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The Railway Conductor
PUBLISHED MONTHLY AND ENTERED AS SECOND CLASS MATTER AT THE POST OFFICE, CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA.
SUBSCRIPTION, $1.00 PER YEAR.
F. H. PEASE, EDITOR.
A. B. GARRETSON AND W. J. MAXWELL, Managers, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Address of Brother A. B. Garretson
At a Banquet of the National Civic Federation in New York City, Tuesday Evening,
December 15, 1908.
I wonder how many of you ever thought of whether or not membership in a labor organization unfits a man for the duties of citizenship. Men who have for years been connected with the labor movement were used to assertions of that kind being made in days gone by, but they are not often reasserted in these later times.
I noticed a statement some time since made before a government commission by a man who occupied a commanding place in the commercial world in the region where his residence and interests were held, which said: "Labor organizations are today the greatest menace to the government that exists inside or outside the pale of our national domain and their influence for disruption and disorganization of society is far more dangerous than would be the hostile array on our borders of the armies of the entire world combined." I believe that the average citizen would find that a rather difficult statement to subscribe to, especially after attending a conference of the Civic Federation and the events that follow it. The representatives of other interests are surely equally as guilty under a law based on such premises as is the average walking delegate under the Sherman Act for combining.
When you consider as to the truth or falsity of a statement of this character it is rather a good plan to make comparisons of that which has been and that which is. It has been written that the only way to judge the present and the future is by the
past, and it would be worth a man's careful study to know what tendencies have developed from organization among the individuals of the working class in days gone by. If you go back far enough you find out that the very essence of effort on the part of those men who endeavored to subvert the liberties of the body of the people lay in the hindering of the members of the community from coming into contact with each other whereby they could exchange mutual opinions or agree upon any combined action, because it was asserted on their behalf that such association and interchange of ideas stimulated self-respect and self-consciousness and that the results thereof would be inimical to the interests of those who had in view retaining within their own hands the agencies of government. Therefore, associations of the people were forbidden, banquets of trades and crafts prescribed, gatherings which were not attended by representatives of the tyrants, in themselves, constituted as serious an offense as two men agreeing what is to be the fare from here to Washington, which has been referred to by a former speaker, because, if not immoral, they were at least illegal if the interpretation placed upon the Sherman Act is correct. I don't believe it is. I am not posing as an unconvicted criminal.
Take the period of the domination of the Roman kings and you find that the collegia, supposed to have been combinations of tradesmen, were suppressed because they offered a means of intercommunication
among the people and, true to the precepts of the tyrant, Tarquin thus dealt with them, depriving the common people of any opportunity to conspire against his rule. Under Augustus, he who truly set aside the Roman republic and established the domination of the emperors, who did more to subvert the liberties of the Roman people than all who preceded or followed him, the edict went forth from Mæcenas, favorite minister of the emperor, that no oathbound organization should be allowed to exist wherever the Roman eagles marched. Under Charlemagne, who stood as one of the earliest representatives of universal dominion, membership in an oathbound organization was punishable by death, and during his reign more than 300 men were executed therefor, but instances multiply wherein men whose avowed object was to gather into their own control all the elements of power, studied to deprive men of the common class of the opportunity for an interchange of ideas which it was believed would lead to a community of purpose that would displace the wielder of despotic power and set up, instead, a government that should be, in greater or lesser degree, by, of and for the people. Therefore, it is by a man with an ulterior object in view, governmental, social or commercial, that the associations of working men are viewed with condemnation, and, by the law of opposites, if men who are actuated by improper motives, are so bitterly opposed to the existence of combinations among those, who, for one of the reasons named, they desire to exploit, this would stand as a reasonable proof that such associations do bring about results that are desirable to the great body, not only of those who toil but to those who direct their labor.
If you come down into the period of the Middle Ages, the time when might was nearer right than possibly at any other time in the history of the world of which we have an accurate record; when learning was eclipsed and the spirit of equality at its lowest ebb, what do we find? Where was the spirit of liberty maintained? Through the whole Frankish-Germanic region there sprang up the "Fehm Gericht,” or Fehmic courts, which, for scores of years remained the only barrier to the
rapacity of the robber barons and kept alive during the darkness of that period the principle that the humble man was heir to a portion at least of the fruits of toil and had at least the right to live and love.
In every country that is lauded today for its maintenance of the rights of man, the association of the humbler sort was either tolerated or encouraged. Every land that cradled the early races that are today dominated as the Anglo-Saxon, recognized in their system of polity the gatherings of the people for the purpose of expressing their will in regard to their own local self-government. The Folkmote of the early Saxon is a fair example of what contributed to the after developments of the characteristics that wrenched Magna Charta from the unwilling Norman king, and the continuation and development of that spirit is what has made the lion of St. George and the stars and stripes emblems of power and freedom wherever they are thrown to the breeze.
Many men have said that the guild was only the precursor of the union, but of this there is no real evidence, although the spirit that created the guild is the same that underlies and accounts for the existence of not only the trades union but of the democratic form of government. I suppose that few men have had more intimate knowledge of the men that compose labor unions than myself, and if I wanted to find men who were ready to sacrifice every interest for the upholding of the flag I would not go into other channels. The thing that makes the man the best citizen is the teaching of the average labor union of the present day.
How many men are there who do not wear upon their breast the emblem of a labor union, who ever have taken the trouble to determine what the actual teachings of a labor union are. The labor union takes a man when he is embarking on the sea of life, at a time when his views are unformed, when he is untrained, inefficient as a citizen, as well as a tradesman, whose whole energies heretofore have been concentrated on gaining a knowledge of the craft which he has chosen to pursue, which will render him fit to enter into the race for maintenance for himself and the family that he possesses or hopes to possess. In
NATIONAL CIVIC FEDERATION'S BANQUET
Bottom row, right to left-President-elect W. H. Taft, Alton B. Parker, A. B. Garretson, President of Order of Railway Conductors; Melville E.Ingalls, John Mitchell
connection with the development of his craftsmanship it is made apparent to him that his best interests would be served by associating himself with others likewise engaged. When he wakes to the fact that membership in a union representing that craft is a thing to be desired, and when such membership is perfected, what does he therein learn? By contact with his fellows he becomes cognizant of those things which he comes to believe are his inherent right. Dwelling upon these questions widens his mind until ideas before nonexistent come to him. He advances them among his fellows and, in an effort to defend them and to impress them upon his associates, his horizon is widened and his power to gain a hearing added to. He is taught that that which is to be done should be done by himself and that all responsibility should not be placed upon others. He likewise absorbs the knowledge that rights alone cannot be acquired but with them go duties and responsibilities. He schools himself, and his associates unconsciously with him, in the principles of government applied at first to the union, but he just as unconsciously applies his methods of thought and training to the duties of citizenship with which he is confronted outside of his union connections, and before it is realized he has been transformed from the unthinking, unlettered, unknowing unit into the thinking, reasoning citizen. It is true that in a majority of instances this evolution has weakened his party affiliations. He has shaken himself loose from the shackles of party domination, asks neither employer nor associates how he shall vote, but makes up his mind for himself, and when it is made, votes accordingly.
No other agency abroad in the land today exercises so potent an influence in the creation of good citizenship as these organizations, for the simple reason that our methods are upright and the number of men affected is greater than reached through any other channel. Strip the mind of prejudice and judge of this question as you would other matters of like import and see what conclusions would be reached.
Contrast the status of union labor with its status at the beginning of the period
which memory spans. Then membership in a labor union was a reproach. The unionist of that period stood in a similar estimation in the community in which he lived to that in which the suspected criminal does in the present day. He was believed to be one who advocated subversion of the principles of good government. The community regarded him with suspicion; the law, with condemnation; the courts, with an eye to punishment; and his employers with a certainty of dismissal. Today he has won his way regardless of the handicap then existing, until, in his community, he has the support and the sympathy of a large majority of those around him. From the law he has full recognition; from the courts, the right to be heard; from his employers, the respect that always comes to him who contends manfully for that which is reasonably conceded to be his right, and this has been brought to him, not from an outside influence or force, but by the effort of himself and his associates alone. These are all questions worthy the investigation of everyone who has an interest in the Civic Federation.
I am a believer in the Federation because I believe that its influence militates for good to the country at large. I believe that, regardless of membership in a labor union, I have as much devotion to the flag that flutters over us as has any other man whatever the position he occupies.
No man ever really knows what the flag means to him until he has passed from under its protection. Let him live and labor abroad and then he learns something of what the stars and stripes are emblematic. There was a time in my own career when I had an able-bodied belief that I was deficient in patriotism. I don't know whether I had lost it in transit or whether it had never been transmitted, but it was one of the things that I did not have on my inventory according to my own belief, but a sojourn of a year in a foreign country, when my eyes were never able to greet its heavenkissed colors, taught me something of what the flag meant to those who had died for its adoption or had lived maimed for its protection when imperiled. Let a man be deprived for a continued period of all those things which the banner represents, let him
realize by contrast that which is guaranteed to the man who dwells beneath its divine folds, then is when he knows the sensation which brings the unbidden tear to the eye and denies the ability to speak and then he will feel, as others have felt upon the re
Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln
turn to the land beneath it, that he could kneel and kiss the ground upon which its shadow falls, and instead of that feeling being lessened by years of membership and training in a labor union, I believe that it is intensified thereby.
WRITTEN FOR THE CONDUCTOR BY GEO. P. FLOYD.
Abraham Lincoln was not a type-he stands alone-no ancestors, no fellows, and no successors. He had the advantage of living in a new country of social equality, of personal freedom, of seeing in the horizon of his future the perpetual star of hope. He always preserved his individuality and his self-respect. Mr. Lincoln was a many-sided man, acquainted with smiles and tears, complex in brain, single in heart, direct as light; and his words, candid as mirrors, gave the perfect image of his thought. No man had keener wit or kinder humor. If you wish to know the difference between an orator and an elocutionist, between what is said and what is felt, between what the heart and brain can do together, and what the brain can do alone, just read Lincoln's wondrous words at Gettysburg, and then read the speech of the great orator, Edward Everett. The oration of Lincoln will never be forgotten. It will live until languages are dead and lips are dust. Nothing discloses real character like the use of power. If you wish to know what a man really is, give him power. That is the supreme test. It is the glory of Lincoln that having almost absolute power, he never abused it except upon the side of mercy.
Few men have had the opportunity to render services so important and beneficial to the country and humanity as Abraham Lincoln. But we question whether his career as President and Emancipator through the trying scenes of the great civil war, or even the tragic and touching incidents of his untimely death, would have excited and kept alive the affectionate and ever increasing interest in his character if that character had not been marked by
traits, some of them quaint, original and homely, that appealed to the common heart of mankind and revealed that touch of nature that makes the world kin. It has been truthfully said of him that he was a man whose heart lay close to the great popular heart and felt its beatings. He never for a moment lost the faculty of reading the mind of those whom he called the "plain people." In truth he was by birth, education, experience and sympathy, one of the plain people himself, and the traits that make him so uniquely interesting were simply the outgrowths of a mind original and vigorous, and a kindly heart developed by and taking shape from the modes of thought, the habits and manner of life of the people amid whom he had been brought up and lived. Had he been born in England or Massachusetts and educated in conventional fashion at Oxford or Harvard he would doubtless have been a man of mark and power, but he would not have been the Abraham Lincoln whom the people knew and loved.
To write recollections of Abraham Lincoln is a pleasant task. The greatest man, in some respects, that ever lived, and in all respects the most lovable. It was an honor to know him, and more than honor to be approved by him.
The first time I met Mr. Lincoln was at Springfield, Ill., February 7, 1856. I had leased the Quincy House at Quincy. The property was owned by a widow lady residing at Springfield. I had a letter of introduction to Mr. Lincoln from Mr. Orvil H. Browning, who was afterwards secretary of the interior under Mr. Lincoln. I employed Mr. Lincoln to execute the lease of the hotel. Mr. Lincoln's office was in a