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About The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923 | View Entire Issue (Sept. 8, 1905)
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SEPTEMBER, 8, 1005
DEMOCRATS GO TO WORK IN EARNEST
only and the balance of the democratic ticket
ran 50,000 short of them. Only for this Thinly
disguised "trading" the independents would have
carried all the "minority representation" offices.
But for this the traders would not be in power
for a day. Though there is little chance for
doing any good at the primaries, where the
"crowd" will use republicans and thugs to carry
them, if necessary I gladly sign the pledge ,to
help it along. With best wishes for the success
of the primary pledge plan and three cheers for
C. H. Carmichael, Madisonville, Tenn. En
closed. I am. forwarding eight signatures to the
primary pledge, also one subscription to The
Commoner. 1 am convinced that your plan is a
good one, and should receive the hearty support
of all true democrats. Success to The Commoner
and the cause for which it labors.
J, M. Bird, Pittsburg, Tex. Enclosed find
primary pledge properly signed.
Levi Clemmens, Ayr, Mich. Find enclosed
primary pledge and wishing you success in your
Frank Matthews, Mount Pleasant, Iowa Al
though 7G years of age and C7 years a resident
of Iowa, I sign the primary pleftgo with pleasure.
William Blain, Mason, 111. I am now nearly
72 years old and havo been a democrat all of
my life and have done all I could in the cause and
expect to continue the same.
P. V. Tutwiler, Rockingham, Va. Find pri
mary pledge filled out and sigued. 1 heartily en
dorse The Commoner.
John T. Washington, St. Louts, Mo. You will
please find within six (G) primary pledges. I
will send you more later. I am with you in your
great effort. I sincerely hope you will make a
strong fight to get control of the "next congress."
That is all we can hope for in the near future.
Joshua Craper, Oxford, Ala. May God bless
The Commoner and the entire management and
give the fullost success in bringing the govern
ment back to the safe mooring of the common'
and pntrlotlc people. Please iond mo the plodgex
and I will try and got signerH.
13. HIchardNon, Firth, Nobr. Find enclosed
ploriBo. Organization now mean huccohh In 1908.
The sJLIrring times or '90 and 1900 wore but the
uklrmlflbcB beforo tho groat battle of money
against principle. Money will How like water
and we may bo prepared to see men heretofore
high in the councils of the party and In the
confidence of their friends barter their honor
for slush funds or corporation opportunities with
salary attachments. Ono groat drawback has
been that the old ship has carried a cargo of
Jonahs for tho last twenty years, that would
havo sunk a weaker craft. A few have had the
grace to jump overboard and others should fol
low. There is room reserved in the republican
u halo's interior for Grovcr. There he is afo
and there his policy will bo appreciated.
PRACTICAL STUDY OF POVERTY
Mr. N. O. Nelson, a St. Louis philanthropist
has recently made a remarkable personal, sociol
ogical study and has described for the St. Louis
Post Dispatch, the results of his observations.
Mr. Nelson is a millionaire, who instead of intro
ducing a new kind of handshake at Newport, like
Mr James Hazen Hyde or inventing a new kind of
salary grab like Senator Depew, is studying social
conditions, with, the view of improving them. Mr.
Nelson's Investigations are interesting and in
structive, They show just how little one-half of
the people know about the lives of the other
half. In his' contribution to the Post Dispatch,
Mr.' Nelson says :
"West of Grand avenue, St. Louis is building
houses for small families costing from $50,000 to
$250,000. East of Eighteenth street' we have built
practically no living houses for 50 years, and not
many east of Jefferson avenue. In the district
between Wash street and Cass avenue and Col
lins street and Fifteenth street, most of the
houses now standing were built 50 to 60 years ago.
There was a heavy rush of immigration, and
these houses were built to shelter the multitude.
They are what are called "double-enders one
tenement fronting on the alley, another on the
street, with room enough between the two for
clotheslines. There were no building regulations
and practically no sanitary appliances.
"No improvements and very little repairs have
been put into the houses in all this time. They
are in all degrees of age and decreptitude. The
streets and alleys are neglected by the city, the
houses neglected by the landlords. It is
an abandoned district, publicly and socially.
The residents are working-class families, mostly
unskilled labor. They are mainly foreigners,
many of them of recent arrival, unfamiliar with
our laws and ways. They have no 'friends at
"Not long since an association of leading citi
zens and church members for promoting purity
in the city explained that their activities would
be west of Jefferson avenue, 'where .nearly all
the people live.' They thought only of the West
Enders. There are more people east of Jefferson
avenue than west of it. They are lost sight of
and ignored in the rush for mansions and modern
improvements on the boulevards and in the new
"No one means to be unjust or heartless to
the hard-working poor. The residents of the
West End are as kindly disposed as any other.
They aro simply ignorant and indifferent. They
do not know or think. Some know or think a
little, but feel that the problem is beyond repair.
Some say that people get the conditions they aro
lit for. Others say it is a retribution or the will
of the Lord. 'The poor ye have always with
you is made to mean a divine injunction that
bo it must be and ought to be.
"Very few West-Enders have ever been in the
congested districts whjre the poor .people live.
They avoid the car lines that pass through any
corner of these forlorn districts. Between Chou
teau avenue and Cass avenue, and between the
river and Eighteenth street, 115,000 people live.
In this district more than two-thirds of the relief
work is done. On my 'poverty map' the solid
spots are most prominent between Broadway and
Twelfth street, between Wash and O'Fallon. In
this region there is scarcely a bathroom, scarcely
any plumbing, very few alleys that are moder
ately clean, very few houses that are in good
repair, a large portion are occupied by a full-
sized family to ono room or two rooms.
"Existing city ordinances could, if enforced,
secure sanitary improvements and cleanliness. In
many cases reconstruction would be required, and
in some cases destruction. The expenditure of
a much smaller sum than was recently proposed
for making a boulevard of King's highway would
make parks and playgrounds in every locality.
A small part of the nioney expended in 10 years
on mansions in the West End would replace
thousands of these dilapidated houses with good
ones. A small part of the capital invested in
speculative undertakings away from the city
would be a safer investment if put into good, new
"A majority of the children of these local
ities have never been to a park. Many of them
have never been on a street car. They know
nothing of singing birds or fragrant flowers or
waving trees. Their playground is the muddy
street. Their spots of light are the kindergar-'
ten, the recently established playgrounds, occas
ional excursions to the suburbs or the country.
All of these are recent innovations and they aro
indexes of what can be done.
"Most of the livers in this district are indus
trious independent, and some of them quite com
fortable, but there are also many on the ragged
edge of poverty. These are the casual laborers,
the lowest paid factory workers, scrubwomen,
washerwomen, peddlers, widows with children.
The small income of these people is wasted by
the high prices they pay for everything. They
buy their coal by the basketful, they buy supplies
in the smallest quantities and at the' highest
prices; they go often to the pawnshop. Whoever
be the occupants of the houses in these sections,
the physical condition indoors and out is, as a
rule, entirely unfit.
"It is this and similar sections of the city that
should enlist the interest and energy of public
spirited citizens. The Civic Improvement league,
J.he churches, and, we might add, the Business
Men's league, shauld not complacently allow such
conditons to exist in our midst. It Is much more
important that these forlorn districts, occupied
by more than one hundred thousand of our peo
ple, should be put into reasonable condition, than
that we attain a population of a million or show an
abnormal increase in investments and business.
"The rents in the poor quarters are abnor
mally high, compared with the asking price for
the property. In the West End rents are usually
$ or 9 per cent gross on the cost price or the
full market price of the property. In the congest
ed districts the real estate lists all show a rental
rate of from 11 to ltf per cent on the asking
price of the property. Take out 4 per cent for
taxes, insurance, repairs, vacancies and collec
tion of charges and there still remains tho ab
normal interest rate of 7 to 11 per cent. If men
with some means and a disposition to help out
will buy some of this property, put It In good
repair and make some substantial improvements,
and then be satisfied with 5 per cent net returns,
they can give these greatly improved accommo
dations and still reduce the rent 25 per cent.
"In some cities in the Old World, notably
Naples, Birmingham and Glasgow, whole districts
of this character have been condemned and re
placed eUher by the cities or building companies,
with modern sanitary tenements. In Now York
many of the worst tenements havo been recon
structed or torn down and replaced by legal
process. Tho tenement house regulations and
rigid inspection are inuch further advanced In
most other large cites than in St. Louis.
"A Tenement House commission has recently
been formed in St. Louis, having in view the en
forcement of the existing ordinances and tho
enactment of such new ones as are found neces
sary. This commission should have the cordial
support of every official and every well-meaning
citizen. The Health department has powers, and
should exercise them. There is no more crying
evil than the neglected residence districts, and
nothing that is so destructive to life and health.
"The best way for anyone to study a subject
is by experiment. Merely investigating or read
ing or studying reports gives a very inadequate
understanding. We should do with the social
problem just what we do with problems in chem
istry or in physics go to the laboratory, know it
and feel it by being in it, doing it.
"I have lived in the section of which I speak.
This is very different from going slumming or
seeing the sights or hunting remarkable speci
mens. It is not a dangerous proceeding. The
rooms and kitchens are not scrupulously clean,
but don't strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.
Take a microsope and examine your Axminsters
and your upholstery. Turn it on the dust that
floats in the air in your room. Get a history of
tho Invalid occupants of your Pullman berth. Go
into a bakery or a dairy or a canning and preserve
factory. Analyze the adulterated foods.
"By living among the people on equal terms
you learn how they live, learn that they are sound
at heart, that they have as much sense, as much
good will, as much affection as any other class.
You learn that mankind is very much alike, that,
after all, the political declaration of 'equality,'
or the church declaration of 'brotherhood,' are
not necessarily Pickwickian. Having lived in the
squalid quarters, you will know what Is needed,
how it can be supplied, and you may get awak
ened to the grewsome realities.
"My Loclaire experience convinces me that
practically all people respond promptly to ira-w
proved facilities. Clean up a block, put the
houses in order, inspect, advise and in some things
and some cases enforce, and the people will do
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