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Title: Popular misgovernment in the United States
Author: Cruikshank, Alfred Byron
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                             UNITED STATES

                         POPULAR MISGOVERNMENT
                         IN THE UNITED STATES

                         ALFRED B. CRUIKSHANK


                        MOFFAT, YARD & COMPANY
                               NEW YORK

                          COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY
                        MOFFAT, YARD & COMPANY





SUFFRAGE                                                              28


EXERCISE IT                                                           40


ORDAINING FRANCHISE QUALIFICATIONS                                    50


ADVANCED DEMOCRACY                                                    59


FRENCH TERRORIST MACHINERY                                            78






MACHINE; RULE OF POLITICAL OLIGARCHY                                 109


THEIR BY-PRODUCT, THE LOBBY                                          135


MAKE PERMANENT THE RULE OF THE POLITICIANS                           158


BODIES                                                               174




OF MANHOOD SUFFRAGE EN THE UNITED STATES                             218


TO MANHOOD SUFFRAGE                                                  244


EXPERIMENT IN THE SOUTHERN STATES                                    253


LEGISLATION AND ADMINISTRATION                                       267


IN ITS FOREIGN RELATIONS                                             293




A LOWER TONE TO AMERICAN PUBLIC LIFE                                 315






CLASSES AS A PROTECTIVE WEAPON                                       341




LIBERTY                                                              354


GOOD STATESMANSHIP                                                   367




WOMAN SUFFRAGE IN THEORY                                             378


WOMAN SUFFRAGE IN PRACTICE                                           408


THE PRESENT MENACE OF BOLSHEVISM                                     421


THIS GOVERNMENT UPON A PROPERTY BASIS                                434


CONCLUSION                                                           439

BRIEF SKETCH OF WRITERS REFERRED TO                                  449




     _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 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

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 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 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 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.
     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

     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 conceded 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

     “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 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 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 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 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
administrative 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 difficulty; 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.

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 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

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 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 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 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 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
     reformers 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, 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 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 qualification 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

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 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

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 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 summarized
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 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.



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 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
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

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 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 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
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 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 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 consent 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 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 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, efficient 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.



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 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 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 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

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 unsophisticated 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 experiments, 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 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 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

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

“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

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, 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 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.



    _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 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 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
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 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;
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 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 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.

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.



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 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 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.

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.

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.

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 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 perceiving
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 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 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 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 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

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 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 society 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 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 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 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

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 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 collect 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
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.



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 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 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, 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.

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.



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 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 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 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 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



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 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 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 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,
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 operating 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 situation 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 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; 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 participation 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 public 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 excluded 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 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 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, 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 $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 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 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 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
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 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.



     _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
control 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 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,
property 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 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 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 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.

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 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
     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 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 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,

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 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

     “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 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

     “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 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 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 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 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 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

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 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

     “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 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 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 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.)

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:

     “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 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.



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
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

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 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 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 became 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 indiscretions. 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 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 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:

     “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 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.

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 political 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 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 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 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

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 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

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

     “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, contributions 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 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 building 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:

     “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 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”?



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, 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 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.

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
anyone 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.

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 citizens. 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, 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:

    1867 McCartin (Ind. Dem.)  4,494
         Train (Rep.)          2,583
         Morrissey (Dem.)     16,064

    1869 Taylor (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 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.

    1867 Leggatt (Rep.)          2,175
         Kerrigan (Ind. Dem.)    5,966
         Tweed (Dem.)           16,144

    1871 Rossa (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, 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 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 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 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
constant 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 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 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

     “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 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 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.



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

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

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
experience in France. It is in the very spirit of democracy, he says, to
favor incompetence in all public officials. (_Cult of Incompetence_,

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 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.

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 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.

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 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
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 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 maintain, 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 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.

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

     “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

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 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.

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 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

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 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 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.



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_,

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 European 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

“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 government 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 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 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 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

     “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 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

     “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
     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,

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 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 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 population           70.5 per cent.
    Increase in taxable valuation   156.9  “   “
    Increase in debt                270.9  “   “
    Increase in taxation            363.2  “   “

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 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

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 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

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 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


     “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 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
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 circumstance 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 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

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 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 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’

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 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. 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”

     “In the lower wards (of New York City), where there is a large
     vicious population, the condition of politics is often fairly
     appalling, 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,

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 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 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 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 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 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.



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 definite
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 misconduct and depravity
of a class and the corruption and disgrace of an entire political

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

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 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 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 Peckham 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

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.

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

    Paid by the State      $1,560,769.84
    Amount of Contracts       424,735.90

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.

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 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 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

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 $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 destroyed 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 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
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 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,

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 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.


_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

_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 Atlantic 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 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 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.’”

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 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 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 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

_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.

_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 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 represent 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.



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.

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 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 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 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 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 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 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

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. 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.



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,
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, 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 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 conservatives, 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. 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 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.”

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 $7,000.000 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 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 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, 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 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 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.



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.)

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

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 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:

     “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 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.

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, 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 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 don’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 upwards 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

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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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, 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 candidates 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:

     “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 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 are machine men and the needs of the machine are first and

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
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 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
     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 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.



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, 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
negotiations 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 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 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 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.

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,

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
     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,

     “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 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 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 American 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 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.



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 incompetent 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 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

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 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 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 mercantile 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 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

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 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

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 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 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.



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 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
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 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 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.



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 attached 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 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 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,

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 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,
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 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
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
Council 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 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 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 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 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 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



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 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 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 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 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 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 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

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.



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 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
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 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 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
industrious 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.



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 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 amateurs 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 function 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 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 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 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

“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.



     “_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 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 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 personal 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 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, 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 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 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.”

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 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 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 business 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 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

_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.



_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 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 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 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 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 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.



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 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

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 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

Besides the men of books without practical vision or judgment 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 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.



     _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 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 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 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 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 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

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.

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
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 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 performed 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

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 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 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 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, statesmanship, 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

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 expect 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, 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 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 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 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 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 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 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; 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 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 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. 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; 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 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

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.

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 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.



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
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

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 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 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 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

Also this:

     “We have practically (in Colorado) all the forms of graft and
     misgovernment found elsewhere. Woman’s suffrage seems to have 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 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
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 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 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 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 subsequently
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 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.



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 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 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.

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, 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

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
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 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 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 history 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
promulgated 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. 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 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

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 interested 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



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 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 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 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 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.



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 practically 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

_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 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 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 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 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 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 situations 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

_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

_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 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 formless 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

       *       *       *       *       *


     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 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

     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
     “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 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.”

     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

     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
     publicist; 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

     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.

     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.

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