A LETER FOR THE TIME
My Dear Confrère:
I am happy to see you always so burning with energy, but your next book prepares for you some rude combats. It requires a bold courage to dare, when one is alone, to attack the monster, the new Minotaur, to which the entire world renders tribute: the Press.
I return to Paris in a few weeks. Reaction there holds the center of the walk. It speaks already as master, and perhaps it will be master before the end of the winter. The wave of counter-revolution, of counter-liberty, passes over the world. It will drown more than one among us, but it will retire, and our ideas will conquer.
Very cordially I press your hand.
The social body to which we belong is at this moment passing through one of the greatest crises of its history, a colossal process which may best he likened to a birth. We have each of us a share in this process, we are to a greater or less extent responsible for its course. To make our judgments, we must have reports from other parts of the social body; we must know what our fellow men in all classes of society, in all parts of the world, are suffering, planning, doing. There arise emergencies which require swift decisions, under penalty of frightful waste and suffering. What if the nerves upon which we depend for knowledge of this social body should give us false reports of its condition?
The first half of this book tells a personal story: the story of one man's experiences with American journalism. This personal feature is not pleasant, but it is unavoidable. If I were taking the witness-chair in a court of justice, the jury would not ask for my general sentiments and philosophic opinions; they would not ask what other people had told me, or what was common report; the thing they would wish to know--the only thing they would be allowed to know--is what I had personally seen and experienced. So now, taking the witness-stand in the case of the American public versus Journalism, I tell what I have personally seen and experienced. I take the oath of a witness: the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God. After this pledge, earnestly given and earnestly meant, the reader must either believe me, or he must exclude me from the company of civilized men.
My motive in writing this book is not to defend myself. We live in a time of such concentrated agony and peril that a man who would waste ink and paper on a defense of his own personality would be contemptible. What I tell you is "Look! Here is American Journalism! Here is what it did to one man, systematically, persistently, deliberately, for a period of twenty years. Here are names, places, dates--such a mass of material as you cannot doubt, you cannot evade. Here is the whole thing, inside and out. Here are your sacred names, the very highest of your gods. When you have read this story, you will know our Journalism; you will know the body and soul of it, you will know it in such a way that you will not have to be told what it is doing to the movement for industrial freedom and self-government all over the world."
In the second half of the book you will hear a host of other witnesses--several score of them, the wisest and truest and best people of our country. They are in every part of our country, in every class and every field of public life; and when you have heard their experiences, told for the most part in their own words, you must grant my claim concerning this book--that it is a book of facts. There are no mistakes in it, no guesses, no surmises; there are no lapses of memory, no inaccuracies. There are only facts. You must understand that I have had this book in mind for twenty years. For twelve years I have been deliberately collecting the documents and preserving the records, and I have these before me as I write. In a few cases of personal experiences I have relied upon my memory; but that memory is vivid, because the incidents were painful, they were seared into my soul, and now, as I recall them, I see the faces of the people. I hear their very tones. Where there is any doubt or vagueness in my recollection, or where there is hearsay testimony, I state the fact explicitly; otherwise, I wish the reader to understand that the incidents happened as I say they happened, and that upon the truth of every statement in this book I pledge my honor as a man and my reputation as a writer.
One final word: In this book I have cast behind me the proprieties usually held sacred; I have spared no one, I have narrated shameful things. I have done this, not because I have any pleasure in scandal; I have not such pleasure, being by nature impersonal. I do not hate one living being. The people I have lashed in this book are to me not individuals, but social forces; I have exposed them, not because they lied about me, but because a new age of fraternity is trying to be born, and they, who ought to be assisting the birth, are strangling the child in the womb.
Once upon a time there was a little boy; a nice little boy, whom you would have liked if you had known him at least, his mother says. He had been brought up in the traditions of the old South, to which the two most important things in world were good cooking and good manners. He obeyed his mother and father, and ate his peas with a fork, and never buttered the whole slice of his bread. On Sunday mornings he carefully shined his shoes and brushed his clothes at the window, and got into a pair of tight kid gloves and under a tight little brown derby hat, and walked with his parents to a church on Fifth Avenue. On week-days he studied hard and obeyed his teachers, and in every field of thought and activity he believed what was told him by those in authority. He learned the catechism and thought it was the direct word of God. When he fell sick and the doctor came, he put himself in the doctor's hands with a sense of perfect trust and content; the doctor knew what to do, and would do it, and the little boy would get well.
The boy's grandfather had been a Confederate naval officer, drowned at sea. The boy's father had spent his youth in Virginia during the agonies of the Civil War, thus missing most of his education. After the war the family was ruined, and the father had to enter into competition with Yankee "hustle," handicapped by a Southern gentleman's quaint notions of dignity, and also by a Southern gentleman's weakness for mint-juleps. So the last week's board bill was generally a matter of anxiety to the family. But always, no matter how poor the family might be, the little boy had a clean white collar, and a copy of the "New York Sun" every morning. This paper was beautifully printed, smooth and neat; the little boy knew all its peculiarities of type, and he and his father and his mother accepted every word they read in it, both the news-columns and the editorial page, precisely as they accepted the doctor's pills and the clergyman's sermons, the Bible and the multiplication table and Marian Harland's cookbook.
The "New York Sun" was edited by one of the bitterest cynics that ever lived in America. He had been something of a radical in his early days, and had turned like a fierce wolf upon his young ideals. He had one fixed opinion, which was that everything new in the world should be mocked at and denounced. He had a diabolical wit, and had taught a tradition to his staff, and had infected a good part of American Journalism with the poison of his militant cynicism. Once every twenty-four hours the little boy absorbed this poison, he took it for truth, and made all his ideas of it.
For example, there were women who were trying to be different from what women had always been. There was a thing called "Sorosis." The boy never knew what "Sorosis" was; from the "Sun" he gathered that it was a collection of women who wanted to have brains, and to take part in public affairs--whereas the "Sun" acidly considered that woman's place was the home. And the boy found it easy to agree with this. Did not the boy's grandmother make the best ginger-cakes of any grandmother in the whole city of Baltimore? Did not his mother make the best chocolate-cake and the best "hot short-cake"--that is, whenever the family could escape from boarding-houses and have a little kitchen of its own. The boy was enormously fond of chocolate-cake and short-cake, and of course he didn't want women neglecting their duties for fool things such as "Sorosis."
Also there were the Populists. The little boy had never seen a Populist, he had never been given an opportunity to read a Populist platform, but he knew all about the Populists from the funny editorials of Charles A. Dana. The Populists were long-haired and wild-eyed animals whose habitat was the corn-fields of Kansas. The boy knew the names of a lot of them, or rather the nick-names which Dana gave them; he had a whole portrait-gallery of them in his mind. Once upon a time the "Sun" gave some statistics from Kansas, suggesting that the Populists were going insane; so the little boy took his pen in hand and wrote a letter to the editor of the "Sun," gravely rebuking him. He had never expected to read in the columns of the "Sun" a suggestion that Populists might go insane. And the "Sun" published this feeble product of its own "smartness."
Later on the boy discovered the "New York Evening Post," the beau ideal of a gentleman's newspaper, and this became for years his main source of culture. "The Evening Post" was edited by E. L. Godkin, a scholar and a lover of righteousness, but narrow, and with an abusive tongue. From him the boy learned that American politics were rotten, and he learned the cause of the rottenness: First, there was an ignorant mob, composed mainly of foreigners; and second, there were venal politicians who pandered to this mob. Efforts were continually being made by gentlemen of decency and culture to take the government away from these venal politicians, but the mob was too ignorant, and could not be persuaded to support a clean government. Yet the fight must be kept up, because conditions were going from bad to worse. The boy witnessed several "reform campaigns," conducted mainly by the "Evening Post" and other newspapers. These campaigns consisted in the publication of full-page exposures of civic rottenness, with denunciations of the politicians in office. The boy believed every word of the exposures, and it never occurred to him that the newspapers might be selling more copies by means of them; still less did it occur to him that anybody might be finding in these excitements a means of diverting the mind of the public from larger and more respectable forms of "graft."
There was a candidate for district attorney, William Travers Jerome by name; a man with a typical "Evening Post" mind, making an ideal "Evening Post" candidate. He conducted a "whirlwind" campaign, speaking at half a dozen meetings every evening, and stirring his audience to frenzy by his accounts of the corruption of the city's police-force. Men would stand up and shout with indignation, women would faint or weep. The boy would sit with his finger-nails dug into the palms of his hands, while the orator tore away the veils from subjects which were generally kept hidden from little boys.
The orator described the system of prostitution, which was paying its millions every year to the police of the city. He pictured a room in which women displayed their persons, and men walked up and down and inspected them, selecting one as they would select an animal at a fair. The man paid his three dollars, or his five dollars, to a cashier at the window, and received a brass check; then he went upstairs, and paid this check to the woman upon receipt of her favors. And suddenly the orator put his hand into his pocket and drew forth the bit of metal. "Behold!" he cried. "The price of a woman's shame!"
To the lad in the audience this BRASS CHECK was the symbol of the most monstrous wickedness in the world. Night after night he would attend these meetings, and next day he would read about them in the papers. He was a student at college, living in a lodging-house room on four dollars a week, which he earned himself; yet he pitched in to help this orator's campaign, and raised something over a hundred dollars, and took it to the "Evening Post" candidate at his club, interrupting him at dinner, and no doubt putting a strain on his patience. The candidate was swept into office in a tornado of excitement, and did what all "Evening Post" candidates did and always do--that is, nothing. For four long years the lad waited, in bewilderment and disgust, ending in rage. So he learned the grim lesson that there is more than one kind of parasite feeding on human weakness, there is more than one kind of prostitution which may be symbolized by the BRASS CHECK.
The boy, now become a youth, obtained a letter of introduction from his clergyman to the editor of his beloved "Evening Post," and at the age of sixteen was given a trial as reporter. He worked for a week collecting odd scraps of news, and when the week was over he had earned the generous sum of two dollars and sixty-seven cents. This was his first and last experience as newspaper reporter, and it confirmed his boyish impression of the integrity of the journalistic profession. His work had consisted of compiling obituary notices about leading citizens who had died. "John T. McGurk, senior partner of McGurk and Isaacson commission-merchants of 679 Desbrosses Street, died yesterday of cirrhosis of the liver at his home, 4321 George Washington Avenue, Hoboken. Mr. McGurk was 69 years of age, and leaves a widow and eleven children. He was a member of the Elks, and president of the North Hoboken Bowling Association." And these facts the "Evening Post" printed exactly as he had written them. In a book which will not have much to say in favor of American Journalism, let this fidelity to truth, and to the memory of the blameless McGurk, have its due need of praise.
The youth took to writing jokes and jingles, at which he earned twice as much as the "Evening Post" had paid him. Later on he took to writing dime-novels, at which he made truly fabulous sums. He found it puzzling that this cheap and silly writing should be the kind that brought the money. The editors told him it was because the public wanted that kind; but the youth wondered--might not at least part of the blame lie with the editors, who never tried giving anything better? It was the old problem--which comes first, the hen or the egg?
We have spoken jestingly of the traditions of the old South, in which the youth was brought up; but the reader should not get a false impression of them--in many ways they were excellent traditions. For one thing, they taught the youth to despise a lie; also to hate injustice, so that wherever in his life he encountered it, his whole being became a blaze of excitement. Always he was striving in his mind to discover the source of lies and injustice--why should there be so much of them in the world? The newspapers revealed the existence of them, but never seemed to know the causes of them, nor what to do about them, further than to support a reform candidate who did nothing but get elected. This futility in the face of the world's misery and corruption was maddening to the youth.
He had rich relatives who were fond of him, so that he was free to escape from poverty into luxury; he had the opportunity to rise quickly in the world, if he would go into business, and devote his attention thereto. But would he find in business the ideals which he craved? He talked with business men, also he got the flavor of business from the advertisements in the newspapers--and he knew that this was not what he was seeking. He cultivated the friendship of Jesus, Hamlet and Shelley, and fell in love with the young Milton and the young Goethe; in them he found his own craving for truth and beauty. Here, through the medium of art, life might he ennobled, and lifted from the muck of graft and greed.
So the youth ran away and buried himself in a hut in the wilds of Canada, and wrote what he thought was the great American novel. It was a painfully crude performance, but it had a new moral impulse in it, and the youth really believed that it was to convert the world to ways of love and justice. He took it to the publishers, and one after another they rejected it. They admitted that it had merit, but it would not sell. Incredible as it seemed to the youth, the test by which the publishers judged an embryo book and its right to be born, was not whether it had vision and beauty and a new moral impulse; they judged it as the newspapers judged what they published--would it sell? The youth earned some money and published the book himself, and wrote a preface to tell the world what a wonderful book it was, and how the cruel publishers had rejected it. This preface, together with the book, he sent to the leading newspapers; and thus began the second stage of his journalistic experiences.
Two newspapers paid attention to his communication--the "New York Times," a respectable paper, and the "New York American," a "yellow" paper. The "American" sent a woman reporter, an agreeable and friendly young lady, to whom the author poured out his soul. She asked for his picture, saying that this would enable her to get much more space for the story; so the author gave his picture. She asked for his wife's picture; but here the author was obdurate. He had old-fashioned Southern notions about "newspaper notoriety" for ladies; he did not want his wife's picture in the papers. There stood a little picture of his wife on the table where the interview took place, and after the reporter had left, it was noticed that this picture was missing. Next day the picture was published in the "New York American," and has been published in the "New York American" every year or two since. The author, meantime, has divorced his first wife and married a second wife--a fact of which the newspapers are fully aware; yet they publish this picture of the first wife indifferently as a picture of the first wife and of the second wife. When one of these ladies says or does a certain thing, the other lady may open her paper in the morning and receive a shock!
Both the "New York Times" and the "New York American" published interviews with the young author. It had been his fond hope to interest people in his book and to cause them to read his book, but in this he failed; what both the interviews told about was his personality. The editors had been amused by the naïve assumption of a young poet that he might have something of importance to say to the world; they had made a "human interest" story out of it, a journalistic tidbit to tickle the appetites of the jaded and worldly-wise. They said scarcely anything about the contents of the book, and as a result of the two interviews, the hungry young author sold precisely two copies!
Meantime he was existing by hack-work, and exploring the world in which ideas are bought and sold. He was having jokes and plots of stories stolen; he was having agreements broken and promises repudiated; he was trying to write worth-while material, and being told that it would not sell; he was trying to become a book-reviewer, and finding that the only way to succeed was to be a cheat. The editor of the "Independent" or the "Literary Digest" would give him half a dozen books to read, and he would read them, and write an honest review, saying that there was very little merit in any of them: whereupon, the editor would decide that it was not worth while to review the books, and the author would get nothing for his work. If, on the other hand, he wrote an article about a book, taking it seriously, and describing it as vital and important, the editor would conclude that the book was worth reviewing, and would publish the review, and pay the author three or four dollars for it.
This, you understand, was the "literary world," in which ideas, the most priceless possession of mankind, were made the subject of barter and sale. In every branch of it there were such petty dishonesties, such tricks of the trade. There were always ten times as many people trying to get a living as the trade would support. They were clutching at chances, elbowing each other out of the way and their efforts were not rewarded according to their love of truth and beauty, but according to quite other factors. They were dressing themselves up and using the "social game," they were posing and pretending, the women were using the sex-lure. And everywhere, when they pretended to care about literature and ideas, they were really caring about money, and "success" because it would bring money. Everywhere, above all things else, they hated and feared the very idea of genius, which put them to shame, and threatened with annihilation their petty gains and securities.
From these things the youth fled into the wilderness again, living in a tent with his young wife, and writing a story in which he poured out his contempt upon the great Metropolis of Mammon. This was "Prince Hagen," and he sent it to the "Atlantic Monthly," and there came a letter from the editor, Professor Bliss Perry, saying that it was a work of merit and that he would publish it. So for weeks the young author walked on the top of the clouds. But then came another letter, saying that the other members of the "Atlantic" staff had read the story, and that Professor Perry had been unable to persuade them to see it as he saw it. "We have," said he, "a very conservative, fastidious and sophisticated constituency."
The young author went back to his "pot-boiling." He spent another winter in New York, wrestling with disillusionments and humiliations, and then, fleeing to the wilderness for a third summer, he put his experience into "The Journal of Arthur Stirling," the story of a young poet who is driven to suicide by neglect and despair. The book was given to the world as a genuine document and relieved the tedium of a literary season. Its genuineness was accepted almost everywhere, and the author sat behind the scenes, feeling quite devilish. When the secret came out, some critics were cross, and one or two of them have not forgiven the writer. The "New York Evening Post" is accustomed to mention the matter every once in a while, declaring that the person who played that trick can never receive anyone's confidence. I will not waste space discussing this question, save to point out that the newspaper reviewers had set the rules of the game--that love and beauty in art were heeded only in connection with personalities and sensation; so, in order to project love and beauty upon the world, the young author had provided the personalities and sensations. As for the "Evening Post" and its self-righteousness, before I finish this book I shall tell of things done by that organ of Wall Street which qualify decidedly its right to sit in judgment upon questions of honor.
My next effort was "Manassas," a novel of the Civil war. I poured into it all my dream of what America might be, and inscribed it: "That the men of this land may know the heritage that has come down to them." But the men of this land were not in any way interested in the heritage that had come down to them. The men of this land were making money. The newspapers of this land were competing for advertisements of whiskey and cigars and soap, and the men who wrote book reviews for the literary pages of these newspapers were chuckling over such works of commercial depravity as "The Letters of a Self-Made Merchant to His Son." They had no time to tell the public about "Manassas"; though Jack London called it "the best Civil War book I've read," and though it is my one book which no severest critic can say has any propaganda motive. Charlotte Perkins Gilman told me a story of how she persuaded an old Civil War veteran to read it. The old fellow didn't want to read any book about the war by a youngster; he had been through it all himself, and no youngster could tell him anything. But Mrs. Gilman persisted, and when she met him again she found him with shining eyes and a look of wonder on his face. "It's the War," he cried. "It's the War--and he wasn't even born!"
It happened that at this time Lincoln Steffens was publishing his terrible exposes of the corruption of American civic life. Steffens did for the American people one specific service. He knocked out forever the notion, of which E. L. Godkin and his "New York Evening Post" were the principal exponents, that our political corruption was to be blamed upon "the ignorant foreign element." Steffen showed that purely American communities, such as Rhode Island, were the most corrupt of all; and he traced back the corruption, showing that for every man who took a bribe there was another man who gave one, and that the giver of the bribe made from ten to a thousand times as much as he paid. In other words, American political corruption was the buying up of legislatures and assemblies to keep them from doing the people's will and protecting the people's interests; it was the exploiter entrenching himself in power, it was financial autocracy undermining and destroying political democracy.
Steffens did not go so far as that in the early days. He just laid bare the phenomena, and then stopped. You searched in vain through the articles which he published in "McClure's" for any answer to the question: What is to be done about it? So I wrote what I called "An Open Letter to Lincoln Steffens." I cannot find it now, but I recall the essence of it well enough.
Mr. Steffens, you go from city to city and from state to state, and you show us these great corporations buying public privileges and capitalizing them for tens and hundreds of millions of dollars, and unloading the securities upon the general investing public. You show this enormous mass of capital piling up, increasing at compound interest, demanding its toll of dividends, which we, the people who do the hard work of the world, who produce the real wealth of the world, must continue forever to pay. I ask you to tell us, what are we to do about this? Shall we go on forever paying tribute upon this mass of bribery and fraud? Can we go on paying it forever, even if we want to? And if not, what then? What will happen when we refuse to pay?"
I sent this letter to Steffens, to see what he thought about it. He replied that it was the best criticism of his work that he had seen, and he tried to persuade "McClure's" to publish it, but in vain. I forget whether it was he or I who sent it to "Collier's Weekly"; but anyway, the article was read and accepted, and Robert J. Collier, the publisher, wrote and asked me to come to see him.
Picture me at this moment, a young writer of twenty-five who has been pleading with the American public to remember its high traditions, and has seen his plea fall flat, because the newspapers and magazines overlooked him; also--a painful detail, but important--who has been supporting a wife and baby on thirty dollars a month, and has been paid only five hundred dollars for two years work on a novel. A friend who knows the literary world tells me that this is the chance of my life. "Collier's" is run "on a personal basis," it appears; a sort of family affair. "If Robbie likes you, your fortune is made," says my friend. "This is your 'open sesame' to the public mind."
Well, I go to see Robbie, and it appears that Robbie likes me. I am young and ascetic-looking; the tension under which I have worked has given me dyspepsia, so my cheeks are hollow and my skin is white and my eyes have a hectic shine. Robbie, no doubt, is moved to sympathy by these phenomena; he himself is a picture of health, florid and jolly, a polo-player, what is called a "good fellow." He asks me, will I come to dinner at his home and meet some of his friends and his editorial staff? I answer that of course I will.
My worldly-wise friend insists that I shall invest my spare savings in a dress-suit, but I do not take this advice. I go to Robbie's palatial home in my old clothes, and Robbie's velvet-footed butler escorts me upstairs to Robbie's dressing room, where Robbie's valet is laying out his things on the bed.
And while Robbie is dressing, he tells me again how much he admires my article, it is the most illuminating discussion of present-day problems that he has ever read. He and his friends don't meet many Socialists, naturally, so I am to tell them about Socialism. I am to tell them everything, and needn't be afraid. I answer, quite simply, that I shall not be in the least afraid.
The evening was spoiled because Robbie's father came in. Old Peter Collier was a well-known character in New York "society"; but as not all my readers have been intimate in these circles, I explain that he had begun life as a pack-peddler, had started "Collier's Weekly" as an advertisement sheet, and by agents offering books as premiums had built up a tremendous circulation. Now he was rich and important; vulgar, ignorant as a child, but kind-hearted, jovial--one of those nice, fatherly old fellows who put their arms about you, no matter who you are.
And here he had come in to dinner with his son, and found his son entertaining a Socialist. "What? What's this?" he cried. It was like a scene in a comedy. He would hear one sentence of what I had to say, and then he would go up in the air. "Why--why--that's perfectly outrageous! Who ever heard of such a thing?" he would sputter for five or ten minutes, to the vast amusement of the rest of the guests.
Presently he heard about the "Open Letter to Lincoln Steffens." "What's this? You are going to publish an article like that in my magazine? No, sir! I won't have it! It's preposterous!" And there sat Robbie, who was supposed to be the publisher; there sat Norman Hapgood, who was supposed to be the editor--and listened to Old Peter lay down the law. Norman Hapgood has since stated that he does not remember this episode, that he never knew Peter Collier to interfere with the policy of the magazine. Well, the reader may believe that the incident was not one that I would forget in a hurry. Not if I should live to be as old as Methuselah will I forget my emotions, when, after the dinner, the old gentleman got me off in a corner and put his arm around my shoulders. "You are a nice boy, and I can see that you've got brains, you know what you're talking about. But what you ought to do is to put these ideas of yours into a book. Why do you try to get them into my magazine, and scare away my half million subscribers?"
I went home that evening feeling more sick at heart than I like to remember. And sure enough, my worst fears were justified. Week after week passed, and my Open Letter to Lincoln Steffens did not appear in the columns of "Collier's Weekly." I wrote and protested, and was met with evasions; a long time afterwards, I forget how long, "Collier's" graciously condescended to give me back the article, without asking the return of the two hundred dollars they had paid me. The article was rejected by many other capitalist magazines, and was finally published in some Socialist paper, I forget which.
Such is the picture of a magazine "run on a personal basis." See what it means to you, the reader, who depend upon such a magazine for the thoughts you think. Here is Lincoln Steffens, taking his place as America's leading authority on the subject of political graft; and here am I, making what Steffens declares is the best criticism of his work. It is accepted and paid for, and a date is set to give it to you, the reader; but an ignorant and childish old pack-peddler steps in, and with one wave of his hand sweeps it out of your sight. Sixteen years have passed, and only now you hear about it--and most of you don't hear about it even now! But here is a vital point to get clear. The old pack-peddler wiped out my discussion of the question, but he did not wipe out the question. To-day the question is cried aloud from the throats of a hundred and eighty million people in Russia, and the clamor of it spreads all over Europe, a deafening roar which drowns out the eloquence of statesmen and diplomats.
It is the question of the hour in America, and America must find the answer under penalty of civil war. Sixteen years ago the answer was given to Robert Collier, and if he had had the courage to stand out against his father, if Norman Hapgood had been what he pretended to be, an editor, they would have taken up the truth which I put before them, they would have conducted a campaign to make the American people see it--and to-day we should not be trying to solve the social problem by putting the leaders of the people's protest into jail.
There was a strike of the wage-slaves of the Beef Trust in Chicago, and I wrote for the "Appeal to Reason," a broadside addressed to these strikers, trying to point out to them the truth which Peter Collier had concealed from his precious half million subscribers. This broadside was taken up by the Socialists of the Stockyards district, and thirty thousand copies were distributed among the defeated strikers. The "Appeal to Reason" offered me five hundred dollars to live on while I wrote a novel dealing with the life of those wage-slaves of the Beef Trust; so I went to Packingtown, and lived for seven weeks among the workers, and came home again and wrote "The Jungle."
Now so far the things that had been done to me by the world of American Journalism had been of a mocking nature. I had been a sort of "guy"; a young poet--very young--who believed that he had "genius," and kept making a noise about it. So I was pigeon-holed with long-haired violinists from abroad, and painters with fancy-colored vests, and woman suffragists with short hair, and religious prophets in purple robes. All such things are lumped together by newspapers, which are good-naturedly tolerant of their fellow fakers. The public likes to be amused, and "genius" is one of the things that amuse it: such is the attitude of a world which understands that money is the one thing in life really worth while, the making of money the one object of grown-up and serious-minded men.
But from now on you will see that there enters into my story a new note. The element of horse-play goes out, and something grim takes its place. And what is the reason for this change? Was there any change in me? Did I suddenly become dissipated, dishonest, self-seeking? No, there was no change in me; I was the same person, living the same life. But I ceased to oppose social wickedness with the fragile weapon of poetry, with visions and inspirations and consecrations; instead, I took a sharp sword of contemporary fact, and thrust it into the vitals of one of those monstrous parasites which are sucking the life-blood of the American people. That was the difference; and if from now on you find in this story a note of fierce revolt, please understand that you are listening to a man who for fourteen years had been in a battle, and has seen his cause suffering daily wounds from a cruel and treacherous foe.
My first experience, it happened, was with "Collier's Weekly." But it was not a dinner-party experience this time, there was no element of friendliness or sociability in it.
"The Jungle" was appearing serially, and was causing a tremendous lot of discussion; it occurred to me that it might be possible to persuade "Collier's" to take up the matter, so I wrote an article, telling quite simply some of the things that were going on in the packing-houses of Chicago. I had been there, and had seen--and not as a blundering amateur, as the packers charged. It happened that I had met in Chicago an Englishman, Mr. Adolph Smith, the world's greatest authority on packing-houses. He had studied methods of meat-packing all over Great Britain, and all over the continent of Europe, for the "London Lancet," the leading medical paper of Great Britain. He had come, as authorized representative of the "Lancet," to investigate conditions in America. I had his backing in what I wrote; I also had the backing of various State and Federal authorities; I had the text of the Federal meat-inspection law, which had been written by the packers to enable them to sell diseased meat with impunity.
I took all these facts to Norman Hapgood and Robert Collier. I offered them the opportunity to reap the fame and profit which I subsequently reaped from the book-publication of "The Jungle," and incidentally to do a great public service. They were interested, but not convinced, and they employed a United States army-officer, Major Louis L. Seaman, who went out to Chicago and accepted the hospitality of the packers, and reported that all my charges were exaggerated, and most of them entirely false. And Collier and Hapgood accepted Major Seaman's word against my word and the authorities I offered.
That was all right; I had no complaint against that; they used their editorial judgment. My complaint was of the way they handled the story. In their preliminary announcement (April 15, 1905) they said:
Some very brilliant articles have been sent us about the unhygienic methods of the Beef Trust. In order not to run any risk of wronging that organization we engaged Major Seaman to go to Chicago, and his first report will appear next week.
So, you see, they were going to give an illustration of editorial fairness, of scrupulous regard for exact truth; and having thus prepared their readers, on April 22, 1905, they presented their material--a long article by Major Seaman, praising the Chicago Stockyards, and pretending to refute all my charges. At the same time they published only three paragraphs of my charges--the great bulk of my articles they left unpublished! They gave their readers a few paragraphs from the "London Lancet," but so far as concerned me, the readers got only the answers of Major Seaman, and an introductory editorial condemnation of me, explaining that I had submitted my articles to the editors, and they, "desirous of securing the unexaggerated facts," had sent Major Seaman to Chicago, and now gave his findings.
And this not being enough, they added a discussion of the matter on their editorial page. This editorial they headed, "Sensationalism", and they subtly phrased it to give the impression that the paragraphs they were publishing constituted all I had to say: "Mr. Sinclair's article, published alone, would have produced much more of a sensation than it will produce as mitigated by the report of Major Seaman . . . . Having some doubt, however, about the real facts, we induced Major Seaman to make the trip to Chicago. This incident will serve as an example of the policy mapped out for the conduct of this paper."
How dignified and impressive! And how utterly and unspeakably knavish! And when I wrote to them and protested, they evaded. When I demanded that they publish my entire article, they refused. When I demanded that they publish my letter of protest, they refused that. And this was done by Norman Hapgood, who posed as a liberal, a lover of justice; a man who spent his editorial time balancing like a tight-rope walker on the narrow thread of truth, occupying himself like a medieval schoolman with finding the precise mathematical or metaphysical dead centre between the contending forces of conservatism and radicalism. A friend of mine talked with him about his treatment of me and reported him as saying, with a smile: "We backed the wrong horse." The truth was, he had backed the horse of gold, the horse that came to his office loaded down with full-page advertisements of packinghouse products.
"Collier's" calls itself "The National Weekly," and has obtained a reputation as a liberal organ, upon the strength of several useful campaigns. It attacked spiritualist fakers and land-fraud grafters; also it attacked dishonest medical advertising. It could do this, having arrived at the stage of security where it counts upon full-page advertisements of automobiles and packing-house products. But when it was a question of attacking packing-house advertisements--then what a difference!
Robert J. Collier was a gentleman and a "good fellow"; but he was a child of his world, and his world was a rotten one, a "second generation" of idle rich spendthrifts. The running of his magazine "on a personal basis" amounted to this: a young writer would catch the public fancy, and Robbie would send for him, as he sent for me; if he proved to be a possible person--that is, if he came to dinner in a dress-suit, and didn't discuss the socialization of "Collier's Weekly"--Robbie would take him up and introduce him to his "set," and the young writer would have a perpetual market for his stories at a thousand dollars per story; he would be invited to country-house parties, he would motor and play golf and polo, and flirt with elegant young society ladies, and spend his afternoons loafing in the Hoffman House bar. I could name not one but a dozen young writers and illustrators to whom I have seen that happen. In the beginning they wrote about America, in the end they wrote about the "smart set" of Fifth Avenue and Long Island. In their personal life they became tipplers and cafe celebrities; in their intellectual life they became bitter cynics; into their writings you saw creeping year by year the subtle poison of sexual excess--until at last they became too far gone for "Collier's" to tolerate any longer, and went over to the "Cosmopolitan," which takes them no matter how far gone they are.
And now young Collier is dead, and the magazine to which for a time he gave his generous spirit has become an instrument of reaction pure and simple. It opposed and ridiculed President Wilson's peace policies; it called the world to war against the working-class of Russia; it is now calling for repression of all social protest in America; in short, it is an American capitalist magazine. As I write, word comes that it has been taken over by the Crowell Publishing Company, publishers of the "Woman's Home Companion," "Farm and Fireside," and the "American Magazine." I shall have something to the point to say about this group of publications very soon.
P. S.-A well known journalist writes me that he feels I do an injustice to Norman Hapgood in telling the above story, and in failing to give credit to Hapgood for other fine things he has done. The writer brings facts, and I am always ready to give place to the man with facts. I quote his letter:
"Do you know the circumstances of Hapgood's break with Collier? Hapgood was the highest paid editor of any periodical in the country. The business side was encroaching on the editorial--demanding that advertising be not jeopardized, and with it the commissions that were its part. Collier, as you know, for years had mixed his whiskey with chorus girls, and needed all the property could milk to supply his erratic needs. So the business office had his ear. And Hapgood left--and made his leaving effective. He took Harper's and gave the country some of the most important exposes it had. Do you know the story of the Powder Trust treason? I wrote it. It was drawn from official records, and could not be contradicted, that the Powder Trust had once made a contract with a German military powder firm--in the days when military smokeless powder was the goal of every government--to keep it informed as to the quantity, quality, etc., of the smokeless powder it furnished to our government. And this was in the days when we were in the lead in that department. The Powder Trust jumped Hapgood hard. He could have had anything he wanted by making a simple disavowal of me, any loophole they would have accepted--and do you have any doubt that he could have named his own terms? He declined point blank, and threw the challenge to the heaviest and most important client his weekly could have had. That he guessed wrong and `backed the wrong horse' in the `Jungle' may be true. But isn't it fair to assume, in the light of his final challenge to the Collier advertising autocracy, that he was meeting problems inside as best he could-and that he could not tell you at the time of all the factors involved in the Collier handling of the stockyards story?"
"The Jungle" had been accepted in advance by the Macmillan Company. Mr. Brett, president of the company, read the manuscript, and asked me to cut out some of the more shocking and bloody details, assuring me that he could sell ten times as many copies of the book if I would do this. So here again I had to choose between my financial interest and my duty. I took the proposition to Lincoln Steffens, who said: "The things you tell are unbelievable. I have a rule in my own work--I don't tell things that are unbelievable, even when they are true."
Nevertheless, I was unwilling to make the changes. I offered the book to four other publishers, whose names I do not now remember; then I began preparations to publish it myself. I wrote to Jack London, who came to my help with his usual impetuous generosity, writing a resounding call to the Socialists of the country, which was published in the "Appeal to Reason." The result was that in a couple of months I took in four thousand dollars. The Socialists had been reading the story in the "Appeal," and were thoroughly aroused.
I had the book set up and the plates made, when some one suggested Doubleday, Page and Company, so I showed the work to them. Walter H. Page sent for me. Page was a dear old man, the best among business-men I have met. There were several hustling young money-makers in his firm, who saw a fortune in "The Jungle," and desperately wanted to publish it. But Page was anxious; he must be sure that every word was true. We had a luncheon conference, and I was cross-questioned on every point. A week or two passed, and I was summoned again, and Herbert S. Houston of the firm explained that he had a friend, James Keeley, editor of the "Chicago Tribune," to whom he had taken the liberty of submitting my book. Here was a letter from Keeley--I read the letter--saying that he had sent his best reporter, a trusted man, to make a thorough report upon "The Jungle." And here was the report, thirty-two typewritten pages, taking up every statement about conditions in the yards, and denying one after another.
I read the report, and recall one amusing detail. On page one hundred and sixteen of "The Jungle" is a description of the old packing-houses, their walls covered with grease and soaked with warm moist steam. "In these rooms the germs of tuberculosis might live for two years." The comment upon this statement was: "Unproven theory." So it was necessary for me to consult the text-books on bacteriology, and demonstrate to Doubleday, Page and Company that unicellular parasitic organisms are sometimes endowed with immortality.
I said: "This is not an honest report. The thing you have to do, if you really wish to know, is to send an investigator of your own, somebody in whom you have confidence." They decided this must be done, and picked a young lawyer, McKee by name, and sent him to Chicago. He spent some time there, and when he came back his verdict was that I had told the truth. I went to dinner at McKee's home and spent the evening hearing his story--incidentally getting one of the shocks of my life.
McKee had done what I had urged him not to do: he had gone first to the packers, to see what they had officially to show him. They had placed him in charge of a man--I do not recall the name, but we will say Jones--their publicity agent, a former newspaper man, who served as host and entertainer to inquiring visitors. He had taken McKee in charge and shown him around, and in the course of their conversation McKee mentioned that he was looking into the charges made in a novel called "The Jungle." "Oh, yes!" said Jones. "I know that book. I read it from beginning to end. I prepared a thirty-two page report on it for Keeley of the 'Tribune'."
So here was a little glimpse behind the curtain of the newspaper world of Chicago! James Keeley was, and still is the beau ideal of American newspaper men; I have never met him, but I have read articles about him, the kind of "write-ups" which the capitalist system gives to its heroes. He had begun life as a poor boy and risen from the ranks by sheer ability and force of character---you know the "dope." Now he was one of the high gods of newspaperdom; and when it was a question of protecting the great predatory interest which subsidizes all the newspapers of Chicago and holds the government of the city in the hollow of its hand, this high god sent to Armour and Company and had a report prepared by their publicity-agent, and sent this report to a friend in New York as the result of a confidential investigation by a trusted reporter of the "Chicago Tribune" staff!
And maybe you think this must be an unusual incident; you think that capitalist journalism would not often dare to play a trick like that! I happen to be reading "Socialism versus the State," by Emile Vandervelde, Belgian Minister of State, and come upon this paragraph:
It will be remembered, for example, that the "London Times" published, a few years ago, a series of unsigned articles, emanating, it was said from an impartial observer, against the municipal lighting systems in England. These articles made the tour of Europe. They furnish, even today, arguments for the opponents of municipalization. Now, a short time after their publication, it was learned that the "impartial observer" was the general manager of one of the big electric light and power companies of London.
Doubleday, Page and Company published "The Jungle," and it became the best-selling book, not only in America, but also in Great Britain and its colonies, and was translated into seventeen languages. It became also the subject of a terrific political controversy.
The packers, fighting for their profits, brought all their batteries to bear. To begin with, there appeared in the "Saturday Evening Post" a series of articles signed by J. Ogden Armour, but written, I was informed, by Forrest Crissey, one of the staff of the "Post." The editor of this paper, George Horace Lorimer, was for nine years an employee of the Armours; he is author of "The Letters of a Self-Made Merchant to His Son," a text-book of American business depravity. From first to last his paper was at the service of the packers, as it has always been at the service of every great financial interest.
Some of the statements made under Armour's signature made me boil, and I sat down to write an answer, "The Condemned Meat Industry." I had the facts at my fingers ends, and wrote the article in a few hours, and jumped on the train and came up to New York with it. I took it to the office of "Everybody's Magazine" and asked to see E. J. Ridgway, the publisher. I was wise enough by this time to understand that it is the publisher, not the editor, you need to see. I read the article to Ridgway, and he stopped the presses on which "Everybody's Magazine" was being printed, and took out a short story and shoved in "The Condemned Meat Industry."
"Everybody's Magazine" at this time was on the crest of a wave of popularity. It had finished Tom Lawson's expose of Wall Street, upon the strength of which it had built up a circulation of half a million. Its publishers, Ridgway and Thaver, were advertising men who had bought a broken-down magazine from John Wanamaker, and had made the discovery that there was a fortune to be made by the simple process of letting the people have the truth. They wanted to go on making fortunes, and so they welcomed my article. It gave the affidavits of men whom the Armours had employed to take condemned meat out of the destructors and sell it in Chicago. It told the story of how the Armours had bribed these men to retract their confessions. It gave the reports of State health authorities, who showed how the Armours had pleaded guilty to adulterating foods. It was a mass of such facts fused in a white heat of indignation. United States Senator Beveridge told me that he considered the article the greatest piece of controversial writing he had ever read.
You may find it in the library, "Everybody's" for May, 1906. Whatever you think of its literary style, you will see that it is definite and specific, and revealed a most frightful condition in the country's meat supply, an unquestionable danger to the public health. It was therefore a challenge to every public service agency in the country; above all, it was a challenge to the newspapers, through which the social body is supposed to learn of its dangers and its needs.
It was my first complete test of American Journalism. Hitherto I had tried the newspapers as a young poet, clamoring for recognition; they had called me a self-seeker, and although I felt that the charge was untrue, I was powerless to disprove it to others. But now I tried them in a matter that was obviously in the public interest--too obviously so for dispute. I was still naive enough to be shocked by the result. I had expected that every newspaper which boasted of public spirit would take up these charges, and at least report them; but instead of that, there was silence--silence almost complete! I employed two clipping-bureaus on this story, and received a few brief items from scattered papers here and there. Of all the newspapers in America, not one in two hundred went so far as to mention "The Condemned Meat Industry."
Meantime "The Jungle" had been published in book form. I will say of "The Jungle" just what I said of the magazine article--whatever you may think of it as literature, you must admit that it was packed with facts which constituted an appeal to the American conscience. The book was sent to all American newspapers; also it was widely advertised, it was boosted by one of the most efficient publicity men in the country. And what were the results? I will give a few illustrations.
The most widely read newspaper editor in America is Arthur Brisbane. Brisbane poses as a liberal, sometimes even as a radical; he told me that he drank in Socialism with his mother's milk. And Brisbane now took me up, just as Robbie Collier had done; he invited me to his home, and wrote one of his famous two-column editorials about "The Jungle"--a rare compliment to a young author. This editorial treated me personally with kindness; I was a sensitive young poet who had visited the stockyards for the first time and had been horrified by the discovery that animals had blood inside them. With a fatherly pat on the shoulder, Brisbane informed me that a slaughter-house is not an opera-house, or words to that effect.
I remember talking about this editorial with Adolph Smith, representative of the "London Lancet." He remarked with dry sarcasm that in a court of justice Brisbane would be entirely safe; his statement that a slaughter-house is not an opera-house was strictly and literally accurate. But if you took what the statement was meant to convey to the reader--that a slaughter-house is necessarily filthy, then the statement was false. "If you go to the municipal slaughter-houses of Germany, you find them as free from odor as an opera-house," said Adolph Smith; and five or six years later, when I visited Germany, I took the opportunity to verify this statement. But because of the kindness of American editorial writers to the interests which contribute full-page advertisements to newspapers, the American people still have their meat prepared in filth.
Or take the "Outlook." The "Outlook" poses as a liberal publication; its editor preaches what he calls "Industrial Democracy," a very funny joke. I have dealt with this organ of the "Clerical Camouflage" in five sections of "The Profits of Religion"; I will not repeat here, except to quote how the pious "Outlook" dealt with "The Jungle." The "Outlook" had no doubt that there were genuine evils in the packing-plants; the conditions of the workers ought of course to be improved, BUT--
To disgust the reader by dragging him through every conceivable horror, physical and moral, to depict with lurid excitement and with offensive minuteness the life in jail and brothel--all this is to over reach the object .... Even things actually terrible may become distorted when a writer screams them out in a sensational way and in a high pitched key . . . . More convincing if it were less hysterical.
Also Elbert Hubbard rushed to the rescue of his best advertising clients. Later in this book you will find a chapter dealing especially with the seer of East Aurora; for the present I will merely quote his comments on my packing-house revelations. His attack upon "The Jungle" was reprinted by the Chicago packers, and mailed out to the extent of a million copies; every clergyman and every physician in the country received one. I have a copy of his article, as it was sent out by a newspaper syndicate in the form of "plate-matter." It occupies four newspaper columns, with these head-lines
ELBERT HUBBARD LASHES THE MUCK-RAKER CROWD.
After which it will suffice to quote one paragraph, as follows:
Can it be possible that any one is deceived by this insane rant and drivel?
And also the friend of my boyhood, my beloved "New York Evening Post"! This organ of arm-chair respectability--I have reference to the large leather receptacles which you find in the Fifth Avenue clubs--had upbraided me for a harmless prank, "The Journal of Arthur Stirling." Now comes "The Jungle"; and the "Evening Post" devotes a column to the book. It is "lurid, overdrawn . . . . If the author had been a man who cared more for exact truth," etc. Whereupon I sit myself down and write a polite letter to the editor of the "Evening Post," asking will he please tell me upon what he bases this injurious charge. I have made patient investigations in the stockyards, and the publishers of "The Jungle" have done the same. Will the "Evening Post" state what investigations it has made? Or does it make this injurious charge against my book without investigation, trusting that its readers will accept its word, and that it will never be brought to book?
This is a fair question, is it not? The organs of armchair respectability ought not to make loose charges against radicals, they ought not condemn without knowledge. So I appeal to my beloved "Evening Post," which I have read six times per week for ten or twelve years; and the answer comes: It is not our custom to permit authors to reply to book-reviews, and we see no reason for departing from our practice in order to permit you to advertise your book and to insult us." And so the matter rests, until a couple of months later, the President of the United States makes an investigation, and his commission issues a report which vindicates every charge I have made. And now what? Does the "Evening Post" apologize to me? Does it make clear to its readers that it has erred in its sneers at "The Jungle"? The "Evening Post" says not one word; but it still continues to tell the public that I am unworthy of confidence, because I once played a harmless joke with "The Journal of Arthur Stirling"!
I was determined to get something done about the Condemned Meat Industry. I was determined to get something done about the atrocious conditions under which men, women and children were working in the Chicago stockyards. In my efforts to get something done, I was like an animal in a cage. The bars of this cage were newspapers, which stood between me and the public; and inside the cage I roamed up and down, testing one bar after another, and finding them impossible to break. I wrote letters to newspaper editors; I appealed to public men, I engaged an extra secretary and ran a regular publicity bureau in my home.
It happened that I had occasion to consult the record of the congressional investigations held after the Spanish-American War, into the quality of canned meat furnished by the Chicago packers. Here was Theodore Roosevelt on the witness-stand, declaring: "I would as soon have eaten my old hat." And now Theodore Roosevelt was president of the United States, with power to help me if he would! In a moment of inspiration I decided to appeal to him.
He had already heard about "The Jungle," as I learned later; his secretary, Loeb, told me that he had been receiving a hundred letters a day about the book. Roosevelt now wrote, saying that he had requested the Department of Agriculture to make an investigation. I replied that nothing could be expected from such an investigation, because the Department of Agriculture was itself involved in my charges. If he wanted to get the truth, he must do what Doubleday, Page and Company had done, get an independent report. He wrote me to come to Washington, and I had several conferences with him, and he appointed two of his trusted friends to go out to Chicago and make a "secret" investigation. Three days after this decision was made I forwarded a letter to Roosevelt from a working-man in the Chicago stockyards, saying that it was known all over the yards that an investigation was to be made by the government, and that a mad campaign of cleaning up was in progress.
Roosevelt asked me to go with his commission. I was too busy to do this, but I sent Mrs. Ella Reeve Bloor, a Socialist lecturer, and her husband as my representatives, paying the cost out of my own pocket. I knew that they would be trusted by the workers who had trusted me, and thought they might be able to get at least a few of the facts to Roosevelt's commission. As a matter of fact, they were not able to do very much, because they were shadowed during the entire time by detectives of the packers, and every workingman knew that it would cost him his job to be seen near the commission's rooms. I found the Socialists of Chicago bitterly distrustful of the commission, and disposed to ridicule me for trying to work with it.
The news of what was going on soon leaked into the newspapers of Chicago. They had already published vicious attacks upon "The Jungle"; and upon me. One paper--I forget the name--had remarked that it was quite evident that I knew more about the inside of the brothels of Chicago than I knew about the stockyards. This, you understand, in a book-review! I replied to this that possibly the editor might be interested to know the exact facts in the case: I had spent seven weeks patiently investigating every corner of the stockyards, and I have never been inside a brothel in my life.
Now there began to be dispatches from Washington, so phrased as to turn the investigation against me instead of against the packers. Finally there appeared in the "Tribune" a column or two from Washington, signed by Raymond Patterson, editor of the paper. This dispatch stated in specific and precise detail that President Roosevelt was conducting a confidential investigation into the truth of "The Jungle," intending to issue a denunciation and annihilate a muck-raking author. On the day when this story appeared in the "Chicago Tribune," I received seventeen telegrams from friends in Chicago!
One of the telegrams--from A. M. Simons--declared that the author of the "Tribune" dispatch was Roosevelt's personal friend. So, of course, I was considerably disturbed, and spent the day trying to get Roosevelt on the telephone from Princeton, not an easy achievement. First he was at a cabinet session, then he was at luncheon, then he had gone horseback riding; but finally, after spending my day, in the telephone-office in Princeton, I heard his voice, and this is what he said: "Mr. Sinclair, I have been in public life longer than you, and I will give you this bit of advice; if you pay any attention to what the newspapers say about you, you will have an unhappy time." So I went home to bed. The next time I saw Roosevelt he told me that he had not seen Raymond Patterson, nor had he said anything about his intentions to anyone. "I don't see how Patterson could have done such a thing," was Roosevelt's comment.
The commissioners came back to Washington, and I went down to see them. They were amazingly frank; they told me everything they had seen, and everything that was in their report to the President, nor did they place any seal of confidence upon me. I realized that I was dealing with people who desired publicity, and I had sufficient worldly tact to know that it would be better not to mention this point, but simply to go ahead and do what all parties concerned wanted done.
The report was known to be in the President's hands, and he had summoned the chairmen of the agricultural committees of the House and Senate, and was holding the report as a threat over their heads to force them to amend the Federal meat inspection law. The newspaper reporters all knew what was going on, and were crazy for news. I returned to my little farm at Princeton, and packed up a suit-case full of documents, letters, affidavits and official reports, and came to New York and called up the offices of the Associated Press.
Here was a sensation, not only nation-wide, but international; here was the whole world clamoring for news about one particular matter of supreme public importance. There had been an investigation by the President of the United States of one of America's greatest industries, and I had been tacitly commissioned to make the results known to the public, for the benefit of the public, whose physical health was at stake. I came to the great press association, an organization representing at that time some seven hundred newspapers, with scores of millions of readers, hungry for news. The Associated Press was the established channel through which the news was supposed to flow; and in this crisis the channel proved to be a concrete wall.
I was about to describe the thickness of the wall, but I stop myself, remembering my pledge to tell the exact facts. I do not know the thickness of this wall, because I have never been able to dig through it. I only know that it is as thick as all the millions of dollars of all the vested interests of America can build it. I first telephoned, and then sent a letter by special messenger to the proper officials of the Associated Press, but they would have absolutely nothing to do with me or my news. Not only on that day, but throughout my entire campaign against the Beef Trust, they never sent out a single line injurious to the interests of the packers, save for a few lines dealing with the Congressional hearings, which they could not entirely suppress.
It is the thesis of this book that American newspapers as a whole represent private interests and not public interests. But there will be occasions upon which exception to this rule is made; for in order to be of any use at all, the newspapers must have circulation, and to get circulation they must pretend to care about the public. There is keen competition among them, and once in a while it will happen that a "scoop" is too valuable to be thrown away. Newspapermen are human, and cannot be blamed by their owners if now and then they yield to the temptation to publish the news. So I had found it with "Everybody's Magazine," and so now I found it when I went with my suit-case full of documents to the office of the "New York Times."
I arrived about ten o'clock at night, having wasted the day waiting upon the Associated Press. I was received by C. V. Van Anda, managing editor of the "Times"--and never before or since have I met such a welcome in a newspaper office. I told them I had the entire substance of the confidential report of Roosevelt's investigating committee, and they gave me a private room and two expert stenographers, and I talked for a few minutes to one stenographer, and then for a few minutes to the other stenographer, and so the story was dashed off in about an hour. Knowing the "Times" as I have since come to know it, I have often wondered if they would have published this story if they had had twenty-four hours to think, and to be interviewed by representatives of the packers. But they didn't have twenty-four hours, they only had two hours. They were caught in a whirlwind of excitement, and at one o'clock in the morning my story was on the press, occupying a part of the front page and practically all of the second page.
The question had been raised as to how the story should be authenticated. The "Times" met the problem by putting the story under a Washington "date-line"--that is, they told their readers that one of their clever correspondents in the capital had achieved this "scoop." Being new to the newspaper game, I was surprised at this, but I have since observed that it is a regular trick of newspapers. When the Socialist revolution took place in Germany, I happened to be in Pasadena, and the "Los Angeles Examiner" called me up to ask what I knew about the personalities in the new government. So next morning the "Examiner" had a full description of Ebert and a detailed dispatch from Copenhagen!
The "New York Times," having put its hand to the plough, went a long way down the furrow. For several days they published my material. I gave them the address of the Bloors, and they sent a reporter to Delaware to interview them, and get the inside story of the commission's experiences in Chicago; this also went on the front page. All these stories the "Times" sold to scores of newspapers all over the country--newspapers which should have received them through the Associated Press, had the Associated Press been a news channel instead of a concrete wall. The "Times," of course, made a fortune out of these sales; yet it never paid me a dollar for what I gave it, nor did it occur to me to expect a dollar. I only mention this element to show how under the profit-system even the work of reform, the service of humanity, is exploited. I have done things like this, not once but hundreds of times in my life; yet I read continually in the newspapers the charge that I am in the business of muck-raking for money. I have read such insinuations even in the "New York Times"!
Also I had another experience which threw light on the attitude of the great metropolitan newspapers to the subject of money. It is the custom of publishers to sell to newspaper syndicates what are called the "post-publication serial rights" of a book. "The Jungle" having become an international sensation, there was keen bidding for these serial rights, and they were finally sold to the "New York American" for two thousand dollars, of which the author received half. Forthwith the editorial writers of both the Hearst papers in New York, the "American" and the "Evening Journal," began to sing the praises of "The Jungle." You will recall the patronizing tone in which Arthur Brisbane had spoken of my charges against the Chicago packers. But now suddenly Brisbane lost all his distrust of my competence as an authority on stockyards. In the "Evening Journal" for May 29, 1906, there appeared a double-column editorial, running over into another double column, celebrating "The Jungle" and myself in emphatic capitals, and urging the American people to read my all-important revelations of the infamies of the Beef Trust.
In his book--which ought to be read by at least a million Americans--Mr. Sinclair traces the career of one family. It is a book that does for modern INDUSTRIAL slavery what "Uncle Tom's Cabin" did for black slavery. But the work is done far better and more accurately in "The Jungle' than in "Uncle Tom's Cabin."
Mr. Sinclair lived in the stockyards. He saw how the men that work there are treated, how the people that buy dreadful, diseased products are treated. HE TOLD THE TRUTH SIMPLY AND CONVINCINGLY. He went there to study life, not merely to tell a story.
As a result of the writing of this book, of the horror and the shame it has aroused, there is a good prospect that the Beef Trust devilries will be CHECKED at least, and one hideous phase of modern life at least modified. . . . .
Meanwhile, the public should be thankful to Mr. Sinclair for the public service he is rendering, and his book "The Jungle" should sell as no book has sold in America since "Uncle Tom's Cabin."
And then on May 31st, two days later, appeared another editorial of the same character, conveying to the readers of the "Evening Journal" the fact that they might read this wonderful novel in the Hearst newspapers; the first chapter would be published in both the "Evening Journal" and the "American," and after that the complete story would run in the "American." The ordinary capitals used by Mr. Brisbane in his editorials were not sufficient in this crisis; he used a couple of sizes larger--almost an advertising poster. I quote the closing paragraphs from his editorial:
It will please our readers to know that for the right to publish Mr. Sinclair's book serially in our newspapers--which includes no interest whatever in its publication in book form--we pay to him an amount of money exceeding all that he has been able to earn in six years of hard literary work.
This newspaper, which has opposed the Beef Trust and its iniquities for years, and which first published the facts and the affidavits that form part of Mr. Sinclair's indictment, rejoices that this young man should have had the will, the courage and the ability to write a work that HAS FORCED NATIONAL ATTENTION, including the attention of the President of the United States......
We urge that you read the first installment of Mr. Sinclair's book in this newspaper to-day, and that you continue reading it daily as the various installments appear in THE AMERICAN.
Roosevelt had hoped to get the new inspection bill through Congress without giving out the report of his commission. But the packers and their employes in Congress blocked his bill, and so finally the report was given out, and caused a perfect whirlwind of public indignation. The packers, fighting for their profits, made their stand in the Agricultural Committees of the House, which apparently they owned completely. Courteous hearings were granted to every kind of retainer of the Beef Trust, while the two representatives of the President were badgered on the witness-stand as if they had been criminals on trial. I sent a telegram to Congressman Wadsworth of New York, chairman of the committee, asking for a hearing, and my request was refused. I then wrote a letter to Congressman Wadsworth, in which I told him what I thought of him and his committee--which letter was taken up later by his democratic opponents in his district, and resulted in his permanent removal from public life.
But meantime, Wadsworth was king. In the fight against him, I moved my publicity bureau up to New York, and put three stenographers at work. I worked twenty hours a day myself--nor was I always able to sleep the other four hours. I had broken out of the cage for a few weeks, and I made the most of my opportunity. I wrote articles, and sent telegrams, and twice every day, morning and evening, a roomful of reporters came to see me. Some of these men became my friends, and would tell me what the packers were doing in the New York newspaper-offices, and also with their lobby in Washington. I recall one amusing experience, which gave me a glimpse behind the scenes of two rival yellow journals, the "New York Evening World" and the "New York Evening Journal."
The "Evening Journal" sent a reporter to see me. Would I write an article every day, telling what I knew about conditions among working-girls in New York? I signed a contract with the "Journal" for a month or two, and that same evening all the wagons which delivered papers for the "Journal" were out with huge signs over them: "Upton Sinclair will write, etc., etc." Then next day came my friend William Dinwiddie, representing the "Evening World." Would I write a series of articles for the "Evening World"? Certainly I would, I said, and signed a contract for a number of articles at five cents a word; so all the wagons of the "World" appeared with the announcement that I would tell in the "World" what I knew about conditions in the packing-houses of New York. And the editorial writers of the "Evening World," who had hitherto ignored my existence, now suddenly discovered that I was a great man. They put my picture at the top of their editorial page, celebrating me in this fashion:
A BOOK THAT MADE HISTORY
Not since Byron awoke one morning to find himself famous has there been such an example of world-wide celebrity won in a day by a book as has come to Upton Sinclair.
Yesterday unknown, the author of "The Jungle" is to-day a familiar name on two continents. Paris, London and Berlin know him only less well than New York and Boston. They know about him even in far-off Australia.
Forthwith came the man from the "Journal," all but tearing his hair with excitement. What unspeakable treachery was this I had committed? Was it true that I had promised to write for the "World," as well as for the "Journal"? I answered that it was, of course. "But," said this man, "you gave me an exclusive contract." "I gave you nothing of the sort," I said, and pulled out the contract to prove it. "But," said he, "you promised me personally that it would be an exclusive contract." "I promised you nothing of the sort," I said. "I never thought of such a thing." But he argued and insisted--I must have known, my common-sense must have told me that my stories for them were of no value, if at the same time I was writing for their deadly rival. I was rather shocked at that statement. Were they entirely interested in a "scoop," and not at all in the working girls of New York? "To hell with the working girls of New York!" said the Hearst reporter; whereat, of course, I was still more shocked.
For three days this man from the "Journal" and other men from the "Journal" kept bombarding and besieging me; and I, poor devil, suffered agonies of embarrassment and distress, being sensitive, and not able to realize that this was an every-day matter to them--they were a pack of jackals trying to tear a carcase away from another pack of jackals. But when I stood by my contract with the "Evening World," the "Journal" dropped its contract, and lost its interest, not merely in the working-girls of New York, but also in the sins of the Chicago packers.
The lobbyists of the packers had their way in Washington; the meat inspection bill was deprived of all its sharpest teeth, and in that form Roosevelt accepted it and prepared to let the subject drop. I was bitterly disappointed, the more so because he had made no move about the matter which lay nearest my heart. I had made a remark about "The Jungle" which was found amusing--that "I aimed at the public's heart and by accident I hit it in the stomach." It is a fact that I had not been nearly so interested in the "condemned meat industry" as in something else. To me the diseased meat graft had been only one of a hundred varieties of graft which I saw in that inferno of exploitation. My main concern had been for the fate of the workers, and I realized with bitterness that I had been made into a "celebrity," not because the public cared anything about the sufferings of these workers, but simply because the public did not want to eat tubercular beef.
I had objected to Roosevelt that he was giving all his attention to the subject of meat-inspection, and none to the subject of labor-inspection. His answer was that he had power to remedy the former evils, but no power to remedy the latter. I tried to persuade him to agitate the question and obtain the power; but I tried in vain. "The Jungle" caused the whitewashing of some packing-house walls, and it furnished jobs for a dozen or two lady-manicurists, but it left the wageslaves in those huge brick packing-boxes exactly where they were before. Ten years later the war broke out, and as these wage-slaves became restive, an investigation was made. Here are a few paragraphs describing the adventures of the Federal investigators:
The first four homes brought expressions of horror from the women of the party, dark, insanitary, pest-ridden rooms and foodless kitchens.
Mrs. Belbine Skupin. Working in the yards. The six Skupin children in their home at 4819 Laflin Street, hugging the stove and waiting for "mother to return." "I didn't think such things existed outside the books," said one indignant young lady visitor, Miss Walsh.
In one home, seven children found. Youngest, a baby of fourteen months; oldest, a boy of eight years. Baby "mothered" by girl of four. Father and mother work in stock-yards. Children had no shoes or stockings and flimsy underwear. No food in house except pot of weak coffee, loaf of rye bread and kettle containing mess of cabbage. But in the basement was a 'conservation' card, bearing the motto "Don't waste food."
I look back upon this campaign, to which I gave three years of brain and soul-sweat, and ask what I really accomplished. Old Nelson Morris died of a broken conscience. I took a millions away from him, and from the Armours and Swifts--giving them to the Junkers of East Prussia, and Paris bankers who were backing enterprises to pack meat in Argentine. I added a hundred thousand readers to "Everybody's Magazine," and a considerable number to the "New York Times." I made a fortune and a reputation for Doubleday, Page and Company, which immediately became one the most conservative publishing-houses in America--using "The Jungle" money to promote the educational works of Andrew Carnegie, and the autobiography of John D. Rockefeller, and the obscene ravings of the Reverend Thomas Dix and the sociological bunkum of Gerald Stanley Lee. I took my next novel to Doubleday, Page and Company, and Walter Page was enthusiastic for it, and wanted to publish but the shrewd young business-men saw that "The Metropolis was not going to be popular with the big trust companies and insurance companies which fill up the advertising pages of "World's Work." They told me that "The Metropolis" was not a novel, but a piece of propaganda; it was not "art." I looked them in the eye and said: "You are announcing a novel by Thomas Dixon. Is that 'art'?"
Quite recently I tried them again with "King Coal," and they did not deny that "King Coal" was "art." But they said: "We think you had better find some publisher who is animated by a great faith." It is a phrase which I shall remember long as I live; a perfect phrase, which any comment would spoil. I bought up the plates of "The Jungle," which Doubleday, Page and Company had allowed to go out of print--not being "animated by a great faith." I hope some time to issue the book in a cheap edition, and to keep it in circulation until the wage-slaves of the Beef Trust have risen and achieved their freedom. Meantime, it is still being read--and still being lied about. I have before me a clipping from a Seattle paper. Some one has written to ask if "The Jungle" is a true book. The editor replies, ex cathedra, that President Roosevelt made an investigation of the charges of "The Jungle," and thoroughly disproved them all!
And again, here is my friend Edwin E. Slosson, literary editor of the "Independent," a man who has sense enough to know better than he does. He reviews "The Profits of Religion" in the brief fashion:
The author of "The Jungle" has taken to muck-raking the churches--with similar success at unearthing malodorous features and similar failure to portray a truthful picture.
I write to Slosson, just as I wrote to the "New York Evening Post," to ask what investigation he has made, and what evidence he can produce to back up his charge that "The Jungle" is not a "truthful picture"; and there comes the surprising reply that it had never occurred to Slosson that I myself meant "The Jungle" for a truthful picture. I had not portrayed the marvelous business efficiency of the Stockyards, their wonderful economies, etc.; and no picture that failed to do that could claim to be truthful! That explanation apparently satisfied my friend Slosson, but it did not satisfy the readers of the "Independent"--for the reason that Slosson did not give them an opportunity to read it! He did not publish or mention my protest, and he left his readers to assume, as they naturally would, that the "Independent" considered that I had exaggerated the misery of the Stockyards workers.
I am telling this story chronologically, but in dealing with a subject like "The Jungle" it seems better to skip ahead and close the matter up. There was a last act of this Packingtown drama, about which the public has never heard. The limelight had been turned out, the audience had gone home, and this act was played in darkness and silence.
A year had passed and I was living at Point Pleasant, New Jersey, when W. W. Harris, editor of the Sunday magazine section of the "New York Herald," came to call on me, and explained a wonderful idea. He wanted me to go to Chicago secretly, as I had gone before, and make another investigation in the Stockyards, and write for the "New York Herald" an article entitled "Packingtown a Year Later."
He was a young editor, full of enthusiasm. He said: "Mr. Sinclair, I know enough about the business-game to feel quite sure that all the reforms we read about are fakes. What do you think?"
I answered, "I know they are fakes, because not a week passes that I don't get a letter from some of the men in Packingtown, telling me that things are as bad as ever." And I showed him a letter, one sentence of which I recall: "The new coat of whitewash has worn off the filthy old walls, and the only thing left is the row of girls who manicure the nails of those who pack the sliced dried beef in front of the eyes of the visitors!"
"Exactly!" said the editor. "It will make the biggest newspaper story the `Herald' has ever published."
"Possibly," said I. "But are you sure the 'Herald' will publish it?"
"No worry about that," said he. "I am the man who has the say."
"But where is Bennett?"
"Bennett is in Bermuda."
"Well," said I, "do you imagine you could sign a contract with me, and put such a job through, and get such a story on the 'Herald' presses without Bennett's getting word of it?"
"Bennett will be crazy for the story," said the editor. "Bennett is a newspaper man."
"Well, you have to show me."
I explained that I was writing another novel, and was not willing to stop, but my friend Mrs. Ella Reeve Bloor, who had represented me with Roosevelt's investigating committee, would do the work. Let the "Herald" send Mrs. Bloor and one of its own reporters, to make sure that Mrs. Bloor played the game straight; and when the investigation was made, I would write an introductory statement, which would lend my name to the articles, and make them as effective as if I had gone to Packingtown myself. But first, before I would trouble Mrs. Bloor, or do anything at all about the matter, the editor must put it before Bennett and show me his written consent to the undertaking. "I am busy," I said. "I don't care to waste my time upon a wild goose chase." The editor agreed that that was reasonable, and took his departure.
James Gordon Bennett, the younger, was the son of the man who had founded the "New York Herald," establishing the sensational, so-called "popular" journalism which Pulitzer and Hearst afterwards took up and carried to extremes. Bennett, the elder, had been a real newspaper man; his son had been a debauche and spendthrift in his youth, and was now in his old age an embittered and cynical invalid, travelling in his yacht from Bermuda to the Riviera, and occasionally resorting to the capitals of Europe for fresh dissipations. He had made his paper the organ of just such men as himself ; that is to say, of cosmopolitan cafe loungers, with one eye on the stock-ticker and the other on their "scotch and soda." And this was the publisher who was to take up a new crusade against the Beef Trust!
But to my surprise, the editor came back with a cablegram from Bennett, bidding him go ahead with the story. So I put the matter before Mrs. Bloor, and she and the "Herald" reporter went out to the Stockyards and spent about two months. Mrs. Bloor disguised herself as a Polish woman, and both she and the reporter obtained jobs in half a dozen different places in the yards. They came back, reporting that conditions were worse than ever; they wrote their story, enough to fill an eight-page Sunday supplement, with numerous photographs of the scenes described. There was a conference of the editorial staff of the "Herald," which agreed that the story was the greatest the paper had ever had in its history. It must be read by Mr. Bennett, the staff decided. So it was mailed to Bermuda--which was the last ever seen or heard of it!
Week after week I waited for the story to appear. When I learned that it was not to appear I was, of course, somewhat irritated. I threatened to sue the "Herald" for payment for the time I had spent writing the introduction, but I found myself confronting this dilemma: the enthusiastic young editor was a Socialist, and if I made trouble, he was the one who would be hurt. So I decided to forego my money-claim on the "Herald." But I would not give up the story--that was a public matter. The public had been fooled into believing that there had been reforms in Packingtown; the public was continuing to eat tubercular beef-steaks, and I was bound that somehow or other the public should get the facts. I wrote up the story and submitted it to other newspapers in New York. Not one would touch it. I submitted it to President Roosevelt, and he replied that he was sorry, but was too busy to take the matter up. "Teddy" was a shrewd politician, and knew how hard it is to warm up dead ashes, how little flavor there is in re-cooked food.
I knew, of course, that I could publish the story in the Socialist papers. That has always been my last recourse. But I wanted this story to reach the general public; I was blindly determined about it. There was a big Socialist meeting at the Hippodrome in New York, and I went up to the city and asked for fifteen minutes at this meeting. I told the story to an audience of five or six thousand people, and with reporters from every New York paper in front of me. Not a single New York paper, except the Socialist paper, mentioned the matter next morning.
But still I would not give up. I said: "This is a Chicago story. If I tell it in Chicago, public excitement may force it into the press." So I telegraphed some of my friends in Chicago. I planned the most dramatic thing I could think of--I asked them to get me a meeting in the Stockyards district, and they answered that they would.
Mind you, a little over a year before I had put Packingtown on the map of the world; I had made Packingtown and its methods the subject of discussion at the dinner-tables of many countries; and now I was coming back to Packingtown for the first time since that event. There was a big hall, jammed to the very doors with Stockyards workers. You will pardon me if I say that they made it clear that they were glad to have me come there. And to this uproarious audience I told the story of the "New York Herald" investigation, and what had been discovered. I stood, looking into the faces of these workingmen and women, and said: "You are the people who know about these matters. Are they true?" There was a roar of assent that rocked the building. I said: '"I know they are true, and you know they are true. Now tell me this, ought they be made known to the American people? Would you like them to be made known to the American people?" And again there was a roar of assent.
Then I looked over the edge of the platform to a row of tables, where sat the reporters looking up, and I talked to them for a while. I said: "You are newspaper men; you know a story when you see it. Tell me now--tell me straight--is not this a story?" The newspaper men nodded and grinned. They knew it was a "story" all right. "The public would like to read this--the public of Chicago and the public of all the rest of America--would they not?" And again the newspaper men nodded and grinned. "Now," said I, "play fair with me; give me a square deal, so far as you are concerned. Write this story just as I have told it tonight. Write it and turn it in and see what happens. Will you do that?" And they pledged themselves, the audience saw them pledge themselves. And so the test was made, as perfect a test as anyone could conceive. And next morning there was just one newspaper in Chicago which mentioned my speech in the Stockyards district--the "Chicago Socialist." Not one line in any other newspaper, morning or evening, in Chicago!
A little later I happened to be on the Pacific coast, and I made the test once more. I was putting on some plays, and it happened that a newspaper had played me a dirty trick that morning. So in my curtain-speech I said what I thought of American newspapers, and told this Chicago story. Just one newspaper in San Francisco published a line about the matter, and that was the "Bulletin," edited by Fremont Older, who happened to be a personal friend, and one of the few independent newspaper editors in America. Excepting for Socialist papers, the "Bulletin" has the distinction of being the only American newspaper which has ever printed that story.
I say the only American newspaper; I might say the only newspaper in the world. Some time afterwards there was a scandal about American meat in England, and the "London Daily Telegraph" requested me to cable them "without limit" any information I had as to present conditions in Packingtown. I sent them a couple of thousand words of this "New York Herald" story, but they did not publish a line of it. They had, of course, the fear that they might be sued for libel by the "Herald." It is no protection to you in England that you are publishing the truth, for the maxim of the law of England is: "The greater the truth the greater the libel.' Also, no doubt, they were influenced by newspaper solidarity--a new kind of honor among thieves.
The publication of "The Jungle" had brought me pitiful letters from workingmen and women in others of our great American slave-pens, and I went to Ridgway of "Everybody's" with the proposition to write a series of articles dealing with the glass industry, the steel industry, the coal-mines, the cotton-mills, the lumber-camps. I offered to do all the work of investigating myself; my proposition was accepted and I set to work.
I went first to the glass-works of South Jersey, where I saw little children working all night in eleven-hour shifts, carrying heavy trays of red-hot glass bottles. Other children worked at the same tasks in the blazing heat of summer, and sometimes they fainted and had their eyes burned out by hot glass. When the State child-labor inspector came, he was courteous enough to notify the superintendent of the glass-works in advance, and so the under-age children were collected in the passageway through which fresh air was blown to the furnaces. I told the story of one little Italian boy who had to walk several miles on the railroad-track to his home after his all-night labors. He fell asleep from exhaustion on the way and the train ran over him. I submitted this article to "Everybody's," who sent one of their editors to check up my facts. I recall one remark in his report, which was that he could not see that the little boys in the glass-factories were any worse off than those who sold newspapers on the streets of New York. My answer was that this was not a reason for altering the glass-article; it was a reason for adding an article about the news-boys.
Meantime I was investigating the steel-mills of Alleghany County. I spent a long time at this task, tracing out some of the ramifications of graft in the politics and journalism of Pittsburgh. The hordes of foreign labor recruited abroad and crowded into these mills were working, some of them twelve hours a day for seven days in the week, and were victims of every kind of oppression and extortion. An elaborate system of spying crushed out all attempt at organization. I talked with the widow of one man, a Hungarian, who had had the misfortune to be caught with both legs under the wheels of one of the gigantic travelling cranes. In order to save his legs it would have been necessary to take the crane to pieces, which would have cost several thousand dollars; so they ran over his legs and cut them off and paid him two hundred dollars damages.
This article also I brought to "Everybody's," and watched the process of the chilling of their editorial feet. What influences were brought to bear to cause their final break with me, I do not know; but this I have observed in twenty years of watching--there are few magazines that dare to attack the Steel Trust, and there are no politicians who dare it. Our little fellows among the corporations, out ten and hundred million dollar trusts, are now and then fair game for some muck-raker or demagogue; but our billion dollar corporation is sacred, and if any one does not know it, he is taught it quickly.
While I am on the subject of "Everybody's," I might as well close my account with them. They had gained the purpose of their "muck-raking" campaign--that is, half a million readers at two dollars per year each, and one or two hundred pages of advertising each month at five hundred dollars a page. So year by year one observed their youthful fervors dying. They found it possible to discover good things in American politics and industry. They no longer appreciate my style of muck-raking; they do not stop their presses to put on my articles. Again and again I have been to them, and they are always friendly and polite, but they always turn me down. Three or four years ago, I remember, they published an editorial, telling what wonderful people they were; they had been over their files, and gave a long list of the campaigns which they had undertaken for the benefit of the American people. Whereupon I wrote them a letter, asking them to take up this list and test it by the one real test that counted. From the point of view of a magazine, of course, it suffices if the public is told it is being robbed. That brings readers to the magazine; but what good does it do the public, if the robbery continues, and if the magazine drops the subject, and makes no move to get back the stolen money, or even to stop the future stealings? Let "Everybody's" apply the one test that had any meaning--let them point out one instance where their exposures had resulted in changing the ownership of a dollar from the hands of predatory exploiters to the hands of their victims!
I was in position to bear witness in one of the cases cited by "Everybody's Magazine." I knew that the condemned meat industry was still flourishing, I knew that the wage-slaves of Packingtown were still being sweated and bled. I knew also that the campaign of Tom Lawson had brought no result. "Everybody's" had clamored for laws to prevent stock-gambling and manipulation, but no such laws had been passed, and "Everybody's" had dropped the subject. What had the magazine to say about the matter? Needless to add, the magazine had nothing to say about it; they did not answer my letter, they did not publish my letter. They have been taken over by the Butterick Publishing Company, and are an adjunct of the dress-pattern trade, not an organ of public welfare. For years I continued to look over the magazine month by month, lured by vain hopes; it has been several years since I have found an article with any trace of social conscience. They have just finished a series of articles on After-the-War Reconstruction, which for futility were unexampled; after glancing over these articles, I removed "Everybody's" from that small list of magazines whose contents repay the labor of turning over the pages.