it is the patriotic duty of the good citizen to place a voluntary limitation on himself, and to refrain altogether from voting where through ignorance of the candidates or subject matter his vote cannot be intelligently cast. For, just as the voter is peremptorily called upon in casting his vote to disregard entirely his own interest and pleasure, and even to vote contrary to his interests and prejudices for the benefit of his country, so surely he can also be required in the public interest to surrender his privilege of voting, to remain altogether silent, and to allow the choice of men and measures to be made by his more intelligent neighbors. And it further follows, that where the ignorant voter knowingly and wilfully insists upon expressing his own opinion or prejudice at the polls in opposition to the judgment of another better qualified than he, his act is immoral and unpatriotic; and equally immoral and unpatriotic is the conduct of the legislator, writer or voter who knowingly countenances or assists in the enfranchisement of a class of people who are incompetent to vote on the questions to be presented to them, or to select the proper candidates for public offices.

Voting at a political election being an act of government,{48} the proper test of the voter is that of capacity to govern. As Bagehot puts it:—

“Fitness to govern must depend on the community to be governed and on the merits of other persons who may be capable of governing that community. A savage chief may be capable of governing a savage tribe. He may have the right of governing it, for he may be the sole person capable of so doing: but he would have no right to govern England. Whatever may be your capacity for rule, you have no right to obtain the opportunity of exercising it by dethroning a person who is more capable; you are wronging the community if you do, if you are depriving it of a better government than that which you can give to it.... The true principle is, that every person has a right to so much political power as he can exercise, without impeding any other person who would more fitly exercise such power.... Any such measure for enfranchising the lower orders as would overpower and consequently disfranchise the higher should be resisted on the ground of abstract right; you are proposing to take power from those who have the superior capacity, and to rest it in those who have but an inferior capacity or in many cases no capacity at all.” (Parliamentary Reform, 1859.)

In calling to its counsels at the polls such citizens as the State may deem competent for that purpose, it is practically impossible to select individuals; but it is quite possible to designate certain classes to whom suffrage may or may not be permitted; and when these classes are open to receive accessions indefinitely upon conditions useful to the State and attainable by all, there is nothing in the whole transaction inimical to the best democracy, or of which complaint can be made on the ground of monopoly or injustice. The acquisition and judicious management of a reasonable amount of property are terms and conditions of just this character and experience has amply shown the necessity for their imposition in the interests of society.

To summarize this branch of the subject. The primary object of an ideal election is not to ascertain where lies the interest or to gratify the caprices or whims of individuals, but{49} to continue and sustain, and if necessary to create the government of the country. The exercise of this function is in itself an act of government or in aid of government, and the privilege of participation therein is an acquired, a conferred authority or function, not a natural right, and should be bestowed solely for merit or capacity to be exercised in trust for the common benefit. It is the patriotic duty of all incapable, unprepared or unqualified citizens voluntarily to refrain from taking part in this function; and it is the right and duty of the State by appropriate legislation to exclude peremptorily therefrom all classes of men incapable of its proper exercise, and for this purpose to establish racial, property, educational, or other appropriate qualifications.

On the theory that the State itself may be supposed to have been originally inaugurated and its operations originally sanctioned by the suffrages of all its citizens as their creature and agent, a curious question has been raised by some writers, namely, on what ground the State can exclude from the constituent franchise a part, though ever so small, of its original creators or principals. Such writers have, however, overlooked the existence of a power higher and mightier than that of the State or of its inhabitants at any particular period; a power which is the real source of the authority of the State. This power is “Society,” and its relation to the subject of the franchise will be dealt with in the next chapter.{50}



Yes, for it was not Zeus who gave them forth,
Nor Justice, dwelling with the gods below,
Who traced these laws for all the sons of men;
The unwritten laws of God that know no change,
They are not of today nor yesterday,
But live forever, nor can man assign,
When first they sprang to being.
(Sophocles: “Antigone”)

At the end of the last chapter was suggested a question which troubles many superficial but honest and sympathetic thinkers. How, say they, can a democratic State justly refuse the suffrage to any citizen? They see plainly the policy of such refusal in many cases; they realize the mischief of permitting discordant voices to mar the democracy of the cultivated choir of good citizenship, the danger of allowing rotten timbers in the structure of the ship of State; they wish for some superior power to silence the one or remove the other; but they cannot see that such a power exists. Can a man or any group of men in a democracy justly assume such superiority of judgment as the exercise of this power would imply? If the State be as democracy asserts, the creature, the agent of the people, how can it by refusing the franchise to any of its citizens rightfully deprive them of a voice in its deliberations? Is not such refusal in its essence a tyranny and a negation of democracy? No doubt some such feeling as above expressed, though perhaps more vaguely formulated, actuated many who, with more or less reluctance made the blunder of acquiescing in the{51} establishment of white manhood suffrage in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, and also many of those who forty years later made the still greater blunder of accepting negro suffrage.

An answer to all these scruples familiar to all sound lawyers and quite sufficient for most intelligent men, is found in the law of self preservation. Before any law or rule of a state or community can be enacted, the state or community must have existence, and the enactment implies that the state’s continuance is to be secured. The original law of its being must first be satisfied, and must ever remain superior to all other of its enactments. It is sufficient reason therefore for the suppression of the votes of the unworthy that they are prejudicial to the State, and the State in its struggle for existence may rightfully suppress them.

But there is still another complete answer to the questions above propounded, and one perhaps still more satisfying to some minds than that of the primal right of self preservation; and that is, that there does exist a higher warrant for the disfranchisement of unworthy voters, and for all suffrage regulations, conditions and qualifications than the mere precept of the State. This higher sanction is that which authorized men in the beginning to found the commonwealth in which we live. What was that authority? Imagine if you please the foundation of a state. By what rightful authority did the first white settlers in Virginia or Massachusetts establish a government and proceed by its agency to deal with the property, lives and liberty of the members of their little company and of all new comers? By what rightful authority did they for instance execute the first malefactor? The answer is, by the mandate of Society. For even if it be true, as many insist, that the State has no original power, but is a mere created agency of limited authority, it yet does not follow that that authority has no basis but the fiat of the electorate and no justification beyond certain election certificates and its own statutes. There is a mighty mundane power in constant operation amongst men, one far{52} superior and anterior to the State; a part indeed or manifestation of that almighty persistent and mysterious force which maketh for righteousness in this world; a potentate with whose operations we are all perfectly familiar and whom we may here, for want of a better word, designate by the name “Society.” The idea intended here to be represented by that word is somewhat difficult of definition. We may approximately indicate our meaning by defining “Society” as Humanity self organized for the promotion of civilization; but we can best identify her by noting some of her operations and attributes. She finds her original source as all true authority must in the Eternal Verities, and her sovereignty is mysterious in its deepest origin as is everything vital in the universe. Her forms and methods are fine and subtle beyond description. She is not the State; she antedates the State; she was the source of the authority of our first American ancestors to establish governments and to execute justice, and was the founder and is the mistress and director of all states and governments that ever were or ever will be. Nor can she be identified with the population or body of citizenship of the nation or community; she is something which remains outside and independent of all these; possessing a separate organism, life and growth of her own. Society is the Overlord, the vital essence of which the State is the manifestation; she is to the State what the spirit is to the human body; and for her the State exists and was created. Her membership is not confined to any class, but includes all those who voluntarily submit to her decrees. These she organizes in a way peculiar to herself, assigning to them rights, obligations, influence and power without regard to laws or statutes except those of her own original promulgation, disregarding entirely the shallow and false modern notion of equality between men. For just as no two individuals have exactly the same appearance or physical power, so in the whole social domain there are no two members who are in every respect or indeed in any respect the social equals of each other. Her membership has its own traditions, rules and standards{53} which she promulgates by silent and subtle methods, often finally compelling their formal adoption by the State. Her mandates are more powerful than those of governments; and all political decrees are subordinate to the constitutions of civilized society. Her honors and powers are often more valued than those of the State, and are conferred not as in our politics at the command of mere numbers, as prizes for oratory or rewards for intrigue, but in consideration of social aptitudes and energies; so that in any given community you will find the social development of each individual to correspond with his or her compliance with the rules and mandates of Society.

Thus is constituted what may be called the Social Commonwealth, imperium in imperio, composed of all those who take up the cause of civilization; a number which does not necessarily represent a majority or any definite proportion of the people of the community, but does represent and include the community’s mental and moral force and civilizing influence. Its leaders or captains are comparatively few; they are readily distinguishable as active champions of social progress; spending time and effort for the cause; zealous in the establishment of public order; in advancing public health, in creating and maintaining beauty in public and private life; in forwarding enterprises of religion, art, education, science and benevolence; in promoting civilizing institutions, such as libraries, hospitals, churches; also operas, music, dancing and all the refinements of life; in creating parks and flower gardens, in beautifying cities and villages; in elevating the standards of dress, manners and private living, and in furthering all civilizing and humanizing influences. Following these leaders at greater or less social distance are the great body of the membership of the Social Commonwealth composed of all classes of rich and poor and between, the great mass of the socially loyal, themselves originating and initiating nothing of social importance, but faithfully keeping up year by year with the steadily advancing procession; directing their children in the way of sweetness and light, that so they may reach the places where{54} the social leaders stood a generation before. So that a basis for the establishment of a qualified electorate and for the exclusion therefrom of the disqualified is found in the primary fact of the existence of two classes of humanity, the one including the socially fit, the socially organized, the members of the Social Commonwealth; and the others the non-members of that organization. As already stated, not all the inhabitants of our borders are the lieges of Society; there is the considerable body of the unsocial; comprising those cold and indifferent to the social cause, the socially worthless, the nondescript and the rabble; also the anti-social; the openly hostile, the criminals and malefactors of the community. The existence of these two divisions of men, the social and the unsocial, justifies and requires the State to distinguish between them in granting the voting franchise. The primary test of voting capacity is and must be allegiance to the social commonwealth.

Society was born when humanity emerged from savagery, and will endure while civilization continues in the world. The Jacobins of France of 1790, like the present Bolsheviki of Russia, got possession of the State machinery and turning it against Society swore to destroy her forever; after a dozen years of strife she emerged from the conflict stronger than before. She accompanied the first immigrants to Massachusetts Bay, to Jamestown and to every other American settlement. There she was on the very first day and ever after with her customs, traditions, beliefs, classes, prejudices, dress, manners and standards of conduct, ready to enforce them in America with the same despotic authority exercised long before in the England of the Plantagenets, Normans, Saxons and Romans. And then and there in the fields and forests of the new world, Society established governments as her agents to enforce her mandates, imposing her will upon the States which she thus created. Since then, by Society has the onward course of the nation at all times been directed. Governments may change; peace may follow war; the monarchy may give way to a republic or dictatorship and that to a democracy, or vice versa;{55} laws may be enacted and repealed, constitutions established and abolished, but the rule of the Social Commonwealth goes on forever.

It is to Society, the champion of civilization, that the enlightened civilized man considers his allegiance is ultimately due, and only to the State as the agent of Society. A law to be valid and enforceable must conform to social mandates. The late James C. Carter, a noted New York lawyer, is the author of a philosophical treatise on Law in which he clearly establishes this principle. He says (p. 120); “That to which we give the name of Law always has been, still is, and will forever continue to be Custom.” But customs are merely the ordinances of Society. When the State forgets its duty to Society it does so at its peril; let it enact for example, a Fugitive Slave Law and the Emersons, Thoreaus, Beechers and other social leaders refuse obedience and defy the State. In like manner, wars are justified when decreed by Society against unsocial sovereign states in the interests of civilization, as for instance, some of the modern wars of civilized powers against Turkey. Consider the actual political power and operations of Society. Compare the statute books of today with those of fifty or a hundred years ago and note the changes she has dictated in that period. History is sad and bloody with the story of the efforts of the State to modify the religious practices of men; they have all failed; but Society does not fail to change these practices year by year. Commerce, manufactures, transportation, the arts, education, customs, manners, all human institutions are in turn created and destroyed by Society, and law and the State are powerless to defeat permanently her decrees, while their own are only valid when stamped with her approval.

Here then we find in the inherent powers of Society, in powers which are God-given or Nature-given if you prefer, an answer to the scruples of those who seek a source of authority in the State to protect its life by preserving its own machinery. It is this supreme potentate acting by and through the State{56} that we invoke to settle the structure of the State on the foundations of capacity and intelligence.

Consider now the interest of Society in the proper regulation of the suffrage as the source and foundation of the State. Not alone is she vitally interested in the maintenance of the present civilizing forces which are sending us forward day by day on the march to higher planes of life; but also in preserving the material and intellectual inheritance of all the ages. This inheritance includes all the accumulated acquisitions of the civilized human race; its property, treasures, achievements and traditions; all the products of its mental and physical endeavor, the fruits of its art, literature, science and industry. These constitute the body of civilization in which its soul and mind are preserved, nourished and kept alive; they form a social trust for ourselves and for posterity. “Civilization,” said Burke, is “a triple contract between the noble dead, the “living and the unborn.” And by that contract we are forbidden to live or to legislate so as to cheat those who come after.

Society’s process for the preservation of our intellectual inheritance is called education; her method for the preservation of our material inheritance is the institution of private property rights. Humanity, property and education combined, constitute the material endowment of society, wherewith she works for the advancement of the human race, or as otherwise expressed for the promotion of civilization. Obviously she is justified in adopting all possible precautions to guard and preserve this precious deposit committed to her charge, nor can it be doubted that she should carefully select its custodians and overseers. Equally plain is it that since the civilization of the nation is and has been produced entirely by the thrifty members of the Social Commonwealth and remains in their guardianship, they and they alone, as constituting the class who have produced and cared for the same should be continued in its care as the representatives of Society and in her behalf; and should be authorized to formulate the laws and{57} measures which make for its protection and advancement. To this end and purpose Society is constantly endeavoring. A volume could be written illustrating the exercise of her steady and mighty influence in placing the scepter in the hands of her chosen ones. Rome was the ancient conservator of civilization, and to her was given sway for centuries; England of all modern nations has been most devoted to preserving the best of the product of the generations as they pass on, and she and her race were made foremost among nations and peoples. Look at the community where you live and you will easily note how Society bestows influence, authority, distinction and esteem upon her own workers, the builders and creators of civilization and upon their children, and passes contemptuously by the unsocial and anti-social. You cannot fail to observe her disdain of the mere talkers and wasters and how she brings to naught the works and cheap distinctions of a manhood suffrage constituency. To the silly French Jacobin scheme of ascertaining the best by counting noses, Society opposes her own never failing system of continuous study, training and selection. She does not favor, on the contrary, she discourages the absurd and impossible purpose of modern liberalism of giving expression to ignorant individual wills with all their clashing selfishness and brutality. She does not favor the politician’s purpose of perpetuating moral feebleness and incapacity, nor of forwarding the foolish aims and ideas of the weak and the worthless. She is far from giving office or power to such or from even hearkening to their prattle and humbug. She has much to overcome. The power that makes for righteousness is not permitted to operate without the opposition of fools and charlatans; and it is within Society’s function to master this opposition, which she invariably does in the end. She constantly refuses to descend as manhood suffrage does to the level of the ignoble; on the contrary when they presume to oppose her in her momentous business she undertakes either to conquer them by reclamation or to see that they are hanged or otherwise removed out of her implacable path.{58}

It is the crime of manhood suffrage that it constantly endeavors to oppose and thwart this all beneficent social tendency; that it pushes to the front and seeks to give power in civic affairs to the non-social and anti-social classes, consisting of men devoid of the instinct for the creation and preservation of the useful and the beautiful, and who cannot safely be trusted as their guardians. In so doing it perverts the State from its proper functions. The State has no rightful authority over men’s lives except as the deputy of Society, and its every legitimate act should and must be for the promotion of beneficial social objects. It is its clear duty as such deputy to place political control in the hands of those gifted with distinguished social attributes; and an essential and the first step in that direction is the discarding of manhood suffrage and all similar unnatural political stupidities which inevitably lead to Jacobinism, Bolshevism, anarchy, ruin and death.{59}



There are two principal arguments in favor of a property qualification for voters; one the argument of fitness, that the propertied class are the most capable of passing upon affairs of state; the other the argument of justice, that the business of government principally concerns property, namely, the belongings and the productions of propertied people. Both these arguments assume that what is wanted is an honest and efficient government, not a corrupt and inefficient one.

The demand for a property qualification for voters is predicated upon the theory that there is an obligation on the part of the citizens of a state to contribute towards its material prosperity; a duty of such importance that the state cannot flourish in the face of its neglect; that the class of men who are incapable of creating and preserving property is unfitted to form part of the electorate; and that neither native birth nor the taking of a naturalization oath is sufficient qualification for the duties and function of active citizenship in a genuine democracy. There may be valid excuses such as ill health, ignorance, etc., for the individual’s failure to perform his part in the work of civilization, but such excuses do not disprove the existence of the obligation in others, but rather emphasize it. It is not well fulfilled when the citizen only produces enough from day to day for his immediate support, or wastes the surplus, leaving the burden upon others to provide for the time of old age, sickness and incapacity. Its proper performance therefore involves the exercise of the virtue known as prudence, a systematic saving or accumulation of{60} property for the joint benefit of the individual and the State. The practice of this virtue is incumbent not merely upon good citizens but upon every citizen and tends to qualify for active citizenship. Like cleanliness, it is not a superfluous but an essential virtue. The neglect of home cleanliness may breed a pestilence; the neglect of home prudence may unfairly burden the community; such neglect is an act of disloyalty to Society and to the State, and is a proof of such civic incapacity and indifference as to require in any well regulated political community, the placing of the offender in the class of passive citizens who are not entitled to the suffrage. His country’s protection is a sufficient reward for one of that class for merely taking the trouble to be born in her domain. Let him be content to be what Sieyes called a passive citizen till he has proved his qualification to be an active one. If there be, which is doubtful, exceptional cases of men such that neither they nor their forefathers were actually able to earn more than enough to support them, or having earned it to take care of it, and yet are capable of directing affairs of state they are so few as to be negligible. Such men need the spur of disfranchisement to make them go ahead, and meantime the thrifty can legislate for them. Constitutional legislation can only deal with groups, or classes, and cannot properly attempt to provide for such extraordinary exceptions.

Democracy is an ideal form of government for none but a highly capable people; a representative government of a worthless or a politically indifferent constituency will be a worthless government, the more representative the more worthless. Witness Hayti, San Domingo, Mexico, and certain Central American or South American democracies. These are totally incapable because their electorates are totally incapable, and in this country the democracy, though not a complete failure, is a partial failure, namely, to the extent that its life is vitiated by an inferior constituency. There are thousands of men, not to speak of women, on our voting list who are as incompetent to{61} exercise the functions of voters as the inferior orders of Mexico or Hayti. Many of the improvident classes have minds absolutely childish and utterly incapable of foresight or serious reflection. At an election held in Ashton in England under the recently extended suffrage system, a theatrical man named de Freece was elected to Parliament not because of his political views, but because of the amusing performances of his wife, a noted vaudeville actress. We quote from a newspaper:

“Vesta Tilley, the most popular male impersonator London has known in decades, took a prominent part in the campaign. Her ‘Picadilly Johnnie with the little glass eye’ and other popular songs, it was admitted played a far greater part in the election than her husband’s political views.” We may be sure it was the unpropertied and non-tax-paying rabble whose vote went in favor of “Picadilly Johnnie.” Lord Bryce’s description of the indifferent or incompetent British voters applies well enough to our own:

“Though they possess political power, and are better pleased to have it, they do not really care about it—that is to say, politics occupy no appreciable space in their thoughts and interests. Some of them vote at elections because they consider themselves to belong to a party, or fancy that on a given occasion they have more to expect from the one party than from the other; or because they are brought up on election day by some one who can influence them.... Others will not take the trouble to go to the polls.... Many have not even political prepossessions, and will stare or smile when asked to which party they belong. They count for little except at elections, and then chiefly as instruments to be used by others. So far as the formation or exercise of opinion goes, they may be left out of sight.” (American Commonwealth, Vol. II, pp. 319-20.)

It is impossible to weigh merits so nicely as to exclude all of this class; it is impracticable to disfranchise a man for frivolity even though he be so frivolous that his vote depends on the song of an actress, but when that frivolity gives itself concrete expression such as incapacity to acquire or retain property, it may and should be excluded from our political life.{62}

In considering the proposition that the creation and preservation of property is a primary duty of citizenship, we must realize the absolute essentiality of accumulated property in the scheme of civilization. We all know the value of money, but we are generally loath to formally acknowledge its importance. There is a prevalent affectation of indifference towards it, assumed by vain fools as a mark of superiority, and by spendthrift fools to excuse their stupid poverty. This affectation is encouraged by the writers of the popular magazines and newspapers and other cheap literature which is published for the masses, who are supposed to be poor and to like to be flattered by being told that their poverty, instead of being a mark of inferiority as it really is, is a sign of superior goodness. This sort of writing misleads many thoughtless people to their detriment. Civilization can only be expressed in terms of property; and property is its token, its manifestation, its note, its unfailing indication, its hall mark. There is not a quality, a circumstance, a feature of civilization which is not represented in some way by property, either by being due to property, derived from property, originating in property, or sustained by property. The desire for property is an attribute of man; denied to the lower animals and dormant in savages, such as the North American Indians who when discovered, had no permanent property, not even a year’s provisions to live on in times of scarcity, and had created nothing for posterity. A pauperized people is on the direct road to barbarism. On the other hand, the higher the grade of civilization the greater the wealth of the country; so that to attain the very highest grade we must pass far beyond the period of aggregation of merely useful things and reach a point of great luxury, where men can spend lives and millions in the service of the high arts and refinements of life, and where in an atmosphere enriched by the artistic emanations of centuries, are produced operas costing $10,000 a day, and palaces and cathedrals at an expenditure of the time of generations of men and of hundreds of millions of dollars in money.{63}

It is often said that the main object of our government should be to preserve our political institutions. This is too short-sighted a view. These institutions are not an ultimate object; they are only the means of promoting and protecting civilization, the which ought to be the principal and ultimate object of the State. This object is to be accomplished by encouraging the citizens in the voluntary production of life’s primal material necessities: food, clothing, and shelter; in the conservation of the accumulated treasures of the past, and by favoring the addition thereto of new contributions by this generation, so that the total may be passed on intact to posterity. Any government is a failure which neglects that duty; which if accomplished, and a proper attention given to education, virtue and morality will take care of themselves. In the play of “Major Barbara,” one of Bernard Shaw’s best and most instructive comedies, the distinguished author shows the difficulty, the almost impossibility of the reclamation by mere admonition of a man degraded by pauperism; but that good wages regularly paid will do the job. Now, our present voting system not only fails to encourage thrift, saving or accumulation of wealth, or to promote civilization, but has a contrary tendency, because it grants equality and power in government to the non-producer, to the shiftless, lazy and vicious consumers and wasters of property.

In order to fairly realize the gross injustice of granting governmental powers to the thriftless classes, we must clearly visualize and properly estimate the results of the lives and labors of the thrifty and industrious. We must not fail to fully understand that frugality is the creator and preserver of the State. We have recently heard frequent appeals to save and help win the German war; because to save is to contribute to a fund out of which can be paid the expenses of the government. But the common fund of the nation’s wealth in peace as well as in war exists and is drawn upon by every member of the community, and it is just as true in peace as in war that the citizen who saves money is thus contributing to{64} that common fund and thereby to the strength and well-being of the commonwealth, and this, whether he deposit his savings in a bank where it is loaned out to aid industry and create employment, or whether he invests it in commerce or manufactures, directly or indirectly, by the purchase of stocks or securities in industrial or commercial concerns. The mere fact of saving, that is to say of producing more than he consumes makes him at once a contributor to this general fund; and therefore any man who leaves behind him upon his death money or property which he accumulated in his lifetime has been a benefactor to the community, in the same sense as if he had contributed a great book or a valuable invention to the world, or had spent his life in benevolent work. To save or to make money and then to usefully spend it in one’s lifetime, reaping the tribute of the world’s appreciation is well enough; but to frugally save for a long lifetime in order to do good or give pleasure to others after one’s eyes are closed in death is surely nobler still. All the useful productions of man in the United States, the dwellings, stores, shops, ships, roads, railroads, telegraphs and telephones; the schools, colleges, hospitals and church edifices; all the accumulated fuel and stores of manufactured and other goods, are the fruits of individual saving. The greatness and power of the United States depend upon the collected savings of generations gone by, and evidence their industry, prudence and self-denial. The class of Americans who have wasted their surplus or who have produced no more than they earned; those devil-may-care fellows so admired by sentimentalists, have been of no permanent material value to the country; they are of the parasite class; they have no part in the creation of its civilization which is represented by its acquisitions and depends upon them for its continuance. Many of these people give themselves airs of virtue and generosity because they are not “mean” as they say; they even brag that they spend as they go, and for that attitude toward life expect and sometimes receive applause from others as great fools as themselves. Their ignorance prevents their per{65}ceiving their own selfishness; and their vanity hides from them a suspicion of their worthlessness. The late Andrew Carnegie is credited with many sayings wise and foolish; of the latter one of the oftenest quoted is that it is a disgrace to die rich. No proverb more mistaken and mischievous was ever uttered. For since no man, however much he made but might have squandered it all, therefore to die rich implies some prudence and self denial, and usually means that the departed left the world better off than he found it. The only anti-social rich are the land grabbers. All who have become capitalists by trade, production or invention, or by efforts in aid thereof, are public benefactors.

Here let us stop to pay a well-earned tribute to the past and present rank and file of the hard-working money savers of our country, above all to those of the past; to such of the departed ones and of the old superannuated fathers and mothers still feebly lingering among us, as have lovingly toiled and scraped and saved to leave something to their children and their descendants. They are and have been among the best the world produces, those honest, prudent, thrifty, self-denying Americans, those brave old progenitors of ours, whose honest toil and stinting and close bargaining for generations past built up the wealth which makes so many of us comfortable and which enabled America to give Germany her solar plexus blow. May their memories be dear to their descendants and be honored by all of us forever.

We hear much these days of “class consciousness”; of that feeling of solidarity among the working classes which inclines the mechanic or operative to feel the needs of his fellow workers and to act with a view to their benefit, and this is well; but a little guiding thought is never amiss in such matters, and will surely lead to a conclusion favorable to a property qualification for voters. First, the workers should remember that all good workmen are interested in the creation and preservation of capital. Their class consciousness should align them on this question with those who produce and save. They should{66} realize that immense numbers of workingmen have savings bank accounts and other property and are therefore in the capitalistic class. Most of them have hopes and aspirations for still greater wealth, for in the United States and in other civilized countries where the ancient struggle for personal and religious liberty is over, the chief modern aspiration of all workers is to create and preserve property, and thus to enjoy to the utmost the security and happiness which come with civilization and are expressed in terms of property. They should also understand that all capital is in a fund which is accessible to all, and that their best contribution to the welfare of their brothers would be the increase of this fund by their own wise thrift and saving. The savings bank is a great creator and preserver of property, and operates by a process which is vital to the existence of the unpropertied working man to an extent which he often fails to realize till the destruction of stored up capital by Bolsheviki methods brings him to starvation’s verge. And while the property actually owned by the working man is usually much less in dollar value than that of almost any single capitalistic employer of labor, or business men generally, yet its actual importance to him is as great or greater; and then the use by the working man of property not his own but accumulated by society, and its necessity to his existence is usually almost as great and may be practically greater than that of the rich man. The latter for instance may be an invalid or of sedentary habits, making but little direct use of mechanical forces; while the working man in question may be constantly and necessarily using machinery, railroads, and other transportation facilities, etc., in his daily employment to such a degree as to be absolutely dependent on them for his existence. In the case of another worker his direct personal use of food, clothing, furniture, household goods, books, etc., may be actually greater than that of his wealthy but more secluded or abstemious neighbor. Such a one whether or not he realizes it, is vitally interested in the preservation and maintenance of the property of others through{67} the use of which he obtains his livelihood, or on which his comfort and happiness depend, and therefore that government should be so organized as to protect that property.

As the thrift of the worker is the root of our material prosperity, so is the thrift of the rich its flower and choicest fruit. What would America be, what would Europe be without the savings of the well-to-do, accumulated from generation to generation, and here now at our command and for our use manifested not only in railroads, ships, canals, banks and all the buildings and equipments of commerce and industry, but also in fine mansions, in elegant furniture, in beautiful lawns and gardens, in churches, cathedrals, hospitals, universities and museums? From out the ranks of the opulent and thrifty classes, and especially of those of them who have scorned waste, extravagance, dissipation and vulgar display, came the leaders in the social army, the noble pioneers of taste and beauty. We hear much canting laudation of the frontier pioneers, a rough and coarse set mostly, of whom such as did their part deserve the credit. But far more excellent and admirable are those to whose zeal, enthusiastic taste and noble self-denial we owe most of the preserved and accumulated treasures of the earth in architecture, painting, sculpture and ornamentation. In every age, in every generation they appear on the scene, little bands of modest amateurs, devoting time, patience and money to rescuing these treasures from destruction, and to fostering, instructing and creating public taste for created beauty. They seek and teach the best in life, leisure, refinement and loveliness; they introduce noble and graceful fashions in dress, manners and deportment and set fine examples to the world. The public museums and opera are endowed by their benefactions; they are the patrons of the best music, the purest drama, and the most inspiring architecture. And not merely to the cultivated very rich who are able to do so much, but also to the refined of the more modest middle class is our gratitude due for their leadership in this same direction. We see their tasteful comfortable houses dotting the{68} landscape; their good sidewalks, shady street trees, gardens and orchards delight the wayfarer. In improving the public taste in the choice of furniture, or book bindings, of music and other things they are constantly helping along our civilization and forwarding the interests of the Social Commonwealth. They train their children so that they often become still more tasteful than their parents; they set an example of decent living to the poorer classes; they beautify the land; they give the rest of us something to aspire to. As we pass through a handsome well-kept American village let us give a thought of gratitude to the folk of all degrees of well-to-do, most of them now dead and gone, who planted and built well, who dressed, talked and lived like gentlemen and ladies; who improved the life and manners of their time and left the world better housed, better mannered and better looking than they found it. Of such is the history of the nation’s progress. Like the great artists and authors, they each contributed an offering to civilization; they left something of value behind them to make them remembered, were it only a little well-built and well-designed house for someone to occupy after their departure. Though their names are never in the mouths of platform ranters, they are among the true patriots of America.

The manhood suffrage doctrine fails to recognize the vital political difference heretofore referred to, originally pointed out by Sieyes, that exists between the two classes of citizens; the one the faithful members of the social commonwealth; the progressive workers, loyal and active in the promotion of civilization and in sustaining the state; and who because of such civic activity, are accounted worthy of the suffrage; the other the non-socials; the drones; the neutrals or disloyal and therefore ineligible for political functions of any sort; non-producers, shirkers, wasters, and destroyers. Sieyes, who was a statesman, publicist and member of the French National Assembly in 1792, recognized the existence of these two clearly separated classes of citizens, and, by a statute proposed by him and subsequently enacted, all Frenchmen were{69} divided accordingly into active citizens (citoyens actifs), having the right to vote and hold office, and passive citizens (citoyens passifs), who are excluded from both these privileges. It is not just or fair that these latter, who are always behind the chariot of progress, pulling backward and being carried or dragged along, impeding the march of the race, should compel the progressive workers, the real active citizens of the country, to expend a large part of their efforts in overcoming their resistance.

Consider also the gross injustice and folly of inviting a large class who have contributed nothing to the treasury of civilization to share in its management and control, even permitting them to mismanage, misuse and waste it. “That the tax eaters should not have absolute control over the taxes to be expended by the tax payers would appear to be entirely axiomatic truth in political philosophy.... That this suffrage is a spear as well as a shield is a fact which many writers on suffrage leave out of sight.” (Sterne, Const. History, p. 270.) Those who made this country what it is are the thrifty workers, the successful business men. Now, is it asking too much to demand that the destiny of the country should be placed in their hands? Is it fair that government should be put under the control of the wasteful and the foolish, that they may burden it with debt, and bond their thrifty fellow citizens and all future generations to pay off the obligations thus imposed upon the nation?

A purely sentimental and therefore very popular argument against property qualification is that the rights and claims of humanity are separate from and superior to those of property. This statement has really nothing to do with the case, since it is not proposed to exclude humanity from the polls, but merely to select for admission thereto a superior and more representative class. It is said by these sentimentalists that the rights of man are absolute and transcendent and must first be satisfied, while those of property are inferior and may be disregarded. This is on the absurd assumption that civilized man{70} and his property are separable and distinct forces; and that a conception of civilized man without property is possible. And so we are assailed with the catch phrase, popular with penny papers and platform ranters: “Man is superior to property.” This, like most catch phrases, is found, when examined, to be rather empty. Man is superior to property just as the head is superior to the stomach, as the fruit of the tree is superior to the roots. But when the stomach is neglected the head dies; when the root is not nourished the fruit perishes; the only way to preserve the head is to feed the stomach; the only way to produce the fruit is to fertilize the roots. Man in a state of civilization cannot exist without property; if you sacrifice his property you sacrifice him. The imagined comparison of the value of human life in its entirety with human property in the aggregate is absurd, it presents an impossible choice. How, for instance, can you balance the value of human life against that of the New York Croton Aqueduct system which conserves the life of millions? Carry out the notion that all property should be sacrificed rather than that one man should perish, and you have the spectacle of a people without food, fire, clothes, shelter or medicines, whereof not merely the one sacred man, but the whole lot would perish forthwith. On the other hand, a comparison of the value of individual life with that of individual property depends on the character of the life and of the property referred to. Whatever we may pretend we do not practically treat the life of a human being as such, say for instance, that of a savage, as equivalent in value to the highest forms of property such as our great works of art, our great public works, or the material equipment necessary to our subsistence. It is probable that the aggregate of the accumulated treasures of wealth and art which existed in Europe at the time of the discovery of America was worth to civilization and to the moral and religious universe a million times more than all the savage human life on the North American continent at that time. To the existence of this accumulation of property and this organized so{71}ciety not only the well-to-do, but the most ignorant man, be he ever so poor, owes whatever enjoyment he has in his daily life. The little naked child is brought into the world by the aid of physicians and nurses who have been trained in great institutions established and sustained by organized civilized society through the medium of property accumulated by the men of years and generations past; and from his birth on, the child, whatever be his station, is clothed, fed, sheltered and nourished in sickness and in health; trained, educated, watched over and preserved as long as he lives, by the aid of institutions which were created and are maintained by Society through the accumulation, the use and the application of property. The poorest individual is more indebted to property accumulations and is more dependent upon them in time of need than the richest, because it is only from them that charities and benevolences of all kinds, outdoor relief, free hospitals, dispensaries, schools, colleges and churches can be maintained. Even Robinson Crusoe on his island would have perished had it not been for the use of such products of high civilization as he was able to save from the wreck.

Following the argument founded on the justice of the case comes that based upon the superior fitness of members of the propertied class for the function of voters. This fitness is derived from the training which is incidental to the acquisition and care of property in the struggle for life. The property qualification for voters is in effect an educational test, and far more effective than that of mere book learning, which so often turns out to be quite insufficient as a preparation for the conduct of human affairs, and is equally insufficient for the understanding of politics. There is an education in life as well as in books and the education in life is the more valuable of the two. To have acquired and preserved property implies not only ordinary school or theoretical education, but business training as well, and as government is mostly a business affair a property qualification presupposes a special preparatory course of training{72} of the kind which is the best of all for the voter, and in addition such civic and political virtues as are necessary to success in business. “In politics, as elsewhere, only that which costs is valued. The industrial virtues imply self-denial, which prepares their possessors to wield political power; but pauperism raises a presumption of unfitness to share in political power. The person who cannot support himself has no moral claim to rule one who can.” (Lalor’s Cyclopedia; Suffrage.)

It is the actual contact with, and the masterful control of the things of life that fits a man to give judgment on their force and value; and his success therein is the test of his own capacity. In a very able and instructive article on “The Basic Problem of Democracy” in the Atlantic Monthly for November, 1919, written by Walter Lipman, he dwells upon the proposition heretofore generally overlooked that what is most needed in our political system is some means of giving the electorate true information as to facts. He says:

“The cardinal fact always is the loss of contact with objective information. Public as well as private reason depends upon it. Not what somebody says, not what somebody wishes were true, but what is so beyond all our opining, constitutes the touchstone of our existence. And a society which lives at secondhand will commit incredible follies and countenance inconceivable brutalities if that contact is intermittent and untrustworthy. Demagoguery is a parasite that flourishes where discrimination fails, and only those who are at grips with things themselves are impervious to it. For, in the last analysis, the demagogue, whether of the Right or the Left, is, consciously or unconsciously, an undetected liar.”

For the purposes of this argument the point here is that not only the mere rabble but the unpropertied and impecunious from any cause, either from lack of interest or of capacity, live at secondhand in their relations to politics and are not themselves at “grips with things” and therefore easily become the prey of the demagogue, the undetected liar.

The practical value of the property qualification test though{73} not properly appreciated has not been entirely overlooked by previous writers. For example, Bagehot:

“Property indeed is a very imperfect test of intelligence; but it is some test. If it has been inherited it guarantees education; if acquired it guarantees ability; either way it assures us of something. In all countries where anything has prevailed short of manhood suffrage, the principal limitation has been founded on criteria derived from property. And it is very important to observe that there is a special appropriateness in this selection; property has not only a certain connection with general intelligence, but it has a peculiar connection with political intelligence. It is a great guide to a good judgment to have much to lose by a bad judgment; generally speaking, the welfare of the country will be most dear to those who are well off there.” (Parliamentary Reform, p. 320.)

Bagehot, like most political writers and speakers, while recognizing the educative value to the voter of property ownership and management, fails to give sufficient importance to the effect of a business training. He elsewhere dwells upon the beneficial influence upon the voter of leisure, of education, of lofty pursuits, of cultivated society; but he overlooks the obvious fact that all good government is a business enterprise, and that a business training is essential to the instruction of the electorate. This oversight was perhaps natural for two reasons: one the traditionary contempt in which all business was formerly held in England, and by the literary class everywhere. Dickens, for example, had not the least idea of business capacity or of the intelligent life of the business world of London, and Thackeray very little. Their business men are of varying degrees of stupidity. The fact is that the world of art and letters has always been over conceited and inclined on insufficient evidence to believe itself superior in intelligence to the world of work and business. The other reason for the oversight referred to is that in former days business training was far less thorough and extended than it has since become and is today.

Whatever may have been the case in days gone by, in our{74} own time a business training is necessary to enable a voter to make a proper choice of candidates for public office. The only way to secure competent officials is through the demand of the electorate for capable men and by close and intelligent scrutiny of the candidates. But this implies capacity on the part of the voters to pass on the candidates’ qualifications and to make a proper choice; in other words an electorate of trained minds, good judgment and knowledge of men. The voter needs not only understanding of the merits of public controversies and knowledge of the published records of candidates for office but also judgment to weigh their qualities. And just as some knowledge of music is necessary to enable a listener to judge of the ability of a musician, so the voter who is to choose men for office having proper business qualifications should himself have had fundamental business training and experience, and an educated sense of honesty and justice in such matters.

From all which it appears that business and the professions furnish a school of which all voters should be graduates. In this institution established by natural processes and everywhere in operation, citizens are being daily trained in prudence, foresight, self-denial, temperance, industry, frugality, and the capacity to reason. There is a continuous and automatic exclusion of the unfit. First the worthless, very stupid, defective, dishonest and lazy are eliminated. Either they refuse to enter, or from time to time as boys or young men they are rejected and discharged as incompetent; weeded out, and their places taken by the more competent. As years go on the more industrious, clear-headed, honest and frugal of these surpass the others and achieve success in proportion as they display those qualities, together with good judgment and farsightedness; while meantime they establish and maintain families, raise children and acquire more or less property, all the while gaining in training and experience in the affairs of life. They become members of business firms, employers, superintendents, business managers, etc. In agriculture they become successful{75} farmers. In the professions they become known and established as reliable, and acquire and accumulate clients and patients, regular offices, books, equipment, furniture, together with some money or other property. In literature they write successful books. In teaching they become principals and college professors. There you have them, trained and graduated in the school of life’s affairs, the academy of evolution; a class of the fittest armed with Nature’s own credentials, certifying them to be of proper stuff from which to build a safe foundation for the democratic State, and thus has nature herself done the preparatory work of selecting material for an electorate by sifting out the inefficient, the non-social, the passive citizens; by separating and putting in plain sight the efficient members of the Social Commonwealth and stamping them with the seal of competency for active citizenship. So that a property qualification for voters appears upon a proper consideration to be fit, appropriate, practical, effective and in accordance with natural law.

Exceptions there probably are, instances of men of good parts and judgment who through misadventure have been reduced to such poverty that they would be debarred from voting under any fair property qualification rule. But the law cannot provide for such misfortunes any more than for unavoidable absence from the polls on election day. Such minor defaults will not affect the desired result, which is the production of a class of reliable voters, and not merely a few exceptional ones.

Not only property but the honest and intelligent desire for property should be represented in the councils of the State. This aspiration has been stigmatized by twaddlers as an “appetite”; but an appetite is a good thing; and essential to life. The desire for wealth is one of nature’s constructive forces and should be availed of by wise statesmen for the purpose of nation building. Nothing is more offensive to the intelligent thinking man than to hear hypocritical demagogic ranters denounce as “greed” the honest efforts of thrift to col{76}lect together a competence for old age, a provision for helpless children, or capital for a business enterprise. Politicians and the impudent followers of politicians, vile parasites on the body politic, scurvy knaves who have never earned an honest hundred dollars in their lives, make a trade of this kind of talk; preferring the business of flattering and cozening a constituency of wooden heads and uncontrolled emotions to earning a living honestly. The wish for property is a primal impulse like the love of life, the appetite for food and drink, and the desire for procreation; it is in the nature of every healthy man; the want of it is abnormal and detracts from capacity for constructive state work. Those who really lack it become in politics as dangerous as lunatics; they are dreamers, enthusiasts who ruin everything they control, such as were Robespierre and thousands of his followers. One would not trust one of these crackbrains to build a house, let alone a nation. In private life they are shiftless and burdensome on their friends and the public; in the lower classes they are often known as loafers or deadbeats; some of them become the “floaters” of politics, the cheap material for bandit political organizations. On the other hand this desire to create, to save, to preserve and to perpetuate useful and beautiful things, is a natural force which wise statesmen employ to the utmost in the service of the State; whose development they encourage in civics, in private life, in politics and in government, and which found in the character of the individual should be accorded its proper and legitimate, sane and steadying influence.

The possession of property is also a necessary qualification of a voter because it renders him pecuniarily independent. The voter in a democracy should be so situated as to be free from the need of yielding to the temptation of a bribe, either in the shape of cash or the salary attached to a small office. We pay judges large salaries, to lift them above the atmosphere of temptation. The voter is a judge, called upon to pass judgment upon the candidates whose names are on the ballot. That{77} the verdict of the polls upon these candidates for office should be rendered by paupers, by men whose means do not enable them to vote with independence, is monstrous. The shelter of secrecy afforded by the Australian ballot is no answer to this objection. The purchased voter is corrupted before he enters the booth; his soul is degraded as soon as he resolves to take the bribe. Why should he be false to his bargain? Surely not for patriotism or virtue, for the act of betraying his purchaser would not cleanse him; it would only prove him doubly recreant. To say that the elector besides being venal will perhaps become a perjured traitor is a poor plea for his admission to the suffrage. And yet, the tendency of manhood suffrage being forever downward is towards pauper voting. A New York newspaper of March 5, 1919, recorded that Lady Astor, a candidate for Parliament in Plymouth, England, had just visited the almshouses there in making her canvass for votes. In the short time England has been afflicted with an approximation to universal suffrage, this much has been accomplished. If it be right, it should go on, and great England’s Parliament, renowned for six centuries as the mother of all free representative assemblies, should become a club of chattering women, sent there by paupers and vagabonds. America should face the other way. In its political life it has no need for women nor for flabby and inefficient men; it needs honesty, frugality, virile force, courage and efficiency; it needs a constructive and conservative spirit to replace the reckless and wasteful temper now so prevalent. The electorate should include only active citizens, only those who have made good; the governmental state should correspond to the social state, representing not only the working and thrifty people, but their works, their homes, their property and their civilization.

The democratic advance thus proposed is a movement onward and upward to better things. The manhood suffrage movement was downward. In the next and succeeding chapters the reader will find briefly sketched some account of that descending progress into and through the muck of ignorance and corruption for the past one hundred years.{78}



The first national legislature to be elected by manhood suffrage without distinctions or qualifications was the notorious red radical French Convention which met at Paris, September 20th, 1792. It is that body which has the infamous celebrity of establishing and prosecuting the bloody tyranny known as the Terror, under which tens of thousands of innocent men and women of France were put to death because of their supposed political opinions. Though manhood suffrage may not be entirely and solely responsible for the excesses of the convention, yet it is safe to say that it helped create the machinery for the perpetration of the crimes and follies of the Terror; and that none of these excesses would have been committed by a body selected by a fairly qualified electorate. All that was good in the French Revolution was accomplished through a propertied electorate; and all that was worst was done under a manhood suffrage régime.

The French Revolution began in 1789 as a peaceable and rational reform movement. None of the writings of Rousseau which did so much to prepare the way for the great change had directly discussed the suffrage question. The French National Assembly which met in May, 1789, at Versailles, was a sane and dignified body, chosen by a qualified electorate, and there was in its deliberations no mention and in its membership probably no thought of universal suffrage.

There was never any necessity for physical violence or revolution in order to secure the attainment of all such political reforms as even from the most liberal standpoint were needed{79} by France at that time. The government like all other governments of that day was ignorant of economic laws, and the people had suffered under inequalities in rank and privilege, and an antiquated and inadequate financial system; but the king and the nobility were pacifist, and in the main humanitarian and inclined to liberal measures. Within three months after the Assembly convened, the nobility in open meeting voluntarily surrendered their historic privileges. At that same session of 1789 the Assembly undertook a number of reforms and the re-establishment of France upon a firm constitutional and conservative basis with proper security for all classes. Had the revolutionary movement stopped there, and the better classes been permitted to carry out their intelligent schemes, France, under a constitutional monarchy, would have embarked upon a new career of prosperity, and the wars which have since devastated her would probably have been avoided. But the Radicals got the upper hand; on pretence of remedying the embarrassments arising from poor harvests and bad financiering they established universal suffrage and the rule of the rabble, which increased the miseries of the French people five fold, and speedily evolved the Terror and precipitated the ruin of the nation. A great many, perhaps most, of these radicals were men of little experience, governed by mere sentiment and passion; others, who ultimately became the working majority were men of low moral character and defective reasoning powers; lacking in principle; demagogues and adventurers; cranks and scoundrels, who, claiming to be the champions of an ideal democracy, found it to their advantage to spout balderdash with which to gain the applause of the ignorant and emotional masses. Their stupidities, antics, vagaries, thefts, and other minor rascalities and follies; their guillotinings, drownings, arsons, street slaughters and other butcheries and outrages; their confiscations and banishments are matters of history, and have to some extent been duplicated by the Bolsheviki rabble in Russia in our own day. To the tune of{80} crazy cries for liberty and more liberty, they attacked property, vested rights, commerce, business, the church and the Christian religion, and plunged France into chaos. They murdered and outlawed her nobility and her priests, besides tens of thousands of innocent people who were neither priests nor nobles, including farmers, artisans, tradesmen, poets, artists and professional men, the best of the land. Under the first Republic, it is computed that a million French died of famine and hardship, the direct result of Radical legislation and Radical tyranny, and chargeable to a great extent to the operation of manhood suffrage. Nor is this the total record of their mischief. Their misdeeds produced a violent reaction which resulted in the placing on the French throne of Bonaparte, whose ambitions deluged Europe with blood. A generation later he was followed by another Bonaparte, equally a result (though less directly) of the Revolution; and he plunged France into a war with Germany, which in 1871 cost her the loss of Alsace and Lorraine and out of which the recent great war of 1914 was born.

France therefore has never yet recovered from the injuries she suffered at the hands of the red radicals in the first Revolution. She may thank universal suffrage and the extremists of that time not only for the depopulation and misery inflicted upon her by the so-called republic from 1789 to 1798, and by the Napoleonic wars from 1798 to 1815, but also for the loss of Alsace and Lorraine in 1871, for four invasions of her soil, for her recent sufferings from 1914 to 1918 and her reduction from the first rank to the third among the powers of Europe. In short, she has paid one hundred and thirty years of torment for the privilege of listening to the rhodomontade and vaporings of crackbrains and demagogues. Let America take warning.

Right here seems to be a good place to make a cheerful contrast to the foregoing by comparing the radical French convention of 1792 with the conservative French Assembly of 1871. It was after Germany had triumphed over Napoleon III,{81} that clay idol of the French populace; he was in exile, the empire was at an end, the army was destroyed, and France was without resources, credit, friends or prestige. She had to form a new government and try to re-establish herself as a nation, to raise five thousand millions of francs and to get the invader from her soil. The elections were had for a new National Assembly; the manhood of France went to the polls, but with sad and serious faces. All the frivolity and humbug of politics had disappeared. The masses were poor and hungry; the Germans were at Paris; the Commune was threatening the national existence. It was a time for the people to turn to the genuine patriots, the real leaders of men, the competent, the capable, the reliable. Did they go to the demagogues, the orators, the enthusiastic ranters, the ultra-radicals, the theorists, the politicians, the inspired blatherskites whose froth and flattery are so much to the taste of the populace? No, indeed. The fear of death being upon them, the masses bethought them seriously, and for once refrained from making fools of themselves at an election. The poorer classes, the peasants, the workingmen, turned eagerly and fearfully to the solid men among their neighbors for counsel and advice and followed it. Needless to say, the new Assembly was the most able, intelligent, honest and conservative legislature poor France had seen for many a day. It was composed of men of experience, property, education, integrity and reputation; men who were noted champions of society and of civilization. As soon as the world heard what France had done at her elections, the joyful word was passed along, “France is saved,” and saved she was from that day. Confidence was restored, the Commune was suppressed with a strong and vigorous hand; public and private credit was re-established; the Prussian enemy was paid off and his troops withdrawn; industry revived, plenty came again, and France once more took her place among the nations. It would be an insult to the reader’s intelligence to proceed to point the moral of this notable incident in the political history of the world.{82}

The red radicals of the French revolution claimed to believe, and as they were a shallow lot, some of them probably did believe as the masses here believe today, that pure manhood suffrage is a development of the principle of equality. But they were fundamentally wrong, they were in conflict with nature’s laws, which cannot be trifled with. As equality of power or capacity does not exist in nature, all that can rightly be claimed in that direction is equality of opportunity, which includes recognition of the superior claims of merit and capacity, and therefore involves the divine principle of inequality of achievement. This the French radical revolutionary leaders failed to perceive. For instance, they objected to the old aristocratic régime because it was not founded on merit, and because its offices were allotted to influence without reference to qualifications; they wanted as they said “La carriere ouverte aux talents”; a career for talent, a very commendable object. But the operation of manhood suffrage is just the reverse of this; it denies the opportunity and the reward due to merit, to talent, to study, to diligence, to education. As far as possible it gives to ignorance and negligence the same weight and power as to intelligence and assiduity. To give power to electors unqualified by education or experience to overrule the wishes of the educated and experienced on political questions is to ignore merit and qualification, and that at the very foundation of government. But while the best thinkers of the French reform party at that time saw this plainly, the radical leaders overruled them, because what they wanted was a rabble constituency, since none other would give power to such a gang of fools and ruffians as they.

The world has made great progress in well-being in the last one hundred and thirty years, a progress due almost entirely to its inventors and discoverers and to the industry and frugality of its workers; and France has shared in that prosperity; but her miseries and misfortunes have also been great, and these were nearly all political, and due to one cause, the operation of manhood suffrage.{83}



The doctrine of manhood suffrage was imported to America from France in the latter part of the eighteenth century, and began to infect American politics some twenty years after the Independence, though its final triumph was delayed another score of years. To some of us it seems almost incredible that any honest man could avoid being strongly prejudiced against a political institution which had produced such horrible results as manhood suffrage in France, and it would probably today be but a poor recommendation of any political scheme to an intelligent man that it was adopted by the French Revolutionary Convention of 1792. But a century ago the masses in the United States were not thinkers, and were even more inclined to be carried away by emotional crazes than they are at present; no doubt the success of the American Revolution had turned many heads. It was a time when young gentlemen were much afflicted by morbid sentimentality; when ladies did not fail to faint on proper occasion; when American gentlemen fought duels because of sham sentiment or to sustain a sham honor; when blood-curdling novels were devoured with gusto; when Byron’s all-defying pirate heroes were the rage; when young clerks went about gloomily brooding in turned-down collars and imagining that the whole world consisted of oppressors and the oppressed. To such a romantic and superficial young America the platitudes and empty sentimentalities of the French Radicals made a stronger appeal than the plain common sense talk of the British Tories. Besides all this{84} a large part of the American people at the close of the American Revolution in 1783 were deeply grateful to the French nation for its timely and effective assistance in the war for Independence. Without French aid, it was thought that the revolt might have failed, and of course they did not stop to reflect that Lafayette and Rochambeau were noblemen; that it was a French monarchy and not a republic which had been so helpful to America. And so when a few years later France became a Republic, largely owing, it was thought, to American influence and example, there was great enthusiasm in many American hearts for France and everything French, including the new political theories of the Rights of Man, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Even the Terrorists for a time had their sympathizers here, some of whom probably were unaware of the facts as the newspaper accounts of doings abroad were meagre and distorted. The French partisans here even believed and circulated slanders against the noble and spotless Washington. It is easy to believe interesting lies. Did not our fellow Americans in the South work themselves up in 1860 to a silly belief that they were or were about to be plundered and oppressed by the perfectly harmless rest of us? Did not the English and French make themselves believe and declare in January, 1865, that the Southern States were on the eve of final victory when they were obviously tottering to a final fall? Have not we Americans to the last deluded man of us gone about for the past century believing and swearing that we won a signal triumph in the war of 1812 and refusing to credit our own officers and historians to the contrary? How many Americans failed to go wrong in their sympathies at the beginning of the last Russian revolution? The American radicals therefore probably chose to believe that Marat, Robespierre, Danton and Co., instead of being humbugs, blackguards and miscreants, were wise and honest republicans, whose massacres of harmless prisoners and other similar performances were excusable ebullitions of patriotic zeal. When for instance the news of the defeat of Brunswick{85} by Dumouriez came to America in December, 1792, there were great rejoicings among them. There were dinners, suppers, speeches, cannon firing and processions in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and other cities. The inns and taverns were filled with those whose heads were turned by liquor and enthusiasm; some wearing liberty caps and cockades; all singing, shouting and drinking toasts. On December 27th in New York City the whole day was given up to public rejoicing, including a celebration by the Tammany Society.

The instinct of imitation is strong, especially among children, savages and the lower classes. We had been imitating the British; we now took to imitating the French. Everything French was popular; became the rage. When the French Minister Genet, representing the Terrorist government, arrived here in April, 1793, he landed at Charleston, whence he proceeded to Philadelphia, the seat of the Federal Government. He really represented a band of blood-stained scoundrels who had usurped power in France, who had just guillotined the king and most of whom were for sale, yet he was hailed by a faction here as a hero and the emissary of sages and patriots. There were receptions, escorts, processions and banquets, where “Citizen” Genet was glorified, our own government was denounced, and an American reign of terror threatened. At some of the banquets a red liberty cap was displayed; half drunken young American radicals danced about the table; the guillotine was toasted, and capitalists were threatened with death. At that time England, outraged and disgusted by the insults and bloody rapine of the French Terrorist government, had gone to war with France; our howling mobs therefore yelled for war with England, and mouthing politicians who had never smelt gunpowder pretended to be eager to fight Great Britain, although we had neither army, navy, transports nor money. Two American privateers were actually fitted out to sail under French colors and prey on English commerce in defiance of the law and of the Federal Government.

Meantime the American friends and enemies of the French{86} Revolution taunted and vilified each other in newspapers, pamphlets, and otherwise publicly and privately. Some of the American featherheads, in imitation of the antics of the French Republicans, addressed each other as “citizen” and “citess,” instead of Mr. and Mrs. this and that. Serious and sensible folk, including President Washington, looked askance at these follies, and by many they were treated with the ridicule they deserved. The rabble thereupon after their nature and in further imitation of the French democracy which they so admired, revenged themselves by flinging coarse insults at their unsympathetic fellow citizens, including Washington himself. In about three years’ time this wild craze passed away; but French influence continued. French dancing schools, fencing schools, dishes, names, expressions, customs, dress, music, and books were popular; French newspapers were published in all important cities, and some permanent progress was made by French Revolutionary influence and ideas.

We may here note that after the death of Robespierre and the overthrow of the Terror and on September 23rd, 1795, after a test of over three years, manhood suffrage was abolished in France almost without a protest. It was unanimously recognized that it was responsible for the Terror, for the disorder and insecurity of life and property which had prevailed since its adoption and for the complete financial and economic prostration of France, whose people were starving by thousands for need of that social order and confidence without which modern civilization is impossible. In the official report on the subject presented to the National Convention in 1795, and which was adopted after full discussion, we read these words: “We ought to be governed by the best; the best are the most highly educated, and those most interested in the maintenance of the laws. Now with very few exceptions you will only find such men among those who, possessing a freehold, are attached to the country which contains it, the laws which protect it, and the tranquillity which preserves it, and who owe to their property and their affluence the education which{87} has fitted them to discuss with justice and understanding the advantages and disadvantages of the laws which determine the fate of their country.... A country governed by freeholders is in a social condition; a country in which the non-proprietors govern is in a state of nature.” Unfortunately the mischief that had been already done by the radicals has never been quite cured, and France has suffered many things since then; but that is another story. The extreme French Radicals did not for all this abandon their attachment to their revolutionary ideas; their influence in the United States continued to be very considerable, and the rapid spread of the new-fangled doctrine of manhood suffrage in the young American states after the death of Washington had removed his conservative influence was no doubt largely due to the effect of the plausible ranting and twaddle of the French Revolutionists and their followers.

Everything has to be paid for in this world, and for the help of France in the fight for independence, the United States had something to pay in the corruption, waste and deterioration caused by the adoption of the silly theory of the French radicals that in governmental matters one man’s judgment and intent are as good as another’s, those of the ignorant and thriftless equal to those of the frugal, industrious and well-informed.{88}



The circumstances of the adoption of the system of manhood suffrage by state after state a century ago are not such as to justify us of today in according much authority to their determination. The movement was one of weakness, ignorance and degeneracy, not part of an effort to further achieve the highest ideals of republican theories, but a reactionary yielding to cheap, selfish and opportunist politics. It was successful because the mass of the American people lacked both the experience and the foresight necessary to enable them to realize the probably fatal result of the proposed change.

We have already noted that following the establishment of the Federal Government in 1789, though the upper and educated classes, especially in the older American states, did not display much enthusiasm for French radical political ideas, and though Washington and the propertied class were openly hostile to them, they were acclaimed by the working classes, the poor farmers, the immigrants, and many of the romantic youths of the country; and were partly adopted by Jefferson and such others as like him were somewhat under French influence. We may add to the influences favoring manhood suffrage in the old and populous states that of the resident foreigners, which was considerable. It would be a mistake to suppose that at this early period there had been little immigration to this country. The fact is that the proportion of immigrants to the whole population was then probably greater{89} than at any subsequent time; the foreign element at the time of the independence, including British and Irish, Germans, Dutch, Swedes and French, probably amounting to about one-third of the entire population. Another class of people who unquestioningly accepted the doctrine of manhood suffrage was that of the frontiersmen or pioneer western settlers. It is the fashion in these days to hail every political novelty as an “advance,” and accordingly the twaddlers, including writers of that ilk, tell us unctuously that the adoption of manhood suffrage was part of the “advance” of civilization. The truth is, however, that it was not the fruit of an improved civilization, but was first adopted when and where the population was coarse, rough and unlettered. In the new and sparsely settled states, New Hampshire, Vermont, Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee and Ohio, the principle of manhood suffrage was accepted almost as a matter of course and without any serious discussion. In those states there was at that time an approximation to practical equality among the inhabitants both in property and intelligence, the standard of both being low; political problems were simple and primitive; and an equal share in government to all men seemed natural and reasonable. There was but little property except land which was plenty and cheap; farming was the principal occupation; and the farmer was confined to the home market there being no railroads to carry his produce to distant places. The great differences between rich and poor existing in older communities were not present; none of the conditions which render manhood suffrage so objectionable in large cities were found in these new states. When Georgia adopted a low qualification in 1789 her population was less than two to the square mile; when Vermont entered the Union she had less than ten to the square mile; Kentucky had two; Ohio one; Tennessee two. There must have seemed little reason in attempting to create distinctions in rude and primitive communities where none actually existed.

Another consideration operating to lower the suffrage was{90} the competition among the new states to get settlers on any terms. Nearly all of those who had land in the newer states had more than they could use and were not only very anxious to sell some of it, but to get new neighbors on any terms, since each new arrival measurably increased the value of their holdings. One of the baits to induce immigration was the right to vote and hold office offered to all new comers. Even in our own day a number of western states permit aliens to vote as an inducement to settle in their limits, and we have had in the last few years the curious spectacle of unnaturalized and presumably hostile Germans voting at elections. The right to vote was highly valued in those early communities, where fortunes were not easily made, and where political preferment was much sought after as the most available road to distinction. To close that avenue to ambition was to discourage new settlers. It was therefore inevitable that such of the original thirteen as were sparsely settled states with populations composed partly of frontiersmen, and also all the new states as they came in one by one, should be willing to waive property qualifications for voters. And thus it was that in 1789 Georgia reduced her suffrage qualification to a small annual tax requirement; that in 1791 Vermont and in 1792 Kentucky came into the Union under manhood suffrage constitutions; that in 1792 New Hampshire adopted manhood suffrage; that in 1803 Ohio entered with a minimum tax qualification and that Indiana in 1816, Illinois in 1818 and Missouri in 1820 were admitted as manhood suffrage states, while some of the others, such as Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana, merely prescribed tax qualifications which were far from onerous.

In the older states the advance of the manhood suffrage movement was aided by the influences already referred to; by the French Revolutionary party, including many foreigners; the city laboring classes, the thriftless and discontented, and the restless horde of theorists, dreamers, penny-a-liners, political adventurers, demagogues, agitators, radicals of every{91} stripe, and many of that numerous class who had more facility in talking than in thinking. There is even yet among people of small intelligence a widespread belief in the miraculous efficiency of voting; and that belief is no doubt accountable for some of the eagerness with which the suffrage was demanded by superficial men who thought to better their condition by politics, and who, though plainly lacking in efficiency, unable even to get together a few hundred dollars in property to qualify them as voters, nevertheless rated high their own capacity to decide problems of state. We may add to this as helping the movement the plausibility to shallow minds of the assertion that all men are equal; and the prestige given it by its being quite unnecessarily put by Jefferson into the Declaration of Independence. Another cause which has been said to have contributed, was the severe financial panic of 1819 which brought widespread distress and consequent discontent with things as they were. Why not try a change? is an argument which has more or less success at every election. Then too the American easy good nature and hospitality of character must have helped along; that softness which makes many dislike to refuse a boon which will not cost anything in cash or its equivalent. It must have seemed to many men easy and pleasant to vote to allow their neighbors to vote, especially when to a dull man the reasons to the contrary were not altogether obvious.

Nor is it altogether strange that even in New York and Massachusetts few except the best trained minds had any real understanding of the dangers of letting in the ignorant and the thriftless classes to a voice in government. The American people had no experience of a political machine or of demagogues in power, and to most of them the operation of government seemed comparatively simple and within easy comprehension. Even in the old states the population was mostly rural; there were no railroads or telegraphs, comparatively little machinery, and none operated by steam. The property of the country consisted of houses,{92} lands, farms, cattle and sheep; living was very plain, and the expenses of government comparatively small. Life was not then the complicated affair that it is at present, specialization was rare, efficiency in any branch of business was not near so difficult to achieve as it has since become. Under the election system then in practice, and following the old colonial traditions then still extant, the candidates for office had usually been men of distinction whose reputations were well known in the community, and who were personally known at least by sight and speech to most of the voters. The people had had no real experience of government by election in large constituencies. There were few large cities, the largest in 1820 being New York, with a population of 125,000, while Philadelphia had but 65,000 and Boston 45,000 population. Probably it was comparatively safe in most urban communities to leave the street door unguarded at night, a practice scarcely recommendable in New York or Chicago in these times. Their governors had previously either been sent from England or chosen by their state legislatures, and their high state officials had been appointed by the crown, the governor, the proprietor or the legislature. Their only real experience with the suffrage had been in small local elections, parishes, boroughs and towns, where the prizes of office were small and everyone knew his neighbor. Most of the voters were substantial American farmers and tradesmen, who anticipated as the result of the granting of manhood suffrage nothing worse than that the roll of new voters would include their own sons, the village schoolmaster, together with a few poor artisans and farm hands who had no class prejudices, who could be depended upon to vote with their well-to-do neighbors, and whose numbers were not sufficient to seriously affect election results.

To the extent to which the manhood suffrage movement was conscious of its own tendencies, it was a revolt led by political adventurers against government by the intelligence of the country, and above all and beyond all the forces operat{93}ing in furtherance of the movement for manhood suffrage in the older states was the new influence of the politicians and political office seekers, who by 1820 began, though in a comparatively small way, to appear as a real political power in the land. Though many of our ancestors early distrusted and later learned to hate and despise the politicians, the people have never organized to oppose them and in the beginning failed to realize the insidious growth of their sway. The politicians then as now clamored for an extended electorate, the more ignorant, simple, emotional and easily influenced the better. They welcomed the uninstructed male vote of that day for the same reason that they welcome the still more ignorant female vote of this day. The ears of the masses were open to them because they could talk and bellow the political cant and jargon in which the rabble delight. Then as now they wanted all the offices made elective; suffrage for everybody, even aliens, and especially the ignorant and shiftless; and they kept up their efforts in the old states until the bars were let down, and every man had a vote.

Most of the old populous states began the change by lowering the qualification, changing it from the actual ownership of property to the payment of a tax, usually a small one, sometimes merely nominal. Pennsylvania, a state tainted with French radical sympathies, had already reduced the qualification to the payment of a state or county tax; this standard was adopted by Delaware in 1792. In 1809 Maryland adopted manhood suffrage. In 1810 South Carolina and in 1819 Connecticut reduced the qualification to an almost nominal tax rate. In 1829 Virginia reduced the property requirement and finally abolished it in 1850. New Jersey held out till 1844.

The great battles, however, and those which finally decided the controversy in the United States were fought in Massachusetts and in New York in 1820 and 1821, though in both states the success of the manhood suffrage party was a foregone conclusion before the final test was made. The situa{94}tion was much the same as it has since been in relation to woman suffrage. As long as woman suffrage partisans had no votes anywhere the politicians gave them but scant courtesy. Even after they gained one or two states they were not much considered. But as soon as they had four or five states to their credit the politicians began to flock to their standard; the weaker and more unscrupulous going over first. The reason is plain. Every politician of note has his eye on the presidency either for himself or for his leader and his party. Under our system where the presidential vote is by states a single state may turn the election, and a woman suffrage state as well as another. Mr. Wilson for instance and Mr. Roosevelt, though on opposite sides on everything else, were united in patriotism, in burning desire for office and in devotion to democracy. Of course they both became champions of woman suffrage just as soon as a few states had been captured by the women and also of course their party followers took their cue accordingly. So it undoubtedly was in 1820. By that time there were nine new states west of the Alleghany Mountains. When it was seen that in all these new states manhood suffrage was in vogue, no presidential possibility dared oppose manhood suffrage anywhere, nor dared his followers differ from him on this point. It was a rush to get on the band wagon. And why should the professional politicians oppose a measure so obviously in their interest as a degradation of the ballot? Naturally therefore, in the New York Constitutional Convention of 1821 we had Martin Van Buren, a Jackson politician, leading the battle for extension of the suffrage and carrying all before him.

One naturally turns for enlightenment on the merits of the question to the records giving the arguments used pro and con in the discussions on the suffrage extension propositions of that time, but they are more interesting than important, because the debaters lacked the light of modern experience. Our political bosses and machines had not yet arrived, and America had then no immense populations of millions accustomed to{95} live on daily wages, lacking the slightest knowledge of the principles or practical operation of finance, banking, trade and commerce; ignorant of the very elements of political economy, and yet ready to vote on all these matters under the direction of demagogues, themselves in the employ of bosses and machines. There were then no such divisions of classes as now; no large criminal and pauper population; no masses of foreigners herded together in tenement house life and ignorant of our problems and conditions. Our ancestors of a century ago were not gifted with imagination or prevision sufficient to enable them to foresee the enormous future immigration from Europe; the factory and tenement house systems; the vote market; the absolute and corrupt oligarchy of politicians, the political ring, machine and boss. Had they been gifted with this foresight it is safe to say that instead of lowering the suffrage qualifications they would have put the bars up so high that the disgraceful record of American politics for the last eighty years would never have been made.

In Massachusetts the Convention included as members, John Adams, Webster, Judge Joseph Story of the United States Supreme Court, Samuel Hoar and Josiah Quincy. The importance of protecting property interests had been recognized in that state ever since long prior to the Revolution, both by a suffrage qualification and in a provision whereby membership in the State Senate was apportioned according to the total taxes paid in each senatorial district. This system was continued by the Convention of 1820 but was subsequently abolished. Its sole importance was in its recognition of a principle; as a barrier against the rising tide of suffrage extension it was useless. The suffrage previously limited to owners of a moderate amount of property, real or personal, was by this Convention extended to all male citizens having paid any state or county tax. Adams, Webster and Story voted and spoke against the extension, but the writer has not seen a report of their arguments. Such of the speeches on the subject as are reported are not illuminative. They do not go deeply into the matter;{96} those in favor of an extension have the tone of the perfunctory advocacy of a majority assured of success, those in opposition that of a hopeless protest. In favor of the extension it was argued that there was a popular demand for it; that it had been enacted in other states; that the existing Massachusetts qualification was in practice merely nominal; that it was easily evaded by perjury and sham transfers; that the sentiment of patriotism does not depend upon the possession of property; that the right to vote goes with the levy of a tax and that on principle all subject to even a poll tax were entitled to vote, and were unjustly degraded when the right was denied them. In opposition it was argued that property is the foundation of the social state; that there is no natural right to vote, and that the question is one of expediency; that the property qualification was necessary as a moral force and a check on demagoguery; that it encouraged industry, prudence and economy, was a protection against waste, elevated the standard of civil institutions and gave dignity and character to voter and candidate; that very few beside vagabonds were actually excluded from the polls, and while the qualification required was attainable by every efficient man, yet the principle was an important one and should be retained in the Constitution even though its enforcement had been somewhat lax and ineffective. The majority both in the Convention and at the polls in Massachusetts was decisive in favor of the proposed extension.

In New York the Convention was practically committed to the new measure before it met. The State Assembly had previously reported in its favor solely on the ground that the property qualification excluded many of the militia; referring probably to that large body of young militiamen who were too young to have acquired property. The report said, “On that part of our Constitution which relates to the qualification of voters at election, your committee have to remark that although its provisions when applied to the State of New York may be salutary and necessary it excludes from a participa{97}tion in the choice of the principal officers of our government, that part of the population on which in case of war you are dependent for protection, viz., the most efficient part of the militia of our state.” This meaningless “straddle” is very suggestive of Van Buren. As an argument for manhood suffrage it is worthless. It is of course absurd to say that because a man has served or may serve in the militia he should therefore be intrusted with any part of the functions of government irrespective of his lack of other qualifications. Were the argument good it would require the extension of the vote to boys of eighteen and upwards, and would call in question the right to vote of any man incompetent to bear arms because of age or infirmity. The business of government is one thing, and the business of fighting in the field is another and very different thing. But this flimsy argument was capable of being used in an emotional manner and no doubt was so employed in the Convention with considerable effect; and though some of the militia had certainly failed to cover themselves with glory in the war of 1812, and many commands had done nothing but parade, no politician cared to offend them or even to appear to have done so. Another so-called argument was that of the Convention Committee on the Elective Franchise which handed in a report in favor of the change, containing the meaningless assertion that property distinctions were of British origin, but that here all interests are identical. The true theory that voting is the exercise of a governmental function was not suggested by the Committee.

Manhood suffrage was opposed in the New York Convention by three of our ablest jurists, Judges Spencer and Platt of the Supreme Court and Chancellor Kent, the learned author of the Commentaries on American Law and one of the most eminent lawyers of the world. Judge Platt truly said that the “elective privilege is neither a right nor a franchise, but is more properly speaking an office. A citizen has no more right to claim the privilege of voting than of being elected. The office of voting must be considered in the light of a pub{98}lic trust, and the electors are public functionaries, who have certain duties to perform for the benefit of the whole community.” Chancellor Kent strongly and forcibly said “I cannot but think that considerate men who have studied the history of republics or are read in lessons of experience, must look with concern upon our apparent disposition to vibrate from a well balanced government to the extremes of the democratic doctrines.” Of the principle of universal suffrage he said that it “has been regarded with terror by the wise men of every age, because in every European republic, ancient and modern, in which it has been tried, it has terminated disastrously and been productive of corruption, injustice, violence and tyranny.... The tendency of universal suffrage is to jeopardize the rights of property and the principle of liberty.”

The vote in the convention in favor of the extension was 100 to 19. The people of the State subsequently approved it by a substantial vote. The majority in New York City favoring it was 4608. On March 4th, 1822, the Legislature took the oath under the revised Constitution. Flags were displayed, church bells rung, there were salutes of cannon and an illumination in New York City. Some slight vestiges of the property qualification still remained after the adoption of the Constitution of 1822 but they were abolished in New York State in 1826 by a vote of 104,900 to 3901.

Although the action of New York in 1821 following Massachusetts in 1820 practically insured the triumph of manhood suffrage in the United States, yet the most interesting and ablest discussion upon the subject was yet to take place at Richmond, Virginia, in the State Convention of 1829. The State of Virginia had still clung to the old freehold suffrage qualification; in that Commonwealth prior to 1829 it was not enough that a voter should have property or business experience; he must be the owner of land or a freehold interest therein. The standard was not high, from $25 to $50 according to circumstances, but it established the principle and ex{99}cluded the most degraded. Unfortunately, it also excluded many thrifty and intelligent citizens whose holdings did not happen to be in the form of real estate. On the demand then made for extension of the franchise, an opportunity to consider and discuss the theory of suffrage was naturally presented to the Constitutional Convention. That body was composed of about one hundred members, including the ablest political thinkers and most skilful and aggressive debaters of Virginia. In point of statesmanship and forensic ability its membership has probably never been surpassed in the history of the United States. It included ex-Presidents Madison and Monroe, Chief Justice John Marshall, John Tyler, John Randolph, William Giles and Alexander Campbell. The convention sat for over three months and in the course of the discussion on matters connected with the suffrage dozens of speeches were made, the perusal whereof is very interesting to the political student. Unfortunately, it so happened that though the debates were able, the consideration of the whole matter was biased by local rivalries and by the slavery question, then beginning to confuse and prejudice the Southern mind, and the most distinguished of the delegates took only a minor part in the proceedings. Between the Blue Ridge and the sea was Eastern Virginia, the Old Dominion, where tobacco raising flourished, white labor was scarce and all influential white men were freeholders. West of the Blue Ridge lay a new region, where the industrial situation was similar to that of the free states, and where there was a large body of non-freeholding white working men of the borderland type, who for years had been agitating for the abolition of the old freehold qualification. It was a clash between the Old East and the New West; between free labor and slave proprietorship. The Convention not only undertook the individual suffrage controversy, but entered into the question which also divided the two sections of the State, whether the basis of county representation in the legislature or in either branch thereof should continue as heretofore to be property values rather than population; thus{100} bringing up the fundamental question of whether numbers only should govern without regard to intelligence, creative power or value to civilization. In this controversy Eastern Virginia, having the greater share of wealth and of conservative ideas, stood for property rights, and the West stood for what it dubbed “progress” and the “rights of man.” The dispute threatened the disruption of the Commonwealth, which actually came to pass a generation later in 1863. The final action of the Convention was satisfactory to neither section. The question of county representation was finally settled by an elaborate compromise by which each county and region was given an arbitrary proportion. The champions of an extension of the suffrage were victorious by a vote of 51 to 37, Madison and Marshall voting with the majority and Monroe with the minority; and thus the suffrage which had theretofore been confined to owners of land was extended to such heads of families as were housekeepers and paid taxes. While the only immediate effect was to let in a class of owners of personal property, yet it was generally realized at the time that the new measure would practically open the door to all heads of families however limited their means, and that universal suffrage was but a short step further off.

One interested in Virginia history can hardly help wishing that he might have witnessed the Convention in session. Some of those present had taken part in the American Revolution; all had breathed the Revolutionary atmosphere. Monroe, old and feeble, presided as long as he could hold the gavel, but finally was compelled by weakness to retire. He was able to tell the Convention of a visit to another Convention in Paris over thirty years before, and of witnessing (an ominous spectacle) the murder of one of its members in the convention hall. Madison, another ex-President, was seventy-eight years of age; he spoke two or three times during the session, but his voice was so low that he could not be heard beyond a distance of a few feet. When he arose to speak the members left their seats and grouped themselves respectfully{101} about him. Randolph, who bitterly opposed the suffrage extension scheme, had been the most popular speaker in the state; he was at that time stricken and shriveled by disease, but the older delegates remembered him as one who in his youth had been described as beautiful, fascinating, and even as lovely. Alexander Campbell was there, a young man destined in later years to be the founder of a great religious denomination.

These Virginia Convention debates were the last, the ablest, and the most exhaustive public discussions of the suffrage question in the United States and must be considered as having included all the arguments on either side which were strongly present to the minds of American politicians and publicists of the time. They were opened with great ability by Judge Upshur in a very forcible argument lasting several days in favor of property representation. Many of the superficial minded among the delegates favoring extension had come to Richmond relying upon the proposition that suffrage is a natural right. Upshur shattered this notion right at the beginning, and it was but little heard of in the Convention afterwards. The absurdity of a savage being born with a natural right to participate in a government which was not even imagined until thousands of years afterwards was easily made apparent. “Is it not a solecism” (said Barbour) “to say that rights which have their very being only as a consequence of government, are to be controlled by principles applying exclusively to a state of things when there was no government?” Some of the delegates were evidently familiar with Rousseau, and with his theory of a social compact. They discussed at length, but without result, the question whether suffrage is or is not a right derived from this supposed agreement; and if so, whether it was strictly personal or individual, or whether property rights were also included within the contract, and might therefore properly be considered in allotting suffrage privileges. This naturally raised the question also inconclusively debated whether property as such is a constituent element of society; or whether it is not rather a result of society action,{102} and its acquisition one of the principal inducements to enter social bonds.

Although the doctrine that governments were instituted and maintained for the protection of private property as well as life and limb was prominent in the minds of all the conservatives and was acknowledged by nearly every delegate in the Virginia Convention, yet the undoubted fact that the act of political voting is a responsible public function needing special preparation and qualification was not in Richmond any more than previously in Boston realized by the body of delegates; nor was the fact that government is a business organization, needing the services of expert business men, suggested among them; nor the manifest expediency of using the practice of business as a school for the voter. The philosophy of the delegates did not go beyond the theory of government as an agency for the protection of private property rights and the kindred belief that a permanent and tangible interest in the State was a necessary requirement of a voter. We have seen that in the Virginia Bill of Rights, adopted in 1776, the right of suffrage was expressly limited to men having “sufficient evidence of permanent common interest with and attachment to the community.” In 1829 the principal, and with most of the Virginia delegates the only objects aimed at in imposing a qualification upon the voters were the protection of property and the creation of an electorate interested in the prosperity of the state; the right of society to demand that the voter bring to the polls a trained and disciplined mind was lost sight of altogether.

The narrowing effect of sectionalism and prejudice on the human mind is curiously illustrated by the remarkable fact that in the Convention debates it was assumed on both sides that the entire benefit of the protection of private property by the Commonwealth inured to its individual owners. West Virginia delegates, therefore, insisted that the rich automatically received a preponderant share in the blessings of government; for example, said they, ten Virginians each owning{103} $20,000 of property receive in all $200,000 of protection, which is double the total benefit received by one hundred citizens owning $1,000 each; thus one group of ten men get twice as much aggregate benefit from the state as another group of a hundred men. Over and over again it was urged that government protection of property was principally for the benefit of the rich minority. According to this absurd theory, the State of Virginia had no interest in the preservation of the accumulated private property within its borders; and would not be damaged if its dwellings, furniture, barns, stock, crops, vehicles and vessels of every description were destroyed. The Virginia clerks, laborers and hired workers of every description would not suffer in such case by being deprived of employment; possibly they could subsist on air, ruins or radical doctrines. The lack of business training and of business conceptions among the exceptionally able men of that Convention, and the need of such training for the membership of similar bodies today is strongly brought to our attention by the circumstance that such foolish reasoning passed unchallenged. The fact that all property is of common utility; that it constitutes a vast store from which all, rich, poor and middling are alike supported; that the workman needs the factory at least as much as the proprietor, was not in the mind of the Convention; the probability that the destruction of the entire property of the ten rich men above referred to would injure the community at large even more than the owners was apparently not appreciated by the Virginia delegates in 1829 any more than it would be by the members of one of our aldermanic boards today.

The principal arguments urged in the Virginia Convention in favor of manhood suffrage were, (1) the difficulty of applying any standard of property qualification; (2) that in the ship of state all are passengers, and the poor among them have the same interest in protection from the elements as the rich; (3) that gratitude requires that old soldiers, though poor, should be given a vote by the country they have served; (4) that manhood suffrage had worked well in other communities; (5) that{104} men are naturally not robbers of each other but are inclined to be affectionate, social, patriotic, conscientious and religious; (6) that all men either have or desire property and are, therefore, natural supporters of property rights. The answer to these propositions is obvious, (1) the difficulty of making the standard of qualifications for any employment or function an absolutely perfect one is never considered a sufficient reason for failing to establish any standard whatever. Witness the arbitrary standards of age and residence for voters and office holders, the qualifications of teachers, doctors, lawyers, etc.; (2) in no ship is the management, whether in fair weather or foul, left to the untrained or those without pecuniary interest in the voyage; (3) suffrage should never be given or accepted by the unqualified as an expression of gratitude; the veterans might as well demand to be licensed as dentists as to be allowed to meddle with state affairs; (4) experience shows that manhood suffrage has not worked well but evil all over the world; (5) some men are robbers and still others lack capacity to select agents or rulers who are honest. The main question is one of capacity to exercise the voting function to the advantage of the state. (6) That all men do not sufficiently desire property to enable them to act prudently and justly in their property dealings is shown by the immense number of spendthrifts, wasters, idlers, cheats, rogues, gamblers and vagabonds in the world.

Some of those who then and there favored the extension would probably oppose it today in our thickly populated communities. Eugenius Wilson, for instance, an advocate of extension, admitted that suffrage should be restricted in an inferior, corrupt or uninstructed constituency.

The convention was, of course, regaled by the radicals with the usual popular sing-song cant. It was told that the suffrage was “an inestimable privilege of the individual citizen,” a proposition which is in flat contradiction to the experience of every voter and to the plain facts. This proposition Leigh had the courage to deny, saying that good government for all and not{105} a mere right to individuals to vote is the real desideratum. The majority leaders talked of the “original principles” of government, among them being that each citizen may vote, etc. Upshur denied that there were any original principles of government, because he said “political principles do not precede, they spring out of government.” He further said that property as well as persons is a constituent element of Society; that the very idea of Society carries with it that of property as its necessary and inseparable attendant, and that when man entered Society it was to procure protection for his property; take away all protection to property and our next business is to cut each other’s throats; the great bulk of legislation affects property rather than persons, and without property government cannot move an inch. Leigh uttered some things worth quoting, among them these true and forcible words: “Power and property” (said he) “may be separated for a time by force or fraud but divorced never. For so soon as the pang of separation is felt, if there be truth in history, if there be any certainty in the experience of ages, if all pretensions to knowledge of the human heart be not vanity and folly, property will purchase power, or power will take property. And either way, there must be an end of free government. If property buy power, the very process is corruption. If power ravish property the sword must be drawn, so essential is property to the very being of civilized society, and so certain that civilized man will never consent to return to a savage state.”

The proposal to continue the freehold basis of suffrage was defeated by a vote of 37 to 51, Monroe voting yea and Madison and Marshall voting nay, and by a similar vote the right of suffrage was extended to housekeepers, being heads of families and paying any tax whatever. The reader may be curious to know how the people of Virginia themselves stood on the question, but it is impossible to say. The vote on the adoption of the constitution was 26,055 in favor, to 15,563 opposed; but this vote was not a measure of Virginia popular opinion{106} in regard to a property qualification. The election went off on a different question and curiously enough, the new constitution which extended the suffrage was adopted by the votes of those opposed to the extension. The western counties though favoring, were disappointed because they were not given the legislative representation they claimed; in that respect the new constitution was considered favorable to the east, which though opposed to suffrage extension, voted for ratification, while West Virginia voted to defeat it. Of the total vote in opposition, 13,337, or over five-sixths, came from the region west of the Blue Ridge.

Thus the Virginia discussion of the suffrage question, which engaged the ablest public men of the state for a generation and which ought to have produced a valuable result, came after all to nothing but compromise forced by clamor. Though property qualifications were reduced by the convention, the true principle involved was not presented or passed upon. The champions of good government unfortunately took their stand, not on the broad ground of property rights and political efficiency, but on the narrow claim of landholders and slave owners to control the legislature of the state; they permitted themselves to be placed in the false position of attempting to deny to the most enterprising and successful business man the vote which they offered to the shiftless proprietor of a log cabin in the backwoods. They stood on no sound principle and they were defeated.

And now, looking back after a century and considering the immense importance of the subject, one cannot help regretting that the fruits of the convention labors were merely local and temporary; that it met after suffrage extension had been practically allowed to go by default throughout the Union, and that the Virginia delegates came to Richmond pledged each to one side of a sectional dispute, instead of prepared to take part in a philosophical or statesmanlike search for political truth. Very different might have been the result had the Virginia political mind taken up this question freed from local and slavery{107} prejudice, and had the political talent wasted in a struggle for sectional control been employed in the useful work of studying the real foundation principles of suffrage in a democracy and presenting the conclusions to the Virginia electorate and to the world. In such case it might have reached such a result and brought out such a declaration of principles as would have saved the country and the world centuries of wallowing in the slough of political corruption and despond.

To complete the record it may be added, that in 1850, by a vote of 75 to 33, another Virginia convention further extended the suffrage to all male adult residents. As before, the question was confused with the old dispute over the apportionment of the respective claims of the east and west to representation in the legislature; this was again settled by a compromise after a prolonged deadlock and the settlement was approved by a popular vote of 75,748 to 11,060. This may be said to be the final close of the property qualification controversy in Virginia and in the Union, though it had been substantially decided a generation before; and since 1850 there has been nowhere any serious discussion of the question of the right of property to direct representation in government and it has been generally regarded since that time as forever disposed of. But nothing is finally settled till it is settled right.

And so, after a survey of the entire history of the establishment of manhood suffrage in the United States, we see that this great experiment was originally undertaken by the American people, with but little realization of its importance and almost no foresight of its calamitous results. We have here another of the numerous instances of the truth of the dictum that “Often the greatest changes are those introduced with the least notion of their consequence, and the most fatal are those which encountered least resistance.”

The majorities in favor of manhood suffrage, wherever the question was tested, were overwhelming, but they prove nothing; they merely illustrate once more the well known human lack of vision. Many other equally foolish measures have{108} been adopted by similar majorities and attended by similar popular manifestations of satisfaction. The vote in South Carolina for secession was unanimous and the popular rejoicing thereat was unbounded. Yet we all now see that that secession vote was a stupendous blunder made without moral or political justification or ground for hope of success. Many of the French Revolutionary lunatic performances were almost unanimously decreed and approved by popular vote. In like manner the American people in the first quarter of the nineteenth century were blinded into the acceptance of manhood suffrage or into comparative indifference concerning it, little realizing that in place of thereby securing as they were told for themselves and their descendants a greater measure of political liberty, they were thereby fast riveting upon them the chains of political bondage.{109}



Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabas. Now Barabas was a robber. (John: Chap. xviii, 40.)

On March 4th, 1829, the old Federal régime died with the departure of John Quincy Adams from the White House. The year 1828 is generally taken as the last full year of the old honorable and high-toned political system inaugurated by Washington; the last year at the Federal capitol of real statesmanship, of high ideals and of strict and uncompromising devotion to duty. Manhood suffrage had by this time become established and in operation in almost every state in the Union, and it had succeeded in electing as president of the United States a spoilsman, Andrew Jackson, the apostle of extreme democracy, by whom the former rule of appointments to public office for merit only, and the old doctrine of the continuance of faithful officials in their places were flung to the winds.

The change in the electorate effected by manhood suffrage was not merely superficial, it was radical; what then appeared to many a mere liberalizing of the franchise was in reality a breaking down of the guard wall which had hitherto kept the country from slipping down into the slough. It degraded the practice of American politics from an honorable exercise of patriotism to a sordid business employment; it created a class of professional politicians, self-seeking traffickers in office and the spoils of office; and transferred to them the political con{110}trol which had theretofore rested in the hands of the gentlemen of the country. This unexpected result of manhood suffrage was due to the fact not sufficiently realized at the time, that it brought into American politics the important element of the controllable vote, to which was speedily applied by the politicians methods of organization, crude and makeshift at first, and afterwards thorough and scientific. The American people did not then foresee the existence of a proletariat city vote, nor the immense possibilities in the organization of floaters. The local politicians of the day, however, saw their chance and seized it; from amateurs they developed into professionals, and they speedily made these floaters the nucleus of a small well-disciplined regular army, by means whereof they seized the machinery of elections and of government, which they have ever since retained.

Let us here stop for a moment to consider and realize what the country lost at one stroke by manhood suffrage in its swift descent from the high character and traditions of that Federal government, the presidency of which, much against his will, John Quincy Adams transferred on March 4th, 1829, to Andrew Jackson. The administrations of Washington and the older Adams had been of rigid integrity; Jefferson, Madison and Monroe had followed in their footsteps. At the time therefore of the election of the second Adams in 1824, the nation had already acquired an established tradition of about as pure an administration of government as was humanly possible. The most valuable political asset of a people consists of its high political standards and traditions; established slowly and imperceptibly and by forces of subtle operation they are elements of the highest importance to its well being. They afford the explanation of many instances of the superior success of one country over another in operating the same political machinery. Already in the United States of 1824 there existed traditions and standards of this high character; among them a belief that men should enter politics if not solely from patriotic motives, then at least from a worthy ambition for honor{111} and power, and in order to further ideas of public policy. This was undoubtedly the doctrine extant at that time; and men could not then as now live and flourish in political life under the scarce denied imputation of being in politics in order to gather political spoils, or for the mere sake of salary or from other sordid motives.

The high national traditions were well maintained and strengthened by John Quincy Adams during his four years’ term from 1825 to 1829. He represented the opposite of the manhood suffrage ideal, he was unflinchingly opposed to government by numbers; to the spoils system, to machine political methods and objects; he was a statesman rather than a politician, and an honest gentleman first of all. His lineage was of the best, his public experience great; his learning deep; his reputation unsullied; he was austere, just and high-minded; his public record was pure and honorable. He was the only president except Washington who obtained the office entirely on his merits, without having done anything to court political support. While president he made appointments to office solely on fitness, applying that test even to his political and personal opponents, keeping them in office provided they were qualified for its duties, and absolutely refusing to use in the slightest degree his executive power so as to procure his renomination. In 1868 a congressional committee reported that having consulted all accessible means of information, they had not learned of a single removal of a subordinate officer except for cause from the beginning of Washington’s administration to the close of that of John Quincy Adams. Under such management and prior to 1829 the average of office holders was generally fair; most of them were men who had led approved lives, had inherited or acquired a good standing in society, and had achieved a certain prominence by a combination of social and political qualities, and through the operation of a kind of civic evolution which had brought them forward in their respective localities. The effect of the property qualification laws, and of the traditionary respect for ability, prop{112}erty and social standing of which those laws were at once a cause and a symptom, was to tend to push such men to the front, and to make it a matter of course that they should be selected as members of Congress, judges, representatives in the legislature, and for similar high offices. They were not required to resort to trickery and intrigue to keep their places. It was by men of that type that the Revolution had been led to success. It was a fatal mistake of a later generation to suppose that a like class of men could be selected by a general vote, and that the good results of what had practically been a system of natural evolution and selection would be attained by an appeal to the suffrages of the unlettered and the unwise.

No doubt there were instances of corruption in American public life long before manhood suffrage was established; bank scandals for instance. Banks are now chartered under a general act. A century ago, however, they were created by special acts of the legislature, and the granting of their charters was sometimes attended with charges of legislative corruption. As early as 1805 at the passage of the New York Merchants Bank charter, in 1812 at the granting of the charter of the New York Bank of America, and again in 1824 when the New York Chemical Bank was organized, such charges were made. Such disclosures were plain warnings of the dangers of laxity in public affairs.

Population and wealth were increasing and so was governmental expenditure. Even as early as 1820 there began to appear in the larger cities a class of idle, vicious, ignorant and therefore purchasable men. The possible means of political corruption and the temptations thereto were therefore all in plain sight; and wisdom would have suggested, especially in view of the continued flood of immigration, that the greatest care be taken to make the source of government in the electorate as pure and efficient as possible. The electorate is the foundation of a free republic, whose political destiny clearly depends on laying well that foundation. Instead of leaving the choice of its materials to hazard and caprice it{113} should have been the subject of conferences of the very wisest among the American statesmen of those days; the silly twaddle of the extremists of the French Revolution about a natural right to vote should have been publicly and systematically discredited; the doctrine that suffrage is not a right but a function should have been formally stated and promulgated with all the authority and prestige of our ablest and most prominent men. The people of the older states should have been warned and warned again by assiduous propaganda against the danger of permitting ignorance and incapacity to lodge at the very bottom of the structure of our government. The people of the newer states should also have been instructed that however permissible as a temporary measure designed to attract settlers to their vacant lands, the practice of universal suffrage is dangerous and should be abolished as soon as society was settled down upon a permanent foundation. Nothing of the kind was done; on the contrary, it was at this critical time, just when in view of the changing conditions active means should have been taken to preserve the purity of politics, that the very opposite course was taken, and the scheme of suffrage extension was put into effect by a heedless majority led by politicians who overruled the wise and disinterested counsels of such able, experienced and far-seeing men as the venerable John Adams of Massachusetts and Chancellor Kent of New York.

The really important result of manhood suffrage and one which was entirely unforeseen and unexpected by most people of the time was the introduction into American politics of the purchasable or controllable element as a permanent feature of the electorate, and the tremendous power thereby acquired by the politicians; and the great defect in the manhood suffrage doctrine lay in its completely ignoring the sinister possibilities of suffrage extension in this direction. The floater or controllable vote speedily became and still is the main reliance of the political oligarchy. Prior to 1828 the activities of politicians had been mostly local. In every{114} village and small town where offices are filled by election there is a field for the political activity of small men of a well known and inferior type, lazy, vociferous and more or less unscrupulous. Under the system of property qualification their activities were much restrained; most of the rabble whom they were able to influence had no votes. With the subsequent growth of the country in wealth and population, the creation of cities of say over thirty thousand inhabitants, and the increasing devotion of industrious citizens to their own affairs, the field for the labors of these political gentry perceptibly widened; but it was manhood suffrage and the election of Jackson which gave them their final triumph and placed them in power all over the land. The secret of this power lies in the organization of this floater vote into small local political societies which combined form at least the nucleus of a species of political army ready to do the bidding of its officers. It consists principally of that considerable body of men who have no political principles and no appreciable pecuniary interest in the community. As they pay no taxes they are quite willing that the government outlay be increased provided that they get a share of the plunder. They include the worthless classes, the very ignorant, the needy and shiftless, drunkards, petty criminals, fools, and loafers. Men with small political ambitions, men who are business failures, men too lazy to work, are attracted to these organizations by hopes of political office or other sinecure employment. In this way, a fairly sufficient nucleus of controllables is obtained. To these may be joined a class of thriftless partisans or followers of the bosses; frequenters of saloons and small local political clubrooms; such men as seek political advantage by cheap means or have a taste for low politics. Bribes are distributed, sometimes in the shape of small loans, sometimes as small jobs or employments for themselves, their relatives, or friends. Their careless habits and want of principle and of fixed belief in anything, their small cynicism and their ignorance of public affairs, make such men easily manageable by certain politicians who are not above{115} dealings of that character. The vote of every man jack of them is as effective as that of a bishop or publicist, and any score of them are much more easily managed and reliable than twenty bishops and publicists would be. The local organization thus formed lives off a traffic in votes and offices; it buys votes, works them up into elective offices and resells them with its trade mark to the highest bidder.

It was the chiefs of such an organized rabble who seizing the electoral machinery rejected Adams in 1828, crying “Away with him, give us Barabas!” and made Jackson, the illiterate spoilsman, President of the United States. Adams’ defeat ended the epoch of high-minded, disinterested statesmanship in the White House. “His retirement” (says Morse) “brought to a close a list of Presidents who deserved to be called statesmen in the highest sense of that term, honorable men, pure patriots, and with perhaps one exception all of the first order of ability in public affairs.” (Life of Adams, p. 214.) But manhood suffrage did more by that stroke than oust Adams; it destroyed the pure political system which he represented, the noble traditions of forty years, and deprived the nation of all future hope of seeing as long as manhood suffrage endures a Washington, a Hamilton or an Adams in high office in this country. “It was” (says Merriam) “by far the most important change made during the Jackson epoch, for it radically altered the foundation of the Republic.” (American Political Theories, p. 193.)

Some of the mischief attendant upon the institution of manhood suffrage must have been apparent to the discerning eye wherever and as soon as it was adopted, but not its full extent. Time was required to get rid of competent and honorable leaders, traditions and standards, to replace them by new ones, and to invent catch words and war cries. But as time went on this downward movement became accelerated. Facilis descensus Averno. At first, little by little, afterwards more rapidly, the ambitions and creeds of the early Republic were everywhere replaced by the sordid cravings and sham{116} sentimentalities of the rabble. In a surprisingly short time we got down into the political mire, where we now miserably splash about making a stench with every effort to escape.

The inauguration of Jackson brought the new maleficent forces into full play. Jackson was the embodiment of the manhood suffrage ideal, and of the growing revolt against the government of intelligence. Lecky says that he “deserves to be remembered as the founder of the most stupendous system of political corruption in modern history.” The following, from the pen of Roosevelt, throws light on the situation:

“Until 1828 all the presidents, and indeed almost all the men who took the lead in public life, alike in national and in state affairs, had been drawn from what in Europe would have been called the ‘upper classes.’ They were mainly college-bred men of high social standing, as well educated as any in the community, usually rich or at least well-to-do. Their subordinates in office were of much the same material. It was believed, and the belief was acted upon, that public life needed an apprenticeship of training and experience. Many of our public men had been able; almost all had been honorable and upright. The change of parties in 1800, when the Jeffersonian Democracy came in, altered the policy of the government, but not the character of the officials. In that movement, though Jefferson had behind him the mass of the people as the rank and file of his party, yet all his captains were still drawn from among the men in the same social position as himself. The Revolutionary War had been fought under the leadership of the colonial gentry; and for years after it was over the people, as a whole, felt that their interests could be safely intrusted to and were identical with those of the descendants of their revolutionary leaders. The classes in which were to be found almost all the learning, the talent, the business activity, and the inherited wealth and refinement of the country, had also hitherto contributed much to the body of its rulers.

“The Jacksonian Democracy stood for the revolt against these rulers; its leaders, as well as their followers, all came from the mass of the people. The majority of the voters supported Jackson because they felt he was one of themselves, and because they understood that his selection would mean the complete overthrow of{117} the classes in power and their retirement from the control of the government. There was nothing to be said against the rulers of the day; they had served the country and all its citizens well, and they were dismissed, not because the voters could truthfully allege any wrong-doing whatsoever against them, but solely because, in their purely private and personal feelings and habits of life, they were supposed to differ from the mass of the people.” (Life of Benton, pp. 70, 71, 72.)

President Jackson’s administration speedily gave discerning men an opportunity to measure the standards and ideals of the newly enfranchised voters. He and they considered the public offices as loot to be distributed among party workers. With the cry of “To the victors belong the spoils” the beneficiaries of universal suffrage began the work of plunder and misrule which they have ever since continued. Jackson and Van Buren—a slick politician—became the leaders of the mobocratic movement, which they called “democratic,” and the demand for offices became its war cry. In his first presidential message Jackson proclaimed “that every citizen has a right to share in the emoluments of the public service,” an ardent bid for the support of the worthless class of men recently granted the vote. We can easily imagine what creatures they were. In that early time in a new country, with opportunity knocking at every man’s door, work to be had for the asking, large farms given by the government free to settlers, with every inducement to an honest man to follow an industrious calling, they preferred to loaf around corners, to infest barrooms, to become members of gangs of political rowdies, to beg, bully and coax for petty offices. Too lazy or incompetent, or both, to accumulate or even to retain the small amount of property needed to qualify them as voters, their only ambition was by fair or foul means to live off the community with the least possible exertion. After Jackson’s inauguration in March 1829, as we are told by Ostrogorski:

“The vast popular army which marched triumphantly through the streets of Washington dispersed to their homes, but one of{118} its divisions remained, the corps of marauders which followed it. This was composed of the politicians. They wanted their spoils. The victory was due to their efforts and as the laborer is worthy of his hire, they deserved a reward. By way of remuneration for their services, they demanded places in the administration. They filled the air of Washington like locusts, they swarmed in the halls and lobbies of the public buildings, in the adjoining streets they besieged the residences of Jackson and his ministers.” (Democracy and the Party System in the United States., p. 21.)

“It was” (says Schurz) “as if a victorious army had come to take possession of a conquered country, expecting their general to distribute among them the spoil of the land. A spectacle was enacted never before known in the capital of the Republic.” (Life of Clay, Vol. I, p. 334.)

“A new force, compounded in about equal proportions of corruption and savagery, was soon made potential, alike in the battle fields of politics, in the methods of election and in the processes of administration.” (Lalor’s Cyclopedia; Spoils System.)

Prior to Jackson’s time only seventy-four Federal officials had been removed from office in the entire history of the government. In the first year of his administration he dismissed or caused to be dismissed more than two thousand, and all for political reasons. The number of persons employed by the Federal Government in the first year of John Quincy Adams’ administration was about 55,000; under Jackson it was increased to over 100,000. In his eight-year term he no doubt doubled the number of Federal officials.

“A perfect reign of terror ensued among the officeholders. In the first month of the new administration more removals took place than during all the previous administrations put together. Appointments were made with little or no attention to fitness, or even honesty, but solely because of personal or political services. Removals were not made in accordance with any known rule at all; the most frivolous pretexts were sufficient, if advanced by useful politicians who needed places already held by capable incumbents. Spying and tale-bearing became prominent features of official life, the meaner office-holders trying to save their own heads by denouncing{119} others. The very best men were unceremoniously and causelessly dismissed; gray-headed clerks, who had been appointed by the earlier presidents—by Washington, the elder Adams, and Jefferson—being turned off at an hour’s notice, although a quarter of a century’s faithful work in the public service had unfitted them to earn their living elsewhere. Indeed, it was upon the best and most efficient men that the blow fell heaviest; the spies, tale-bearers and tricksters often retained their positions. In 1829 the public service was, as it always had been, administered purely in the interest of the people; and the man who was styled the especial champion of the people dealt that service the heaviest blow it has ever received.” (Roosevelt; Life of Benton, pp. 82, 83.)

In a speech in the House of Representatives in 1834 Henry Clay referred to “the ravenous pursuit after public situations not for the sake of the honors and the performance of their public duties but as a means of private subsistence.” He said that the office hunters were so greedy that they watched with eagerness the dying bed of an actual incumbent. Daniel Webster, about the time of Jackson’s election said: “As far as I know there is no civilized country on earth in which, under change of rulers, there is such an inquisition of spoils as we have witnessed in this free republic.” From this time forward this degenerate type of office seekers became an important factor in every American election. The victory of Jackson, says Farrand,

“Was a victory of the South and West, especially by the latter; it was a victory for democracy; but it was also a victory of organized politics ... it seems to mark the rise of a class of professional politicians. These men were not like the old ruling class whose members were in politics largely from a sense of duty and public service, or for the honor of it, or even for the sake of power; but they were in politics as a business, not for the irregular profits to be derived therefrom but to make a living.” (Development of the United States, pp. 156, 157.)

It is really astonishing to note how speedily manhood suffrage developed its appropriate mischiefs. Soon, with the{120} increase of a purchasable constituency the traffic in votes became more easy and common, and the struggle for the spoils grew rapidly in intensity. The policy then put into play of making the offices the spoils of politics produced in a comparatively few years the beginnings of the political machine.

“General Jackson, the candidate of the populace, and the representative hero of the ignorant masses, instituted a new system of administering the government, in which the personal interests became the most important element, and that organization and strategy were developed which have since become known and infamous under the name of the political machine.” (Life of J. Q. Adams by Morse, p. 214.)

About 1830 a new flood of immigration set in and the politicians made it their business to win the favor of the immigrants and to organize the great foreign vote and especially the Irish vote in New York City and elsewhere. This was not difficult as there was neither opposition nor competition. In New York they seized Tammany Hall, and perfected and employed its organization and similar organizations elsewhere; they developed and enthroned political bosses, and established and operated political machines. The growth of this class is thus described by Ostrogorski:

“But in proportion as the old generation which had founded the republic disappeared, as the development of the country entailed that of the public service, and the political contingents increased through extension of the suffrage, the scramble for the loaves and fishes became closer and keener. There arose a whole class of men of low degree who applied all their energies in this direction, and who sought their means of subsistence in politics, and especially in its troubled waters.” (Democracy and the Party System in the United States, p. 19.)

And further:

“The old political supremacy wielded by the élite of the nation, ... passed to an innumerable crowd of petty local leaders who stood{121} nearer to the masses but who too often were only needy adventurers.” (P. 23.)

Jackson was followed in 1837 by his lieutenant, Van Buren, who was the first machine-made President, and the situation is thus described by Roosevelt:

“During Van Buren’s administration the standard of public honesty, which had been lowering with frightful rapidity ever since, with Adams, the men of high moral tone had gone out of power, went almost as far down as it could go; although things certainly did not change for the better under Tyler and Polk. Not only was there the most impudent and unblushing rascality among the public servants of the nation, but the people themselves, through their representatives in the state legislatures, went to work to swindle their honest creditors. Many states, in the rage for public improvements, had contracted debts which they now refused to pay; in many cases they were unable, or at least so professed themselves, even to pay the annual interest. The debts of the states were largely held abroad; they had been converted into stock and held in shares, which had gone into a great number of hands, and now, of course, became greatly depreciated in value. It is a painful and shameful page in our history; and every man connected with the repudiation of the states’ debts ought, if remembered at all, to be remembered only with scorn and contempt.”

Towards the close of Van Buren’s administration, complaint was made of waste of public money.

“There was good ground for their complaint, as the waste and peculation in some of the departments had been very great.... While they had been in power the character of the public service had deteriorated frightfully, both as regarded its efficiency and infinitely more as regarded its honesty; and under Van Buren the amount of money stolen by the public officers, compared to the amount handed in to the treasury, was greater than ever before or since. For this the Jacksonians were solely and absolutely responsible; they drove out the merit system of making appointments, and introduced the ‘spoils’ system in its place; and under the latter they chose a peculiarly dishonest and incapable set of officers, whose sole recommendation was to be found in knavish trickery and low{122} cunning that enabled them to manage the ignorant voters who formed the backbone of Jackson’s party.” (Life of Benton, pp. 219, 230, 231.)

In 1841 Harrison succeeded Van Buren; there was a change of parties; the Democrats went out, and the Whigs, who had inveighed against the spoils system, took their places. But the expected reform did not come off; it was no longer a question of parties or policies; the electorate itself had been hopelessly degraded by manhood suffrage, and the leaders of both parties were unable, if they wished, to purify politics; they were obliged either to adopt manhood suffrage low methods, or go out of public life. In vain Clay, the great Whig leader, thundered in Congress against the spoils system.

“In solemn words of prophecy, he (Clay) painted the effects which the systematic violation of this principle (Government is a trust), inaugurated by Jackson, must inevitably bring about; political contests turned into scrambles for plunder; a system of universal rapacity, substituted for a system of responsibility; favoritism for fitness; a Congress corrupted, the press corrupted, general corruption; until the substance of free government having disappeared, some pretorian band would arise, and with the general concurrence of a distracted people, put an end to useless forms.” (Schurz, Life of Clay, p. 335, Vol. I.)

Clay’s influence in Congress was enormous, but he was powerless to cure the inherent rottenness of a manhood suffrage constituency. The pressure of the spoilsmen upon the Whig Harrison’s administration equalled or surpassed that upon the Democrat Jackson, and is said to have caused Harrison’s death. It is thus described by Ostrogorski:

“When Harrison took up his abode in the White House, the rush became tremendous; the applicants literally pursued the ministers and the president day and night; they besieged the former in their offices or in their homes, and even in the streets; a good many candidates for offices slept in the corridors of the White House to catch the president the next morning as soon as he got up.” (Democracy and the Party System in the U.S., p. 36.)


Schurz thus describes the operation of the manhood suffrage spoils system as it had developed in ten or twelve years after its introduction in 1829:

“Not only were the officers of the government permitted to become active workers in party politics, but they were made to understand that active partisanship was one—perhaps the principal one—of their duties. Political assessments upon office holders with all the inseparable scandals became at once a part of the system. The spoils politician in office grasped almost everywhere the reins of local leadership in the party.... The spoils system bore a crop of corruption such as had never been known before. Swartwout, the collector of customs at New York, one of General Jackson’s favorites, was discovered to be a defaulter to the amount of nearly $1,250,000, and the District Attorney of the U. S. at New York to the amount of $72,000. Almost all land officers were defaulters.... Officials seemed to help themselves to the public money, not only without shame, but in many cases apparently without any fear of punishment.” (Life of Clay, Vol. II, pp. 183, 184.)

This from Roosevelt referring to 1838:

“The Jacksonian Democracy was already completely ruled by a machine, of which the most important cogs were the countless office-holders, whom the spoils system had already converted into a band of well-drilled political mercenaries. A political machine can only be brought to a state of high perfection in a party containing very many ignorant and uneducated voters; and the Jacksonian Democracy held in its ranks the mass of the ignorance of the country.” (Life of Benton, p. 185.)

Some writers put all the blame on Jackson for the overthrow of the old lofty ideals and standards of Federal politics, which occurred in his presidency. But Jackson, though coarse and ignorant, was not evil-minded nor intentionally unpatriotic; nor was he, even if so disposed, gifted with the power of corrupting the entire politics of the country. The mischiefs which broke out in his time were nation-wide and must have been due to a nation-wide cause. The fact is that{124} the party of which Jackson happened to be the leader was caught in a movement, the full meaning and effect of which was unsuspected by everybody. The wash of the French Revolution had reached us and had swept manhood suffrage into our boat. Schurz says that in Jackson’s administration there was infused into the government and the whole body politic a spirit of lawlessness which outlived Jackson, and of which the demoralizing influence is felt to this day; that barbarous habits were then first introduced into the field of national affairs, and selfishness made a ruling motive in politics, resulting in a crop of corruption which startled the country. All this is true; the mistake is in ascribing to Jackson or to any one person a widespread deterioration no one man could possibly have accomplished. For such a far-reaching effect, a universal cause was needed; and that that cause was manhood suffrage no candid investigator can possibly doubt. McLaughlin in his Life of Cass (p. 136) recognizes that the introduction of the spoils system in 1829 cannot be solely charged to Jackson or to Van Buren; that they were the mere conduits through which was conducted into federal politics the flood of corruption produced by other causes. But those causes he fails to specify. “It came by natural evolution ... the offices of trust were handed over to the men who brought the greatest pressure to bear, and could make plain their political influences to the scullions of the kitchen cabinet. If the student of American politics is to understand the place which the spoils system holds he must see that its introduction was a natural phase in our national development.” And he describes the brutality of “the scrambling, punch-drinking mob which invaded Washington at Jackson’s inauguration.” It needs no Sherlock Holmes, however, to tell us that the advent of this mob and their possession of the administration would not have been “a natural phase in our national development” had it not been for the specific operation of the new institution of manhood suffrage. The influences which it introduced in our political structure were favorable to the spoils system, which{125} was popularly felt to be a proper result of the filling of all offices by vote of the masses. The Cyclopedia of American Government states that the people favored the introduction of the spoils system. As Marcy said in a speech about that time, “They see nothing wrong in the rule that to the victors belong the spoils of the enemy.” In a word the Democratic spirit ignored efficiency in office as well as in the voter; and the office became what it still continues to be, a reward, a token of gratitude for political activity.

The lamentable effects of manhood suffrage continued in full sweep after the death of Harrison and the return of the Jackson Democracy to power under Polk in 1845. The resultant flagrant misgovernment caused growing popular resentment which might have produced valuable results had it not been for the slavery agitation which soon drove all other political questions into the background. Already in 1843 the dissatisfaction of large numbers was displayed by the organization of the American or Knownothing party, which born in New York and baptized with blood in Philadelphia rapidly spread through the country. Formed ostensibly to check the growing power of Irish Roman Catholic politicians, its real grievance was manhood suffrage misrule. Its leaders mistook the cause of the new political scandals. They wrongly attributed them exclusively to the Irish; they were really due to the effect of the voting power of the newly enfranchised and organized political floaters, both foreign and American. Polk’s election was secured by the machine in 1844:

“By the almost solid foreign vote still unfit for the duties of American citizenship; by the vicious and criminal classes in all the great cities of the North and in New Orleans; by the corrupt politicians, who found ignorance and viciousness tools ready forged to their hands, wherewith to perpetrate the gigantic frauds without which the election would have been lost.” (Roosevelt, Life of Benton, pp. 290, 291.)

On Pierce’s inauguration in 1853, says Rhodes, “the importunate begging for official positions in a republic where it was so{126} easy to earn a living was nothing less than disgraceful. Office seekers crowded the public receptions of the President, and while greeting him in the usual way, attempted at the same time to urge their claims, actually thrusting their petitions into his hands.” (Rhodes, I, 339.)

Meantime the bribery of voters and of legislatures rapidly grew more common and shameless, and about this time the purchase of legislation began to be a scandal. Referring to this period, Prof. Reinsch says:

“In those earlier days things were often managed with little adroitness. There was much indiscriminate and broadcast bribery; to buy men for a moderate amount per vote was the acme of ambition to the successful lobbyist.” (American Legislatures and Legislative Methods, p. 231.)

And Farrand writes, referring to the same period:

“For the first time in contemporary accounts much was made of the vile corruption of politics, the charge being with the growth of a class of professional politicians and the great increase of wealth that money was used improperly, both for bribing of voters and for accomplishing the miscarriage of justice.” (Development of United States, p. 209.)

Under the united influence of manhood suffrage and its offspring the spoils system, corruption, rascality and official incapacity increased enormously as time went on. The historian Rhodes writing of the decade from 1850 to 1860 says that “plentiful evidence of the popular opinion that dishonesty prevailed may be found in the literature of the time.” And that, “the executive and legislative departments of the national government were undoubtedly as much tainted with corruption between 1850-60 as they are at the present time.” (1904.) Senator Benton of Missouri writing in 1850 said:

“Now office is sought for support and for the repair of dilapidated fortunes; applicants obtrude themselves, and prefer claims to office. Their personal condition and party services, not qualification, are made the basis of the demand; and the crowds which{127} congregate at Washington, at the change of an administration, supplicants for office are humiliating to behold, and threaten to change the contest of parties from a contest for principle into a struggle for plunder.” (Thirty Years in Congress, Vol. I, p. 81.)

And further: (p. 163).

“I deprecate the effect of such sweeping removals at each revolution of parties and believe it is having a deplorable effect both upon the purity of elections and the distribution of office, and taking both out of the hands of the people and throwing the management of one and the enjoyment of the other into most unfit hands. I consider it as working a deleterious change in the government.”

About this time public officials were assessed for political contributions; afterwards the offices were put on sale. “Under Buchanan (1857-1861) was established the practice of taxing federal office holders. The politicians after the war carried it to perfection. There were five categories of assessments on salaries; federal, state, municipal, ward and district.” (Ostrogorski; Democracy, p. 68.)

The politicians under Lincoln were no whit behind their predecessors. The new administration machine went merrily to work right after March 4, 1861. Then followed such scandals as might naturally be expected from the appointment as Secretary of War of Simon Cameron, the rapacious and corrupt Pennsylvania boss. Carbines were sold by the Government at $3.50 each and repurchased at $15, and the contract repeated, the second purchase being at $22. Large sums were spent without accounting in violation of law. Brothers-in-law were in luck. Cameron’s brother-in-law was president of a railroad which in one year exacted from the Government a million or more for excessive transportation charges. One Morgan, the brother-in-law of the Secretary of the Navy, was made purchasing agent for railroad supplies, although he was absolutely without experience in that line. Other politicians received similar favors. A great scandal was caused{128} by the issuing of permits for trading with the enemy under which supplies to numerous amounts sufficient to furnish whole armies were sent through the rebel lines. The machine was able to obtain the signature of Lincoln himself to these permits. Foreign affairs were neglected in order that the offices might be distributed. (Stickney; Organized Democracy, Chap. III.)

Coming to the next decade we find a systematic corruption of the electorate, a large part whereof was willing no doubt to be corrupted. Ostrogorski says that “after the (Civil) War the exasperation of party spirit and the extraordinary development of the spoils system led to bribery being used as a regular weapon.... The parties often secure, in much the same way, the votes of the members of the labor unions; the leaders ‘sell them out’ to the parties without the workmen having a suspicion of it. The voters who deliberately sell themselves belong in the cities, mostly to the dregs of the population.”

And also referring to states where the vote was close:

“These states ranked among the doubtful ones, four or five in number, are drenched with money during the presidential campaign for buying the ‘floaters,’ the wavering electors who sell themselves to the highest bidder.” (Pp. 206, 207.)

During all this period and down to the present time, the spoils system built on manhood suffrage has been the dominant force in our public life.

“It is” (says Bryce) “these spoilsmen who have depraved and distorted the mechanism of politics. It is they who pack the primaries and run the conventions so as to destroy the freedom of popular choice, they who contrive and execute the election frauds which disgrace some States and cities—repeating and ballot stuffing, obstruction of the polls and fraudulent countings in.

In making every administrative appointment a matter of party claim and personal favour, the system has lowered the general tone of public morals, for it has taught men to neglect the interests of the community, and made insincerity ripen into cynicism. Nobody supposes that merit has anything to do with promotion, or{129} believes the pretext alleged for an appointment. Politics has been turned into the art of distributing salaries so as to secure the maximum of support from friends with the minimum of offence to opponents. To this art able men have been forced to bend their minds: on this Presidents and ministers have spent those hours which were demanded by the real problems of the country.” (American Commonwealth, Vol. II, p. 137.)

Meantime the politicians, not content with the original operation of manhood suffrage on the spoils of office, have bethought them of adding to the fruits of these operations by increasing still further the number of elective offices. It has been easy to persuade to this move many of that small number of intelligent voters who trouble themselves about such matters. The pretence of extending the sway of democracy and liberty which has always been used to cover schemes of public plunder was found sufficient once more. On this pretence the administrative and judicial offices of various states were made elective instead of appointive as formerly. As Ostrogorski says (Idem, p. 25):

“The democratic impulse which carried Jackson into power had forced the way, in the constitutional sphere, for two important changes: the introduction of universal suffrage, and the very considerable extension of the elective principle to public offices,”

Under this system which still obtains in many states, scores of state, county and municipal offices are offered at every election to the choice of the mass of electors who on approaching the polls find themselves called on to select in addition to the members of the state legislature and Congress and state governors, a dozen or a score of administrative officials and judges. Sometimes they are invited to vote for an attorney-general, a state engineer and surveyor, a state treasurer, a state comptroller, half a dozen judges and justices, a district attorney, a sheriff, a mayor, a city treasurer, a couple of coroners, besides a governor, a state senator, and assemblymen and aldermen, say twenty in all. Sometimes as at an election{130} in St. Louis, the list contains thirteen city officials to be elected, besides state officers and congressmen. In the cities of Ohio it sometimes includes an average of twenty-two officers at each yearly election. In a small town near New York there are about fifteen local offices to be filled at an election besides a dozen or two state and federal offices and so on throughout the Union. “Let the people rule,” say the politicians, because when the people attempt to rule by choosing administrative officials, it is really the politicians who make the choice. It is doubtful if there ever was a voter, even a professional politician, who was sufficiently well acquainted with each of the candidates on such a ticket and with his duties to enable him to decide intelligently upon his merits as compared with his rivals. Certainly not one in a hundred is competent to do so. Remember, too, that the voter has no real choice in the original selection of these candidates; that they are all chosen before the election by party managers in secret conclave, and forced through the primaries by the power of the machine; that if the voter rejects one rogue or incapable whom he happens to know or has heard of, he can do no more after all than to vote for the other party candidate who is quite likely to be likewise of the same evil stripe. The reader can see that manhood suffrage applied in this way is an infallible method of making easy and safe the selection of incompetent rascals for public office. For what the voter usually does in such case is to vote the whole party ticket, rogues, fools and all, realizing that if he fails to do so the rival set of scamps and incompetents will be the sole gainers.

Subsequent to 1850 and by degrees the army of American politicians became more and more skilled and specialized in their craft; they became highly organized and disciplined; having leaders, officers, rules and traditions. Men went into politics in youth as a profession, grew old and rich in its practice, and trained up their deputies and successors. The political leader became known as the Boss; a group of Bosses as a Ring; a combination of Rings as the Machine whose power{131} is sometimes irresistible. Especially after the Civil War (1865) the power of the bosses increased, and they habitually after that time distributed nominations, collected assessments, and gave orders to state legislatures. The system thus perfected has continued to the present day and is everywhere working smoothly. The American people have now practically ceased resistance to the bosses. In a letter addressed to Francis A. Walker signed by William Cullen Bryant, Carl Schurz and others, dated April 6, 1876, reference is made to “the widespread corruption in our public servants which has disgraced the republic in the eyes of the world and threatens to poison the vitality of our institutions.” On March 31, 1876, Schurz writes to Bristow: “We have been so deeply disgraced in the estimation of mankind by the exposures of corruption in our public servants, and the faith of many of our people in our institutions has been so dangerously shaken.” David Dudley Field of New York, writing in 1877, says:

“The corruption of American politics is a phrase in everybody’s mouth, not only in this country, but in others.... We see offices claimed and bestowed not for merit but for party work, and as a natural consequence we see the public service inefficient and disordered. We see venal legislatures and executive officers receiving gifts.... We see legislatures, state and federal, guaranteeing monopolies to corporations and individuals, making gifts of the public lands and bestowing subsidies from the public treasury; we see the plunder of local communities by what is called local taxation, and we see demagogues clamoring for largesses under pretense, perhaps, of equalizing bounties, or other equally dishonest pretenses.... The condition of our civil service is a scandal to the country.... Taking the country together two-thirds of the present official force would do all the work needed and do it better than it is now done.”

And proceeding, he spoke of politics as then pursued as a branch of business, and the office holders as a band of mercenaries who were the supporters of misgovernment. (Corruption in Politics; International Review, Jan., 1877.){132}

Physicians tell us that from a source of disease, however small and obscure, a disordered tooth for instance, an infection may spread through the body until despite its apparent vigor, it in undermined and finally destroyed. The corruption begun in the electorate, has spread beyond the political system and has reached and invaded business life. This progress is so easy to trace that every business man in the country is familiar with it. Political leaders and bosses are purchasable and so are often machine-made legislators. Hence the two-fold evil, on the one hand the bribery of legislators and public officials, and on the other, threats and acts of oppression by the latter so as to compel business to pay tribute. These practices are so notorious and instances of them are so familiar, many of them referred to in this volume, that at this point it is sufficient to call attention to their frequency and extent. Again quoting Bryce:

“In the United States the money power acts by corrupting sometimes the voter, sometimes the juror, sometimes the legislator, sometimes a whole party; for large subscriptions and promises of political support have been known to influence a party to procure or refrain from such legislation as wealth desires or fears. The rich, it is but fair to say, and especially great corporations, have not only enterprises to promote but dangers to escape from at the hands of unscrupulous demagogues or legislators.” (American Commonwealth, Vol. II, p. 614.)

In 1889 George William Curtis, referring to the United States, approvingly quoted the saying of a United States Senator made in 1876 that “the only product of her institutions in which she surpassed all others beyond question was her corruption.” In 1890 he said that political corruption “has increased, is increasing and ought to be diminished.” In 1891 Curtis said that “corruption in our politics was never felt to be so general, so vast and penetrating, as during the last quarter of a century.” In the Omaha Populist platform of 1892, it was declared that:{133}

“We are meeting in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral, political and material ruin. Corruption dominates the ballot box, the Legislators, the Congress and touches even the ermine of the bench. People are demoralized.... The fruits of the toil of millions are boldly stolen to build up colossal fortunes.... From the same prolific womb of political justice we breed the two great classes—tramps and millionaires.”

We forbear to quote later opinions or authorities on this branch of our subject at this point, though contemporary magazines and newspapers afford them in great number, because we have wished as far as possible to keep within the domain of history and to avoid the doubtful field of present-day partisan political controversy. If proof of the evil of present conditions were desirable it is sufficiently found between the covers of this book, but such proof is quite unnecessary. The unsatisfactory character of the political life of today is as well known to the intelligent reader as to the writer or to anyone else. There has been no betterment of recent years. The activities of our political masters have kept pace with the march of prosperity, the increase of the nation’s wealth and population, and the growth of its great cities. There is today practically no political liberty in the United States. The country is badly, corruptly and shamefully ruled by a class, an oligarchy, one of the most corrupt and tyrannical at present existing anywhere, and composed of small groups of weak and tricky men not five per cent of whom under a system of properly qualified suffrage would have votes at all. Instead of free elections to public office what actually occurs is as described by Dr. Charles P. Clark:

“Two organized bands of active, intriguing and self-seeking politicians, composing less than one hundredth part of the whole voting population, dispute with each other, and one of them obtains the selection—mark the pregnant meaning of the word—of every public functionary.” (The Machine Abolished, p. 29.)

Having identified the source and origin of this evil political condition with the institution of manhood suffrage and traced{134} the mischief down to the present-day generation, let us proceed to the next chapter wherein will be set forth a brief description or example of the nature and characteristics of the professional politician, the political Boss, the political Machine, the political Ring, and the Lobby; all of which beautiful creations are the product or result direct or indirect of that much vaunted institution, manhood suffrage. It is doubtful if any of them can be found elsewhere than in America; certainly they reach their highest development in the United States.{135}



No account of manhood suffrage would be complete without proper mention of the politicians and their work, for they are the essential product of the system, its distinctive feature and its condemnation. It is they who manage the controllable vote created by manhood suffrage and without which they themselves would cease to exist; and it is they who nurse that vote, feed it and train and fashion it to their malign uses as an instrument of perfect control of American political life. The politicians are absolutely indispensable to the working of the present political system in the United States. They handle the voters like cattle intended for the stock market; like the animals the voters go willingly or half willingly to the places prepared for them, in pursuance of plans in which they take no part, which they do not understand. The voters are bargained for and delivered in batches just as the animals are, and the managers and their subordinates in charge are the political masters of the country.

These managers from the very first have been a sordid lot. De Tocqueville, writing about 1835, when the manhood suffrage régime was only ten years old said of them, “I have heard of patriotism in the United States, and I have found true patriotism among the people, but never among the leaders of the people.” (Democracy in America, Vol. I.) The present-day professional politicians may be as lacking in patriotism as the political leaders of De Tocqueville’s time, but taken{136} all together they are and have always been a picturesque company, who have been frequently described by able writers, from some of whom extracts will here be given for the delectation and information of the reader.

There are of course high and low grade politicians, small and large leaders and managers and various grades between; besides retainers and subordinates, known as captains or henchmen with their followers or heelers. In cities, the local or district leader is often an able man in his way; and of late years as politics has developed into a science, he is often found to be sober, shrewd and well mannered. His duties are varied. He assists and protects his constituents in local political matters; obtains the saloon license; also permits for the small trades or businesses, the boot-black, the lemonade seller, etc. He protects against arrests, gets bail for culprits, sees police judges, lends small sums, distributes coal in winter, gives poultry at Christmas, sends medicine for the sick, helps bury the dead by procuring credit or cheap rates at the undertaker’s, orders drinks at the saloon, and is looked on as a ready helper in time of trouble of all kinds. He may have placed a large number of men on the city pay-roll who never do much work and whose principal duties are to attend conventions, get out the vote on election day, promise places and favors, and threaten and intimidate opposition to the regular ticket. In some cities these petty leaders are numbered by the thousand. It was estimated at one time that they totaled 12,000 to 15,000 in New York alone. As time passes the outward semblance and methods of the politician may change, or they may vary with his situation and station in the political hierarchy, but his spirit and objects and evil influence continue unaltered. The politician of our day is thus described by Dr. Clark:

“The perfect type of the American politician is a mixture of the demagogue, the intriguer and the jobber; flattering the people, locking arms with every surrounding influence and all the time looking out for himself.” (The Machine Abolished, p. 43.)


Bryce thus sketches the ward politician:

“As there are weeds that follow human dwellings, so this species thrives best in cities, and even in the most crowded parts of cities. It is known to the Americans as the ‘ward politician,’ because the city ward is the chief sphere of its activity, and the ward meeting the first scene of its exploits. A statesman of this type usually begins as a saloon or barkeeper, an occupation which enables him to form a large circle of acquaintances, especially among the ‘loafer’ class who have votes but no reason for using them one way more than another, and whose interest in political issues is therefore as limited as their stock of political knowledge. But he may have started as a lawyer of the lowest kind, or lodging-house keeper, or have taken to politics after failure in store-keeping. The education of this class is only that of the elementary schools; if they have come after boyhood from Europe, it is not even that. They have of course no comprehension of political questions or zeal for political principles; politics mean to them merely a scramble for places or jobs. They are usually vulgar, sometimes brutal, not so often criminal, or at least the associates of criminals. They it is who move about the populous quarters of the great cities, form groups through whom they can reach and control the ignorant voter, pack meetings with their creatures.” ...

“In the smaller cities and in the country generally, the minor politicians are mostly native Americans, less ignorant and more respectable than these last-mentioned street vultures. The bar-keeping element is represented among them, but the bulk are petty lawyers, officials, Federal as well as State and county, and people who for want of a better occupation have turned office-seekers, with a fair sprinkling of store-keepers, farmers, and newspaper men.” ...

“These two classes do the local work and dirty work of politics. They are the rank and file. Above them stand the officers in the political army, the party managers, including the members of Congress and chief men in the State legislatures, and the editors of influential newspapers. Some of these have pushed their way up from the humbler ranks. Others are men of superior ability and education, often college graduates, lawyers who have had practice, less frequently merchants or manufacturers who have{138} slipped into politics from business. There are all sorts among them, creatures clean and unclean, as in the sheet of St. Peter’s vision, but that one may say of politicians in all countries.” (American Commonwealth, Vol. II, pp. 63, 64, 65.)

The political leaders, says Eaton, endeavor to bring “every form of human depravity, imbecility and ignorance to the polls. They and their minions search the garrets and the cellars, the prisons and the asylums, the grog shops and the poor houses; they lead and hustle to the ballot boxes the vilest specimens of humanity which can be made to cast a vote” (Government of Municipalities, p. 122), and he adds that some of these leaders are public officials, some have even been on the bench of justice as police magistrates. Here is a sketch of a New York district leader, veracious though imaginary, from the facile pen of O. Henry (The Social Triangle).

“Billy McMahan was the district leader. Upon him the Tiger purred, and his hand held manna to scatter. Now, as Ikey entered (the bar room) McMahan stood, flushed and triumphant and mighty, the center of a huzzaing concourse of his lieutenants and constituents. It seems there had been an election; a signal victory had been won; the city had been swept back into line by a resistless besom of ballots. How magnificent was Billy McMahan, with his great smooth laughing face; his gray eye shrewd as a chicken hawk’s; his diamond ring; his voice like a bugle call; his prince’s air; his plump and active roll of money; his clarion call to friend and comrade—oh, what a king of men he was! How he obscured his lieutenants, though they themselves loomed large and serious, blue of chin and important of mien, with hands buried deep in the pockets of their short overcoats.”

Besides the immediate lieutenants of the boss there are in the cities gangs of “heelers” formed by the political organizations who, as said by Ostrogorski, constitute a latent political force under the management of henchmen. They are described by him as ignorant, brutal, averse to regular work, mostly recruited from the criminal or semi-criminal classes, from among frequenters of drinking saloons and from failures and loafers of every description. When the elections come{139} around they furnish compact bands of “floaters” or “repeaters” as they are often called, ready, for a consideration, to vote early and as often as permitted. Professor Woodburn of Indiana University writing in 1903, says that:

“A politician has come to mean one devoted not to the science and art of government, but to the success of a political party; a party worker who devotes himself to the art of making nominations and carrying elections; one who manages caucuses, committees and conventions, by which the party business and the party machinery are carried on. It is because the people have consented to turn over their parties and their party government to this self constituted class of party managers that they have come under the control of rings and bosses.” (Political Parties and Party Problems, p. 360.)

He describes a political ring as a group of these professional politicians who live by politics, bound together for mutual support in pursuit of offices, public patronage, contracts and other pecuniary opportunities, and generally unscrupulous in their methods. The leader of the ring is the boss, who usually does not hold office but controls the offices from outside, by backstairs influence.

This from Professor Hyslop:

“But the single purpose that animates the average politician is the same that inspires the beggar or the thief. Either he has failed for want of ability of an honest kind in legitimate methods of business and in competition with his fellows, and seeks a public salary with freedom to indulge his natural indolence, or he uses his ingenuity and abilities to secure the irresponsible power to plunder the public with impunity.” (Democracy, p. 270.)

The purchase of votes and the collection of funds for that purpose has always been an important part of the politician’s work. The expression “bunches of five” has become a byword ever since its use some twenty years ago by a prominent Republican politician in reference to delivery of votes for money. “Frying out the fat” is another striking expression which be{140}came current about the same time in the same way and was intended to be descriptive of the method of getting large sums from corporations for use in election purposes. The total amounts thus contributed in the past forty years to carry presidential elections would probably run into the hundreds of millions. In 1910 President Vreeland of the Metropolitan Street Railway of New York testified before a legislative committee that his company contributed campaign funds to both parties. One year it divided about $40,000 between them. This is not mentioned as an exceptional instance but as illustrative of a well known practice.

Let us now glance at the great man himself, the real Boss, the magnate, the prince of American Democracy, the man who of all men most thoroughly believes in manhood suffrage, understands it and profits by it; one of the real political rulers of the American people; he who makes and unmakes governors, senators and high judges; he for whom sheriffs, aldermen, assemblymen, state senators, and sometimes even our mayors of cities are glad to run errands and to wait in anterooms. Writing in 1914 Goodnow says of the bosses: “They control the making of laws and their execution after they are made.” (Politics and Administration, p. 169.) What is a boss like? What are his outward manifestations?

About the best analysis of his character and functions was made by Professor Reinsch of Wisconsin, as follows:

“Sooner or later there is evolved the boss, the fruit and flower of commercial politics in America. He represents the main interest but also holds the balance between the minor tributary groups. The secrecy necessary for his work gives him great power. He alone holds all the threads that bind the system together. In his person are united the confidence of the favored interests and the hopes of his political lieutenants. He commands the source of supplies. He has mastered the study of political psychology and knows by intimate experience the personal character of the prominent politicians in the state. Most of them are dependent upon him for future favors or are bound to him through past indiscre{141}tions. The character of the system demands an absolute ruler. For this reason, too, the power of the boss is continuous; it is rarely overthrown from within and only a great public upheaval can affect it. Bosses maintain themselves in the saddle and enjoy a long lease of power, because of their direct and confidential relations with the controlling interests; their inborn secretiveness leads them to keep their own counsel, and not to allow any other person a complete insight into all the intricacies of the system. They grow stronger as the years pass and no indiscretion or even crime is able to shake their authority while they keep in their hands the main threads connecting influence with its obedient tools. The abler men of this type are filled with a keen sense of the irony of their position. They have the clear insight into the coarser actualities of politics that characterized Machiavelli. The political exhorter who sways the multitudes from the stump does not become a boss; to achieve that position the power of cool analysis, of impassive control, and of unflinching execution, are more essential than any gifts of popular leadership.” (American Legislatures and Legislative Methods, pp. 236, 237.)

Another sketch:

“It must not be supposed that the members of Rings, or the great Boss himself are wicked men. They are the offspring of a system. Their morality is that of their surroundings. They see a door open to wealth and power, and they walk in. The obligations of patriotism or duty to the public are not disregarded by them, for these obligations have never been present to their minds. A State boss is usually a native American and a person of some education, who avoids the grosser forms of corruption, though he has to wink at them when practised by his friends. He may be a man of personal integrity. A city boss is often of foreign birth and humble origin; he has grown up in an atmosphere of oaths and cocktails; ideas of honour and purity are as strange to him as ideas about the nature of the currency and the incidence of taxation; politics is merely a means for getting and distributing places.” (Bryce, American Commonwealth, Vol. II, p. 110.)

Under the supervision of the political boss blackmail is levied for party purposes from gambling houses, saloons and{142} houses of ill repute. He is not primarily concerned with political opinions. He controls his best men by their interests. It is his business to carry the elections and thus get power and places for self and followers. He is able to dismiss almost any politician from office and to close his political career. He and not the people is the real master of the inferior office-holders. “At all hazards he must prevent the incoming of an honest administration that will apply the public offices for public uses.” For this purpose the bosses of opposite parties unite when necessary. Woodburn mentions an instance of this in Philadelphia in 1901, and adds referring to the boss:

“Those who support him have their reward—the laborer gets his job, the placeman office; the policeman his promotion or his “divvy”; the contractor a chance at the public works; the banker the use of the public money; the gambler and the criminal immunity from prosecution; the honest merchant certain sidewalk privileges; the rich corporations lowered assessments and immunity from equitable taxation. All buy these special favors by support of the Boss’s power and policy, and all enjoy the blessings of the Boss’s government, high taxation, maladministration, stolen franchises, robbery of the public treasury, and criminal disorder in the community.” (Political Parties and Party Platforms, p. 364.)

In an article in the Outlook, April 2, 1898, Miss Jane Addams of Chicago, a well-known settlement worker, writing no doubt from personal observation, describes the Boss as an institution of American politics in similar language to that of Professor Woodburn. She depicts the typical city political boss, his personality and good-natured freebooting methods with piquancy and vigor; he is, she says, a successful boodler who is popular with the poor because in their ignorance they suppose that he only robs the rich while to the poor he is a sympathetic friend; or as they say, he has a good heart. The reader can easily trace for himself the direct connection between this point of view of the lower classes and their support of Tweed, the robber politician whom a New York{143} City district triumphantly elected state senator shortly after his rascalities were exposed. With that connection in mind the relation between the power of the boss and universal suffrage is perfectly apparent. The class of voters brought in by unqualified suffrage prefer friendly bosses and free-handed boodlers to men who are governed by motives so superior to their own as to seem to them visionary or fantastic; who have in their pockets no stolen or easy got cash to squander on their followers, and who not being professional “handshakers” seem to the masses lacking in sympathy for common men.

But there is a power greater even than the Boss; and that is the Machine, a creation which has reached its highest development in our own time and of which the greatest politicians speak with awe. Theodore Roosevelt, the “Big Bull Moose,” was a big politician, a glorified Boss; but he went down at Chicago in 1912 crushed by the steam roller attachment of the Machine. “For the Roller came and with great eclat it laid that turrible animile flat,” was the doggerel verdict of a newspaper of that day.

“The tremendous power of party organization has been described. It enslaves local officials, it increases the tendency to regard members of Congress as mere delegates, it keeps men of independent character out of local and national politics, it puts bad men into place, it perverts the wishes of the people, it has in some places set up a tyranny under the forms of democracy.” (Bryce, American Commonwealth, Vol. II, p. 612.)

The word “machine” indicates its character.

“The professional politicians (says Ostrogorski) operated, under the direction of the managers, and the wire pullers with such uniformity and with such indifference or insensibility to right and wrong, that they evoked the idea of a piece of mechanism working automatically and blindly; of a machine; the effect appeared so precisely identical, that the term “machine” was foisted on the Organization as a nick-name which it bears down to the present day.” (Democracy, p. 60.)


In this machine the voter is a very small cog; he neither devised the machine, nor can he in the least control it, nor is it constructed to serve his interests. It is organized in the interests of discipline and on the principle of obedience. In New York, for instance, an important part of the Tammany Machine is the Committee on Organization, composed of the leaders of certain wards and districts, each one of whom either holds a public office or has a valuable public contract or is in some way dependent on the Boss for his yearly income. The committee man looks after his district and is responsible to the Boss for its vote. Not by the people but by the political machines are offices filled, laws enacted, government carried on. The machine discipline though sometimes severe operates on the whole for the benefit of the politician by protecting the faithful. The efficient members of the class of professional politicians are never more than temporarily shelved. If defeated at one election they are chosen at another. If they fail to get one office, room is made for them somewhere else, and so they are made to form a class of permanent office-holders, and the power and efficiency of the political oligarchy are steadily maintained.

“The City machine makes friends with saloon keepers, with gamblers and other criminal classes, or with large financial institutions, seeking to obtain control of the vast sums expended for public improvements. This source of revenue has of late proved vastly more fruitful than the earlier and more primitive methods. By means of these various alliances a large body of pledged supporters is secured. In addition to ordinary party officers the machine employs a body of workers formerly known as ward heelers now more generally called workers, gangs, gunmen, or district leaders, some of whom are accustomed to commit various sorts of crime, such as securing fraudulent naturalization papers for foreigners, entering fictitious names on the register of voters, organizing repeaters and voting them on election day.” (Cyclopedia American Political Government, Machine, Political, 1914.)

We quote once more from Bryce, writing in 1894, as to the operation of machine rule in New York City:{145}

“Such an organization as this, with its tentacles touching every point in a vast and amorphous city, is evidently a most potent force, especially as this force is concentrated in one hand—that of the Boss of the Hall. He is practically autocratic; and under him these thousands of officers, controlling from 120,000 to 150,000 votes, move with the precision of a machine. However, it is not only in this mechanism, which may be called a legitimate method of reaching the voters, that the strength of Tammany lies. Its control of the city government gives it endless opportunities of helping its friends, of worrying its opponents, and of enslaving the liquor-dealers. Their licenses are at its mercy, for the police can proceed against or wink at breaches of the law, according to the amount of loyalty the saloon-keeper shows to the Hall. From the contributions of the liquor interest a considerable revenue is raised; more is obtained by assessing office-holders, down to the very small ones; and perhaps most of all by blackmailing wealthy men and corporations, who find that the city authorities have so many opportunities of interfering vexatiously with their business that they prefer to buy them off and live in peace. The worst form of this extortion is the actual complicity with criminals which consists in sharing the profits of crime. A fruitful source of revenue, roughly estimated at $1,000,000 a year, is derived, when the party is supreme at Albany, from legislative blackmailing in the legislature, or, rather, from undertaking to protect the great corporations from the numerous ‘strikers,’ who threaten them there with bills. A case has been mentioned in which as much as $60,000 was demanded from a great company; and the president of another is reported to have said (1893): ‘Formerly we had to keep a man at Albany to buy off the “strikers” one by one. This year we simply paid over a lump sum to the Ring, and they looked after our interests.’ But of all their engines of power none is so elastic as their command of the administration of criminal justice. The mayor appoints the police justices, usually selecting them from certain Tammany workers, sometimes from the criminal class, not often from the legal profession. These justices are often Tammany leaders in their respective districts.” ...

“With such sources of power it is not surprising that Tammany Hall commands the majority of the lower and the foreign masses of New York, though it has never been shown to hold an absolute{146} majority of all the voters of the city. Its local strength is exactly proportioned to the character of the local population; and though there are plenty of native Americans among the rank and file as well as among the leaders, still it is from the poorer districts, inhabited by Jews, Irish, Germans, Italians, Bohemians, that its heaviest vote comes.” (American Commonwealth, Vol. II, pp. 398-400.)

A booklet published in 1887 gives some account of the organization of the political machines of New York City, showing that they all depend upon the use of a minority controllable vote presumably of men without substantial means and whose political support is therefore purchasable in one way or another. The writer says:

“The machine is governed by a singleness of purpose which produces a compactness against which good citizens can only break themselves to pieces when fighting it from within, while if they organize an outside opposition in which everything is done by honest discussion, compactness is almost impossible of achievement.... The politicians would not be difficult to beat if the people would organize for their own protection and from principle; but it is the matter of organization which is difficult, and no one understands this better than the bosses,” (Ivins, Machine Politics.)

The machine is not peculiar to the cities:

“It is also found at the court house of the rural county, at the cross roads postoffice, the village store, the town hall. The difference is one of degree; the mechanism is everywhere the same.... The corrupt political machine of today controlled by a boss is contrary to the American system of government, and were it not a terrible reality this creation would be deemed an impossibility. It is in its present state of perfection, rule of the people by the individual for the boss, his relatives and friends. It is the most complete political despotism ever known.” (Coler on Municipal Government, 1900, pp. 188-190.)

Nor is the use of the machine confined to the Democratic party; even in New York it is part of the Republican party system also. In an address delivered in New York May 2d, 1880, George William Curtis described the Republican polit{147}ical machine and its operations, how it practically excluded nearly nine-tenths of the Republican voters from the primaries. He stated that the bosses were “huge contractors of votes, traders and hucksters in place and pelf,” who “made personal servility the condition of political success” and were ready to “betray the party by bargaining with the enemy”; “that good men stayed at home feeling” that “politics are tiresome and dirty and politicians vulgar bullies and bravadoes”; that “public officers multiply uselessly that there may be more rewards for political and personal service. Primaries, caucuses, conventions, are controlled by the promise and expectation of a chance of plunder which the machine distributes.” Here is an account of how the votes of working men were used in Philadelphia by the Republican boss McManes, to build up a corrupt political organization:

“This gentleman, Mr. James McManes, having gained influence among the humbler voters, was appointed one of the Gas Trustees, and soon managed to bring the whole of that department under his control. It employed (I was told) about two thousand persons, received large sums, and gave out large contracts. Appointing his friends and dependents to the chief places under the Trust, and requiring them to fill the ranks of its ordinary workmen with persons on whom they could rely, the Boss acquired the control of a considerable number of votes and of a large annual revenue. He and his confederates then purchased a controlling interest in the principal horse-car (street tramway) company of the city, whereby they became masters of a large number of additional voters. All these voters were of course expected to act as ‘workers,’ i.e., they occupied themselves with the party organization of the city, they knew the meanest streets and those who dwelt therein, they attended and swayed the primaries, and when an election came round, they canvassed and brought up the voters. Their power, therefore, went far beyond their mere voting strength, for a hundred energetic ‘workers’ mean at least a thousand votes. With so much strength behind them, the Gas Ring, and Mr. McManes at its head, became not merely indispensable to the Republican party in the city, but in fact its chiefs, able therefore to dispose of the votes{148} of all those who were employed permanently or temporarily in the other departments of the city government—a number which one hears estimated as high as twenty thousand. Nearly all the municipal offices were held by their nominees. They commanded a majority in the Select council and Common council. They managed the nomination of members of the State legislature. Even the Federal officials in the custom-house and post-office were forced into a dependent alliance with them, because their support was so valuable to the leaders in Federal politics that it had to be purchased by giving them their way in city affairs.” (Bryce, American Commonwealth, Vol. II, p. 405.)

“Machine politics are completely subversive both of democracy and of the principle of responsibility for which democracy is supposed to stand. It constitutes nothing except a system of self-appointed rulers, and the principle of elective representation of which we boast becomes a farce. Public servants and officers can in some way, usually, be made responsible for the administration of government, but political bosses never, or at least not until they have retired with plunder enough to live without politics. The despotism of Russia can lay some claim to legitimacy. The Czar obtains his throne and power by the forms of law and has a healthy fear of something, but not so with our bosses. They nominate our candidates for office and mortgage their support, so that we are ruled by men who are not elected to govern us at all, our nominal officers being the mere puppets of the machine. Public opinion is defied until its patience is exhausted, when it is gratified in some caprice and it lapses back again into indifference and the old game goes on. Property of all kinds is blackmailed directly or indirectly, and business terrorized. Even vice and crime come in for tribute as is well known. This is anarchy, not government, and yet we indulge the pleasing illusion that democracy is a paradise.” (Hyslop, Democracy, pp. 32-33.)

And further:

“It is the insolent disregard of public welfare, the deliberate exclusion of intelligent and honest men from office, the refusal to reason about public policy, the shameless corruption of its leaders, its organized methods of deception, bribery, and blackmail with{149} public jobbery and frauds upon the tax-payers, that make machine politics so despicable in the estimation of the public conscience.” (Idem, p. 268.)

All nominations for public office to be voted on by the people are made by a machine whatever may be the party in whose name they are made. This is true not only of the high offices, such as president, governor, senator, etc., but also of such lower offices as mayor, judges of the state courts, state senators and assemblymen. Sometimes these nominations are made at primaries which are carried by the boss through the local organizations; or at political conventions also controlled by the machine. The details of the secret manipulations under the recent primary laws have not yet been and may never be published and exposed; but those of the old political conventions were laid bare in a book published in 1899 by Senator Breen, an experienced politician of New York. He there describes the power of the bosses and the subserviency of the masses.

“There is scarcely a place on earth (says Breen) where one can see so fully the extremes of sycophancy to which human nature will descend as one does in a political convention in the City of New York.... I blush to record the fact that the convention which I attended (and the same may be said of every political convention in this city even at the present day) was composed of as spineless a lot of creatures as ever prostrated themselves before a throne, or crouched in the presence of autocratic power. Subserviency was shown not only to the local leader or deputy boss himself, but to the understrappers, who were supposed to have his ear. Not able to get into the immediate presence of the leader, persons well dressed and apparently prosperous, as well as those who were ill conditioned, fawned upon forbidding looking beings who were supposed to be close to the leader, and whose intelligence was limited to understanding orders and obeying them....

“Several positions connected with the court were at the disposal of the judge to be elected; the Democratic nomination was equivalent to the certificate of election. There were 177 delegates in all, and although many of them had the appearance of independent men, yet{150} every one of them was there as an automaton to be set in motion and shifted hither and thither at the whim of the local boss. Free born citizens, though they were, with the sacred right of the ballot, they were there merely to register his will and obey his orders without question. Not only this, but they seemed to revel in their subserviency, and to feel joyous and even proud of the distinction of being political slaves. Nor was this degradation confined to the ignorant. Men of education, men who were members of the learned professions, were in that body, and vied with the worst in snivelling sycophancy. They knew, as every one knew, that the person who was to be nominated for a seat on the bench was wholly incompetent, in point of education and training, to fill the office, not to speak of other disqualifications. Yet they were there to obey pliantly the mandates of a deputy boss and stifle their conviction and their conscience.” (Thirty Years of New York Politics, pp. 205, 206, 207.)

Here you have a veracious picture made by an expert of the actual operation of manhood suffrage, which according to the twaddlers is so effective in stimulating the manly character of the citizens of a free republic.

Bryce visited one of these conventions, and this is what he saw:

“During the morning, a tremendous coming and going and chattering and clattering of crowds of men who looked at once sordid and flashy, faces shrewd but mean and sometimes brutal, vulgar figures in good coats forming into small groups and talking eagerly, and then dissolving to form fresh groups; a universal camaraderie, with no touch of friendship about it; something between a betting-ring and the flags outside the Liverpool Exchange. It reminded one of the swarming of bees in tree boughs, a ceaseless humming and buzzing which betokens immense excitement over proceedings which the bystander does not comprehend. After some hours all this settled down; the meeting was duly organized; speeches were made, all dull and thinly declamatory, except one by an eloquent Irishman; the candidates for State offices were proposed and carried by acclamation; and the business ended. Everything had evidently been pre-arranged; and the discontented, if{151} any there were, had been talked over during the swarming hours.” (American Commonwealth, Vol. II, p. 105.)

The members of these nominating conventions, or “delegates,” as they are called, are supposed to be chosen by the voters at elections held for that purpose, called “primaries.” The vote at these primaries is never more than a fraction of those belonging to the party. It ranges from two per cent to ten per cent unless when there is a contest between two party men, when it may go as high as forty per cent of those entitled to vote. Outside of the party workers, scarcely anyone attends these primaries. Bryce sketches the means taken by the boss to control the primary election, which include trickery, fraud and violence. (American Commonwealth, Vol. II, pp. 102, 103.) He describes the workings of the primary system and the convention as in operation in Philadelphia under the management of the Gas Ring in 1881:

“The delegates chosen were usually office-holders, with a sprinkling of public works contractors, liquor-dealers, always a potent factor in ward politics, and office expectants. For instance, the Convention of 13th January, 1881, for nominating a candidate for mayor, consisted of 199 delegates, 86 of whom were connected with some branch of the city government, 9 were members of the city councils, 5 were police magistrates, 4 constables, and 23 policemen, while of the rest some were employed in some other city department, and some others were the known associates and dependants of the Ring. These delegates, assembled in convention of the party, duly went through the farce of selecting and voting for persons already determined on by the Ring as candidates for the chief offices. The persons so selected thereby became the authorized candidates of the party, for whom every good party man was expected to give his vote. Disgusted he might be to find a person unknown, or known only for evil, perhaps a fraudulent bankrupt, or a broken-down barkeeper, proposed for his acceptance. But as his only alternative was to vote for the Democratic nominee, who was probably no better, he submitted, and thus the party was forced to ratify the choice of the Boss.” (American Commonwealth, Vol. II, p. 408.)


The method adopted by the local boss in Breen’s time, to assure himself that every man in the convention would do his bidding, is worthy of admiration for its bold and unscrupulous impudence. He does this, says Breen, in advance of the primary election by making out a list of the delegates whom he desires chosen and obtaining from the inspectors a certificate that they have been duly elected. What occurs thereafter at the primary election is of little consequence as the credentials are already in the possession of the leader, who when the convention meets draws them from his pocket and as there is no going behind the returns the delegates take their seats. Times and laws have changed since Breen’s time and this plan may have been superseded by another, at present not generally known, but the Boss and Machine are still with us as powerful as ever; the class of officials they put over us is the same as before, there is the same material to work with and it is presumable that the present system is equally corrupt and tyrannical with the old one.

A large part of the fuel to keep the machine going is provided for by voluntary contributions from business men and corporations desirous of political favors, such as street privileges, franchises, contracts, or is levied as blackmail upon them or upon saloon keepers, gamblers, keepers of brothels and others whose habits or occupations leave them open to police persecution; also by assessments on office holders, candidates for office and levies on corporations sometimes called “strikes.”

“The levying of blackmail on companies, either as a contribution to campaign expenses or as fees to pay for protection, is now one of the principal sources of a Boss’s revenue, and, in states like New York, goes a good way towards enabling him to defy hostile sentiment. It furnishes him with funds for subsidizing the legislature and the press.” (Atlantic Monthly, July, 1896.)

Bryce states that the collection of revenues of a political Ring flow from five sources, viz., public subscriptions, con{153}tributions from contractors and others expecting favors, surreptitious appropriations from the city or state treasury, assessments upon the office holders, and sale of offices and nominations to office. Breen says truly in the book already quoted that the majority of voters are utterly unaware of what is really going on in the party. There are, he says, “scarcely 5,000 persons in the City of New York who are aware of the secret and surreptitious methods governing the inside of politics or of the subterranean channels thereto by which gross wrongs are perpetrated. The secret combinations, conspiracies, deals and bribery are confined to the expert politician.” How few, for instance, know the facts in relation to the practice of the barter of high offices. One of the inevitable results of the development of the present system is the sale of nominations to public office negotiated by the boss for the benefit of the machine. The existence of this traffic though secretly conducted is well known in political circles. Sometimes the payment is direct; sometimes it is disguised in the shape of contributions to campaign funds made by the candidate or someone in his behalf.

“In the large cities, with New York at their head, practice established a sort of tariff for each set of offices according to the length of the term and the importance of the place. Thus a judgeship, that is to say, the nomination to it amounted to $15,000; a seat in Congress was rated at $4,000; for membership of a state legislature $1,500 was demanded; a like amount for the position of alderman in a city council, etc.” (Ostrogorski, Idem, p. 70.)

“Candidates for the judiciary in New York City have paid Tammany Hall $5,000 to $10,000 for their offices.” (Commons on Proportional Representation, p. 303.)

Dr. Clark writing in 1900 says:

“By credible accounts as much as $100,000 has been paid to get nominated by the Convention of the dominant party for Clerk, Register or Sheriff of the County of New York; half that sum for Treasurer of Pennsylvania, and, in proportion to their opportunities{154} for others the like offices all over the country. A seat on the Supreme Judicial bench costs from $5,000 to $15,000. A nomination to Congress from the lean pastures of Vermont or New Hampshire can sometimes be had for a thousand dollars, but in the golden fields of California and Nevada it has cost fifty thousand.” (The Machine Abolished, p. 40.)

The figures contained in Bryce’s American Commonwealth, Vol. II, p. 119, as to ruling rates for political nominations under this much prized system of political brigandage are these: Alderman, $1,500; Legislature, $500 to $1,500; Judgeship, $5,000 to $15,000; Congress, $4,000. The New York County Clerk at one time collected about $80,000 a year in fees, of which the political machine required him to hand over two-thirds. Writing in 1899 Dorman B. Eaton states the regular price of a high judicial nomination is $10,000 to $15,000. (Government of Municipalities, p. 107.) Another more recent writer gives the figures for political assessments for the large city as follows: For County Clerk and Register, $15,000; Alderman, $13,000; Sheriff, $25,000; Comptroller, $10,000; Mayor, $20,000; Police Justice, $6,500.

Not only the offices but the party itself is sometimes for sale in this or that ward or city. The bargains between the Republican and Democratic machines in New York City and elsewhere have been so frequently denounced and exposed by the politicians themselves as to need no proof. It is a matter of common knowledge that the bosses are able at times in shrewd transactions with opposing bosses to barter certain public offices, batches of offices and measures for other similar merchandise, and to carry out the bargain; thus causing the votes cast at an election to have directly the opposite effect from that supposed to be desired by the voters, though perhaps many of the floaters or regulars among them would be perfectly satisfied with the “deal.” It must be borne in mind that the ultimate object of all these “deals” and this political traffic is money; the party managers are not looking for public honors but for cash; they are actually engaged in build{155}ing up fortunes for themselves and their backers, who are public contractors and the like. “Hence it is the opportunity and desire for public pelf, directly or indirectly, and for gratifying personal ambition without reference to public service, that are the most potent influences in the formation and cohesiveness of the ‘machine.’ (Democracy, p. 269.)

An instance of the friendly relations between rival machines is mentioned by Bryce in writing of the effort to get the Democratic machine in Philadelphia in 1870 to help oust the Republican Gas Ring:

“But the Democratic wire-pullers, being mostly men of the same stamp as the Gas Ring, did not seek a temporary gain at the expense of a permanent disparagement of their own class. Political principles are the last thing which the professional city politician cares for. It was better worth the while of the Democratic chiefs to wait for their turn, and in the meantime to get something out of occasional bargains with their (nominal) Republican opponents, than to strengthen the cause of good government at the expense of the professional class.” (American Commonwealth, Vol. II, p. 411.)

And Eaton mentions an instance in New York City of the leaders of one political party being in the pay of the other. (Government of Municipalities, p. 116—Note.)

Here, to make the sketch complete must be said a brief word about the lobby, by which expressive term is designated the class of paid agents of public service corporations and others, who frequent the lobbies of the state legislatures and of Congress in order to promote legislation favorable to their principals and to watch and fend off “strikes,” “hold-ups” and other legislative attacks upon them. In a country where ridiculously small salaries are paid to members of legislative bodies the lobby does much to make a legislator’s career profitable. Details of those lobby transactions have been often published as newspaper sensations, and some of them will be referred to in this book later on. A short quotation from Prof. Commons will suffice here to give an idea of their character:{156}

“It is not to be inferred that the lobby alone is responsible for corrupt legislatures and councils. It is equally true that corrupt legislatures are responsible for the lobby. Law-makers introduce bills attacking corporations for the express purpose of forcing a bribe. This is called a ‘strike,’ and has become a recognized feature of American legislation, to meet which the corporations are compelled to organize their lobby.” (Commons, Proportional Representation, p. 47.)

A word from Bryce, on the lobby:

“All legislative bodies which control important pecuniary interests are as sure to have a lobby as an army to have its camp followers. Where the body is, there will the vultures be gathered together. Great and wealthy States, like New York, and Pennsylvania, support the largest and most active lobbies.... Thus there are at Washington, says Mr. Spofford, ‘pension lobbyists, tariff lobbyists, steamship subsidy lobbyists, railway lobbyists, Indian ring lobbyists, patent lobbyists, river and harbour lobbyists, mining lobbyists, bank lobbyists, mail-contract lobbyists, war damages lobbyists, back-pay and bounty lobbyists, Isthmus canal lobbyists, public building lobbyists, State claims lobbyists, cotton-tax lobbyists, and French spoliations lobbyists. Of the office-seeking lobbyists at Washington it may be said that their name is legion. There are even artist lobbyists, bent upon wheedling Congress into buying bad paintings and worse sculptures; and too frequently with success.’

He also says that women are said to be among the most active and successful lobbyists at Washington, and that they have been widely employed and efficient in soliciting members of the Legislature with a view to the passing of private bills and the obtaining of places. (American Commonwealth, Vol. I, p. 680; Vol. II, p. 732.)

So here let us end the chapter on the politicians, with the picture of a purchasable legislature created by a political machine and representing a purchasable manhood suffrage constituency, and of the traffic conducted by bosses and rings{157} on one side and a lobby on the other. Granted American activity, and enterprise in public improvements to cause the stream of dollars to flow steadily, and what more is required to produce what Mr. Carnegie happily dubs “Triumphant Democracy{158}”?



The political oligarchies rule, have ruled and will continue to rule this country through the medium of the controllable vote. This is plainly inferable from what has already been said about the strength and operations of the Machine, and is in a vague way to some extent understood or at least suspected throughout the country. The object of this chapter is to emphasize it, to bring it home to the reader, to make him realize it, and to cause him to reflect upon it, and to thoroughly appreciate the absolute impossibility of throwing off the odious bondage of the politicians unless and until the suffrage is restricted to a well-qualified class of voters.

By the extension of the franchise to the unpropertied and thriftless class there was injected into the veins of the electoral body a new and poisonous element, the virus of cupidity. A certain portion of this class, the so-called floaters, is directly purchasable; another large portion is indirectly purchasable or controllable and capable of being organized on a basis of bargains made or understood. The vote therefore which by degrees as the organizations have developed has come to adhere to these predatory bands is not confined merely to the directly purchasable; it includes the controllables; all such as the organization reaches by the manipulation of low motives; by appeals to cupidity direct or indirect; by favors to themselves or their relatives, by rewards of public employment, whether as laborers, petty officers, policemen, firemen or the like; by protection, as in the case of gamblers,{159} liquor sellers, and others who adhere to the organization for purposes of personal advantage. The organization therefore will always be permanent and effective because its members are materially interested in its existence and power.

The manner in which the controllable vote is marshalled to the polls is described by Eaton (Govt. of Municipalities, chap. V). Its existence is recognized by him as a reason why our great cities are not fit for home rule. He divides this vote into two classes: “the mercenary city vote” and “the vile city vote.” But this material is not confined to the large cities, it is to be found in towns and villages and wherever there are worthless, shiftless men. Writing in 1871 Sterne says: “The nomination for public offices is with us entirely in the hands of professional politicians” and this he states to be the case equally in both the country and cities. (Representative Government, p. 83.) The conditions have not changed since his time. The local political associations or bands organized for the securing, management and operation of the controllable vote have developed in the last century. They are now frequently able, especially in the large cities, to secure a considerable class of recruits of a type somewhat superior to the “floaters,” from among the social failures and misfits. Most of these are sloppy-minded fellows, who, tempted by social proclivities, or misled by weak ambitions and the appearance of political success, join the “Regular Organization” as they call it. Some of them are rather vicious; social degenerates or perverts; men who have not judgment and honesty enough to insure their voting right even in matters small enough to be within their mental grasp; and whose ideals are not honesty, justice, public honor, and intelligence, but smartness, cleverness and guile. Sometimes they are motived by prejudice and class hatred; often they are rabid, loud-mouthed radicals, anti-capitalists, etc. Others are weak and shiftless, people naturally harmless but incapable of correct observation in political and economic matters, or of correct reasoning upon what they observe; men who are recognized as failures in the world, more{160} or less incapable of self-support; burdens on their relatives and friends, or on churches or societies with which they or their families are connected; men who never can get employment, or if they do, cannot keep it; fellows of lazy and careless habits who having failed to do their part in organized society have had to pay the penalty of their remissness. There are those who have got into a mental habit of chronic dissatisfaction with the established ethics of life and have finally grown to disbelieve in them altogether; who doubt whether honesty is the best policy; who are unable to recognize what it is that really constitutes success, or who fail to find the true path to reach it. To some of them the man who gets power or money at any price is the successful man and him they envy and applaud. They themselves hate to work or to deny themselves, merely in order to save or to accumulate; and yet they want money, and long for its possession, and finally grow to actually respect successful rogues political and other who seem to defy and triumph over the old established rules of social life. Bryce describes these organizations as he found them in New York City in 1894:

“In each of the thirty districts there is a party headquarters for the Committee and the local party work, and usually, also, a clubhouse, where party loyalty is cemented over cards and whisky, besides a certain number of local ‘associations,’ called after prominent local politicians, who are expected to give an annual picnic, or other kind of treat, to their retainers. A good deal of social life, including dances and summer outings, goes on in connection with these clubs.” (American Commonwealth, Vol. II. p. 398.)

It is such organizations, and not the independent farmers or business men, which because they have united and practical aims and methods constitute the real political powers in the United States. They select and put forward candidates, regulate and carry primaries, combine with other associations, and constitute themselves a real effective working political force. The great extent of their power will not astonish any{161}one familiar with the effect of organization and discipline. The strength of the French Jacobin party lay in their clubs. The French Revolution, the American Revolution and the Russian Revolution were all carried to such success as they had by organized and active minorities. A magazine writer says this of these local political associations:

“The members of the organizations, like every one else, want power, money and place. That is the reason they are members. They get leaders who will deliver a part at least of what they want. Leaders who do not deliver are quickly decapitated.” Even should reformers get control of the party (the writer says) and win at the polls, these floaters will break down the new administration unless it yields the offices to them. (American Political Science Review, February, 1917.)

In the words of Bryce:

“The source of power and the cohesive force is the desire for office, and for office as a means of gain. This one cause is sufficient to account for everything, when it acts, as it does in these cities, under the condition of the suffrage of a host of ignorant and pliable voters.” (American Commonwealth, Vol. II, p. 107.)

These predatory bands are encouraged and supported not only in the ways already mentioned, but by the money contributions of the well-to-do. At every important election enormous sums are raised and expended by both parties. In 1896 the Republican National Committee had at its disposal an immense fund, variously stated at $6,000,000 to $16,000,000, much of it obtained from business corporations; it was charged that part of this was used to purchase votes. It is through these local clubs and associations that such money is expended.

The case in a nutshell is that of an enlisted regular army, small in numbers with a poorly paid and unlettered rank and file, but well officered and capable of holding in check a whole population of unarmed, undisciplined and unorganized citi{162}zens. This trained and subsidized force cannot be permanently overthrown by any possible counter organization of reformers, and all attempts in that direction have always proved and always will prove futile. The mass of the citizens have no motive for permanent political organization; nor can one be supplied; for all such counter-organizations being merely sentimental, must lack a motive or rallying force such as cupidity affords to the “regulars,” holding them together and inspiring them with persistent energy. A noted illustration of this feature of politics appeared in the defeat in 1884 of the Reform Party in Philadelphia by the Gas Ring, after it had triumphed in 1881 and had effected many reforms. Its supporters got tired out and lost interest. They lacked the sustained motive which animated the spoilsmen. In an account published at the time, by two gentlemen connected with this reform movement, they stated, referring to its work:

“In its nature, however, the remedy was esoteric and revolutionary, and therefore necessarily ephemeral. It could not retain the spoils system and thereby attract the workers. Its candidates, when elected, often betrayed it and went over to the regulars, who, they foresaw, had more staying qualities. Its members became tired of the thankless task of spending time and money in what must be a continuous, unending battle.”

Instances of the power of local and political organization built up on a manhood suffrage basis to force a notoriously unfit candidate through a contested election are extremely numerous. Practically the entire list of candidates at any election may serve to illustrate the practice; unfitness for their offices being the rule among our officials. Two examples will have to suffice here. John Morrissey of New York was for thirty years a notorious gambler and prize-fighter. After attaining manhood these were his occupations; he had no other except politics. The people of the City of New York with full knowledge of his record, elected him four times to office by large majorities. He was in the State Senate at his death,{163} having previously served two terms in Congress. Here is his official record, taken from the Encyclopedia of Congress Biography.

“John Morrissey, born in Ireland in 1831, limited school education in this country. Worked in iron foundry as molder. Active in 1848 in New York as ‘Anti-Tammany shoulder hitter.’ Prize fighter from 1851-1858. Retired from prize ring and became proprietor of gambling houses in New York and Saratoga, and purchased controlling interest in Saratoga Race Course in 1863. Elected representative from New York to 40th Congress as a Democrat; re-elected to 41st Congress. Engaged in New York politics as an opponent of Tammany Hall. Elected in 1875 to State Senate and re-elected in 1877. Died 1878. (40th Cong. 1867—41st Cong. 1869).”

Here is the record of his vote for Congress:

1867McCartin (Ind. Dem.)      4,494
 Train (Rep.)2,583
 Morrissey (Dem.)16,064
1869Taylor (Ind. Dem.)6,503
 Elliott (Rep.)2,293
 Morrissey (Dem.)9,162

Comment on these figures is superfluous.

William M. Tweed of New York City had been for many years prior to 1871, the most notorious political boss and corruptionist in the United States; probably in the world. He and his confederates systematically plundered the City of New York for a long time by means of false vouchers, etc. The amount of his individual peculations was about $5,000,000. The total amount taken from the city by the Tweed ring has been estimated at $80,000,000. In July, 1871, these misdemeanors were discovered and exposed in the newspapers. During that summer the whole city was aroused, arrests, indictments and prosecutions of Tweed and his associates followed thick and fast. Many of the city and county officials were implicated, including several judges of the highest courts; two{164} were driven from the bench of the Supreme Court. On September 4, 1871, an immense mass meeting was held at which the famous Committee of Seventy was created to prosecute the criminals and reorganize the city government. It appeared that the county court house, which was expected to cost $2,500,000, had cost no one knew how much, but from $8,000,000 to $13,000,000 without being finished. On October 28, 1871, Tweed was arrested and held to bail on charges of misappropriating public money. Notwithstanding these exposures and all the denunciations of Tweed and his confederates by the press, he was re-elected in November, 1871, to represent a senatorial district of New York City by an increased vote of three to his competitor’s one. The following are the figures for this and the previous election. Note the increase in Tweed’s vote following his exposure; and then reflect on the beauties of universal suffrage and on the value of publicity as the sure cure reform agent that we hear so much of nowadays.

1867Leggatt (Rep.)2,175
 Kerrigan (Ind. Dem.)5,966
 Tweed (Dem.)16,144
1871Rossa (Anti Ring Dem.)      6,927
 Tweed (Dem.)18,706

The organized power which manhood suffrage has in the past placed behind Morrissey and Tweed and tens of thousands of others continues in operation to this day. Writing in 1881, Reemelin says:

“There is but one political status in history, which at all equals the conditions of things that now curse the United States. It was that of the latter part of the Middle Ages when the Condottieri were masters of society. But these soldiers of fortune had at least military capacity; their personal bearing was brave, if venal. Our politicians are many of them ruffians; true indeed, while it pays, to a cause; but they sneak in and out in ways that are disgusting to themselves and to those that employ them. They are the only well-defined class in this country; they infect all party movements,{165} rule every legislature as lobbyists, control presidents, are familiar with judges, cabinet ministers, governors, and can and do proscribe the political culture and integrity of the land. They defeat every reform, ravish ballot boxes, count in and out whom they please. Publicly divided into two parties, they fraternize in secret. The voters are their puppets, the abuse of taxation and of public credit their means of support.” (American Politics, p. 149.)

The New York Evening Post of November 14th of the year 1919 refers to a feature of the city election just held in San Francisco. One Schmitz of that city “after twice being elected mayor, underwent a sensational trial in 1907 on charges of corruption, and escaped the penitentiary when the State Supreme Court set aside the verdict against him on a technicality.” Nevertheless in 1915 he ran again for mayor and polled nearly one-third of the total vote; in 1917 he polled 33,000 votes for supervisor; in 1919 he again polled 34,128 votes for mayor out of a total of about 100,000. In other words, one-third of the San Francisco manhood suffrage electorate can be marshalled in support of a candidate with a notoriously smirched record.

We must not allow ourselves to be lulled into indifference by surface politicians who offer delusive hopes of substantial reform by flimsy measures which deal with symptoms leaving the electorate unswept and ungarnished to continue as the breeding place of the malady. Mr. Bryce, for instance, who is very shy of criticising manhood suffrage, likes to indulge in optimistic imaginings. He says:

“If the path to Congress and the State legislatures and the higher municipal offices were cleared of the stumbling-blocks and dirt heaps which now encumber it, cunningly placed there by the professional politicians, a great change would soon pass upon the composition of legislative bodies, and a new spirit be felt in the management of State and municipal as well as of national affairs.” (American Commonwealth, Vol. II, p. 75.)

It has also been stated that if the sky would fall we would catch larks. As Shakespeare says, “There is great value in{166} your ‘If.’ The principal “dirt heap,” cunningly placed in the path by the professional politicians is the controllable vote; but Bryce, himself a politician belonging to a “Liberal” party, is very careful to shut his eyes every time he smells that particular dirt heap. But we Americans may as well, and if we desire results, we must, realize that the political oligarchies are irresistible under the present suffrage system; that they have never been defeated in the United States; that their organizations backed by the revenue derived from fat frying, contributions, blackmail, protection money, official fees and perquisites and the sale of offices and appointments have always been found in practice sufficiently strong not merely to hold their own against the public, but to prevent the possibility of any serious attempt to unseat the machine politicians as the masters of the country. In point of fact the rule of the machine politicians is practically unquestioned; and the battles at the polls are and for generations have actually been conflicts between two political machines, between two rival bands of political leaders and their followers, in which the public interest was only indirect. The citizens have the option, of course, either of falling in the rear of one of the political bands and helping swell its numbers and secure its triumph or of remaining aloof; the result in either case will be victory for the politicians on one side or the other.

Not only do the political oligarchies win at the polls by discipline and organization, but they gather strength by the adoption of popular fads and fancies. For example, if some fanatics start an agitation for special reform legislation so-called, the organization may determine to favor it as a means for creating new public offices and patronage for the faithful, and so on. The condition of a community or state desiring to have some notion put into legal effect would be pitiable without the aid of the party organizations. Most of the American people have no clear idea of the working of political machinery; and when they want anything done in politics they are apt to run to the very politicians they habitually denounce. In this way astute{167} political leaders learn the course of the popular currents and can act accordingly, cunningly adjusting selfish motives, taking up popular cries and adding strength and prestige to the plunder bund. They have no principles that stand in the way of their espousing any cause. Is the war feeling rampant or can it be readily developed and made available? The politicians begin yelling for war and waving the banner. Is woman suffrage popular or can it be profitably used? We have a female suffrage plank forthwith put in the party platform by men not one of whom has the slightest belief in it. All this however is conditioned on the proviso that nothing be put forward against the interests of organized politics, for the politicians do not govern by yielding or catering to majorities, but by means of permanent organizations which gather in, build up, compel and control majorities. The organizations also get power by forming public opinion to suit their purposes. Their managers are not concerned in abstract or sentimental questions; but where their interests appear to be involved they are apt to intervene either to create issues or to mould public opinion or to give it a favorable twist in their direction.

Each political body controlled by one of these oligarchies has a moving force far beyond that of the sum of its individual members. The old conception of a constituency composed of voters who each spontaneously forms his individual opinion on all live political questions and expresses it at the polls by his vote was of village origin; applicable at most and only partially to small communities. In all cities and towns of over ten thousand inhabitants the citizen is seldom able to form his own opinion unaided even on matters of local politics. He is not familiar with the city budget, nor with its health conditions, nor with its public works, nor its administration generally; nor with its needs or its program for the ensuing year; nor is he usually personally acquainted with its officials. The larger the city the less each individual knows of its affairs. As to State matters the knowledge of the ordinary voter seldom goes beyond the name and politics of the governor and{168} of the local members of the legislature. The citizen therefore usually needs someone to furnish him his opinions ready made. Indeed, beliefs political or other are seldom spontaneously created in the human mind; they are usually injected into it; and the ordinary citizen receives from without nearly all his opinions on matters not pertaining to his household or his business. Now, the rival organizations in order to catch the Independents, usually a conceited and gullible element, find it convenient to manufacture “political issues”; some trivial, empty controversy is started, often of a personal nature; the politician gives the cue to the newspapers, the papers pass on the tale to the reader, and there you have so-called public opinion. In this way was an opinion fabricated which helped elect Jackson to the presidency; he was wafted into the White House on the wind of lies invented for the purpose, and the process has been constantly repeated ever since. Therefore, the managers of these corrupt political organizations are able through them to materially influence the more honest and intelligent majorities by furnishing them ready-made opinions, which for lack of better they are compelled to adopt.

To resume: this is the situation. The independent vote being divided by honest and therefore shifting opinion, is not and never can be permanently organized. The controllable vote can be and is permanently organized on the basis of cupidity; and its organization is such that it not only controls the entire election machinery but is able to create, manage and use for its own purposes a considerable share of the public opinion of the country.

Thus it is that the politicians are firmly intrenched in power. And what is the extent and character of that power? Is it limited either in extent or by responsibility to the people? Neither. Within the limits of the state and federal constitutions the power of the political oligarchies is absolute and uncontrolled except so far as one political organization chooses to oppose or to interfere with the other. It is part of the common talk of the careless optimists among us and of the con{169}stant prattle of the newspapers that the people rule when they choose to do so; that the overwhelming majority are wise and good people, and that when they “rise in their might” they can and will set all things straight. The newspapers for their own purposes assist the illusion of popular choice at elections, and print declamatory rubbish of this sort to flatter their readers and to keep up their interest in the political game so that they will continue buying the papers. This claptrap has a mischievous effect, for it tends to prevent the people from realizing their real situation. The picture, were it a true one, of a community, relieving its ordinary dull submission to misgovernment and plunder by occasional bursts of rage is far from flattering to the electorate; but the facts are even worse; for the public never does “rise in its might” to overthrow its ruling oligarchy. It merely changes, or pretends to change one ruling band or machine for another. Nor do the politicians usually cater to the public, nor do they need to do so nearly as much as some of us fondly imagine. The common talk about our office holders being public servants is cant and humbug. The prevalent popular conceit that the politicians as a class need public support, and must and do defer to the public in order to exist, lacks support in the facts, though it derives some color from the appeals frequently made to the electorate for votes by parties or political machines. For though the voter always has a choice between two or more candidates, he is never permitted to go outside of the ranks of the political oligarchy, which exists and flourishes despite popular criticism and dislike.

Most of the office holders are practically independent of the people. In the cities especially, they occupy salaried places, obtained by the use of back stairs or secret influence. They could of course be ousted by a united public demand, but such demand as that is in most cases inconceivable and will never be made; no one but the politicians know these men, or have in mind the particulars of their duties and appointments: and none but politicians would have the patience or skill to manage{170} a public movement to oust them. As a matter of fact few of them ever are finally expelled from political life; they are merely transferred from time to time from one job to another. To one who knows, it is often pathetically ludicrous to hear a voter incensed by the tyranny or incapacity of some office holder threaten to withhold his vote from him “next time.” The irate citizen will probably forget all about “next time,” or will never hear of its having arrived; or the next office will be an appointive one, higher up. Even if he do carry out his threat it will be like putting a straw down in an elephant’s path; the question whether the object of his wrath will go on the ticket will be decided not as the result of a public discussion, but of a secret conference, and whether elected or defeated, the majorities will be mostly composed of myriads of voters who have blindly obeyed the will of the machine and scarcely noticed the name of the candidate. The protest of the individual voter if too much emphasized, is most likely to injure himself. Even a great daily city newspaper usually finds it a hopeless task to attempt to down the machine or its candidates; indeed, the latter have been known to triumph over four or five dailies united. Sometimes an office holder is detected in a scandalous transaction and the machine deems it prudent to temporarily retire him; but if his dirty work was done for the organization’s behoof and benefit, he may soon be seen occupying a still higher appointive office, or placed on the state or county ticket at a presidential election and voted into power by an immense self-satisfied and innocent majority of the very people who a year or two ago condemned him mercilessly, and who in the meantime have actually forgotten his name.

This situation should be clearly understood, because there are in this country millions of people so blind, ignorant or innocent as to imagine that the public at large are really participants in the whole business of politics and government when in fact they have no share in it whatever. Let the reader who doubts this statement attempt to interfere as an amateur in{171} politics. He will find it impossible to do so and that he cannot interpose with any, even the slightest effect except by himself joining one of the political gangs or parties, becoming one with them, submitting to their rules and methods and aiding in their schemes to purchase and manage the controllable vote. To the ordinary voter, and to the mass of millions of voters, to that populace which foolishly believes itself the ruler of the nation it is forbidden even to know what politicians intend or are doing. Each voter may meekly attend at the polls and ratify what one machine or the other has already determined on, but there he must stop. If he attempts to do more, to protest or to air his opinions he will be ignored; and if he persist he will be treated with the scorn and contempt due to a meddling fool.

The fact of the absolute control of our government by a political oligarchy has been frequently recognized and commented upon. Here, for instance, by a recent writer who favors the principle of a property qualification:

“Our ruinously expensive government, shameful system of national taxation, blackmailing of individuals and corporations, and bribery at elections and in the legislatures, show clearly enough that universal suffrage does not eliminate the influence of wealth from politics, or produce the millennium and paradise for any but scoundrels. In fact, our present system only puts wealth, or the power which it represents, into the hands of the unscrupulous who can always use the proletariat for any irresponsible power that is wanted, and for plundering the community in some form, whether by taxation or blackmail. They have become so bold that they do not discuss the problems of government at all, but carry on their business with the audacity of pirates and the immunity of saints. Universal suffrage is simply the useful instrument to this end, and the boasted policy which was to cure poverty and destroy the influence of wealth has only increased its power and handed government over to the anti-social classes, with a struggle between the anti-social rich to plunder everybody else and the anti-social poor to do the same. The proper limitation of the franchise would cut off the sources of the politician’s influence over the proletariat{172} and place the balance of power in the great middle class whose social and moral qualities are superior to those of the rich who buy the plebs with a mess of pottage or false promises in order to mulct society, and whose intelligence and prudence are superior to those of the proletariat.” (Hyslop on Democracy, pp. 248, 249.)

The reader now understands that there was no exaggeration in the statement heretofore made and repeated in this book that the government of this country is entirely in the hands of a political oligarchy. This being the case, what is the vote worth to a fair-minded independent American citizen, living in New York, Chicago or Boston, or in any one of the hundreds of cities in the land? What is the actual value to the unpropertied American of the yearly privilege of voting, which the twaddlers and the politicians keep saying is “inestimable”? Absolutely nothing except for purposes of sale to the politicians. This statement may be sweeping, but it is true. The boasted gift of the ballot has become a mockery to every honest man by being made the mere vehicle or form by which are registered the decrees and appointments of venal and corrupt political cliques. The only remedy lies in the destruction of the oligarchy of politicians, and of this there is no hope or prospect while the system of manhood suffrage continues to produce the controllable vote.

“Experience (says Bagehot) proved what our theories suggest, that the enfranchisement of the corruptible is in truth the establishment of corruption. The lesson of the whole history indubitably is, that it is in vain to lower the level of political representation beneath the level of political capacity; that below that level you may easily give nominal power, but cannot possibly give real power; that at best you can give the vague voice to an unreasoning instinct; that in general you only give the corruptible an opportunity to become corrupt.” (History of the Unreformed Parliament, 1860.)

In other words, it is practically impossible to bring the rabble element to take an active part in good government. There is no possible organization of these corrupt groups{173} save on the basis of corrupt leadership. Bryce made a study of the subject and devotes several pages to it (American Commonwealth, chap. cxviii), and although always optimistic, he is not able to point to any genuine source of relief. The “machine,” he says, “will not be reformed from within; it must be assailed from without.” His hopes for future relief are based on Civil Service reform, the secret ballot, and time. To rely on time is childish. Civil Service reform, if pushed to extremes, will give us a bureaucracy, such as has afflicted Germany and Russia. The secret ballot was the hope of political dreamers who imagined the rabble as possessed of hidden springs of knowledge and virtue; as secretly devoted to causes and leaders they never even heard of and never want to hear of. In the same chapter Bryce admits the possibility of future “strife and danger,” and closes it by speaking of “a hope that is stronger than anxiety.” This devil-may-care attitude may be appropriate to a foreigner, but no American worth his salt is willing to sit down in the face of such threatened danger and wait for time and chance to save the country. Those who will not make a move to save themselves are not worth saving. The Fortnightly Review recently says, in explanation of Bolshevism in Russia, that “the dregs of society have come to the surface, as they will anywhere when the ordered fabric of civilization built up on respect for law and personal rights is broken up.” But this is precisely what they are constantly invited to do by manhood suffrage. If it is not an invitation to the dregs to come to the surface, what is it? If they are in power it is because we have been silly enough to open the door. Today they are organized for party plunder; tomorrow they may combine to loot the country.{174}



The political machine, the political ring, and the political boss crush out all independence, and bury all talent which will not lend itself to their purpose; discourage all statesmanship, wither all genuine political ambition and debauch the political conscience of the nation. One result is plainly shown in a distinct lowering of the quality of our public officials, including the membership of our legislative bodies, state and federal. The establishment of machine or party organization political rule by means of the controllable vote has replaced the former free play of individual talents and opinions; has discouraged our best men from entering political life and has degraded those who take part in it. Our Congressmen are of mediocre ability and deficient in strength and honesty; our state legislators are of a still lower type; our legislatures both federal and state and their members are more often the subject of public ridicule than of praise; the political opinions of their members fail to command public respect; with the public at large they do not stand nearly so high as during the first forty years of the republic, when they were chosen by qualified constituencies. At that time the mass of the American voters were uneducated men, yet they sent first rate men to Congress; now the mass is far better instructed and send third rate men to Congress. This is because the national political spirit has been lowered; it no longer seeks to express itself by its best. All the above is so generally asserted and commented on in books, magazines, newspapers and in daily conversation as to be notorious. It is likely that every intelligent reader of this book is fully aware of it.{175}

In explanation of America’s failure to put the best men in high places, it is sometimes said that it is the result of a certain weakness everywhere attendant upon democracy. A similar tendency has been observed by John Stuart Mill, to accompany the widening of the suffrage in England. He says:

“The natural tendency of representative government, as of modern civilization, is toward collective mediocrity; and this tendency is increased by all reductions and extensions of the franchise, their effect being to place the principal power in the hands of classes more and more below the highest level of instruction in the community.” (Representative Government, p. 159.)

In France the deputies to the Chambers are elected on a manhood basis. The result is typical of the system. Prof. Garner says:

“The rôle of the French Deputy is today largely that of a sort of chargé d’affaires sent to Paris to see that its constituency obtains its share of the favors which the government has for distribution. Instead, therefore, of occupying himself with questions of legislation of interest to the country as a whole, he is engaged in playing the rôle of a mendicant for his petty district. He spends his time in the ante-rooms of the ministers soliciting favors for his political supporters and grants for his arrondissement.”

Sometimes the constituents ask the deputy to procure nurses for their families, or to do shopping. Some want appointments as vendors of tobacco; the ministers, to purchase their support, agree to appoint their friends to office, give them decorations and advance them politically. The deputy must look for appropriations for local railroads, repairs for churches, pictures for the exhibition, public fountains, monuments. All the school teachers, tobacconists, road overseers and letter carriers are expected to work for him. (American Political Science Review, Vol. 7, p. 617.) An interesting book has recently been published by a member of the French Academy, in which he accuses democracy of having an inevitable tendency to produce inefficiency in government. He testifies that such has been the{176} experience in France. It is in the very spirit of democracy, he says, to favor incompetence in all public officials. (Cult of Incompetence, Faguet.)

This lowering of the official standards has been observed elsewhere, wherever manhood suffrage obtains. Mr. E. L. Godkin, a distinguished New York publicist, writing some years ago said:

“There is not a country in the world living under parliamentary government which has not begun to complain of the quality of its legislators. More and more it is said the work of government is falling into the hands of men to whom even small pay is important and who are suspected of adding to their income by corruption.” (Unforeseen Tendencies of Democracy, p. 117.)

The apologists for our present unsatisfactory political system point to this universal democratic tendency to mediocrity as a reason for acquiescing in the present evil condition which they say is an incident of democracy everywhere, deplorable but unavoidable. This is a mistaken attitude. In adopting the democratic régime we have not bargained to perpetuate its errors; it is our business to correct and abolish them. Having observed the democratic tendency to produce inferiority in public life it is for us to be specially careful to adopt measures to avoid that danger. It is plainly due to inferiority in the voting mass and the obvious remedy is to elevate the character of the electorate. The inferior product referred to by Faguet and others is that of a democracy of mere numbers, where there is failure to give proper effect to natural civilizing influences. On the other hand, in the administration for example of the great cities of Europe where property is represented and character and reputation are taken into account, the operation of the democratic system is comparatively satisfactory.

America is not lacking in men competent for public life. The field of choice is large and the material is there. A member of Congress represents a constituency of about 300,000, or say{177} 60,000 male voters. The average state legislator may represent a constituency of 50,000 or say ten thousand male voters. The ablest man in the district of 50,000 people or among say ten thousand men is apt to be a superior man; the ablest man of the 60,000 men in a congressional district must be a very superior man indeed. Such are the types of men who ought to be in the legislature and in Congress and who under a proper system would be found there; a type far superior to that which manhood suffrage has actually produced for us after ninety odd progressive years; progressive in everything else except the quality of our government. Comparisons are odious, and it would not be permissible, even if physically possible in a work like this, to discuss severally by name the four hundred actual members of Congress, still less the ten thousand actual members of our State Legislatures, or any part of them. But it must be admitted that those occupying these places are not as a rule first-class men; they do not even measure up to second-class; some of them are very far down on the list indeed. Recently when engaged in the most severe struggle of its history, the nation found that its best and ablest men were in private life; and not only had there been no demand for them to permanently enter public service, but its business had been committed to the care of small, needy politicians, political adventurers, men without political experience or training, who had been sent to the state or national capitol as a reward for cheap political work, or for money contributions, or for subserviency to the political boss or the machine. Such are the fruits of manhood suffrage in the most enlightened country in the world.

M. de Tocqueville, a distinguished Frenchman, who visited this country in 1831, ten years after manhood suffrage had been widely established, was struck by the vulgar aspect of the men whom he found in the House of Representatives at Washington. He said: “They are for the most part village lawyers, dealers or even men belonging to the lowest classes.” No one would have said that of the Continental Congress nor of any Congress before Jackson’s time.{178}

The very latest observers give similar testimony. Mr. Godkin notes the disappearance from Congress and from public life of the class of statesmen and great political leaders of former days, such as Webster, Clay, Calhoun, Silas Wright, Marcy and Seward, and ascribes it to the political bosses who will tolerate no independence. Mr. Bryce says:

“The members of legislatures are not chosen for their ability or experience, but are, five-sixths of them, little above the average citizen. They are not much respected or trusted, and finding no exceptional virtue expected from them, they behave as ordinary men do when subjected to temptations.”

And again:

“It must be confessed that the legislative bodies of the United States have done something to discredit representative government.” (American Commonwealth, Vol. II, pp. 587, 609.)

Writing of Congress in 1907 Professor Commons says:

“Why is it that a legislative assembly which in our country’s infancy summoned to its halls a Madison or a Hamilton to achieve the liberties of the people has now fallen so low that our public-spirited men hesitate to approach it?” (Proportional Representation, p. 8.)

Professor Commons does not further attempt an answer to his own question, but it is not difficult to find one. When an inferior choice is made, the fault is always with the chooser. Congress is inferior because the electorate is inferior, and because the manhood suffrage machine insists on mediocrity and slavishness in Congress and everywhere else and has lowered the political spirit of the nation. Writing about 1899 Professor Hyslop of Columbia University, New York, says:

“Congressmen require considerable omniscience to fulfil their responsibilities, but they possess very little of that qualification, and too often no honesty, public spirit, or devotion to the real interests of the country. Too poor to disregard the salary attached to the office, they must consider their personal interest to secure a{179} re-election, which puts them at the mercy of any unscrupulous man or men who may hold the balance of power in their districts; and consequently the man who will follow the ‘boss’ or ‘work’ the proper portion of his constituents can get the place and salary while the intelligent and conscientious man who thinks less of the remuneration than of his duty to the public must remain at home. The time servers, demagogues, and men with an elastic conscience are the successful bidders for the offices and salaries. They know how to use good sentiments and patriotism for votes, the voters all the while running trustfully after the devil, who is sure to draw them into the bottomless pit.” (Democracy, p. 172.)

This deterioration is observable in our public men generally.

“Sincere men no longer deny that the offices of trust and profit are now filled, in the United States, with much more inferior men than as compared with former periods; indeed, it is admitted that if we want to find political conditions like unto ours, anywhere, we have to search in the records of the worst phases of public administration which history affords.” (Reemelin, American Politics, p. 307.)

As late as the present year, 1919, Brooks Adams, in one of his writings, refers to the undoubtable deterioration of the standard of our public men as compared with the time of his grandfather, John Quincy Adams. Ostrogorski writes that:

“The unreasoning discipline of party and the innumerable concessions and humiliations through which it drags every aspirant to a public post have enfeebled the will of men in politics, have destroyed their courage and independence of mind, and almost obliterated their dignity as human beings.” (Democracy, p. 389.)

Professor Reinsch alludes to this moral degradation in striking language. Referring to the bosses, he says:

“Their servants are indeed paid liberally in money and preferment, but they are reduced to a position of dependence in which the soul is burnt to ashes. The cynicism of the political boss and his satellites and the temptations which they hold out, are the greatest corruptors of youth in our age.... It is not surprising that politics{180} does not in general offer a satisfying career. Able men of high character are disgusted with the usual demands made upon politicians. While youth is corrupted, manhood is tyrannized; and wherever the commercial system has been most successful, property, honor, and even life have been rendered unsafe.” (American Legislatures and Legislative Methods, pp. 239, 240.)

Next, John Stuart Mill, a champion of democracy:

“It is an admitted fact that in the American democracy, which is constructed on this faulty model, the highly-cultivated members of the community, except such of them as are willing to sacrifice their own opinions and modes of judgment, and become the servile mouthpieces of their inferiors in knowledge, do not even offer themselves for Congress or the State Legislatures, so certain is it that they would have no chance of being returned.” (Representative Government, p. 160.)

J. Bleecker Miller of New York writes:

“Our rights as individuals are not properly protected by our so-called representatives because they as a rule are not up to the general moral and intellectual standard of the average citizen.” (Trade Organizations in Politics, p. 38.)

Let us give a moment’s special attention to our state legislatures. There manhood suffrage has a chance to do its best. Both houses are elected usually by manhood or universal suffrage. What do we find? It is notorious that the reputation of the membership in most of them is so bad that reputable and able men absolutely refuse to serve. It is also notorious that every meeting of a state legislature is anticipated with alarm and anxiety by the industrial and business classes. Their well founded fear is of some piece of narrow or blundering legislation in the interest of some class, or which will be inimical to some industry or business, either in the way of restriction, taxation or other unfairness. The chronic degradation of these bodies is evidenced by the ever increasing limitations upon them in the state constitutions. It is a matter of public belief that three-quarters of our state legislation{181} is useless, and that a considerable proportion of it is injurious; that many of the members spend a large part of their time planning for the promotion of their personal interests, or for procuring places for themselves or their supporters. And yet in this case the facts probably surpass the rumors. The public hardly realizes the infamous character of much of our state legislation. It is a frequent practice of legislators to introduce bills injuriously affecting corporations for the mere purpose of blackmail. The corporation is expected to pay tribute in the shape of cash bribes to the members of the committee having the bill in charge; and sometimes to other members or to the boss to prevent this legislation. On such payment being made the proposed measure is in one way or another defeated or allowed to lapse. Such extortions are variously called “hold-ups,” “strikes,” “sandbaggers,” “fetchers,” or “old friends,” “bell-ringers” and “regulators.” During a legislative investigation into insurance scandals in 1906 a president of one of the insurance companies declared that eighty-five per cent of all legislative bills were hold-up measures. A great part of the session is sometimes occupied in manoeuvring these scandalous bills. Enormous sums of money must be obtained either by legislators or bosses by such means; and all sorts of methods, including that of a friendly game of poker are used in these transactions in the transfer of the cash, some of which no doubt is ultimately used to influence elections, thus completing the vicious circle.

The following is from a recognized authority:

“The integrity of State Legislatures is at a low ebb. Their action is looked upon as largely controlled by the business interests and by political bosses.... Charges of direct bribery are frequent.... It has been well recognized that the Legislatures of certain States, notably New Hampshire, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and California, have been controlled through a long series of years by great railway corporations.... A number of the members of Legislatures are ‘owned,’ that is, controlled by some outside interest. Usually there is a political leader, or boss, to whom the{182} member is indebted for his seat. In other cases a member is serving some particular interest to which he is bound by the fact that his campaign expenses have been paid or other substantial favors given him.” (Appleton’s Cyclopedia of American Government, 1914, Corruption, Legislative.)

In an article on “Phases of State Legislation,” Theodore Roosevelt stated that about one-third of the members of the New York Legislature wherein he sat were corrupt or open to corrupt influences. He had been a member of that legislature three times and in his American Ideals (1897) he gives some account of his experiences there. While careful not to attack manhood suffrage, he pictures these legislative bodies as very inferior and corrupt assemblies whose best men were commonplace and narrow-minded; whose worst men were venal, ignorant and semi-barbarous. The best he could say was that among its one hundred and fifty members, “there were many very good men”; but he added “that there is much viciousness and political dishonesty, much moral cowardice and a good deal of actual bribe taking in Albany, no one who has had any practical experience in legislation can doubt.” After a careful examination, he and some fellow members learned “that about one-third of the members were open to corrupt influences in some form or other.” (Pp. 64-68.) He mentions four other states which are equally as badly off in the character of their legislators, if not worse. Mr. Godkin writing on the subject says:

“If I said, for instance, that the legislature at Albany was a school of vice, a fountain of political debauchery, and that few of the younger men came back from it without having learned to mock at political purity or public spirit, I should seem to be using unduly strong language, and yet I could fill nearly a volume with illustrations in support of my charges. The temptation to use their great power for the extortion of money from rich men and rich corporations, to which the legislatures in the richer and more prosperous Northern States are exposed, is great; and the legislatures are mainly composed of very poor men, with no reputation to main{183}tain, or political future to look after. The result is that the country is filled with stories of scandals after every adjournment, and the press teems with abuse, which legislators have learned to treat with silent contempt or ridicule, so that there is no longer any restraint upon them.” (Unforeseen Tendencies of Democracy, p. 140.)

The same writer states that the more intelligent class have withdrawn from legislative duties; that it is increasingly difficult to get able men to go to Congress, and almost impossible to get them to consent to go to the state legislature. He might have added that it would be impossible for them to get the favor of the parties or the machines so as to be elected. He describes a great part of the actual legislation as absolutely absurd. He tells of the vicious practice of log-rolling, that is, the exchange between individual members of Congress and of the legislature of support of one bad measure in return for the support of another equally bad. He tells how inferior and shiftless men are sent to the legislature in order that they may get the salary to help them through the winter. He complains of the immense legislative output which in these days is about twenty thousand new laws each year. He describes how corporations are at the mercy of state bosses who manipulate the legislature, and therefore have it in their power to raise their taxes, or in the case of gas or railroad companies to lower their charges or to cause annoying and harassing investigations of their affairs. To avoid this oppression the corporations are, of course, ready to pay blackmail in the shape of campaign contributions to the bosses, some part of which probably remains in the pockets of the boss, but a large part of which goes into a fund to purchase and control the lower classes of voters. As a result large corporations are in the habit of employing an agent to remain at the state capitol during the session, so as to be on hand to forestall these schemes by paying in advance. From another writer:

“The majority of our legislatures are either constituted or controlled by men who either cannot or dare not discuss the measures{184} proposed by them. They maintain silence against all reason and vote submissively in obedience to a ‘boss’ or they open their mouths only to obstruct legislation and to make a ‘strike.’ (Democracy, Hyslop, p. 127.)

This is from Professor Lecky:

“A distrust of the servants and representatives of the people is everywhere manifest. A long and bitter experience has convinced the people that legislators will roll up the State debt unless positively forbidden to go beyond a certain figure; that they will suffer railroads to parallel each other, corporations to consolidate, common carriers to discriminate, city councils to sell valuable franchises to street-car companies and telephone companies, unless the State constitution expressly declares that such things shall not be. So far has this system of prohibition been carried, that many legislatures are not allowed to enact any private or special legislation; are not allowed to relieve individuals or corporations from obligations to the State; are not allowed to pass a bill in which any member is interested, or to loan the credit of the State, or to consider money bills in the last hours of the session.” (Democracy and Liberty, Vol. I., p. 103.)

In 1910 in a speech in Chicago Roosevelt said of the Illinois Legislature, referring to recent disclosures, that it “was guilty of the foulest and basest corruption.” (New Nationalism, p. 111.)

Referring to the Gas Ring misgovernment in Philadelphia in and prior to 1870, Bryce says:

“The Pennsylvania House of Representatives was notoriously a tainted body, and the Senate no better, or perhaps worse. The Philadelphia politicians, partly by their command of the Philadelphia members, partly by the other inducements at their command, were able to stop all proceedings in the legislature hostile to themselves, and did in fact, as will appear presently, frequently balk the efforts which the reformers made in that quarter.” (American Commonwealth, Vol. II, p. 412.)

Bryce describes the condition of the California state government in 1877:{185}

“Both in the country and in the city there was disgust with politics and politicians. The legislature was composed almost wholly either of office-seekers from the city or of petty country lawyers, needy and narrow-minded men. Those who had virtue enough not to be ‘got at’ by the great corporations, had not intelligence enough to know how to resist their devices. It was a common saying in the State that each successive legislature was worse than its predecessor. The meeting of the representatives of the people was seen with anxiety, their departure with relief. Some opprobrious epithet was bestowed upon each. One was, ‘the legislature of a thousand drinks’; another, ‘the legislature of a thousand steals.’ County government was little better; city government was even worse.”

And later, writing in 1894, he says there is no improvement in that State. (American Commonwealth, Vol. II, pp. 430 and 441.) No wonder that by its state constitution California has felt itself obliged to disable its legislature by prohibiting to it thirty-three different classes of state legislation.

Professor John R. Commons of the University of Wisconsin, writing in 1907, quotes the San Francisco Bulletin as saying:

“It is not possible to speak in measured terms of the thing that goes by the name of legislature in this State. It has of late years been the vilest deliberative body in the world. The assemblage has become one of bandits instead of law-makers. Everything within its grasp for years has been for sale. The commissions to high office which it confers are the outward and visible signs of felony rather than of careful and wise selection.” (Proportional Representation, p. 1.)

The author himself says:

“Every State in the Union can furnish examples more or less approaching to this. Statements almost as extreme are made regarding Congress. Great corporations and syndicates seeking legislative favors are known to control the acts of both branches. The patriotic ability and even the personal character of members are widely distrusted and denounced. These outcries are not made only in a spirit of partisanship, but respectable party papers denounce unsparingly legislatures and councils whose majorities are of their{186} own political complexion. The people at large join in the attack. When statements so extreme as that given above are made by reputable papers and citizens, it is not surprising that the people at large have come thoroughly to distrust their law-makers. Charges of corruption and bribery are so abundant as to be taken as a matter of course. The honored historical name of alderman has frequently become a stigma of suspicion and disgrace.” (Idem, p. 2.)

The same malign control by bosses and rings heretofore so often referred to is directly responsible for this sad condition of affairs.

“Thus it would happen not infrequently that a state legislature almost equally divided between the two parties would not have one member in twenty or one in fifty whose nomination and election had not been agreeable to forces behind the two machines, and whose legislative action could not be counted upon by those who held the party reins.... It is probably within the bounds of truth to say that there is not one of our states which has not to a very considerable extent come under the baneful influence of this system, by means of which the political life of the people is dominated and exploited for private ends by rich working corporations in alliance with professional party politicians.” (Shaw, Political Problems, pp. 148, 149.)

Professor Reinsch in his work hereinbefore referred to (American Legislatures) gives an extended account of the means and methods of legislative bribery through the lobby, resulting in “commercial governments” and a situation where “any business man can get what he wants at a reasonable price.” He describes the “boss” as the fruit and flower of the system, his absolute authority, his endless tenure of power, and the degrading influence of the machine. The reader will find in this work much of interest on the subject of corrupt state legislation which cannot be reproduced here.

The legislative evil record still continues to be made. The tree and the fruit are the same year after year. In the session of 1919 forty-six bills affecting New York City which passed both houses of the New York Legislature were so flagrantly{187} bad as to require and receive vetoes. The Citizens Union of New York reported that twenty-eight additional noxious city bills actually became laws. Allowing an equal grist for the rest of the state and we have a total of one hundred and forty-eight mischievous measures which passed both houses in one session. Of the work of this very recent session of the New York Legislature, the New York Evening Post, a very respectable paper, says (August 11, 1919),

“Despite the influence of the Governor and the efforts of the legislative leaders, log-rolling, trading, and dickering continued as usual. Carelessness and sloppiness were characteristic of the session. In his veto messages the Governor called attention of the members to this matter. Again and again bills slipped through one house or the other in such shape that they had to be recalled and repassed.”

Charges against congressmen and state legislators of accepting bribes have been frequently made, and instances are given in this book of public exposures in consequence. Some years ago the writer was informed by a leading politician that the truth far exceeded public rumor, and his information elsewhere obtained leads him to believe that this offense has been common. Bryce says in substance that bribery in Congress is confined to say five per cent of the whole number; that it is more common in the legislatures of a few states; that it is rare among the chief state officials and state judges; that the influence of other considerations than money prevails among legislators to a somewhat larger extent; that one may roughly conjecture that from fifteen to twenty per cent of the members of Congress, or of an average state legislature, could thus be reached, and that the jobbery or misuse of a public position for the benefit of individuals is common in large cities. That is to say, about twenty members of each Congress are for sale for cash, and from sixty to eighty can be bought for “other considerations.” According to Bryce, and he is probably very conservative, one can calculate that about one thousand, all told, members of Congress and the various state legislatures{188} sitting at one time are absolutely corrupt. (American Commonwealth, Vol. II, p. 164.) Looking through the pages of Bryce’s great work, one meets casual references to noted instances of such improprieties; as for instance, secret influences brought to bear upon legislatures in reference to the Granger laws; improper relations between railroads and legislators, amounting to secret control of the legislatures by the railroads, and to blackmailing of the railroads by the legislatures; thus requiring the presence of adroit railway agents at the state capitals, well supplied with money, to defeat legislative attacks made by blackmailers, or the tools of rival roads. (American Commonwealth, Chap. CIII.)

“A large number of congressmen were treated to a very profitable investment in connection with the building of the Union Pacific Railway. If this was not technical bribery, it was accounted its moral equivalent.” (Cyclopedia American Government, Bribery.)

And in the same article it is stated that “State Legislatures are less subject to bribery than are City Councils, but here also the cases of proven or confessed bribery are numerous.”

It is difficult to imagine what can be said by the defenders of manhood suffrage in reply to these charges and proofs. The witnesses are mostly Americans, friends of democracy, men of trained minds and high standing, speaking from observation and common report. Look again at the array of names: James Bryce; Theodore Roosevelt; John Stuart Mill; Professor Garner; M. Faguet; E. L. Godkin; Professor Commons; Professor Hyslop; Ostrogorski; Lecky; Professor Reinsch; Albert Shaw; J. Bleecker Miller; M. de Tocqueville; Reemelin; Brooks Adams; New York Evening Post; Appleton’s Cyclopedia; San Francisco Bulletin; American Political Science Review; no one can impeach such testimony. It covers the whole period under survey. These witnesses charge that the present system of election of legislators by manhood suffrage in the two most enlightened countries where practised, namely, France and the United States, has produced inferior legislators; that the{189} tendency to widen the suffrage has everywhere brought about like results; that the quality of the membership of the United States Congress has strikingly deteriorated under the manhood suffrage régime, while the state legislatures composed of still inferior men have actually become infested by blackmailers and the like; that the legislature of New York is like a school of vice, while that of California is vile, an assemblage of bandits; that the others are similarly corrupt; their members being the tools of political machines, and that highly cultivated men therefore refuse to accept seats in these bodies. A great part of what they thus assert is within the knowledge or reach of knowledge of most of us. Is the American reader of these lines willing to continue to tolerate longer this atrocious system? Whether he believes in a property qualification for voters or not, the writer calls upon him to resolve that this present foul system be forever destroyed, and be replaced by something which an American can think of without rage and shame.{190}



The worst ravages of pestilence do not appear in thinly settled countries, but in the dense populations of cities. In like manner the worst records of our manhood suffrage misgovernment are to be found in American cities rather than in country districts. In the United States all elective municipal officers are chosen by manhood suffrage. In Europe this is not the case. In England, France and Germany it has not been considered safe to trust the populace with the power to squander away the city taxes; the municipal purse is by one device or another kept within the control of the local property owners and business men. The result is that the city governments in all these three countries are far superior to ours. A prominent American writer says:

“There can be no reason or justice in permitting people who do not pay taxes to vote away the property of those who do. In the European cities, however wide the suffrage may be in national matters, probably not one-half the men vote for city offices. In Great Britain, the Low Countries, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy such an absurdity as universal suffrage for city officers is unknown (except in the very rare cases where a non-taxpayer’s educational qualifications prevent his voting being absurd); and it is in these countries that cities are best and most fully developed, and do most for the health and happiness of the very people who are not permitted to vote.” (Holt, Civic Relations, 1907.)

Limit of space forbids going into the details of the municipal governments of the foreign countries just referred to; for that the reader is recommended to Munro’s Government of Euro{191}pean Cities and Albert Shaw’s two works, Municipal Government in Great Britain and Municipal Government in Continental Europe. The important thing in city politics is to get the right men in office, and the inferiority of American public officials as a class as compared with European office holders is well known. In the New York Times of October 19, 1919, this inferiority is stated as a cause for a certain contempt of foreigners for American institutions for which you can scarcely blame them. We quote:

“The very poor types of public officials in our large cities, particularly in New York, make a decided impression on our foreign element. In their native countries public officials are held in great respect, nearly all of them being men of standing in their communities and generally men of education and culture. Socialist agitators take great delight in holding up to ridicule the grade of men appointed and elected to public office in this country. Most of these agitators being foreign born realize that the high ideals of the foreign born have been shattered after they have learned that ignorant and uncouth men can reach high public position.”

The complete failure of municipal government in the United States has caused great disappointment not only to our city taxpayers, but to the friends of democracy throughout the world. Those who can not or will not see the fatal defects in manhood suffrage are quite at a loss to explain the situation. One of these is Lord Bryce, who says:

“The phenomena of municipal democracy in the United States are the most remarkable and least laudable which the modern world has witnessed; and they present some evils which no political philosopher, however unfriendly to popular government, appears to have foreseen, evils which have scarcely showed themselves in the cities of Europe, and unlike those which were thought characteristic of the rule of the masses in ancient times.” (American Commonwealth, Vol. II, p. 377.)

It would be impossible in this volume to give even a summary account of the effects of manhood suffrage upon municipal gov{192}ernment in this country. In New York City the ill results of the extension were plainly discernible shortly after its institution in 1826 and increasingly thereafter. (See Myers’ History of Tammany Hall; the Evarts Report; and Moss’s American Metropolis hereinafter referred to.) The local affairs of the other smaller and newer cities were not of course prominent till later years. There is not space here to treat the subject in detail, and only a few illustrative instances can be given. But this must be said at the outset, that the record of city government in the United States since 1830 has been infamous; that on the whole it is a history of ignorance, incapacity, venality, waste, extravagance, corruption and robbery, carried to such an extent as to demonstrate the utter incapacity of the populace for self-government; and that nothing but the circumstance that in one way or another means have been found to check the power of the people and their municipal representatives put in power by the controllable vote has saved many of these cities from bankruptcy and ruin. Looking into the record of the conditions of our own time in our great cities, we find them thus described by Bryce:

“A vast population of ignorant immigrants; the leading men all intensely occupied with business; communities so large that people know little of one another, and that the interest of each individual in good government is comparatively small.” There are, he says, large numbers of ignorant and incompetent immigrants controlled by party managers; a large shifting population, and the political machinery so heavy and complicated as to discourage the individual, who feels himself a drop in the ocean. “The offices are well paid, the patronage is large, the opportunities for jobs, commissions on contracts, pickings, and even stealings, are enormous. Hence, it is well worth the while of unscrupulous men to gain control of the machinery by which these prizes may be won.”

He further says:

“The best proof of dissatisfaction is to be found in the frequent changes of system and method. What Dante said of his own city{193} may be said of the cities of America: they are like the sick man who finds no rest upon his bed, but seeks to ease his pain by turning from side to side. Every now and then the patient finds some relief in a drastic remedy, such as the enactment of a new charter and the expulsion at an election of a gang of knaves. Presently, however, the weak points of the charter are discovered, the State legislature again begins to interfere by special acts; civic zeal grows cold and allows bad men to creep back into the chief posts.” (American Commonwealth, Vol. I, p. 649; Vol. II, 99-100.)

Bryce condemns the giving the suffrage to the immigrants. “Such a sacrifice of common sense to abstract principles has seldom been made by any country.” But it is manifestly absurd to charge all our municipal corruption upon the immigrants. Our native crop of controllable voters far exceeds the imported one. Bryce is compelled to recognize the situation in Philadelphia, where the Gas Ring ruled politics for a generation by controlling the native American vote under American managers. He says that “most of the corrupt leaders in Philadelphia are not Irishmen, but Americans born and bred, and that in none of the larger cities is the percentage of recent immigrants so small.” (American Commonwealth, Vol. II, p. 421.) Though nothing will induce Bryce, or any other British or American politician, to see the deformities of manhood suffrage, yet he is willing to testify to the facts. He says:

“There is no denying that the government of cities is the one conspicuous failure of the United States.... In New York extravagance, corruption and mismanagement have revealed themselves on the largest scale.... But there is not a city with a population exceeding 200,000 where the poison germs have not sprung into a vigorous life; and in some of the smaller ones down to 70,000 it needs no microscope to note the results of their growth. Even in cities of the third rank similar phenomena may occasionally be discerned.” (American Commonwealth, Vol. I, p. 608—quoted approvingly by Rhodes, Vol. III, p. 62.)

It is impossible to give here even an outline of the mass of evidence in the case or to make an approach to a picture of the{194} enormous pillage that has been in progress in our municipal affairs. Steffens in The Shame of Cities gives a summary of part of the facts relating to six American cities, namely: New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Chicago, Minneapolis and Pittsburgh; and it makes a book of 300 pages. In each of the governments of those cities Steffens discovered organized graft, bribery and corruption. In St. Louis he reports a number of the members of the municipal assembly as “utterly illiterate and lacking in ordinary intelligence ... in some no trace of mentality or morality could be found; in others a low order of training appeared, united with base cunning, groveling instincts and sordid desires. Unqualified to respond to the ordinary requirements of life they are truly incapable of comprehending the significance of an ordinance and are incapacitated, both by nature and training, to be the makers of laws.” Franchises, etc., worth $50,000,000 had been granted in the past ten years and scarcely one without bribery. As much as $50,000 was paid for a vote in the municipal assembly. Companies were driven out by blackmail. Boodling was the real business of the city officials. In Minneapolis in 1901 and thereafter the city authorities were in a regular partnership with the underworld and a large and steady revenue was collected for the ring by corrupt methods. In Pittsburgh Steffens found a boss in control and the usual systematic corruption. He noticed that the Pittsburgh method was to put into all places of power dependents of the boss, men without visible means of support; in fact the manhood suffrage idea was carried out to its logical results. There was an agreement in writing between the city boss and the state boss (Quay) for the control of politics. Space will not permit the insertion here even of Steffens’ summary of Pittsburgh graft and corruption; it dealt with franchises, public contracts, profits of vice, public funds and miscellaneous sources of revenue. Philadelphia is described as the most corrupt city in the land. Good citizens there ask “What is the use of voting?” The city machine is a mere dependent of the state machine. The system there is to{195} apply to the public service by way of compromise with the public a handsome percentage of the collected taxes. Steffens recognized in Philadelphia the complete and permanent overthrow of popular and honest government. In Chicago he found a persistent struggle going on against the ever active and ever powerful poison of corruption. He claims that some headway has been made in the direction of reform by the efforts of a powerful Chicago organization known as “The Municipal Voter’s League,” a watchdog affair, reaching after control, and whose existence is a proof and a confession of the absolute breakdown of manhood suffrage. Steffens was compelled to say that he saw no remedy for the sad state of affairs which he described as existing in these six different cities.

The testimony from all sources and periods since 1840 goes to establish the prevalence of municipal corruption and misgovernment. Here is Ostrogorski, referring to the year 1872 and succeeding years:

“Almost all the cities whose population exceeded one hundred thousand, or even a lesser figure, had their Rings. In the course of these last years, many great cities, such as St. Louis, Minneapolis, San Francisco, added new pages of disgrace to the history of municipal corruption carried on under the flag of political parties.” (Democracy and Political Parties in the United States, pp. 84, 85.)

Another writer (J. B. Miller) states that the debts of the cities of the Union rose in the twenty years from 1860 to 1880 from about $100,000,000 to $682,000,000; from 1860 to 1875 the increase of debt in our eighteen largest cities was 270 per cent; the increase of taxation was 362 per cent; whereas the increase in taxable valuation was but 157 per cent and in population but 70 per cent. In 1883 the late Andrew D. White wrote as follows:

“I wish to deliberately state a fact easy of verification—the fact that whereas, as a rule, in other civilized countries municipal Governments have been steadily improving until they have been made generally honest and serviceable, our own, as a rule, are the worst{196} in the world, and they are steadily growing worse every day.” (Message of Nineteenth Century to Twentieth.)

In a work published in 1899 by Dorman B. Eaton on the Government of Municipalities, he summarizes in Chapter II the well known and undeniable evils connected with our municipal affairs. He condemns our municipal governments generally as needlessly expensive and inefficient institutions, wherein bribery, blackmail and corruption are characteristic features. He calls “the management of municipal politics and elections a degrading business by which a class of useless and vicious politicians prosper,” and speaks of the system as discreditable and scandalous. “It is not,” he says (p. 22), “the gifted, the noble or the honored men who generally hold the highest municipal offices, but scheming politicians, selfish, adroit party managers, or men of very moderate capacity and even of not very enviable reputation, who would not be desired at the head of a large private business.” In December, 1890, in an article in the Forum Mr. White wrote that he had sojourned in every one of the great European municipalities; and that in every respect for which a city exists they were all superior to our own except Constantinople, where Turkish despotism produced the same haphazard, careless, dirty, corrupt system which we in America know so well as the result of mob despotism. We quote: “Without the slightest exaggeration we may assert that, with very few exceptions, the city governments of the United States are the worst in Christendom—the most expensive, the most inefficient, and the most corrupt.” Bryce, writing in 1894, found political rings in existence in New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Cincinnati, San Francisco, Baltimore and New Orleans. He might easily have found similar, though smaller and less conspicuous contrivances in a thousand other cities, towns and villages in the United States. Writing about 1898, Professor Hyslop recites a statement of some of the various well known forms of municipal robbery prevalent in our city administrations:{197}

“Sales of monopolies in the use of public thoroughfares; systematic jobbing of contracts; enormous abuses of patronage; enormous overcharges for necessary public works. Cities have been compelled to buy land for parks and places because the owners wished to sell them; to grade, pave and sewer streets without inhabitants in order to award corrupt contracts for the works; to purchase worthless properties at extravagant prices; to abolish one office and create another with the same duties, or to vary the functions of offices for the sole purpose of redistributing official emoluments; to make or keep the salary of an office unduly high in order that its tenant may pay largely to the party funds; to lengthen the term of office in order to secure the tenure of corrupt or incompetent men. When increasing taxation begins to arouse resistance, loans are launched under false pretences and often with the assistance of falsified accounts. In all the chief towns municipal debts have risen to colossal dimensions and increased with portentous rapidity.” (Hyslop, Democracy, pp. 14, 15.)

This from another writer:

“No candid man can wonder at it. It is the plain, inevitable consequence of the application of the method of extreme democracy to municipal government. The elections are by manhood suffrage. Only a small proportion of the electors have any appreciable interest in moderate taxation and economical administration, and a proportion of votes, which is usually quite sufficient to hold the balance of power, is in the hands of recent and most ignorant immigrants. Is it possible to conceive of conditions more fitted to subserve the purposes of cunning and dishonest men, whose object is personal gain, whose method is the organization of the vicious and ignorant elements of the community into combinations that can turn elections, levy taxes, and appoint administrators? The rings are so skillfully constructed that they can nearly always exclude from office a citizen who is known to be hostile; though a ‘good, easy man, who will not fight, and will make a reputable figurehead, may be an excellent investment.’ Sometimes, no doubt, the bosses quarrel among themselves, and the cause of honest government may gain something by the dispute. But in general, as long as government is not absolutely intolerable, the more industrious and respectable classes keep aloof from the nauseous atmosphere of{198} municipal politics, and decline the long, difficult, doubtful task of entering into conflict with the dominant rings.”

. . . . . . . . . . .

“The problem,” says Mr. Sterne, “is becoming a very serious one, how, with the growth of a pauper element, property rights in cities can be protected from confiscation at the hands of the non-producing classes. That the suffrage is a spear as well as a shield is a fact which many writers on suffrage leave out of sight; that it not only protects the holder of the vote from aggression, but also enables him to aggress upon the rights of others by means of the taxing power, is a fact to which more and more weight must be given as population increases and the suffrage is extended.” (Lecky, Democracy and Liberty, Vol. I, pp. 99-101.)

This from a high and recent authority:

“The standard of integrity in City Councils is far lower even than in State Legislatures. The calibre of membership has so far deteriorated that in a large proportion of the cities of the country these bodies are held in public contempt.” (Appleton’s Cyclopedia of American Government, 1914; Corruption, Legislative.)

In the same work it is stated, in the article on “Bribery,” that “The crime of accepting bribes has at one time or another been proved against members of city councils in a large proportion of American cities.” This from Ida Tarbell, the well-known writer:

“It is not too much to say that the revelations of corruption in our American cities, the use of town councils, state legislatures, and even of the Federal Government in the interests of private business, have discredited the democratic system throughout the world.” (The Business of Being a Woman, p. 79.)

In a report of a commissioner on the Boston city charter, November 6, 1884, it is stated that “the lack of harmony between the different departments, the frequent and notorious charges of inefficiency and corruption made by members of the government against each other, and the alarming increase in the burden of taxation are matters within the knowledge of all{199} who have taxes to pay or who read the proceedings of the City Council.” That report showed that during the previous thirty years the population had increased 190 per cent; property valuations 200 per cent; expenditures 450 per cent. The appropriations were equal to $27.30 per inhabitant, those of New York $16.76 per inhabitant. The Boston politicians seem to have worked more stealthily and more successfully than the Tweed Ring.

The corruption in Philadelphia city politics has been notorious for a long time. The operations of the infamous Gas Ring caused the debt of the city, which stood at $20,000,000 in 1860, to reach $70,000,000 in 1881. “Taxation rose in proportion, till in 1881 it amounted to between one-fourth and one-third of the net income from the property on which it was assessed, although that property was rated at nearly its full value. Yet withal, the city was badly paved, badly cleansed, badly supplied with gas (for which a high price was charged) and with water.” (American Commonwealth, Vol. II, p. 410.) In a memorandum presented to the Pennsylvania legislature in 1883 by a number of the leading citizens of Philadelphia, they stated that the city’s affairs were in a most deplorable condition. It is there stated to be the worst paved and worst cleaned city in the civilized world; sewage so bad as to endanger health; public buildings badly constructed and then allowed to decay; slovenly management and high taxation. The Gas Ring system was that already described. The political boss originally gained a following of the floating and controllable voters, by which means he got in addition political control of the city’s gas workmen, and through them of the primaries, and thus complete power over city affairs. Elections were controlled by repeating, personations, violence, ballot box tampering and other frauds. It was not until 1887 that the final defeat of this ring was obtained, after tremendous efforts. In that year the loose city charter of 1854 was replaced by the tight-string Bullitt charter, and the old gas ring was succeeded by a new combination of rascals. Under this régime{200} the city has been governed by oligarchies of city contractors. One of the sources of corruption and scandal has been the garbage and street cleaning contracts. There have been scandalous dealings with street franchises. The elections have been fraudulently conducted. Citizens have regarded it as hopeless to vote; out of 416,860 qualified citizens in the spring of 1919 only 241,090 registered as voters. Probably only one-half of the voters actually went to the polls, and those who voted were presumably the most unfit. Why should an intelligent man trouble himself to go through such an empty form as that of voting a mere protest against an overpowering gang of organized freebooters? In 1918 the levying of political assessments on city employees was still in force in Philadelphia, and collections were made from ninety-four per cent of the city employees; the total being $250,000 to $500,000 per year to the Republican party alone. A new city charter has now (1919) been enacted and great reforms are promised, but charter tinkering will never cure the evils created by a politically rotten constituency. Judging the future by the past, there will soon be a new Philadelphia plunder machine which will function till about 1950 when there will be a new revolution and a new ring, and so on.

Bryce states that similar complaints to those made by the Philadelphians were constantly made by the citizens of the other principal cities of the United States.

He gives a table of the increase of population, valuation, taxation and debt in fifteen of the largest cities of the United States from 1860 to 1875, as follows:

Increase in population70.5per cent.
Increase in taxable valuation      156.9
Increase in debt270.9
Increase in taxation363.2

Bryce described city government in California in 1877 as very bad and continuing bad up to his present writing (1894). He says: “The municipal government of San Francisco was{201} far from pure. The officials enriched themselves, while the paving, the draining, the lighting, were scandalously neglected; corruption and political jobbery had found their way even into school management, and liquor was sold everywhere, the publicans being leagued with the heads of the police to prevent the enforcement of the laws.”

And again:

“San Francisco in particular continues to be deplorably misgoverned, and passed from the tyranny of one Ring to that of another, with no change save in the persons of those who prey upon her.” (American Commonwealth, Vol. II, p. 446.)

It is well known that the great loss of life and property in San Francisco following the earthquake shock of 1906 was chargeable to civic misgovernment. The damage done by the earthquake itself was comparatively light, but the city aqueduct had been so badly built that it was shaken down and the city was left without water, so that it was impossible to put out the numerous fires resulting from the earthquake shock, which, small in their beginnings, were allowed to ravage the city.

The evidence as to smaller cities is similar. “In Minneapolis, for instance,” says Steffens, “the people who were left to govern the city hated above all things strict laws. They were the saloon keepers, gamblers, criminals and the shiftless poor of all nationalities.” (Shame of Cities, p. 65.)

The failure of manhood suffrage is also well illustrated by the history of the City of New York, where there is a large class of unpropertied voters and of which J. B. Miller, writing in 1887, said that the interests of the City were represented almost exclusively by liquor dealers both in the municipal and the state legislatures. In 1840 the New York City debt was $10,000,000, about $33 per capita. In 1870 it was $73,000,000, about $90 per capita. In 1918 (for the new and larger city) it was $1,335,000,000, about $242 per capita. In 1816 the New York tax levy was $344,802, being less than half of one{202} per cent of the taxable property. In 1918 the tax levy was $198,232,811, being 2.30 per cent of the taxable property. In 1898 the New York City budget was $70,000,000; by 1909 it amounted to $156,000,000. The increase in population was only 39.4 per cent in that time, while the city’s expenses increased 123 per cent.

Further evidence may be found in the report of a Commission appointed by Governor Tilden of New York in 1875, to consider the evils of the municipal government of New York City and the necessity of adopting a new and permanent plan for city government. Tilden was a man of recognized ability. He appointed a commission of ten New Yorkers, including judges, lawyers and publicists, men past middle age and of the highest integrity, business experience and reputation. The chairman was William M. Evarts, a distinguished statesman, leader of the New York Bar, who at times held the offices of Attorney General and Secretary of State of the United States. Their report, which was carefully prepared and unanimous, described the steady deterioration in the government of the city of New York which had then been progressing for a generation past, and which they had seen in progress with their own eyes for that period of time. The following extracts from the report are pertinent:

“In 1850, we reach a period when, as the annals of the metropolis at that time and the recollections of those yet living, who were then familiar with its affairs will attest, a marked decline had occurred, through a great deterioration in the standing and character of the city officers, bringing with it waste, extravagance and corruption.”

The report refers to the period from 1850 to 1860. It says:

“Observers of the local government and politics of the metropolis during this period will remember that it was the time when the local managers first organized on a large scale their schemes to control, through compact political arrangements, the management and distribution of the revenues of the city, which then amounted to so large a sum, and it may be said that from that time to the present, with{203} the exception of one short but memorable period, the disposition of these revenues has remained substantially in the hands of the chiefs of trained political organizations, which are mainly supported, in some form or other, from this fund.”


“In truth, the public debt of the city of New York, or the larger part of it, represents a vast aggregate of moneys wasted, embezzled or misapplied.”

This waste and theft of public money the report refers to had its direct cause in the incapacity and rascality of public officials all or most of whom as we know were chosen either directly or indirectly by manhood suffrage. The report further says on this point:

“We place at the head of the list of evils under which our municipal administration labors, the fact that so large a number of important offices have come to be filled by men possessing little, if any, fitness for the important duties they are called upon to discharge.... There is a general failure, especially in the larger cities, to secure the election or appointment of fit and competent officials.... Animated by the expectation of unlawful emoluments they expend large sums to secure their places and make promises beforehand to supporters and retainers to furnish patronage or place.”


“It would be clearly within bounds to say that more than one-half of all the present city debts are the direct results of the species of intentional and corrupt misrule above described.”


“We do not believe that, had the cities of this State during the last twenty-five years had the benefit of the presence in the various departments of local administration of the services of competent and faithful officers, the aggregate of municipal debts would have amounted to one-third of the present sum, nor the annual taxation one-half of its present amount; while the condition of those{204} cities in respect to existing provisions for the public needs would have been far superior to what is now exhibited.”

The New York City tax levy for 1877, the year of the report, was $28,400,000, one-half of which was caused by official robbery. Therefore, according to the report of these able and experienced citizens made after an examination of the city’s finances, the city had been robbed of a sum which represented fourteen millions a year, and which capitalized at five per cent amounts to $280,000,000, a fair estimate of the amount of politicians’ loot up to that time. In other words, every family in New York had on an average, been plundered to the tune of $1400 by state and city politicians. If this $280,000,000 was not loot what was it? And if not chargeable to manhood suffrage to what is it chargeable?

The committee showed its opinion of the cause by its choice of the remedy. It recommended the creation of a Board of Finance to control municipal expenditures, and to be elected by tax and rent payers only. This expedient, so objectionable to greedy and grafting politicians, was never adopted or even offered to the people for adoption. The report fell flat in a legislature elected by the controllable vote, and of course thoroughly corrupt and unpatriotic.

Looking back still further and for the benefit of those who would like additional evidence upon the political degeneracy of New York City, a few facts will be given taken from Myers’ History of Tammany Hall and by him taken mostly from public documents, commencing about 1826 shortly after “the great advance” which the twaddling sentimentalist writers tell us was made by the introduction of manhood suffrage.

In the November election of 1827 was the greatest exhibition of fraud and violence ever seen in the city. “Now,” (says Myers) “were observable the effects brought forth by the suffrage changes of 1822 and 1826.” Repeating flourished and honest voters were beaten and arrested for trying to vote. Next year, in 1828, hundreds, if not thousands, of illegal votes were counted, including those of boys of nineteen and{205} twenty years of age. This practice was continued in the ensuing decade. It was then just one year after the complete triumph of manhood suffrage in New York State that money was first used to influence voting in New York City elections. The city was carried in 1828 by Tammany Hall for Andrew Jackson. Four years later in 1832, and subsequent years, the price of votes in New York City was stated at $5.00 each. Paupers from the almshouse and convicts were voted at the polls. In 1838 Swartwout, a Jackson collector of the port, and an unsavory politician, became a defaulter for $1,200,000, an enormous sum for that time, and Price, the United States district attorney, defaulted for $75,000. Civic frauds were frequent and increasing. An aldermanic committee in 1842 reported that dishonest office holders had recently robbed the city of near $100,000, equivalent to a theft of $2,000,000 from New York City in our time. The wholesale naturalization mill was put in operation, turning out several thousand new voters a year. From 1841 to 1844 the total vote of the city was thus increased about twenty-five per cent in newly naturalized foreigners alone; most of them probably without interest in the country or real understanding of its institutions and history. At the election of 1844 it was estimated that twenty per cent of the votes were fraudulent. The primaries were organized by violence and reeked with fraud. The character of many of the noted city politicians was notoriously bad, including professional gamblers, pugilists and even thieves. About this time the city political gangs began to appear. The ward heelers with a following of repeaters were a new power in politics. In one period of ten months, 1839-1840, there were nineteen riots and twenty murders in a city of only 300,000 population. Mike Walsh’s was the principal gang. The gangs increased in number till in 1856 the Bowery Boys and Dead Rabbits had a pitched street battle in Jackson Street, where ten were killed and eighty wounded.

The sale of nominations to office first became notorious in 1846. Prices ranged from $1,000 to $20,000. This circum{206}stance alone is almost convincing proof of universal corruption in public affairs since no one buys an office unless with the knowledge that money is to be made corruptly in its administration; and this is usually impossible or too dangerous to be undertaken unless the general administration is so corrupt as to be tolerant of fraud, bribery and extortion. The common council was notoriously for sale; it was believed that every city department was corrupt. In 1851 the Williamsburg Ferry scandal broke out and it was shown that $20,000 in bribes had been paid to New York City aldermen. The “Forty Thieves” was the name given to the New York City aldermen of 1852, to whom one Jacob Sharp first applied for a franchise to build a street railway on Broadway, New York. An injunction was obtained; but they passed the franchise in defiance of the injunction. Of the aldermen who thus voted, one was imprisoned for a fortnight and the others fined. A similar affair was the sale of the New York Third Avenue Street Railroad Franchise by the same board of aldermen; over $30,000 was said to have been paid in bribes for this franchise, a great sum for those days.

Occasionally when a quarrel broke out over the distribution of the spoils the most appalling disclosures were made; such as those on an investigation by the Grand Jury in 1853, when it appeared that the aldermen demanded a share in every city contract. On February 26th, 1853, the grand jury of New York County handed down a presentment with testimony to the effect that enormous sums of money had been expended for the procurement of street railroad franchises in New York City. It was ascertained that $50,000 had been paid in 1851 for the Eighth and Ninth Avenue Railroad franchises; that in 1852 $30,000 was paid in bribes for the Third Avenue Railroad franchise; that money was paid for aldermanic votes on franchises of the Catharine Street, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Grand Street and Wall Street ferries. Numerous other instances were given of bribery of members of the common council in connection with sale of city property and{207} other contracts. Evidence as to police corruption was plentiful. The chief of police had received one hundred and sixty-three conveyances of property in one year. (Board of Aldermen Documents, Vol. XXI, part 2, No. 55, pp. 1333-35 and p. 1573; Myers’ History of Tammany Hall, 167.)

Out of sixty thousand votes polled in 1854, ten thousand were for sale. “In the city at this time were about ten thousand shiftless, unprincipled persons who lived by their wits and the labor of others. The trade of a part of these was turning primary elections, packing nominating conventions, repeating and breaking up meetings.” In 1856 Josiah Quincy saw $25.00 paid for a single vote for a member of Congress. The day “was enlivened with assaults, riots and stabbings.”

The frauds and scandals in city affairs continued and grew from 1854 to 1860; it was impossible to learn from the city’s books how much was being plundered. In three years the taxes nearly doubled. From 1850 to 1860 the expenses of the city government increased from $3,200,000 to $9,758,000.

Politics in the old Sixth Ward of New York is briefly sketched by Frank Moss, at one time Police Commissioner, in his interesting work, The American Metropolis. No doubt civilization existed in that district from 1845 to 1865, the period referred to by Moss; there were churches and schools, family and business life as elsewhere. It was originally a fairly respectable neighborhood, but thanks to manhood suffrage, the political life of the community was thoroughly savage and its representatives savages, and it and they did much to degrade the whole ward. First we find “that hard-faced, heavy-handed old rapscallion Isaiah Rynders was the controlling spirit. There was nothing that Rynders could not or would not do, and there are many dark stories of his conduct during the draft riots of 1863.” He was the Boss of the district, his assistants were ruffians, his leaders and backers were office-holding politicians with the “Hon.” prefix to their notorious names. He was succeeded by Con Donoho, the head of the street cleaning department, whose gang finally{208} trounced the Rynders gang into submission and who became thereafter “on close terms with the strongest political men of the city.” Moss finds thirty years later a similar alliance between crime and politics in the Eighth Ward of New York, among whose political rulers are, he says “pimps, gamblers, thugs, fighters and dive keepers.”

In 1860 the mayor was accused of selling appointments to offices. The Grand Jury in a presentment charged him with robbing the tax payers of $420,000. The New York Tribune in June 1860 publicly charged the municipal authorities with theft of public funds. Other newspaper criticism was silenced by orders for public advertising. The money voted for street cleaning was squandered, and the streets were so filthy that the death rate in 1863 was thirty-three per thousand. In a court proceeding in 1867 it incidentally transpired that $50,000 had been paid the common council for one gas franchise.

In 1857 the notorious William M. Tweed came into prominence and acquired political power which he retained for fourteen years, during which time he and his followers were steadily at work looting the city and squandering and amassing fortunes. The history of the Tweed régime of plunder in New York City is well known. In 1867 he was at the height of his power. Prior to that date all public contractors in New York City had been required to add ten per cent to their bills and pay over that percentage to certain politicians. In 1867 this percentage was increased to thirty-five per cent of which twenty-five per cent went to Tweed. The County Clerk’s and Register’s office brought in $40,000 to $80,000 a year each; the Sheriff’s office $150,000 a year. A part of this income was of course available for election purposes. Tweed and all his associates became rich notwithstanding that they lavished millions in the purchase of voters and public officials. Out of his stolen millions Tweed in the winter of 1871 gave $50,000 to the poor of his own ward and perhaps as much more throughout the city. This made him popular with the thriftless or pauper classes. Many of his transactions were in{209} the nature of purchases of the state legislature at Albany. He influenced the press by means of advertising contracts, presents to reporters, etc. One newspaper got a profit of nearly $200,000 on a printing contract; another got $80,000 a year for advertising; presents to newspaper men ranged from $200 to $2500 a year. In 1871 the New York Sun proposed to erect a statue to the great man. At his daughter’s wedding the gifts were worth $100,000. From $36,000,000 in 1868 the city debt rose to $136,000,000 in 1871. The new county court house cost the city $12,000,000, of which $9,000,000 was undoubtedly stolen; repairs on armories the value of which was $250,000 were charged at $3,000,000 and so on. The total thefts of the Tweed ring amounted to somewhere between $100,000,000 and $200,000,000; the precise figure has never been ascertained. Had Tweed been less greedy, had his gang taken $25,000,000 instead of six times that sum they might have escaped. They went too far and the Tweed ring was overthrown in 1871 by a powerful citizens’ movement.

The reader may wonder what the decent people of New York were thinking, saying and doing all these years while these operations of the managers of the controllable vote were in progress. Just exactly what they are now thinking, saying and doing all over the country;—complaining and deploring that it can not be helped. Sometimes on the heels of some unusually scandalous disclosure a reform movement would be started, aided perhaps by young men intensely patriotic, fresh from school and college where they had read about our fine political structure in books that fail to refer to the rotten foundation. They learned by sad experience as others before them that the stream will rise no higher than its source; that with a controllable electorate kindly provided by the manhood suffrage constitution and an organization of scallawags, loafers and criminals to control it the politicians had the best of the situation. Bryce, who was in New York in 1870 and saw the Tweed Ring in its glory, gives us a fine picture of the effect of manhood suffrage in prostrating public conscience and{210} energy. He says that the respectable democratic leaders winked at the Ring’s misdeeds for the sake of the vote; that the press had been purchased or subsidized; that the bench was controlled; that three-quarters of the citizens “paid little or nothing in the way of direct taxes, and did not realize that the increase of civic burdens would fall upon them as well as upon the rich.” Here you have the case as plain as day; the electorate, whose business and function it was to secure good government and prevent these evils, failed in its duty; it was itself corrupt and inefficient; and why? Because three-quarters of it paid little or no direct taxes. In other words, they were not property holders. Just as the human soul is undiscoverable except as revealed by the human body, so civilization exhibits itself in property; and the rabble who are unfamiliar with property and are devoid of sympathy with its rights, feel no interest in good government or in any other incident of civilization.

Bryce further says:

“Moreover, the Ring had cunningly placed on the pay rolls of the city a large number of persons rendering comparatively little service, who had become a body of janizaries, bound to defend the government which paid them, working hard for it at elections, and adding, together with the regular employees, no contemptible quota to the total Tammany vote. As for the Boss, those very qualities in him which repelled men of refinement made him popular with the crowd.” (American Commonwealth, Vol. II, p. 391.)

Notwithstanding the Tweed disclosures there was no serious attempt to apply the only practical remedy by reforming the electorate. Here and there a voice was heard crying in the wilderness, but no one regarded it. In October 1876, a writer in the North American Review was clear-eyed enough to read the lesson of the Tweed Ring. He wrote:

“A very few unscrupulous men, realizing thoroughly the changed condition of affairs, had organized the proletariat of the City; and through the form of suffrage had taken possession of its government.{211} They saw clearly the facts of the case, which the doctrinaires, theorists and patriots studiously ignored or vehemently denied.”

And as a remedy he proposed “A recurrence to the ancient ways; a strong executive, a non-political judiciary,” and that “property must be entitled to representation as well as persons.”

Of course, the article had no perceptible effect.

Once more the impossible task of creating a good government by means of the votes of a purchasable constituency was attempted. Such of the ablest men of the city as were willing to dip into the mire of manhood suffrage politics devoted themselves to the task but in vain. The hopelessness of the undertaking ought to have been apparent from such facts as this, that Tweed’s own district re-elected him senator by a large majority in November 1871 after he had been thoroughly exposed and while he was being prosecuted for his crimes. The so-called reformers who supplanted the Tweed clique in public office were only political adventurers of a different type; more scrupulous, refined or timid than their predecessors, but politicians after all, since none other could be induced to enter the political arena. The coarse robberies of Tweed’s time were discontinued, but the government of New York City by a political clique organized on the basis of the use of the city spoils to secure the controllable vote was continued. It was only for a few months that the tempest cleared the air. The good citizens soon forgot their sudden zeal, or became discouraged at the odds against them in a manhood suffrage community. Neglecting the primaries where they had obtained but slim results they allowed nominations to fall back into the hands of spoilsmen, and the most important city offices to be fought for by factions differing only in their name and party badges, because all were clearly bent upon selfish gain. Roosevelt, writing in 1886, tells something of the political conditions of this reformed “after-Tweed” period:

“In the lower wards (of New York City), where there is a large vicious population, the condition of politics is often fairly appalling,{212} and the (local) boss is generally a man of grossly immoral public and private character. In these wards many of the social organizations with which the leaders are obliged to keep on good terms are composed of criminals or of the relatives and associates of criminals.... The president of a powerful semi-political association was by profession a burglar; the man who received the goods he stole was an alderman. Another alderman was elected while his hair was still short from a term in the State prison. A school trustee had been convicted of embezzlement and was the associate of criminals.” (Century Magazine for November, 1866.)

Ostrogorski thus describes the period following Tweed’s overthrow:

“The principal instrument of this plunder was the police; they levied a regular toll prescribed by a fixed tariff on all the saloons, houses of ill fame, and gambling hells; extorted money on false pretenses or on no pretenses at all from small traders whom they had the power of molesting. Other perfectly lawful businesses were subjected to a tribute; steamboat companies, insurance societies, banks, etc., paid blackmail in return for the protection accorded to them. The police captains and even the policemen had to buy their places. The government of the city in fact became a huge market in which the officers might as well have sat at little tables and sold their wares openly.” (P. 81.)

In other words, the much vaunted reform uprising which overthrew Tweed was without radical or permanent results, because it left the city still at the mercy of the controllable vote.

A few later incidents may be added to Mr. Myers’ interesting collection. In 1874 one McKenna was shot dead in an election fight in New York and Richard Croker was accused of the crime and tried; the jury disagreed. Croker afterwards became Tweed’s successor and political boss of New York, retiring about 1899 to his native Ireland, with millions made out of politics. About this time the Harlem court house was built. The amount possible to steal was small, but the politicians displayed a spirit worthy of past days; for $66,000 worth of{213} construction they collected from the city $268,000, or at the rate of four to one. In 1884 twenty-one members out of twenty-three of the Board of Aldermen of New York voted to give the franchise for a surface railway on Broadway to the Broadway Surface Railroad Company. The rival road, the Broadway Railroad Company, tried to bribe the Aldermen with $750,000, half cash and half bonds. The Aldermen feared the bonds might be traced, and considered it wiser to accept the $500,000 cash offered by the Surface Company. Each alderman was to receive $22,000. Three aldermen were convicted, six fled to Canada and three turned State’s evidence. Ten others were indicted but never brought to trial. After 1884 more scientific methods replaced the rough old ways, and New York City settled down to a steady stream of boss and machine rule, supported by small graft, blackmail, voluntary contributions and assessments on office holders. During the Croker régime, which commenced about this time, it was understood that men of means, or corporations who wanted “protection” in their property rights or in their various transactions, lawful or otherwise, were expected to send their checks for proportional sums to Croker without word or comment. For these contributions he could not be required to account as he held no public office. It was believed that Croker was fair to his contributors and that if trouble came they would be looked after. This surely was better than paying blackmail to all sorts of government officials. The machine therefore ran smoother than in Tweed’s time; and probably the same kindness towards political bosses is still practised by business men and corporations. There can be no legal objection to such methods, they are safe in every way. In 1889 the Fassett investigating committee appointed by the state senate took about 3500 pages of testimony in regard to city affairs showing that blackmail was systematically levied on gambling houses, liquor saloons, and other places. In 1892 there arose the “Huckleberry” street railway franchise scandal connected with the grant of a valuable franchise in the Bronx, New York City. In 1894{214} the Lexow Committee made a new state senate investigation into New York City politics, disclosing fraudulent voting under police protection; sale of police appointments at prices from $300 to $15,000; blackmail levied systematically on liquor sellers, gamblers, swindlers, and loose women. The revenue from these sources was estimated at $7,000,000 annually. This did not include contributions from corporations. In 1900 the so-called Mazet Senate Committee conducted a third investigation which brought out evidence tending to show that the mayor (Van Wyck) had been a party to a conspiracy to create a monopoly of ice in the City of New York. The essential meanness of a scheme to fatten on the needs of the poor during the sultry months was apparent even to the most stupid voter; the mayor became unpopular and at the end of his term retired to Paris with great wealth as it was said. The Mazet committee unearthed the fact that the city contracts went to politicians, not to business men.

Particulars of other scandals, such as the Ramapo Water Scheme; the system of judicial assessments for office, the silent partnerships of political leaders in city contracts, and police corruption must be omitted here for want of space. About 1900 the New York, Westchester and Boston Railroad Company, an adjunct of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Company, was seeking a franchise to enter New York City; it obtained it in 1904 from the New York municipal authorities. Ten years afterwards in 1914 it was ascertained in an investigation by the Interstate Commerce Commission that in order to get the franchise the Railroad Company had been required to distribute $1,500,000 in cash to politicians and to give a $6,000,000 contract to a business corporation controlled by politicians. This same corporation obtained other contracts from other quarters, about $15,000,000 in all, through political influence.

The foregoing instances of New York municipal scandals are more than sufficient for the purposes of this chapter. For an extended account of some of the evils and problems of{215} American municipalities the reader is referred to Eaton on Government of Municipalities, published in 1899, and to other works herein referred to. But you cannot (says Steffens) put all the known incidents of the corruption of an American city into a book; and it is probable that a mere sketch of all the actual discovered and known American municipal frauds and malpractices committed or culpably permitted in the past eighty years would fill many large volumes. The statements of the writers hereinbefore quoted in proof of the deplorable failure of American municipal government, though necessarily general in terms are sufficient and convincing; and the specific instances herein mentioned were given not so much to sustain this undisputed general testimony as to illustrate it; and as a local map or sketch may aid a traveller to call to mind the ground traversed in past years, so here to assist the memory of the reader as to the details and quality of frauds and rascalities notorious in their time, and with the story of which he is or has been more or less familiar.

Nor will the limits of this volume permit an attempt to set forth an account however slight of the various futile efforts made from time to time to reduce the stream of municipal corruption. They have all failed because they did not reach the source of the flow. In some American cities an attempt at a qualified dictatorship has been made; instead of the election of all civic functionaries, as required by the logical application of the manhood suffrage doctrine, the plan has been adopted of electing only a mayor, for four years, and giving him the unqualified power of appointment of all other city officials. Instead of the annual election of say ten heads of bureaus, or departments, a year, making forty appeals to popular wisdom, we have thus in four years only one such call for the vox populi. This is on its face a complete admission of the failure of manhood suffrage; and in reality, this one-man system has always been adopted after some disgusting exposure of rottenness in city government had demonstrated that failure. Bryce furnishes a chapter, written by Mayor Low, a reform{216} mayor of Brooklyn, advocating this sort of dictatorship, which was in use during his incumbency. Low says that the local city legislative bodies have almost everywhere abused their powers. This fact is notorious. Local self-government of cities by boards of aldermen, or city councils, elected by the people under the manhood suffrage system, has been productive of so many grotesque blunders, shameful wastes and robberies, beside neglect and mismanagement of city affairs, that it has been frequently thrown into the discard, and replaced by boards, commissions, superintendents and other appointive officials, as proposed by Low. But according to the manhood suffrage theory this is all wrong and the municipal legislatures chosen by the people, boards of aldermen, common councils (it used to be a joke among the young men to call them “common scoundrels”) or what not should have power to lay, collect and expend all city taxes. But every one knows that if that were done, a perfect riot of extravagance and plunder would forthwith ensue followed by insolvency, disorder, and finally anarchy. Take the City of New York for instance, where the Board of Aldermen, which is the municipal legislature, is elected by manhood suffrage, and give that body the power of governing the city which logically belongs to it upon the manhood suffrage theory, and in one month’s time, demoralization would be apparent; the police and fire departments unreliable, fire insurance rates doubled, expenses mounting upward, the air filled with political scandals, and the city’s credit stunned and languishing. Such is no doubt the opinion of probably nineteen New York business men out of twenty, based upon history, traditions, experience and observation. If manhood suffrage be right in principle, the government of cities by representatives chosen at ward or district elections would be the most successful feature of the American democracy; for all the adjuncts of a working democracy, public schools, newspapers, conferences and discussion of political questions abound in the city more than in the country; but the contrary is the case. All these advantages are offset and more{217} by the simple fact that the controllable vote is greater in the city than in the country. As to city government by officials appointed under legislative authority, that too has always failed for the reason that it has always been corrupted by the legislative taint. Most of Tweed’s plundering was done with legislative sanction.

There is nothing in the American atmosphere nor in the American blood to prevent a pure civic administration. This appears by the actual experience of the City of Washington. In 1867 Congress established municipal government by manhood suffrage in the District of Columbia. “Under these “conditions unrestricted suffrage produced extravagance, corruption “and other incidents of bad government.” (Lalor’s Cyclopedia, Suffrage.) Result, that in 1878 Congress had to abolish elections in the District and to go back to the system which had been adopted in 1798 of a government by an appointed board of three commissioners. “Nevertheless” (says Eaton) “the City of Washington, under this new system, has “had the most economical, efficient, and respectable government “of any city in the United States.” (Government of Municipalities, p. 156.) Here the appointing power is absolutely free from the influence of the controllable vote or of any vote of the people of Washington. This instance shows clearly that the mischief in our popular system lies in the electorate itself. Meantime the people of Washington are to be congratulated that they are free from the brutality and roguery of a universal suffrage popular government.{218}



It is an unpleasant task, that of dragging to light past records of malversation in office, and it is nearly equally unpleasant to inspect them after production; and though it be necessary for the purpose in hand to set before the reader a number of instances of such misdeeds, the tale will be condensed and shortened as much as possible, down almost to a mere enumeration of the scandals referred to. Most writers, native and foreign, who have undertaken to criticize official delinquency in this country, have been content to rely upon their readers’ general knowledge of the facts. The present writer is aware that his readers also are probably already prepared to give from memory and tradition a general assent to the accusations herein contained, but he wishes for present purposes to refresh this recollection and to fortify this tradition. After all, most of us have but a dim remembrance of even the most interesting details of past history; that is why each generation repeats the mistakes of the last one. The distinguished Spanish philosophical novelist Blasco Ibañez has been frequently heard to say that nations learn but little by their mistakes; that when disaster comes the people cry aloud in pain, anger and indignation, and make strong resolves of future amendment; but when the trouble passes they forget alike the lessons learned and the good resolutions taken. The writer earnestly desires to create in the minds of his readers such a feeling of indignation as can only arise from a clear and defi{219}nite realization of the facts, and yet it is impossible to give them in detail; the volume would be too great. The scandalous instances referred to in this chapter and elsewhere in this book are but a very small part of the story of popular misgovernment in the United States under the manhood suffrage régime, and even if to them were added every other instance of official misconduct discovered or published for the period we are considering the whole would fall far short of a full measure of the mischief done, for it would amount to no more than a recital of its superficial indications and symptoms. We all know that gross but hidden corruption may long fester in the body politic, or in a public institution, unknown to the world at large, until disclosed by some flagrant display, which like a spot on the surface of an apple reveals the decay and putridity within. And so here, the whole American political system has been corrupted by the virus of the controllable vote; and these scandals are but the eruptions denoting the diseased inward condition. Besides this, the reader is asked to bear in mind that the instances here given by no means constitute a complete record; they are only a few of the most important publicly disclosed cases. No attempt was made at thorough research or investigation; only those are mentioned which are generally known, and which came readily to the writer’s memory, or appeared on a cursory examination of a few publications; whereas out of one hundred discovered, an average of but ten are publicly denounced and but one judicially convicted. Here are only the large and important, only the national and state plunder conspiracies; the misdeeds of the chiefs and masters; for each one of these there have been a hundred smaller thefts, pilferings and frauds; a thousand village, town and county knaveries. Below or attached to each chief were scores or hundreds of subordinates or followers; how many of them escaped the contagion of the evil example of their leaders and superiors? These half hundred scandals about to be set down in this chapter, properly considered, do not merely represent the trespasses of fifty individuals; they really show forth the mis{220}conduct and depravity of a class and the corruption and disgrace of an entire political system.

The Golphin claim for $43,000 was an old revolutionary claim originally made not against the United States, but against Georgia. In 1835 a politician named Crawford became attorney for the claimants on a contingent fee of one-half. In 1848 a bill authorizing its payment out of the U. S. Treasury was passed through Congress without discussion, and the claim was paid in full. In 1850, this same Crawford being Secretary of War, the Treasury Department was induced by some one to pay the claimant $191,000 for back interest in addition to the principal already paid. Of this sum Crawford received $94,000. The names of three cabinet officers were smirched by the scandal which ensued on the discovery of the facts.

A majority of the Wisconsin legislature of 1856 was bribed to vote for a valuable land grant to the La Crosse and Milwaukee Railroad Company. Stocks and bonds to the amount of $175,000 were distributed among thirteen senators, and $335,000 among members of the Assembly. The Governor received $50,000; his private secretary $5,000, and other officials corresponding sums all in bonds of the company. (Rhodes, III, p. 61.)

“The investigation of the scandal of the Milwaukee and La Crosse Railway Company in Wisconsin (1858) showed that about $900,000 worth of bonds had been distributed among legislators and prominent politicians in the state. Conditions like these have probably obtained in all the states at some time or other.” (Reinsch, p. 231.)

In 1857 three members of the National House of Representatives were proved guilty of corrupt practices, and resigned their seats to avoid expulsion.

In 1867-8 was the famous Erie Railroad scandal which for months occupied the attention of the public of the entire country. It presented a series of dramatic incidents, and the merest possible outline of its history is sufficient to enlighten the reader as to the rotten conditions then prevailing in New{221} York State politics. William M. Tweed was the political boss of New York City and was aiming to control the Legislature. The judges of the New York Supreme Court had been elected by manhood suffrage and one of them named Barnard was one of his creatures. Jay Gould, a financial adventurer of New York City, who died worth fifty millions of dollars, was then at the beginning of his career; one of his associates was a still more picturesque adventurer named Fisk. The Vanderbilts, then and now a very wealthy family of New York City, desiring to get control of the management of the Erie Railroad Company started to purchase in the open market enough shares of its stock for that purpose. To defeat this project one Drew, then in control of the Erie Railroad Company, issued 58,000 new shares of Erie stock. It was charged that this issue was illegal and that Drew kept printing the shares as fast as the Vanderbilts could buy them. Jay Gould was reported to have pocketed several millions by the transaction. Thereupon, the Vanderbilts took legal proceedings to annul this 58,000 shares. Drew, Fisk, Gould and others escaped during a fog in rowboats from New York City across the Hudson River to New Jersey and began a suit for conspiracy against the Vanderbilts and Judge Barnard of the Supreme Court. An attempt to kidnap them and bring them back to New York was made and failed. Gould obtained a handsome residence in New Jersey, and the Drew clique and he began an effort to acquire a corrupt control of the New Jersey Legislature for the purpose of getting their acts legalized, and also had a bill introduced into the New York Legislature with that object. Doubtless it was hoped to set the two legislatures of New York and New Jersey underbidding each other for the Drew-Gould money. The New York legislators were only getting $300 a year salary at that time, and were eager for a share of the money which was expected to be distributed in payment for this legislation. All ordinary business of the New York legislature was comparatively neglected, while groups gathered about the hallways and the cloak room of the Capitol in Albany talking{222} in undertones. A fair rate for members’ votes was mentioned as between $2,000 and $3,000 each. The Erie people, however, at first offered only $1,000 a vote, $500 down and $500 when the bill became a law. Boss Tweed advised the members to stand firm and they would get more from the Vanderbilts. The matter got before the Railroad Committee of the Assembly. The Committee was reported to be divided. Suddenly a rumor started that Vanderbilt and Drew were compromising. This created a panic among the Albany legislators. Some of them it was said began to offer to take $500. Soon the Assembly Railroad Committee reported unanimously against the bill; the report was agreed to and the bill was supposed to be killed. A member of the Assembly named Glenn then stated openly that he had been approached and offered a bribe of $500 to vote for the Erie Bill and asked for a committee of investigation. The committee was appointed and reported that they had examined the books of the railroad company and found that no money had been used to influence the legislature. Glenn resigned his seat. Finally the bill actually passed the Legislature. This was followed by vehement charges of corruption in the public press and elsewhere. It was stated that one senator had obtained $15,000 from one side, and then $20,000 from the other side; and still not satisfied, wanted $1,000 more for his son who acted as his private secretary. Another committee of investigation was appointed which subsequently reported that they could find no proof of wrong doing. Vanderbilt and Drew now compromised matters and Tweed joined the Drew, Gould and Fisk combination and was made a director of the Erie Company as part of a scheme to obtain the votes of the counties through which the Erie Railroad ran for Hoffman, who was Tweed’s man, as Governor. Tweed was to manage the courts in the interests of the Erie. Then began an effort by the Erie to get control of the Albany & Susquehanna Railroad and thereupon ensued another fight in the courts, Judge Barnard, who was Tweed’s judge, issuing orders on one side in New York and Judge Peck{223}ham making counteracting orders in Albany. Gould and Fisk secured the Grand Opera House at Eighth Avenue and Twenty-third Street, New York City, for the main offices of the Erie Railway Company, where they also established their personal headquarters. Miss Josie Mansfield, a well-known friend of Fisk’s, took an adjoining house, where it was alleged Judge Barnard held court and issued injunctions and orders of various kinds. The Susquehanna Railroad people found it impossible to get service upon either Gould or Fisk of court orders issued on their behalf, because no one who was not known to be friendly could get into the Opera House where the clique in power were well guarded. The President of the Albany & Susquehanna Company thereupon sent his own son to New York to serve papers. They never were served and the body of the young man was found a corpse in the Hudson River soon afterwards.

The Erie Railroad scandal was connected with the Wall Street conspiracy to corner the gold market as it was called, in which Fisk and Gould were also interested. Gold coin was then selling at a premium everywhere in the United States; the price fluctuated from hour to hour; a New York Brokers Exchange, called the Gold Room, was entirely devoted to this speculation; a daring attempt was made by Gould, Fisk and others to monopolize the gold supply and advance the price enormously. The mystery as to what, if any, high politicians were concerned in this plot was never solved. Says Henry Adams: “The Congressional Committee took a quantity of evidence which it dared not probe and refused to analyze. Although the fault lies somewhere on the administration and can lie nowhere else, the trail always faded and died out at the point where any member of the administration became visible.... The worst scandals of the Eighteenth Century were relatively harmless by the side of this, which smirched executive, judiciary, banks, corporate systems, professions and people, all the great active forces of society, in one dirty cesspool of vulgar corruption.” (Education of Henry Adams, p. 271.){224}

On March 18, 1875, Governor Tilden, in a special message to the New York State Legislature, stated that for five years ending Sept. 30, 1874, millions had been wasted on the canals by unnecessary repairs and corrupt contracts. Upon ten fraudulent contracts New York State had paid more than one and one-half million dollars while the proposals at contract price called for less than half a million. The exact figures are:

Paid by the State$1,560,769.84
Amount of Contracts424,735.90

A commission to investigate was created. Indictments were found against the son of a state senator, a member of the board of canal appraisers, an ex-canal commissioner, two ex-superintendents of canals, and one division engineer. (See Political History of New York, Alexander, p. 324.)

From 1867 to 1872 were in progress the Union Pacific Railroad irregularities commonly known as the Credit Mobilier frauds in which a number of prominent United States Congressmen were implicated.

The Freedmen’s Bureau (Federal) irregularities covered 1871 and 1872, and after investigation large sums remained unaccounted for.

From 1872 to 1874 were exposed the Internal Revenue Moiety frauds, involving millions and implicating Secretary Richardson of the United States Treasury and many other Treasury and Internal Revenue officials.

In 1874 were investigated and exposed the District of Columbia government scandals involving “Boss” Shepherd and others connected with the Washington City administration.

The noted whiskey ring frauds were perpetrated from 1869 to 1874 and were exposed about the latter date. In those frauds a number of important United States government officials were implicated and the Treasury was defrauded out of over two millions thereby.

Pennsylvania State politics have for over half a century had the reputation of being extremely corrupt. One of its most{225} noted political bosses was Simon Cameron, who was at the head of the principal Pennsylvania ring for about twenty years prior to 1877. He was able more than once to force or purchase his election as United States Senator and was also able to deliver the vote of the State of Pennsylvania to Lincoln in the Chicago Convention of 1860 thus defeating Seward. For this service and as the result of a bargain then made he was appointed by Lincoln Secretary of War in 1861. His administration of that office was so scandalous that he was soon compelled to resign. (Arena, January, 1905.)

The Belknap War Department scandals covered the period from 1870 to 1876. Belknap was Secretary of War and being threatened with impeachment resigned his office.

The Star Route frauds exposed in 1881 were the result of conspiracies between high post-office officials at Washington, a former United States Senator Dorsey of Arkansas and others. Large sums of government money were obtained by means of fraudulent mail contracts.

Philadelphia. Next to the New York Tweed Ring the most famous in American municipal life was the Philadelphia gas ring (1870-1881). Its boss (Republican), named McManus, absolutely controlled about twenty thousand voters who were dependent on the ring in one way or another. No candidate hostile to the ring could be nominated for office. The possession of the great city offices gave the ring members opportunity to make fortunes and at the same time the power to contribute large sums to the party funds. Great numbers of city employees were put under pay. The debt of the city, which was $20,000,000 in 1860 rose in 1881 to $70,000,000. Finally a committee of one hundred citizens was created to obtain redress and there were legal proceedings against those implicated and some convictions. Referring to this episode a writer says:

“Its debt (Philadelphia’s) increased at the rate of three millions a year without any important improvement being introduced into the municipal plant; inefficiency, waste, badly{226} paved and filthy streets, unwholesome and offensive water and a slovenly and costly management. The ring manufactured majorities at the polls by means of frauds in the voting and counting of the ballots; it bought votes wholesale and retail, forcing all those who received salaries from the city to provide the wherewithal for corruption. The policemen themselves had to contribute. Like the Tammany Ring, the Gas Ring stopped the mouth of the press by regular subsidies so that not a single paper could be found to plead the cause of honest government.” The story of the Philadelphia Gas Ring is well told by Mr. Bryce. (American Commonwealth.)

Philadelphia municipal scandals have been so numerous that they would require a volume to themselves to treat them fully. In 1901 there was the Street Franchise scandal. Fourteen street franchises worth millions were granted free by the Philadelphia city government to members of a political ring. As proof of the rascality of the transaction John Wanamaker publicly offered the city $2,500,000 cash for these same franchises, admitting that they were worth much more. The political corruption there was said to equal that of anything ever known in New York except in Tweed’s time. In certain parts of the city in 1905 about forty per cent of the vote cast was said to be fraudulent. “Crimes against the ballot box no longer seemed to affront the public conscience.”

In 1898 there was a great scandal in connection with the failure of the People’s Bank of Philadelphia in which United States Senator Quay and State Treasurer Haywood were implicated. About $500,000 state funds and $50,000 city funds disappeared and were never recovered.

In 1900 occurred the Grand Rapids Water Scandals. Bribes to the amount of $100,000 were distributed to City officials. The City Attorney was convicted, and there were twenty-four indictments of ex-aldermen, politicians, newspaper men and others.

Spanish War Scandals. These were numerous. Here is one specimen of many. In 1899 military goods were sold for{227} $10,500 and purchased back for $60,000. There were indictments and convictions.

In January, 1903, President Roosevelt instituted an investigation in the Post Office Department which resulted in the revelation of a large number of fraudulent contracts by which the government had been robbed of thousands of dollars, and the criminal conviction of two United States senators.

St. Louis. The following interesting story of political rascality appeared in McClure’s in November 1902. In 1898 one Snyder, capitalist and promoter, came to St. Louis with a traction proposition inimical to the interests of the city railways, who were then paying seven members of the council $5,000 each per year to protect them, besides paying another councilman a special retainer of $25,000 to watch these seven boodlers. Snyder set about buying the members, who then went back on their first bargain, and arranged a meeting to see if they could not agree on a new price. The meeting broke up in a row and each man started in to work for himself. Four councilmen got from Snyder $10,000 each, one got $15,000, another $17,500, another $50,000; twenty-five members of the House of Delegates got $3,000 each. In all Snyder paid $250,000 for the franchise, and as the traction people had raised only $175,000 to beat it, the franchise was passed. Then Snyder sold out to his old opponents for $1,250,000. He was criminally convicted some years later on charges growing out of this affair.

Missouri—1903. Baking Powder Scandal. Various members of the legislature charged with accepting bribes in connection with legislation in favor of the baking powder monopoly.

1904—Oregon Land Scandal. Senator Mitchell, Congressman Williamson and others were charged with conspiracy and bribery in an attempt to defraud the government. Two congressmen were convicted.

St. Louis. In an editorial in the Arena for January 1905 it is stated that in St. Louis free government has been de{228}stroyed by shameful crimes; and in an article by Lee Meriwether, formerly Labor Commissioner for Missouri, and author of a number of books of travel, the writer describes a transaction by which a street franchise was obtained in St. Louis in January 1902 by one Turner. The amount to be paid the municipal council for the franchise was $135,000 which was put in a safety-vault box of which an agent had one key and the boodlers the other. The franchise was granted, but a citizen obtained an injunction from the courts, whereupon the agent refused to pay. Afterwards Turner became State’s evidence; the box with the $135,000 was produced in court, a number of the members of the municipal council were convicted, and some fled the country.

California Legislature. In 1905 the California Senate appointed a committee of seven to investigate alleged mismanagement of certain building and land associations. A majority of the committee selected an agent to approach the officers of one of the associations, with the result that the sum of $1400 was agreed upon and paid to stop the investigation. The agent confessed; four senators were expelled, and two were convicted by the courts.

Ohio. An important investigation was undertaken by the Drake Committee of the Ohio Senate in 1906. In inquiring into the affairs of Cincinnati, the committee caused the return to the public treasury of over $200,000, which had been given as gratuities to (state) treasurers, by banks favored in the deposit of Hamilton County funds.

New York Insurance Frauds. A New York legislative committee investigated the great life insurance companies in 1905-6. Results showed that Republican as well as Democratic legislators had been bought, and that enormous corruption funds had been contributed to both political parties. Bribery expenditures were classified on the various insurance companies’ books as “legal expenses.” In 1904 alone, the Mutual Life Insurance Company thus disbursed $364,254, the Equitable Life Assurance Society $172,698, the New York Life{229} Insurance Company $204,019. From 1898 to 1904 the Mutual Company expended more than $2,000,000 in so-called “legal expenses” supposed to be payments to influence legislation. From 1895 to 1904 the total payments made by the New York Life to its chief lobbyist at Albany were $1,312,197.

Boston, Mass. In 1907 public hearings before a committee of investigation resulted in eleven indictments mostly of city officials and contractors for frauds against the city. Gross incompetency, neglect and non-efficiency of some of the city departments and officials and mismanagement of city business was revealed.

Pennsylvania, 1907. The State Capitol scandals. About $9,000,000 was paid for furniture for the State Capitol, being an excess of $6,000,000 over actual cost. There were a number of criminal convictions of public officials in connection with this affair.

San Francisco—1907 and 1908. The Ruef Scandals. These related to the procuring of street franchises by the bribery of members of the San Francisco board of supervisors through the agency of Abraham Ruef, a political boss. Nearly one hundred indictments were filed, and there were some confessions and convictions.

Lorimer Scandal. A general corruption fund called “the jack-pot” was made in 1908, from which payments were made to the Illinois legislators for their votes. Lorimer was elected United States Senator, January 11th, 1909, through a Republican-Democratic combination. There were negotiations for the delivery of a block of fifteen votes at prices reported to be as high as $30,000. Certain votes were purchased at $900 to $2500. There were judicial proceedings and some confessions.

The New York “Yellow Dog” Scandal. On the investigation of charges that Senator Allds of New York had in 1910 accepted money for preventing legislation, it was shown that in the course of a few years two or three joint funds were raised among bridge-building companies for political “protection” at Albany. The names of a former speaker of the{230} legislature and another member, both dead, were given as having received these bribes.

Colorado. In the Cosmopolitan Magazine for December, 1910, it was stated that on one occasion, when the franchises of some public service corporations were in peril, a Republican leader took $20,000 of his campaign fund to Democratic headquarters to save the day for his “interests.” As many as 8,000 fraudulent votes have been available in Denver for whichever party was slated by the “interests” to win.

Pennsylvania. William Flinn, who together with Senator Quay was in control of Republican politics for many years in Pennsylvania, testified before a senatorial committee in 1912 that he had contributed so far that year nearly $150,000 to the political campaign, both for the work in the primaries before the convention, and for the presidential campaign after the convention.

In an article entitled “Case of the Quaker City” (Outlook, May 25, 1912) the writer states that Philadelphia has paid a contractor $520,000 each year to remove its garbage, which he has then resold in the form of profitable products; in an outlying district people have been arrested for feeding their own garbage to their own pigs; the contractor wanted it. Upon a change of administration in 1912, over $800,000 of unpaid bills for 1911 and previous years were found. It required about $4,000,000 of borrowed money to make up the deficiency in appropriations for current expenses for 1912, and about as much more to provide for routine items of neglected maintenance, such as condemned boilers, elevators, dilapidated sewers, dangerous bridges. All this notwithstanding the fact that, in addition to funds raised from taxation and other current revenue, $51,000,000 was borrowed in the last four years with practically nothing to show for it. Commenting on this state of affairs the writer says:

“To democracy are we committed. Does this mean that we are forever to live loosely, scandalously, until nature rebels and we have to fly to a violent cure, a political Carlsbad, a{231} civil war, be cleansed only to begin over again each time? Does the theory of democracy exact more than human nature has to give?”

Congress. The United States Congress, judged by any proper ethical standard, has been for a long time past a more or less corrupt body, as has frequently appeared by its frequent large and scandalous misappropriations of public funds made on the demand of a very low class of voters manipulated by rascally politicians. The money thus stolen and wasted has earned the euphonious title of “Pork,” and has usually been distributed in the shape of appropriations for unnecessary public buildings, or harbor improvements. Federal court houses costing very large sums have been extravagantly built and are being maintained in places where the court sits only a few days in a year, and where therefore the hiring of a few rooms for the occasion of the court’s session would have been sufficient. Among the items represented in the appropriation bill for 1913 are the following:

The City of New Haven, with a population of 180,000, for a post-office, pink marble, $1,200,000.

For court houses:—

At Texarkana, Texas, where court is only held four days a year, $110,000. At Harrison, Arkansas, having a population of 1600, where court is only held nine days in a year, $100,000. At Evanston, Wyoming, having a population of 2500, where court is only held two days in a year, $15,000. At Mariana, Fla., where court only sits two days a year, $70,000.

Gadsden, Alabama, a small town, Federal building, $188,000. At Anderson, S. C., a court house at $70,000 was ordered, and at Pikeville, Ky., and in twelve other towns where there was no court sitting, court houses were voted.

Post-office at Gainesville, Fla.: population 6000; cost $150,000.

In Virginia the Federal building at Big Stone, with a population of about one thousand, cost or is costing $100,000 and a few years ago it was stated that at that time there were{232} twenty-five others being erected or recently built in that State in similar small towns costing from $5,000 to $75,000 each.

Expensive post-offices were ordered at Newcastle, Wyoming, with a population of 975; Jasper, Ala., with a population of 2500; Vernal, Utah, with a population of 836, and another place with a population of 942. Four other small towns in Utah each have expensive post-offices.

These are samples of the Federal Building Bill or “Pork” Bill as it was called, of 1913, amounting to $45,000,000, which was rushed through both houses on the log-rolling principle. It was in effect a congressional conspiracy to plunder the government. Of this bill Senator Kern said that it was the “boldest and most audacious raid on the public treasury that has been attempted in recent years. The pork in this barrel is of such quality that it smells to Heaven.” This kind of rascality has been increasing. There was bought a few years ago at Seattle for a federal building at a cost of $160,000, land which was seven feet under water. In 1906 the Federal Government had only 503 buildings in the United States, and therefore the rate prior to that time had only been four new buildings a year. In 1916 it had 967, an increase of 464, at the rate of 46 a year for the preceding ten years. These appropriations were generally made with the object of getting the votes of political contractors and laboring people, who are supposed to represent a propertyless class, and not being required to pay any direct taxes are believed to be indifferent to the depletion of the public treasury.

Pension Frauds. Under President Cleveland the Commissioner of Pensions Lockrien unearthed enormous pension frauds; he dropped 2266 names from the rolls and reduced the ratings in 3343 cases. The cases of clear fraud amounted to $18,000,000 a year.

Former Secretary of War, Stimson, states that from 1878 to 1908 the cost of the Federal Government increased nearly 400 per cent, while the increase in population was less than 84 per cent.{233}


Illinois—1901. Investigation disclosed that $65,000 a year was being collected by politicians from the salaries of those employed at the State Insane Hospital and other State Institutions.

Minnesota—1903. Minneapolis City scandals. Conviction of Chief of Police and an ex-Mayor on charges of blackmailing gamblers, etc.; attempted bribery of County Commissioners.

Land and Post-Office. In 1903 politicians and others were indicted in Nebraska for corrupt land and post-office transactions.

Other similar post-office irregularities in McKinley’s administration, implicating high officials; many indictments; gross department incompetence and carelessness revealed (1903).

New York, 1904. Fire Department scandals, fraudulent hose purchases of $23,410.

Kansas, 1905. Government land frauds implicating a state senator and other officials.

New York, 1905. “The notorious ‘Ten’ carried through a scheme in the New York Senate, by which the Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railway bonds were to be included in the savings bank bill as proper securities for investment. The ‘Black Horse Cavalry’ had succeeded in a similar deal formerly and members had made a large profit on the consequent appreciation of the bonds in question.” (Reinsch, p. 248.)

New York—1906. Ahearn scandals; padded payrolls, illegal purchases, etc., amounting to millions, involving office of Borough President.

New York—1914. Hunts Point Bathing Place; value $4300, sold to the City of New York in 1914 for $247,000.

Indiana—1908. Conspiracy to defraud the State; former legislative speaker indicted.

New Jersey—1913. One Kuehnle, political boss of At{234}lantic City, sentenced to prison for voting as a water commissioner to award a contract to a company of which he was a stockholder.

In 1899 a book of about eight hundred pages, entitled Thirty Years of New York Politics, was published by Breen who had been for a generation active in New York politics and had held office as member of the state legislature and as local magistrate. It presents a vivid picture of the corruption, rascality and incapacity that characterized the politicians of New York City and State from about 1860 to 1890. He tells of forgeries of items in legislative tax bills, the true bills immediately after passage by the legislature being altered by additions of items and the forged tax bills placed before the governor and signed by him. Some of Breen’s tales are even amusing, showing the open way in which the business of official bribery has been carried on and the fun there was supposed to be in the business. In one instance there was a gas bill before the New York legislature opposed by the company interested. A lobbyist was in charge whose original orders to pass the bill were revoked and he was directed to kill it. In order to make his services appear more valuable to the company the lobbyist had the bill reported favorably. Subsequently he had it defeated and the members waited upon him for their cash at the Kenmore House, Albany, N. Y., the fee of each being $250. Meantime another bill had been introduced regulating the price of gas and the members were told that they would get nothing until they also killed the second bill. This was very annoying as it required them to do two jobs for one fee; but it had to be done. Then the lobbyist began paying off some of the members at the Kenmore House, Albany, while to avoid suspicions which might be aroused by the presence of too many members in one place his assistant undertook to pay off the others at the Delavan House. By mistake eight of the members got money at each hotel. When a return was demanded they, partly in joke and to worry the lobbyist, refused, claiming that as they had done two jobs they{235} were entitled to two fees; but finally the duplicate money was returned to the alarmed lobbyist. The reader will thus see that there is sometimes entertainment as well as profit in the vote traffic, when well understood by the participants and spiritedly conducted. One veteran member used to say that he considered it injurious to the health to have anything to do with a “contingent bill,” that is to say where the bribe depended upon the result. “I never can sleep at all when I have a contingent bill on my mind; it undermines my health and my life is valuable to the state. Spot cash is my gait; it saves all bother.” Another interesting incident told by Senator Breen is that of one Hackley, a contractor, who put in a bid for a street-cleaning contract in New York. The aldermen delayed voting the contract. Hackley received a letter unsigned requesting him to leave $40,000 in a package on a table in the City Hall. He left the money in $500 bills on the aldermanic table in a package without any address. As he entered to do so he saw four of the aldermen casually conversing by the door; when he came out they were still standing there. Nothing was said. The next day he got the contract. The courts were for some years occupied with some questions of legality regarding this contract and incidentally this little episode came to light.

If the reader has been at all interested, or edified by the display already made in this book of the product and operations of the manhood suffrage governments, perhaps he would like a glimpse of the methods by which these worshipful bodies are from time to time originally created. Here is a specimen account of a recent event, taken from the New Republic of September 29, 1917. There was a contest for the Republican leadership of the Fifth Ward, Philadelphia, in which ward, as it happens, Independence Hall is situated. The police were under the control of a local boss named Deutsch who was himself subject to the Vere Brothers. The opposition boss was named Carey. Ten days before election thirty patrolmen were transferred to other{236} districts and their places taken by men who could be relied on to work for Deutsch. There were nightly fights and arrests; even reporters were arrested on false charges of disorderly conduct. On the eve of election the followers of Deutsch attacked a Carey meeting while a number of police stood quietly by. The following morning a detective was murdered and a district attorney slugged. The mayor himself was accused and was subsequently arrested on a charge of conspiracy in connection with the affair.

Another sample of manhood suffrage in operation was exhibited at the primary elections at St. Louis in 1904 when Folk was nominated for governor of Missouri. A magazine writer describing what took place says that the ring opposed to the nomination of Folk “stationed thugs outside the polling places with orders to slug, kick, beat, and if necessary kill,—anything to defeat Folk,” and that scores of men, some of them prominent, were knocked down in broad daylight, kicked and beaten, etc., while the police stood idly by. Also that “there have been instances where for weeks before an election members of the police department have gone about locating vacant houses and assisting in registering fictitious names from such houses” and he gives instances of houses where many more names were registered than it was possible there could be residents at the house. The result was that of the population of 600,000 people, not one delegate favorable to Folk was elected. “Former Lieutenant Governor of Missouri, Norman J. Coleman, and Secretary of Agriculture under President Cleveland, stood long in line to vote, without making any progress. He stepped out to make an investigation and found that men were being admitted into the polling place by a rear door and that there was no chance for him. Finally a politician whom he knew came up to him and said: ‘I will get one of the men out of the line up here and give you his place.’ As he was about to give Mr. Coleman the place he asked him for whom he was going to vote. ‘For Folk, of course,’ was the answer. ‘Then I can’t do anything for you.{237}

The intelligent reader needs no argument to convince him that under a rule of substantial property qualification none of the above described ruffianism would find a place in politics. Under such a rule none of these precious gangs would appear at the polls or primaries; their leaders would be without political influence; a mayor or governor supported by such blackguards would never be chosen and would not even be a candidate.

In 1891, Roosevelt, as Civil Service Commissioner, went to Baltimore to examine the primaries and made a report from which Ostrogorski prints an extract. He there saw a fight for the offices between two factions of the Republican party. There was fraud and violence. Democratic repeaters were voted; accusations of ballot box stuffing freely made; a number of fights took place; many arrests, including some of the election inspectors; bribery was charged; cheating was talked of as a matter of course; men openly justified cheating as fair, provided you were not caught. Usually, however, primaries and elections are comparatively quiet; the previous manipulation of the controllable vote has been so perfectly done, the managers are in such complete accord, and opposition is so hopeless, that even the most violent and headstrong of the defeated party are subdued into silence, often no doubt quelled by envious admiration for the victorious scoundrels. Such must for instance have been the case at the elections in Colorado in 1904, when women voted and they as well as men took part in wholesale frauds. In eight precincts a thousand fraudulent votes were cast. Each candidate for governor charged gigantic frauds against the other. Investigation showed that both charges were true. In one county nine thousand fraudulent votes were cast. A number of election judges and others were convicted of ballot box stuffing, repeating, etc.

In 1908 Helen Sumner made a prolonged investigation of political conditions in Colorado, and thus describes the failure of universal suffrage in that new and prosperous state.

“Both sexes stay away from caucus and convention because{238} they know they are helpless and that they can succeed only by debasing themselves to the level of hired political workers. The caucus and convention are arranged long in advance. Corporations, the saloon element, and special interests that seek control can afford to furnish the bosses abundant funds to hire these professional workers, and both men and women who value their honor and patriotism will not descend to these mercenary methods.” (Equal Suffrage, p. 94.)

It is useless to multiply instances of fraud and humbug at popular elections; the whole business is one gigantic piece of fraud and humbug. Its extent may most easily be described by the amount of money it costs. Ostrogorski says that: “It is considered that in 1896 the Republican National chairman disposed of a campaign fund of seven million dollars. In 1900 of three millions and a half, and in 1904 of three millions.” This national campaign fund of $3,000,000 to $7,000,000 is only a small portion of the total amount collected and disbursed for the purpose of misleading, defrauding, deluding, and humbugging the nation into giving a preference to one of two organized gangs over the other for two or four years more. Probably from $50,000,000 to $100,000,000 in all is expended in this way in a Presidential election. The latter figure is the estimate of the historian Sloane. And then we are told with well-simulated indignation of the expenditure of $2,000,000 a year for the support of the British Royal family. If only our millions were spent as innocently as in maintaining royal dignity or dignity of any sort! But our cash goes for the purpose of creating and maintaining indignities rather than dignities; to pay for the assertion and publication of lies and slanders; to stir up strife at home and abroad; to forward the interests of political managers and those behind them and to hire cheating and fraud at elections. The latter crimes are still being perpetrated. Wholesale election frauds were committed in New York City at a recent mayoralty election and many election officials were convicted. As late as November, 1919, there were widely distributed the circulars of the “Honest{239} Ballot Association,” whose officers included New York men and women of considerable prominence and political experience. Its object was stated to be “To insure clean elections in New York City, and to prevent honest votes from being offset by trickery and fraud.” It states in its circular that “through its efforts the fraudulent vote of the city, which before its organization was a public scandal, has been materially reduced. Much remains to be done to prevent recurrence of like frauds.” In other words, the public authorities of New York City cannot be trusted to supervise and procure a fair election, and it is generally believed that in that respect New York is better off than some other large cities.


Nine States of the Union, namely, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, have been driven by misgovernment in one form or other under the régime of manhood suffrage to repudiate their solemn financial obligations.

Alabama. In 1819 the State of Alabama began to establish state banks, all of which became insolvent in 1842. To the debt of about $3,500,000 incident to this business, represented by bonds held by innocent holders in London and New York, was added obligations amounting to $21,000,000 incurred in the negro suffrage reconstruction period, elsewhere described. In 1876 the State scaled down the whole debt to $12,574,379, a repudiation, including interest, of about $15,000,000 State debt.

Arkansas. In 1837 and 1838 Arkansas issued about $3,000,000 of bonds in aid of two state banks. Part of this debt was subsequently repudiated. During the reconstruction period about $8,000,000 of state bonds were issued under legislative authority for railroad and levee construction and all were repudiated in 1880, thus reducing the state debt from $17,000,000 principal and interest to about $5,000,000.

Florida. In 1833 the Territory of Florida issued $3,000,000 bonds to the Union Bank, and in 1831 and 1835 $900,000 more to other banks. These obligations were definitely repudiated{240} when Florida entered the Union in 1845. Under an Act passed in 1855, the state issued $4,000,000 bonds in aid of railroad construction; and these also have been repudiated, on the claim that the legislature lacked authority to authorize them.

Georgia. From 1868 to 1871 the State of Georgia issued about $8,000,000 of bonds in aid of railroad construction. In the years 1875, 1876 and 1877 all these bonds were repudiated by state legislation.

Louisiana. The debt of Louisiana at the outbreak of the Civil War was about $10,000,000. The Civil War debt was ignored. Reconstruction legislation brought up the state debt to about $50,000,000. This was scaled down by legislative enactment to $12,000,000 and the rest repudiated.

Mississippi. In June 1838 the State of Mississippi issued $5,000,000 of state bonds in payment of five thousand shares of stock in the Union Bank of Mississippi. Four years later these bonds, then held by innocent third parties, were repudiated by the state, although the highest court in Mississippi had declared that they were legally issued. A similar issue of $2,000,000 of state bonds issued to the Planters Bank was repudiated in 1852. The State of Mississippi has never redeemed its honor or paid the bonds.

North Carolina. In 1879 North Carolina passed a funding bill by which in settlement of a long controversy with its bond-holders it repudiated about $15,000,000 of State indebtedness. Bonds issued before the Civil War were redeemed at fifty cents on the dollar; bonds issued after the war to secure pre-war debts at twenty-five cents; and reconstruction bonds at fifteen cents on the dollar.

South Carolina. South Carolina was in debt about $3,800,000 at the time the Civil War began in 1861. The war debt was repudiated. The reconstruction debt amounted to nobody knows how much, say $20,000,000 and upwards. Nearly all of the state debt was practically repudiated in 1879 and prior thereto.{241}

Tennessee. In 1852 the State of Tennessee authorized the issuance of state bonds in aid of turnpike and railroad companies. There were also state debts incurred in aid of state banks, for the building of the state capitol and other purposes; in all $21,000,000. About $14,000,000 more bonds were issued after the war in aid of railroads. In 1883 the state repudiated about one-half of this debt.

The various acts of repudiation took different shapes in different states, but in every instance the state government was a manhood suffrage institution; none of them have had any other system. It is perfectly fair to charge every dollar of these stolen and wasted millions and every repudiation spot and stain on the fame and record of these nine states to manhood suffrage. In fact the candid historian cannot, if he would, escape the damning record and the inevitable conclusion. Manhood suffrage has shamefully bankrupted and dishonored nine American states.


Oh, that some one with ability, money and patience would get together materials for a complete “History of Manhood Suffrage,” and with clear and burning pen, would give to the world the story of its iniquitous century career. Even if he omitted its record of blood and corruption in France, and confined himself to this country, the work might easily swell to many volumes. He could spend twenty busy years visiting one village, town and city after another, gathering up the facts and figures of the briberies, corruptions, frauds, cheatings, embezzlements, defalcations and thefts; the public riots, the drunkenness, the civil and criminal court proceedings, directly produced by manhood suffrage; the story of the rogues and incompetents whom it has put in public offices high and low, their follies and villainies. Its grotesque legislation, its wretched administration, its wastes, extravagances, blunders stupidities and misgovernments would fill an encyclopedia of human unwisdom. But no such work has ever been undertaken, and this volume only presents a hint of the direful{242} totality. After all it is enough. The category of official crime in this one chapter contained is sufficiently convincing.

These fifty cases are not like fifty instances of peculation discovered by expert eyes under a watchful system, leaving it pretty certain that there was no more behind. Fifty individual thefts in eighty years would not make a shocking story as the world goes. But this collection is merely illustrative of an immense mass of similar material which cannot be produced to the home reader any more than an ore bed could; though the existence thereof any one may verify by proper investigation. The opportunities of public men for improper acquisition are limitless; there is no one over them to prevent them: they are themselves the watchmen; and if they work with outside rogues detection is ordinarily impossible. The discovery of each of these fifty instances was the result of a blunder on the part of these very careful and intelligent thieves; of a quarrel amongst themselves, a mere chance of some sort, and by the law of chances may be taken to represent fifty thousand similar undetected frauds. Consider too the character of many of these items; some represent a foul episode in the history of a state; others in that of a great city; in one case the fact that the politics of a rich commonwealth have been corrupt for half a century is compressed into a statement of a few lines which is capable of being expanded to a volume of separate accusations. Fifty years of spoliation of a great state: eighteen thousand days; say one hundred separate acts a day: one million eight hundred thousand large and petty frauds, thefts and peculations are crowded into this single chapter. Each of the fifty foregoing items affords a glimpse at rivers, seas, regions of official rascality. In one case it is a state legislature which goes wrong. This means that back of each of its tainted members there is a whole history of putridity, a rotten county, a score of rotten townships, years of local crookedness, trickery, intrigue, falsehood, bribery and corruption. The district and county which sells or traffics its honors; which sends an unworthy man to rep{243}resent it in the councils of the nation, must itself first have undergone a process of degeneration the details whereof would alone require a volume. The instances in the foregoing list do not represent individual or sporadic cases of disease; they indicate a moral pestilence, the result of widespread filth and unsanitary conditions of long standing and the existence whereof is proven by the additional testimony of the array of intelligent, unbiased and high-minded men and women, statesmen, students, publicists, lawyers and teachers, already quoted. Taking the whole evidence together, the record and the witnesses, it amounts to a mass of absolutely convincing and even overwhelming proof of the thoroughly evil and corrupt character of this government which for the past eighty years has been imposed upon the American people by the political oligarchy directing the controllable vote.{244}



The American Civil War, which lasted four years, was both morally and politically absolutely unnecessary and therefore absolutely unjustifiable. It is difficult for an American to discuss the subject coolly even at this distance, when he realizes that this, the greatest calamity which ever befell the country, was perfectly avoidable and was due entirely to stupidity and mismanagement. It is time that the truth was told; the Civil War was caused, not by the difficulty of the questions to be dealt with but by a lack of statesmanship, by the dull selfishness and asininity of the politicians of the day and by the system of low politics which had long before been established among us. To say that the question between the free and the slave states was of a nature which required a settlement by the sword is absurd. In 1860 there were fifteen slave and eighteen free states. The constitutional right of the former to the ownership of their slaves could not be denied; and the vast majority of the people in the free states so believed and asserted. The question on which the country was divided was whether slavery could or should be established in the Territories and in the new states to be erected from the Territories. To assert that that question could not be settled peaceably is to assert either that the American people were fools and brutes, which is not true, or that their representatives having the matter in hand were incapables or worse, which is true. The war was entirely due to the conduct and misconduct of the politicians in power and they were placed there by manhood suffrage.{245}

The American people North and South at that time were as harmless and peaceable a people as ever existed on the face of the earth. They did not want any war, least of all a civil war. Tens of thousands of inhabitants in each of the two sections had dear friends and relatives in the other section. Most people refused even to believe it possible until hostilities actually began that a civil war could possibly be forced upon the country. Neither side was in any way prepared either in men, officers, equipment, ships or money for even a small war. There was no desire for a conflict on either side, and no need of it; and yet it came; because the country was in the hands not of patriotic statesmen, but of a manhood suffrage politician President, and a manhood suffrage politician Congress, infused with a small, mean, manhood suffrage spirit, the spirit of humbug, of selfishness, of insincerity, and of moral cowardice. It came because for his own petty temporary purposes, each of the politicians, too dull and short sighted to see the danger of his own acts, had been for years nagging the people of his own district into dislikes, suspicions and hates towards the people of other districts and portions of the country.

We may concede the difficulties of the situation. The slavery question had been so mismanaged that as far back as 1844 it had become a delicate one needing to be handled with patriotic and enlightened statesmanship; but the men in public life qualified to so handle it were after 1828 becoming fewer and fewer. Of courageous and patriotic statesmen there was after 1852 scarcely one in public life, and it was finally left to the newspapers and the populace, who undertook to deal with it themselves in their own characteristic way. This of course was to hold public meetings, at which were made inflammatory and abusive speeches; to publish and circulate these speeches with furious newspaper comments; and to issue books and pamphlets denunciatory of everybody in public life. How does the ordinary manhood suffrage politician, the mediocrity who after obeying{246} orders of vulgar bosses for years finds himself rewarded with a nomination for Congress; how does he deal with a question where both money and feeling are involved? He “side-steps”; he pussy-foots; he twists and dodges and sneaks in and out till one side or the other shows a decided preponderance of votes, and then he mounts the platform and rants defiance and insults at the minority. Such is his idea of statesmanship; and though it makes the judicious grieve it tickles the ears of the groundlings who are the majority of the organization followers. The newspaper files inform us and the reader can readily imagine how for years Northern and Southern orators hurled defiance at safe distances; how the holders of perfectly honest opinions on both sides were publicly insulted every day in the week as slave drivers; nigger lovers, dough-faces, etc. When the legal question of the rights of slavery in the territories came up, there was no one to decide it; it was a difference demanding for its settlement a courage which mere politicians never have; and requiring as well a statesmanship and tact which are qualities of trained thinkers; of men of wide vision; of experience in public affairs, and gifted with self-control; qualities in short which especially belong to the well-educated classes. It should have been dealt with by picked men; men of high prestige; uncontrolled by passion, and above a desire for the plaudits of the mob. Such men were not to be found in public life; and so it was left to the decision of what was called public opinion; which means in effect that it fell into the hands of demagogues, platform orators, second-rate politicians, extremists, visionaries and newspaper writers. Thousands of individuals honest and dishonest; fanatics, abolitionists and demagogues on the Northern side, and cranks, general humbugs and notoriety seekers on the Southern side, began to write and talk on the subject; and when they had succeeded in irritating everybody, and when a certain emotional and hysterical class was thoroughly inflamed, the manhood suffrage machine was put in operation and an election for president was had. The{247} voters split into four parties; certainly not according to reason, which had long before been flung to the winds by most of them; but rather according to temperament; the more excitable and intolerant taking an extreme position; the others offering the customary political platitudes. The electoral college plan for the election of the president, which had been prescribed by the Constitution to obviate just such a catastrophe, had been long since foolishly discarded by the people in favor of a direct election by manhood suffrage. Lincoln, a then comparatively unknown man, who had been nominated in a roaring political convention, was elected President of the United States by a minority of the total vote. A few of the Southern states whose politicians were dissatisfied with the election promptly proposed to secede from the Union. They were permitted to do so and set up independent governments; the administration at Washington being as usual in the hands of men who had neither sufficient diplomacy, firmness, decision nor patriotism to deal with the situation, or with any other requiring the employment of honesty and courage.

The politicians in power at Washington, as they were incapable of properly dealing with slavery, so they were incapable of properly dealing with secession. As nothing timely was done to coerce the first seceding states they were in time joined by others; the demagogic rant and newspaper clamor and abuse continued unabated on both sides, but nothing practical was done to save the situation or to preserve the Union; the seceding states were allowed four months to consummate their plans; and were permitted without molestation or hindrance to seize one fort and arsenal after another, until the enterprise of rebellion, which, originating in a few hot heads could have been summarily suppressed in December 1860 had in April 1861 resulted in the establishment of a southern armed confederacy of eleven states. Meantime the Northern Democracy looked on complacently and did nothing till the South made the dramatic blunder of firing on Fort Sumter. Sluggishness and{248} indifference in the North were now succeeded by indignation and fury; hostilities began and lasted four years; hundreds of thousands of lives and thousands of millions of property were uselessly sacrificed, and all because among the governing politicians of the United States there had not been enough patriotic statesmanship to undertake the task of devising and enforcing a peaceable arrangement. That there was no inherent difficulty in the case, insurmountable by diplomacy, is perfectly apparent to any intelligent mind; and is almost conclusively demonstrated by the conceded fact that even after four years’ bloody strife no hopeless division between North and South existed; that the defeated Southern rank and file and their leaders, officers and generals admitted that they had even then no insufferable grievance; that they really preferred the Union, even without slavery, to disunion; and that the Southerners immediately came back into their places as citizens of the Union and have ever since been and still are as true and loyal to the flag as the northern population. They never really disliked the Federal Union; they had in fact always loved it; but they had been crazed year after year in the course of one political campaign after another by the assaults and insults of Northern platform press and pulpit ranters, and had been deceived, misled and egged on to violence by their own demagogues. It was a case of the cumulative effect of years of repeated word provocations and word retorts on both sides; all delivered either to promote the sale of wicked and sensational newspapers or for electioneering purposes, or to capture the votes of a senseless rabble. The effect of this long-continued agitation was to derange the shallow judgment of the irresponsibles, a class which includes hot-headed youths, lovers of turmoil, improvident men with more sail than ballast; those who lack prudence both in politics and in business; who show the same poor judgment in giving a vote as in making a bargain; who are as willing to rush into a foolish war as into a foolish business enterprise; who are reckless because, never having much, they can never{249} lose much; in short, that class who, though absolutely unable to manage their own affairs, are by our laws considered quite capable of attending to those of the community, and who whenever a storm arises lose their heads and do their best to wreck the ship. In a word, the course of conduct adopted by the politicians of the country which resulted in the war was intended to win the applause and the votes of a set of men most of whom should not have been allowed to vote at all. Had the business men and the propertied classes alone been consulted the civil war would never have broken out.

And it is to-day just as it was then. When any question capable of being made the subject of political discussion, and having an emotional or sympathetic aspect, is brought before the public, it is sure to be seized upon by fanatics and time servers who make it the subject of clamor and vociferation. These are in time joined by a lot of honest but inexperienced youth; emotional enthusiasts; sympathetic women more or less hysterical; people with grudges to pay off; political adventurers; platform ranters eager for an audience; demagogues out of a job and vain fools anxious for the lime light; empty heads who find society and excitement in political organizations and meetings. These classes of agitators and the followers of agitators exist and have always existed here as well as in Russia and elsewhere; and they are put in the front when they ought to be suppressed and sent to the rear or out of sight. They are apt to be abnormal in vanity, and stop at nothing to obtain notoriety. Those of them who are soft and emotional become crazed with mental dwelling on one subject, with the excitement of political speaking and the applause and criticism they receive; those of them who are cold of heart and head keep up the din to attract attention to themselves and to further their political fortunes; with them the end justifies the means; exaggerations, dishonest equivocations, lies and even slanders are to their small minds justified by the object to be attained. We have, for instance, recently seen some of the women suffragists both in England, and to a less{250} extent here, in what they call their militant campaigns act on the principle that there are no morals in politics. In England they resorted to open and violent misconduct and even to crime to keep up the agitation. Their avowed purpose in doing this was to keep their cause before the public, and as to some of them incidentally to earn the salaries paid by their associations for this vile work. They believed, and with good reason, that under a system of manhood suffrage mere arguments are insufficient; the unthinking rabble had to be won over; and their foolish ears must be filled with noise in order to gain and keep their attention.

A similar process was used by the politicians and agitator’s on both sides of the negro slavery question. There was the unreasoning vote to be captured. Each candidate for Congress, instead of desiring the matter amicably settled, wished rather to use the dispute as a means for his own election. Now, it is a fact well known to politicians that it is impossible to get all the voters to the polls at any election. Besides securing the floaters by means of agents with cash and shrewdness, the best way to induce the remaining nondescripts and light weights to take the trouble to vote, is to create artificial excitement by means of meetings, processions, bands of music and inflammatory oratory. The opposite side and their leaders must be denounced as fools, humbugs, liars, scamps, thieves and traitors. The wisest are repelled by this course, but they are a minority in every community. Besides, some of the men who know better than to believe an unscrupulous demagogue, will vote for him, partly out of gratitude because he has amused them by his attacks on his opponents, partly because he is the party candidate, and partly as the result of a sort of mental contagion. Now, it was this campaign of inflammatory denunciation; this output of lies, slanders and vilification indulged in by the platform talkers on all sides in the political campaigns of 1856, 1858 and 1860 that brought on the Civil War. This is well known; but what is not known and never will be known is just how much of this{251} rascally oratory was hired and paid for in cold cash contributed by that class of people who always contribute to election funds. And this brutal and stupid process is the natural and inevitable result of an attempt to decide important political questions by manhood suffrage, that is by a public agitation undertaken to obtain the votes of the most thoughtless, careless, dull and unreasonable men of the country.

But, some may ask, how could the slavery question have been amicably settled? Was not the Civil War inevitable? By no means. Great Britain, Spain, Brazil, Portugal, Holland and other countries each had the same problem. Russia had a similar one in the case of her serfs. Slavery in the British West Indies was abolished in 1838 at a cost of $100,000,000 cash compensation paid to the masters, and other European nations having colonial slaves had followed England’s example. Brazil and Cuba were both large slave-owning countries; in Cuba one-third of the population was at one time in slavery; a much larger proportion than in the United States, and yet in both countries emancipation was gradually and peaceably accomplished by legal methods. In Russia the serfs were freed without bloodshed. Nowhere except in the United States was it found necessary to make the country a shambles to accomplish such an inevitable reform. To say that the American people are so inferior in political capacity to the British, Russians, Spaniards and Brazilians as this miserable emancipative Civil War of ours would indicate is preposterous.

That the Civil War was a politicians’ and not a people’s war was perfectly apparent at the time to all steady-minded folk. During its progress nothing was more frequent than to hear such people say that the politicians were responsible for it all. And this was true. Had the settlement of the matter been left to a committee of statesmen or business men the result would have been that under some system of gradual emancipation and payment to the owners the thing would have been quietly done, and with a great saving of money.{252} The war cost at the lowest possible estimate twenty thousand millions of dollars. There were in this country say three millions of slaves which at the high figure of $500 each would have cost not more than fifteen hundred millions of dollars or less than a twelfth of the cost of the war in money, to say nothing of human lives. Even this cost would have been nominal, since the outlay would have been divided up amongst our own people and left the nation not a cent the poorer. But this plain and sensible course could not be adopted because under our mobocratic system the question was made one of politics rather than of statesmanship. And when the struggle was over were the politicians blamed or called to account; or was the system condemned which produced them and really brought about the American Civil War? Not at all. The same humbugs and schemers continued in control; once more they were seen on political platforms, greedy and brassy as ever, bellowing hypocritical praise of the victims of the fight and demanding and obtaining continued offices and salaries and perquisites for themselves; and so their course of public plundering was vigorously continued and their rule was strengthened year by year. With one hand deep in the public chest, they waved the banner with the other, and the years immediately succeeding the Civil War were perhaps richer in patriotic platform oratory and in political corruption than any the country has ever seen.{253}



Perhaps the most noted instance of a complete test of the principles upon which manhood suffrage claims to be founded was that made in the Southern States during the so-called reconstruction period from 1866 to 1876, when the establishment by the Federal Government of unrestricted suffrage in a dozen states where a considerable part of the population was composed of negroes resulted in a complete and even scandalous failure. It not only failed in the opinion of the world at large, but even in that of most if not all its supporters, and finally had to be abandoned; so that in all those dozen states where most of the laborers and many of the farmers to the number of about two millions of voters are negroes, they have been for the last forty years and upwards excluded from the polls.

For the ten years, however, from 1866 to 1876, which was the period of the manhood suffrage experiment, they were permitted and urged to vote, under the protection of the Federal Government. At the close of the Civil War in 1865, when the conquered Southern States had undertaken to establish state governments on the basis of white suffrage, Congress and the Federal Government had interposed the strong arm and required negroes to be included in the electorate; thus making pure manhood suffrage the foundation of the new state governments. In so doing the Federal Government was logically right, upon any and all of the manhood suffrage theories. On none of them can the negro vote be properly rejected. The southern negroes were natives of the soil, free,{254} self-supporting, and intensely loyal to the government. Whether you adopt the theory of a natural right to vote, or that the ballot is a weapon of defence for the poor, or that it is an educative force, or that the desires of all classes should be represented in the vote, the negroes’ claim to the franchise was and is well made out.

The trial of manhood suffrage that was actually made in the instance referred to was in all respects a fair and good test of its qualities. It was of course a severe one, because the negroes were very numerous and mostly very ignorant; but for that very reason the test was valuable. To ascertain the real effects of ignorance and incapacity as of other elements, they must be tried out as far as possible without dilution or mixture. In this instance the amount of both that was injected into the body politic was greater than the dose which the Northern electorate has received, but the effect pro tanto was the same. The test was unusually good for another reason, namely, because it was suddenly applied and as suddenly ended, and therefore the period of its operation is distinctly separated from the time before and after, so that the comparison between the negro suffrage epoch and that of the before and after period is clear and easily made. Again, the trial was good because it was applied to large regions of country, all parts of which were inhabited by great numbers of the newly made voters, amounting to hundreds of thousands in all; so that merely local causes could not be said to affect the result. And further, the negroes were, generally speaking, illiterate and propertyless; and this circumstance also helped to make the test more clear and certain; for the claim of the extreme manhood suffragists everywhere is and has been that the poor and lowly are above all entitled to the vote.

So here we have had a trial in our own country of manhood suffrage plain and simple; of the much vaunted system applied to a class of people who most needed the so-called uplifting power or influence of the ballot. Here were the negroes,{255} simple, poor, unsophisticated, unspoiled by the possession of wealth, the ideal people of the radical orator and philosopher. They were docile and religious, being nearly all evangelical Christians; very much under the influence of their clergymen; intensely patriotic and devoted to the government and the flag. In short the southern negroes at the close of the war, as was then pointed out by their friends, had every quality to entitle them to vote except book learning, business experience and property, neither of which in the eyes of the champions of manhood suffrage is essential to the voter. Other conditions there were favorable to the success of the experiment. The new voters did not have to construct a state, a social polity, or a code of laws, or to establish public order. The framework of a well-developed republican government was already erected; the statute books contained the political wisdom of a highly civilized and free people; they had the United States government to guide and encourage them; there was perfect order everywhere, and a friendly and well-disciplined army was quartered among them to maintain it and to protect them in the exercise of their rights. They had therefore that guidance, precedent and protection, the lack of which has been said to have caused the failure of similar attempts by peoples unpractised in self-government. Besides all this, they had abundance of moral support and enthusiastic sympathy. At that time the Republican party organs claimed a monopoly of patriotic enlightenment, and throughout the great North and West a large portion of the most intelligent and vociferous American press, including nearly all the Republican newspapers, also two thirds of the protestant clergy, besides moral and political orators by the thousand, justified and applauded the proposal to give the vote to the late slaves then and at once without delay or qualification, and poured out the slush and uttered the gush appropriate to such agitations. The project was enthusiastically heralded as a “Reform,” as a “Liberal Measure,” as an inevitable step in advance; as a carrying out and logical application of democratic doctrines; it was proudly{256} pointed to as an evidence of our superiority in wisdom over our ancestors. The cry was that the ballot is a natural right; that the republican legend is not that some men, white men, educated men, or propertied men may vote; but that all men have an absolute right to the suffrage; a right inherent in man as man: and was not the freedman a man and a native of the soil? The ballot, said they, is a weapon of defense, needed more by poor peasants and laborers be they white, black or brown than by any other class. What if the negroes were ignorant and easily led; give them the vote and they would swiftly acquire learning and strength of character. People talked as if the ballot box was a cure-all; as if there was a sort of magic in it; as if merely to handle it was salvation; without it, said they, man is still a slave and can never be expected to improve; nor can the community rise while he is “disfranchised” as they expressed it; but with the ballot in hand he will at once mount to meet his opportunities. This arrant nonsense has been recently made familiar to us by the woman suffragists and need not be further recapitulated.

The negroes were thereupon invited to go through all the performances in which the white masses had long been accustomed to display themselves; and, as a Chinaman once said, to exercise their ignorance. They, and especially the fools and idlers among them, responded with alacrity. They talked politics at great length; those who could read fed their minds with newspaper rubbish; they attended political meetings addressed by frothy orators and office seekers just as many white people do, and like them they fell under the leadership of designing demagogues some of whom speedily learned to be competent rivals in rascality to many white politicians. Of course the colored peoples’ political orators were of a new crop; the old-fashioned pretentious white humbugs who had deceived and tongue lashed the southern people into a heartless and hopeless insurrection were out of the running, or, driven to the side of the dismayed and discouraged conserva{257}tives, stood hungrily envying the luck of their late servants. In vain the better class of the whites protested against the prospect of being squeezed by this new and ignorant democracy out of whatever the war had left them; their protests were received with derision by the radical and enlightened North. They and their minority of conservative northern sympathizers were stigmatized as would-be autocrats, aristocrats, oppressors of the poor; old time Bourbons unable to grasp new ideas; this and that piece of wisdom had not “dawned” on them; with their antiquated brains they could not realize the beauty and power of true democracy carried to the limit, etc. The controversy between the southern whites and the new colored democracy was given great prominence in excited political discussions all over the country; in most states the general elections were made to turn upon this question; all the sentimental “highbrows” and the same class of emotionalists and enthusiasts who are now advocating woman suffrage were then supporting negro suffrage; to oppose it was to be ignorant or antiquated. The friends of unlimited suffrage carried state after state in the North and West by majorities far exceeding those since recorded in favor of woman suffrage, and the negro was by Federal authority given the vote in every southern state.

The first elections, of course, went off successfully; nothing is easier or requires less intelligence than to cast a ballot; a child of ten years can be taught the trick in an hour. The negroes voted in great numbers; and the cry went up from pulpits and other mouthpieces of American super-intelligence, from newspaper offices and political platforms, “Behold one more triumph for universal suffrage!” That is what they called it, for at that time the notion of giving the vote to negresses had not become popular. That is a later fad reserved for our day; the great American people usually amuses itself with but one political folly at a time. The negro had shown himself to be a qualified voter according to the only recognized test, namely, ability to talk and to vote in droves under leadership.{258} As for office-holding capacity it is and always has been a fact that uncultivated men, white or black, usually apply and can apply but one test to a political candidate; that of eloquence. If he has but a winning tongue most of them consider him competent for any office no matter how difficult its duties. The colored people produced men of their race who readily reached the standard of glibness and who made political speeches which charmed and convinced even white audiences of a certain shallow and emotional type. Just as women have been found who can compare favorably with men in platform ranting, so were negro politicians found who, gifted with fluency, filled with vanity and stimulated by applause showed themselves equal or nearly equal to white demagogues in that fascinating art. And thus the champions of universal suffrage were able in 1868 to point triumphantly to successful southern political campaigns conducted to a considerable extent by colored men who passed all the tests nowadays applied by a white democracy in a similar case; the leaders talked and orated fluently and the masses voted for them in droves as slavish and unquestioning as the best trained white voters. And so the black leaders got into office and at once began the customary idle and dishonest career of the professional place hunter.

The result is told in one of the darkest chapters in American history. Many white friends and champions of the colored race went south to aid them in their political life, but the case was hopeless from the start. The negro level of intelligence and honesty was so low, and the business experience of the voters so small, that even their very ablest representatives would have been sadly deficient in the primary qualities necessary for legislation and administration; but as is inevitable under the system of universal suffrage, the worst were often chosen at the polls. The men elected to the state legislatures in the South under this régime were often ignorant, drunken, debauched and dishonest. Many of them were without means, had never paid taxes and were incapable of measuring the{259} value of money, or of understanding financial dealings. All the Southern States had suffered severely during the Civil War; most of them were so financially exhausted as to be deserving of real sympathy, but the new gang of black and white scallawags was pitiless. Waste, peculation, folly and every form of misgovernment followed; public credit was destroyed, property values fell; there were ten wretched years of violence, scandals and shame, at the end of which negro suffrage had disappeared, abandoned even by its strongest supporters. As soon as it was gone a sound reaction began, public credit was restored, values increased, public waste and robbery diminished, political scandals became fewer and less flagrant, and the South entered at once upon a career of comparative prosperity in which it has continued to this day. Such misgovernment as still continues in the South is mild compared with the experience of those ten dreadful years of negro domination.

Let us for a moment refer to the recorded testimony concerning this remarkable episode in the history of manhood suffrage in this country. The historian Lecky says:

“Then followed, under the protection of the Northern bayonets, a grotesque parody of government, a hideous orgy of anarchy, violence, unrestrained corruption, undisguised, ostentatious, insulting robbery, such as the world had scarcely ever seen. The State debts were profusely piled up. Legislation was openly put up for sale. The “Bosses” were all in their glory, and they were abundantly rewarded, while the crushed, ruined, plundered whites combined in secret societies for their defense, and retaliated on their oppressors by innumerable acts of savage vengeance.” (Democracy and Liberty, Vol. I, p. 94.)

Senator Tillman of South Carolina, who lived in the midst of it, described the result as a “government of carpet-baggers and thieves and scalawags and scoundrels who had stolen everything in sight and mortgaged posterity; who had run their felonious paws into the pockets of posterity by issuing bonds.{260}

From another writer:

“When installed in power the negroes and their white mentors indulged in an unprecedented robbery of the public purse. They made the legislatures issue bonds on the state to provide for public works which were never taken in hand, and shared the proceeds among themselves, leaving the taxpayers to submit to fresh taxation; they openly passed fraudulent disbursements or swelled the expenses incurred for furnishing offices, etc., in the wildest fashion, fitting them up, for instance, with clocks at $480 apiece, with chandeliers at $650. The official positions were distributed among illiterates; in one state there were more than two hundred negro magistrates unable to read or write; justice was openly bought and sold.” (Ostrogorski on Democracy, p. 56.)

A few of the details are as follows: In Mississippi the yearly expenditures trebled; the state debt was greatly increased, the actual figures have been disputed; the tax levy was multiplied by fourteen. In 1866 the State Treasurer embezzled $61,962. The state librarian is believed to have stolen books from the state library. In South Carolina upon the inauguration of manhood suffrage, there followed, says the Encyclopedia Britannica, “an orgy of crime and corruption.” A bar and restaurant was annexed to the legislative chambers, free to the members and their friends; in place of the plain furniture placed there by the South Carolina aristocracy, consisting of $5 clocks and $10 benches, there were installed by the representatives of the working people of the state sofas at $200 each on which the black and white legislators might loll and repose, and clocks at $600 each, for those capable of reading time. In one session $95,000 and in four years $200,000 was appropriated for State House furniture. When the orgy was over a few years later, the whole lot was valued at less than $18,000. In eight years the printing ring stole or squandered over $150,000 of state money. Enormous sums were obtained by means of fraudulent pay certificates issued under legislative authority. In the four years from 1868 to 1872 the state debt increased from less than $7,000{261}.000 to an unknown sum, of which over $18,000,000 was actual and evidenced by written obligations, to which might be added about $10,000,000 more, clearly fraudulent and contingent on the continuance in power of the plunderers. It may be said that all of this increase beyond the original $7,000,000 represented waste and theft. A large part of this debt was afterwards repudiated. In Florida $600,000 in taxes was collected and embezzled by the collectors and the treasury was swept absolutely bare. Legislative expenses were quadrupled, state taxes increased eight-fold; in the four years from 1868 to 1872 the state debt mounted from $4,000,000 to $12,000,000. In Tennessee the state debt rose from $16,000,000 to $42,000,000. In Arkansas land taxes were increased ten-fold and state expenses twelve-fold in eight years. Of over $7,000,000 expended by the state in six years, the greater part was squandered; only $100,000 was spent for public improvements. A bonded debt of $10,000,000 was fraudulently created and the money wasted on pretence of paying for buildings and railroads which were never constructed. In Georgia the state debt was increased from $6,000,000 to $18,000,000 in three years without any benefit whatever. In Alabama members publicly boasted of receiving large sums for passing measures. The state debt increased from $8,000,000 to $25,000,000 in two years. The value of land fell from $50 an acre to between $3 and $15 an acre. In Louisiana two hundred new offices were created; the public debt in two years jumped from $7,000,000 to $41,000,000. In four years state and city government expenses increased to ten times their normal volume; taxation was enormously increased, and about $54,000,000 of debt created with nothing to show for it. “In North Carolina,” says the Encyclopedia Britannica, “the government established in accordance with the views of Congress in 1868 was corrupt, inefficient and tyrannical.” The state debt was increased in a few years from $16,000,000 to $42,000,000 and the proceeds wasted. In Texas the extravagance of the reconstruction period caused a debt of $4,700,000. In all these states salaries{262} and miscellaneous expenses were enormously increased during this episode. Crime was unpunished, pardons were bought and sold and bribery of public officials was notorious. At the close of the manhood suffrage rule nine southern states were unable to pay their debts, amounting in all to about $170,000,000 and had to repudiate them. This is not extraordinary when we consider that these states had been stripped by the war of all property but land, and that in seven of them the increase of state debts ranged from $35 to $94 per capita inhabitant. A New York state debt of $940,000,000 in 1918 would correspond in figures with what was saddled on poor Louisiana in 1872; but in order to express its relative weight, considering the date and the value of money and the wealth of the state, it would have to be multiplied at least five times. Imagine a New York state debt of $4,700,000,000. It seems an impossible misfortune, but granted an illiterate population and we might reasonably expect such a result in about ten years’ time, under a system of universal suffrage.

The attempt to establish manhood suffrage in the South by means of the Fifteenth Amendment was a crime. The amendment itself is founded upon a palpably false conception. In effect it provides that the right of colored citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by any state. It amounts to a solemn declaration that there are no inferior races and that a voter does not need intelligence. It proposes to establish a government to be called civilized where the ignorant shall govern the intelligent; the inferior shall govern the superior; poverty shall rule wealth; the pyramid shall stand on its apex. It turns the democratic movement into a backward march; assuming to speak for democracy, it declares it an enemy of civilization; it flouts the wisdom of science; it overrules the Creator, who created five races of men fundamentally different in capacity. To attempt this was a crime and not the less but the more so because done through a sham legality. As already shown in these pages, a law passed in contravention of civilization, in opposition to the canons of{263} Society is no law, and therefore the old statutes authorizing the tortures of the Inquisition, the execution of witches and the rendition by free peoples of fugitive slaves to their masters were illegal and void, and disobedience thereto was a virtue. The Abolitionists were fond of denouncing the Constitution as a covenant with hell; the Fifteenth Amendment was a compact with rascality, entered into at the command of passion and party advantage rather than of cool reason and patriotism. It was possible because the long régime of political corruption had demoralized the best of the party leaders; they had grown accustomed to quackery and demagogism and a corrupt use of the spoils of office to control elections and government, and they found it easy to apply these means to the problem of the government of the conquered Southern States, with the object of party gain. But they never would have dared to do the deed had the way not been first prepared by the spread of the false doctrine that every man has a natural right to a vote. Thus once more we have the lesson of the ultimate costliness of lying and false logic.

Nor has the evil passed away with the practical nullification of the amendment. One of the most mischievous of all shams is a sham law. The Fifteenth Amendment, which our manhood suffrage politicians are too cowardly to repeal, has still a place in the Constitution, a sham law, a dead carcass, breeding disease and pestilence. This is plain to the student of American politics, though millions of American voters are too ignorant to recognize it and too irresponsible to care. For over forty-three years this amendment has been by eleven southern states openly flouted and defied because its enforcement would mean negro domination and a relapse into barbarism. The nullification of any existing law, and above all of a constitutional provision, is demoralizing to the nation; but in this case not only the fact of its nullification has been demoralizing, but the manner in which it was done; by methods admittedly evil in themselves, by violence, electoral trickery, theft of and tampering with ballot boxes, falsification and the use of fraudulent,{264} technical and tricky law and procedure. There were probably 850,000 adult negro citizens in the southern states in 1870, of whom all but about 50,000 were ultimately disfranchised by these means, and by methods still in effectual operation. It is difficult to say which has been more scandalous, the enactment of the amendment by its friends, or the method of its nullification by its enemies. Nor is this the whole story of this shameful business. The net result has been and is to deprive a dozen southern states, say one-quarter of the Union, of all proper share and interest in Federal politics. This comes about because while the Fifteenth Amendment stands the South feels that there is danger of its enforcement by the Republican party; a fear encouraged by the weak hypocrisy of the blatant northern Republican politicians who pretend to believe in manhood suffrage and by the warnings of the blatant southern Democratic politicians who also pretend to believe in its imminence. The southern whites, therefore, have for over forty years voted, and still vote, en masse, the Democratic ticket for Congress and the president irrespective of all questions of Federal statesmanship. It is a most deplorable state of things, tending to corruption in one party, to partisanship in the other, and to confusion all around. Hence the “Solid South.” Be the question one of war or peace, high or low tariff, colonial expansion, internal improvement, civil service betterment or any other important question, the vote of the “Solid South,” instead of expressing the opinion of the southern people merely voices a negative to the Fifteenth Amendment.

The result is practical disfranchisement, north and south. The total vote in Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina fell from 492,357 in 1876 to 177,822 in 1900. Allowing for the increase in population, it should have been about 690,000, evidencing an extinguishment of three-fourths, by fraud, terror, or discouragement. In South Carolina the Republican vote, mostly colored, fell from 91,780 in 1876, to 3,963 in 1908. In 1910 the vote for congressmen in proportion to{265} the population was in Massachusetts one to eight; in South Carolina one to fifty; in Mississippi one to seventy-five. A population equal to that which provided a hundred votes in Massachusetts, provided no more than sixteen in South Carolina and eleven in Mississippi. Allowing the negroes as a rough estimate half the population, we find that thirty-four white men in one hundred refrained from voting in Mississippi. These whites were not actually forbidden to vote, but they were practically disfranchised by a system of solid Democratic representation which made voting a useless ceremony. The menace of the Fifteenth Amendment is such that only one party can exist in the Southern States. In the present Congress every single member in both the Senate and the House from the States of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas, is a Democrat and from Virginia there is but one Republican member. And so it comes about that a constitutional measure pretended to be enacted to enfranchise the blacks not only completely fails of that intent, but results in partly disfranchising the whites both north and south. The southern white voter is disfranchised because he is practically prevented from making a free choice between candidates; the northern white voter is practically disfranchised wherever a Republican measure which he favors is defeated without consideration of its merits by southern votes cast against him under this arbitrary pressure. There are about twenty million white people in eleven southern states who are thus misrepresented and held in political bondage owing to the enactment of the Fifteenth Amendment by manhood suffrage fanaticism and stupidity. Assuming that these people, if liberated from the fear of the brutal régime of manhood suffrage with which they are threatened, would divide about equally in politics like their northern fellow citizens, and we have say ten millions of northern people, and about two millions of male northern voters who are practically disfranchised; their votes being nullified by the blind vote of these eleven southern states. The existence of this condition{266} of affairs is well recognized by lawyers and statesmen. Says one writer, “The indifference to political interests and responsibilities which such conditions produce is a serious menace to the progress of the south and to that of the country as well.” (Appleton’s Cyclopedia; American Government, Suffrage.)

Such in brief is the story of the results and reactions of the attempt made a generation ago with great power and with all the seriousness of fanaticism, to put into actual effect in our Southern States the silly doctrine of the political equality of all men. The lesson and the conclusion are alike plain and undeniable. No sensible white man is now heard to urge that the pauper southern negroes be once more invited to take part in our political life. And yet, if there be truth in the theory that every man is entitled to a vote, no matter how humble, then the disfranchisement of the southern negro is a foul injustice, for which the whole American people are responsible, since they all acquiesce in it. But there is no truth in it. The mass of negroes are properly excluded from voting in the South, because as a class they lack the training, experience and temperament necessary to a proper exercise of the suffrage. All this seemed perfectly plain from the beginning; and yet it was only after a long and severe political agitation, accompanied by violence and bloodshed, that the South got rid of its rotten manhood suffrage governments; and it will take time and much talk to bring the American people to the point where they will feel compelled to apply to the ignorant and shiftless whites the principle then so fully illustrated, tried out and verified, that the suffrage is a function of government and cannot safely or justly be conferred on any class which is morally or mentally incompetent to perform it.{267}



It is expressing oneself very mildly to say that manhood suffrage produces inefficiency; rather one may say that inefficiency is of its very essence. Preparedness is a major essential of the management of our successful business enterprises, while unpreparedness is a characteristic feature of our government administration. To take a concrete and conceded instance. The Spanish war of 1898 found us totally unprepared for war; without guns, powder, artillery, transports or officers trained for high command. (Alger, Spanish-American War, p. 455.) Our troops in that war were not properly equipped, rationed or cared for. The cause, says Stickney, was “the wholesale fraud and corruption which then permeated the entire administrative force in Washington. That fraud and corruption still continue in full force.” In the New York Sun of February 7th, 1920, the leading editorial was on American want of preparedness. The writer said, “We are a people who will not practice preparedness. We did not prepare for war, we did not prepare for peace. We have never prepared for anything. But sooner or later the man that will not prepare must be damned.” This well-recognized want of foresight in national matters is not an American failing; it is entirely due to the manhood suffrage habit of voting into responsible positions men of intrigue and oratory instead of men of business. Says Reemelin, “There is not a bank, a factory, a store or a farm, which if managed on the basis of American government would not impoverish its owner.” (American Politics, 1881, p. 324.){268}

In every department of human activity, including government, the chief desideratum is efficiency. In the primary struggle for a bare existence, it is efficiency that wins. The first and principal enemy of man is Nature; her wildness and inclemency must first be overcome, and food, shelter and clothing be forced from her bosom at the price of an endless and ceaseless vigilance. As human society grows older the efficiency which comes of systematic training becomes more essential to its maintenance. People may doubt whether the world improves or whether human existence becomes more precious and enjoyable with the passing of time, but no one can doubt that life is growing more complicated every year. The increase of population, the achievements of invention, the growth of knowledge of our environment, and the cultivation of new tastes and desires have all tended and are tending with accumulated force to make life more difficult for the uninstructed and to increase the necessity for scientific thinking and acting in dealing with new problems. As stated by Mr. Lowell the specialization of occupations is brought about by complexity of civilization, growth of accurate knowledge, progress of invention and the keenness of competition. A few years ago a private citizen could take up a new business without prior preparation; he can no longer safely do so. The use of experts is increasing in business concerns and industrial enterprises. Universities are erecting new specialized departments. Sixty years ago there was scarcely a school of engineers in the country; to-day there are many of them. The inexorable rule of the tendency of the fittest to survive is still an active force in the world, and the recent struggle with Germany gave terrible warning that efficiency is more than ever the price of existence.

Next to the struggle with wild Nature comes the contest with human disorder and the necessity for government, in order that men may best secure and enjoy the spoils and fruits achieved from Nature; and again efficiency is the essential quality. We hear much these days about moral force; but{269} there is no force but material force; what is usually meant by moral force is the influence of moral ideas directing action, for without efficient action, moral ideas will be fruitless. They will not make crops grow nor cause a machine to operate, nor check the deadly velocity of a volley of musketry, nor save a sinking ship, nor check a conflagration; moral force will not win a battle, a campaign or a war, nor save a nation. Combe in his Constitution of Man, long ago pointed out that a pirate in a good sea-going ship was safer than a missionary in an unseaworthy one. Moral ideas may serve to give action a right direction; but training and force are necessary to make it effective; without training in action and a proper supply of material force, the moral ideas will never be manifested at all to our senses, and therefore efficiency in action is the final object of all practical teaching, and the true test of good government. Governmental efficiency means good order; wise legislation; foresight in public affairs; the proper selection of work to be done; the doing it well and expeditiously; speedy and impartial justice; good home administration generally and wisdom and firmness in foreign relations. It is difficult to see how a government which is efficient can be bad, or one which is inefficient can be good. In fact, efficiency makes more for human happiness than any other governmental quality. The ultimate object of the creation of the Federal Union was to secure increased efficiency in government. The old Confederation had been inefficient and was justly condemned and abolished; and the present Federal government was therefore established with powers as stated in the Constitution to levy and carry on war, to control and promote commerce, to establish and sustain postal facilities and a national coinage and to secure peace with foreign nations; all of which purposes might be included in the phrase “national efficiency.”

In an address delivered at Chicago, January 12th, 1918, by Otto H. Kahn, a patriotic and far-sighted New York business man familiar with German methods, he truly said:{270}

“One of the main reasons for Germany’s remarkable development in peace and amazing power of resistance in war, is the way she has dealt with the complex and difficult problems of economic, commercial and fiscal policy. She recognized, long since, that such problems cannot be successfully handled haphazardly or in town-meeting fashion, or emotionally; still less can they be made the football of politics. The German way has been to turn such matters over for study and report to those best qualified by experience and training, and thus having obtained expert advice to respect it and in its large outlines to follow it. And appointments to office are made not on a basis of political affiliations or personal friendship or social sympathies, but for experience and tested fitness.”

He is right, and it is a well-recognized fact that German efficiency in the late war enabled her to make head for over three years against the most powerful combination of modern times.

Consider the vast importance of the work of our own Congress and of our state legislatures. Think of what is committed to the charge of these bodies; reflect for a moment on the importance of our state affairs; our harbors, canals, railroads, highways, schools, colleges, courts of justice, penal and charitable institutions, public utilities, all the manifold commercial, political and criminal legislation of the State; and then glance at the immense fields of Congressional authority: the power of declaring war and making treaties; the maintenance and support of the army and navy; foreign affairs, tariffs; interstate railroads; the post-office; the federal courts of justice. The human mind is appalled at the magnitude of the task of properly governing the enormous population and of safeguarding the immense wealth and interests of the United States. The future political existence of the country and its status as a nation may and very probably will depend on the capacity and ability of its legislators and administrators. Yet but few voters realize the necessity of business experience and of technical knowledge to members of the state or national{271} legislatures. It is not sufficiently considered that by far the greater part of legislative work is made up of strictly business matters requiring special knowledge. Take for instance one item of Federal legislation, namely, that relating to the administration of 200,000 square miles of timbered land owned by the United States government—an area equal to France—where the people dwelling or operating in the lower regions derive their water from wooded uplands: and also relating to another area of 100,000,000 acres or 150,000 square miles containing petroleum, coal and other minerals. In these two tracts “The government will henceforth be selling standing timber to lumbermen, water power for electrical transmission, water for irrigation rights, and oil, coal, and mineral privileges, on an ever-increasing scale of magnitude; while it will rent grazing lands equal in extent to the greater part of the country east of the Mississippi River.” (Shaw on Political Problems, p. 114.)

This case is not exceptional in Congress as may be seen by the following list, which includes all the important general Federal legislation for the year 1917, which happens to be the latest at hand:

1. Increasing the membership of the Interstate Commerce Commission, and increasing the powers of the Commission.

2. Excess Profits Tax on Corporations.

3. Civil Government for Porto Rico.

4. Literary Test for Alien Immigrants.

5. Military Measures, namely, Declaration of War against Germany; Liberty Bond Issue; Ship and War Material Act; Draft Law; Food Control; Espionage; War Risk Insurance.

6. Appropriation Bills.

These measures are all of general effect and all require expert knowledge. It appears from a mere reading of the list that they are such as to presume and require in the legislators a knowledge of finance; taxation; shipping; food production; transportation; insurance; and other subjects.{272}

New York state legislation for 1917 dealt with the following subjects, all or nearly all relating to business matters: Court officers and judicial procedure; decedents’ estates; domestic relations, including marriage and illegitimacy laws; penal and criminal statutes; civil service laws; state accounting and budget; state police; municipal government regulations; sales act; warehouse receipt act; partnership; cold-storage; negotiable instruments; extradition; land registration; probate of wills; highways and motor vehicles; dog licenses; railroad crossing protection; commercial regulations relating to trading stamps; patent medicines; food products; blue sky law; insurance laws; corporations; regulation of public utilities; conservation of resources; taxation laws; the care of the insane; building regulations; banking; education; public health; liquor dealing and labor laws. This list is not at all exceptional and the public need of trained and informed men in government service is more apparent every day.

“There is now” (says Willoughby) “demanded on the part of our lawmakers, not only patriotism and political sagacity of the highest order, but scientific knowledge, and strict disinterestedness far beyond that formerly required. Many of the economic interests that are now discussed in our legislative halls require, in the highest degree, scholarly research and judgment.” (Nature of the State, p. 416.)

Now, when manhood suffrage was established here as an institution; when, as the twaddlers like to say, the people took command, it became the privilege and the duty of the ruling populace to establish and enforce proper standards of qualification for its representatives and agents. Its orators professed that they were going to show the world great results of popular government. The wretched practical results we know. But what efforts did they make? What have they in fact done in three generations towards securing efficiency in their elective officers? Absolutely nothing. If any despot had ever shown such complete disregard of decency and propriety in his system of appointments as our manhood suffrage democracy has,{273} he would be held up to public reprobation. Not only are and have been the state and national legislators and other elective officials commonplace or below commonplace in character and ability, but no effort whatever has been made or is being made; no scheme has been even proposed, whereby to secure men of efficiency for these important places in the gift of the people. The manhood suffrage electorates are reckless, unscrupulous and hopelessly behind the age; they never have recognized the growing need for efficiency. As Lowell says, “We are training men for all services but that of the public.”

In fact, the scheme of manhood suffrage makes no provision for efficiency, nor any serious pretence thereof; it ignores it completely in the selection of its agents and otherwise. Whatever efficiency may be secured in a democracy is obtained in some way other than by a manhood suffrage vote. The only test applied by the populace at an election is the oratorical test, and sometimes not even that. Its favorites at the polls are the talkers; by talk they become known; by talk they become candidates; by speeches they gain elections and by speeches they maintain their places. No one knows or cares whether they can do anything else but talk. No one ever heard of a candidate for an elective public office being required to produce proof of his equipment for the place. A candidate for alderman is not expected to have served an apprenticeship in any city department; nor to pass an examination in harbor facilities, sanitation, school management, public lighting, sewage, water supply, transportation nor any of the departments of city government. The candidate for mayor of New York is not required to know the contents of the Charter of the city. Congress is supposed to be the real governing body in this country, and would be such if it were not so scandalously incompetent and untrustworthy. But a man who can get by hook or crook on the machine ticket and can make what the rabble calls “a rattlin’ good speech” is qualified for a seat in Congress. Whoever heard of a candidate for Congress or a state legislature being required to know anything whatever{274} about anything or to have ever done anything as a prerequisite to his candidacy? Such tests would be inconsistent with the very theory of manhood suffrage as now entertained. That standards will ultimately have to be applied even to elective offices if democracy is to prevail no far-seeing man can doubt. And there is nothing impracticable about the suggestion. Even now, in the states where judges are elective, custom requires that the candidate shall have previously passed an examination for admission to the bar. There is no reason whatever why all candidates for elective offices should not be required to be reasonably qualified for the offices they seek; nor why the electors themselves should not be such persons as are qualified to vote, and have proved their fitness for the ballot by the record of their lives in the community. But the essential quality of manhood suffrage is that it rejects all tests for voters, and so beginning at the very source of government its anti-efficient influence extends all along the line, and tends to neutralize every effort to elevate the standard of democratic administration. Its spirit is directly opposed to the demand for efficiency in governmental affairs. Efficiency is exclusive, it applies tests, and rejects those who fail. Beginning with the voter, manhood suffrage refuses to apply to him any tests whatever, and denies not only the policy of their application but the right to use them. It views the elective franchise as the personal belonging of the individual, even the most ignorant and degraded, to be used to justify his whim, his pleasure, his spite, his prejudice. The newspapers, unconsciously perhaps, voice this spirit. We constantly read in the public press urgent invitations to vote, addressed to the careless or indifferent in politics, those who presumably have no compelling opinions and are therefore quite unprepared and unfit to vote. Instead of being warned of the wrong and danger of frivolous and ignorant voting, they are urged by the newspapers to go to the polls as if to take part in an amateur baseball game: “Come, join in; even if you don’t do it well; it’s the national game! There are prizes too, the spoils; and though you do{275}n’t compete yourself you may have the fun of seeing them distributed, and root for the victors.” People are more careless in voting for high officials than in hiring an office boy. They vote for men whom they do not know even by sight; whose very names are unfamiliar; and are usually quite unashamed of trifling with the suffrage in a manner deserving punishment. This is one result of our cheapening of the franchise.

If the reader will peruse the list of measures passed or considered by Congress or his state legislature for the current year, he will perhaps be able to judge whether his representative in Washington or in the state capital is competent to deal with such matters. Not one in a hundred is fit for the job. For most of the subjects of legislation the average public representative has had no previous training whatever. And if after long service he happens to become proficient in any of them, the chances are that he will be sent back to private life by the vote of a manhood suffrage constituency under orders of the district boss. As a consequence it is well known that the legislative output is and has been for generations past very inferior indeed. The abuse of state legislation is dealt with elsewhere in this volume; it is so notorious that it needs no proof, and is so vast that its complete discussion is far beyond the compass of this work. The reader experienced in politics is probably well aware that Ostrogorski is right, in his brief summary (p. 374): “The laws are made with singular incompetence and carelessness. Their number is excessive, running into volumes each session; but they are mostly laws of local or private interest. The motives which enter into the making of these laws are often of an obviously mercenary nature.” (Democracy.)

Before the German war the state legislative output in the United States was about fifteen thousand enactments per year, of which about one-third were public or general laws and the remaining two-thirds special and local statutes. This year it is probably greater. In a recent single session of Congress up{276}wards of twenty thousand bills and resolutions were introduced, of which about five thousand were passed, including nearly two thousand public or general laws. Probably nine-tenths of this legislation is unnecessary and a large part of it is undoubtedly vicious.

The just resentment of America’s business men is being constantly voiced at the manner in which business interests are being flouted by the doctrinaires and demagogues to whom our political system entrusts the reins of government. The following extracts from the address of Otto H. Kahn, before referred to, will serve to illustrate some phases of this attitude of business towards politics:

“A somewhat similar case is the railroad legislation which Congress enacted under the Taft administration. That legislation represented the tearing to shreds and the subsequent recasting, patching up and ill-devised piecing together by Congress of a carefully thought out, though, in my opinion, by no means faultless measure, which had been introduced with the backing of the Administration. You all know the result. The spirit of enterprise in railroading was killed. Subjected to an obsolete and incongruous national policy, hampered, confined, harassed by incessant, minute, narrow, multifarious and sometimes contradictory regulations, that great industry began to fall away. Initiative on the part of those in charge became chilled, the free flow of investment of capital was halted, creative activity was stopped, growth was stifled, credit was crippled....”

“What we business men protest against is ignorance, shallow thought or doctrinairism assuming the place belonging to expert opinion and tested practical ability. We protest against sophomorism rampant, strutting about in the cloak of superior knowledge, mischievously and noisily, to the disturbance of quiet and orderly mental processes and sane progress. We protest against sentimental, unseasoned, intolerant and cocksure ‘advanced thinkers’ being given leave to set the world by the ears and with their strident and ceaseless voices to drown the views of those who are too busy doing to indulge in much talking. And finally do we protest against demagogism, envy and prejudice, camouflaging under the{277} flag of war necessity and social justice in order to wage a campaign through inflammatory appeal, misstatement and specious reasoning to punish success, despoil capital and harass business.”

And further on:

“We deny the suggestion that patriotism, virtue and knowledge reside primarily with those who have been unsuccessful, those who have no practical experience of business, or, be it said with all respect, with those who are politicians or office holders.”

This remonstrance of Mr. Kahn is but a sample which might be multiplied by the hundreds. It is typical of a constant stream of complaints which business men in all parts of the country are continually uttering. The universal testimony of our merchants, manufacturers and financiers is that neither at the federal or state capitols do they find men either capable of understanding the rules and operations of business or willing to study them, or interested in the business prosperity of the people. If the reader will but examine a list of members of any legislative body he will understand the cause of this deplorable situation. Let him study the names of the delegation at present representing in the state legislature the immense interests of the City of New York, her commerce, manufactures, wealth and population. She ought to be represented there by the class of honorable and successful active or retired merchants; financiers of high standing; manufacturers of note and ability and leaders in the professions; by publicists; scholars, and men of the first prominence in labor organizations; to be or to have been a member of a state legislature should be a badge of honor. On that list he will probably find not one name known outside the ranks of petty ward politicians; and men of the high character above described would feel it as a stigma to have it said that they had served in a legislative body.

Next, as to the judiciary. It is the property of evil to spread, and it is one of the curses of the manhood suffrage system, that not content with control of the legislature which{278} is properly elective, it seizes upon and degrades the judicial and administrative branches of government which are both naturally appointive. Its effect upon the judicial bench has been necessarily bad, frequently covering the ermine with the mire of politics. During the period from 1865 to 1873 so many of the judges sitting in New York City were notoriously unfit and corrupt, that their doings furnished material for a great scandal. The state supreme court judges, elected by manhood suffrage, were the most conspicuous sinners, but many of the inferior judges, including those appointed by a manhood suffrage mayor, were equally unworthy. Bryce visited one of those courts, probably about 1870, and this is what he saw:

“An ill-omened looking man, flashily dressed and rude in demeanor, was sitting behind a table; two men in front were addressing him; the rest of the room was given up to disorder. Had one not been told that he was a judge of the highest court of the city, one might have taken him for a criminal. His jurisdiction was unlimited in amount, and though an appeal lay from him to the Court of Appeals of the State, his power to issue injunctions put all the property in the district at his mercy.”

He further declares that at that time there were on the bench in New York City, bar room loafers, broken-down Tombs attorneys, needy adventurers, whose want of character made them absolutely dependent on their patrons. “They did not regard social censure, for they were already excluded from decent society. Impeachment had no terrors for them, since the state legislature, as well as the executive machinery of the city, was in the hands of their masters. It would have been vain to expect such people, without fear of God or man before their eyes, to resist the temptations which capitalists and powerful company could offer.” And further:

“A system of client robbery had sprung up, by which each judge enriched the knot of disreputable lawyers who surrounded him; he referred cases to them, granted them monstrous allowances in the name of costs, gave them receiverships with a large percentage, and{279} so forth; they in turn either at the time sharing the booty with him, or undertaking to do the same for him when he should have descended to the Bar and they have climbed to the Bench. Nor is there any doubt that criminals who had any claim on their party often managed to elude punishment. The police, it was said, would not arrest such an offender if they could help it; the District Attorney would avoid prosecuting; the court officials, if public opinion had forced the attorney to act, would try to pack the jury; the judge, if the jury seemed honest, would do his best to procure an acquittal; and if, in spite of police, attorney, officials, and judge, the criminal was convicted and sentenced, he might still hope that the influence of his party would procure a pardon from the governor of the State, or enable him in some other way to slip out of the grasp of justice. For governor, judge, attorney, officials, and police were all of them party nominees; and if a man cannot count on being helped by his party at a pinch, who will be faithful to his party?” (American Commonwealth, Vol. II, pp. 637, 639, 640.)

Although this extremely degraded judiciary has passed away, yet the whole story is as pertinent today as it ever was, for the vileness Bryce describes was the result of the operation of manhood suffrage in a large city; and the same causes are still in existence. In practice in the great cities the higher state judges are usually selected by the political bosses; and the election is often a mere form, or at most a contest between rival bosses in which the public takes but a languid and futile interest. When the boss is a rich man as often happens in a great city, he gets to know some able lawyers and sometimes makes fairly good selections for the higher judicial vacancies. This is far better than the populace would be likely to do if left to themselves. Another means of protection for judicial honor has been the influence of an educated bar, endeavoring to enforce the traditions of the past, and the examples of other civilized countries to the effect that judges should be exempt from political influence and bias. But when all is said and done it is largely a matter of luck even in the highest courts whether the judges are fit{280} or otherwise. That the highest judges are still “bossed” is not a mere vulgar notion. How can they escape? In the election for judges of the highest New York courts in 1919, the charge that certain judicial candidates were “bossed” was publicly and persistently made by ex-judges and leading lawyers.

Of the California judges in 1877, Bryce says:

“The judges were not corrupt, but most of them, as was natural, considering the scanty salaries assigned to them, were inferior men, not fit to cope with the counsel who practised before them. Partly owing to the weakness of juries, partly to the intricacies of the law and the defects of the recently adopted code, criminal justice was halting and uncertain, and malefactors often went unpunished. It became a proverb that you might safely commit a murder if you took the advice of the best lawyers.” (American Commonwealth, Vol. II, p. 430.)

The most determined efforts of the lawyers of our great cities to make a manhood suffrage constituency understand a judicial election have been complete failures. It is sometimes amusing to see the straits to which lawyers and their intelligent friends are driven to keep the judiciary from degradation. In New York, for instance, where the judges are elected for fourteen-year terms, the lawyers hit upon the plan of demanding that sitting judges whose terms expire should always be renominated by the bosses, on pain of active opposition to the entire ticket, including their proposed successors. This really involved a violation of the spirit of the constitution, for it aimed at a life tenure for judges instead of the fourteen years fixed by that instrument, to which these lawyers had sworn allegiance. It further involved the absurdity of allowing the boss to select a judge, but never to drop him, no matter what his record; and it resulted that a candidate might be opposed by the bar the first time, but if elected would certainly be supported by them the next time without in either instance any real investigation of his record, character or attainments. All this absurdity has been and is committed by intelligent lawyers in their efforts{281} to avoid the risk of manhood suffrage popular elections of high judges. The reader can judge from this how lively the fear of popular judicial elections must be in the hearts of the lawyers of the city of New York.

There is of course something repulsive in the very thought of a judge of a high court being selected in an election contest, and of his owing his place to the suffrages of a low populace. And then, there is the practical objection to an elective judiciary, that a judge’s qualities are special and such as can only be ascertained upon personal acquaintance and by men of superior attainments. The office is properly an appointive one, but with manhood suffrage in play, some of the worst selections for the bench have been made by state governors, in order to reward followers or venal newspapers. There is really no remedy and no way of taking the judiciary out of politics while either the judge himself or the appointing power is created by manhood suffrage. The trail of the serpent is over everything that comes from that quarter. As for the lower courts, the selections of their judges have been scandalous; men have been put on the bench who were ignorant of the first principles of law; drunkards, reckless politicians, ignorant, dishonest, uncouth, unmannerly specimens who have sought judicial office because they had no taste for hard work, or because their ignorance or habits were such that they were unable to earn an honest living at the bar. Some of them are notoriously owned by politicians. Senator Breen says that “After being whispered about among a coterie of closest friends it becomes well-known that this particular politician owns a certain judge and can get him to do anything.... The miserable creature who is robed in judicial honors reposes in perfect ignorance of the ignominy which his acts of dishonor are bringing on his name. This has been the fate of many a judge.” (Thirty Years in New York Politics, p. 25.) A New York newspaper in the Tweed days said that there was no quarter of the civilized world where the name of a New York judge is not a hissing and a byword. The New{282} York bench has on the whole improved since 1871 when this was written; but it is very far from being what it ought to be, and its attainment of a high standard is impossible under manhood suffrage.

Taking the judicial system of the United States as a whole for the last three quarters of a century it must be said that the administration of justice has been inefficient; a large percentage of the judges have been and are unfit for their places; clerks and sheriffs corrupt and incapable; there have been chronic and intolerable delays; juries almost everywhere carelessly selected, and usually incompetent and morally weak or dishonest; inferior magistrates corrupt and unfit; many of the trial judges weak and slow and referees and masters grasping and extortionate. Congress and the several states have adopted the stupid policy of underpaying the bench, apparently on the theory that any lawyer is capable of being a judge; and of employing as few judges as possible in order to save some of the money elsewhere so wickedly squandered. These foolish economies to offset reckless waste are characteristic of the lower classes; they are given effect by universal suffrage, and harmonize with the whole inefficient outfit. The result is that in many cities important cases are on the trial calendars for months and even years waiting to be heard because there are not judges enough to hear them promptly; erroneous decisions of weak and ignorant judges keep the appellate courts busy ordering reversals and granting new trials; and a controversy that ought to be disposed of in a few months may drag along for years and until some of the witnesses have disappeared or died and others have forgotten all they once knew about the case. Mr. Bryce, in his American Commonwealth, treats the subject of the judiciary with great circumspection, and with an evident desire to speak well of the American bench, but is unable after “careful inquiries” to answer even in the matter of honesty for more than “nearly all the northern and most of the southern and western states.” He says that “In a few states, probably{283} six or seven in all, suspicions have at one time or another within the last twenty years attached to one or more of the Supreme judges,” and has “never heard of a state in which more than two or three judges were the objects of distrust at the same time.” It is worth while to stop to realize what this amounts to: from twelve to twenty dishonest judges of the highest state courts in the United States, actually sitting day after day, dealing out infamy under the name of justice; criminals put on the bench by the election machinery; a judiciary in six or seven states so tainted that the foul smell reached the nostrils of a visitor from other lands. This state of things makes one suspect a low standard for the entire judiciary, or at least for that of each of those six or seven suspected states, for it indicates the unscrupulous power of politics. In a state where even two or three judges sell or barter justice for politics, who will not suspect that others, promoted by the same bosses, or by the same system, are incompetent, careless or otherwise unfit?

The third class of public officers, being that which is generally styled administrative, ought not, any more than the judiciary, to be affected by politics and should therefore never be chosen by popular election. The function of the legislator is to enact new measures in accordance with the progressive needs of the people, and he should therefore to a certain extent consult their wishes in framing legislation. But the administrative official is there to obey and to enforce the law as it exists; his duty is merely that of an honest, painstaking expert, and his office should be appointive and should never be treated as political. This distinction between legislative and administrative officials is plain and wide to the vision of any man with the least knowledge of government; and yet in preparing the constitutions and laws with which they deign to provide us, it is frequently ignored by politicians in pursuit of political power and patronage; the pretense being the furtherance of democratic institutions and the rule of the people. And so in the great state of New York the attorney general,{284} the state engineer and surveyor, the secretary of state and the state treasurer have been made and are elective officials; and since female suffrage has been established in that state we have the edifying spectacle of those important offices being filled and their incumbents chosen, not by the governor of the state, nor by any body of experienced lawyers, engineers, business men or others somewhat acquainted with the workings of the respective offices and candidates, but by four millions of miscellaneous people; including motormen, hod carriers, servant maids, seamstresses, society ladies, firemen, boiler makers, farm laborers, gamblers, loafers, etc., of whom ninety-nine out of a hundred have no idea what an attorney general or a state engineer is, nor what are the duties of any of these officials, and would be unable the day after election even to name the candidates for whom they voted for those offices. In fact the gross ineptitude of the institution of manhood suffrage is nowhere more strikingly apparent than in the election of state officers in the Empire State.

Nowhere in private life is the principle of popular election applied to the choice of administrators or managers; such folly is confined to public affairs. The merchant service and the army and navy are not conducted upon the principle of universal suffrage; neither the crew nor the passengers, nor both united, are permitted to select the officers of a ship; nor are the rank and file permitted to vote for their officers in any navy, or in any well-disciplined army. The sick man does not choose his physician, nor the business man his lawyer or broker by taking the votes of his neighbors or friends. In all these instances, and in every similar case of necessary care in making a choice of an agent, the prerequisite which is insisted upon as first indispensable and controlling is efficiency; and such efficiency can only be obtained by intelligent selection. Administrative officials should always be possessed of character, experience, intelligence and other qualities which go to produce efficiency. Such possessions can only be recognized by those who are personally acquainted with the candi{285}dates and are competent to pass upon these qualities. Their selection should preferably be made by those who are to supervise their conduct in office, and to keep them up to the standard required. An appointing body is able to consider all the candidates who present themselves or whose friends present them; the electorate can only consider two or three to any advantage. The appointing body can examine personally all the candidates; the voters are incapable of properly examining any, and have neither the means nor the leisure for the careful scrutiny needed to estimate professional or expert qualifications. All administrative officers should therefore be placed in office by appointment of their superiors or supervisors who are to be held responsible for their conduct in office, and never by popular election at the polls. Of course, the politicians may reply, though they are not likely to do so, that the election of these state officers is a sham; that they are usually far from being the nondescripts whom the populace might choose if left unbossed; that they are really selected in secret long before election, by a political autocracy, which taking advantage of the ignorance and indifference of the mass of voters, sees to it that the powers and patronage of these offices go in the direction of selected favorites of the machine, not destitute of ability. This is at least partly true, for the tendency of manhood suffrage is to turn the elections into mere formal ratifications of the will of the bosses. And a machine appointment to an administrative office usually results much better for the public interest than a choice by manhood suffrage, especially where there are spoils in sight and where rival organizations sharpen their claws, as for instance in a mayoralty contest in a large city. Then ensues a real struggle, heightened by newspaper lies and clamor, with a tendency to give the victory to that one of the factions whose managers are most artful, impudent and mendacious. In the American Popular Science Review, February, 1918, p. 121, Edgar Dawson, speaking of the election of a city mayor, an office which under any rational system is treated as administrative, says:{286}

“Does it require argument to prove to thoughtful people that wise choice is not likely to be made in the midst of the revel of hysteria, sham, demagogy, falsehood and ignorance, which we call a direct popular election of administrative officers? Is choice likely to be wise when nine out of ten of those who make it know nothing of the candidates they support or oppose, and are equally ignorant of the work the candidates ask the privilege of doing?”

Thus arises a question difficult to decide, between appointments by a machine, and those of a machine-directed populace.

The immense importance of scientific management of cities is so obvious as not to need discussion. It is set forth in detail in a book published in 1918 by M. L. Cooke, Director of Public Works in Philadelphia, to which the reader is referred. The author states that “Governmental work, Federal, State and Municipal, is still almost exclusively in the unsystematized stage.”

Here is an extract from a competent writer, a man of actual experience in city matters:

When the Public Builds Buildings. Twenty-seven million dollars for a City Hall that was to have cost $7,000,000; no water on the second floor of a public bath because the water mains were made too small; an emergency order, without competitive bids, for repairing a police precinct, given to a contractor sixteen miles away; $20,000 for cleaning a City Hall that could be kept clean for $2,000; fifteen employees dead from tuberculosis in one germ-infested, dark, unclean room. What’s the use of multiplying examples?” (Woman’s Part in Government, by W. H. p. 330.)

The lack of efficiency in Federal administration which has been notorious for ninety years is due to the malign influence of manhood suffrage which renders it impossible to enforce standards of capacity. What Faguet calls “the religion of incompetency” is displayed even in the presidential appointments where men are moved about from office to office like checkers on a board, and put in places for which they have had no previous training whatever. This method of appointment{287} is in itself convincing proof, not merely of the unfitness of the appointments, but of the vice of the whole system of selection. A jack of all trades is master of none. What would be said of the fitness of a man to superintend a watch-making establishment who had never worked at the trade or business of maker or of dealer in watches, and whose entire experience had consisted of one or two years in each of the employments of carpenter, dentist, cook and piano tuner? Yet the practice of politics sanctions just such appointments as that would be. Even for great offices requiring the highest skill, preparatory training or experience is rarely required. Looking back from 1918; out of forty-four United States Secretaries of State from the beginning of our history, thirty-three were lawyers; only three or four had any previous diplomatic experience; out of the sixteen last Secretaries of the Treasury, twelve were lawyers and only four bankers; out of the last thirteen Postmasters General, only one had ever before been in the Post Office Department; of forty-nine Secretaries of War in our history thirty-five were lawyers; the others were editors, bankers, etc., and only three or four had any previous military experience; out of thirty-eight Secretaries of the Navy twenty-seven were lawyers, three authors, and seven were business men. Not one of them all had any naval experience prior to taking control of the United States Navy. A former Secretary of the Navy gave the writer to understand that he had been appointed principally to distribute the patronage and to hold the state politically in line. Now, while it is quite true that a knowledge of the law and a training in the art of reading and understanding law is extremely important to any cabinet official, yet surely a lawyer cannot be expected to build ships, conduct a post-office business, direct the diplomacy of a great nation or carry on war properly without any appropriate previous training whatever. Yet under a system of government by manhood or universal suffrage untrained men are sure to get these high appointments because they are vote-getters and can obtain the support of the controllable class for the party in power; in short because they{288} are machine men and the needs of the machine are first and imperative.

The extent to which some of these cabinet officers have been shifted about is astonishing. Mr. Cortelyou for instance had been stenographer and private secretary to President McKinley; and in a few years thereafter filled the offices of Secretary of Commerce and Labor, Postmaster General and Secretary of the Treasury. Mr. Meyer was Postmaster General under Roosevelt and Secretary of the Navy under Taft, the next President. Moody from the place of Secretary of the Navy under Roosevelt was suddenly jumped onto the bench and made Justice of the Supreme Court. Charles Bonaparte was Attorney General when he was shifted into the place of Secretary of the Navy. Now it is a sufficient tax on human credulity to ask one to believe that the original appointments of these men were made entirely because of fitness; but it exceeds the limit when we are required to suppose that while in the office of Postmaster General Mr. Cortelyou was really learning finance and becoming fitted for Secretary of the Treasury, while Mr. Meyer in the same Postmaster General’s office was becoming a great naval expert, a real seadog justified to be “Ruler of Uncle Sam’s Navee.”

It is notorious that all state appointments by the governor are made not for merit, but as a reward for political service, and invariably from the members of the political oligarchy who procured the governor’s election, or under their direction to members of their family or backers. The results are often grotesque. Look for a moment at a batch of state appointments; take the very first that happens to come to hand from New York. State Tax Commissioner W. was formerly State Comptroller and before that Postmaster. Election Superintendent R., formerly Assistant District Attorney in New York City, was before that in the Attorney General’s office in Albany and Superintendent of State Prisons. R. 2 was recently Collector of the Port of Rochester; he now holds a state office. Another couple:—V. has been successively Commissioner of{289} Excise, Commissioner of Police, Commissioner of Docks, Police Justice, Commissioner of Elections; Superintendent of Public Buildings; Superintendent of Elections. H. has held the offices of Deputy Collector of Internal Revenue; member of Board of Alderman; Grain Superintendent; Sealer of Weights and Measures; Superintendent of Streets and Clerk of the Court. The practice is the same in all states and cities, and these five instances could be easily increased to five thousand and with time and research to five hundred thousand. In fact it is rare to find a man of over thirty-five years of age in public office who has not filled several entirely different political employments. It is said that one of the members of the New York Constitutional Convention of 1846 proposed that public officials should be selected by lot; and it is doubtful whether in some cases the result would not be an improvement on the present system. Is it any wonder that government administration is a joke, an object of scorn to business men? Efficiency cannot be expected in any department of government or business whose chief is ignorant of the details of its operations. And yet so demoralizing has been the effect of the manhood suffrage political tradition, so accustomed are not merely the politicians but the public to the vicious practice of distributing these most important offices as rewards for political work, that the proposal to require them to be filled by men of experience and training in the work of their respective offices would probably be met with derisive laughter in every governmental department.

Let us not flatter ourselves, therefore, that under a manhood suffrage government any real improvement can be obtained by the mere expedient so often urged of filling the offices by appointment instead of by election. Experience teaches the contrary. At present the appointments to office, whether made by the president, governor or other officer are of the same general character as those made by popular election; that is, they are nearly all bad; the spirit of Jackson still controls most of them; the spirit of politics, of deference to the will of{290} the machine, of compliance with the theory on which universal suffrage stands; the theory that participation in the activities, honors and emoluments of government is a sort of perquisite of citizenship or privilege in which each citizen is entitled to share. This pernicious theory must be forever cast out of our political system and replaced by the true one; namely, that both the vote and office are to be entrusted only to the qualified, before we can expect permanent improvement in the administration of public affairs. In vain we may continue the long struggle to abolish the spoils system as long as every candidate from the president down to constable has to face the demands of the insatiable regular army of the politicians. Not only every legislative candidate, but every aspirant for a judicial or administrative office, has now in one way or another to satisfy these disciplined gangs of political marauders, their bosses and their machines. These hireling bands must be disfranchised and disbanded and the institution of manhood suffrage overthrown before efficiency will become an established feature of our governmental system.

Of the fact that a pure and efficient administration of public affairs is possible there cannot be the slightest doubt. The result was actually achieved in this country in federal administration by President Washington, and continued in the forty years that intervened till Jackson’s time. It has also been accomplished by ourselves in the Philippines, by the French and Dutch in some of their colonies, and notably by Great Britain in all parts of the world. Read for instance the report from which the following is an extract, made by Alleyne Ireland, a specialist in Colonial affairs, appointed Colonial Commissioner in the Far East, by the University of Chicago. (North American Review, May, 1918.)

“Administration as a non-political function of government is a conception unfamiliar to the American mind; and I propose to describe in outline how administrative problems appear to the eye of a man who has spent twenty years in studying those forms of government in which administration is conducted on a non-political{291} basis. I have observed in actual operation ten distinct forms of government which conform to this condition. They are the Crown Colony System in various British Colonies; the Central Government of India; the Indian Provincial System in Burma; the system of Protected Native States in the Malay Peninsula; the Government of a Commercial Company in Borneo; the Rule of an Independent White Raja in Sarawak; the early American Government in Mindanao; limited Parliamentary Government in British Guiana and Barbados; the French Colonial System in Indo-China; and the Dutch Colonial System in Java. In the countries I have named there are administered the public affairs of more than 300,000,000 people. Although these governments have been constantly attacked on the ground of their lack of a popular political element it is the general verdict of those who have observed them in action that, leaving political participation aside, they furnish this vast population with a larger measure of the tangible fruits of good government than is enjoyed by any people under the more ‘liberal’ constitutions of Europe and America.... The influence exerted upon policy by the one and by the other of these two modes of procedure differs profoundly. In the United States the matter is decided, initially, by some hundreds of men, and many having strong political motives for taking a particular view; in India the matter is decided, initially, by six men, each of whom is a trained and experienced administrator, and none of whom has any electorate to please, any powerful business interest to placate, or any political party to support. In the former instance the veto rests with one man who may have no more than an amateur’s acquaintance with the question involved; in the latter the veto also rests with one man, but this man is, in practice, guided by the advice of the India Council, a body of from ten to fourteen men, sitting in London, composed as to the majority, of ex-Indian officials of long service and varied administrative experience.”

We are not lacking in material in America; we have the best in the world; energetic, honest, upright, clear-headed, healthy, vigorous, disinterested, patriotic, well-educated men; noble fellows, plenty of them; eager for work; but they are not in politics and never will be there under the present vile régime. It is just because they prize honor and reputation{292} that they stay out of politics. Bryce truly says that “the American system does not succeed in bringing the best men to the top. Yet in Democracy more perhaps than in other governments, seeing it is the most delicate and difficult of governments, it is essential that the best men should come to the top.” What prevents our best men from coming to the top? What prevents our having in this country the purity and efficiency witnessed by Mr. Ireland in ten different jurisdictions? Principally, our political spoils system, whose source and support are manhood suffrage and the controllable vote. Secondarily, our failure to recognize formally and actually the principle of efficiency as the prime essential in government. Such recognition will neither be genuine nor effective unless it begins with requiring an efficient electorate. After that what remains to be done will be comparatively easy and natural. Without it, the cause of substantial reform is practically hopeless.{293}



The qualities which render a government popular or successful at home do not always work for efficiency in foreign relations. In home matters the nation discusses, divides, and experiments; in its foreign relations it must act as one man and present to the other nations the same single attitude as would be offered by a dictatorship. Therefore it has been often said that a democracy is apt to be weak in its foreign policy, because it has to reconcile so many opinions before it can effectually act. But this weakness is not inherent in every conceivable democracy; it is possible for a democratic electorate if sufficiently intelligent to select one man or a small group of men to represent it in foreign affairs with firmness and ability. This, however, cannot be expected from an unintelligent constituency such as manhood suffrage provides, much less from an organization for spoils such as it has developed and placed in power in the United States.

The manhood suffrage politicians who have had the popular ear for the past century have not understood the necessities or proprieties of our foreign relations, and have misinformed the people on the subject. They have adopted the cheap newspaper attitude of sneering at skill, tact and secrecy and applauding truculence and bluff in foreign diplomacy. They have never realized the value of trained and cultivated statesmanship. Its importance is however transcendent. As long as the world continues to be composed of many different nations each including large populations, differing more or less in race, religion, habits and prejudices from each of the others,{294} there will be new and delicate situations constantly arising, requiring the practice of tact, statesmanship, diplomacy, and a historical as well as a present day practical knowledge of foreign countries. But under the system of universal suffrage the populace is king, the machine is his chief minister, the cheap daily press is his mouthpiece, and statesmen and diplomats are not valued by either. The inferior newspapers want men in office who depend not on merit but on advertisement; who rely for promotion on journalistic control of a public which gets all its information from the daily press. They prefer politicians who toady to them to statesmen who despise their ignorance, their lies and their vulgarities. It is the custom of both politicians and newspapers to belittle statesmanship, because the politicians have no knowledge of its history and capacities, and because real statesmen are indisposed to tolerate the pretensions and the interference of either newspapers or politicians. All three, populace, press and political machine, would like to see the general policy of the nation, including its foreign affairs, confided to such politicians as would seek guidance rather in the opinions of the mob and the columns of the newspapers than in studies of the history of foreign politics, of economics, of institutions and of the dynamic forces of the time.

There can be no successful diplomatic or even business negotiation without a decent amount of secrecy. The cheap newspapers dislike this precaution. They pretend to see no need for secret diplomacy; they insist that all negotiations between nations should be public. They are not prone to understand pride or delicacy in any quarter, and would like to see made public the private transactions not only of nations but of individuals, so that they might thus satisfy the cheap curiosity of their readers; for this reason they are opposed to the law of libel and to every protection to human privacy. They tell us in their flippant and cock-sure way that diplomacy and secrecy are not necessary parts of the policy or of the procedure of a free nation; that all treaty negotia{295}tions should be open; and they are fond of denouncing with a great show of moral indignation the secret diplomacy of the so-called autocracies of the world. But common sense teaches us that as long as national pride continues, and treaties are to be made and war and peace decided upon by governments, that is to say, as long as opposing and warlike nations exist, secrecy will be necessary in the discussion of treaties and in all important international negotiations; and that the government which neglects to use the precaution and to give the guaranty of secrecy will be sometimes left in the lurch.

We hear a lot about a League of Nations in these days. The greatest and most successful league of sovereign powers ever established was this Union of States by and under a Constitution which was forged and created at Philadelphia in 1787 by some forty educated and propertied gentlemen working in absolute secrecy. Neither the newspapers nor the populace was allowed to be present or to be represented at their deliberations, nor to know what was going on, nor to read or otherwise learn of their debates or processes, therefore the delegates were able to work untrammelled and to produce good results. Absolute secrecy in its construction made our American Constitution possible.

Besides secrecy, great skill is required in the making of treaties and constitutions. The nations whose rulers and diplomatic agents are chosen under a system of universal suffrage, of government by demagogues and platform ranters who are allowed and expected to distribute diplomatic posts among their supporters; such nations will suffer in competition with those whose polity brings to the front and puts in command a set of trained educated statesmen and diplomats. The two greatest triumphs of the United States in its entire history were diplomatic achievements; and both were accomplished by statesmen trained under the old property qualification suffrage system, before manhood suffrage had cheapened our institutions. It was diplomacy, and secret diplomacy at that, which under the astute management of Franklin obtained for{296} the American States the aid of France and made successful the American Revolution. It was diplomacy, secret and highly skilled diplomacy, which procured in 1803 the cession to the United States by France of Louisiana, from which territory nine great states and the greater part of four others were created and which made the United States a real power in the world. The story of that acquisition as described by Fiske is that of one of the greatest diplomatic achievements in history; and, after making all allowances for good luck in the affair, we find there pictured a statesmanship and a patriotism calculated to thrill the heart of every American. The men who were most conspicuous on the American side from first to last in that transaction, were not of the class of politicians who are to-day being chosen for high office by the popular vote; they were Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Robert R. Livingston; all of them men of position, property, good family, descent and education. All but Washington were college graduates. All were brought to the front by a system established upon the votes of a propertied electorate.

As government by the propertied class was successful in diplomacy in those old days, so that of manhood suffrage has been a diplomatic failure in our own time. The most recent and terrible instance of the direful results of lack of governmental efficiency has been that of the episode of the German War just concluded. Democracy was not only unprepared in 1914 for the struggle with Germany, but it completely failed to foresee or even to suspect its approach. The crisis of 1914 found the four great democratic nations of the world deficient in military organization, in preparation for defense, and in international vision and information. Granted the existence of a Germany, armed to the teeth, and sharpening her sword for mischief, Democracy should have had in charge of its foreign affairs men with vision sufficient to enable them to foresee or at least to conjecture her designs. Of these designs her democratic neighbors had no conception, and the United States was as unsuspecting as a child. No effort had been{297} made to study the situation. Our rulers were mere vote-getters, local politicians, with a ridiculously small knowledge of foreign affairs, and of the dreadful impending future no vision whatever. We had then and we have now no adequate foreign affairs organization at Washington or abroad; and no sufficient popular conception of the need of one. It was part of the business of an efficient national government in 1914 to understand thoroughly our foreign relations; and therefore to keep competent representatives in all foreign countries; to measurably understand the policy of Germany and every other first class power and its true significance; the extent of Germany’s military and naval preparations and their object, and the issues involved in the war; it was its business to realize our true interests therein; to keep informed of every phase of the struggle as it proceeded; to lead and advise the press and the representatives of the people on all these matters; to cause due preparation to be made for all eventualities, and to prescribe a consistent and dignified policy for the nation. No one can possibly deny that the Washington administration failed in all and every one of these respects. It did none of these things; and let us haste to say that it is not to be supposed that the opposite party could have done any better. In these important matters Washington could not help but fail, because our political system created by universal suffrage and guided by its paltry spirit makes no provision for statesmanship or diplomacy; for forethought, sagacity and profound policy in foreign affairs; nor for preparation for great wars. Nor were the other great democracies, Great Britain, France, or Italy, much better off, as is shown by the miserable Russian fiasco, when they and ourselves, with an incredible fatuous folly permitted and even aided or encouraged the Bolsheviki and their German assistants to destroy the Russian alliance, by deposing the friendly Czar who was maintaining a government which had fought nobly and effectively for the common cause, and which was the only civilized government possible in Russia. It was then in the power of the Allies backing the Czar to{298} have stamped out Bolshevism. They allowed him to be deposed by a gang of adventurers, while we stupidly applauded and raised the silly cry that Russia was now a democracy; a free country forsooth. Misled by our ignorant and worthless Foreign Office the masses who foolishly believe that freedom consists in merely voting at elections were delighted; our politicians and newspapers really or affectedly joined in this senseless joy; and the few among us who understood what was really being done were unable to get a hearing. Civilization in Russia and the cause of the Allies was betrayed by the ignorance of the politicians who controlled the Allied policies, and the result has been the loss of tens of thousands of American lives and billions of American dollars.

A corresponding inefficiency was displayed elsewhere by the great allied democracies. From the moment of the first blare of the German war trumpet in 1914 we saw them piteously struggling to free themselves from the burden of the political ineptitude which this pernicious system of universal suffrage and vote-getting politics had fastened upon each of them; striving to oust the democracy of ignorance and weakness, and to give the aristocracy of merit the place it must have before the fierce contest could be won. Some of the incompetents chosen for office by the much vaunted elective system were pushed to the rear out of sight; some were otherwise got rid of or superseded; and some were slowly trained up to the efficiency they should have already possessed before being put in places of trust and power. In the meantime, there was over there failure and again failure; failure in Serbia; failure in Greece; failure in Rumania; failure in Ireland; failure in Russia. And here in our own country as the war proceeded, want of foresight, want of preparation, inefficiency and waste; and though democracy conquered at last it was by sheer weight of numbers and resources, while its slowness to understand, to decide and to act brought us to the very verge of disaster and cost untold lives and money, which efficiency would have saved.{299}

For the benefit of short memories, the writer presents here a few extracts from publications pointing out our criminal want of preparation for defense at all times prior to 1918. For this situation, each political party blames the other; the fact being, that the fault is chargeable, not to any party, group or individual, but to our political system and cheap traditions.

“And we are unprepared. We have neither gates nor bars. We are careless of the future, and the machinations of wicked men and the ambitions of royalty. We sit in fancied security, trusting to the potency of our riches and the divinations of our stargazers. We are fat, otiose, spineless, insolent and rich. Could the devil himself add anything to this catalogue to make us riper for plucking?” (Henry D. Estabrook—“Bewaredness,” the American Academy of Political and Social Science. The Annals, July, 1916.)

“The term, a ‘fool’s paradise,’ describes to perfection the dreamland in which Americans have slumbered for years in their complacent indifference to national defence.” (Huidenkoper’s Military Preparedness, p. 252.)

“We never want to face another (war) in such ridiculous helplessness as has crippled us in facing this one.” (New York Mail, Ed. July 26th, 1917.)

“More than thirty months after the outbreak of the European War, with all its terrible lessons, we have still to lay the statutory foundations of a proper system of land-defense.” (H. L. Stimson, Scribners’, April, 1917.)

“The United States of America is prepared for war neither commercially nor physically.... We have neither a merchant fleet to carry our commerce nor any army and navy to protect it.” (Chicago Evening Post, Feb. 14, 1917.)

“The crisis finds us unprepared.” (Chicago Tribune, Feb. 15th, 1917.)

A well-known authority on naval and military affairs, writing in the Outlook of April 11th, 1917, says, p. 651:

“The greatest fault in democracy is the lack of imagination of its administrators. Our press are held in the hollow of the hands of{300} political men whose knowledge of the art of war is only of the primary school standard.”

“The European War has demonstrated to our people, among many other things, that this country is as unprepared on land to defend herself in case of an attack as was Belgium.” (Adj. Gen, Charles H. Cole, of the Mass. National Guard, Worcester Magazine.)

“The close of 1915 found the United States Government involved in most serious diplomatic differences with Germany and Austria.... The Navy, which in 1904 stood second in strength, is now third in material strength and fourth or fifth in the strength of personnel.... As showing the farcical weakness of our mobile land forces, it is sufficient to say that we have in the continental United States to-day only 30,000 effective militia, but, in the event of a surprise invasion, it would take thirty days to concentrate these 90,000 regulars and militia against the enemy.” (Scientific American, Jan. 1st, 1916.)

“At a moment when by the sheer force of perfect preparedness Germany is winning victories all along the line against the greater part of Europe allied against her, we permit our army to sink close to the point of inefficiency.” (New York American, Oct. 31, 1914.)

“America is wasteful, chiefly through lack of efficient organization. We are now spending, under recent military legislation, enormous sums for a totally obsolete kind of regular army.... We have voted to build a large navy, and are taxing the people to pay immense bills, but have not enough collective efficiency to spend the money and get prompt results.” (Review of Reviews, Feb., 1917.)

“Secretary Garrison has shown us that the entire army of the United States available for movement to a point of danger is less than three times the number of New York’s policemen.” (Review of Reviews, Feb., 1916.)

Here is the case of England, another democracy, presented in an extract from an article in the North American Review for July, 1918, by A. Maurice Low:

“When England entered the war against Germany it was not exactly with a light heart, but it was only with a faint conception of the magnitude of the task she faced and the strain it would impose upon her. Instead of immediately adopting conscription, she{301} dallied with it, talked about it, made it a political question, and then accepted a compromise, which is the usual English fashion, and only when much valuable time had been lost and the emergency was so great that further delay was impossible, universal service was enforced. It was the same with many other things. The blockade of Germany was lax because of the timidity of the Foreign Office. Business as usual was our boast, and we went about our several ways spending money foolishly and refusing to be put on rations or voluntarily reducing our consumption of luxuries.... Time, of course, taught us wisdom. We bought our experience and a pretty price it cost us.”

Not only were the American people unprepared for physical action of any kind at the outbreak of the war of 1914, but the Congress then sitting in Washington was mentally unprepared and unequipped for dealing with that or any similar situation. It needed first rate men; and manhood suffrage furnished and is still furnishing the Capitol with a supply of third and fourth raters. It is not merely that they were wrong on the European situation; the fact is that they were nowhere; that a large proportion of them had no opinions whatever on the questions involved in the conflict, and were incapable of forming any; they were absolutely ignorant of European politics; were unable to read a French newspaper or to understand the political discussions of an English one; a few or none of them had ever made an adequate preparation for a congressional career; they were mere vote-getters, representatives of the political machines of their respective districts; they waited for the newspapers to tell them what was the popular thing and for the bosses to inform them as to the strength of the German vote. At every step in the nation’s progress from August 1914 to the declaration of the state of war in February 1917 the country and the President showed plainly that they did not trust Congress; and Congress showed plainly that it did not deserve to be trusted in such an emergency. Neither the manhood suffrage Congress nor the manhood suffrage administration nor its political opponents in Congress took the lead at{302} any time during this fateful period in forming, enlightening, instructing or fixing public opinion; they lacked courage and statesmanship to do it, and the nation finally got into the war by the process of drifting stern foremost. Once in, and blood drawn, real work began with the officers of the army and navy acting and compelling action; and after all when it comes to waving the banner and making appropriations our congressmen are seldom derelict.

The popular belief in the inefficiency of the Federal government, and the mischievous operation of the rabble vote, are manifested by the unwarranted meddling of individuals and groups of individuals with the administration of our foreign affairs. Any one looking into the New York Times on a certain day in July in the year of grace 1919 might have there read of the activities of the “National Association for the Protection of American Rights in Mexico,” whose principal offices are in New York City and which seems to be a regularly organized and possibly incorporated body with directors and other officers. The intentions of the members of this association may be innocent enough, yet the fact is undeniable that the United States is and ought to be the true and only “National Association for the Protection of American Rights” not only in Mexico but everywhere; and it is difficult to imagine just what this Society can perform in pursuance of its avowed purpose without undue interference with the sovereignty and proper functions of the United States Government, and without endangering the peace of the two countries mainly affected. And although the whole community ought to have been shocked at an organized movement founded on a contempt for the Federal government and a belief in its incompetence or worse, it seemed to excite no comment, and there was probably little notice taken of this particular half column of the newspaper except by those directly interested in Mexican affairs. In the same and other newspapers of the same week were items of news concerning an agitation openly being carried on in New York, Boston, and other large Ameri{303}can cities to forcibly overthrow the government of Great Britain, as it actually exists in Ireland, and to establish in its place not merely another government, but another form of government. At the very time this scandalous agitation was being promoted by solicitations, subscriptions and collections of money, and the usual acessories of dinners, receptions and bunkum speeches by politicians, the United States was just finishing a great war in practical alliance with Great Britain; the moral ties which bound the two nations were of the strongest; each owed its very existence at that moment to the other; and the two had just signed a compact binding them to unite in defense of France. The proposals of the agitators, if they meant anything practicable, were therefore in every way improper and seditious; they included a breach of faith toward Great Britain, a betrayal of France and a disregard of the best interests of the United States. It is true that few take these agitators seriously or believe that they will attempt a revolution in Ireland or that if they should they could possibly succeed; it is doubtful if all the world combined would be able to wrest Ireland from England by force; it is true also that the majority of the American people probably believe that the so called Irish grievances have no substantial existence, and really mean no more that the exclusion from power of a set of political adventurers. But the agitators count on the well-known weaknesses of the British and American governments, both chosen by universal suffrage, and the equally well-known fact that a minority if sufficiently well-organized and impudent can bully and humbug its way along far enough to be certain to get money and place for its chiefs and always with a chance of some substantial concessions to its desires. Already the money is coming in, and the leaders are living in luxury, at the expense not merely of their dupes but of the friendly relations of the United States with Great Britain and Canada and of its reputation for good faith in its foreign relations.

The nation is in constant danger of being pushed into serious difficulties by the interested meddling with its foreign{304} affairs of political adventurers and fanatics who would never think of daring to thus insult and interfere with a government founded upon an electorate composed of the propertied and intelligent classes, nor to bully a Congress representing them. For it is reasonable to suppose that the immediate effect of excluding the irresponsible voters from the congressional elections would be to smash the machines, and to clear the way for such an improved representation in Congress, as would certainly be demanded by a constituency of men of substance and education. To sit in Congress might become once more a distinction worthy of the ambition of proud, honorable and able men; the standard of its membership would be sensibly elevated; the administration backed or criticised as the case might be by a really able and high-minded Congress would at once be stimulated and encouraged to energetic action on the highest attainable level, and America would present as she ought a firm and thoroughly intelligent attitude towards the rest of the world.{305}



One of the incidents of manhood suffrage is the practice of rotation in office, which may be called a by-product of manhood suffrage and represents a doctrine which is only applicable to machine politics. It is sometimes supposed to mean that a public office is a desirable job at which every man should have his turn; but this arrangement is impossible, since there are not nearly offices enough for that purpose even with replacements once a year, which is the limit of frequency thus far proposed for office shifts; and although the politicians are assiduous in making new laws and creating new officials to enforce these laws; who are to be found registering, recording, inspecting and reporting in every possible direction; though they discourage diligence in office and encourage short hours and idleness in office holders, so as to still leave a show of employment for others; yet with all they can do, there will still be one hundred candidates for each place, and ninety-nine of them disappointed. In practice therefore the bestowal of good offices under the rotation system is necessarily limited; its benefits are usually confined to the machine politicians and to a certain number of favored candidates for machine favor; and the vision of a future turn at the public provender is for most party followers altogether illusory.

The doctrine of rotation in office has acquired a certain favor in political circles, because it serves as an excuse for replacing competent and experienced officials by new and in{306}competent ones, for enforcing the “spoils” system, and aids in keeping in hand the controllable vote.

It is born of the same civic immorality as the manhood suffrage doctrine, and is an incident or offshoot of the vicious theory that the vote is a natural right or privilege of the citizen. The manhood suffrage claim is that the vote is for the benefit of the voter; the rotation doctrine is that the office exists for the advantage of the office holder. The two claims are related. On the one hand if the vote be regarded as a function to be exercised only by the capable, then it is easy and natural to insist upon proper qualifications for public office holders and for permanency in office for the qualified; on the other hand, if the citizen, as such, has an absolute right to vote, why not to hold office? The analogy between a voter and an office holder is not perfect, but it has often been found in practice sufficient to satisfy the popular mind, unaccustomed to disinterested reflections. You may say that the fact that a man is allowed to vote is no reason why he should be permitted to hold office, and business men or men of property will agree with you, for they are not easily tempted to seek public employment. Not so, however, your voter who has neither property nor settled income, nor business capacity sufficient to acquire either. His education often early tends towards office seeking; he is strongly advised by the newspapers and by twaddlers generally, to take part in the primaries, to become active in politics; and if he does so, he soon learns just how the thing is done. Why may not he then have a turn at the trough as well as another? The politicians encourage this attitude. They are of course strongly in favor of rotation in office as a system which is in every way capable of use to the advantage of machine politics. It accomplishes two things for them; it creates office vacancies, and it dispenses with merit in filling them, leaving them absolutely at the disposition of the machine to reward party services. The politicians therefore are able and willing to persuade the uneducated voters of the virtue of office rotation. Nor could{307} they well openly condemn it. You cannot admit the shiftless and ignorant into the electorate, and then systematically spurn the ideas and claims which are natural and appropriate to them as a class. One of these ideas is, that one who has held any office a couple of years has had a fair share, and ought to be satisfied to give way to someone else; and that if he insists on coming up for re-election no matter how competent he may be, he should be “knifed” as they say. And so we have in this country to a mischievous extent the doctrine and system of rotation in office as one of the troublesome and vicious incidents and results of manhood suffrage.

It is interesting to note the dealings of the political managers with this rotation doctrine, which as already stated is impossible of practical enforcement except in a very limited way. They have no idea of permitting this or any other theory to operate to their personal disadvantage. The leaders must in any case be constantly fed at the public crib; they must in any event be well provided for or the whole system would collapse. In order therefore to keep up the illusion of rotation for all, and a show of fairness, the managers are constantly shifted about from one office to another. In this way there is in fact a continuing series of changes among the office holders; and as a rule no sooner does an incumbent become familiar with his duties than he is displaced; but if he be a faithful party man he is at once put on the list for something else. In fact, all of the class of regular politicians are practically in office for life; the only effect of our frequent elections being that they are constantly shifted from one office to another. If any one will take the trouble to compare the list of office-holders from year to year, he will see that most of the names appear in successive administrations; but that they are moved from place to place with the change in the political fortunes of the different parties. When a candidate is defeated at an election, he is usually, if a good politician, soon afterwards appointed to another office; if necessary, a new office is created for him. If defeated at a city election, he{308} may be appointed to a federal office; if his party loses the federal election, he soon turns up in a state or city office, and so on; and so we have in the career of a politician a sort of ambulatory office incumbency. He may be in turn tax collector, district attorney, secretary or commissioner of this or that, judge or justice, state senator, county clerk, foreign consul and so on. If high up in the party, he will appear in the president’s cabinet, or as a foreign minister or as member of some high salaried commission. Being a politician he is supposed to be eligible for anything and everything, and when at last he dies endowed with honors and with usually a fair amount of cash after a life which has certainly been spent in the service of his country, his newspaper obituary will point out to an edified world how men of humble origin prosper in this free land.

This system has the effect of strengthening party discipline; under it every office holder is much more obligated to the party boss than to the public. True, he apparently owes his election to the people; but usually only apparently; since most of the votes he receives are strictly party votes, representing merely the will and the direction of the boss and the machine. But to the latter the candidate’s obligation is clear, direct and personal; to them he owes his nomination, or at least the suggestion of his name to the primaries which makes his election possible; and if defeated at the polls, his future is still in their friendly hands. The party leaders and managers being thus cared for, and their faithful service forever secured by the distribution among them of all the best public employments, guaranteed by the rotation system developed into a “steady job insurance” scheme, there remain the inferior county, city, town and village offices for apportionment among the smaller fry, and to these minor places a real rotation system is applied to a greater or less extent. It is often understood that a sheriff, alderman, tax collector, police magistrate, town solicitor or attorney, county clerk, town or village official, etc., must be satisfied with one or two terms and then give{309} place to some other more hungry politician. This is the rotation system in practice.

The demoralizing results of such a custom are easy to be seen among us and still more easily imagined. Many public office holders in view of the probable brevity of their tenure, try to hold on at the same time to both private business and public office, with the natural result that both are neglected. Elections are expensive. An official owing last election’s bills finds the next one approaching with marvellous rapidity. From rigid enforcement of laws enemies might result, from whom next year’s candidate need expect neither money nor support, but rather opposition; and after all, one year in office is a paltry reward for a faithful party man after many years of fruitless canvassing. And so comes lax administration, blinking of the eyes and scandal more or less smothered. And in this and other ways the character of the office holder is impaired. The lure of this kind of politics is as demoralizing as that of gambling. Thousands of individuals who uncorrupted by political life might have remained honest and industrious citizens, are spoiled for real steady work by their experience of easy living at the public cost, and become half knavish and altogether poor business men, and sometimes even debauched and intemperate. And if the office holder does his very best it usually happens that just when he has learned his duties and begins to perform them well, his term approaches its finish and a greedy greenhorn takes his place.

Everybody knows this and that it is all wrong. No one would think of proposing such a vicious system for any private business; everyone is aware that employés become more valuable with experience and training, and that the success of a business establishment depends largely upon keeping its old force in service year after year. Indeed, if justice requires rotation in the well-salaried offices, the system should be greatly extended, for after all, these political offices are not the real prize employments; they are found in the high places in banks, banking houses and great industrial and mer{310}cantile establishments. But no one suggests than in a democracy there should be rotation of private employment, that a bank cashier has had enough after two years of $20,000 a year and that a mill superintendent should retire after three years at $6,000 and be both replaced, one by a patriotic bank porter and the other by a radical travelling salesman. The service of the people is the only one that professional patriots insist upon breaking down by frequent changes in the working force; by constant disorganization.

The reason for this hard treatment of the public service seems to be that it sounds democratic and alluring to say that public office is a prize open to all. It is remarkable how willing people are to be gulled by catch phrases and sayings, like this of “rotation in office,” “government by the people,” and the like. The first Napoleon caught a lot of gudgeons by the saying that every private soldier carried a marshal’s baton in his knapsack. American youths are gravely told that each of them has a chance to become president of the United States; another humbug, since about only one man out of every million can possibly reach that office, no matter what the merits or deeds of the others may be. Suppose some one opens Carnegie Hall, New York, free to all comers to hear Caruso sing at a certain day and hour; no one could say that he was excluded by the terms of the invitation; and yet the manager would know perfectly well that only three thousand could possibly be admitted, and that all who came after the first three thousand would better have stayed at home. It would sound to the thoughtless like a more generous and democratic act than the distribution of three thousand free tickets, and yet it would in reality be less so; it would indeed have somewhat the effect of a fraud on all except the first three thousand. Now something like this invitation is what is offered the American people when they are each invited, as they constantly are invited, by the politicians in their universal suffrage constitutions to come in and take a part as public officials in the government of the nation. It is in every way impossible for all of us, or{311} for more than a very few of us to do so; and all they really can and do offer us is just what we would have under a restricted suffrage, namely leave to fight or wheedle our own way to public employment or to political influence in the face of all who are determined to forestall us, the number whereof is by these very constitutions made as numerous as possible. And the so-called democratic invention of rotation in office is just another worthless and fraudulent gift, of leave to each of us, to struggle for a paltry office in competition with every political adventurer in the community; when by the very terms of the gift, the office itself is stripped of all honor and dignity, and has attached to it the certainty that the winner is almost certain to be deprived of the employment as soon as he shall have learned to fill it with ability and credit to himself. Truly Barnum was right when he undertook to build his fortune on the theory that most people love to be humbugged.

Such are the ideals and practical workings of the democratic principle of rotation in office, first put in practice by President Jackson and his party managers, animated by the inspiring slogan “to the victors belong the spoils.” It is difficult to imagine any system more calculated than this to establish and encourage inefficiency in public and private life. And though in consequence of the endless changes of officials in the public service, the state and community are always poorly served, the inferior party workers seldom get a turn at the good places; they are just fooled by the higher politicians who, while pretending frequently to surrender the offices, merely exchange them among themselves. Thus the masses are made to suffer all the evils of poor and dishonest public service, without even the small compensation of a fair turn at the spoils.

Vigorous efforts have been made in the past thirty years to obviate some of the mischiefs of the spoils system; especially by the application of the system of civil service examinations to nominations to public office. Under this system which is only applied to certain classified offices, the appointment is supposed to be given to the candidate who passes best in an{312} examination prepared beforehand by a civil service board and open to all applicants. There is neither space nor fitness here for an extended discussion of the merits and weaknesses of this Civil Service Reform plan as it is called. Its one pretended merit is that it takes the appointments “out of politics” as they say, that is out of the control of the political heads of the departments. No more crushing condemnation of our political system could be imagined than is contained in these federal and state statutes which deprive our high officials of the power and privilege of the selection of many of their own subordinates, the most important function of the head of a department. That these chiefs should be furnished with advice and assistance in making appointments where numerous, would be reasonable enough; but that it should be found necessary as by this so-called remedial system is actually done, to deprive them of all choice, direct or indirect, in the selection of their subordinates indicates a shocking condition of things. It means just this that the men whom manhood suffrage puts in command are declared by statute to be unfit to be trusted.

The defects of the Civil Service Reform plan are obvious, and have been repeatedly pointed out. There are two principal ones; defects in material and weakness in organization. All experience shows that mere ability to answer questions is but slim proof of actual fitness for most employments. The minds of the successful candidates are apt to be storehouses of memory rather than factories of living ideas. The tendency of the examination system must be to emasculate the public service, to furnish it with half-hearted hirelings, destitute of initiative; routinists, who secure in their places and deprived of incentive to new achievement, gradually become mere wooden cogs in a lifeless machine. The head of such a force cannot be expected to accomplish much with men not chosen by him nor subject to his censure or removal. Such a civil service will be weak in time of prosperity, and may become intolerable in time of trouble and danger; an institution similar to the bureaucracies of continental Europe or to Charles Dickens’ “Circumlocution{313} Office.” The late Andrew Carnegie, the great iron master, ascribed his success entirely to his tuck and wisdom in choosing his deputies. A political department is really a business organization, and to be efficient, it should have a competent head supported by a force of vigorous men of his own selection; chosen not by book examinations, but for practical capacity, all constantly guided and controlled by him, and inspired with the feeling of mutual responsibility for results. The vice of the Civil Service Reform system is that it entirely lacks the vigor and efficiency thus to be obtained.

No better proof of the hopeless desperation of the American political reformers can be offered than their willingness even to consider the establishment of this bureaucratic system among us. Bryce approves it with the approval of despair:

“Rather, they would say, interdict office holders from participation in politics; appoint them by competition, however absurd competition may sometimes appear, choose them by lot, like the Athenians and Florentines; only do not let offices be tenable at the pleasure of party chiefs and lie in the uncontrolled patronage of persons who can use them to strengthen their own political position.” (American Commonwealth, Vol. II, p. 609.)

The present writer has been unable to think of anything worse to say of our present system of political appointments than this statement that it is worse than appointments by lot. Let it go at that.

This is not the only country where men are dazzled by a vision of rotation in office. The golden dream of public place as an idle refuge, to be occupied in turn by lucky politicians, with opportunity for respectable theft, is much indulged in in Cuba and the Central and South American republics, and assists in the promotion of revolutions in those countries. They feel there, that a bright and active man in a good office, ought to be able in from three to five years to steal his share, and should then be willing to retire in favor of someone else. For similar reasons, a political party should go out every few{314} years and give the others a chance. This doctrine is accepted even by independent onlookers of those countries, who often sympathize with the hungry outs in their natural desire to get their turn at the public chest. And this is why, when President Menocal’s first Cuban term of four years expired, the opposition felt so outraged that he and his party should not be willing to rotate out of office, that a revolution would probably have supervened had it not been for the Platt Amendment. The faults of foreigners are very conspicuous in our eyes, and therefore the reader will surely agree that these foreign gangs of political adventurers, whose only thought of their country is to drain her blood, are a scurvy and contemptible lot, whose greed and lack of patriotism are abominable. As for our own professional office seekers, now planning for their next turn it is safest to say nothing; they may be our masters in a few days or months, and prudence is a profitable virtue.{315}



There is a quality in an individual, an association of individuals, a community or a public institution, which though difficult to describe in exact terms is everywhere well recognized as something valuable and important, and is often referred to as “tone” or “style” or “distinction.” A youth who goes to college, travels, and then enters on a business career acquires in ten years a different “tone” from his homekeeping brother. It is not merely dress, or manners, or education; it is separate from all these; it produces an effort comparable to that of the toning up of a musical instrument, and applies to the man’s acts, gestures, and thoughts; giving him a different and mayhap higher place in the world and in the regard of his fellows. So we find clubs, associations, communities whose tone is higher or lower than others, and are therefore esteemed or contemned accordingly. The tone of an institution sensibly affects its character; we feel its influence and are affected by it. No one for instance, can visit the Supreme Court of the United States or West Point Academy without immediately appreciating the superior tone or atmosphere of the institution. And so the government of a nation, its public life, has a tone, an atmosphere which all the world recognizes as higher or lower in quality than that found elsewhere. The tone of the administrations of the early presidents from George Washington to John Quincy Adams, covering a period of forty years, was high; all the world recognized the fact; Americans were proud of it; it was something of a value not{316} to be measured by dollars, nor by power or cleverness; it was a fine emanation of the lofty ambitions and high traditions of our governing class; it meant that our country was ruled and represented by gentlemen. We all somehow realize that that tone and atmosphere have vanished; they are mere memories, like the old stage coaches, knee breeches and hoopskirts of our ancestors; and now we have a low tone in almost every department of public life; in some of them it is even mean and vulgar. It is not necessary to offer proof of this statement, the fact is practically involved in much that has been already presented to the reader in this volume; it is something which everyone can confirm who has had much contact with public officials, or who is familiar with the daily current reports concerning their character and methods. The knavery that has been systematically perpetrated here, under the name of politics for the last three generations, could not possibly have gone on, without a distinct degradation of the moral and social tone of our political life. Lord Bryce though a liberal in politics has discovered that the attempt of the multitude to govern involves the danger of “A certain commonness of mind and tone, a want of dignity and elevation in and about the conduct of public affairs, and insensibility to the nobler aspects and final responsibilities of national life” and that such a tendency is more or less observable in the United States; and he adds, “The tone of public life is lower than one expects to find it in so great a nation.... In no country is the ideal side of public life, what one may venture to call the heroic element in a public career, so ignored by the mass and repudiated by the leaders. This affects not only the elevation but the independence and courage of public men; and the country suffers from the want of what we call distinction in its conspicuous force.” (Bryce, American Commonwealth, Vol. II, pp. 583-585.) The language of this criticism is mild, in accordance with the style of the book, which is that of studied friendliness and compliment to the American people and government; but the plain truth is there, though the accents are{317} gentle. Lord Bryce was disappointed to find a people whom he elsewhere describes in this same book as generous, high-minded and patriotic, in the political control of a lot of low politicians. The learned author, in common with some American writers, professes to be at a loss to account for this sad state of things; there has been a remarkable shutting of eyes to the sins of manhood suffrage. But it is impossible to deny that the low public tone which we have all observed and all regret came in with that institution.

This is from another eminent writer:

“There is a risk of vulgarizing the whole tone, method and conduct of public business. We see how completely this has been done in North America,—a country far more fitted, at least in the Northern States, for the democratic experiment than any old country can be. Nor must we imagine that this vulgarity of tone is a mere external expression, not affecting the substance of what is thought or interfering with the policy of the nation; no defect really eats away so soon the political ability of a nation. A vulgar tone of discussion disgusts cultivated minds with the subject of politics: they will not apply themselves to master a topic which besides its natural difficulties, is encumbered with disgusting phrases, low arguments, and the undisguised language of coarse selfishness.” (Bagehot, Parliamentary Reform, p. 316.)

Treitschke on this subject utters a despairing note.

“The strongest lungs always prevail with the mob, and there is now no hope of eliminating that peculiar touch of brutality and that coarsening and vulgarizing element which has entered into public life. These consequences are unavoidable, and undoubtedly react upon the whole moral outlook of the people; just as the unchecked railing and lying of the platform corrupts the tone of daily intercourse. Beyond this comes the further danger that the really educated classes withdraw more and more from a political struggle which adopts such methods.” (Politics, Vol. II, p. 198.)

A low tone is the sign and indication of low ideals, which dwelling with and in a man or institution influence his or its thought, act and self manifestation. The ideals of cheap and{318} common men, and of those who live by catering to them, are alike cheap and common. There is a politics which consists of a study of principles applied to government; in that pursuit the ideals are necessarily lofty; it was their presence which gave the tone to the administrations of the first six presidents. There is a politics which consists in a systematic pursuit of jobs and places; it is that which has mainly characterized the administrations from Jackson downwards. The resultant loss to the nation is additional to that caused by the waste, inefficiency, mismanagement and political despotism already described; and though this lowering of tone is of course implied in the decline of political morals heretofore discussed, it yet constitutes a separate and additional public misfortune. We can imagine a moral descent without a corresponding falling off in outward behavior, as in the French Court of Louis XV; but in our country, the two declines have been contemporaneous.

Much will have to be done before this can be corrected, but one remedy is absolutely essential, and that is the elevation and perfection of the electorate. The degradation of the tone and destruction of the old-time dignity of American political life which we all so much deplore is the work of manhood suffrage, immediately followed it, belongs to it and is inseparable from it. If we would restore tone and dignity to our politics we must begin with the electorate; we must create a body of unpurchasable voters; men who have shown that they are free from the ordinary temptations of corrupt politics by earning a good living in other ways which they have preferred to politics; men pecuniarily independent, who have a stake in the country; something, nay much to lose, and nothing to gain by misgovernment; men, therefore, whose ideals in government matters are purity and efficiency. By that class of prosperous middle class men, high ideals may be and always have been adopted; they are of the proper combination of energy, capacity and independence. It is impossible for most men to cultivate lofty ideals when they are hourly struggling{319} for a mere subsistence; one cannot think philosophically when he is in actual need, nor when in danger of being in need. No part of the burden of government should be put upon such shoulders as those of the needy class, the residuum, the derelicts, the pecuniarily unfortunates or incapables of our civilization. We can only elevate our political tone to the level of the time of Washington and John Quincy Adams by elevating our electorate to the plane which it occupied when it selected them and others of their type to represent it in the high places of government.{320}



A good test of the character of a man or an institution is public reputation; let us apply that test in this case. Manhood suffrage, its methods, its politics, and its officialdom are generally not merely distrusted, but scorned, held in utter contempt and openly repudiated by the most intelligent classes of Americans. With the exception of a few among them who consider it their bounden duty to do civic missionary work, those classes take no active part in politics; many of them do not even vote, others only vote for president, entirely disregarding state and local elections; most of them totally neglect the primaries; many of them do not even know the names of their representatives in Congress. As for the obscure politicians who sit in the city and state legislatures they are absolutely beneath the social or political vision of most of our well-to-do and well-educated people. No really worldly wise American father recommends his son to enter public life; its snares and dangers and the lack of esteem in which public officials are held are too well known. Of course to many ambitious and inexperienced young men there is much temptation in a political career. The prospect of addressing political meetings, of being called “Senator” or “Judge,” of receiving mail addressed “Hon.,” of dealing with public measures, and of figuring in the newspapers, is alluring to many a young college graduate; while poor young lawyers are often tempted to struggle for public office by the salary at{321}tached thereto. They find later that the reward of politics is Dead Sea fruit that turns to ashes on the lips; even the successful ones are usually disappointed; the pay is small; it is part of the manhood suffrage meanness to court the applause of the low-waged rabble or the no-wage loafers by keeping down official salaries; the incidental expenses are many and annoying, including small loans to hangers on and other petty exactions; to get money out of politics it is necessary to be crafty and more or less dishonest. The young adventurer is disappointed in his aspirations for glory; the newspaper notices are few and frequently uncomplimentary; he finds that the platform at public meetings is usually reserved either for a notoriety of some sort or a blatherskite; and instead of enjoying public respect he encounters a pushing familiarity, which is most offensive even when it comes disguised as flattery from obsequious job hunters. Probably no business or profession has been in such disrepute, or has offered so much that is mean, sordid and repulsive to a noble nature, as has politics since manhood suffrage was ordained in this country.

Under the property qualification régime young politicians had the inspiration of great and highly respected leaders, and the incentive of a prospect of ultimately filling their places. Among such leaders in New York in the first quarter of the nineteenth century were Alexander Hamilton; John Jay; James Kent; De Witt Clinton; John Lansing; Rufus King; Gouverneur Morris; Robert R. Livingston; Brockholst Livingston; William W. Van Ness; Daniel D. Tompkins; Nicholas Fish; Erastus Root; John C. Spencer and William L. Marcy; fifteen distinguished names; a number proportionately according to population equivalent to one hundred and fifty at the present time. Each of them was eminent in something; most of them in several things; and all are still illustrious in the annals of the state. Some of their political acts are open to criticism, but they were all men of superior mentality, for the old system put the best brains we had into politics, while the present system inevitably puts into public place the cheapest and{322} poorest, so that we are now, as Bagehot says, “deprived of the tangible benefits we derive from the application to politics of thoroughly cultivated minds.”

The present public attitude towards officialdom not only indicates a steady consciousness of its inferiority, but a disbelief in its honesty and a plain distrust of its intentions. By many persons, officialdom and the people are supposed to be engaged in chronic warfare, and office holders as soon as chosen are assumed to be potential rascals; so that it becomes the presumptive duty of every patriotic organization and of every public-spirited citizen to watch their every movement and to sound the alarm at each of their expected attacks on the rights of the people. Eternal vigilance is popularly urged as the only means of security against the misconduct or calamitous blundering of the office-holding politicians. Nor is this attitude confined to the upper classes. Politicians are fond of pretending affection for the working people and that the manhood suffrage was a gift especially to that class. But none more than the wage earners mistrust politicians; they are the first to suspect official misconduct, and the most outspoken in its denunciation. Listen to their comments when a public question comes up in which they are concerned. They are not then heard to say that their interests are safe in the hands of the good officials chosen by the people; they are more apt to complain of improper influence, “frame-ups,” bribery actually suspected or expected, “playing politics” and the like. Many of them in despair of democracy have become socialists, and find in the rascality and inefficiency of the manhood suffrage government of the day ample material for argument. The remainder unable to see any possibility of a remedy usually assume an attitude of resignation, evincing a desire to profit by whatever little pickings may be had from the political feasts of the more fortunate. The attitude of the intelligent middle classes is more frankly hostile and aggressive than that of the wage earners; it does not, unfortunately, take the shape of a demand for a higher basis for suffrage, but of a persistent{323} opposition to the characteristic operations of manhood suffrage government, such as appropriation of the spoils, and to its various political expedients to please the rabble or bamboozle the public. It is practically assumed by the middle class citizen, that officialdom is inimical to the public welfare; and, especially in the great cities, there is a steady and outspoken demand for a remedy for the present notorious misgovernment; that something be done to protect Society against its enemies, the politicians in and out of office.

This feeling of American distrust of our own public servants is frequently apparent in legislation enacted as a result of agitation following one of the numerous revelations of official misconduct. Thus, in some cities the police power has been taken entirely out of the hands of the local authorities and lodged in the government of the state. One reform city charter of St. Louis provided that the mayor elected for four years could not remove any official till his own third year in office. These and many similar statutes are in effect formal assertions of the complete breakdown of manhood suffrage; that the elected municipal officials cannot be trusted either to police the city or to remove or appoint subordinate officers. The mayor under such a system has to manage the best he can with deputies over whom he has little or no control. It seems as if political imbecility could go no farther than to create a system under which the mayor of the city is certain to be untrustworthy and must therefore be deprived of power to control his subordinates. And yet no doubt these provisions were but the recognition of the desperate situation of a manhood suffrage municipality. In one of the instances just referred to the object of the city charter seems to have been to vary the misery; two years chaos and two years ring-rule, turnabout.

This feeling of despondent suspicion is constantly being voiced by the middle-class newspapers and by groups of prominent citizens, by committees of fifty, of one hundred, etc., in circular appeals distributed by the ten thousand to all men of{324} any standing in the community, urging them to “fight” as it is called, day and night, to save the town, city, county, state and nation from disaster. A stranger reading one of these urgent calls would naturally ask with curiosity for the names of the enemies to be thus attacked; are they Huns, Bolsheviki, hoodlums, gunmen, rioters or what? The grotesquely pathetic answer is that they are all our neighbors, our fellow citizens, nay, our “Honorable” fellow citizens; elected by ourselves by large majorities last year, last month, or yesterday perhaps, or appointed by men whom we have ourselves recently elected; they are his honor the mayor; honorable members of the city or state legislature; of boards of supervisors; of Congress; of this and that public commission; of the state governments; officials of every class, both elective and appointed, county, city, state, and federal. It is not against hostile outsiders or natural adversaries, but against our own manhood suffrage officials that we have to “fight”; it is these officials and their associates, agents, and party superiors or “bosses” who we are told by press and pulpit, in newspaper, book and magazine, in private conversation and in public address, and above all at the meetings of independent citizens and reformers, are the actual or potential enemies, furtive or open, conscious or unconscious, of good government, of our pocket-books, our health, our comfort, and our lives. We are urgently reminded that our manhood suffrage government is by no means to be trusted; that the only hope of tolerable government is to arouse every good citizen to an attitude and a habit of constant distrust of our chosen representatives and rulers and to regard them with sleepless jealousy and suspicion. It is not enough to vote; you must attend primaries; nay more, you must anticipate the primaries and plan to elect certain primary candidates and to defeat others; even when your own men are chosen, you cannot safely trust them; you must doubt every member of Congress, every legislator and every official, including those just seated by your own vote; you must suspect every new proposal, every legislative bill,{325} every municipal ordinance; a good citizen will watch them all; he will at private expense procure advance copies of all of them; he will if he can employ a lawyer to study them; he will join all kinds of political organizations and attend all their meetings, and will use constant vigilance to see that these organizations are not “captured” or purchased by the politicians, and that he himself is not captured without suspecting it, so wily are these political experts and so cunning and numerous are the snares and temptations of political life. Nor is even this all; he must work up and join deputations to the sessions of the municipal administration and to those of the town and county authorities, to the state capitol, to Washington; he must write to the newspapers, he and others must at times bombard Congress and the state legislature and their committees with letters and telegrams. In short the system is this: you select the incapable and worthless for office and then wear your soul out in efforts to keep them from blundering and plundering. Common sense would suggest the selection in the first place of men who could be trusted; and if the method of selection failed, to replace it by a better one; but this cannot be done; manhood suffrage though rotten is sacred, and those who have the patience and courage continue their endeavors to make a marble temple of justice out of a mud electorate.

This widespread attitude of suspicion and resentment toward public officials, originally private and individual, has of late years become open, formal and public through the systematic activities of clubs and associations of supposedly disinterested and public-spirited citizens principally located in large cities; non-partisan in character, and organized for the purpose of preventing or undoing the more flagrant of the illegal, immoral and improper operations of state and local governments. In plain words, just as we have detectives to watch thieves, so we have voluntary associations to watch public officials. This sounds queer, but it is true. And these societies founded on contempt and distrust of officialdom are{326} not made up of eccentrics; they include some of the most intelligent men in their respective communities; they are kept busily employed a large part of every year; and are sustained by the best public opinion in their open opposition to the measures proposed by the manhood suffrage officials, and in their frequent active hostility to the officials themselves. These associations may well be called “watch dog” societies, their function being to protect the community from political wolves; to bark loudly on any attempt of theirs to rob the sheepfold and thus either to scare them off or to give such warning as will result in their designs being frustrated. Thus we have in almost every city and town “Taxpayers Associations”; “Citizens Associations”; “Good Government Clubs”; “Public Welfare Societies”; “Patriotic Societies”; “Security Leagues”; and the like; some temporary but others permanent bodies, formed for general supervision and bringing to book of legislators and public officials. These watch dog societies are always on the alert; ready to receive complaints from any source; to investigate them through committees, and to attack anybody and anything in what they may choose to consider the public interest. They even employ private detectives and lawyers in these enterprises, just as in pursuit of criminal offenders; and they are usually able to get newspapers to support them and to publish bitter attacks not merely upon individual office holders but on entire boards, departments, committees, legislatures and congresses, and sometimes the courts; whereby the public are told over and over again that these official bodies, composed as they are of from five to five hundred men each, are inefficient and corrupt. There is no pretence on the part of some of these societies of concealment of their mean opinion of the office holders, especially those elected by the popular vote. One of them, the New York Citizens Union, publishes an annual statement containing notes of the character and record of each of the local representatives in the state legislature, some of them far from complimentary, and all critical and superior in tone, like the report{327} of a master of a reform school on the behavior of the pupils. In fact, though these watch dogs do not directly attack the institution of manhood suffrage, their attitude towards its creatures in state and city government is that of a policeman toward a professional criminal. This practice of auxiliary and supervisory government by organized meddlers is well expounded in a book ably written by W. H. Allen of New York, Director of the Bureau of Municipal Research; a man of sufficient experience in political life to have learned its diseased condition, and to earnestly desire a palliative of its evil symptoms, but who is without apparent hope of discovering or extirpating the cause of the disease. He wrote the book for the purpose of inducing citizens, especially women, to attend to their civic duties, and he urges his readers to join one or more of these watch dog organizations and to actively prosecute their work. (Woman’s Part in Government.)

Examples of the operations of these societies are easily found, since they by no means hide their lights. It will be sufficient here to refer to a recent one as a sample. In January 1917, and again in April 1917, one of the best known of the associations, the City Club of New York, filed with the Governor a complaint against the District Attorney, charging him in effect with gross misconduct in connection with certain prosecutions for homicide. The Club employed lawyers to prosecute the charges and there was a furious, scandalous and prolonged controversy in the courts, in the public press and before the Governor, involving beside the District Attorney himself some of his assistants and others. Another powerful watchdog association is the well-known Chicago Voters League, established in 1896. The League claims that at that time of the sixty-eight members of the Chicago City Council only ten were even liable to a suspicion of honesty, while the rest were organized into a gang for plunder and blackmail. To correct this situation the League was established and still operates. Its self-perpetuating Executive Committee of Nine publicly opposes and condemns candidates for the City Coun{328}cil and directs the citizens how to vote. This, of course, amounts to a qualified oligarchy; in conformity with the usual tendency of manhood suffrage, to create ring government in one way or another.

The whole attitude of these watch dog associations towards the constituted civil authorities is most extraordinary, in view of the respectability of most of their membership, and strikingly illustrates the deplorable results of manhood suffrage. Their general scheme of action is founded on the open assumption of each of them that its members are superior in wisdom, honesty, patriotism and knowledge of public affairs to the officials whom they denounce, lecture and admonish; and, by implication that these members are superior also to the constituents who elected these office holders. The state legislature and other public bodies are watched closely, and when a measure in which any of these societies or their controlling members actually have or choose to feign a great interest is before any legislative body or official board for action or determination, the agents of the interested association begin to interfere; the public officials having the matter in hand are not allowed to deliberate and decide impartially and coolly even should they desire to do so; they are scolded, coaxed, threatened, bullied and wheedled into doing what the association desires. Some of these private associations have funds subscribed by individuals, or arising from the collection of dues; they are therefore able to employ lawyers to prepare arguments and briefs and political agents to go about soliciting signatures; arrangements are made for a systematic campaign directed towards the officials concerned, who are bombarded with letters, telegrams, postal cards and petitions; sometimes public meetings large or small are organized, and resolutions couched in peremptory language are passed and presented at the proper quarters. Should the officials prove refractory, they are apt to find their motives impugned, their “records” and personal history unearthed, and their characters publicly assailed, all from the same source. All this, which often{329} amounts to coercion, is so frequently practised upon public bodies and their members as to have become a recognized feature of American public life.

A large addition to the list of political scandals contained in this book might be made by recourse to the archives of these watch dog associations and to the published reports of the charges made by them from time to time against the membership of the state and city legislative and administrative bodies, and to the evidence collected by them in support thereof, but space will not permit even the most condensed recital of this material. Let it suffice to present here the societies themselves, composed as they are of thousands of our citizens of best standing and information, as witnesses to the bad character and reputation of manhood suffrage. By their very existence they go far to establish the significant fact that the manhood suffrage state and local governments of the United States have utterly forfeited the respect and confidence of the American people.

It must not be supposed that by the work of these watch dog associations the evil of manhood suffrage operations is sensibly alleviated. On the contrary, when carefully considered, that work, though presumably well intended, must be considered as a public misfortune, and as resulting in an aggravation rather than a diminution of the evils of our misgovernment. In an individual instance their efforts may produce good effects limited to that special transaction, just as might be said of any voluntary interference with constituted authority; but in theory and in principle and in the large and final results, the practice of such interference is and must be politically noxious, and the case to justify it even in one instance must be indeed extreme. The public-spirited citizens who form an important part of their membership probably do not realize just what they are doing when they coerce the will of the chosen representatives of the people. They would be horrified at the suggestion of using physical force or physical threats upon legislators to compel them to deviate from their own{330} best judgment; and yet they do not scruple to use what they call moral force to the same purpose, and such moral force as almost amounts to physical stress and coercion. The difference in effect between threatening a member of the legislature with a cudgel or with printed defamation issued by a powerful clique or league is not always appreciable. In either case the general result is the adoption of measures or modifications thereof reflecting rather the views of the threatening meddler than those of the public official in question or of the majority who elected him. This is a clear usurpation of power. Again, the watch dog operations do not offer any permanent result in return for this trampling down of popular government; their programme includes no method of improving the quality of our officials but only one for watching and nagging them. Third, it offers no security whatever that the volunteer or self-appointed government censors shall themselves be competent or worthy, or that they shall be anything more than idle and presumptuous fools or designing hypocrites. Fourth, others less worthy and disinterested, are by the example of these societies encouraged to similar acts. So that the final result of the watch dog plan is likely to amount to no more or other than this actual situation: A number of corrupt, weak and worthless legislatures, town boards, city councils, boards of supervisors, etc., constantly nagged, worried, insulted and pulled this way and that, by all kinds of people, including watch dog associations and their officers, newspaper men, cranks, fanatics, busybodies generally and possibly scamps and adventurers. Even suppose we make the extravagant supposition that no knaves or fools whatever, but only the better type of citizens do and will respond to the appeal to organize to boss the bosses, the system is still impracticable, and if practicable would be mischievous; since it would result in oligarchical tyranny. For the work proposed for these civic organizations and for their members would be enormous; it would require an acquaintance with legislative and other political methods far beyond that possible to any one who has{331} any other business; it would necessitate among other things the careful scrutiny and thorough understanding of every bill or resolution introduced into the state or municipal legislature, and a steady watch from day to day of each of these bills, and of the members of the bodies where they may be pending, and especially of those of the committees having them under consideration. Besides this it involves the defense of every step taken, at the cost of endless controversy. As the ordinary citizen cannot possibly undertake this labor of supervising oversight of government activities, it is evident that if done at all by this volunteer method, it must fall to a comparatively few people who have means and leisure, or who have special interests to serve; or more likely, to hirelings employed by those people.

The result of the watch dog programme even if successfully carried out, would therefore be the creation of an imperium in imperio; an irresponsible self-created governing oligarchy acting through the present class of worthless and corrupt politicians. A more complicated and mischievous political system nor one more likely to produce tyranny and public scandals could scarcely be devised. But though the watch dog scheme cannot be approved, its actual existence is a strong argument against manhood suffrage; for though bad reputation is not of itself proof of misconduct, yet it usually accompanies wrong doing; and when evidence of evil reputation is here added to the general as well as particular proof already furnished of the mischiefs resulting from manhood suffrage, the case against that system can hardly fail to be so materially strengthened as to be practically unanswerable.

The weakness and inferiority of our public officials afford opportunity for interference by another set of meddlers in public affairs who are of inferior breed to the watch dogs, and for the infusion of eccentric and fanatical ideas and theories into legislation and administration, such as would not occur in a well-founded governmental system. The class referred to is composed of political adventurers, eccentrics, cranks, and{332} fanatics; people whose mental vision is inaccurate; who are out of harmony with nature and its operations, and whose undisciplined minds are filled with impracticable theories. Many of them are well-to-do idlers able to give time to the agitation of any cause they may happen to espouse. Compared with the watch dogs they are as the yellow dogs of politics. They function in every state as promoters of crank legislation, the history whereof in the United States would no doubt make, if compiled, a very interesting volume, containing many surprises to the general reader. While sane and prudent men are content to confine their attention to their private affairs, and while modest men, be they ever so well informed, are apt to doubt their own capacity in affairs of state, a certain class of cranks are always eager to meddle with politics; full of conceit they are not troubled with doubts as to the correctness of their own opinions. When one such takes up a fad, religious, moral, political or social, he becomes more and more engrossed in it; nothing else matters to him half so much; family and business are neglected; he writes for the newspapers; he attends and organizes public meetings; he serves on committees; he makes speeches; he circulates literature; he contributes to the cause within his means, which sometimes are large, and collects for it from others. When a “movement” as it is called is once fairly started it is sure to be joined by many with ulterior motives, impelled by vanity, by mere love of notoriety, by fondness for excitement; by those who seek the pleasure of serving on committees, of speaking in public, or of seeing their names in print; others come to make new acquaintances; to escape ennui; to become politically important. Under a strong and intelligent government these collections of faddists, adventurers, humbugs and fools would do little more harm than so many debating societies; but when, as now, those in power are of mediocre ability, weak calibre or politically timid, such societies are potent for mischief. The ordinary politician holding an office obtained perhaps by a majority of a few votes, or otherwise precarious in{333} its tenure is easily frightened by a show of organization. Where the proposed new measure is one opposed to the pecuniary or political interests of the bosses the cranks get but slight attention; but where there are only principles involved their chances for success are often very good indeed. The fact that they are armed with theories however foolish, makes them appear mysterious and redoubtable antagonists to small politicians, who cannot understand principles or the motives of people professing principles. The official finds himself confronted and baited by an inexorable pack of those yellow dogs, small in number, but terrible in noise and clamor, who give him no rest; while on the other hand the sane and sensible folk of his constituency are not only silent and apparently indifferent but scarcely seem aware (as indeed most of them are not) of his name or existence. Getting no orders from his boss, who takes no interest in the matter one way or another, what wonder if the weary legislator or administrator, either becomes half convinced by the din of arguments which he is too weak or ignorant to answer, or frightened by the criticism he is receiving, yields at last with a sigh of relief. And so the crank project often goes through without public notice except the applause of the agitators, who print a triumphant account in the newspapers of the adoption of another “reform measure” and get one of their members to write it up in some magazine with a laudatory reference to himself and his associates. The effect of “crank” or yellow dog influence upon our weak state governments is another of the evil results of manhood suffrage.{334}



Most of us have from time to time in the course of our lives, heard a good deal of indignation expressed by worthy citizens over the politicians’ organization and use of the controllable vote. But if we give a little thought to the manner in which the electoral representative system actually and necessarily operates, we will see that the organization of the non-propertied voters was a perfectly natural, and one might say an inevitable result of their enfranchisement. It was a step to which they were and are practically invited by the situation itself, and for taking which neither they nor their leaders are logically blamable. The only people to be criticised are those who opened the door to this class of voters. The unpropertied vote became an organized group, because it could not otherwise function in our political system, which operates entirely though groups or classes and ignores the individual. A few of the astute public men of a century ago understood this; the mass did not; they imagined that in extending the suffrage to the unpropertied, the incapables, they were conferring a harmless compliment upon scattered individuals whose votes would be distributed among those of the other classes, and absorbed in the general mass without perceptible effect. Had this been the only result, the gift of the vote would have been a barren one, costing the givers nothing and of no benefit to the recipients. But far from being empty, it was costly, it was real, and the newly enfranchised immediately made use of it, as we{335} have seen, forming themselves into effective groups for the accomplishment of their own small and sordid desires. And so the generation of Americans who saw manhood suffrage established, were astonished to find shortly after, that the voting power was almost suddenly taken out of their hands by a new force in politics. They have never been able to get it back, and most people do not yet understand the theory of what has occurred. They do not comprehend, their ancestors of the last century did not comprehend that the enfranchisement of the unpropertied voters meant that they were invited not merely as individuals, but as a class, and through their own local groups or subdivisions to take such part in forming the government as they were able. It was not merely that they were enfranchised as a body, but that our political system is such that only by groups, classes and factions can any share in the government be obtained. This fact is so important, and though patent to every one its significance has been so generally overlooked, that it deserves the entire chapter allotted to it in this volume.

In our scheme of government the individual voter as such counts for absolutely nothing. Our elective system is not, as so many believe, at all intended or contrived as a medium of individual political expression, but as a means for measuring the force of groups, factions and parties and of creating majorities. The gift of the ballot is intended for collective and not for individual employment and advantage. It does not imply as is commonly supposed the right of a man “to govern himself” nor to have his individual opinions and wishes considered and acted upon. It necessarily implies joint and not individual action; the individual voter is only remotely a factor in the process of government making; the direct factors whereof are groups, factions and parties. The separate voter’s influence is no more than that of a component atom in a large moving body, and just as the snowflake cannot move the steam engine till it ceases to be a snowflake and becomes part of a volume of steam, so the individual cannot become{336} any part of the moving power in politics till he merges his individuality into some of the political groups or factions of the community.

Although these plain facts are never mentioned by the politicians, the newspapers or the twaddlers who write text-books on American democracy, yet every sensible man realizes that when he votes to any effect he is really obeying orders. If he should write his true and individual choice for governor or alderman, it would probably be some worthy man of his acquaintance whose name does not appear on any official ballot or designation whatever, and his vote thus cast would be a nullity; scorned and thrown aside by the inspectors; not counted; returned as “scattering.” Knowing that a vote for his individual choice will be disregarded, he feels practically compelled to accept the candidate of some group, faction or party; one with whom he has no personal acquaintance whatever; and who if elected will represent not the voter at all, nor his views, but the combination which put him forward, and which has an existence, a history, leaders and motives of its own. Therefore, in the act of voting, your would-be independent citizen, willy nilly, surrenders his individuality just as completely, and is practically just as subservient to the group or party managers as any political heeler of the local boss. Nor does the citizen by the contribution of his vote become entitled to the slightest share of control over the group which he has thus strengthened; that group may have some political weight, while he has none that is appreciable. If he wants to talk politics he may of course do so if he can get a listener; it will usually be as effective a performance as the child blowing on the mainsail of a ship at sea.

The ordinary plain citizen in a democratic community of ten thousand votes may suppose that he has the privilege of exercising one ten thousandth part of the governing power of that community. He flatters himself. If he belongs either to no group or to the minority group or faction, he has and exercises absolutely no part whatever in, or influence upon, the{337} community’s policy or government. If he affiliates with the majority party, his part in government is very far from being represented by his fractional share of its numbers. His faction or party has a life and will of its own, and unless he has a place in its directing mind, he has no influence upon its movements or operations. His importance is comparable with that of a member of a volunteer military body or procession marching in obedience to orders from headquarters. The individual member may remain on the sidewalk or go home, in either of which cases he will have no part in the function; but even should he join in the procession he will be entirely without say or influence concerning its movements. His only effect will be as one of the constituent atoms of a body which has an existence, mind and direction of its own apart from and superior to and controlling that of each of its members.

Notwithstanding this obvious situation, impossible to deny, most people fail to realize it, and many cannot see or will not admit even to themselves the futility of individual voting. The illusion of the value of an independent vote, the product of self-conceit and political superstition exists in the minds of numbers of intelligent men, and daily manifests itself in the cant and rubbish of every-day speech. A very large proportion of American men like to believe or pretend that they believe, that an effective vote can really be cast by the individual citizen expressive of his own individual will and spontaneous desire, and that thereby such will and desire will be manifested and reflected in the policy and acts of the government. The privilege of casting this impossible vote is by such a man imagined as one of the inestimable privileges of American citizenship. He is, he proudly thinks, an independent voter, free from party trammels; and he fondly supposes that by so much as he holds himself aloof from party organization is his voted opinion the more valuable and effective. We frequently hear a man threaten to vote against this and that candidate; sometimes, filled with self-importance, he notifies his newspaper of his dire intention; others who have not even{338} membership in any party gravely tell you that you should always vote for somebody, that it is your duty to do so, and having themselves voted for men of whose policies they have not the slightest knowledge or control, try to fancy that they have employed their time and shoe leather to great advantage. The fact is that these self-styled independent voters are in all this the happy victims of pleasant delusions. Each of them is either a party voter or a mere trifler. When he pretends to revolt from political control, he usually does nothing of the kind; he simply changes his vote from the candidate of one set of politicians to the candidate of the other set. In other words, instead of being independent, he joins, for the time at least, the other party or group and finds himself compelled to surrender his individual preferences and to vote the name they give him. If he really selects his own independent candidate and votes for him, his vote is practically lost; his act is futile; it is a vote “in the air”; he might as well vote for a dead man. So that the elective franchise merely gives the voter the privilege of joining with others in the formation of a political group or body capable of aspiring to influence or power. But in order to do this, the individual at the very outset is compelled to surrender his individual wishes, preferences and ambitions to be transmuted into the collective wish, preference and power of his group. He has usually no more control over the movements of the group or party which contains him than a drop of blood in the veins of a bull has over the movements of the animal.

When therefore about ninety years ago the unpropertied citizens were admitted into the political arena it was perfectly natural that they should speedily form themselves into new and distinctive groups. The electorate has always grouped and divided itself according to its interests and passions; witness the old division between Eastern and Western Virginia already referred to; the tariff and slavery divisions, etc. The unpropertied non-voters had already been distinguishable from the propertied voters by their different traits, characteristics{339} and desires. When they obtained the vote the difference between the two classes widened; the attitude toward the offices and the spoils of office being that of unscrupulous and hungry greed on one side, and on the other that comparative disinterestedness which comes from physical comfort and well being. The core of the membership of the new group of voters was in penury; it needed the spoils of office, to which the older voters were comparatively indifferent. Stimulated by this need the non-propertied groups at once sought and obtained a greater cohesive power than any possible rivals; enabling them to overcome and survive them all. They became united and predatory political bands; easily manageable by their leaders; willing to waive aside as comparatively impertinent, the various abstract questions on which the propertied voters were hopelessly divided. In short, they became a unified power, and often the only unified power in practical politics.

The strength and discipline of the controllable groups of voters, have always given them an immense advantage in the final and supreme governmental process, that of the formation, management and maintenance of governing majorities. The creation of such a majority, or the ability to become a part thereof is the final test of political capacity. Occasionally majorities create themselves; as in great popular agitations when the people “rise in their might” and overwhelm the controlled voter. But such irregular movements last at most but a few weeks or months, whereupon the before established oligarchy resumes control and continues its steady business of majority formation and maintenance. It is a job requiring constant and compelling discipline; and one in which the controllable and always reliable vote is the chief element of a uniformly successful management.

It comes then to this, that in a democracy no man should be admitted to vote, unless his class or group will be of service in government. In considering proposed legislation for extension of the franchise, the first question should always be, what will be the character of the group or faction with which the new{340} voters will identify themselves? And if the result is going to be the introduction of a new faction or party into our political system, or the dominance of one at present in the minority, the effect thereof should be seriously considered before the change is authorized. This being a government not of individuals but of groups, the right of any individual to vote can be conceded to him only as one belonging to a class or group entitled and competent to take part in the government. And if his group is of the ignorant, the worthless, the non-contributors to the commonwealth, where is its claim to govern? Those therefore who believe in unlimited suffrage, that is in the right of the ignorant and worthless to vote, must believe either that such vote will be unorganized, in which case it is an empty gift of a valueless privilege, or they must believe in the natural right of organized worthlessness to do what it has actually done and is still doing, namely to rule the country, or to take effective part in such rule, and incidentally to degrade the standards of government to a point as near the low level of its own intelligence and conscience as possible.

Prior to manhood suffrage the political groups were all transient, shifting and undisciplined bodies representing debatable theories and principles; this continued from Washington’s time to Jackson’s. Manhood suffrage furnished the material everywhere for new groups founded on need and appetite and organized by professional politicians; these have become drilled and disciplined, have learned to live off the country and to obey leaders. They have won the usual adherence of success; drawing from every direction the indifferent, the lukewarm, the careless, the unprincipled, the weak, the foolish, the men of small ambitions, the business failures, and the odds and ends, in total the material for a great predatory political army. The leaders of that army constitute the power which governs the United States to-day.{341}



The argument is frequently used in certain quarters that the vote in the hands of the unpropertied classes is a weapon of defense needed to protect their weakness against governmental oppression or to enable them to procure needful affirmative legislation. This argument though without real force is sufficiently plausible to merit attention.

The first and readiest answer is that the experiment has been tried and grievously failed. They have had the ballot ninety years and have used it for naught but mischief to themselves and others. The second answer is that governmental oppression of the poor in this country is an impossibility. It would only be possible through class legislation and there is no conceivable class legislation which would favor the prosperous people at the expense of their poorer fellow citizens. There has never been class legislation in this country, and it is impossible to devise, much more to enact it in a way to be effective, because we have no fixed classes. We may use the word “class” for convenience, but there is no permanent class of poor people any more than there is a fixed class of lazy or sickly or dissolute people, or of professional men or farmers or blacksmiths. There is at all times a body of skilled and one of unskilled laborers, but they are not fixed classes; nor are their members generally paupers or propertyless; most of them either have or expect to accumulate money or property either individually or in their families, and desire to have it secured to them by equal and just laws. The poor come from{342} all ranks, occupations and families and so do the rich. The son of a rich farmer is a struggling doctor and the daughter of a laborer becomes the wife of a banker. In fact, the principal cause of the envy of the rich by the less rich is not usually that they belong to a fixed class, but the contrary, because they have not remained where they were but have managed by hook or crook to get ahead of their former associates. Class legislation scarcely exists today in any civilized country; it disappeared with the permanent classes of former days and is now merely a tradition of a gone-by period when no doubt the system of fixed classes served a necessary purpose. But even if we choose to consider the different occupations of men, or their pecuniary circumstances from time to time as class divisions, there is no possibility of unequal legislation affecting them, because it is so difficult as to be practically impossible to separate their interests so as to make such legislation profitable to any special interest. We may of course, to please our fancy, imagine attempts at class legislation even here and now. We may imagine enactments aimed at red-headed men or sculptors. And so we may dream of laws against the poor, enacted by a people whose charity and generosity to the poor and unfortunate is proverbial; but they will never be seriously considered in this country until we have become politically insane, in which case all democracy will be practically non-existent among us. As things actually are our intelligent people are fully aware that business prosperity to be real must be universal; that the well-being of the laboring people is absolutely essential to the well-being of the rest of the community, and they will never even consider a suggestion of legislation oppressive towards the wage earners. There are three principal bodies of propertied men; farmers, professional men and traders; who together constitute the bulk of the propertied electorate. No one can imagine the farmers as consenting to any persecution of the poor; and the successful traders and professional men are interested in the prosperity of their poorer neighbors; they are fed by a stream of{343} wealth which comes from a surplus created and expended by the working classes. The business interests of all the people are so bound together that the prosperity of one is in reality the prosperity of all; the wealth of one furnishes a market for the industries of the other; the need of one man gives employment to his neighbor; and all this is true though the laborer and the employer and the trader and the customer are separated by mountains, plains, seas or national boundaries. All business workers, in whatever capacity, form part of a great joint enterprise, and the body of the poorer people have therefore no business interests which are antagonistic to those of the propertied class. Rather are they interested in the successes of the wealthy, of the capitalists, and especially of those of them who are engaged in mercantile pursuits, or manufacturing industries, because it is on such prosperity that their employment depends. And the situation in political matters is similar to that in business matters. What all need in government is ability and honesty; and the poor man might as well object to being medically treated by one of a wealthy family, as to object to a competent man sitting in the legislature or administering a public office because he is rich. From Washington down to Roosevelt the men of old and wealthy families have in politics always given the poor the benefit of disinterested and enlightened service.

The upper classes are the least likely of all to favor oppressive legislation because being the best trained and most accustomed to deal with large matters, they have been and are the quickest to learn true principles, and to adopt the common sense doctrine that the prosperity of the country is their prosperity, and that class legislation is bad for everybody, and especially bad for property owners. The suffrage was originally conferred upon the unpropertied by the vote of the propertied class; and it is almost nonsensical to suppose that nothing but the ballot saves the former from political oppression at the hands of the very people who voluntarily conferred the gift of the ballot upon them. In fact, the prosperous{344} classes of our race have not heretofore been anywhere inclined to exercise political tyranny upon the less prosperous. On the contrary liberalism has always been promoted by the upper classes. Had they legislated with effect so as to crush those beneath them when they had the uncontrolled power to do so, the lower classes would never have been permitted to ascend. De Tocqueville says that “almost all the democratic movements which have agitated the world have been directed by nobles.” Historically, the case can best be judged by reference to England as a nation with political institutions much resembling ours, but much older and including an aristocratic order. There, liberal political measures have always been actively advocated by members of the upper classes; and though these originally held all political power, it was not through usurpation, but naturally, and out of the necessity of the case; the lower classes being totally illiterate and the middle classes politically indifferent. And so, according as the lower and middle classes acquired knowledge and wealth, they were admitted step by step to a share in the government. Here we must distinguish between individual political ambition and class legislation. The members of the gentry and of the great families sought to keep their individual places and power, for the same reason that any office holder of the present time holds on to his place with all the assistance he can muster. But they did not work together as a class against the others as a class. Had they done so the inferior orders could never have risen. In France in 1789 the Revolution was fathered by the upper classes. Lafayette and Rochambeau, who came to America to help Washington, were noblemen, and yet strong advocates of free political institutions. The nobility of France in the National Assembly aided the progress of the Revolution as long as it was sane. They voted almost to a man for the abolition of the feudal system and of hereditary privileges. It was only when the Terrorists began to tyrannize by means of riot and slaughter, that the French nobility turned against the Revolution, which had practically become an obscene and{345} bloody march towards atheistic anarchy. This liberal attitude is not surprising, because the effect of education and refinement is to make men not only more benevolent and sympathetic but also more just. Every man of understanding and experience knows, that he is more likely to get both justice and compassion from a man of high rank and breeding, well educated and in easy circumstances, than from one of the lower classes. That is why the aristocratic British judges stand so high in the world’s opinion, and why some of the wiser among us endeavor, often with poor success, to see to it that the judges of our highest courts are well bred, well educated and paid high salaries.

Returning to the subject of class legislation, there has never been in the United States any attempt in that direction. Whether considered historically therefore, or in the light of present day experiences, the fear of class legislation in this country in favor of the middle class against the poor, is so unfounded as to be almost absurd.

The suggestion that the unpropertied should be given the suffrage, so that they may obtain affirmative remedial legislation in their behalf, remains to be answered. But it involves a really unthinkable proposition, namely, the making people prosperous who are naturally unfitted for prosperity. As well think of creating musicians or mathematicians by legislative enactment. By no legislation can the thriftless be made thrifty. By caring for them in almshouses, hospitals, and by donative relief, the State has gone to the limit of taxing the efficient to preserve the inefficient.

The doctrine that the rule of the propertied voters would be oppressive to the poor is not only false, but falsely assumes the existence of a universal tendency fatal to democracy and even to civilization. For, the avowed purpose of our democracy is to promote the material prosperity of the masses; and therefore, to encourage the production of property and the increase of wealth; but if property and wealth have the effect of making the common people tyrants; if the thrifty educated and indus{346}trious masses cannot be trusted to carry on government without the practise of tyranny upon the less prosperous, then democracy is a complete failure, and the advance of civilization is hopeless. Fortunately there is no ground for any such conclusion. All legislation which favors property favors all classes, ranks and occupations. The attitude of democracy towards property should be similar to its attitude towards education, that of complete friendliness, founded on the knowledge that it is a good thing, and that we all want it created as rapidly and distributed as widely as possible. The better it is protected the more there will be of it for everyone. The interest of the nation’s workers of all classes is not to oppose property, but to own and control as much of it as they can get.{347}



Strange as it may seem to any one who has given any serious thought to the subject, the proposition has been, if not urged, at least put forward, by respectable writers, that the suffrage should be granted to all citizens without distinction, solely for the educational benefit they will receive from it. The voting booths are evidently viewed by these easy-going minds not as they really are, as judgment seats, as the beginnings and sources of actual government, but as schools for all comers in politics and patriotism; as practise grounds; experimental stations; where every clumsy dunce may try his hand, hit or miss. The author has not been able to find any well-worked-out argument in favor of this fantastic proposition, but it has been seriously presented by men who evidently thought they were uttering sense. The strongest plea in its favor heretofore published appears to be the following from Maccunn, which is quoted in full because the notion is such a queer one that it cannot safely be paraphrased.

“Doubters about democratic franchise are apt to insist that no man should have a vote till he is fit to use it. The necessary rejoinder, however, is that men can only become fit to have votes by first using them. There is no other way. Preparation there may be, in the home, in school, in industrial organization, in the conduct of business. But these will not suffice. Not so easily is the citizen made. It is as Aristotle has it; the harper is not made otherwise than by harping, nor the just man otherwise than by the doing of{348} just deeds. How can it be otherwise here, how can the capable voter be made except by voting capably? Citizenship is, after all, but a larger art; and to teach men to do their duties to the State, the only finally effective plan is to give them duties to the State to do. It is for this reason that many a believer in Democracy is ready with an equanimity wrongly construed by his critics as levity or simplicity, to sit unmoved under the warning that a raw Democracy may mismanage; or that even an experienced Democracy may not be the best machine for governing.” (Ethics of Citizenship, p. 81.)

And again as stated by Professor Woodburn:

“It is the old truth that one learns to do by doing. There is no other way. Here is seen the unreason of the contention that no man is entitled to the enjoyment of political rights till he is proved fit to exercise them. It is an impossible requirement. Before he has political rights no man’s fitness for them can be proved. There are certain tests, educational and economic, which may be accepted as securities, but there is only one proof of fitness—the experimental proof which shows how men use their rights after they have them....”

“The ethical argument for a wide suffrage—as wide as personality and manhood—is that voting is involved in the right of self-government; that it promotes patriotism and leads to an interest in public affairs; that it tends to remove discontent and promote a feeling of partnership and responsibility; that civil and religious liberty depend upon power, and that the community or body of men who have no political power have no security for their political liberty; that the suffrage is an enlightening and educational agency and that only by active citizenship can the political virtues be developed.” (Political Parties, p. 342.)

This, which may be called the “harper theory,” is directly contrary to the doctrine herein advocated, that voting is a function of government to be operated solely for the benefit of the state, and by means of machinery as perfect and efficient as art and science can make it; the “harper” theory being that the election power house is a practise school for ama{349}teurs and blockheads, to be operated in the vague hope that the use of it may somehow improve their natures and understandings. The mere statement of this proposition ought to make its gross absurdity manifest to everybody. It would justify giving the suffrage to children sixteen years of age. As well propose to let boys snowball the passers by, because it would tend to give them exercise and raise their spirits; or to let the hens scratch in the garden, because they get such benefit from it.

The reasoning of the extracts above given strangely ignores the public interests directly involved, the mischiefs of unwise and corrupt voting and the real purpose and history of public elections in this country. Not a word as to the importance of selecting honest and competent men for office; not a hint at the notorious political scandals heretofore caused by the frequent election of fools and knaves; nothing said about the systematic use of the low voting class as organized political banditti. The notedly unfit must continue to vote knavery and folly into high places, and the honest and capable must be discredited and sent to the rear; peculation and blundering must continue indefinitely, in the hope that a set of ignorant, idle, shiftless, dissipated and worthless men may learn to do well by being trained by politicians to do evil. No doubt the act of voting will make even an incapable man think for a few minutes; possibly he may be tempted to wonder what it all means; his mind may be instructed as that of the small child who experiments with a hammer and a looking glass. We are told that the “harper is not made otherwise than by harping,” but his practising is conducted under the control of a master, and not at a public function. A better illustration than Aristotle’s harper would be the Irishman in company, who had never played the violin but was willing he said to do his best if desired. “How can the capable voter be made except by voting capably?” What is complained of is that he is voting not capably but incapably; and is being trained for that purpose. The assertion that men cannot be trained for any func{350}tion except by the exercise of it is absurd. The universal practice of mankind is to the contrary. According to the “harper” theory, lawyers, doctors and engineers should be admitted to practise, and army officers granted commissions without preparation; since no man can prove his ability in anything until he has attempted its exercise. While it is perfectly true that no man’s fitness for any enterprise, profession or work can be finally ascertained except by actual test, and not always then, yet preparation may be required and preliminary tests made whereby the capacity of classes of men can be judged in advance; and the fear of the mischiefs that the ignorant or unskilled practitioner may do calls for the requirement of these wise precautions. It is well known that appropriate preparatory instruction and discipline tend to qualify men for certain duties, and the lack of them to disqualify them therefor; that a class of men trained for law, engineering, medicine, surgery, or the army will probably become competent officers, engineers, lawyers, doctors, etc., while untrained men will be absolutely incompetent. Laymen are not put on the bench, there to learn the law at the expense of a series of blunders. The same theory which is applied in licensing men for the professions and in selections for the judiciary is that which should be applied in establishing suffrage tests. Those who desire to be allowed to meddle with government should first be required to think; and if ignorant, to learn in some other way than at the expense of the public weal. The training of men as voters should be carried on in the school of life, where their mistakes will injure only themselves, and that to a small degree, and not the whole community or nation to a great degree. To permit people who have never practised thinking, to begin by experimenting in the making of laws to govern their neighbors, or in the appointment of officials, is preposterous. The late war and a hundred other similar experiences ought surely to have taught the most silly of our doctrinaires, and the most absurd of our demagogues, how dangerous it is for fools to meddle with the{351} affairs of government, and how reprehensible it is for sensible people to permit the fools to do so.

What these writers above quoted must mean if they mean anything practicable, is that those who are already capable voters are stimulated by the actual exercise of the franchise into greater curiosity and knowledge of public affairs. This is undoubtedly true; the young doctor learns by practice, but only after he is qualified to practise. An untrained man would never become a competent physician by killing patients. The argument for the “harper” theory confuses the question; it ignores the difference in capacity between classes of citizens, and thus misses the point. It urges the educational value of the suffrage to all voters without making a proper distinction between the intelligent and propertied men and the unintelligent floaters and other controllable voters. But it is not proposed to disfranchise the former, and they do not need the suffrage for educational purposes. The question then is entirely confined to the venal and otherwise dangerous residuum, whether they shall be invited to take part in government merely in order to stimulate them to think on state questions. The answer cannot be doubtful. We may recognize the fact that the interest in politics of an already capable voter is probably stimulated by his taking part in an election; but the proposal that a dishonest or incapable man’s vote should be invited merely for the purpose of starting his dormant interest in politics, or in the hope of stimulating him to be more of a patriot and less of a rascal is ridiculous.

There is as already pointed out in a previous chapter a school of preparation and a test for voters in full operation, of whose valuable instruction the state may take the benefit; namely the school of business and the test of business success. In that school all may aspire to earn the certificate of diligence, industry and good judgment, which in the shape of a fair amount of material prosperity is given to all successful aspirants. This method will not be infallible any more than the graduate professional examinations; but it will establish{352} the principle of fitness; it will purify and elevate politics and will afford a fairer test than any other at present known to the world.

In the foregoing discussion it has been conceded for the sake of argument, that voting might possibly be a means of moral or mental development to the voter. But the assumption is unwarranted and contrary to the facts. There is no healthy stimulus of any kind to be gained in manhood suffrage politics. The spectacle of popular elections as at present conducted, and the display of fraud and humbug which they present, is demoralizing to the whole nation, and especially to its young men. The moral injury to the voter caused by the operation of universal suffrage, and by the immoral attitude of the nation solemnly asserting the falsity that the vote of the ignorant and disorderly is as valuable as that of the orderly and educated man was recognized by John Stuart Mill in his work on Representative Government, where he says that equal voting is “in principle wrong, because recognizing a wrong standard, and exercising a bad influence on the voter’s mind. It is not useful, but hurtful, that the constitution of the country should declare ignorance to be entitled to as much political “power as knowledge.” (P. 188.) That the practical influence of political life as at present conducted tends rather to degrade than to elevate the masses is the universal testimony of all having knowledge on the subject. The pursuit of politics as a business is vile, and its continued practice must have a deteriorating effect on those engaged in it. As for the influence of ordinary political activity upon the average voter, it is in no way beneficial; if anything it is injurious. For generations, worthless men have been in the enjoyment of the suffrage in the United States. It has never made an intellectual man out of an ignorant one, nor reformed a drunkard, but it has created many drunkards and loafers, and has had the effect of training many to sell their votes and to spend their time in low and disreputable local political intrigues. As for the majority, those who confine their political activities to voting for{353} one of two candidates without any strong convictions in his favor, they cannot be said to receive thereby any ethical or intellectual exercise or benefit whatever.

“Mere existence” (says Bagehot) “under a good government is more instructive than the power of now and then contributing to a bad government.” (Parliamentary Reform, p. 340.) The mere act of voting for a man or a measure without proper knowledge is demoralizing to the mind and deadening to the conscience. Nor is there moral stimulus in the exercise of a trifling privilege, which is also enjoyed by the meanest and the least worthy, and the employment whereof is usually at best a mere futility, and frequently a farce. What moral elevation can be gained from voting to put in place either a humbug whom you know, or a non-entity whom you don’t know? And yet this is about what the exercise of the franchise usually amounts to in every village, city and town in the United States.

The “harper” suffrage doctrine in its entirety was in the decade from 1865 to 1875 applied to the Southern states, when the negroes were granted the suffrage in compliance with the hysterical demands of demagogues, fanatics, and sentimentalists, who made the American people believe that all a man had to do to become a harper was to get a harp and keep harping. The disastrous results were told in a previous chapter of this book. The history of that experiment with its sordid incidents, ought to be sufficient to convince the most credulous believer in popular rule, that our Revolutionary ancestors were right in insisting that “a silk purse cannot be made out of a sow’s ear,” that there should be no harping except under the supervision of a competent master, and that an untrained musical performer at a concert is certain to spoil the performance, disgrace himself, and benefit nobody.{354}



In all these scenes that I have mentioned I learn one thing that I never knew before and that is that the key to Liberty is not in the hands of License, but Convention holds it. Comity has a toll-gate at which you must pay, or you may not enter the land of Freedom. In all the glitter, the seeming desire, the parade, the abandon, I see this law, unobtrusive, yet like iron, prevail. Therefore, in Manhattan you must obey those unwritten laws, and then you will be freest of the free. If you decline to be bound by them, you put on shackles.” (O. Henry, A Ramble in Aphasia.)

There is no doubt a vague impression abroad, which though entirely erroneous, is somewhat generally entertained, that American manhood or universal suffrage is in some way actually or historically connected with American liberties. Indeed, in some minds the right to vote for something or for someone, is either confused or confounded with liberty itself, or is regarded as the guarantee or guardian of liberty, or its open and visible sign, or a combination of all three. To some, the universal ballot is a sort of fetish, which they distrust and despise yet dare not offend. There are even those who will grant all here recounted of the evils and stupidities of manhood suffrage, and yet will answer that all these, and more, if need be, must we endure for the sake of the preservation of liberty; which in some unexplained way depends on the continuation of the voting privilege to those incapable of properly exercising it. This prepossession is not sustainable by the reason or facts of the{355} case, but just because it is sentimental rather than rational, it is for that very reason more difficult to overthrow by logic. It is easier to meet an argument than to dispel an illusion or to destroy a prejudice. It is especially difficult when the prejudice is not definite nor formulated, but lies dormant in the mind; shadowy, vague and traditional, and yet amounting to a real obstacle to the acceptance of the truth. One might do battle with it by arraying sentiment against sentiment; the true against the false; offsetting the sham sentiment for an imaginary liberty by a true impulse of patriotic indignation at the frauds, rascalities, corruptions and waste attached to the wardenship of this pretended guardian of liberty; but this play of sentiment against sentiment can safely be left to work itself out in the breast of the reader. This chapter will therefore be devoted to an appeal to reason to dispel whatever prejudice in favor of manhood suffrage as a supposed bulwark of liberty may still linger in the reader’s mind.

First, as to our political liberties. A convincing proof that the suffrages of the unpropertied class are not needed to preserve them is found in the fact that they were originally secured without those suffrages. We are not indebted to manhood suffrage for our free institutions, nor for the valuable rights and guarantees secured by the Constitution, nor for the ideas and aspirations from which those institutions sprung. These rights and guarantees were secured, these free institutions were founded by practical and intelligent men of affairs; the propertied leaders of a propertied constituency, and by the use of practical methods, to whose success the populace only contributed their obedience to directions. Neither the Revolution, nor the Constitution recognized the doctrine of a natural right to the franchise. The Revolution in fact did not deal with individual rights at all; it was merely a movement to get rid of British imperial rule, not in order to obtain more liberty, but to secure greater efficiency in government. It came to pass because the thirteen colonies had developed to such a point, that their general interests and{356} defense required the establishment of a central authority. The British Parliament attempted to function for that purpose by laying taxes etc.; the colonies revolted, and finally created a central governing and taxing power of their own, necessitating political independence. The only question settled by the Revolution was that the supreme governing power should be American and not British; it in no way concerned itself with the individual liberties personal or political of the American people, nor their relations to the state; it asserted no new principle of government, nor did it enlarge the suffrage. The United States Constitution was framed by delegates, all of whom were men of property, and represented propertied constituencies. In short, American Independence was schemed, the Union founded, the Constitution adopted, and all the foundations of the greatness and freedom of this country established, without the aid of manhood suffrage, without the unpropertied vote, and by men who believed in and practised a property qualification system. It is not even likely that an inferior class of men would have ever done the work, which required skill, experience and ripe wisdom; qualities more often found in the successful than in the unsuccessful, and never to be looked for in the populace.

Therefore, in our organic scheme of political liberty, manhood suffrage counts for nothing, and its only activity in relation thereto has been to misuse it. But, says one, how about the citizen’s daily enjoyment of freedom and sense of freedom in actual life? The people of the United States like those of other civilized countries, enjoy a life enriched with a thousand material comforts and conveniences, with a sense of assurance of their continued enjoyment; is that or any part of it due to or supported by manhood suffrage? Not at all. None of this can be credited to any extension or enlargement of popular privileges or liberty, either by widening of the franchise or otherwise. The tendency of democracy is not towards an increase of personal individual liberty, and the act of voting, no matter how conducted, can in no way tend to confer per{357}sonal liberty on the individual; because personal liberty is not existent in any civilized society. The progress of the country has been marked by development in the direction of the application of restraint to human actions; in other words by the very opposite of the enlargement of individual liberty. The nearest approach to a free man in a modern community, is the tramp who saunters along the road; and his existence is maintained, not by operations of liberty but by methods of compulsion. The very road upon which he walks is there because other men were compelled by government to build and maintain it. And so, the happiness of each of us is assured to him not by liberty granted, but by liberty withheld as well from him as from his neighbors. A familiar instance of this is in the creation and use of a public park in a great city; an artificially created privilege, which is not conceivable without the strictest regulation, restraint, and denial of individual liberty of action. Personal liberty as understood by the masses, that is the privilege of doing as one pleases, does not exist in any civilized community, and could not be introduced to any appreciable extent without steps toward anarchy. This is not a land of liberty, but a land of civilization, which is the antithesis of liberty. As has been well said by Moorfield Storey, “Civilization is the process of restraining the will of the individual by law.”

Every American citizen is born and lives under the wholesome but constant and severe restraint of a high civilization. Such a thing as personal liberty is unknown to him from the beginning; his infant limbs are clad, his baby food prescribed, his habits regulated, according to rules established long before he was born. As he matures, his boyish dress, his books, his studies, his language and his play are nearly all arbitrary and conventional. He must eat certain food at certain times; his hours for sleep and waking are fixed by others. This system continues through school and college, and when he enters the business world he finds an absolute régime of dress, food, hours, employment, language, games, habits and life generally{358} from which there is no escape. Even his beliefs, historical, religious, and scientific, are all laid out for him. When he goes on a short vacation even for a tramp in the mountains, his movements are all restrained, not only by the rigors of nature and the daily needs of existence, but by the rules of society. In fact all his relations to other men, involve social rules of behaviour which must be obeyed, and all these rules, laws, fashions, customs, beliefs and obligations were fixed without consulting him, and in most cases before he and his parents were born.

This subjection to Society is a condition of our life. The president is just as much bound by it as the poorest day laborer; it is the result of the growth of population, of public order, of civilization. The business man arising in the morning and going out to his work, is reassured by seeing the policeman at the corner; with a despotic gesture the officer stops the traffic and the man crosses the street in safety. Though he may have enemies, he knows they will not be permitted to insult him in the street, nor to libel him in the morning papers, nor in the private correspondence just then being delivered by the government postal carrier, because happily free speech is not permitted in civilized countries. He enters the government inspected street car, elevated or subway, protected by strict authority from the presence of people with contagious diseases. He encounters the same regulative tendency in his private business life. In the elevator, in his office, in the commerce exchange, in his transactions with banks and merchants, in the restaurants, everywhere and all day long, he is under severe restrictions, without which, as applied to others, he could not transact his business or even live in safety. The lease to his office which fifty years ago contained but a few simple stipulations, now includes a hundred strict requirements formerly unheard of, all giving great power to the landlord but really operating for the protection of the tenant. A similar government is seen in social life; a man’s manners and the tones of his voice, his attitude, gestures and general behaviour are regulated by despotic custom. All this restraint and discipline,{359} though it may seem to curtail liberty, yet in an indirect but perfectly perceptible way it actually enlarges its scope, by giving access to new fields of enjoyment, made available as such by restrictions on their abuse. So that all our satisfactions, all our joys and pleasures, our prosperity, our bodily health, our very lives are derived from and depend not upon liberty but upon protection, and that moral and physical restraint which is incident to protection.

This dependence of man upon law, order and restraint for every good in life, is not a new thing, nor a creation of modern times; it is inherent in the nature of human society; and was as true of the primitive man as of ourselves. This is not always understood. Some visionary writers have pronounced a state of liberty to be the ideal state, and have imagined liberty as a precious boon originally bestowed upon man, and enjoyed in past ages in a higher degree than at present; they regard restrictions as evils, incident to civilization, perhaps, but still evils. They consider liberty to be something positive and beneficial in its character, like a birthright which man has from time to time bargained away like Esau for the pottage of social advantages. This is an utterly false and mischievous conception which has heretofore helped to create trouble, and being interpreted by half-educated leaders to a foolish populace may do so again. Looking back as far as we choose down the vista of the past, we find that then just as to-day law and order made life worth living, and liberty or the absence of restraint meant misery and death. To find a condition of perfect liberty we must go back to a solitary savage; for complete human liberty and solitary savagery are practically identical. From that point on every addition to human society or civilization, whether in the shape of persons or property, carries with it as a necessary incident its own demand for protection and restraint. Assume if you please the existence of the solitary primitive man, imagined by these dreamers as having perfect liberty, yet that supposed liberty did not include any positive or definite rights whatever. It{360} did not for example include the right to interfere with others, because the others did not then exist. When society came in contact with him, he did not surrender to her any previous rights in relation to others because such rights could not be created till those others actually arrived. Nor could he have possessed liberty in the sense of exemption from social rules, because as there was no society, there were no such rules. Society therefore and government came as a clear gain to humanity; they were additions to the imaginary abstract or natural man and to his life; and the restrictions referred to are but part of the gift; they are incidental to it, and constitute its essential condition, and in no way change its character as a clear benefit and gift to man. Thus, if one gives me a horse, it in no way detracts from the character of the gift that I must feed and shelter the animal. If I give a boy a drum, it is none the less a clear gift because he is forbidden to drive a hole in its head. His liberty is not thereby restricted, because before he had the gift he was also unable to punch the hole. The imaginary original solitary man, upon the arrival of a neighbor, gains in companionship, protection, help, division of labor, etc. He loses nothing in being forbidden to kill, to maim or to rob the newcomer. First, because the privilege of wanton destruction does not exist as a human right, nor is it a part of natural human liberty, but is in its nature and effect a curtailment thereof. Second, because, in his former solitary state, there was no one in existence whom he might kill, maim or rob. Coming up then to tribal existence, and observing the very earliest and lowest exhibitions of social life, we find no trace of the mythical liberty the theorists have imagined, but rather the practice of restraint applied by law or custom as far as requisite to protect the individual. One savage is not permitted to assault another, without paying the penalty according to the custom of the tribe, or suffering the vengeance of the assaulted party or his friends. He does not possess the liberty to destroy or appropriate any ornament, weapon or other property that any one of his fellow savages possesses. To the first beginnings{361} of property, is attached as a part thereof, the incident of protective restraint upon its non-owners. When, whether in barbarous or highly civilized communities, the citizen is forbidden to plunder or injure property, he is not thereby deprived of any part of a man’s inherent liberty; the restraint is merely a qualification or condition of the property in question which does not affect third parties or detract from their previous rights. When modern society forbids trespassing on, or plundering cultivated fields or orchards, it does not deprive any one of anything that his ancestors theretofore had, because in their primitive state there was no right of trespass on or plunder of that property; there were no cultivated fields or orchards to rob or on which to trespass.

In short, there is no such condition either natural or acquired as that of human liberty, nor does liberty of any sort exist in this world or even in the whole universe. The very word “liberty” is without concrete signification, it is a mere negation like “anarchy” and “nothingness,” and represents an idea which is incompatible with government of any sort. This truth is fully realized by the best students of civics, and is just as true of American or republican government as of that of any other country or system. “All government,” says Sir William Temple, “is a restraint on liberty, and when men seem to contend for liberty, it is indeed but to have a change of those who rule.” The consent of the governed can be given only to the mere form of government, said Webster, in a speech at the Charleston Bar Dinner, 1847, and further: “Liberty is the creation of law, essentially different from that authorized licentiousness that trespasses on right. It is a legal and refined idea, the offspring of high civilization, which the savage never understood and never can understand. Liberty exists in proportion to wholesome restraint; the more restraint on others to keep off from us, the more liberty we have. It is an error to suppose that liberty consists in a paucity of laws—that man is free who is protected from injury.{362}

In thus showing that what is commonly called “liberty” really consists in restraint, Webster in effect smashed the silly “liberty” legend. And Ruskin voices the same idea (Pol. Economy, Works, Vol. 17, p. 432): “Americans, as a nation, set their trust in Liberty and in Equality, of which I detest the one, and deny the possibility of the other.” And again, (Vol. 8, p. 248):

“How false is the conception, how frantic the pursuit of that treacherous phantom which men call Liberty; most treacherous, indeed, of all phantoms; for the feeblest ray of reason might surely show us that not only its attainment, but its being, was impossible. There is no such thing in the Universe. There can never be. The stars have it not; the earth has it not; the sea has it not; and we men for the mockery and semblance of it have used heaviest punishment.... If there be any one principle more widely than another confessed by every utterance, or more sternly than another imprinted on every atom of the visible creation, that principle is not liberty, but law.”

“The only liberty,” says Burke, “that is valuable is a liberty connected with order, that not only exists along with order and virtue, but which cannot exist at all without them; it inheres in all good and steady government, is in its substance and vital principle.” The blessings commonly called by the name of liberty are therefore seen to be the result of just and efficient government, and the evidence is overwhelming that of such government in this country manhood suffrage has been a constant enemy.

Sometimes a foolish suggestion may be seen in print that manhood suffrage is needed to safeguard religious liberty in the United States. Religious liberty and political liberty are practically identical. The noted religious struggles and persecutions in Europe were really political affairs; and the framers of our Constitution included therein guarantees for religious freedom as a matter of course. No further safeguard is needed. The English race has everywhere adopted religious liberty as a definite policy ever since 1688, and the{363} right to religious liberty is no longer questioned by anyone, either in this or in any English-speaking country. There are say two hundred different religious sects in the United States, some of which have but very few followers, and are destitute of means or influence to defend themselves against small or great persecutions; yet no one ever hears of their being molested or even seriously criticised for their religious views, and their security and protection are amply guaranteed by the fundamental law and settled opinions of the American people. There is no more need of shaping our suffrage laws so as to guard against religious persecution, than there is of private gentlemen wearing swords, or of our building our dwellings in the shape of castles for defense, as our ancestors did in the England of the Plantagenets. But were it otherwise, and were any tendency to religious intolerance apparent in this country, it is almost certain that it would crop out among the uneducated and the thriftless rabble, and not among the well-to-do, the educated or the middle class. History and experience teach that it is among the lowest class that the strongest prejudices exist, and that it is that class who are the most violent, tyrannical and intolerant in their expression. The great religious persecutions authorized by governments in past times were incited by the clamor of the populace. The upper and more learned classes were always less superstitious, more skeptical, tolerant and merciful. It was the Jewish mob who demanded the death of Christ when the enlightened Roman Governor would have set him free; it was the Roman rabble who roared for the blood of the early Christians; and nearly all subsequent religious persecutions in civilized nations, have either been in accordance with popular opinion, or have been used as weapons in the strife between two factions of the people at large. It was the lower classes of French who slaughtered the Catholics in the time of the French Revolution. In our own time, the brutal and lawless attacks on religious minorities in this and other countries, the pogroms of the Jews in Russia and Poland, and the massacres of Christians in the Turkish{364} dominions were popular performances. So therefore, judging by the past, if religious liberty should ever be threatened in this country, the menace would not come from the educated or middle classes, nor from such thrifty and peaceable workers as may have accumulated a few hundred or a few thousand dollars of property, but from a lawless mob of the unthinking class who degrade our elections.

The reader may now fairly ask, what then was the struggle for liberty of which we have all heard so much as continuing for centuries in Europe and America? It had two aspects, in both of which the sympathy of the element added to the voting list by manhood suffrage has been consciously or unconsciously on the side of tyranny. One aspect was that of the resistance of religious minorities to majority oppression; the other, the resistance of business men to governmental oppression, by way of excessive taxes, imposts and restrictions. The non-propertied classes would probably in the one case have swelled the tyrannical majority, and in the other would have favored as they still do interference with business by the state. In the middle ages the resistance of business men to governmental and baronial exactions was almost continuous, and was displayed by agitations and revolts frequently described as struggles for liberty. Always the real object was the same; the privilege claimed by business men, of conducting honest and peaceful industries, businesses and exchanges without interference and secured from confiscation. There has also been in the past a steady clearing away by merchants, traders, craftsmen and their friends and partisans, of obstacles placed by governmental stupidity, error and prejudice in the way of peaceful labor, business and general betterment. In short it has been a struggle to put business men and business methods in control. These contests continue everywhere; they are still going on in the United States; but the non-propertied classes have never joined in them on the side of liberty; they have been and are prejudicially arrayed against business methods and busi{365}ness men. The business world has always had to win its way and hold its ground despite them.

The other aspect of the so called struggle for liberty in the days gone by, was that already referred to, of the resistance of religious minorities to persecution. This persecution, though governmental in form, was in reality a majority oppression, in which the government merely represented the prevailing opinion. Such were the persecutions of the British Protestant dissenters, the American Quakers and Baptists, and the French Huguenots. Had manhood suffrage then prevailed, the majority demanding the persecutions would probably have been greater and more truculent. We may be sure that the populace would have uttered no word for toleration.

Since manhood suffrage has been established the people have created six amendments to the United States Constitution, of which five were unwise, unjust or arbitrary and one merely formal. The record is not flattering to popular wisdom or justice. Here they are:

Article XIII. Abolished slavery. This was unjust and arbitrary. The slave owners had bought and paid for their slaves under legal and judicial sanction. To emancipate them without compensation to the owners was an unauthorized confiscation. England paid for her slaves in the West Indies when she set them free. But then, the British voters were property owners and believers in property rights.

Articles XIV and XV. These were intended to give the vote to the newly enfranchised Southern negroes. After producing much turmoil, political rascality and misgovernment in the South, the enforcement of these measures was abandoned and they are now dead letter provisions.

Article XVI. This was not a new measure; it provides for an income tax which it was formerly supposed could be levied, and was levied, till it was found by judicial inquiry that the Constitution had failed to authorize it. Its ratification was little more than a formality.

Article XVII. This provides for the election of senators in{366} Congress by the people instead of by the legislatures. The result has been a strengthening of the bosses and a lowering of quality of members of the Senate.

Article XVIII. Prohibits the manufacture and sale of alcoholic liquors. A manifestly arbitrary and oppressive majority measure.

The operation of manhood suffrage in our great cities has clearly been tyrannical, because of the absence of proper restraint upon evil doers. Can any one truly say that the people of these cities have been benefited in the slightest degree, by the so-called privilege of voting for their magistrates or rulers? Assuming that their political bosses would let them vote as they wished, or that the bosses are popular agents, and that the people do or can govern in their cities, where is the public benefit? It seems to be generally conceded that on the whole the city of Washington is the best managed city in the Union, and it is governed by a Congress in whose choice the people of Washington have no share. Does any one find his comfort or his freedom curtailed or his life in danger in Washington? The fact is that the exercise of suffrage is a function, whose object is not to preserve liberty, but the opposite, namely, to establish proper control, and when that can be effectively done without popular elections everybody is better off.

The conclusion of the whole review of the relation between manhood suffrage and the liberty of the citizen is that happiness and all good results in the personal relations of men are to be found not in liberty, but in just law, order and restraint, which no one believes are better subserved by admission of the weak and ignorant to the suffrage; and that as sound political institutions and religious toleration were achieved without manhood suffrage in the past they would probably be safer without it in the future.

This leads one naturally to the subject of the operation of manhood suffrage in connection with government by majorities in the present day, which will be treated in the next chapter.{367}



For wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life; and few there be that find it.—Matthew, vii: 13, 14.

A specious argument in favor of manhood suffrage is sometimes condensed into the expression “Let the majority rule”; a popular catchword, misleading like most catchwords, and far from expressing a sound principle in politics. That our national polity does to a large extent recognize the legitimacy of a numerical majority power is true enough; but it neither does, nor ought it, declare the numerical majority opinion to be the only, nor even the final arbiter. No thoroughly enlightened scheme of government of a great nation can do so, for pure majority government is merely the rule of brute force. Wisdom and ability are usually in the minority in this world; and a better saying would seem to be “let the minority rule”; in other words, let patriotic intelligence, justice and efficiency bear sway, and let them as far as possible lead the majority into a better way. In the practical affairs of every day life, people do not seek to learn of the majority, but of the few. In the administration of justice the better opinion is that majority verdicts of juries should not be received; such verdicts are apt to be hasty and careless, and to lack that element of care and deliberation which the requirement of unanimity tends to produce. In a casual group of fifty men, the opinion of twenty-five, properly selected, or a majority of them, is worth{368} far more than the opinion of a chance majority of the total fifty. In nothing except politics is an appeal to the majority ever made; everyone turns to a small minority of men, or even to one single man, for guidance in every important conjuncture of life. When a serious disease attacks a man, he does not take a vote of the public or of his family, friends and neighbors as to the course of treatment to be adopted to save his life; he turns to one learned and trustworthy man, and puts himself in his hands. So in the navigation of a ship, whether in tempest or fair weather; the trained and experienced mind of the captain controls at every moment of the voyage; it is the same in the conduct of a law suit; of a business enterprise; of the construction of dwellings, bridges, railroads and tunnels; in military campaigns; in all the serious undertakings of life, guidance is never sought in the voices of the many, but in the opinion of a select few or of a still more selected one.

It is a fatal error in the manhood suffrage theory that it assumes that numbers rule, and are capable of giving the final sanction. Such is not the fact. Despite all that demagogues may do or say, no amount of vociferation, resolutioning, applauding, cheering, registering, and voting will serve to prevent or delay the operation of natural law. Mind and reason must govern in politics as elsewhere. The power that is best capable of establishing and sustaining governments and governmental systems is a combination of forces; including principally energy, intelligence and numbers, producing a sum total of effectiveness. When allowed free play to its powers, as in India for instance, an energetic and intelligent minority will often control an inert and ignorant majority. The basic cause for the recognition of the majority principle in government, is not a belief in majority opinion, but an assumption that the majority actually possesses sufficient physical force to master the minority, and that therefore in the last appeal the majority must rule. But true statesmanship distrusts majority opinion in everything; seeks to escape its interference, and to educate and guide it in the right direction. It yields to it at last with{369} reluctance, and only as we all yield to any of the overpowering forces of Nature; to darkness, to the deadly frost of the poles, to torrid heat, to the desert; to each of which we give way only to the extent to which we are unable to circumvent them, and to prevent their interference with our enterprises. And so, astute politicians are often active in seeking expedients, to compel the often blind will of majorities to conform to reason and the inevitable. It is the ambition of real statesmen to drive the state coach; while the mere politician is content to climb up behind, or to run up and down at the heels of the populace, like a servile flunkey after a demented master, whose follies he dares not correct, and out of whose worst extravagances he is ready to profit. Political leaders realize that a majority vote does not always, perhaps not often, represent the weight of the effective public opinion of the state; that such a vote frequently not only lacks understanding, but also lacks any guarantee of future support for the politician who shall rely upon it. And so it is the part of statesmanship to mitigate or prevent pure majority rule; to manage public opinion; to muzzle, assuage or pacify it; to create and guide majorities; to soothe and placate them for the time being; and sometimes to divert their attention, till they melt away and disappear and reason resumes her sway.

The necessity of effectively curbing, moderating and checking majority action, was well understood by the framers of the Constitution, who erected various anti-majority or one might say anti-snap-judgment barriers. First, there was the existing property qualification for voters; Second, the fundamental guarantees for personal property rights, contained in the Constitution and intended to protect minorities against hasty majority legislation; Third, the immutable constitutional provision for the equal representation of the states in the Senate. This last is a clear flouting of the majority theory, since it gives a small state the same representation as a large one, and conceivably enables a minority to defeat a majority. Fourth, the creation of an electoral college to select the president; thus{370} intending to deprive the people of all direct voice in his election; Fifth, the veto placed in the hands of a president not elected by popular vote; Sixth, the election of federal senators by the state legislatures instead of by the people; Seventh, the creation of a supreme court with power to nullify unconstitutional legislation; Eighth, the system of appointment instead of election of all federal officials.

Calhoun discussed the subject of majority vote in a very interesting way in his Disquisition on Government. He there distinguishes between the sense of the majority of the community and the sense of the entire community; he recognizes the tendency to misgovernment by a numerical majority, and the necessity of checking that tendency by some means, and he proposes the creation of a countervailing “Organism” by which would be called into operation the sense of the community as a whole. This would merely amount to the adoption of an additional constitutional check on majority rule; and such checks are of course useful; but they are insufficient; they are directed against the operation of the mischief, but not against its root and origin. The political machine should be so constructed that the constitutional checks on its operation would only be needed on rare occasions, like the stops in an elevator, which come into play only in cases of accident when the machine gets beyond ordinary control. A vital error in the scheme of majority rule is pointed out by John Stuart Mill in his “System of Logic”; it lies in the vicious extreme to which it has been carried. All excess is mischievous. All systems of government are bound to be defective in results, and therefore none should be radically enforced. The so called French extreme logical application of general rules tends to aggravate imperfections. “In these, and many other cases, we set in motion a principle from which, while it is under control we derive signal advantage, but which, if it breaks loose and follows its own tendencies unchecked, is highly dangerous: of which we may say, as of fire, that it is a good servant but a bad master.” (Lewis on Authority, p. 239.) In other words{371} the doctrine of majority rule represents only one principle applicable to government: it contains only a part of the truth; and should not in practise be applied to excess, or as if it were the only principle involved; but its original operation should be combined at the very outset with that of other steadying forces such as intelligence, experience and morality. “The mere counting of votes (says one writer) is insufficient when parts of the nation are electing representatives for the whole. The parts must be arranged according to quality so as to guarantee the election of the best men, and to give due proportion to the intellectual, moral and material elements of the nation.” (Bluntschli; Theory of the State.)

The foregoing may serve to clear up the difficulty in the minds of many people, who have thought of the construction of a governmental machine as of a problem in mathematics, where only numbers are to be considered. As Mills the logician points out, the doctrine of pure numerical majority rule is not logical, and other considerations besides mere numbers must be given value in weighing the national verdict in political questions. In determining what those other considerations should be, it is obvious that property rights, and the qualities which create and preserve property, are of first availability and importance, and that the neglect and oversight of these rights and qualities constitute the most glaring defects of popular government. The property qualification is obviously that most readily applied to the electorate and its institution is a return to the natural and original practice of the American people.

The use of the property qualification as a corrective of the excesses attendant upon pure majority government is also recommendable on the ground of efficiency and practicability. It will effect a needed check on hasty, emotional, prejudiced and unsocial measures more easily and with less jar and racking than any of the other expedients in practise or suggested for that purpose. The marginal vote between right and wrong, between wisdom and folly, is often very small; sometimes five or ten per cent. It is safe to assume{372} that a propertied electorate would give enlightened verdicts in many cases, where the present inferior voting body renders barbarous ones; and such decisions would carry with them all the prestige of a popular vote. The constitutional expedients now in force to check majority action, or any which may be invented, should not be subjected to every day use, for they have serious drawbacks. They are not preventive; they are not final; at best they effect no more than delay, and they irritate the masses by opposing a technical and inferior power to theirs; a mere obstruction as it were, and that interposed by those whom they assume to call their servants. There can be no doubt that the logical and safe thing is to avoid and prevent mistakes of the electorate, rather than to allow them to be made, and afterward to attempt by extraneous means to offset them or to thwart their operation; and this especially when these means are such as to the masses may seem obstructive and oppressive. As the real difficulty in the case lies in this vicious constitution of the electorate, why not meet it there? The object is to prevent foolish, oppressive and fluctuating majority decisions. To effectuate this, the property qualification scheme, while accepting the fact that voting power rule is one necessary factor in republican government, creates at the outset a majority body of voters from which it has eliminated the politically worthless element. It thus furnishes an electorate containing, and capable of producing out of itself, a numerical majority which will also carry a preponderance in property, intelligence, public spirit and in political weight, prestige and power. Such a majority will never attempt to rule in defiance of justice and good policy; and the assurance furnished by its very existence will promote business confidence and general prosperity.{373}



An educational qualification for voters would be incompatible with the theory of this volume, which viewing government as preeminently a business institution, prescribes as a preparation for the voter a practical business training, and demands the application to the proposed elector of the test of practical success in business life and of interest in business affairs. But were an educational qualification otherwise desirable, it would have to be rejected as totally impracticable. It might be possible under certain circumstances to exact a requirement that every voter should be able to read simple English sentences. But even that would be difficult to enforce; and if enforced would accomplish no more than merely to exclude the grossly illiterate; it would not provide a real educational qualification. Even to go so far as to require an examination on a few simple subjects would result in a merely nominal test; in practice absolutely ineffective, while to make it substantial would be practically impossible; no machinery exists or could be created for the purpose. The present class of election inspectors have neither the requisite courage nor sufficient knowledge to apply such requirements; they cannot themselves be expected to do much more than read and write, and do a plain sum in arithmetic; the very thought of such officials applying a real educational test to their neighbors, or to anyone else, is ludicrous. A board of college professors or men with similar attainments would have to be constituted in each district; the expense would be enormous; the examiners would be worked and worried to the verge of{374} insanity; they would have to sit constantly all the year round; with the probable result after all of riots at each election and ten years’ litigation afterwards. No two men in the country would agree upon the subjects or rules for the examinations; whether English grammar should be required, or geography, or botany, or mensuration, or astronomy, or geology, or whether any of these should be admissible. Shall he who fails to spell “procedure” or “acquiesce” correctly be passed because he remembers the name of Hamlet’s mother; or shall the man who says “droring” or he who does not know the name of the governor of the state, be excluded, or shall both be admitted? Indeed, any thorough examination would result in the disfranchisement of nearly all middle-aged men except teachers and clergymen. In short, the idea of applying any book examination whatever as a test for political capacity is false and impracticable, because there is no real relation between capacity to remember the contents of school books, and that common sense and good judgment which is the foundation of all good government. But there is a practicable test of both these qualities, though book examinations will not afford it; it is that applied in daily life and in business, and is expressed in terms of property. The possession or lack of that good judgment and of that common sense is openly certified every day by the success or failure of business men. Their case is like that of students who during the whole term have been competing for prizes. Their records and certificates issued by the school of life are open to inspection; the ablest pupils have been marked, stamped as it were for public recognition. No examination or trial of any sort would furnish tests as valuable and accurate as those applied to every man day by day in the struggle of life.

There is no fear that any well-educated but unpropertied man will suffer injustice through being excluded from the polls. As it is to-day, all educated men who are not in active politics find the right to vote to be a hollow privilege to perform an empty ceremony; they learn that its value is nullified{375} by the worthless men and frivolous women of the neighborhood, and by the sordid political organizations created by universal suffrage. No patriotic man desires the vote merely for his own gratification, or except for the general good; and how can it be for the public gain to let down the bars in his case, if a score of incapables thereby get through the fence and offset and defeat his vote twenty times over? It is probable that fifty undesirables will be excluded from the polls by a property qualification for every man of worth kept away because of his poverty; and the latter will be consoled and recompensed by seeing his class at last obtain an influence and a hearing. And, after all, the value to the state of the political judgment and opinion of such few electors as are able to pass an educational examination, and yet are not possessed of the equivalent of a reasonable property qualification, cannot be very great; probably all put together it is less than nothing. A man with all the advantage of a good education who is unable in this country to save enough money to put him on the roll of the thrifty, is presumably incompetent to advise the commonwealth; and it is perhaps one of the advantages of a property qualification that it saves the state from the ill counsel of his class.

The complete failure of mere school and college education to fit man for civic duties is recognized by the heads of our educational system, as well as by business men. In an address delivered at New Haven September 28, 1919, President Hadley of Yale University laid proper emphasis on this point, and on the risks attending undisciplined democracy. He said in substance that there is danger that our free institutions may break down for want of capacity in the voters, and admitted that the schools and colleges had proved incapable of creating a competent electorate. The “vision” which Hadley found lacking in the voters of today as contrasted with the Fathers, is the insight into life which a man may get in caring for property or in successfully fending for himself and family.

Besides the men of books without practical vision or judg{376}ment there is another type whose hands should be kept off the wheels of government; namely, those who have sufficient education and fluency of speech to give them sway over the foolish and dissatisfied masses, but who are themselves weak in principle and devoid of knowledge of political economy. As long as such a one enjoys a fortune he is comparatively safe; but let him be penniless and he is apt to become a dangerous agitator. The state is safest without such men in any part of its organization. A purely educational qualification system would give high place to the featherhead revolutionary agitators of Russia and France, Nihilists, Anarchists, Bolsheviki, Terrorists, political scoundrels and madmen. It must be steadily borne in mind that our civilization is founded on private property, and that the rights of private property cannot be safely disregarded by the makers of the modern democratic state but must be always held paramount if our fundamental institutions are to endure.

The qualification age of voters should be advanced from twenty one to twenty five years. The age of twenty one has by common consent of most civilized people been selected as that at which the tutelage of a youth shall cease, and he shall become a free man with the right to regulate his own life and dispose of his own property. In point of fact this theory substantially accords with the truth in the majority of cases; the average boy ends his schooling at about seventeen years of age, and after four years spent at college or in learning the rudiments of some business, trade or calling his period of training for manhood is usually ended. And so, on the theory that suffrage is a natural right of a man it might well be said that the vote should be given on attaining manhood; but starting with the correct theory that suffrage is a function of government, for which the school of life is a preparation, it is clear that a proper additional period must be granted for that preparation. Ordinarily, the four years from the age of twenty-one to that of twenty-five, represent the period of the youth’s first experience in making his own living, in managing{377} his own property, in planning and selecting his own career and associates, in making and executing his own decisions, and generally in the actual exercise of free and uncontrolled manhood. There can be no doubt that these four years thus spent have a great effect on a young man’s character; and that ordinarily he who was but a youth at twenty-one is found at twenty-five to be a man, with a stock of manly ideas and experience all acquired in the last four years. Four years apprenticeship to actual life is none too long a preparation for political duties, and the necessity of this requirement will no doubt be acknowledged by most young men over twenty-five years of age. In the case of those who have inherited property, it is plain that a four years’ acquaintance with its management, and of actual contact with the taxing power, will give to their votes a weight and value which are usually quite lacking to those of the ordinary youth of twenty-one years.{378}



Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection, but I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. (I Timothy, ii; 13, 14.)

There be those to whom the words of the great apostle to the Gentiles speak with power and authority; who believe that Holy Writ will be read and heard with reverent faith long after the claptrap of to-day has been replaced by a later folly and is utterly forgotten; and there be those also who disdain St. Paul as one far inferior in deep sagacity to themselves. The precept of the ancient text will no doubt be valued by each reader as belikes him. The beauty of the landscape is in the eye of the human spectator; there is reason to believe that neither the grazing donkey nor any of his fellow quadrupeds has yet felt its fascination.

Woman suffrage has been steadily gaining ground in the United States for the last ten years, and the leading politicians have recently taken it up. It is a corollary and a sequence of manhood suffrage, its most fatal and noxious derivative. It is distinctly Bolshevik in its tendencies; it represents an absolute negation of the rights of property and the claims of capacity in government, and it threatens the severest blow which democracy has ever yet sustained. It implies the past failure of democracy as a governing power and is destined if accepted, to confirm and complete that failure in the future. Its adoption by a number of states of the Union is a disgrace and a dishonour, because it implies that the men of the nation are unfit to govern it. The implication is necessary and conclusive, but the charge does not rest on mere implication; the suffragettes have repeatedly{379} made it on the platform and in their literature. Yes, to such depth of shame after three generations of its odious operations, has manhood suffrage brought our people, that our women are able openly to accuse our men of incapacity to govern the country. And by adopting woman suffrage in sixteen states the men have admitted the charge; for if they were competent to govern, if they were even as competent as the women, there was no excuse for calling in the latter to interfere. They have been called in, and the male electorate thereby stands a self-confessed failure. And yet the charge of incapacity made against our men is false; they are competent to manage the state and to manage it well, but the politicians who have been permitted to grasp the helm of state are not competent; and so after one hundred and forty years of independence and male government we are told by a parcel of fools and fanatics that the manhood of the country is not and never has been fit and able to conduct its affairs. Disguise it as you will, that is what woman suffrage means. It is not merely an open affront to American manhood, but it is also an aspersion at once upon its training and its intelligence; for it is a declaration that after over a century of actual participation in business, in war, in politics and in government, our men are so incapable, that their women who have none of this experience, are more competent than they to counsel and direct in all these important matters. In vain will the nincompoops and sentimentalists who gave us women suffrage attempt to avoid this plain conclusion by references to a few superior and exceptional women, such as their favorite wonder, Mme. Curie. The invitation to vote was not confined to the exceptional; we have called in the whole adult female population, black and white, from the most intelligent and refined lady in the land down to the vilest negress from the slums. The obvious effect was and is to offset every man’s vote by a woman’s vote; and thus practically to disfranchise the men of the country. The votes of the banker, the lawyer, the physician, the business man, the farmer, the manufacturer, the architect, each of{380} whom has spent most of his days in learning lessons in the actual struggles of life, are to be negatived by the votes of their wives and daughters, who have passed their existence in sheltered homes, and who are so ignorant of the business of life and politics, that they do not even know its terms or its language. In every family, in every occupation, in every quality and grade of life, the same absurd and degrading performance is to be repeated year by year, as long as men will subject themselves to the futile humiliation of appearing at the polls. All the way up and down the scale our women are notoriously inferior to our men in business and political knowledge and judgment; and all the way down and all the way up, all the votes of such of the wise and experienced males as may hereafter trouble themselves to vote are to be negatived and nullified by those of the ignorant and inexperienced females. To say that no such result is intended is to say that the promoters of woman suffrage acted without reason or logic, which is probably true. They did not realize the meaning or effect of a great deal of what they said and proposed; but yet, whether or not they are capable of understanding it, woman suffrage must, if it does anything, modify or lessen man’s authority. Some of the suffragette leaders saw this, and the literature of the movement is well peppered with sharp aspersions on the capacity of men to rule the country. Indeed, if male government was satisfactory, why was a change proposed? The entire argument of the movement was that masculine rule is not satisfactory, and that therefore it was proposed to supersede and supplant it by a mixed government of men and women, now and forever. This change in management is inexcusable, unless it is intended to produce practical results in legislation and administration; and each of these practical results cannot be or mean less than an overruling of the male power by the female power, and a public and formal assertion of superior female capacity in government.

To say that none of this is to happen, that after all this hullabaloo about woman’s wrongs and rights, the women are{381} going to vote in obedience to the directions or wishes of the men of their respective families, and that man’s government control and management will therefore remain unaffected by the triumph of their cause, is to make the whole movement futile and ridiculous. Not only that; but such a nullification of the women’s vote would add to the mischief of the affront already put upon the men by putting a separate affront upon the women. Far better for them to stay at home, and make no pretence of political action, than to go out to the polls, and pretend to do the part of freewomen, while really acting the part of puppets. If therefore a practise of proxy voting is to be the real effect of woman suffrage, and there is good reason to suspect that it is so in many instances, let it be done openly and straightforwardly. There is already too much fraud and humbug in politics; let the law be amended so that for instance, when a manufacturer with a wife and four other women in his family puts in six votes for a protective tariff it can be done openly; let him cast the six votes himself, without resorting to the troublesome expedient of having these five women, much against their will, trained and required to take a mean part in a sham transaction; first carefully instructed to vote the straight ticket and then taken to the polls and compelled to go through the tiresome form required by the man-made election law. Indeed, if men were permitted to vote by proxy for their women, the probability is that female attendance at the polls would before long become unfashionable and shrink almost to nothing. If, however, the female voters, inspired by the suffragette dreams, change their natures so far as to want to use their new powers in complete independence of the men, then will be seen the interesting picture of our women, publicly exercising their ignorance, and in defiance of all claims of loyalty and gratitude, trampling under foot family ties, assuming hostile attitudes towards the men, and negativing the votes of fathers, brothers and husbands whose bread they eat, who protect and care for them and whose business and political experience and wisdom is{382} ten times their own. Imagine the theory of woman suffrage plainly and fully in effect, and see what it would mean. Picture, if you will, the assembled men of a hamlet or village voting “yea” on any proposition; say to build a school house or a sewer; to pass an ordinance, to favor war or peace, or to select a public official; and imagine the women in like separate assembly overruling the word of their men and voting “nay.” Would not this be to affront and dishonour the men of the community; and is there any doubt as to which body would be in the right in whatever decision had been made? Yet that or nothing, is the effect of this measure. Of the woman who favors woman suffrage it can therefore be said that she wishes to see the dearest opinions of her experienced father, her brother and her husband overruled not only by herself but by every gossiping wench in the neighborhood. Truly a noble movement! For the men who have acceded to it the most charitable excuse is indifference. The long continued operation of rotten politics has eaten into the civic fibre of our manhood; we have for generations seen elections turned into farces, public offices bargained and sold, and a vulgar oligarchy of rogues native and imported ruling this land, till our best men have almost ceased to care who votes or who is elected. If the male “suffragist” doubts this to be his real mental attitude, let him imagine the women of his family overruling him in a business transaction, or one of personal friendship, or any other matter in which he is really concerned, and wherein he is better informed than they; and he will realize, that his willingness to submit to having the exercise of his citizenship nullified at the polls, by the vote of an uninstructed woman is due to his contempt for politics, his indifference to political results, and his realization that the suffrage has been already degraded so that it is practically worthless.

Not only is woman suffrage a dishonor and a disgrace, but it is a danger, for it threatens the existence of the state; it is a weakening of the foundations at a time when we are{383} menaced with attacks by every band of the rapidly organizing enemies to property and to the social order. Is it fit when the day of stress comes that the power of this country should be in the hands of women and woman-led politicians? If we will not take counsel of common sense, let us be warned of our fears, to step backward while there is time, for the precipice is directly in our path.

The progress of the cause of woman suffrage, like to that of manhood suffrage a century ago, is due to the apathy of half the population and the failure of the other half to understand the question. And just as manhood suffrage was adopted without serious discussion or any real study of its tendencies, so woman suffrage is rapidly making its way in a careless, stupid and bewildered electorate, of which a large portion and that the most intelligent has long ago abandoned politics as hopeless and disgusting. No doubt, the adoption of the manhood suffrage theory prepared the way for this result, first by promulgating the false doctrine of a natural right to vote, and second by weakening the electorate. When the principle of a qualified electorate was abandoned, we lost the only sane and safe basis on which a democratic government can possibly exist; once reject the rule of fitness, and there is no valid reason why all the deficient and worthless should not have their say in government, and the way is laid open for rule by ignorant and incapable numbers instead of by knowledge and capacity. The admission of women to the voting booths is merely a new and wider application of the former doctrine of the right of the ignorant and unfit to govern. Let it be conceded that no voter can be excluded from the polls for incapacity shown by failure in life, and it becomes difficult to exclude for similar incapacity resulting from sex. The abolition of all qualifications for male voters, and the admission of a horde of male incompetents to the ballot box, has prepared the way for the granting of the privileges of the ballot to a sex almost universally incompetent for the exercise of the franchise.{384}

And further, manhood suffrage not only smoothed the path for woman suffrage by weakening and degrading the electorate who were to pass on the question, but incidentally by driving out in disgust great numbers of the wise and worthy from active participation in politics; with the result that the body politic has hardly, if at all, power or virtue sufficient to save itself from the assaults of that clamorous band of female fanatics and triflers who seek diversion in public affairs. The adoption of woman suffrage at the command of this noxious horde is the most degraded performance of and the most mischievous transgression by the manhood suffrage system since its establishment.

The ruling politicians of both parties, who were at first afraid of woman suffrage, and next doubtful or lukewarm, have now generally come to favor it, and are quite ready to welcome an influx of new voters still more ignorant and emotional than those they had already learned to master. They might, of course, have defeated the movement; but they had no motive to exclude from the polls masses of women, mostly ignorant and gullible, and often sordid, who with a little change in methods, may be purchased, deceived and controlled, even more easily than the nondescript men who have heretofore constituted the sure following of the bosses. Besides, the politicians cannot safely or consistently advocate or countenance the establishment of any qualification whatever for the exercise of political functions; the leaders and their instruments being notoriously unfit for the offices and their followers for the voting booths.

That the great state of New York should be one of those to grant full suffrage to women strikingly illustrates and proves the incapacity of the manhood suffrage electorate. The state’s vote in that behalf could only have been given by a constituency grossly stupid, or so neglectful of its duties as to be indifferent to the grotesque scandals already produced in New York by the operation of manhood suffrage. And now, its voting mass, which already was far inferior in intelligence and{385} efficiency to what it should be, has by its own decree provided that hereafter it will be still more ignorant and inefficient. The fact is, that the whole American electorate, especially in states containing great and absolutely machine ruled cities, has become demoralized by manhood suffrage to the extent that it has ceased to study the philosophy of government and finds itself totally unprepared to discuss the suffrage question intelligently. A few cheap catch words such as the “majority must rule” and “every citizen should vote” constitute nowadays the political creed and sum up the political knowledge of the ordinary American. The women suffragists utter mere claptrap; but claptrap perfectly suits the popular ear, and is all that any one has needed to utter on political platforms ever since manhood suffrage was adopted; they press upon the voters their superficial argument that as no qualification was required from a man, none should be required of a woman; they contrast the good respectable women who are refused the suffrage with the miserable male sots, loafers and ignorant boors to whom it has been granted; and they urge that nothing can be worse than our present political condition. In this, by the way, they will find their mistake as time goes on; for Uncle Sam, like the man who is made shaky on his legs by two glasses of whiskey, will not be steadied by doubling the dose that disabled him. However, in these and similar arguments, there appears to the superficial mind so much plausibility that on the strength of them, millions of women have been put on the voting lists; most of them absolutely ignorant of business life and of the practical workings of political institutions built up by men year by year in the centuries gone by; most of them besides almost totally devoid of any realization of the tragedy of the situation, of the tremendous interests involved, or of the dangers to which a nation is subject, which goes drifting along without firm, strict and competent masculine governmental management and control.

Let it be clearly understood before proceeding further, that it is not within the scope or plan of this book to discuss what is{386} called “feminism,” or even to go into the whole case against woman suffrage, but merely to apply to the female suffrage problem, the reasoning herein applied to the manhood suffrage institution. The inquiry here is merely whether or not women may be expected by their votes to contribute to the public welfare. It will be well, however, just to mention the principal points made by those opposed to giving the franchise to woman, which are additional to those included in the argument herein presented, so as to make it clear that the failure of the writer to urge them in detail must not be taken to indicate any disregard of their value; they are not dwelt upon only because outside of the scheme of the work. These miscellaneous points made by the anti-female suffragists are as follows:

That the ultimate sanction for every political decree is force; modern force is expressed in naval and military terms; women are incapable of military or naval service, they cannot back their votes by force. To say that because they can nurse the wounded they are therefore combatants is like saying that the man who blows the organ is a musician. We have also the objections founded on mental or moral deficiency; that government needs creative energy, and that women are not as creative as men, no supreme work of genius for instance having ever been created by a woman; that woman is inferior to man in strength of intellect, in power of concentration and moral perception; that she has no larger view than man on any subject, but on many subjects a much narrower view; that women are more subject than men to passion and prejudice; that they have less public or civic virtue, and that in order to overcome their inferiority in these particulars they would have to pass through all the developing experience of men in all the past centuries. Another: that women are usually dependents, whereas no voter should be a dependent. Also, that the State does not need women except to raise children; all other services, such as agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, military and naval duties, construction, shipping, engineering, finance, literature, science, invention, etc., being better per{387}formed by men. There are also biological considerations of great force operating generally against the feminist theory of the natural equality of the sexes; and which though not sufficient to forbid woman’s casting a vote, are effective reasons against her going into political strifes and contests. There are, for instance, the physical weaknesses incidental to their sex, the importance of maternity and of all the functions appertaining thereto; the need in the interests of humanity of guarding the mothers of the race present and future from all undue physical strain and burden; the danger as a result of feminism of the evolution of a type of woman expressing masculine characteristics, and incapable of arousing the passion of love, thus depriving men of the beauty and charm of women, imperiling the comeliness of the race, abolishing the lady and ladyhood, and drying up the source of poetry; then there is the argument that the biological development and evolution of woman, and of the race, is destined to come by means of the growth of greater and greater differences between the sexes, and not by women copying men; that feminism in all its aspects is hostile to marriage; that the years necessary to feminist training would bring women to an age too advanced for the best marriages; that women and men are not equals, there being no equality in nature; and that women need the maintenance and protection of the male for their best advantage and that of their children, whereas the tendency of the woman suffrage movement and of all feminism is clearly towards separation of the sexes and female economic independence.

Having thus merely mentioned these points which have been often presented and discussed by other writers, we may proceed to apply to the question of woman suffrage the same test already applied to manhood suffrage, by propounding the query whether it is for the benefit of the state? And here we find that every objection already urged in this volume to giving the vote to unpropertied men, applies with increased force to giving it to women of all classes. As there is no natural right in man to the vote, so there can be none in woman; and in{388} the light of reason, woman suffrage stands condemned on every ground urged in this book for the condemnation of manhood suffrage. In whatever respects manhood suffrage has in this book been condemned as injurious, woman suffrage is more injurious. In short, the theory upon which woman suffrage is advocated by its supporters is entirely incompatible with the theory of suffrage advanced by the writer, and indeed with any theory on which a property qualification can be imposed upon voters. In dealing with this subject therefore, instead of treading again ground already gone over, the writer prefers to call attention briefly to the doctrines of the woman suffrage creed already dealt with and confuted by him in his discussion of manhood suffrage, as follows:

Woman suffragists adopt the manhood suffrage theory of a natural right to vote, and seek to widen its application; the writer and those who agree with him condemn that theory, and seek to narrow its operation. They insist that political voting is a natural right; we, that it is a public function. They regard the vote as cast for the benefit of the voter; we insist that it be given solely for the benefit of the state. They affirm that the present suffrage is not wide enough; we say that it is too wide. They seek a remedy for misgovernment by going further in our present course; we propose to retrace our steps. They demand that all adults be invited to participate in government; we insist that all but the well qualified should be excluded. They say that the adult population in the mass is competent to pass upon candidates and policies; we say it is not; that a much more competent and honest body for the purpose is furnished by the successful men of business, evolved by the process of natural selection. They seek political counsel of everyone; including the weak, the inexperienced and unreliable; we reject all but that of the strong, experienced and trustworthy. They consider the polling booth as a preparatory school for triflers, fools and the ignorant; we regard it as a seat of judgment from which those three classes should be strictly excluded. They speak of “liberty” and “self{389} government” as ideal products of universal suffrage; we say in the first place that “liberty” and “self government” are impossible in a civilized country; and second, that instead of “self government” manhood suffrage has produced and can only produce machine and ring government; and that the votes of women given under universal suffrage will and must strengthen these rings and machines.

Summarized in the fewest possible words, the gist of the previous chapters, as far as they affect both sexes, women as well as men, is, that voting is not a natural right but a public function, to be exercised solely for the benefit of the state; and that the suffrage should be entrusted only to those who have shown themselves to be duly qualified, and never to the weak, inexperienced or dependent. These simple propositions, accepted or considered established, the question of granting or refusing the vote to women is much simplified, being narrowed to one of political expediency, dependent upon their proven capacity to function as voters.

It is manifestly not a question of the capacity of some, but of all women, for unless the quality of the entire female electorate is politically superior to that of the entire male electorate the former should not be introduced into our political system. Nor is it a matter of comparison of any other than civic or political quality; it is immaterial whether women are morally superior to men, or better church goers or more sentimental; the question is whether they are politically as capable; that is whether they are as capable of selecting the directors of the state, or of directing her themselves, and of shaping her policies as the men are. But of the answer to this there can be no possible uncertainty; no one doubts male superiority in these capacities; to deny it in the face of the well-known characteristics of the human male, as well as the notorious advantages that men have over women in point of business and political training and experience, is to defy common sense. Government is an institution established for a kind of work which is essentially masculine. It is designed{390} not only for the prosecution of great business enterprises in peace, but of foreign wars great and small, for national defense, and for that diplomacy which is armed and threatening. Political capacity requires mental power, courage, firmness of character, determination, physical strength, military capability, business training and experience and ability to rule. These are essentially masculine qualities; and while few men have them all highly developed, yet those attributes or some of them are moderately present in most men and to a considerable extent in some men in every community; whereas most women are almost or quite destitute of all of them. Sensible women fully recognize their difference from men in respect to those qualities, and for that reason they especially value them, and seek for them in selecting their husbands, lovers, lawyers and physicians. It is apparently conceded even by the female suffragists, that most public offices should be filled by men rather than by women, on account of this masculine superiority in political efficiency. Now, it cannot surely be expected that women who are notoriously lacking in firmness, courage, determination and good judgment, will as voters be as expert as men in weighing these qualities, in appreciating their extent, or in discovering their presence or absence in the various male candidates for office presented for a choice.

Not only are the majority of women destitute of capacity to take a personal part in government themselves, but they have no taste for politics, nor desire to become proficient therein; they usually dislike to read or to seriously discuss political matters of any kind. One would like to be able to say, that none of them care to take part in the vile intrigues or acts of violence, which are the unfortunate incidents of certain low political work, but this cannot truthfully be said, in view of the ballot box stuffing in Colorado, the picketing of the White House, the insults to and assaults upon high officials here and in England and the numerous petty crimes committed there by militant suffragettes or their hirelings. But for high or abstract politics, the study of political questions, states{391}manship, political history and political economy, women have very little taste, if any. It is the general opinion that the great majority, probably three-fourths of the women of the United States do not desire the vote at all, never have desired it, and have no idea what to do with it. The suffragette leaders are not politicians nor political students, but agitators; being impelled to that vocation not by a taste for politics but by a love of money and notoriety. The only recorded case of a census of women’s opinion on female suffrage which has come to the writer’s attention was in or about 1908, when a Mr. Bray, a member of the legislature from some city of Wisconsin, took a ballot of the women in his district, about eight thousand in number, for his private instruction upon this subject; with the result that not a single ward, city or village returned a majority for suffrage. In a certain working people’s ward, the vote was from three to seven against the franchise to one in its favor. Most teachers, older scholars, librarians, nurses and dressmakers voted “Yes.” A large majority of bookkeepers, stenographers, clerks, factory girls and hotel employees voted “No.” Of the whole eight thousand women, fully two-thirds voted “No” on the question. That is to say, two-thirds of the women agreed that not only they themselves but also the other one-third were unfit to be voters. The fact that the other third considered themselves competent is of little consequence; probably they excel the others in nothing more than self-conceit, and that supremest ignorance which is unaware of its own want of knowledge; but even if this third were eager to vote and would make a good use of the franchise, that fact would not justify the admission to the electorate of the other two thirds, who by their own admission are certain to misuse it. A sensible man will not eat an entire apple of which two thirds is rotten or unripe, and whoever does so is likely to pay the penalty.

In the United States or the communities of the United States where women at present vote, it is presumable and the best evidence obtainable shows that most of those who really ex{392}pect advantage from the suffrage are political adventuresses, socialists and female cranks; the remainder exercise the vote without any real understanding of what they are doing; some because they are paid or coerced, others reluctantly and only from a mistaken sense of duty, or upon the advice or direction of some husband, father, brother, lover, clergyman or friend; or in gratification of some spite, passion, fad or caprice which has possessed them for the time being. Most of them, even those who pretend to intelligence, are less fit to vote than the grimy day laborer, whose daily talk in the beer saloon is largely of the practical politics of the district.

Some suffragettes, while acknowledging the existence of this notorious political indifference and ignorance of women, say that it is but temporary, and will disappear with time; that with the incentive of the vote women will by degrees acquire a taste for politics. This is the same hollow “harper” argument herein already punctured, that was used to justify the giving the ballot to the Southern freedmen in 1866 with disastrous results. It offers a very poor outlook for the state; presenting at best a dim hope that the quality of the female vote may aspire some centuries later to equal that which we have already obtained in the male vote. Meantime the country must suffer while the women practise and learn; and after all the result will only be to bring us up to our present standard and that some generations hence.

But in fact there is no such hope; the women will never learn politics because they will never study it; the incentives offered do not appeal to women with sufficient force to induce them in the mass to enter into politics; their indifference thereto is incurable; it amounts in many cases to positive aversion, and proceeds from causes which are likely to continue to operate for an indefinite period, and which are sufficiently permanent in their nature to justify a strong apprehension that if woman suffrage prevails the national fabric may sometime be endangered thereby. Foremost among these causes is the compelling power of Nature herself,{393} who gave the woman an organism, instincts, and ambitions of her very own; who ordained that she should be something better and more precious than a cheap echo and imitation of man, and that she should have her own pleasures, her own tastes, her own loves and hates, her own life, and a capacity for higher existence than grovelling in the muck of universal suffrage politics. One of these natural instincts requires, and always will require, healthy minded women to make it their first object to please men. Now, the female politician is odious to most men, and the display of masculine qualities by a woman is apt to provoke them to something like disgust. This, the female suffragette leaders fail to realize; they themselves are rather peculiar than typical; some of them are eccentrics who imagine themselves superior when they are merely odd, and are or pretend to be devoid of that instinctive desire for male admiration and to be charming, which is the inspiration of the best in woman. But they will never be followed by the mass of loving and practical women into the dreary abode where they pass their cold and shrill existences. Already the women voters in States where woman suffrage is established are deserting these female agitators; they are being deposed from leadership, and male politicians are rapidly taking command, and replacing them by their own lieutenants, usually women who avoided the suffrage agitation; often the wives and sisters of these politicians. So that it is already coming to pass that female politics, instead of representing woman’s political independence, will strengthen male bossism; thus affording one more instance of the operation of Nature’s fiat that certain jobs are exclusively for men, and that one of them is the job of governing the world and every part thereof.

Not only is it true that women as a class have no natural liking for politics, but they will never become acquainted with it for want of proper opportunity. Such opportunity is in the nature of things confined to the men of the nation, and comes from mixing with other men, and with the transactions and business of other men day after day. A slight acquaintance{394} with it may be acquired by reading, or instruction, but not nearly as much as by the constant, never-ending intercourse of men of affairs with each other, on the mart, and in the business places of the city and country. Our standards of life are such, that women, even if their natural tastes did not disincline them to it, are necessarily excluded from that intercommunion with business men; therefore, the information and experience thus obtained by men are not within the reach of women, even of those employed by men in stores and offices, most of whom are further debarred therefrom by their being in subordinate employments. Nor are women, even so-called business women, as a class, engaged in the acquisition of property; even when employed in business or a profession, their proficiency being inferior to that of men, they do not often earn sufficient to enable them to make substantial accumulations; and they seldom make a life career of any employment in which they are engaged. Of the comparatively small number of women employed in mercantile pursuits or in the business part of manufacturing, the practical knowledge possessed by most of them, of the effects of legislation in government administration, of the tariff for instance, taxation, corporate law, banking law, etc., is so small as to be negligible.

Passing, because it speaks for itself, the case of the millions of negresses to whom it is proposed to give the ballot, and considering that of the white women only, we find that to the vast majority of farmer’s wives, female servants, factory girls, dressmakers, sewing women, waitresses, shop girls and the like, the very word “politics” conveys no exact or correct meaning; by far the most of them are not only lacking in acquaintance with the subjects of political economy, finance, constitutional law, foreign trade relations and treaties with foreign nations, but they are unable even to correctly define the names of those subjects. Then coming to a better read class of women, such as teachers, stenographers, bookkeepers, cashiers, typewriters, etc., while many of them would be able to give the definitions alluded to, their knowledge would scarcely go farther. Very{395} few of them ever read the newspaper political articles; still fewer have ever read or heard discussed a work of any sort on politics or political questions. Why, indeed, should they read works which deal exclusively with matters belonging to masculine life? In fact most women belonging to the classes above mentioned, except such factory girls as are socialists, have refrained from taking part in the suffrage agitation and from any demand for the ballot. Most good women who believe in woman suffrage, hope to become instructed in politics through reading books, newspapers and magazines; and it is noticeable that the female suffragists constantly talk and write as though intelligence enough to read were sufficient qualification for a voter; they assume that one can learn how to vote by merely reading the newspapers; completely ignoring the qualities and training which will enable the voter to properly understand and weigh the newspaper statements, and to discard newspaper lies. Mere general intelligence is not a sufficient endowment for a voter; otherwise an entire stranger in the community could cast a wise vote at its elections; he needs as well that good judgment and firmness, that knowledge of actual life, of business needs and conditions, of local circumstances, and of the motives and reputation of public men, which women can never hope to acquire in the same degree as men. No subject can be mastered merely by reading, and politics least of all; and it is of all branches of knowledge the one which women are least fitted to acquire. For politics is concerned with the doings of men in their pursuit of money and fame; and in modern times especially with their business doings. The pursuit of money and fame are essentially masculine vocations; it is impossible for women even to attempt to compete with men in those undertakings, nor to understand their conditions, nor with rare exceptions do women ever really wish to do so. As a branch of knowledge politics includes such subjects as history, finance, economics, foreign trade relations, war, legal principles, constitutional law, naval affairs, the study of men and of their prejudices and capabilities. Few men have time or{396} inclination to study these matters in the abstract sufficiently to enable them to properly estimate important political measures. But this defect in men’s education is corrected to a very considerable extent, by daily practical experience. Business men are experts in innumerable activities of which their women are absolutely ignorant, and they are thus made capable of understanding the language of many of those subjects. They have besides, the inestimable advantage of actual contact with men and groups of men, in their daily business life, who are more or less interested in these matters; of hearing their opinions directly or at second hand; with the further advantage of experience direct or indirect in the results or effects of political action. All this is part of the atmosphere and circumstance of a man’s business life. An appreciable portion of this information is constantly being spread and distributed by business men, and find its way from them into the minds of the farmers, mechanics and other men similarly interested. The result is, and has been, to set up among active and thrifty men a current of practical information concerning public matters, and to create a taste for politics, and for the subjects cognate to politics, which is practically universal among men, and is almost utterly lacking in women, who not only do not possess it, but do not realize its existence. Many a village boy of fifteen has more curiosity about politics, and more real knowledge thereof than any women in the community.

Having thus it is hoped without too much prolixity, presented our argument against female suffrage, let us take up one by one and reply to the principal points made by its friends in its favor in their publications and other public utterances.

A. The “Nagging” or “Henpeck” scheme. This is a theory or explanation of the intended operation of woman suffrage, offered by many suffragists, who apparently realize some of the manifest dangers and absurdities likely to attend upon female legislation and administration. They deprecate any idea of abolishing man’s supremacy in government, or of subverting his time-honored institutions; they insist that female suffrage does{397} not mean the introduction into politics of a new political power, nor even a modification of the present masculine régime; it is no more than a convenient method of placing at the disposal of the governing males a source of female wisdom of which they have heretofore been deprived. The female politicians are merely to recommend and urge such measures, mostly in family and sociological matters, as the governing males may happen to overlook; it being assumed, no one knows why, that woman’s knowledge of these subjects is intuitive, inborn, at any rate superior to man’s. Under this plan, the men are of course to be free to reject the advice of the new women; otherwise they would be in the position of an East Indian rajah to whom the British government has assigned an “adviser,” and who if he should refuse to profit by his “advice” would be quickly brought to book by the British military power. The theory then is, that the male officials are not to be exactly subject to the female bosses or leaders who may become their monitors; but it is understood, of course, that they are likely to listen respectfully to counselors, who though they may roar, look you, as gently as a sucking dove, will be backed by an earnest and somewhat excitable and vociferous petticoated constituency. No doubt in order to get what they want, these ladies will soon find means of persuasion, of which the least urgent will consist of the process known to some unfortunate husbands as “nagging,” and to the derisive neighbors as “henpecking.” So, though the general superiority of the male governmental faculty is conceded, the male governing officials are not to be allowed to go on quite as they have been doing; the women will be there to “advise.” In plain words the proposition is to henpeck the public officials and other politicians into giving offices to the female bosslets, and into the adoption of their ladylike fads and frills. The picture in “Pinafore” of a high political dignitary on his official rounds with a squawking company of women at his heels, is to become actually embodied in American political life.

This suggestion of pressure upon government by harmless{398} nagging and henpecking is certainly shallow and unpractical, and is probably insincere. If this is all that was intended, it was worse than folly to force the general suffrage upon millions of reluctant women. Those women who wished to nag and agitate were always at perfect liberty to do so. They were always free to talk; and if they wanted to be clad with formal authority to represent these few matters in which they claim a special interest, that too could have been provided for; representative women could have been elected or appointed to advisory boards or committees, commissioned to present their views to the public officials in an authoritative manner; leaving the latter to act in their discretion. But no; the suffragettes demanded, and are demanding, nothing less than a full and equal share with men in actual government, with equal responsibility for the results. The talk about women merely acting as advisers or proposers is sham and nonsense. Under the new régime, the female spirit is to take possession equally with the male, of every part of the body politic, with the obvious result of dislodging half of the masculine element in our governmental system. A vote cast by a woman is not a mere suggestion; it is an act of government; once deposited in the urn, it counts equal to and effective with a man’s vote. And each woman’s vote must either cancel or confirm the vote of some man. There is no logical or practical escape from this situation. Woman suffrage can have no actual effect except such as involves a defeat of masculine government; a nullification to some extent of what men are doing or have done. If it is to operate in mere confirmation of the rules or decrees of man, it is unnecessary, and will be ineffectual; its only possible effect must be in contravention of man’s political control. It is either this or nothing. As for womanly counsel, whatever of that was effective under a male suffrage polity, will with woman suffrage established, necessarily be replaced by female political coercion and intrigue. When men are in supreme power, a deputation of benevolent ladies urging some remedial measure or charitable modification, is sure to receive consideration from{399} public officials; but what politician will be foolish enough to give ear to non-political ladies offering mere womanly counsel on any subject, when his female constituents are thundering at his door with contrary demands, which they have the power to enforce by political methods? The effect of woman suffrage is thus to completely destroy the political influence of all ladies who are not political workers, and to replace it by the domination, meddling and intrigue of female politicians, who will speedily learn from the men to invent reforms with jobs attached, to swap political support for graft, and to market moral issues.

Consider the unescapable facts, and note the silliness and fraud of the pretence that the women in politics will be no more than gentle advisers to the men in certain matters. In the woman suffrage states women vote with the men, and at the same elections, for president and vice-president of the United States; members of Congress, senators and representatives; governors and other state officers; members of state legislatures; mayors of cities; city and county officers, etc. etc. In every election contest there are usually two principal candidates for each of the above offices; say a better fitted or superior candidate A and an inferior candidate B, the interest of the public being to select A. Now if the majority of each sex favors A he is elected, but to no more purpose than he would have been without the woman vote. How then in that first case, have the women aided or counselled the men? But if as will certainly happen in most elections one of the candidates A or B is defeated by the woman vote, what difference is there between the effect of each woman’s vote and that of each man’s? Can anyone say that the women merely counselled with the men, that they did not overrule them? If a candidate is defeated by aid of the female vote who would not otherwise have been defeated, are not the men overruled? The question is absurd; as well say that the men merely advise the women, as that the women merely advise the men. The same reasoning applies to votes on legislative proposals;{400} the woman’s vote will in every case either overrule the majority male vote, or it will be totally ineffective. There is absolutely no escape from the logic of the case.

The pretence that certain women have some secret and mysterious knowledge to impart to lawmakers and law administrators is preposterous. It is the offspring of the conceited minds of some well-to-do idle female faddists, who want to get into public notice. Some of them pretend that this private knowledge concerns factory girls, whose cause they pretend to espouse, but who in fact hate and despise them and their officious meddling. When working women have anything to say to public officials, they can say so directly or hire a lawyer to do it for them, as the men do. Some of those busy bodies pretend that they have the secret of the proper treatment of fallen women; but legislation will never help these people; it has not needed the vote to enable most women to be cruel to them in the past, nor is the franchise needed to-day to qualify good women to be charitable to them or to any other human beings in the future. Truth is, that in the entire domain of sociology the female suffragists have nothing whatever to propose except what they have borrowed from the socialists; and that we had already, and knew to be worse than worthless. Their talk about superior ability to care for the children is more prattle; one of the best feminist writers, Mrs. Gilman, has called attention in strong and plain language to the record of notorious incapacity on the part of women in the care of children (Women and Economics). The best that a woman can do for her child when ill is to take advice from the best available male physician. The administration of foundling asylums, children’s hospitals and homes is safer in the hands of men than in those of women. Most real reforms and improvements in medicine, surgery, ventilation, diet, architecture, drainage, plumbing, and other branches of hygiene and sanitation have come and will come from the male intellect and will be and are best enforced by masculine administration.

Under the régime of universal suffrage it is safe to predict{401} that the “Naggers” will have little influence in government. They will interest themselves as the “Watch Dogs” do, and sometimes they will collide with the “Watch Dogs,” whose ideal is to save public money, while that of the “Naggers” will be to spend it. Their sympathies will probably tend towards the cranks, or “Yellow Dogs” of politics. They will very much enjoy meddling in all sorts of things of which they know nothing; and now and then they will get something through, over which they will crow and chuckle. But the female masses will make but little response to independent appeals of “Naggers,” “Watch Dogs” or other similar bands of insurgents. They will be quite under the control of the machines of the respective parties; their votes will be cast for the machine candidates; and so political ignorance and corruption doubly supported will flourish more and more.

To conclude with the “henpeck” project; this notion of sending the weak and incompetent to hinder or modify the counsels of the strong and capable on pretence of giving them advice, is one of the most foolish of many foolish products of the untrained intellect. It is a childish subterfuge of those who are ashamed to say outright that their fathers, husbands and brothers are inferior in political capacity to their mothers and sisters. But that assertion is just what is implied in female suffrage, which by reducing by one half the value and force of the ballot of each male voter, will have the actual effect of a moiety disfranchisement of the men of the country.

B. Man-made law. One of the silliest claims of the female suffrage agitators, is that they want political power, in order to repeal what they flippantly call “man-made law.” As well sneer at man-made geology, man-made mathematics or man-made astronomy; man-made they are indeed, and so are all the arts and sciences, industries and philosophies. Of the fact that law is a great science with its roots deep in the history of the past ages; of the immensity of the great body of the law, with its scores of divisions and branches, and hundreds of subdivisions, these chatterers seem to have no{402} suspicion. When they undertake to specify the defects in the great juristic achievements of our law givers past and present, they point with scorn to two or three instances of ancient British legislation affecting the family relation, which like all really useful and practical law represented the customs and ideals of the time. Those ideals have since been modified, and the law has been changed accordingly; in one case for instance by a statute passed about 1850 by which married women are permitted freely to dispose of their separate property. But this measure, of which the suffragists always speak as if they had put it through, was adopted upon the suggestion of men long before women had any political power, and entirely without their aid. The results of that act have not been altogether happy; it is nothing to boast of specially; it was not a tribute to higher ideals, but a concession to human weakness, and has enabled many a rascal to cheat his creditors by putting his property in his wife’s name. The old common law ideal was much the higher one; it conceived of the family as a unit; and placed all its property in one common fund in the name of and under the guardianship of the husband, as the head and representative of the house. Its motto was like that of the Three Musketeers, “One for all and all for one,” which is a much more noble and lofty conception, and much more likely to promote family happiness and family success, than any represented by the Woman’s Separate Property Act, or by all that has been so far offered to the world by all the women suffrage associations put together. Under the old common law, a knave could not, as now, shelter himself from his creditors behind his wife’s skirts, and keep her and his family in base luxury while his trusting creditors suffered.

C. The legend “No taxation without representation” is one of the suffragist catchwords. Just what is meant by this nobody knows; but if it be offered as a political maxim derived from our ancestors, the answer is that they never understood or interpreted this saying as justifying woman suffrage, or any other right to vote than that of the propertied classes.{403} By taxation, they meant direct taxation on tangible property; and as to representation, they considered that the women and children as a class were politically represented by their men. If, however, by this saying, “No taxation without representation,” the suffragists mean that every taxpayer has a right to vote, that proposition has already been answered herein by the true doctrine that suffrage is not a right at all, but a function of government, to be performed by those classes whom the state may select as duly qualified. Nor does taxation ever confer a right to vote; taxation is justified not by the franchise, but by the protection given by government to the taxed property; property owners pay the tax as a return for that protection; and therefore not only women but non-residents, resident aliens, and children owning property in the community are justly taxed, though not allowed to vote.

D. The maternity claim. Some emotional women have actually made claim to the franchise based upon the merits and dangers of maternity. This is mere nonsense. If women are not competent to vote on public affairs, their votes will be injurious to the republic; and they cannot be permitted to do themselves and others an injury merely because they have borne children. It is not enough to mean well; the female turkey means well by her chickens but she will often clumsily trample them to death if not prevented. To bear children is natural to women and is its own great reward; it is dangerous, but no more so than going to sea, and it is not proposed to give the vote to sailors to recompense them for their risk. The suffrage is not a reward; it is a function and a trust.

E. That women have interests separate from that of men. This is an absurd proposition. The social and family ties and obligations of the sexes and their interests in public matters are identical. The very existence of a woman implies the care and devotion of a father, and also the ties of family interest, family life and family love, all of which are male as well as female. The sex difference is not as other differences are, a separating influence; it is a unifying impulse;{404} it not only unites but fuses the subjects of its action. In almost all instances the prizes achieved by the individual man, riches, ambitions, and all the rest are shared to the utmost with his women. On the other hand women never think of sharing their lives or their incomes with strangers of their sex, but always with those of their own family and blood, males as well as females, the preference if any being to the males. But though under the present system the interests of men and women are made as far as possible identical, the tendency of feminism is to separate them, with a prospect of very ill results for women.

F. Man’s alleged unfairness to women. To those who have not suffered the annoyance of having to read suffragist literature, it will seem almost incredible that even the most unscrupulous of its purveyors would accuse men of general unfairness to women. Nevertheless, they have done so repeatedly and the charge must therefore be noticed. Indeed it is well that it should be given prominence, so that people may realize the offensive character of some of the incidents of the suffrage movement. Women should always realize that they owe all they are and have to the generosity, love, foresight and ability of men. Most of the harridans and termagants, who in the suffrage agitation have displayed themselves as slanderers and insulters of men, were born and raised in houses built by men, fed and clad with material furnished by men, educated by books written by men, attended schools and colleges founded and maintained by men, or with money earned by men, are cared for by male physicians, and are now either living on the income of money amassed by men, or are employed by men, from whom they receive the salaries and instructions necessary to enable them to earn a living.

G. That women’s wages in factories and stores are too low and should be higher. No voting or legislation can permanently augment the income or comforts of any class of people, or increase women’s wages with any good effect. All wages seem low to the recipient and high to the employer. Increased{405} wages usually produce higher rent and higher cost of living; the increased cost of living makes marriage and home life more difficult, and from this women as well as men ultimately suffer. If women generally really believe that their incomes can be increased by voting and legislation, that of itself proves their total unfitness to meddle in government. But suppose that it were possible by legislation to materially increase the wages of factory women and store girls, what would be the ultimate result to the community? A large increase in the number of women taken out of households and put into stores and factory life. No intelligent person believes that this change would really be to the advantage of women as a class, nor doubts that it would be the result of artificially advancing wages of such women above their natural level.

H. That women should be consulted on new legislation affecting marital relations. No such legislation is needed. The marriage status of a couple is not to be regulated by law; it is controlled by social usage, by religion and by sentiment. The only really important legal provision is one dictated by nature and by custom, namely that the husband must support the family. This requirement necessarily involves the right of the husband to seek and select his own vocation, and to choose the style and place of family residence. None of these arrangements can be materially modified without breaking up the family and the state. That to destroy the family and the state is the tendency of the feminist movement no thinking man can doubt.

Some of the suffragist agitators, pretending to be moved by a sentimental tenderness for the feelings of mothers, demand that the law be changed so as to give the guardianship of children to the mother in case of separation of parents. The law as it stands rightly provides that the interests of the child in each particular case, and not the whims or desires of the parents, are to be considered as paramount in settling that matter. This is man-made law, and is much more humane and just than anything the suffragists have ever suggested.{406}

J. That women have special capacity for municipal government because it resembles housekeeping. This argument is an unfortunate one for the suffragists, for if there is one art in which most of them are notoriously inefficient it is in housekeeping. But municipal government is a matter of administrative detail; of business methods combined with highly developed specialized, practical science, and not at all like housekeeping. As President Lowell says, “The City Government is essentially an administrative, not a legislative concern.” It is not, therefore, a fit subject for political twaddle and sentimental vaporings such as the suffragists revel in. Nor should city officials be elected by the people under any system of suffrage. They should be appointive and not elective officials; carefully chosen experts; competent to deal with matters of public health, protection against fire, liquor regulation, water supply, disposal of sewage, cleaning and maintenance of streets and bridges, wires and pipes in streets, public lighting, ferries, rapid transit, erection and maintenance of public buildings, wharves and docks, public education, treatment of disease, pauperism and crime, besides the levying assessment and collection of taxes and the financing of thousands and even millions of dollars yearly. Yet suffragists talk of “housekeeping” in cities as if it were a matter of dusting the parlor furniture and laying the table for dinner. How many of them are capable of planning for the water supply, and the disposal of the sewage of a great city, for instance? Here are matters which require to be dealt with by men of practical knowledge and force of character, and who have the wisdom derived from actual experience in finance, engineering, sanitation, medicine, surgery, pedagogics and law. To say that women as a class are equal or any way near equal to men in knowledge of these subjects or capacity to deal with them is absurd.

K. That many women have property of their own. The point of this argument lies in the question, why not a property qualification for women as well as for men? The answer is, that as already stated in this volume, the vote is not given to{407} the property but to the property plus the human owner, with his added endowment of experience acquired in its acquisition and care. It is proposed to limit the franchise to this class of men, as on the whole best fitted to exercise it for the benefit of the state. In the case of women, the mere possession of property does not, as in the case of men, carry with it a general presumption of business experience and ability. The class of women who own property are, no doubt, better voting material than the propertyless women; but, as a class, they have had far less business and political training than the propertied men. The great majority of propertied women are so merely by inheritance; and are but little more informed in business matters than their servants. Their tastes and predilections do not as a rule extend beyond dress, society, music and household matters. Not having themselves accumulated property, they do not understand property or business rights, and their temperaments and circumstances forbid that they shall ever understand them. Women passengers at sea have property and precious lives to be protected, yet they are never allowed even in danger to interfere in the management of the ship. Nor do individual or exceptional cases matter. Legislation must be made to fit classes, not individuals, and therefore references to George Eliot and Mme. Curie are unconvincing. Alexander Hamilton at eighteen was probably better qualified to vote than many actual voters, but that was no reason for changing the law so as to allow youths to vote. A whole class of incompetents must not be let in merely to get a few intelligent votes. The mere fact that so many women are willing that this should be done, proclaims a condition of egotistic stupidity and a lack of patriotism which is appalling. Propertied women should be content to let the propertied men vote for them for a reason similar to that which requires any one of them to give way to a physician’s orders in the case of a sick child.{408}



In the year 1918 women were first granted complete suffrage by the great State of New York. The result has not been such as to surprise any thinking man, but it must have astonished the many credulous ones who expected political progress and reform from the fair hands of women, for it has been merely to strengthen the power of the bosses and political rings everywhere throughout the state. In New York City, where the dominant political machine is the Tammany Democratic organization, the Tammany vote which in 1917 under manhood suffrage was 314,000 sprang in 1918 to 547,000 and the Tammany majority was increased by over 100,000, reaching the high figure of 258,000. Fools build houses and wise men live in them. The female suffrage edifice, so toilfully erected day by day for the past fifty years by the feverish and ambitious hands of shrill-voiced lady agitators, is now occupied by the Tammany Ring, composed of hard-headed and experienced men. When they vacate the premises it will be to give place to a rival machine. True, it is, that women are now received into the political party fold; but as servants, not as masters. There is a female organization attachment, but it is strictly of the old orthodox Tammany brand; the vociferous new women are sent to the rear, their voices must not be too loud, there is no place in party ranks for skirted faddists, nor for women who want to lead in a “cause” or “movement.” Silence and discipline are the rules in machine organizations. Tammany and the New York Republican organization have had published a list of female associate leaders for each assembly district, about thirty-five in all. The names of great female uplifters, the{409} leaders, as they foolishly thought themselves, are absent from these rolls, where may be read the names of those whose husbands and brothers will carefully transmit to them the orders from headquarters. Thus ends the pipe dream of the suffragette “leaders” that they would some day walk in, and take possession of the comfortable seats of the mighty. The arrogant conceit of a bunch of foolish women, who imagined themselves to be all-conquering, has received its quietus, and let us be grateful accordingly. Far better submit to the plunderings of the old rings, than to suffer from the antics and Bolshevism of the socialist suffragette combination.

Passing New York, where the evil results of woman suffrage are only just beginning to show themselves, let us look at Colorado, where it was adopted in 1892. In 1908 Helen Sumner went to that State to investigate the results of fifteen years of female voting. She was favorable to the cause and her inquisition was backed by women. The results were published by her in a book where she plainly endeavors to be impartial, notwithstanding her evident suffragette affiliations. In the hope of learning something of the moral effect of the franchise, she made thousands of inquiries, without eliciting anything favorable, except that voting made women take more interest in politics than before. Miss Sumner considered this an advantage and she puts it thus:

“Thousands vote; and to every one of these thousands the ballot means a little broadening in the outlook, a little glimpse of wider interest than pots and kettles, trivial scandal and bridge whist.” ... “A closer companionship and understanding between men and women.”

And so the government of the country must be entrusted to people whose chief interests in life are pots and kettles, scandal, and bridge whist. “Poor things,” muses Miss Sumner, “they are so lonesome, and they take no interest in cooking; let them vote, it will divert their minds.” Apparently she has no pity for the poor men folk, who must pay in high taxes and indigestion the price of this diversion. But{410} why stop at this point; the merely going to vote will only give a woman a temporary jolt, scarcely equal to matching a ribbon at the store; why not give her something more exciting; why not pass a law permitting all women to practise medicine or to drive a locomotive, or to shoe horses? Only a comparatively few would suffer, and it would give the dear women “a little glimpse of wider interest.” Or to be fair to both sexes, why not let schoolboys vote; they too might like interesting “glimpses”; and they would thus become accustomed to talk politics with mamma and sister; never mind the harm to the country, it is big and long suffering. Now, when we consider that Miss Sumner is probably a very superior woman, and that as this extract shows, she has no idea whatever of the significance or dignity of the franchise, we may judge how far her less developed sisters are from being qualified for the exercise of the vote.

Let us consider for a moment what kind of “glimpses of interest and companionship” the Colorado women get by going into politics. Miss Sumner’s inquiries did not lead her to believe that woman’s morals were injured, or her affairs neglected as a consequence of the mere act of voting. Perhaps not; that large class of either very docile or shrewd women, who march to the polls with husband or father, vote as he directs, and quickly return with him, cannot be said to have suffered much direct harm in the process; nor indeed on the other hand to have got many “glimpses of wider interest.” And yet, what of the indirect results? Is it degrading or not to act a lie publicly and solemnly, to deliberately trifle with country and conscience, as one does by voting for people of whom he knows nothing, and for legislation which he does not thoroughly understand? Is it nothing to trifle with a weighty obligation? When a citizen goes to the polls and votes, does he, or does he not, in effect represent and declare, before God and his country, that he has investigated the matter, and that his ballot represents his solemn and true conviction? And if that declaration be false, if he has no solemn{411} or true conviction on the subject, is he, or is he not, acting the part of a perjured rascal and traitor, and can his conscience pass through that ordeal unscathed? Here is food for thought for many a male voter and for nearly all the female voters.

Miss Sumner learned out there, some interesting particulars of the “broadening in the outlook” and the new “companionship” which Colorado women get from exercising the suffrage; and the experience must have astonished some of the decent ones among them till they got used to it. Her book fairly reeks with the tainted atmosphere of female corruption; the whole woman’s movement there was steeped in moral filth. Here are her own words (p. 258):

“Politics in Colorado are at least as corrupt as in other states, and the woman of ideals who goes into political life for reform soon finds, not merely that she is working in the mire, but that she is persona non grata with the habitual denizens of the mire and with those persons who profit by its existence.”

Among the first fruits of woman suffrage in Colorado seems to have been the development of a big batch of female criminals. In Arapahoe County in 1900 there were 5284 fraudulent registrations of voters of which 3512 were men and 1772 women. Seventeen hundred female criminals in one county! There must have been a considerable “broadening in the outlook” for women theretofore accustomed to decent homes; and a “closer companionship” with rogues, and understanding of their devices was no doubt arrived at. In fact Colorado has been said to be the most corrupt electorate in the United States. Of its effects there United States Judge Hailett, a resident of the state, said, “if it were to be done over again the people of Colorado would defeat woman suffrage by an overwhelming majority.” It stands because politicians are cowards and unscrupulous, and Colorado like other states is ruled by politicians. It has increased political corruption in the state. In 1905 about thirty men were sent to jail in Denver and fined, and in Pueblo there were 257 indictments, all for election{412} frauds. It has not diminished political rowdyism. In an article in the Outlook in January 1906, Lawrence Lewis, who studied the subject for several years in Colorado, says that since woman suffrage went into effect, there has been a continuation of the former frauds, drunkenness, fights and arrests for crimes. Referring to the notorious election knaveries committed by both parties in November 1904, the second year of female voting, he says:

“In Denver neither in November 1904 nor for twenty years has there been an election that decent citizens of either party would unhesitatingly assert was anywhere near on the square.”

He further says, that in the cities such as Denver, Pueblo, etc., a great number of fallen women vote under the control of the bosses, often under compulsion.

“It is safe to say that under ordinary conditions and under ordinary police administration, ninety per cent of the fallen women in our cities are compelled to register and to vote at least once for the candidates favored by the police or sheriff officers. But in ordinary times these women are also compelled to repeat.... A former city detective or fine collector in Pueblo has been tried, convicted and sentenced to a term of years in the penitentiary for compelling an unfortunate woman to repeat her registration. He is under further indictments for compelling the same woman to forge fictitious names by the hundreds to district registration sheets, all of which names were to be voted on election day by other fallen women from whom the fellow collected fines.”

Other similar instances are given by the writer in this same article. And he adds that:

“It would indeed appear that the average character of the actual voting body has either remained unchanged or has been slightly lowered as regards actual political intelligence and discrimination.”

Also this:

“We have practically (in Colorado) all the forms of graft and misgovernment found elsewhere. Woman’s suffrage seems to have{413} been neither a preventive, an alleviator, nor a cure for any of our political ills.”

Only about one-third of the Colorado women actually vote, and a great many of them flatly and indignantly refuse to do so. Referring to an election in Colorado, 1910, Miss Seawell says:

“At the election in May, 1910, the sale of women’s votes was open and shameless. At each of the 211 voting precincts in Denver, there were four women working in the interests of the saloon-keepers. These women had previously visited the headquarters of the saloon-keepers and openly accepted each a ten dollar bill for her services. In this and other ways Mr. Barry says he saw about $17,000 paid to women voters, who apparently made no effort to conceal it, as indeed it would have been useless.... Such wholesale corruption has probably never been approximated in any city in the United States.”

Robert H. Fuller says that:

“Some of the worst election frauds ever perpetrated in this country marked the Colorado election of 1904. The character and average intelligence of the voting population, as a whole, have not improved in the states where women vote; there has been no improvement in the fitness or capacity of the elected public officials.” (Government by the People.)

Miss Seawell says that in the election case of Bonynge vs. Shafroth, in the First Congressional District of Colorado, containing the City of Denver (Second Session of the Fifty-eighth Congress, H. R. report No. 2705), it appeared that out of 9000 ballots in the boxes there were 6000 fraudulent ones which had been prepared by three men and by one woman. One woman poll clerk voted three times; forgeries were committed by the women; two women arranged to have a fight started so as to distract the attention of the watchers at the polls, while a third woman stuffed the ballot-boxes. Because of this exposure, Shafroth resigned.

Moral stimulus there certainly could be none in contact with{414} this fraud organization which goes by the name of politics in Colorado. Of mental stimulus and “broadening in the outlook” thus to be miraculously achieved by the mere process of selecting one out of two scamps for public office, Miss Sumner was reluctantly compelled to admit, that after all in actual result she found but little. Few people were able to give her any clear reason why they favored woman suffrage nor why they opposed it. It seems likely that all the mental stimulus the Colorado women ever got by entering the mire of politics, they could have obtained at less expense to their delicacy and good manners, by taking part in church fairs, golfing, gardening, playing base-ball, walking, lawn tennis, singing schools, literary societies, spelling bees, horseback riding or dancing. And if some of the precious creatures must at any rate be kept amused while the rest of us work, it would be less expensive to the state to provide these amusements at state charge than to permit them to divert their minds by playing with our national welfare, and using poor old Uncle Sam as the object on which to try their various experiments in political quackery.

Glancing over the New York Evening Post of August 27, 1919, the writer was interested to read that a young lady politician, convicted in 1916 of a murder during a political quarrel at Thompson Falls, the victim being one Thomas, also a politician, had been paroled from the Montana State Penitentiary. It is reassuring to know that a suffragette murderess actually risks three years confinement (softened no doubt by sympathy) in Montana, the first woman suffrage state, and the one who gave us our first lady “congressman.”

The plain truth is, that the entry of women into politics has brought no promise to the American people of any practical help in any of their real problems. The whole movement bears the stamp of crudeness and mediocrity. Its ideals and operations have been low and its leaders lacking in every quality of greatness. Part of its success is no doubt due to the love of novelty, and the inability in most minds to{415} distinguish what is really progress from what is merely blind or foolish experiment. To many superficial people there is a fascination attached to everything which smacks of revolution; because in the past an occasional revolt has been justified, they think it is heroic and noble to take part in any political rumpus. But nothing either noble or heroic was ever in or behind the woman suffrage movement, or has ever come out of it. The really great political agitations have all produced something worth while, in orators, leaders or authorship; see, for example, the chronicles of the American Revolution or the abolition movement; even the French Revolution, in its compass from Rousseau to Napoleon, evolved some greatness to offset the mass of rubbish and infamy which it vomited forth. Its political incapables though unfit for any good constructive work were at least able to talk and write with effect; they drew attractive political pictures and proposals, and could promise and speculate in a way to arouse interest. Not so the suffragists. Among political agitators they stand supreme for dullness and stupidity. Looking at their literature one is immediately struck by its cheapness, by its utter lack of noble and patriotic sentiments, by the lack of appeal to broad and elevating motives. We have had thousands of suffragist speeches, and tons of printed literature, and after all, what have they or what has their movement offered to the nation or to the world? Nothing, absolutely nothing. The movement has not produced one idea worthy of the consideration of a well-educated and sensible man; it has apparently been motived by vanity, love of notoriety and power, and characterized by hysteria; the proposals advanced have been pilfered from socialists and other fanatics; the oratory and literature of the suffragists is characterized by flippant insincerity and unscrupulousness; progressive legislation in which they had no perceptible part is boldly claimed as their work; their leaders often display dense ignorance of the political history of the country, and a sad lack of capacity to understand sound political principles or to sympathize with{416} anything beyond the popular smartness of the hour. The personnel of their leaders has been commonplace and uninteresting. Some of them have been sincere fanatics; most of them are political adventuresses. Dr. C. L. Dana says of the movement: “It is adopted as a kind of religion, a holy cult of self and sex, expressed by a passion to get what they want. There is no program, no promise, only ecstatic assertions that they ought to have it and must have it, and of the wonders that will follow its possession.... Measured by fair rules of intelligence testing, I should say that the average zealot in the cause has about the mental age of eleven.” (Letter to Miss Chittenden.) During the war with Germany the patriotism of many of the leaders was doubtful, and their associates suspicious. And during the progress of the whole agitation, there has been no suggestion of any effort to be made by those women or their followers to stop political graft or corruption, or to raise the standard of politics or of legislation. They have had the vote at two annual elections in the great state of New York; what do they offer there? Nothing. Who are their standard bearers and who has benefited by their vote? The most notorious boss and the most noted and powerful political machine in the world.

The strongest proof, however, of the utter unworthiness of the cause of female suffrage and the meanness of its motives is furnished by the public declarations of its female advocates. Many of these addresses are flavored with half contemptuous, half vicious and altogether impudent and vile sneers at men, and assertions of masculine inferiority, which could not have been readily displayed but by those familiar with households whose men habitually receive at home but scant respect. Those scoffs at men are accompanied by a great show of half hysterical, all gushing, admiration for the mystic excellences of contemporary women, and of contempt for those of the last generation; in fact these female reform leaders usually assume a top-lofty attitude of disdain for our ancestors generally, their work and their ideals. Each of them is of course{417} filled with wonder at her own superior wisdom. One cannot help suspecting that most of this display of crudity and egotism is due to the fact that much of the suffragist work was done by newly fledged graduates of female colleges, where uppish young women, largely of the type who dislike home duties, or sometimes it is feared work of any kind, are sent by their parents either to get rid of them for a while, or because it is the thing to do, or to fit them for teaching. As from the college president down, nothing of actual life is known, or ever was known, within the college walls, where everything needed, buildings, endowments, salaries, books, instruments and sustenance, is provided by someone else, one can readily imagine the quality of the stuff expounded in these places under the pretence of instruction in sociology, politics and economics, and greedily swallowed by the extremely silly and conceited undergraduates. On leaving college, the best or most fortunate of these girls, aided by good luck or guided by wise parents, go to work at some useful occupation, and begin to get real lessons in life followed usually by still higher instruction as wives and mothers later on. Of the lazy, rattle-brained, and otherwise good for nothing, a certain percentage find their way every year into the field of female suffrage agitation. Some scraps of knowledge they have picked up in the class-room, the value of which they enormously exaggerate in their own minds, and give themselves intellectual airs in consequence. Many of them lack sense or judgment sufficient to enable them to appreciate the immense importance of the business world, the great mental capacity required in dealing with problems of commerce, manufacturing and finance, and feel a certain contempt for business people who take no part in the literary and artistic patter of the day, or who lack taste for trashy new poetry and rubbishy modern novels. The participation of this class in the “movement” is prompted partly by morbid desire to associate with men; and partly by vanity and a longing for notoriety, and for opportunity to display their own imagined powers. Fools, being afraid of no social or{418} political problems, walk in where angels fear to tread; and it is no unusual thing to see charming and prudent women reduced to meek silence by these female blatherskites, with their irrelevant harangues about primitive men, cave dwellers, man-made law, dual-sexed insects and female spiders who devour their mates. If the reader doubts that such have been of the class of female suffrage deliverances it will be because he has been fortunate enough not to have heard many of them.

Part of the success of the woman suffrage agitation is due to the use of money. Just as the accumulations of the rich are often poured by their sons into channels of profligate folly, so by their widows and daughters they are often turned into ditches of political folly. In countries like England and the United States, where large and small fortunes are constantly being accumulated by hard-working men, and large portions thereof bequeathed to female relatives, there will always be found a certain proportion of the latter who lack the wisdom to properly use their surplus cash; some waste it shamefully; some lose it to sharpers; some bestow it upon worthless and sham benevolences; some squander it to gain notoriety. One can scarcely imagine any “cause” or “movement” so absurd that, people cannot be found to believe in it, or to pretend to do so, and to subscribe to it if properly approached and tempted by visions of celebrity. For the woman suffrage agitation sums aggregating very considerable have been thus secured in England and America. With this cash a number of poorer women can be employed to do propaganda work and to perpetrate acts of lawlessness. In England they assaulted cabinet officials and others; they used dynamite, they smashed windows, they broke up public meetings by violence, they practised rowdyism and blackguardism, they attempted even murder. Here, they have allied themselves with anarchists and socialists, enemies of the republic; they have lawlessly interrupted public meetings; they publicly affronted the President at the Arlington Hotel on April 15th, 1910, a thing never before done in the history of the country; and they subse{419}quently insulted another President, by picketing the White House in an offensive manner for weeks together. They justify this by saying that they were in earnest, and ready to suffer for the cause; and the same has been said by other fanatical criminals. Their course has been such as would have discredited even a good cause in any field but that of politics, where vile and dastardly methods are customary and considered appropriate.

Up to a few years ago the politicians were accustomed to ridicule the woman suffrage agitation, and for years made it a standing joke at the various state capitols; thus it was formerly the well known practice of the New York state legislators to deceive and humbug the woman suffrage managers by passing one of their measures in one house, with the understanding that it would be defeated in the other. But as soon as the movement began to make real headway, the politicians began to favor it, seeing the chance of advantage to themselves from that course. The only opinion those gentry fear or respect is that backed by organized force or easy money. The suffragists organized and raised immense amounts of cash; their opponents failed to do either and almost ignored the movement. Now, reasoned the politicians, should the suffrage proposals fail nothing will be lost by having supported them; and should they succeed we will have a still more credulous, corrupt and easily managed constituency than before, and may hope for the gratitude and friendship of the suffrage leaders. And now that in sixteen states women have the vote, the politicians on both sides strongly favor woman suffrage, and are one and all ready to swear everlasting devotion to the cause of woman. The presidential aspirants dare no longer oppose it. So that judging the future by the past, the cause of woman suffrage has a fair chance of winning in all or most of the states of the Union. It certainly will do so unless there be a strong organized effort to defeat its progress, of which at present no signs are visible. In the political world the most powerful forces are money and fanaticism. The effect{420} of money is familiar to us all every day. The effect of fanaticism is equally familiar to readers of history. It produced the Mohammedan Empire, the Crusades, and the Spanish Inquisition, and assisted in the downfall of Spain; it furthered the Mormon political sway; the violent abolition of slavery; the prohibition movement; the woman suffrage agitation and Bolshevism. That female suffrage is the last important step in the downward march of the American democracy is the belief of the writer of this book. If at this point the reaction does not begin, the democratic régime in this country is doomed to final failure, and even to possible overthrow at the hands of red radicalism.{421}



The institution of unlimited suffrage is favorable to the various radical, anti-social movements which for convenience sake may here be conjointly designated as Bolshevism. It is thus favorable in three important particulars, one being a matter of principle and the two others matters of practice. The error in principle is the adoption of the theory of numbers as the sole source of political authority, in direct disregard of the just claims of property and property rights, and resultingly to the detriment of efficiency, justice and civilization. That the scheme of government by mere numbers is Bolshevik in character is plain enough. It had its origin in the French Terror which was a Bolshevik regime. It accords no direct representation or place in government to property or the rights of property; which are left to take their chance in the shuffle of politics. As long as property is deprived of its proper place in the constitution of our government and is denied representation in the electorate, it is an alien, without security for its existence; and only here by sufferance. Bolshevism, which actually deprives private property of all right to exist, goes further than unlimited suffrage which merely ignores it, but both are upon the same track, and move in the same direction. The second particular in which manhood suffrage has favored Bolshevism is by corrupting and degrading the operations of American democracy and bringing into disrepute as has been shown. And third, it has aided Bolshevism by admitting an anti-social element into the electorate and thus decreasing the offensive{422} and defensive power of the democratic régime, as has also been shown.

And now that we are under the menace of Bolshevism, let us for one moment consider the extent and the character of that menace. It has seized a large part of Russia; it has found a lodging in Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the United States, and threatens every democratic nation where democracy is inefficient. It is an organized and widespread attempt at the destruction of property and of all who own property; of society and civilization and of all who support society and civilization. It is not a new or a momentary phenomenon. Though operating under new names it is as old and persistent as ignorance and brutality. Over five centuries ago it appeared in England in Wat Tyler’s insurrection identical in spirit with the French Revolutionary Terror which from 1789 to 1798 ravaged France and has been the source of nearly all her subsequent misfortunes. By its violent actions and reactions it became the indirect yet certain cause of the despotic rule and constant wars of the time of Napoleon I. and of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, which left France again almost ruined; and it reappeared in the horrors of the Paris commune in 1871. Let not the reader of moderate means and large selfishness solace himself with the thought that, should it obtain here, though our great capitalists may suffer, he will escape. The finish of capitalists is the end of capital; and the end of capital is the finish of us all. And the reader’s interest in this matter measured by the extent of his personal peril is probably nearly equal to that of any of his richer neighbors. In France in 1793 the Terrorists spared no one who was respectable. The only safety was to go in rags or to join the revolutionary army. People were slain because they were clergymen or nuns; because they were prosperous; because their friends were prosperous; because they were conservative in opinion or well dressed; because they were religious; because they were suspected of any of these things. Some of the Reds of that day were planning to butcher half of France, when{423} stopped by Napoleon’s timely usurpation. The Bolsheviki of today are if possible more ignorant, cruel, brutal and murderous than the French radicals of a century ago. It is their declared intention to do away with all but the laboring classes, who they say should alone enjoy the fruits of the earth. They repudiate all private property rights, and consider property owners, great and small, as public enemies. The right to own and hold private property is therefore now openly and fiercely challenged throughout the world, and the challenge must be accepted just as Germany’s challenge was accepted. The entire structure of our civilization is endangered by this attack. Without private property neither the home nor the family can exist; when private property is abolished chaos will come again.

Bolshevism has obtained a lodgment in the United States. We must disabuse our minds of the notion that this is a foreign menace which can be got rid of by deporting a hundred or a few hundred aliens a year. Bolshevism is a theory; a state of mind likely to appear in any race of people under certain circumstances. The so-called Independent Workers of the World (I.W.W.s) are largely native Americans. Under the present or any other social system including the ownership of private property, the capable, saving and industrious will have, and the others will lack; and as those who lack are frequently deficient in morals and judgment as well as in prudence and industry, there will be envy, covetousness and discontent; which being joined to a profound ignorance of economic law, will produce Bolshevism. All these elements are here in America, where the enemies of society have sometimes shown themselves in force, even in the last century; for instance, in Shay’s rebellion in Massachusetts in the year 1790. Heretofore, their numbers have been small, owing to our peculiar circumstances, notably our immense land offerings to all corners; but times have changed, and American Bolshevism is here under conditions which make it a serious menace.{424}

Let not the reader fool himself with the prophecy that the spirit of Bolshevism will disappear from Europe with the advent of spelling books and newspapers into the homes of European laborers, artisans and peasants. Quite the contrary. As well expect good family morals to come from reading obscene literature, as expect good business or political principles to issue from most of the rubbish printed by the decadents of today. The Bolshevik leaders are often literary men. It is not the lack of spelling and reading, but the want of sound economic principles that characterizes the assassins of Society; and the only school which provides popular instruction in true economics is the school of business, which Bolshevism is determined utterly to destroy.

Neither must we count on Bolshevism dying out of itself here, for lack of congenial soil or atmosphere. People love to imagine miracles, and we hear a lot of nonsense about America’s wonderful power of assimilating foreigners; as if there was some marvelous quality in our air to change the ideas and disperse the prejudices of immigrants. The fact is, that many of the so-called American qualities are merely such human characteristics as develop everywhere under conditions of well-repaid industry. The acquisition of property operates very quickly in every country, to modify the habits and character of any man previously poor; and the real cause of the personal changes referred to under the phrase “national assimilation” is material prosperity. In this new and open country, just as in Australia and South America, there has been great opportunity to turn energy into cash; and the foreigners whom we readily assimilated were those who made money, and became very like prosperous Americans. They have been educated in the business school, and they will never be Bolshevists. But the class of immigrants who remain paupers will not be so easily converted to a doctrine which offers them nothing; and they will find leaders in the group which, though acquainted with books, is inefficient in business, unsuccessful and discontented. And the pauperized, defeated,{425} shiftless classes of Americans are likely to turn to Bolshevism, for the same reasons as foreigners under the same circumstances. Men who are failures in life, no matter what their nationality, are not to be trusted to do justice to the successful ones, nor to vote to protect property or property rights. Wherever the principles of political economy are not understood, there is a field for Bolshevism; and they are not understood by the working classes in the United States. The propaganda of organized discontent is very active among us; and its activities are not likely to diminish. Thousands of Americans, disappointed in life, are also disappointed at seeing their government in the clutches of an oligarchy of sordid politicians. And these conditions may grow worse with the growth and expansion of industry and commerce, with the increase of legislative meddling with business, and the increasing tendency of business acting in self-protection to endeavor to improperly control legislation and politics. If nothing be done to remedy this state of things who knows how many Americans will be found to be on the side of the Bolsheviki when the time comes for a settlement of the question between us and them?

There is cause for a serious apprehension of an attack by organized Bolshevism upon our democracy if proper measures are not adopted to further protect property rights, and if the present political oligarchical misgovernment is permitted to continue unchecked. In that day it may be that in the large cities the enemies of the social order will be championed by one or two yellow newspapers, and their cause be taken up by one of the political organizations. The result might be such as to make the property classes regret their apathy. The material for an efficient radical political army already exists in the organized controllables who now manage the primaries under direction of the bosses; in the politically unattached hordes of irresponsible city voters; in the village loafers; in the immense number of irresponsible women politically and economically ignorant and easily moved to violent emotion. There are at this moment in every city in the United States{426} hundreds of writers, school teachers, and college educated youths of both sexes, superficial, fluent of speech, ambitious, ready for anything; and as ignorant of economic law as a common laborer. Of such would be the leaders of the Bolsheviki movement. On the other hand the able youth of America, the well-educated, gifted young business men, those of high ideals, patriotic, disinterested, energetic; those of the class upon whom every country should rely for its working leadership in civics, are mostly unavailable to defend society in such an emergency, because they are untrained in public affairs, unknown to the public; have been kept in the rear out of sight; not permitted to seek public employment; the places they ought to fill occupied by the cheap tools of the machine; most of them indifferent to politics; despising its incidents; scarcely willing to vote. From them no quick help could be expected in such a case.

As for the political oligarchical managers at present in power, from them no aid can ever be expected in any good cause. They are mere time-servers. In fact the politician is the natural enemy of the propertied and capitalistic class. Already, there are plain indications that the universal suffrage governing oligarchy stands ready to sacrifice American property rights. For example, the Vice President of the United States once said in a public speech in the hearing of the writer that there is no natural right in children to inherit from their parents. Here is a glimpse of a politician’s heaven; where all the property in this country will be at the behest of these organized brigands. In fact, a step in the direction of confiscation of private property has already been taken, both here and in England, by the enactment of the lately invented Inheritance Tax Laws. Consider how that so-called tax can be made a ready means of Mexicanizing the nation by confiscating a large part of its accumulated capital, and by destroying at the same time much of the incentive to future accumulations. A nation which is supported by inheritance taxes is like a spendthrift living off his capital whose ultimate ruin is{427} therefore sure. Let a large fortune pass three times through the Probate Court, which might easily happen in twenty years, and about half of it is gone in taxes, to be dissipated, squandered and stolen by politicians. The taste of blood is good to a hungry beast. After despoiling large fortunes they are already beginning to attack smaller ones. A full treasury encourages waste, and so it goes on. How many of the ne’er do wells whom universal suffrage calls to the polls, are aware or could possibly be made to realize, the value of stored up capital, or to understand that the accumulations of money called private fortunes which are thus being broken up and wasted, are the only sources from which enterprise is daily being fed, and millions of workmen and workwomen employed and paid?

Under a universal suffrage régime, government leadership in opposition to Bolshevism cannot be relied upon, and without such leadership it is doubtful if proper resistance to Bolshevism can be expected at the hands of the American people. They are utterly destitute of political power, are without organization and guidance or the material for either. They have never been able to effectually resist the bosses; politically they are a lot of sheep, accustomed to say “baa” and to follow the old bell wethers. It is probable that any party organization having control of the election and governmental machinery could speedily, if it chose, put the proletariat in possession of the government of the manufacturing states, such as New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Illinois. In case of government ownership of transportation and intelligence utilities, the party in power might, in aid of this purpose, get control of a couple of million additional votes. After that, who knows what next? It might then be too late for us to throw off the yoke; like the French of 1793, like the Russians of today, we might find ourselves a subjugated people. People say that in the end truth and justice must triumph; but that phrase “in the end” is portentous. The end of Bolshevism might be delayed for a half century of wasteful struggle, wherein the{428} immediate generation and most of its belongings would probably perish.

To successfully meet the Bolshevist attacks whether made by propaganda or violence, we should thoroughly cleanse our politics and restore our government to its original high place in the respect of the people. It was said in our first chapter that the American democracy has not fulfilled its early promise of creating a government popular in the sense of good and economical public service. Had the political record of the first forty years of the Republic been equalled by that of the following ninety, it is possible that our example would have saved the world from organized Bolshevism. We may choose to shut our eyes to the story of corruption and inefficiency outlined in the foregoing pages, but the rest of the world has not failed to read it and to comment on it. Large numbers of the discontented classes of Europe have interpreted that dismal chronicle to mean the failure of democracy, and have turned to red radicalism. It is notorious that the principal leaders of Russian Bolshevism are native Russians who have lived in America; and the accounts of the falling off of democracy within this country, which were carried back home by them, and by thousands of their countrymen here, no doubt featured largely in the spread of Bolshevik doctrines there. They had heard the praises of American democracy trumpeted abroad, and they came here to see and take part in its perfect work; they found the country in the hands of sordid, corrupt and inefficient politicians, and they turned from democracy in despair. Seeing the misuse of money in our politics, they decided that the power of money should be abolished altogether. Like ourselves, they overlooked completely the fact that the real cause of the diseased condition of our American political life is not the purchasing power of money, but the existence of a purchasable electorate. Recently a man wrote to a New York daily paper, urging that the way to win immigrants to love America, was to teach them the lessons of patriotism found in American history. This patriotic writer only thought of his{429}tory as found in the school treatises, and utterly ignored the fact that these immigrants are actually learning contemporary American history every day from our newspapers. He wanted them, he said, to be told of Washington, Franklin and Robert Morris. But the immigrant soon learns that not only are those great men dead, but that their successors in power are and are likely to continue to be, a lot of ignorant, greedy and unscrupulous modern politicians. As well tell the modern Greek to be satisfied with political rascality there, because Aristides the Just lived in Athens thousands of years ago.

No one can doubt that a similar feeling of political disappointment with the workings of our government, of hatred and contempt for our oligarchy of politicians, of want of faith in the honesty, integrity, ability and earnestness of those in power, is largely responsible for the progress of American socialism, for other organized protests against the democratic system and for that phenomenon frequently referred to as “popular unrest.”

Elihu Root in the North American Review for December, 1919, refers to Roosevelt, when president about twelve years ago, as recognizing the existence of this popular dissatisfaction, that “a steadily certainly growing discontent was making its way among the people of our country” and that millions were “then beginning to feel that our free institutions were failing.” But Roosevelt was too much of a politician himself to dare to touch the real sore spot, or to propose to cut out the cancer, and neither Root nor Roosevelt, nor any other noted politician has assigned any adequate cause for the unrest of these times. The fact is that the public has come to despise in its heart a political system in which weakness and rascality are so prominent. Roosevelt went up and down, says Root, making frantic appeals for obedience to law. The American people, of whom there are millions just as honest and common-senseful as Roosevelt, know that the law must be obeyed as a practical rule of business; but they refuse to implicitly believe in the wisdom, honesty or sanctity of statutes and ordinances promul{430}gated by an oligarchy of place-hunting politicians. There is no substantial difference between the attitude towards this oligarchy taken by the thrifty honest working class and that of the honest mercantile or professional class; they are all dissatisfied with our governmental system for the same reason; namely, because it is morally and intellectually unworthy of the American people. Jealousy of great fortunes has been mentioned as a possible cause of the popular discontent. But the bulk of the American people are not so meanly and stupidly envious as that suggestion would imply. They are no more inclined to envy a man his honestly acquired wealth than his superior health, strength, musical talent or the acquisition of a foreign language. The honest rich live plainly; they work hard and they give munificently and wisely; they are not in power; the people know it and would much prefer them to the ruling horde which now afflicts us. Roosevelt himself was in the eyes of the masses a rich man, but he was very popular and all the more so because he was known to be pecuniarily independent. The cause of the public dissatisfaction is not the doings of the rich, but the misdoings of the grafting politicians. The latter go about wondering at the cause of what they call “unrest,” when they themselves are that cause. The intelligent workers of modest incomes, farmers, mechanics, traders, professional men, clerks, etc., see with their own eyes a lot of ignorant, sordid knaves obtain undeserved public offices and honors and graft themselves into wealth, and they partly envy and completely dislike and despise the whole lot. Thence it follows that transactions between the politicians and business men of all kinds become distrusted by the public, who are ready to suspect all railroad and other corporations, all importing and manufacturing interests which are affected by legislation or governmental action, whether tariff, taxation, rate regulation or otherwise, of bribery, fraud and corruption in all transactions with government or wherein government officials are concerned. The people are also dissatisfied because the office-holding class is weak and lacking in dignity and firmness.{431} The attitude of a public official with his ear to the ground is low and brings him into contempt. The public finds too much smartness and cleverness and too little manly pride and directness in our machine-made rulers. They find that they lack courage to do affirmative justice with due speed; that they are able to do nothing without first being assured of a majority at their backs. Their decisions are governed not by the application of principles but by a process of additions and subtractions; they are not leaders of the people but followers of the rabble. And this slavish cowardice has been increased since the votes of women are being sought by new forms of pandering. If we want the people to respect and love the government we must give them one worthy of respect and love. To ensure the loyalty and devotion of the immigrant as well as of the native, we must make our political institutions as nearly perfect as possible; we must offer for the support of the American people a government like that of the Fathers; pure, patriotic and efficient, one that can command respect as well as enforce obedience.

We have reaffirmed our belief in democracy as a method of government and have asked the rest of the world to accept it, and we are therefore called upon to point to a method for its practical operation. The only method heretofore found practical, the only one we are prepared to offer, is representative government. Unless that system can be made to work well the experiment of democracy will have been a practical failure. We are bound to see to it that this does not happen, that representative government be made a working success, that it operate with justice, efficiency, economy and humanity. That it has not heretofore operated here or in any part of the world with anything near perfect satisfaction is admitted by its strongest supporters. The friends of democracy are therefore called upon to correct the situation; in the slang of the day, “it is up to us to make good.” This is a part of the national and world work which we Americans have undertaken; it is a continuation of the enterprise of making the{432} world “safe for democracy.” Should it fail hereafter it will be as though it had failed in the German war, and the world would be left to Autocracy, Socialism and Bolshevism to divide between them. It is the claim of the enemies of representative democracy, who are numerous, and many of them very intelligent, that it never can be made successful; that it has failed not only in France, Italy, Spain and Greece but in Great Britain and the United States; and that its failure is due to lack of quality in the electorate, that is to say, in the mass of the population. And these critics are no doubt so far right, that whatever may be the practical shortcomings of the system of representative government they are due to that very cause. Therefore, it is plainly our business to make representative government a success by the only method practicable or possible, namely, by a reform, elevation and purification of the electorate.

Our second step in the way of preparation to meet the menace of Bolshevism is to take a definite stand for property rights, based upon the plain doctrine that our government is designed and intended to protect American civilization expressed as all civilization is expressed, in terms of property. If we did not believe that, if it were not true, then we might as well at once surrender to Bolshevism. But it is not enough that it is accepted as true by all the wise and thoughtful among us. To meet the exigency now before us we must formulate that doctrine, proclaim it, make a creed of it, and teach it to our children and to the ignorant. We cannot expect to destroy Bolshevism by merely using strong language about it. Its strength is partly due to its courage and consistency. To oppose it we must be courageous and consistent. We must meet the attack on property by arming property with weapons of self-defense. Political attack must be met by political action. When fundamentals are assailed foundations must be strengthened. We must weave property rights into the very fabric of our political life and make them an essential part of Americanism. Seven-eighths of our adult men are owners of or in{433}terested in property. They should take steps to make their rights therein absolutely secure by creating a private property electorate. Universal suffrage, manhood suffrage, and every other similar anti-social heresy should be expunged from our statute books. Manhood suffrage which formerly spelled merely thievery and plundering, now spells destruction. And female suffrage is even worse, a plain, palpable, odious and contemptible humbug and abomination, a malignant source of peril. The fight against Bolshevism can only be conducted on principles which exclude from the ballot box every form of practical inefficiency. There is no place for ignorance, dependency, and sentimentalism, feminine or other, in an efficient democracy.{434}



Any demand for a qualified suffrage is certain to be met by a plea for delay. The temptation to postpone action is natural and springs at once to the heart of almost every man whose judgment counsels him to undertake anything new and troublesome. There is, too, an immense party interested in maintaining the present corrupt régime; including the politicians, office holders, political heelers and featherhead agitators, and a considerable predatory band who live off the pickings and stealings of politics. In opposing any effort to establish a voters’ property qualification these will be supported by some honest believers in the present system, as there are honest believers in all established systems; including in this case multitudes of visionaries and the inexperienced, especially the young. Even some of those most willing to admit the mischiefs attendant upon universal suffrage will make the plea of delay for delay’s sake; the plea of the indolent, the inert, the timid, the weak, the hesitating. The first answer to this plea is that the importance of the matter will not admit of delay. The health of the nation is involved, and with a nation as with a man the question of health is one of life itself. When the body is ill and suffering a deadly and poisonous infection not an hour’s delay should be tolerated in applying the necessary corrective. Who can say how soon the man or the nation may have to meet an attack that will strain his or its strength to the very utmost? Next, it is to be realized that there is no proposal of an alternative remedy; and no delay therefore{435} is needed for the purpose of choice. No writer or publicist so much as suggests any other different medicine or treatment, nor is it possible to do so. The cause of the mischief is unlimited suffrage, and nothing but the removal of the cause will avail. There remains to be considered the appeal of those who say “leave it to time” to improve the situation. If there be those who really expect relief in this matter from the passage of time and from the changes that time unaided may bring, they are much mistaken. The same causes which have heretofore produced the mischiefs complained of are still operative and will continue to operate; they include the power of organization, human cupidity, and the existence of a controllable class of voters. The first two of these are permanent and continuous forces; the latter is what we propose to abolish. The political oligarchies never were as strong as they are to-day; the dearth of great and good men in political life was never so great as now; all the mischiefs referred to in this volume are in full blast, if not in one place then in another. One looks in vain into newspapers, books or magazines, one listens in vain to political speeches or private talks for any definite promise or even suggestion of relief from any quarter. The general attitude seems to be that nothing can be done to improve the situation. Each reader of this book is therefore warned that it is for him or some one like him to make the start. This book is an offering to the cause; who will follow it up by action?

The professional reformers dare not attack universal suffrage; they are nearly all office-seekers, open or conceded. The writers on American politics and government are generally careful to ignore the evils of the system, so they cannot possibly urge its removal. In fact, the reader needs to be warned against most of them as blind guides; the more apparently respectable are the more timid and time serving; unable to entirely overlook the grievous condition of affairs, they carefully avoid criticism offensive to popular vanity and to the powers that be; they flatter us by pretending to ascribe{436} the actual and notorious failure of our democracy to the careless generosity of our national character. They prattle of American good nature, national optimism, easy-going tolerance; of our engrossment in business, and of American “fatalism,” all of which nonsense is supposed to account in a manner rather to our credit for our submission to plunder and misrule. There are other explanations equally amusing. We are told with an air of profundity that these rascalities have been permitted because of peculiar circumstances; from 1860 to 1870 it was because of slavery agitation and the Civil War; that people were too busy agitating and fighting to watch the thieves. In the very next breath we are told that in the Civil War the “moral forces” were in possession of the nation. For the next decade the excuse is that we were immersed in great speculations and so on. But these explanations really explain nothing; they fail to explain why our official guardians and rulers systematically rob us whenever we are too busy to watch them, nor why they are not replaced by people who can be trusted. These expounders proclaim that the people need only to “arise in their might” and the corruption of three generations will become incorruption. When at any election one political ring goes out and another comes in they utter childish blasts of triumph. One wonders, inexperienced as some of these so called publicists are, whether they really can themselves believe such rubbish. After the explosion of some superlative political scandal they can often be heard telling the public that all will come right by and by; which means that we have only to continue to sit patiently and let ourselves be fleeced until the kind fairies bring good times. We are supposed to be very easily soothed and perhaps we are. Bryce, for instance, who as a political radical has been trained to give ear to the bellowing of the vox populi, speaking of our rascal legislators, tells us reassuringly that “if before a mischievous bill passes, its opponents can get the attention of the people fixed upon it, its chances are slight.” (Vol. II, p. 369.) As though one should say to a merchant, “Don’t worry about{437} your clerk robbing you, any time you actually catch him stealing he’ll stop; he won’t persist in that particular theft anyhow; he’ll just be compelled to drop that and wait for a chance at something else.” From all which it appears as a result of all these discussions that no one pretends to see any definite prospect of substantial improvement or alleviation. In all the ten thousand pages on American government written by a score of authors, domestic and foreign, not one is able to say that we have an honest, decent or efficient governmental system, and not one offers any definite scheme for practical relief. On all sides we are told that there is little to do but to believe and hope.

As far as this hope can be said to refer to anything specific or to be more than mere sighing wishfulness which profiteth nothing, it is founded on belief in the educational work of the schools and the vague notion that thereby all the people will some time become so good and so well informed that manhood suffrage will be pure, safe and efficient. This hope is all moonshine. The mentally deficient and the ignorant will always be with us. There will always be upper, middle and lower classes as long as private property endures and free play is given to human activities; that is to say as long as our American civilization prevails. In the march of life some will always be in the front and some hopelessly in the rear. Faster than the increase of the information of the common man and the development of his mentality will proceed the growth of the great body of human knowledge; and the greater therefore will be the comparative ignorance of the ordinary citizen. The wealth, education, refinement, mental power, efficiency and achievement of the gifted will always far exceed those of the common people; and the distance between the efficient and the inefficient, the dullards and the intellectuals will probably become even greater and greater as time goes on. Though ordinary information will become more widespread, the science of government as well as other sciences will continue year by year in the future as in the{438} past to become more complicated; and more and more as the years pass it will be found essential that the hands which operate the machinery of state shall be skilled to the very utmost. Meantime envy, prejudice, cupidity, neglect, intolerance and imprudence will continue to be human qualities, pushing men downward physically and morally; disease and misfortune will continue to do their work in the world, and a century from now it will be more dangerous even than today to trust men of the least developed or more unfortunate classes to select competent and trustworthy managers of the business of government. The future as far as can now be seen will not of itself give us relief from our present misgovernment; the action of our own hands and brains must be invoked for that purpose. Of that action there should be neither delay nor postponement. Our plight needs a remedy and needs it now.{439}



Here, in the last chapter, seems to be an appropriate place to anticipate and reply to a few prospective objections.

Objection that the project is undemocratic. This assumes that universal suffrage is a democratic institution; but in practise it operates to the contrary as has already been shown. The prospect practically offered by the property qualification project, is the democratic one of the door of political opportunity opened to that honest ability which is now by the machines and rings excluded from a public career. So much for the practical test. Looking at the project in the abstract, it is satisfying to the democratic mind, whether viewed in the light of high principle, of idealism, of nature’s law, or of democratic policy. It recognizes and rewards merit, it puts a premium on industry and capacity, and thus satisfies a principle. Its ideal is noble; it is that of the creation of a high grade of citizenship, the establishment of a democracy of virtue and talent. It conforms to nature’s law by preferring the fittest; by creating order in the ranks of citizenship; by putting government into the hands of those whom nature herself has selected as competent. It accords with democratic policy because it will give democracy more strength and more wisdom; because it is progressive, and calculated to encourage progress; because it glorifies citizenship by making it a token of distinction; because it at once makes its active citizenship select by excluding the unworthy, and at the same time, open and free to all, by inviting all to qualify to exercise it. It will create a true majority rule; for the new electorate will undoubtedly constitute a great majority in numbers of the men of the country; and will represent prac{440}tically all its civilization, education, talent, energy and ability. It will give the humble his due which is opportunity to rise; he is entitled to no more. To the poor man of capacity the door to the voting booth will be as wide open as the free high school door is to his son; the entrance in either case is for those who can qualify and the terms are the same for all. To admit the unqualified would not benefit them, while it would harm those who are properly inside. Only the shiftless and worthless poor are permanently excluded. The industrious thrifty poor man is only postponed; and he will know that when he does enter by virtue of achievement, he will possess something worth while, something of value; he will be an active citizen, and his suffrage will not be offset and nullified by the purchased vote of a worthless loafer.

Objection that the proposal is oppressive. It would be oppressive if it were arbitrary, or unreasonable, or personal; but it is none of these. It is a greater hardship to be discharged from a job than to be prevented from voting at a public election; and if a man can properly be discharged for incompetency, he can certainly be deprived of his vote for incapacity, under a rule which applies to all under similar circumstances.

The objection that the project will be barren of results is sure to be made. But good results will surely issue from it unless the whole conception of this volume is a mistake. It was within the purpose of some of the master-minds of the republic’s early days to direct the nation in the paths of true and scientific Federal achievement. The far-reaching plans of Washington and John Quincy Adams for the development of mutually interacting national systems of industrial, transportational and educational development were finally defeated by the ignorant and tiger-like rapacity of the Jacksonian manhood suffrage bands. (Degradation of the Democratic Dogma; Brooks Adams, p. 13-62.) But those noble though aborted schemes at least serve to indicate the great possibilities belonging to pure and scientific government. In Federal affairs we may confidently expect a return to the pure{441} and noble traditions of the old Federal government of the second Adams and his predecessors, when the democratic principle was infused with the aristocratic passion for excellence; and our representatives will then be qualified to consider and deal with national questions with ability and intelligence, and a patriotism such as has not been in political operation in this country for ninety years. Some of the direct benefits of the reform may be expected to appear in the most striking and satisfactory possible manner, in the complete reconstruction of our state legislatures, and our municipal governments. The change will seem almost magical. The creation of the new and purified electorate will at one stroke smash the machines, and dislodge the political oligarchies; the standard of public conscience will be immediately elevated, and bribery at elections will almost disappear. We will then be justified in expecting to elect legislators who can be trusted to legislate, and worthy and competent municipal officials. We will be relieved from the burden of maintaining watch dog societies and they will disappear together with the daily political scandals which brought them into being. In a word, we will be able to do for the body politic that which is done in every decent business corporation in the land; find and employ men, honest and competent, for the work assigned to them. The prospect is alluring; one is tempted to dwell on the fine possibilities were each of our forty-eight state legislatures composed of the first men in each state in probity, experience and political intelligence. There has not in our day been much really good government in the world. One would like to see our first-rate American men, of the type and class who have developed our industrial and transportation systems, get a fair opportunity to show the world what can be done, not only in progressive and enlightened domestic legislation, but also in pure and efficient administration of public affairs. Dignified and purified elections; advanced and just legislation; improved and honest administration; a justified and scientific democracy; such if{442} not fully within the promise of the proposed reform are within the possibilities for which by appeal to the new electorate we will be encouraged to work with a fair hope of success.

Objection that the new system will not accomplish this or that desirable thing. Of course, no one will claim that it will bring about everything humanly possible in the way of political improvement. No one can doubt that even after a purification of the electorate there will remain many evils in politics and much still to be done to improve our governmental system. There will remain, for instance, the problem of furnishing the electorate with the facts concerning public measures, or the means of getting them; a problem heretofore generally ignored. Walter Lippman in a very able article in a recent number of the Atlantic Monthly has pointed out the great importance of providing the public with real political information, to take the place of the mess of misinformation now daily served up to us by the daily press. There is an entirely new field to be covered lying in that direction. Then there is the question of how, in great cities especially, the voter is to be made acquainted with the personality and qualifications of the respective candidates. But why attempt to specify, when the fact is that the whole region of scientific domestic legislation remains almost unexplored and uncultivated. Under our machine system of politics, the science of legislation has been absolutely neglected for generations, and the whole administrative and judicial system in every state in the Union needs revision. But the primary, the essential reform is that of the electorate. We must begin there, because by so doing we cleanse and put in good working order the machinery which will itself undertake what else remains to be done. We cannot expect wise measures to be furthered or even understood by an ignorant and corrupt electorate; nor can we expect a sordid political oligarchy to enforce them, even though enacted. The electorate is the Alpha and Omega; the key to everything in politics and government.

For example, the proposed elevation of the franchise would{443} have the effect of making practicable municipal home rule. We are all familiar with the evils of state control of our large cities; and yet the mischiefs of civic home rule under manhood suffrage are even greater. At present, the voters of the great cities are necessarily deprived of all share in many departments of municipal management; which are put in the hands of state boards and commissions because the voters cannot be trusted. The establishment of a competent and conservative electorate in cities, would at once prepare the way for the granting to cities of local self-government; thus advancing the cause of practical democracy, and effecting a result for which civic reformers have labored ineffectually for years.

Another good effect will be the elevation of the political tone of the country. This can never be done while the electorate remains degraded. It is inspiring to think of the healthful stimulus which the politics of the nation will receive when our men come to realize more and more the honor and responsibility attached to the office of active citizen of the republic. To be enrolled on the list of voters will be a distinction which will be valued by those who possess it, and coveted by those who do not; by the youth just entering his career; by the man born poor who is saving to establish a home; by the reformed spendthrift; by every American who turns from a career of folly to the path of wisdom and prudence. Men of substance, education and judgment, who have not visited the polls for years will find it worth their while to vote. And every voter will attend with a feeling that his vote is intended to be effective for good; and will act with a sense of responsibility entirely inappropriate now, when the only real responsibility for an election rests with the boss and the machine.

And yet, beneficial as the above specified effects of the proposed measure seem likely to be, still in the mind of the writer its greatest, its transcendent value lies not in any of them nor in their totality so much as in the expectation that it will be a decided step towards the solution of the world’s problem{444} of the creation of a wise, politic and progressive democracy. The elevation of the electorate; the purification of elections; the destruction of the machines and the rings; the abolition of the political oligarchies; the better government of cities; the heightening of the political tone; an increased efficiency in public affairs; all these are of immense consequence; but beyond and over all is the importance to America and to the world of putting the democratic movement firm on its feet; on the right road; facing the better day and prepared to do its part in carrying on the world’s politics. This it is at present quite unable to do because it has failed to widen its conceptions with the enlargement of its power and opportunities. The ultimate, the supreme power in the state, should possess capacity and understanding. Democracy has undertaken to make of the electorate that supreme power. To do this successfully it had to see to it that the electorate is suffused with intelligence, and it has failed so to do. Its duty in that regard was partially admitted and attempted by means of school education of the young, but the recognition of the principle has not been full or satisfying; nor have the means adopted been adequate. The world is unable to give its full confidence to the democracy of to-day, because of its failure to fulfil its implied undertaking to produce a competent electorate. The great objection to democracy in the minds of modern thinkers is, that originally created and idealized as the champion of individual rights, it has gone no further; it has failed to provide for capacity and efficiency, or to recognize its duty in that direction. On the contrary, its declared policy for the last century has been in the direction of degrading the quality of the voting mass by the process of increasing its volume from below. If democracy is to be the future governing force, it must absolutely and unreservedly commit itself to the principle of a thoroughly competent electorate; to be established not merely by preparation of the fit, but by rigorous exclusion of the unfit. The chief value therefore of the proposed electoral reform consists in its inaugurating a complete change{445} of policy in this vital matter; and in the fact that it will signify that the American democracy has awakened to the understanding of this necessity, and has in good faith undertaken the duty of carrying out the task of making its foundation sure and eternal.

Politics is a progressive science and it may be that the doctrine of a qualified, that is to say, a competent electorate once accepted for general purposes, will receive hereafter extended application. We cannot put a limit to the possibilities of democratic efficiency to be attained through the further selection and elevation of the voters. While the plan of property qualification is apparently the only one at present practicable and efficacious, it would be foolish to suppose that our successors may not extend the application of the principle in directions now unthought of. For instance, in addition to the establishment of means for furnishing the electorate with reliable information as Mr. Lippman has so sagaciously suggested, measures may in time be adopted for recourse to an instructed opinion on proposals for official action, by submitting them to that part of the electorate whose tastes and occupations have given them special light on the subject to be passed upon. Just as there is an instructed minority in musical matters, so there are always minorities with special knowledge of educational affairs, charities, sanitation, public schools, transportation, finances, etc. In the great cities these groups may each amount to tens of thousands of individuals, each group constituting a true and enlightened democracy of opinion on the special subjects in which its members have interested themselves. In a great city like New York, for instance: one can imagine a set of voters qualified on banking and currency; another on constitutional questions; another on public health, and so on; each of them containing perhaps ten thousand highly qualified persons, experts on the subject referred to; whose opinions or decisions might be given as called for, and each carry with it a certain weight, or have a certain political or merely informative effect, as might be provided; and so as new circumstances or situa{446}tions arise, as changes occur, as experiences accumulate, the principle of qualified voting, of an appeal to a competent and responsible array of selected public opinion may be applied in many new ways, to the advantage of the community.

Objection that the requirement of a qualification may be evaded. One of the criticisms of the property qualification rule when it was the law of the land, was that it was frequently evaded by sham property transfers. Every statute or regulation is likely to be the subject of schemes of evasion which have to be encountered as they develop. It is hardly worth while at this point to discuss imaginary difficulties which may occur in exceptional cases in carrying out the reform. It will certainly never be adopted until it has conquered public opinion; in which case means will readily be found to enforce it. Sham transfers are not unknown in the business world; but though sometimes troublesome, they do not practically interfere with the volume of business transactions.

Objections founded on certain standards of qualification. The writer has omitted to discuss the exact amount, character or measure of property to be named in the qualification standard. It is said that the enforcement of a rate-paying qualification in the City of London, by excluding from the polls paupers, dependents on others, idle and inefficient working men, and the semi-criminal and criminal classes, effects a reduction of about twenty-five per cent from a full manhood suffrage poll list. An equivalent purging here, would completely purify our voting system. But here in this country, the standard would have to vary according to local conditions, and to the judgment of the different legislative bodies having jurisdiction.


As to the possibility of the success of a movement to obtain the enactment of a proper qualification for voters, there can be no doubt. The proposition is new and it will have to be carefully explained and earnestly advocated; but it will be adopted{447} and put in force just as soon as the people become convinced of its justice and expediency; and not before. This means a lot of preparatory and educational work, and therein lies perhaps a chief value of the project. Before it can be adopted, it will have to be thoroughly understood and believed in; the electorate will have to be made to know its own present weakness and corruption, and its own great possibilities, in future power and purity. In short, the proper consideration of a proposal for an elevation of the electorate, will of itself involve such self-examination and bracing up of standards, as will purify the political atmosphere even before its acceptance by the legislatures and the people.

There is no legal difficulty to be overcome, no Federal constitutional provision in the way; and the reform can go into effect in any state, upon a vote of its people changing its constitution. This vote can be obtained. The majority of the voters in every state are property holders; it is in their power to assume control at their pleasure. If this project is right, it will be possible to convince them of that fact. There is no reason why the working classes should oppose it; it is in their interest; most of them are family men, property owners and intelligent. It is they who have suffered most by the depredations of politicians. They would be dull and stupid beyond all that has ever been supposed, to fail to see that misgovernment and want of efficiency are their greatest enemies; that excessive taxation eats up year by year a large part of their surplus product; and when convinced of the justice and expediency of the measure, these serious workers will find means to silence the senseless clamor for the vote, should there be such on the part of the inferior and worthless in the ranks of labor. Among the politicians themselves, no doubt there are men who will break away from machine tyranny and favor the reform; men of real ability, who realize that working in a purer atmosphere they would achieve more real distinction than they now obtain; men who inwardly despise the things they are compelled to countenance and perform. Much form{448}less prejudice there will be also to be overcome no doubt; but that will yield to explanation and to reason.

Thoughtful men everywhere are beginning to realize the humbug and menace of manhood suffrage. Writing in the North American Review for March, 1920, Hanford Henderson says of universal suffrage that “it harms even those whom it is supposed to benefit. To give every man and woman a vote and to declare these votes equally important and significant is both unsound and mischievous.... Universal suffrage is a characteristic example of the democratic failure in discrimination.... An electorate not properly qualified is an ever present public danger.” There is such a prevalent disgust for present political methods that any well-planned scheme of relief will be welcomed. We need only consider whether the measure is right; that once made clear it can be carried. To doubt that is to doubt the possibility of a reasonable democracy.

Just how far the American public is mentally prepared to seriously consider the dominant theories of this work; just how soon, if ever, these theories will become familiar and popular among us, it is impossible to judge. It may be that some proofs of their acceptance will speedily follow the publication of this volume; it may be that years or even generations will pass before the principles herein advocated will get a hearing. But to those of his readers be they ever so few, who believe that the things here written down are true, the author would say in the words with which this volume is begun, written by Washington on the eve of a great and doubtful enterprise: “Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair; the event is in the hand of God.{449}


Adams, Brooks, American lawyer and publicist; author of “The Law of Civilization and Decay,” and other works.

Adams, Henry, historian; author of “History of the United States”; “Life of Albert Gallatin,” and other works.

Allen, William H., is a prominent social worker and author, and is director of the Bureau of Municipal Research and National Training School for the study and Administration of Public Business, Author of “Woman’s Part in Government,” referred to in this volume.

Alger, Russell A., Major General of Volunteers in the American Civil War; Governor of Michigan and Secretary of War under President McKinley.

Bagehot, Walter, distinguished English publicist and economist; member of the English Bar; banker; editor of the Economist, and active for many years in business and politics. Author of “The English Constitution,” “Lombard Street,” “Physics and Politics,” “Literary Studies,” and “Economic Studies,” in the two former of which he describes the practical workings of the British governmental machine and the London money market respectively. The extracts herein given are from magazine articles written by him.

Benton, Thomas H., U. S. Senator from Wisconsin from 1820 to 1850; afterwards Member of the House of Representatives. Author of “History of American Government for Thirty Years.”

Bluntschli, Johann K., (1808-1881), Swiss jurist and politician; professor of constitutional law in Munich; author of a number of standard works on Constitutional and International Law.

Breen, Matthew, was a New York lawyer, state senator and municipal justice. Author of “Thirty Years of New York Politics,” referred to in this volume.

Bryce, James, Viscount, English historian and diplomat, was elected member of Parliament in 1880. Afterwards Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and President of the Board of Trade. He was one of the British members of the International{450} Tribunal at the Hague; Chief Secretary for Ireland and Ambassador to the United States. His book, the “American Commonwealth,” is the result of a long and careful study of American politics made on the spot, is much used as a source and text-book, and is referred to and freely quoted in this volume.

Burke, Edmund, illustrious British statesman, orator, parliamentarian and writer.

Clark, Charles P., American author of “The Machine Abolished,” referred to in this volume.

Commons, John R., whose work entitled “Proportional Representation” is quoted herein, is Director of the American Bureau of Industrial Research and Professor of Political Economy at the University of Wisconsin. He was a member of the Federal Commission on Industrial Relations in 1913-1915. He is the author of a number of books dealing with the industrial problems of the United States.

Carter, James C., New York lawyer; counsel for the U. S. Government in the Alaska arbitration at Paris; author of “Law, Its Origin, Growth and Function.”

Calhoun, John C., American lawyer and statesman; Secretary of War; Vice President United States; Secretary of State; United States Senator 1832-1843 and 1845-1850; author of two posthumous works, “Disquisition on Government” and “Discourse on the Constitution and Government of the United States.”

Curtis, George William, New York editor, public speaker, civil service reformer and man of letters.

Dana, Charles L., noted New York physician, lecturer and author.

Dawson, Edgar, is Professor of History and Political Science at Hunter College. He is a joint editor of “The Practical History of the World.”

Eaton, Dorman B., New York lawyer and Civil Service Reformer; Chairman of the Civil Service Commission 1873-1875, and member 1883-1885.

Estabrook, Henry D., noted American lawyer.

Field, David Dudley, New York lawyer; prominent legal reformer; principal author of New York Code of Civil Procedure of 1848, and of other proposed Codes of Law.

Fuller, Robert H., American newspaper writer.

Farrand, Max, Professor of History at Yale, is a frequent contributor to American Historical Reviews. He is the author of{451} “Development of the United States” quoted from in this volume; and also “Legislation of Congress for the Government of the Organized Territories of the United States (1789-1895)”; “Framing of the Constitution”; and “Records of the Federal Convention of 1787.”

Faguet, M., member of the French Academy; author of “La Culte d’Incompetence,” referred to in this volume and other works.

Garner, James W., is Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois. He is American collaborator for the “French Revue Politique et Parlementaire” and contributor of more than two hundred articles on political and legal subjects to the New International Encyclopedia, and various articles in the Encyclopedia of American Government and the Encyclopedie Americaine. He is a frequent contributor to various magazines.

Gilman, Charlotte P., author, lecturer, magazine writer. Author of “Women and Economics,” herein referred to.

Godkin, Edwin L., was one of the most prominent journalists of the United States. He established the Nation in 1865 and was editor of the New York Evening Post up to the year of his death in 1902. He was the author of a “History of Hungary,” “Reflections and Comments,” “Problems of Democracy,” and “Unforeseen Tendencies of Democracy.” The latter work, quoted herein, is a keen analysis and study of the forces in the American political system.

Hart, Albert B., may be said to be the dean of living American historians. He is Professor of Government at Harvard University. He has written many books and his contribution to the study and interpretation of American History assumes almost monumental proportions. He was president of the American Historical Association in 1909, and was appointed Exchange Professor, Harvard to Berlin, in 1915.

Hyslop, Prof. James H., has been connected with Columbia University as an instructor and professor of logic, philosophy, ethics and psychology. He organized the American Institute for Scientific Research and became editor of the Proceedings and Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research. His book on “Democracy,” published in 1899, is extensively quoted in this volume. He there favors a qualification for voters based upon the payment of an income tax.

Hunt, Henry T., is a prominent lawyer and public man. He was{452} a member of the Ohio Legislature from 1906-1907 and Mayor of Cincinnati from 1912-1914. He is a trustee of the Cincinnati Southern Railroad which is owned by the city of Cincinnati.

Ireland, Alleyne, British and American traveler, editor and essayist; American university lecturer.

Ivins, William M., prominent New York lawyer and politician.

Kahn, Otto H., banker and publicist, is a member of the banking firm of Kuhn, Loeb and Company, a director of the Union Pacific Railroad, and the Morristown Trust Company. He is a profound student of and writer upon financial affairs.

Lecky, William E. H., an Irish historian and publicist who died in 1903, became famous at the age of twenty-seven with the publication of his “History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism.” He was a member of Parliament for Dublin in 1895 and re-elected in 1900. He declined the offer of Regius professorship of History at Oxford in order to devote himself to public life. “Democracy and Liberty,” published in 1896, and here quoted from, is used as a reference book in all the large universities in the United States.

Lewis, Sir George Cornwall, British lawyer, editor and statesman; Chancellor of the Exchecquer; celebrated author; wrote (1849) “Influence of Authority on Matters of Opinion” here quoted, and other learned works.

Lewis, Lawrence, American newspaper and magazine writer.

Lippman, Walter, American author and publicist; associate editor of New Republic, and frequent contributor to magazines.

Low, A. Maurice, British and American author and journalist.

Moss, Frank, New York lawyer; former president Board of Police, New York City; author.

Morse, John T., lawyer, editor and author of several biographies, including “Life of John Quincy Adams,” quoted in this volume.

Mill, John Stuart, was an English philosopher and economist and one of the greatest English prose writers of the nineteenth century. Author of works on Logic, Political Economy and Utilitarianism; wrote “Representative Government,” quoted in this volume; “Liberty,” “Subjection of Woman,” etc. He served in Parliament for several years. From 1835 to 1840 he was editor and part owner of the London Westminster Review.

Miller, J. Bleecker, New York lawyer, political student and writer; author of “Trade Organizations in Politics.{453}

Maccunn, John, is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy in the University of Liverpool, where he taught for many years. He is author of “The Making of Character,” “Six Radical Thinkers,” “Ethics of Social Work,” “The Political Philosophy of Burke,” and “Ethics of Citizenship.” The latter work is quoted in this volume.

Myers, Gustavus, author of “History of Tammany Hall,” herein referred to and several other works on political subjects.

Ostrogorski, Moisei Ikovolevitch, a Russian political scientist educated in France, has a profound knowledge and understanding of the British and American political systems. Ostrogorski was a member of the First Russian Duma or Parliament. Quotations in this volume are from his “Democracy and The Party System in the United States.”

Reinsch, Paul S., whose well-known work on “American Legislatures and Legislative Methods,” is extensively quoted in this volume, is one of the most widely read of American political scientists and historians. He is the author of many books which have been translated into Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, and German, and a frequent contributor to reviews, historical and economic periodicals. He was Professor of Political Science in the University of Wisconsin for over twelve years. He was Roosevelt Professor at the Universities of Berlin and Leipzig in 1911-1912. He is an honorary member of the Faculty of the University of Chile, and a member of the National Academy of Venezuela. He was United States delegate to the Third Pan-American Conference at Rio de Janeiro in 1904 and the Fourth Conference at Buenos Aires in 1910, and United States minister to China.

Rhodes, James F., is a prominent historian and lecturer. He was president of the American Historical Association, and was awarded a gold medal by the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1910 for his contributions to historical literature. In 1913 he delivered lectures on the American Civil War at Oxford University. Is author of a “History of the United States,” herein quoted.

Roosevelt, Theodore, twice President of the United States, publicist, politician, statesman and author of “Life of Benton,” from which this book quotes, and other works.

Root, Elihu, distinguished New York lawyer, politician and pub{454}licist; has been United States Senator, United States Secretary of War, and United States Secretary of State.

Ruskin, John, English author, art critic and reformer; made a great impression on the literature and thought of the latter part of the nineteenth century. His writings, devoted mainly to art, have a strong ethical tendency.

Reemelin, Charles, writer and lawyer; former member of the Ohio Legislature; student of political subjects; newspaper editor and writer; author of several works on politics, including “American Politics” (1881), from which extracts are here taken.

Stickney, Albert, prominent New York lawyer.

Steffens, Lincoln, American editor, writer and lecturer. Author of the “Shame of the Cities,” and other works and frequent contributor to magazines.

Sieyes, Emmanuel Joseph, French Abbé and statesman of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic era; member of the States General and the Convention; member of the Directorate of 1799 and Senator of France.

Schurz, Carl, distinguished German American; came to America in early youth and became an American writer, soldier, orator and statesman; was United States Minister to Spain; United States Senator from Missouri and Secretary of the Interior. Author of “Life of Henry Clay,” from which quotations are here made.

Seawell, Molly E., American journalist and novelist; author of “The Ladies’ Battle,” a work written in opposition to female suffrage.

Shaw, Albert, is editor of the American Review of Reviews, and author of several widely read works on Municipal Government, for which he was awarded the John Marshall prize by Johns Hopkins University in 1895. He has also written many books dealing with different phases of American life and government, and has lectured at many universities and colleges. He was appointed professor of Political Institutions and International Law at Cornell University in 1890, but declined. He is a trustee of the General Education Board and a member of the Bureau of Municipal Research. Is the author of “Political Problems,” quoted from in this volume.

Stimson, Henry L., American lawyer, was Secretary of War under President Taft for two years.{455}

Sumner, Helen L., Assistant Chief of the Children’s Bureau of the Department of Labor at Washington. Was special investigator of woman suffrage in Colorado for the New York Collegiate Equal Suffrage League in 1916-1917. She is the author of many books dealing with industrial problems, and is a frequent contributor to economic and other publications. She published a book “Equal Suffrage,” from which a quotation is made in this volume.

Tocqueville, Alexis Henri Charles de, was a French statesman and political philosopher of the first half of the nineteenth century. Visited America in 1831 and wrote his monumental work “De la democratie in Amerique,” which is one of the world’s classics.

Tarbell, Ida M., is a prominent sociologist and publicist, and an associate editor of the American Magazine. She is author of “A Short Life of Napoleon Bonaparte,” a “Life of Lincoln,” a “History of the Standard Oil Company,” and “The Business of Being a Woman,” the latter quoted in this book.

Von Treitschke, Heinrich (1834-1896), publicist, political essayist; German university lecturer; member of the German Reichstag; the most brilliant historian of the Prussian school.

Webster, Daniel, orator and statesman; was member of United States Senate and Secretary of State of the United States.

White, Andrew D., was an American educator, scholar and diplomat. He was president of Cornell University from 1868 to 1885, minister to Germany from 1879-1881 and to Russia in 1892-4. From 1897 to 1902 he was Ambassador to Germany. He was chairman of the American delegation to the Hague Peace Conference. He is the author of several books dealing with historical studies.

Woodburn, James A., is Professor of American History at Indiana University. Has contributed articles to the American Year Book, the American History Review, Indiana Magazine of History, Encyclopedia Americanae, and the Encyclopedia of American Government, and is the author of several political works, including “Political Parties and Party Problems,” from which are the quotations made in this volume.