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"As if we any of us wanted pretences
From The Fortnightly Review. 1οτυ.»
AN AMERICAN VIEW OF AMERICAN COMMildie was to sleep with her mother in
PETITION. Mrs. Urquhart's room to-night. But be- THE competition between the United fore she began to undress she went into States and the manufacturing nations of that other room which had changed its Europe, and especially Great Britain, for character so strangely since morning from the leading places in supplying with maa commonplace bedroom to a stately pres- chine-made fabrics those nations that do ence-chamber. It was empty when Mildie not yet use modern machinery is a subentered, except for the still form that lay ject that just now excites great interest. on the bed, its features sharpened already, It is not only important in reference to the showing under the white sheet that cov- peculiar circumstances of the present time, ered it. Mildie did not put back the folds but much more important when we conor look at the face; alas ! of late years, it sider the momentous consequences that had not been a lovable or loving sight to might follow the establishment on the part her. A great cloud of something had of the United States of a permanent manuveiled all its fatherliness from her more facturing supremacy. If any such perthickly than the white sheet shrouded the manent change is indicated by existing irresponsive features now, and to bring circumstances, the cause for it must be back the father she could honestly weep looked for in radical and important differfor, she must look back a long way. ences in the competing nations, and not in
She knelt by the bed, and, covering her any temporary and abnormal circumstances face with her hands, searched her memory peculiar to the present time. for old, old recollections that could wake It is some of these permanent differences up the filial regrets she hated herself for which we will more especially consider in not experiencing more vividly. That time, the present paper. In comparing our when, a very little thing, she had fallen power to compete with England we may down on the stairs, and her father had claim advantages of one kind, and with picked her up tenderly and carried her to the nations of Continental Europe advanthe nursery; and that summer vacation, tages of another, in some respects of a when they had all gone into the country different order. In competition with En. together, before their misfortunes began, gland it is often claimed that our chief and he had been very good to them all. advantage lies in a certain alleged versatilMildie was sure she could quite recollect ity and power of adapting means to ends, a ride on his shoulders, and that she had and in great quickness of perception on helped to bury him in a sand mausoleum the part of working people in respect to on the shore. On one of her birthdays he the advantages to be gained by the adophad called her to him and kissed her quite tion of new processes or inventions. If of his own accord, and he had praised her we have this advantage, there must be diligence only the other day when, coming special causes for it in the influences that by chance into the schoolroom, he bad are brought to bear upon the operatives found her absorbed in a German book. and artisans who do the work, for a very Yes, yes, there was this time and that, large portion of them are foreign-born or little sparklets of gold, gems of love and are the children of foreign immigrants. kindness showing among all that blank Why should they work with any more zeal darkness, to be remembered forever, to or judgment here than in the countries live on in memory now that an end had whence they have come? Why are Irish come to all else, now that no opportunity and French Canadian factory hands to be could come for another such word, for relied on for more steady work, larger another claim on a daughter's love to be product, better discipline, and more cleanly made by him who lay there, her father, the and wholesome conditions of life, than the only earthly father she could ever have, operatives of England, Belgium, and Gerthough this was all she knew of him.
many? To the writer it appears evident Mildie bowed her head and thanked God that these advantages, so far as they exist, for the little store she had culled, the pre- are due mainly to the following circumcious store, the few words and looks and stances. thoughts her father had been able to spare First. Our system of common and purely to bis child from that daily and nightly secular schools, attended by the children absorption in sordid cares which the world of rich and poor alike. bad exacted of him, and repaid him for Second. Manhood suffrage. yielding it by emptying his life of all true Third. The easy acquisition of land. lie, and breaking his heart at last.
Fourth. The habit of saving small sums
induced by the establishment of savings- | vised by a committee of nine members. banks throughout the manufacturing states. On the present committee are the clergy
Fifth. The absence of a standing army, men of the Unitarian, Episcopal, and and the application of the revenue derived Swedenborgian societies, and among the from taxes on the whole to useful pur. lay members are members of the Orthoposes.
dox, Baptist, and Catholic societies. The In respect to the first of these influences, absence of sectarian prejudice was lately the public school system, the foreign ob- illustrated in a notable way in St. Louis, server generally takes notice only of the Missouri. One of the principal Baptist quality of the instruction given, and though churches was burned; the next day the he
may find something to praise, he finds pastor received offers from eight Christian also much to criticise; he finds in many congregations of several denominations to cases the instruction bad and the subjects use their churches half of each Sunday, often ill-chosen, and he wonders at the but all these were declined in favor of the misdirection of a force that might be so offer of the Jews, whose rabbi urged the much more wisely applied. What he fails use of their synagogue on the ground that to notice is that the school itself, entirely his own congregation did not need it on apart from its instruction, is the great Sunday at all; and in the Jewish Synaeducator of the children who attend it. gogue, on the following Sunday and since, The school is, first of all, no respecter of the worship of the God of Jew and Gentile persons; the stupid son of a rich man led has been conducted under Christian forms. in every class by the son of a mechanic In another way the discipline of the cannot in after life look down on him schools affects the processes of manufacas an inferior, whatever the conventional ture. In the schools, cleanliness, order, position of the two may be. Or if the and regular habits are enforced, with defrich man's son have brains as well as erence to the teachers and respect for aufortune, the poor man's son can never thority; and in these later years coupled attribute to fortune only the lead that he with the teaching of music and drawing in may take in after life. The school is all the principal towns and cities. When thoroughly democratic, and each pupil children thus trained are removed to the learns in it that it depends on himself mill or the workshop, habits of order and alone what place he may take in after life, cleanliness, with some ästhetic taste, are and that although society may be divided already established. Nothing strikes an into planes, there is no system of caste American manufacturer with so much surand no barrier in the way of social success, prise as the extreme untidiness of the except the want of character and ability to large textile mills of England, and the attain it. The associations of the common dreariness of the factory towns. In this school utterly prevent anything like servil- respect, however, it must be confessed ity in the relation of classes in after life, that the managers of the New England and although it is sometimes made a little mills are greatly aided by the absence of too manifest that" one man is as good as smoke, the coal commonly used being ananother, and a little better, on the part of thracite. Much surprise is often expressed those who are more eager than discreet in by our foreign visitors at the amount of their effort to rise, yet on the whole the decoration permitted in the fitting of starelation of the various classes which must tionary and locomotive engines, and in in the nature of things always and every: much of our machinery, but bad as the where exist, is that of mutual respect, and taste displayed may sometimes be, it is anything like the old-world distinctions of nevertheless a fact that such engines or caste and rank would seem about as absurd machines are better cared for and kept in to one as to the other. The common better repair than where no individuality, school is the solvent of race, creed, nation- so to speak, is permitted. On one of our ality, and condition.
great railways the attempt was not long Americans note with amazement the since made to despatch the locomotives as difficulties which occur in England on they happened to arrive at the central stasectarian grounds in the establishment of tion, sometimes with one, and sometimes secular schools. The school committees with another engine-driver; but the imme. with us are apt to include members of diate and great increase in the repair acevery denomination, and usually the cler- count caused the corporation to return gymen of each denomination serve their very soon to the customary plan of giving turn, In the town where the present each driver his own locomotive with which writer lives there are about eleven hundred he may be identified. pupils in the free schools, which are super- The instruction of the school also gives : every pupil a superficial knowledge, if no the problem of the self-government of more, of the geography and resources of great cities where voters do not meet each the country, which the universal habit of other, as in the town meeting, face to face, reading newspapers keeps up. Hence but where the powers of government are comes the alınost entire absence of any of necessity delegated to men of whom fixed character in the labor of the country the voters, can have littlc personal knowl. - every boy believes that he can achieve edge, yet works distinctly in the direction success somewhere else if not at home. of the safety, stability, and order of the No congestion of labor can last long community. Outside of two or three of the war and the succeeding railway mania the very largest cities, where there are combined concentrated population at cer- concentrated great masses of illiterate for. tain points to a greater extent than ever eign-born citizens, it would be difficult to happened before, and it has taken five find a case of serious abuse of the power years to overcome the difficulty; but with of taxation except in the South since the in these five years a million new inhabi- war, where the evil is now mainly abattants in Texas, half a million in Kansas, ed. and probably a million and a half added The writer of this paper lives in a small to the population of Nebraska, Colorado, but very rich town containing about seven Minnesota, and the far north-west indicate thousand people, adjacent to a great city; that the evil has already found a remedy. in this town one-half of the voters pay
It is already apparent that a very slight only a poll - tax, having no property of increase in the demand for skilled work. their own liable to taxation, and of the men in certain branches of employment poll-tax payers, again, a very large portion, would not easily be met in the Eastern if not a majority, are of Irish birth or exStates except by drawing upon England traction. The town has been guilty of and Germany. During the years of de- many acts of extravagance during these pression the cessation of railway building, late years of delusive prosperity, and is and the use of the excess of railway plant burthened with a heavy debt; but not a existing in 1873, has caused the dispersion single one of these acts of extravagance of a large portion of the trained mechanics has ever originated with the poll-tax payand artisans who then did the work of ers; they may have sustained such meassupplying this demand; but these are not ures, but they have been led into them by the men who have crowded the eastern men of property and influence. One. cities and caused the apparent excess of fourth part of the population of Massalaborers out of work — such men have chusetts, the manufacturing state par exgone back to the land, or in the new states cellence, are foreign-born, mostly Irish and and territories have found other ways in French Canadians, yet nowhere is propwhich to apply their skill and energy, and erty more safe, state and municipal credit they will not return. It may be that the higher, or elections more orderly and more greatest danger to the manufacturers of free from violence. To the man who England will not be in our competition in thinks he can correct the abuses under the sale of goods in neutral markets, but which he suffers, or supposes that he sufin our competition for the skilled work. fers, by his ballot, any other method seems men and artisans who make these goods, beneath his dignity, and violent acts like when we again offer them equal or higher the riots in Pennsylvania a year or two wages and better conditions of life in the since excite little general uneasiness, bework that will very soon need to be done cause it is felt that there must have been, to supply the increasing demand in our as indeed there were, special and local own country.
causes for them, even though such causes The patent system may here be cited may not be positively or publicly defined. also as a factor in our industrial system. The easy acquisition of land throughout It has been carried to an almost absurd the country under simple forms of convey. extreme, so that it is not safe for any one ance registered in every county gives a to adopt a new method, machine, or part of motive to economy, and induces habits of a machine, and attempt to use it quietly saving that are of supreme importance in and without taking out a patent, lest some their effect on society. In the town to sharp person seeing it in use and not pub. which the writer has referred, and in lished, shall himself secure a patent and which he himself can remember the comcome back to the real inventor with a ing of the first Irishman, who became a claim for royalty:
landowner, - out of about one thousand Manhood suffrage, subject as it is to owners of real estate over two hundred are great abuses, and difficult as it has made of Irish birth or extraction. The richest LIVING AGE, VOL. XXVI. 1303
one among them came from Ireland in on well-earned confidence, and offers an 1846, a steerage passenger. He now pays easy means of saving the smallest sums taxes on property of the value of fisty thou to every man, woman, and child in the sand dollars, almost all in real estate ; his state. son is superintendent of the repairs of To these causes of quick adaptation to highways and one of the most efficient any conditions that may arise, or to any members of the school committee.
necessity for the application of new methDuring the last thirty years the factory ods or devices, may be added the custom, population of New England has passed which has almost the force of law, of an through three phases. First came the equal distribution of estates among the sons and daughters of the New England children of the testator. Tools to hini farmer, but as the sewing-machine and who can use them is the unwritten law, other inventions opened new demands for and neither land nor capital can remain women's work, women of American birth long in the possession of him who cannot passed out to easier or better-paid employ- direct or use them wisely. Liberty to disments, while tlie men took up other tribute is esteemed as important a factor branches requiring more individual skill. in our body politic as liberty to accumuTheir places were taken mainly by Irish, late, even though the liberty may somewith a few Germans and English ; but the times lead to the apparent waste of great Irish saved their earnings, and as the New fortunes. . England yeomen emigrated to the richer Finally, it must be held that our freedom lands of the great West, they passed out from the blood-tax of a standing army, and of the mills to buy up the deserted farms the fact that the proceeds of taxation are of the poorer north-eastern states, where on the whole usefully and productively exby their persistent industry and manual pended are among our greatest advantages, labor they achieve success and gain a posi- and this is asserted with confidence, nottion which satisfies them, but with which withstanding the misgovernment of some the native New Englander is no longer great cities and of several of the Southern contented. Their places in the mills are States. What are these failures but proofs now being more and more taken by the of the general confidence of the people in French Canadians, who in their new con- local self-government? Great frauds and ditions and surroundings show little of the great abuses can only happen wliere integstolid and unprogressive character which rity is the common rule; where each man have kept them so long contented on their distrusts his neighbor, or each town, city, little strips of land on the St. Lawrence or state distrusts the next, the opportunity River. In the very air they breathe they for fraud or breach of trust cannot occur. seem to imbibe a new and restless energy, The use of inconvertible paper-money durwhile the intelligence shown by their chil. ing late years has not been without its dren in the schools augurs well for their necessary malign result upon the character future progress. On the whole, the sim- of the people, and the newspapers are plicity of our system of land tenure, and filled with the fraud and corruption that the ease with which small parcels may be have come to light, but no newspaper has obtained, must be rated among the inost ever yet recorded one fact that offsets important factors in considering our possi. many frauds. In the great Boston fire ble advantage over other countries. one of the Boston banks' lost, not only
Next in our list comes the savings-bank. every book of account, but every security In 1875, out of the sixteen hundred and and note that was in its vaults, amounting fifty-two thousand inhabitants of Massa- to over twelve hundred and fifty thousand chusetts, seven hundred and twenty thou- dollars. On the morning after the fire its sand were depositors in savings-banks to officers had no evidence or record by the amount of two hundred and thirty- which any of the persons or corporators eight million dollars (£49,000,000). Dur- who owed it money could be held to their ing the late years of depression the deposit contracts, yet within a very short time duhas decreased somewhat in amount, but plicate notes were voluntarily brought in the decrease has been chiefly owing to by its debtors, many of whom knew not the withdrawal of money for other invest- whether they could ever pay them, because ment, especially in United States bonds. the fire had destroyed their own property, There have been some failures of banks and the ultimate loss of that bank from the and some losses, as might well have been burning of its books and securities was less expected, but they have been less than in than ten thousand dollars. any other branch of business, and the Our army is but a border police, and savings-bank system stands firmly based I although its officers are held in honor and esteem, military life is not a career that little patch that will not be needed for very many seek, and as time goes on it will these two crops. become less and less an occupation to be It will be obvious that even the least desired. Although officers of the army imaginative cannot but be moved by the bave several times been the candidates influences that liave been designated, and whom political parties have found it ex- that versatility, and readiness to adopt pedient to adopt for the highest executive every labor-saving device will not only be offices, army influence in legislation has promoted, but absolutely forced into action been very slight, and any attempt to in. when such vast areas are to be occupied, crease it is more a cause of jealousy and and when even the dullest boy is edususpicion than of favor. If the Indian cated in the belief that he also is to be question were not at once the shame of one of those who are to build up this naall our past administrations, and the prob- tion to the full measure of its high calling: lem most difficult of solution among all We may not dare to boast in view of all that are now pressing upon us, it is doubt. we have passed througlı, but we know ful if our army would consist of more than that slavery has been destroyed, and that its corps of trained officers with a few sol- the nation lives stronger, truer, and more diers to keep our useless old forts in repair. vigorous than ever before. We know that Thus we are spared not only the tax for it has been reserved for a democratic its support, but t'ie worse tax of the with republic to be the first among nations drawal of its members from useful and that, having issued government notes and productive pursuits. It is in this respect made them legal tender, has resumed payihat we claim our greatest advantage over ment in coin without repudiation or reducthe nations of Continental Europe. What tion of the promise. We know that we have we to fear from the competition of have paid a third of our great national Germany, if we really undertake to beat debt already, and that the rest is now her in the neutral markets which we can mainly held by our own citizens. We reach as readily as she can? For a little know that within the lives of men of midwhile the better instruction of her mer- dle age now living the nation will number chants in her technical and commercial one hundred millions, and that in whatschools may give her advantage, but that ever else we may be found anting can be overcome in a single generation, or cannot long be kept back in our career of as soon as the need is felt with us, as it is material prosperity, which shall be shared now beginning to be felt; after we shall with absolute certainty by every one who have supplied our present want of tech- brings to the work health, integrity, and nical education, the mere difference be-energy. tween the presence of her great army on If there is any force in this reasoning, ber soil and its necessary support, and the our competition with other manufacturing absence of such a tax on us, will constitute countries in supplying neutral markets the difference on which modern commerce with manufactured goods will not be comturns, when the traffic of the world turns passed by low rates of wages paid to our on half a cent a yard, a cent a bushel, or a factory operatives or to the working-people balípenny a pound on the great staples; engaged in our metal works and other no nation can long succeed in holding the occupations, but first by, obtaining and traffic that is handicapped with a standing keeping such an advanced position in the army. The protection of Germany from application and use of improved tools and our competition in Deutral markets may be machinery as shall make high wages conofiset in our yet more dangerous competi- sistent with a low cost of production; tion for men. The German already knows secondly, by our ability to obtain the raw Texas, and in the one block of sixty thou- materials at as low or lower cost. Every sand square miles of land by which the State employer knows that among employées of Texas exceeds the area of the German who are paid by the piece, it is the opempire, we offer room and healthy condi- erative that gains the largest earnings tions of life for millions of immigrants, whose production costs the least, because and on that single square of land if they under the control of such operatives the come in sufficient numbers they can raise machinery is most effectively guided dur. as much cotton as is now raised in the ing working-hours. As it is with single whole South, that is to say, five million operatives, so is it with large masses — if bales, and as much wheat as is now raised well instructed and working under the in the whole North, that is to say, four incentives to industry and frugality that huodred million bushels, and yet subsist have been named, their large product will themselves besides on what is left of this I earn for them ample wages, and yet re